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Old 02-26-2014, 10:02 PM   #1
lacheeze
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Wish trip to WDW - but not staying at GKTW? Can you do that?

Hi everyone, I hope someone can answer our WDW wish trip questions.

My teen son has been granted a wish trip to WDW, but he does not want to stay at Give Kids the World. We reviewed the GKTW website and watched hours and hours of GKTW videos together. We understand that GKTW is a wonderful place - but he doesn't feel it is the right place for him.

The "wish" coordinator is pushing back, hard. She seems to be pushing for a one-size-fits-all vacation package.

There is no information that I could find about what happens to families that visit WDW and do not stay at GKTW - or is that just not done? Are all Florida wish kids required to stay at GKTW? Is there some reason wish kids are limited or discouraged from staying anywhere else? Is it an insurance thing?

If wish kids do get to stay at Disney hotels - what happens? Do the families have to cover the added cost of the hotel room? Is there a specific meal plan the wish families have to purchase - or can we choose the plan that best meets our needs?

I hope someone can answer my questions - I want to fix this if I can. Thanks!
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Old 02-26-2014, 10:50 PM   #2
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I am almost positive you can ask to stay outside of GKTW. Esp for older kids.

My daughter chose DL over WDW for her wish trip, because she had been to WDW already several times (we are DVC members). At DL, they put us up at Paradise Pier, in an upper floor theme park view room (amazing).


They are in a tough spot, they want to save $$ overall, so they have more to spread around. They sort of mentioned to me that they save on Disney trips vs other trips, because Disney is so generous, and I assume the same goes for using GKTW. But it is supposed to be what is best for the CHILD. Look at it this way, I see Wish kids taking trips to Europe, Australia, and Hawaii.

Stick to your guns that HE would feel out of place there (if that is the truth). IF so, make the wish "to visit WDW and stay in a Disney resort hotel". My daughter was able to bring a friend vs a sibling. It was me, (her Mom), DD, and a friend. DD was 16. Her 2 brothers were adults, 3rd brother is handicapped. My husband did not go either, to take care of DS at home. So she had to write her wish "to visit DL resort with Mom and a friend etc etc". I think it was ok because the 3 of us shared a room and all.
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Old 02-27-2014, 06:42 AM   #3
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I have heard of people staying somewhere other than GKTW village, but it's usually been either because GKTW was full or staying somewhere specific other than there was part of the wish.
As PatMcDuck mentioned, the wish granting organizations will chose GKTW village because having guests stay there helps the wish granting organization to stretch their budget and grant more wishes. It's not only lodging, but GKTW also supplies food free of charge for guests staying there.

I agree with what PatMcDick wrote about how to request somewhere else. It is his wish and if he doesn't want to stay there, his wish request should include what he does want to do and why he doesn't feel GKTW village fits him.
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Old 02-27-2014, 07:33 AM   #4
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My daughter had a wish trip, not through Make A Wish, but a smaller local wish organization. Staying elsewhere was part of the wish, and it was granted. But the coordinators told us (just a few days before the wish.....probably should have told us sooner) that they would be unable to transport us to the airport due to the extra money spent on accommodations. We were fine with that but had to scramble last minute to figure that part out! Maybe a larger organization would have handled that part differently. We still appreciated everything that was done for my daughter, and staying someplace where she could see the fireworks from the room, then go right to sleep was amazing! She loves fireworks but needs a LOT of sleep, so it was totally worth it.
Make it part of the wish, you want to stay at X location, for Y reason. And maybe let them know that you understand that the extra cost involved may have to be compensated for elsewhere (we could have given up our park hoppers--never intended to use them, and the water park passes, used only because we had them, not that we really felt the need to)
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Old 02-27-2014, 08:33 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lacheeze View Post
Hi everyone, I hope someone can answer our WDW wish trip questions.

My teen son has been granted a wish trip to WDW, but he does not want to stay at Give Kids the World. We reviewed the GKTW website and watched hours and hours of GKTW videos together. We understand that GKTW is a wonderful place - but he doesn't feel it is the right place for him.

The "wish" coordinator is pushing back, hard. She seems to be pushing for a one-size-fits-all vacation package.

There is no information that I could find about what happens to families that visit WDW and do not stay at GKTW - or is that just not done? Are all Florida wish kids required to stay at GKTW? Is there some reason wish kids are limited or discouraged from staying anywhere else? Is it an insurance thing?

If wish kids do get to stay at Disney hotels - what happens? Do the families have to cover the added cost of the hotel room? Is there a specific meal plan the wish families have to purchase - or can we choose the plan that best meets our needs?

