One of the best parts of our upcoming trip – at least in my opinion – is where we’ll be staying. I’m told that staying on Disney property is considered the absolute best option for a Disney trip, but we are staying off property. I’m totally okay with it, and here’s why:
Because we’re on a trip organized by a wish-granting organization, we’re staying at Give Kids the World, a fairy-tale village located about a 20-minute drive from the Magic Kingdom. The village has more than 200 two-bedroom condos that are available only to children on wish trips and their families. It sounds like a fantasyland, and I keep hearing that it will be even better than I can imagine.
The condos look gingerbread houses. There are two restaurants on site, as well as an ice cream parlor that is open all day long. All meals and snacks are included in your stay. If you’re extra tired at night after trekking around the amusement parks, and you don’t want to go to the restaurant, they’ll deliver pizza for you instead. There’s a cookie cart that rolls around handing out treats. You can pick up your phone and dial “0” between 8 and 10 every morning to get hot coffee delivered to your door.
I am not making this up. Not even that last bit with the magically appearing coffee. I swear.
There are two pool areas – one’s a little quieter and more laid-back, and the other is like a little water park. There’s a mini golf course. You can go horseback riding, or go fishing off the pier. There’s a party every night. Mondays are Halloween, and Thursdays are Christmas. Every week.
And while this experience is, obviously, engineered to thrill the hearts of children, it’s also designed to make their parents pretty happy, too. I’ve already mentioned the coffee delivery. But get this: When you go to the restaurants to eat, each child is accompanied through the line by a volunteer, who helps them get their food and tableware and drinks and get settled at the table. So the parents can go through the line by themselves and carry only their own food and, perhaps, eat it while it’s still hot.
There’s a train that runs around the village, taking you from place to place. Oh, and a playground that looks like a giant Candy Land game board.
While Wishes Can Happen is paying a fee to Give Kids the World, I’m reliably informed that it’s a crazy low price for everything you get, and it’s made possible because Give Kids the World is run largely on volunteer power and donated resources. There are some full-time staff members, but an incredible amount of work is done by the 1,500 volunteers that show up for shifts every week. Fif. Teen. Hundred. I guess it takes a lot of people to make Christmas happen every week.
Eight days to go. Our paper chain now only reaches to my elbow.