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Topic: 2019 Trip Day 13 Giving Kids The World

  1. #1
    karalma is offline Proud Recipient of Six--count 'em, six!!--Fast Passes During Year of a Million Dreams!
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    Default 2019 Trip Day 13 Giving Kids The World

    14.3.19

    Today was my first day volunteering at Give Kids The World and I was a little nervous. This came about last year when we were thinking of where to go on holiday. After 10 years visiting Orlando every year I wanted to try somewhere new but I was the only one who did. Not only did my family want to return to Orlando but they also didnít want to go to Anna Maria Island or anywhere else. So I started looking for new things to do in Orlando and I came across volunteering at GKTW. I had heard of GKTW from this forum and the Dibb but didnít know a great deal about from it, apart from it was a holiday village for critically ill children and their families. I had been lucky enough to give my kids the World 10 times but I knew not all families were so lucky. So I sent off an application and I was accepted and asked to contact them 6 months before I travelled. As we used to go to AMI for 3 days at the end of the holiday I gave them the last 3 dates of our holiday. I was sent a schedule of Disney Character Photos, Cafe Clayton Concierge, Nancy's Kitchen Breakfast, Horse & Pony Rides & Castle Attendant. I had no idea what these involved but they sounded exciting. The day before I was sent a map and volunteer guidelines, along with a password for an app which gave information about the village and could be used to answer questions that I might be asked.

    Typically, today was the 1st day I slept through but the alarm woke me at 6 as I had to be at GKTW by 7.20. As I donít drive in America, Darren had to drop me off. We werenít sure where we were going but we found our way ok. I checked into volunteer services and was given a quick orientation. I met Elisa who I had been emailing and she explained things like they encourage us to take photos but not of the families and not asking families about their child but allowing them to talk if they wanted to. I had read all of this in the information they sent me but it was good to be reminded. Elisa directed me to the Hoppening Place in the Towne Hall, which was opposite the volunteer services so easy to find.

    I met some of the other volunteers including a lady who had volunteered before but not at the Disney Photos shift so the Shift Leader explained some protocols to us eg. ensuring we always retain the Characters' integrity and gave an example of a little boy being a little too boisterous and knocking Mickey over and a volunteer rushing forward to help and forgetting to call Mickey, Mickey. She also said they had had some teenagers trying to push Mickey over. What??!! The characters and photographers come from WDW every week. Today we had Mickey, Pluto, Goofy & Belle and we were asked to help with Belle's line. We had to help to keep the line running smoothly and take the villa number to ensure the photos got to the correct families. It was great to chat to the families about their time at the village and the parks. The other lady didnít know much about Disney or the parks but this was no problem for me and I was able to suggest activities and rides that they may like. Some of the children were so excited to meet Belle, particularly the girls but some of the boys needed a little encouragement, but you could see how much they enjoyed it. One young girl had met Belle before as it was her Wish to meet Belle so she had enjoyed a private half hour meeting with her and Mum was hoping Belle would recognise her. I suggested that Mum might want to give a clue when they met but there was no need as Belle recognised the little girl immediately. Belle was lovely with both the children and the parents and chatted as long as the children wanted. The families could have as many pictures in whatever combinations they wanted. It was so much more relaxed than the meet and greets in the park

    At break time we went to the 49ers diner, which is a room where the volunteers can get free drinks and snacks. I chatted to the photographer and the other volunteers. The photographer was telling us that they usually get invited to try the new rides before they open but they werenít sure whether this was going to happen with the new Star Wars Land as somebody had released pictures of Toy Story Land despite everybody having to hand in all phones, cameras etc. One of the volunteers told us about the annual pass opportunities and how she and her son had got to ride Slinky Dog 12 times, when annual pass holders were allowed in early. She also told us that her teenage son likes to volunteer at the village delivering pizzas as he gets to drive the golf buggy so she usually mans the phone and the families can call for a pizza at any time.

    Back in the hall we got the lines formed again and I met lots of international families, including one from Blackpool. We chatted about their holiday and it turned out they would be on the same flight as us when we went home. Unfortunately their young daughter was not very happy and not even Belle could cheer her up but once she was out of her Belle dress and back in her chair she was much happier. I also met a little girl singing Jingle Bells. This was because today was Thursday and every Thursday night the village turns into Winter Wonderland with a visit from Santa. This little girl could not wait.

    At the end of the shift I said goodbye to everyone and as I had 30 minutes between shifts I had a walk around the village taking pics.

















    My next shift was the concierge and because I was there early the previous volunteer showed me how to book the families in for lunch by scanning their meal cards and entering the number of guests on the computer. A young man who was an intern checked I was ok. It was a quiet afternoon as most of the families were at the parks but I booked in over 120 people. I did ask if there was anything I could do while I sat there but as there wasnít I took the opportunity to read the newsletters with stories from the village and the Wish children. I chatted to the families and the intern who told me about his work there and the horrible commute to get there. He thought the best place to volunteer was Noah's Nook as you get to spend time at the pool. Before I knew it my shift was over and I headed back to Volunteeer Services to check out. I had really enjoyed my first day and was looking forward to going back tomorrow.

