Disney World Wish Trip Tips

I wanted to compile a list of tips for those who are planning a Wish Trip to Disney World. These are either things we did and were happy we did or things we wish we had done.  One of my friends has a great tips post as well, so check out her advice. We found it very helpful in our planning. I’ll end up repeating some of her advice, but she goes into more detail about the logistics of everything than I’m going to do in this post.

  • Give out thank you cards
    • This is absolutely my number one tip. We just really wanted everyone to know how grateful we were for their attention to Evie and making Thank You Cardsour trip so special. Everyone at Give Kids the World, Disney World, and Universal Studios was just fantastic and this seemed the best way to express our thanks. They don’t have to be anything fancy, just a way to say thank you. We were very touched by the responses when we gave them out. I want all of these places to continue LOVING seeing Wish Families. Any time we were ushered to the front of the line or someone was helpful or just kind, we gave them a card. We made sure to give them to the photographers and handlers at character meet Giving Chewy a Thank Youand greets, but I’m still kicking myself for not giving more to the characters themselves or leaving an extra one for them. I was just caught up in watching the girls interact with them, we didn’t think of it until we got our Disney ‘sea legs’ of sorts. Now, I did ones for both Disney and Universal, but that’s because I craft when I’m stressed and I was MASSIVELY stressed for this trip. I also put the blog address on the back so people could stay connected to Evie if they wanted and the CHARGE Syndrome Foundation website to just spread a bit of awareness.
  • Wear your Make a Wish buttons and/or shirts
    • This is how people will know your child is a Wish Kid.Wish Shirts at Universal StudiosWe found wearing our buttons at Disney was enough since we also had the Genie Pass (a special pass for Wish Kids), but Ty and I wore our buttons AND shirts at Universal since their special pass isn’t as obvious.
  • Things to buy ahead of time
    • Charging Battery: This is just a big rechargeable battery that allows you to charge phones or devices on the go. We blew through our phone batteries pretty quickly with taking pictures and such, so this was very helpful. We have this one, but there are a lot of options out there.Ponchos on Stroller
    • Self Seal Laminating Pouches: I found these at Walmart and used it on our Genie Pass. If the pass gets wet, the dates can come off and cause some problems, so we just stuck it in that pouch and it made all the difference on those rainy days we had.
    • Lanyards: Give Kids the World gave us one, but if you want a special one or more than one, pick up some before you go. We kept our tickets, Memory Maker card, parking passes, etc. in plastic pouches on them so they were handy at all times.
    • Ponchos: Every Disney tips post I read suggested buying some ponchos to take along so you weren’t stuck buying them AT Disney. These were the most recommended so that’s what I bought and I’m so glad I did! I just stuck a few in our stroller and pulled them out to cover the stroller or us when we needed them.Autographs!
    • Autograph Book: Either make one or buy one. My friend recommended the Junior Encyclopedia of Animated Characters and having it spiral bound (I just took it to a copy center to have that done). I did just that and the girls LOVED it. It must be a pretty popular idea because when we met Snow White and I was hunting for her page, she calmly said, “I believe I’m on page 120.” And she was exactly right!
  • Start walking BEFORE you go
    • Ty and I averaged 10-12 miles EACH day we were there. I was so glad we had started biking and walking more before we went because I think we handled it pretty well overall. Buy yourself some good walking shoes, too. These are not days for flip flops or the like.
  • Print and laminate good mapsLaminated maps
    • If characters are your focus (or even if they’re not), Kenny the Pirate has the best maps for the Disney World parks. It shows you exactly where the various characters are located so you can plan accordingly. His Character Locator was also extremely helpful. I pulled it up constantly on my phone to see what times I could find various characters or show times. It really helped me plan out our day.
    • I got my Universal Studios maps from Undercover Tourist. You can find the Universal Studios map here and the Islands of Adventure map here.
    • So, because I’m a hyper planner when stressed, I printed full size versions first and laminated them. I went through the various attractions, crossing off or circling on the map with a dry erase marker as I went. This helped me get a loose plan in mind of the various things we wanted to see and what our priorities were. And the girls loved getting to look them over as well.Small Laminated Maps
