Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Disney Wish Trip Photo Album

I finally got around to organizing all of the photos from the trip that are worth sharing and uploading them to the web. So here they are all in one place. Click the photo below to get to the entire photo album.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Day 7: The Return Home

Our final day on our wish trip to Florida was spent shopping for souvenirs and traveling. We had a final breakfast in the village, spent some time just relaxing and enjoying the Florida weather, and then packed our bags for the airport. At 11am, we checked out of the Give Kids the World village, and hopped over to Downtown Disney for some souvenir shopping. Josh quickly spotted a Lego store and both Josh and Katie browsed every section of the store and came out with enough Legos to keep them busy for the next several days. Lego and souvenir shopping complete, we grabbed a quick lunch and then headed for the airport. Shortly after 9pm we arrived back in Burlington Vermont right at the tail end of a snow storm. There were 6 to 8 new inches of soft, powdery snow waiting to welcome us home. A limo was waiting to transport us home from the airport, a 2-hour trip in good weather. The trip took about 3 hours this time and all four of us ended up falling asleep during the ride. Our Disney vacation had tired us all out.

Even with a good night's sleep behind us, we are all still moving slowly today. The kids have both been assembling their Lego creations and watching movies. We need a couple more days of rest. With school starting up again on Wednesday, life will resume its normal pace soon enough.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Day 6: Universal Studios, Magic Kingdom & GKTW

This was another long day and the kids are both tired. We started off with Universal Studios, and spent several hours exploring the park. There wasn't enough there to hold our attention for the whole day, so we eventually headed back over to the Magic Kingdom. Since this was our second trip to the Magic Kingdom, we focused our attention on the two rides that we wanted most - The Thunder Mountain Railroad and Splash Mountain. In just 3 hours, we managed to ride Thunder Mountain 3 times and Splash Mountain twice. Then we left Disney World and came back to Give Kids the World in time for their weekly Christmas celebration. Christmas at Give Kids the World was quite fun. The kids got to meet Santa and have their picture taken with him. They were given Christmas presents. They had a sleigh ride. They saw a parade and participated in a dance party with other kids and all of the Give Kids the World characters as bubble snow fell to the ground around them. When everything was finished, we took the kids out for dinner and they barely made it throuh dinner awake. When we got them back to the villa, they collapsed into their beds without argument and passed out for the night. This was our last big day of park hopping. Tomorrow, we check out of the village, do a little shopping and then we are headed for home. Our wish trip is almost over.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Day 5: GKTW, Sea World & Medieval Times

We are on our way back to Universal Studios so I don't have time to post much right now. However, below is a video montage of everything that we did and saw yesterday at Give Kids The World, Sea World, and Medieval Times. Medieval Times turned out to be the real highlight of the day with Josh being knighted in a ceremony with the king and Katie winning the red knight's favor after he won a tournament. We are having the time of our lives.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Day 4: Universal Studio's Islands of Adventure

Today was another big day. We spent the whole day at the Islands of Adventure in Universal Studios. It is another huge park, similar to Magic Kingdom in that there are rides and attractions everywhere. We spent much of the morning in the Dr. Seuss themed park, had a huge lunch at Bubba Gump's and then headed into the Harry Potter and Jurassic Parks. The Harry potter park was amazing and the rides (3) were terrific. Katie found another roller coaster that she absolutely loved, called "The Flight of the Hippogryph". We rode that 6 times. Josh and I also discovered the Harry Potter simulation ride where you fly over, around, and through the Hogwarts school on a broom. This was the one ride that has come the closest to making me sick. It was also so realistic that Josh was afraid to go on it again. But WOW! What an experience. 
We finished the day by getting absolutely soaked on a couple of different water rides and then heading back to our villa for some pizza. Tomorrow, we head to Sea World!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Day 3: Animal Kingdom

Today started out slowly. After dragging the kids and ourselves out of bed this morning. We spent some time at Give Kids The World getting a good breakfast and having some photos taken with Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and Mary Poppins. I spent some time updating the blog while Amy and the kids rode around the village on the little train that they have here. Then, we headed over to Disney's Animal Kingdom - an extra large version of Granby Zoo but with a safari ride and live entertainment. It was a good choice for the day after Magic Kingdom because meandering slowly through the animals and taking the time to sit and watch the live shows gave us a chance to recouperate. The shows were spectacular and the animals were lively and active. However, Josh couldn't wait to get to the parks 2 major ride attractions, a tube ride down a river designed to soak every rider; and a roller coaster named Everest. The river ride soaked Katie to the bone. Luckily we brought extra clothes for just such an incident. The roller coaster was big, fast, and scary - I know from personal experience because Josh needed someone to go with him and this being a wish trip I couldn't say no. At the end of the day, we came back to Give Kids the World early enough to catch a late dinner and get the kids into bed at a reasonable hour. Tomorrow. We're off to Universal Studios! :)

