Tips for Make-A-Wish trips to Disney World, from a Sanfilippo family

April 19, 2023

Many families choose a trip to Disney as their Make-A-Wish. While exciting, a Make-A-Wish trip to Disney can also be overwhelming for a family with a child with special needs to plan for. Thankfully, here are some tips for Make-A-Wish trips to Disney you can use to plan your Wish.

Having recently enjoyed their Make-A-Wish trip to Disney, the family of Sadie Haywood has shared what they learned, plus their tips and strategies in order to help other families have the best experience possible.

Tips for Make-A-Wish trips to Disney

Applying for Make-A-Wish

• Children eligible for Make-A-Wish must have a progressive, degenerative, or malignant condition that jeopardizes the child’s life. Families of children with every type of Sanfilippo Syndrome are eligible to apply.

• Kids should be between 3 and 18 years old.

• Family members or medical professionals can refer the child.

• It takes a few months for a Wish to be granted.

• You can wish for almost anything you imagine. Disney is one of the most popular Wishes.

• If needed, you can postpone your Wish for a couple of years (clinical trial, sickness, etc.).

What Parks You’ll Have Access To

• If your child’s Wish is Disney, you will likely receive passes to most or all Disney parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios), Universal Studios, Universal Islands of Adventure, and Sea World. You can also request tickets for the Disney waterparks.

• You can ask for Park Hopper tickets to go between parks each day.

• Make dinner reservations well in advance if you’re eating at Disney. Instead of using the Disney app, call the helpline and tell them you’re with Make-A-Wish and need to book your reservations.

Where You’ll Stay

• Wish families stay at Give Kids The World Village, which is located about 30 minutes from Disney.

• Give Kids The World has rides, activities, and a pool. You might want to plan a “park-free” day or afternoon halfway through the trip to relax there.

• Your other family members can register with Give Kids The World and then visit and have meals (and free ice cream!) with you there.

• Give Kids The World has events every night, like Halloween and Christmas, so bring a costume if you’re feeling extra.

What Make-A-Wish Covers & Provides

• Make-A-Wish covers the immediate family, plus one additional caregiver. If other family members want to go, there are lots of affordable AirBNBs nearby.

• Make-A-Wish will provide a stroller, wheelchair, and sleep-safe bed if you ask.

• Make-A-Wish will provide an accessible van or rental car and a car seat if you request it.

• You can break the trip up, with an overnight stay somewhere, if you have a long drive.

• Make-A-Wish covers photo passes at all the parks, so take advantage of that. You might want to purchase a Magic Band because it makes getting photos and paying for food more accessible.

Tips for While at Disney Parks

• Most rides are accessible and will say if they are dark or have flashing lights.

• Magic Kingdom has a Wish Lounge if your child needs a break. It’s in the First Aid building on Main Street.

• Make-A-Wish will give you a pass that allows you to use the Lightning Lane at Disney. At Universal, they will escort you to the front of the line. Ensure that the Make-A-Wish pass includes your entire family, not just those staying at Give Kids The World. You can also use these passes to avoid waiting in long, hot lines for character greetings.

Tips for During Your Trip

• Give Kids The World suggests bringing an empty suitcase for souvenirs because they give the kids presents.

• Speaking of souvenirs, you can buy Disney souvenirs outside of Disney (e.g. at the nearby Walmart) at much lower prices.

• There is a Walmart close to Give Kids The World if you forget anything.

Thank you to the Haywood family for taking the time to capture and share these great tips for Make-A-Wish trips to Disney so that other families can have a great time too.

You can follow Sadie and her adventurous life on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.

Learn more about Sanfilippo Syndrome and the how the Foundation fights to help children like Sadie.

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