I hope someone can answer my questions - I want to fix this if I can. Thanks!
I've often thought the same things. If my teen decides to do a wish (he's still deciding..he doesn't know if he wants a wish - yes..weird) and if he were to decide on Disney (not that I think he ever would) but GKTW would probably not be anything that he'd want. It's just completely the opposite of what he likes. He's not an activity seeker, could care less about characters, and it seems very much geared towards younger kids. I mean, themed rooms would not be his thing. At all.

Please do let us know what you find out.
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Old 02-27-2014, 03:27 PM   #6
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DS did a Wish trip about 8 years ago. We were put up at the Beach Club Resort because GKTW was full at the time during their busy summer season. We were given a rental car as part of the wish trip, airfare, and a stipend to cover our food costs along with theme park tickets. We had to check-in at GKTW on our day of arrival and go through their presentation before we could head over to the Beach Club.

We missed not staying in the villas at GKTW and I had kind of planned on having the extra room. but at Beach Club we had a regular hotel room which was very tight with 4 people and 2 wheelchairs. We didn't have any kind of spectacular view either. But, staying at Beach Club was good for us because we didn't have to go back and forth to GKTW all the time which took about 20 minutes each way.

We were told at the time that Disney has some kind of agreement with GKTW that they will take any overflow necessary if there is no room at GKTW.
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Old 02-27-2014, 06:30 PM   #7
Betty Rohrer
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even if your trip is able to get you where you want but booked thru GKTW, you will still have to spend a good bit of time at GKTW the first day to get your passes for the parks at the parent meeting. if what you consider to be the worst and you have to stay ay GKTW, you do not have to do any activities there if you do not want to. from most villas it is possible to get to breakfast without doing characters that are there. you are not made to do them. if you do not want to do any of the activities, just stay at the park longer. even though my grandsons were younger on their trips, one boy wanted to stay at the park instead of going to the Christmas party as it was mid Dec when we were there and he had been to 3 or 4 Christmas parties by then. it was our choice. you are not made to go to the activities
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Old 02-28-2014, 04:49 AM   #8
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1) It is a shame GKTW is not a preferred site for your family.
2) As a Volunteer Coordinator at GKTW, I can declare it a great place for MAW-type families.
3) As for choosing other locations, the MAW-organization might not cover some costs to save funds.
4) As for staying WDW versus GKTW for MAW
. . . Disney gives A LOT of money to GKTW every year
. . . WDW does put up families when GKTW is full to capacity
. . . I have no idea of the cost-sharing deal among WDW-GKTW-MAW.
5) It would be nice for you to know the objections of your child.
6) GKTW has a lot of things to do, and with exception of some souvenirs, EVERYTHING IS FREE. *


* This even means ice cream for breakfast. One should see how well I make
a 1-scoop-cone with 3-scoops. (At my old age, sometimes I conveniently miscount!)
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Old 02-28-2014, 04:27 PM   #9
lacheeze
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheRustyScupper View Post
1) It is a shame GKTW is not a preferred site for your family.
2) As a Volunteer Coordinator at GKTW, I can declare it a great place for MAW-type families.
5) It would be nice for you to know the objections of your child.
6) GKTW has a lot of things to do, and with exception of some souvenirs, EVERYTHING IS FREE. *
* This even means ice cream for breakfast.
I'm not sure why you felt the need to be disrespectful? I am aware of my child's objections.

Again - we recognize that GKTW is a very special place - but it isn't for everyone. We have gathered feedback from a number of teens like my son and many feel that they would also prefer "off-site" accommodations - from what they've seen or experienced GKTW is for "little kids". As my son said, "Most teenagers would rather have Doritos for breakfast instead of ice cream".

Since GKTW has recently added nightly "teen" programming (instead of their previous single night of "teen" programming) they also seem to be aware that teens were not feeling included and they are making changes to correct that.
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Old 02-28-2014, 04:53 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheRustyScupper View Post
1) It is a shame GKTW is not a preferred site for your family.
2) As a Volunteer Coordinator at GKTW, I can declare it a great place for MAW-type families.
3) As for choosing other locations, the MAW-organization might not cover some costs to save funds.
4) As for staying WDW versus GKTW for MAW
. . . Disney gives A LOT of money to GKTW every year
. . . WDW does put up families when GKTW is full to capacity
. . . I have no idea of the cost-sharing deal among WDW-GKTW-MAW.
5) It would be nice for you to know the objections of your child.
6) GKTW has a lot of things to do, and with exception of some souvenirs, EVERYTHING IS FREE. *


* This even means ice cream for breakfast. One should see how well I make
a 1-scoop-cone with 3-scoops. (At my old age, sometimes I conveniently miscount!)
I really do have to say that this does come off pretty rudely.

A child's wish should be his or her own. Period. Some kids might enjoy it, others not. It's really insulting for you to insinuate that there is something wrong with someone not wanting that sort of stay.