    • Then I printed half sheet versions, laminated, hole punched, and hung them on a key ring to put on the stroller. That way I had easy access to check where things were (or where WE were!). Laminating is obviously not absolutely necessary, but on those rainy days, I was sure glad they were protected!
  • Stroller as a Wheelchair Tag
    • If you have a lot of medical supplies and equipment, this is an absolute MUST. There was NO way that we could just leave all of Evie’s stuff outside of a ride while we got in line. This allowed the stroller to go right up to where we got on the ride and then I could just pull her suction bag out to take on the ride itself. I had this horrible fear that a ride would break down in the middle and we’d be separated from her emergency supplies. Since the rides DID in fact break down a few times (fortunately not for very long), I would recommend that you take whatever emergency supplies you would need ONTO the ride with you. Obviously, you can’t take everything, but for us, that meant her suction machine bag that has emergency trachs and such in it.
  • Use the Wish Lounges
    • There are places at Magic Kingdom and Epcot that you have access to as a Wish Family. Give Kids the World will tell you about them in their visitor manual. We went to the one atEpcot Wish LoungeMagic Kingdom when Evie was in a meltdown from overstimulation and it really was perfect for letting her calm down. At Epcot, we only hit one of the three (because I didn’t realize there were two others!!!!), but that one was absolutely amazing. And again, the perfect spot to just chill and calm down.
  • Utilize the photographersCinderella's Castle
    • You will get a photo card for both Disney World and Universal Studios, so make sure you USE them! I wish that we would have taken the time to get more family photos, but it was always an afterthought instead of a priority.
  • Let your kid use devices to calm if needed
    • So, for the first two days, I didn’t let Evie have any devices. It’s Disney World! You can’t just stare at the iPad!!!!! That was wrong of me and led to the meltdowns of those days. Evie has spent most of her life in fairly quiet environments and Disney is loud with tons of people and bright lights! She just couldn’t handle it. Once I realized what she needed, the days went MUCH smoother. SheChill Time was happier, she participated MORE, and everyone else felt calmer as well. I wish I had realized it sooner. So don’t do what I did. If your kid gets overwhelmed easily (or even NOT easily), make sure you take that into account and give them something to calm down. Evie needed the iPad to allow her to focus on JUST that and tune out everything else for a while. Then she was ready to get back out there and try new things.
  • Have a chill day for your Wish Child
    • If your Wish Child is younger or gets tired easily, try to take a day where they can relax a bit more. For us, these were our Universal days. We did two Disney days, then a Universal day, then Disney, then Universal in our five days of parks. After two days at Disney, Evie just needed a day where she could hang out and not be expected to do much. There was still plenty for her to do at Universal, so we hit those things first, but once she was tired, we just let her rest. We took that time to hit some thrill rides and drink butterbeer.
  • Don’t forget the activities at Give Kids the World
    • They have SO much fun stuff going on at the village, so make sure you check the schedule! Seriously, so.much.fun. Don’t miss out!Medieval TimesGKTW also has tickets available to other things in the area, too, so look into that. We got discounted tickets to Medieval times (loved it!) and free tickets to Kennedy Space Center.
  • Extend your trip if you can
    • This obviously isn’t possible for everyone, but if you can, think about extending your trip in both directions. We drove and got to Orlando the day before we could check into GKTW. We were then able to go over in the morning and have an entire day exploring the Village even ifGKTW Villaour Villa wasn’t ready quite yet. We also stayed an extra day in town so we could have our last day to hang out at GKTW again. It meant we had so much more time to be at the Village and just relax and enjoy ourselves instead of our first and last days being used for traveling to and from Orlando.

Those are just some very basic tips. Make sure you read through the Village Guide for GKTW before you go as that will have some very helpful information. Try to have a loose plan for where you want to go on which days and what you want to see at each park, but know that you likely won’t get to do EVERYTHING. And that’s okay. I think because this trip is a once in a lifetime thing, there’s a lot of pressure to make it practically perfect in every way, but you can’t. You’re going to forget things and miss things and wish you’d done xyz differently. Try to go with the flow (something we as Special Needs parents are both good and bad at!) and just enjoy yourself. Aim for the priorities and consider everything else as bonus fun.

You’re going to have a such great time and make so many wonderful memories! Really really.

It will be amazing!Family Photo

 

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