Day 2: The Magic Kingdom

Yesterday we went to Magic Kingdom and we had an absolutely incredible time. What a way to start a Disney Vacation. The rides were fun, but the presentation and the amount of effort that goes into making everyone feel welcome is just incredible. Katie WAS a princess for the day and everyone went out of their way to make sure she was happy and having a good time. We spent more than 12 hours in the Magic Kingdom and still didn't see everything. Part of the reason might be because the kids fell in love with Splash Mountain (3 tiimes) and the Thunder Mountain Railroad (5 times).
Our Give Kids the World pass and our Make-a-Wish buttons granted us access to more than we coud have ever imagined. We were able to walk past lines that others would have to wait in for hours for rides, for photo ops, for everything. If a park employee caught site of our credentials, we were treated like royalty. Below is a video that shows just some of the things we did and saw at the magic Kingdom.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Day 1 in Kissimmee at Give Kids the World

There is no easy way to explain how much fun we are having. For starters, the limo ride to Burlington was very cool; for once, we were all in the backseat and not separated, so we all curled up and lounged (after the kids had tried out every last seat in the limo). Thanks to my folks for dinner and to our wish granter, Joe, for breakfast. The plane ride was a huge hit. The kids loved flying, and they were great on the plane; no one got sick, and we all behaved ourselves. (And we got to see the cockpit...) After a quick lunch at Katie's Kitchen (really--it's Boston Market, and it's really good), I went to the orientation at GKTW, where it was frankly overwhelming to realize how much there was to do and how much we had access to during our stay. Picture an enveloped FILLED with theme park tickets. It was like an informercial: "But wait:  There's more..." We played in the interactive water garden (so cool) and then played in this huge pool with several other families. That's right--We swam in a heated pool OUTSIDE in February. Fun! We had dinner at the Gingerbread House, which features real entress (pot roast!) for the adults and kid food for the kids. The kids were almost asleep at dinner, but they rallied for the carousel, which we rode again and again. Katie would have stayed on the carousel all day and happily. Last funny story: There is a party every night at GKTW. Last night's shindig was a party for Mayor Clayton, a six foot tall rabbit who tucks the kids into bed at night. There were tons of kids running around having fun, dancing and getting their faces painted. There were party hats, cotton candy, sno cones and cupcakes. The rule here, by the way, is that we can all have ice cream all day--whenever we want it, as many times as we can eat it and not get sick. Here's a hint about day two: Ice cream featured prominently in our breakfast plans. :)

On another note: Everything about GKTW is wheelchair accessible. Wheelchair bound kids can ride the carousel and the train. They can play on the pirate ship. They can use the slide at the playground. This place is nothing short of  miraculous--and it staffed primarily by volunteers, who smile all day long and who spoil the kids rotten. My cheeks hurt when I went to bed last night. I don't know when I have ever had this much fun.
Off to Disney...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Katie Gets a Wish!

In November of this year, we contacted Make-a-Wish on Katie's behalf and they gladly granted her a wish. A couple of wish granters came to our house to speak with Katie about her wish and without a second thought, she told them exactly what she wished for. She is a happy, healthy five-year-old who believes that she is a princess so what do you think she wished for? Of course, she wish to go to Disney World!

So Make-a-Wish jumped into action and made all the arrangements and Katie is going to Disney World. She will be treated like a princess during her stay at Give Kids the World, "a 70-acre resort complete with over 140 Villa accommodations, entertainment attractions, whimsical venues, and fun specifically designed for children with special needs"( Just 10 miles from Disney World, Sea World, Universal Studios, and the many other attractions in Kissimmee and Orlando, Give Kids the World will be Katie's home base for 7 days while she visits theme parks and has experiences that she has only ever seen on TV and dreamed about. As an added bonus, parents and siblings are expected to tag along and have just as much fun as the wish kid!
We will post pictures, videos, and more blog entries about her wish trip soon.