But, I'll tell you. The whole design of the place is geared towards younger kids. There is nothing, and I mean nothing, in the look of the facility or the activities that even remotely interests my teenage boy. Who knows what the new teen activities will be, it really doesn't say, but one hour long activity per night couldn't possibly outweigh everything else. There is simply no part of any wish my son could make that would include a stay in a place that looks like an overgrown candy land game with activities like "tuck in" by a stranger. Seriously, you have to be joking if you think "It is a shame GKTW is not a preferred site for [our] family"

As a Volunteer Coordinator at GKTW, I can declare it a great place for MAW-type families.
I also think it's extremely condescending that you refer to us all as "MAW-type families".
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Old 02-28-2014, 07:53 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lacheeze View Post
I'm not sure why you felt the need to be disrespectful? I am aware of my child's objections.

Again - we recognize that GKTW is a very special place - but it isn't for everyone. We have gathered feedback from a number of teens like my son and many feel that they would also prefer "off-site" accommodations - from what they've seen or experienced GKTW is for "little kids". As my son said, "Most teenagers would rather have Doritos for breakfast instead of ice cream".

Since GKTW has recently added nightly "teen" programming (instead of their previous single night of "teen" programming) they also seem to be aware that teens were not feeling included and they are making changes to correct that.
It is a wonderful place, but very geared toward small children. So, I can see why some older children might choose not to stay there.
Many volunteers are very invested in volunteering and are maybe not as objective as they should be.

I agree it's nice that GKTW is understanding they should do more to appeal to older kids.
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Old 03-01-2014, 11:29 AM   #12
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Having been a guest and a volunteer at GKTW, I can absolutely see how GKTW might not be a good fit for a family, especially for a family with older children or one that is park oriented. It's far enough away from the Disney parks that it's difficult to go back and forth, and GKTW is definitely geared towards younger kids. If that's what he wants, then that's absolutely what he should go with. After all, it is his wish.

In terms of how it works, it's my understanding that everything still goes through GKTW, so you'll have to go there on your first day to attend orientation, get your tickets, etc. I believe you will get a food allowance to accommodate the fact that you are not staying at GKTW where all food is included, but I'm not sure it will be enough to cover all meals since you are technically still a guest of GKTW and can eat there at no cost. Once his wish is approved, you can ask your wish granter how much it will be so that you can plan, but they might not tell you until a week, or so, before you're scheduled to leave.

With all that said, I would recommend spending some time at GKTW. I think he might be surprised as to how "cool" it really is. I went down with a group of high school students last year to volunteer, and they were all talking about how they wished they could stay there. The uniqueness of it is appealing all on its own. There's a pretty cool game room and remote control boats, and the miniature golf course is easily the most fun course we have ever played on. It was designed by Universal Studios, and is interactive. It's startling enough that my girls were actually afraid of it the first time we went, and it wasn't until we went back a few years later as visitors that they were able to enjoy it without hands over their ears and running through the "scary" parts.

Good luck, and I hope he's able to get his wish
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Old 03-02-2014, 09:52 AM   #13
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My daughter would not have wanted to stay at GKTW (if she chose WDW over DL.) She was 16, and frankly spending weeks upon weeks in patient in Children's Hospitals getting treatment was part of the reason. She was treated for 2 years at CHoP, Childrens in Philadelphia. They are wonderful of course. She was in-patient over 100 days in those 2 years, plus had Dr appmts there 2X a week, some treatments lasted 10 hours a day.

And part of her wish was to get away from that part of her life, I am having trouble explaining this well, I am sorry. I don't mean GKTW is like a hospital setting, it was her feeling, just seeing the way the place is decorated and all the younger Wish kids and their siblings in the photos. I think she even choose DL to make sure she was not staying at GKTW. (GKTW is a wonderful place! I am relaying HER feelings here, not mine, I remember her worrying about being assigned there, I told her it would be fine). Then she said she wanted to see the sun set over the Pacific ocean too (we live near the Atlantic here in NJ), and California became more interesting to her. The smaller size of DL was a better choice for her too, since she had to use a WC, which is easier at DL (no busses!)

My DD first choice was to go away to a SPA, and be pampered. We could not find one that would take teen-agers. She finally realized she would have a good time at a theme park, for sure. I even had said, do you want a hot tub, that would feel good on your sore muscles, etc, I did not push the concept of a trip on her. But, having this to plan was good for her, she looked forward to it so much, got her mind off all the pain and sickness. The actual trip was great, but she was still pretty ill, and tired so easily. She resisted a WC for the first day, but had to "surrender" to using it after that.