    By the time we got home I just had time for a quick dip in the pool before it was time to get ready for HS.



    We had a great night as we had 3 great FPs for Toy Story, RnR Coaster and ToT. This was the only time we got to ride ToT, which was a shame as it is such a great ride.









    Alix and I then joined the crowds heading into Fantasmic, while Darren and Matt went to see the storm troopers before going back to the car.



    As Alix and I had left it so late, having seen Fantasmic lots of times, there were only the back seats left but we got a seat on the front row. Alix stood in the long line for a cocktail and got back to her seat just as the show was starting. I sat and watched lots of people trying to persuade the CMs to allow them to go into the seats below, which had been roped off, but they kept refusing. The view from the seats was ok but the annoying thing was the amount of people who walked in front of us. Half way through the CMs removed the ropes from the seats in front of us and everyone on the seats behind us swarmed into them. Despite these interruptions we enjoyed the show.











    On the way out we were able to see the Star Wars fireworks. We had just got on the tram when Darren rang to say he had moved the car to the front and then he was cut off. We didnít know where he meant and whether we needed to get off the tram. We couldnít get through to him so we were left wondering what to do. Luckily we decided to stay on the tram as when we did get through he had only moved to the front of the row we were in, next to the tram stop.

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    Best. Day. Ever!!

    This was the one I was most eager to read about, and I'm so glad you enjoyed your time at GKTW. We're big supporters, and it sounds like you had a great time there. The first time I went I was afraid I'd be crying all the time, and that it would be a really sad place. Couldn't be further from the truth. So much happiness there! It sounds like you saw that, too.











    Midlife: when the Universe grabs your shoulders and tells you ďIím not messing around, use the gifts you were given.Ē

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    What an incredible experience. I'm far too selfish to give up days of my holiday for this so I'm full of admiration but also very interested to read about your time there.

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    A big well done to you karalma, I'm so glad you enjoyed your day. It must have been very rewarding.

    A guy who used to look after my son when he stayed at the Recpite house took one of his charges to GKTW one year and he was astounded by how wonderful the place was.
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  5. #5
    karalma is offline Proud Recipient of Six--count 'em, six!!--Fast Passes During Year of a Million Dreams!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Susan Veness View Post
    Best. Day. Ever!!

    This was the one I was most eager to read about, and I'm so glad you enjoyed your time at GKTW. We're big supporters, and it sounds like you had a great time there. The first time I went I was afraid I'd be crying all the time, and that it would be a really sad place. Couldn't be further from the truth. So much happiness there! It sounds like you saw that, too.
    It really was a fabulous day. I didn’t see any sadness. I heard a couple of sad stories but it was always clear how sadder these stories would have been without GKTW. Although I enjoyed my first day I was still finding my bearings and each day just got better with my favourite being my last day in the Castle of Memories.

    Quote Originally Posted by UK Deb View Post
    What an incredible experience. I'm far too selfish to give up days of my holiday for this so I'm full of admiration but also very interested to read about your time there.
    I can see how it seems selfless but I enjoyed it more than any of the other activities we did so from that perspective it was quite selfish ��.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tiggers Friend View Post
    A big well done to you karalma, I'm so glad you enjoyed your day. It must have been very rewarding.

    A guy who used to look after my son when he stayed at the Recpite house took one of his charges to GKTW one year and he was astounded by how wonderful the place was.
    It was extremely rewarding but it didn’t seem that way at the time - it was just fun ��. It really is the most amazing place I have ever been.

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    It sounds like an amazing experience and I bet the memories will stay with you forever.
    Shame about the interuptions while watching Fantasmic but glad it didn't spoil it too much for you.

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    What a fantastic day, I'm so glad you enjoyed your day volunteering and helping those families.
    5 Trips to Florida, Christmas in LA, Disneyland Paris twice and odd days here and there.

    All my trip reports are now HERE.




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    Just wonderful to hear so much detail about volunteering at GKTW. As Susan says, it is a VERY special place for the atmosphere it generates, and it was great to see that you found all that - and more - in your time there. We have had the chance to talk to the Landwirth family who set it all up back in the 1980s, and they are truly outstanding people. The whole place resonates with their care and devotion.

  9. #9
    karalma is offline Proud Recipient of Six--count 'em, six!!--Fast Passes During Year of a Million Dreams!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Simon Veness View Post
    Just wonderful to hear so much detail about volunteering at GKTW. As Susan says, it is a VERY special place for the atmosphere it generates, and it was great to see that you found all that - and more - in your time there. We have had the chance to talk to the Landwirth family who set it all up back in the 1980s, and they are truly outstanding people. The whole place resonates with their care and devotion.
    What amazed me the most was the wonderful volunteers.

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    Yes, I think those who live locally get a LOT out of helping there, and they come back week after week

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