Just our experience, and her feelings being related here. When kids have these serious health issues, they do not get many "choices". My DD had many surgeries, treatments, IVs, was stuck thousands of times for labs, too many x rays and MRIs to even count. She had to just roll with all of that. So, if she said she wanted a regular hotel room, that was ok with me, let me give a little control back to you…..
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Old 03-02-2014, 03:09 PM   #14
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Thank you everyone for your support - I really appreciate it!

Quote:
Originally Posted by PatMcDuck View Post
And part of her wish was to get away from that part of her life, I am having trouble explaining this well, I am sorry. I don't mean GKTW is like a hospital setting, it was her feeling, just seeing the way the place is decorated and all the younger Wish kids and their siblings in the photos. I think she even choose DL to make sure she was not staying at GKTW. (GKTW is a wonderful place! I am relaying HER feelings here, not mine, I remember her worrying about being assigned there, I told her it would be fine).
I understand exactly what you mean PatMcDuck - my son said something similar...
He doesn't want to have to have his dream vacation in a place where total strangers are telling him that he is "brave" or "heroic" or "special" - he gets that constantly at our local Children's Hospital - and to be completely honest, he hates it when people constantly remind him he's not "normal".

He doesn't want to think about being sick or dying or be reminded all the time that he is "different". He's a very private person, and he doesn't want a whole park of people looking at him with pity and knowing more about him than he chose to share. It is humiliating for him.

He wants to be like his friends - he wants to stay at the hotels where they stay and eat what they eat and do the things they did. He wants to hang out at the pool with girls in bikinis and play video games with boys his age and watch the fireworks and do what everybody else gets to do on a vacation - and takes for granted.

He wants to be a regular kid for once.
I'm going to tell the coordinator my son's comments and be very, very specific about his wish (a 1 week stay at ___ Disney hotel).
I will let you know how it works out.

Your comments have been so helpful - I had no idea (for instance) that it was a 20 minute drive each way to MK from GKTW (thank you blondietink). I am guessing that the travel time may be longer in rush-hour - or for those of us who have never been to Florida and will need to read maps and may take a wrong turn or two on the way there.

A minimum 20 minute commute each way is a significant issue for our family. We would much rather hop on the Monorail for 5 minutes than spend a minimum of 20 minutes driving (with carsick people who are already on anti-nausea meds) - plus all the time needed to disassemble and pack and then unpack and assemble two mobility devices each time we travel... that's a lot of time.

Thanks again, I will let you know what happens
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Old 03-02-2014, 05:37 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PatMcDuck View Post
My daughter would not have wanted to stay at GKTW (if she chose WDW over DL.) She was 16, and frankly spending weeks upon weeks in patient in Children's Hospitals getting treatment was part of the reason. She was treated for 2 years at CHoP, Childrens in Philadelphia. They are wonderful of course. She was in-patient over 100 days in those 2 years, plus had Dr appmts there 2X a week, some treatments lasted 10 hours a day.

And part of her wish was to get away from that part of her life, I am having trouble explaining this well, I am sorry. I don't mean GKTW is like a hospital setting, it was her feeling, just seeing the way the place is decorated and all the younger Wish kids and their siblings in the photos. I think she even choose DL to make sure she was not staying at GKTW. (GKTW is a wonderful place! I am relaying HER feelings here, not mine, I remember her worrying about being assigned there, I told her it would be fine). Then she said she wanted to see the sun set over the Pacific ocean too (we live near the Atlantic here in NJ), and California became more interesting to her. The smaller size of DL was a better choice for her too, since she had to use a WC, which is easier at DL (no busses!)

My DD first choice was to go away to a SPA, and be pampered. We could not find one that would take teen-agers. She finally realized she would have a good time at a theme park, for sure. I even had said, do you want a hot tub, that would feel good on your sore muscles, etc, I did not push the concept of a trip on her. But, having this to plan was good for her, she looked forward to it so much, got her mind off all the pain and sickness. The actual trip was great, but she was still pretty ill, and tired so easily. She resisted a WC for the first day, but had to "surrender" to using it after that.

Just our experience, and her feelings being related here. When kids have these serious health issues, they do not get many "choices". My DD had many surgeries, treatments, IVs, was stuck thousands of times for labs, too many x rays and MRIs to even count. She had to just roll with all of that. So, if she said she wanted a regular hotel room, that was ok with me, let me give a little control back to you…..
I think you explained it well.

Partly, the things lacheeze mentioned and then the decor is a big part too. Many teens feel the decor of Children's Hospitals is kind of 'baby-ish', with bright colors, etc.
That kind of decor makes the younger kids more comfortable, but a lot of teens feel they don't fit.
GKTW village has the same kind of feeling. It doesn't matter for some teens and tweens, but others just don't feel they fit in there.
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