Tag Archives: GKTW

Christmas in July at Gaylord Palms Kissimmee/Orlando

Original Special to Central Florida Top 5 by SeaWorld Mommy

Alex the Lion gives this GKTW family a reason to smile at Gaylord Palms!

July 18th Gaylord Palms welcomed the media, bloggers, community leaders, Give Kids the World representatives and families, and a host of children from The Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Florida to see a preview of ICE 2012.

On deck to welcome were the cast of the Shrek movies, including Shrek himself, the lovely Fiona, Puss in Boots, and everyone’s favorite “Not the buttons! Not my gumdrop buttons!” cookie a.k.a. Gingy. Once through the Shrek-tastic receiving line, the sounds of a quartet were heard. And not just any quartet. Santa hat-wearing, tropical-shirt donning, pool-wading singers belted out the holiday tunes, Florida style!

Guests mingled around the tropical pool by the new Cypress Springs Family Fun Water Park and enjoyed holiday treats, summer style, including gingerbread cake pops and eggnog frozen ice cream push-ups. Kids everywhere walked around with green mustaches from the (seemingly) mile-high icing on the cupcakes.

After a word of welcome, the stars of Madagascar made a special appearance to unveil this year’s ICE theme, “Merry Madagascar.” Alex the Lion, Gloria the Hippo, King Julien, and sweet little Mort waved and blew kisses to the fans both in the pool and all around. As they stepped off the stage, the logo appeared with Alex and Marty the Zebra. Everyone thought it was “cool” (pun intended) to see a video of Madagascar’s finest introducing the event. And then…

Dry ice billowed and out popped a DJ. A familiar beat got the (pool!) dance floor hoping. Guests knew the song from the instant those first few notes rang out. Ding dit dit dit dit ding ding. Ice, Ice Baby! Vanilla Ice, also known as Robert Van Winkle from the Vanilla Ice Project on HGTV, performed his signature tune to fans both in the water and out.

Gaylord Palms’ Christmas in July proved to be the coolest place in town!

ICE! Will continue to be the “coolest” attraction in Central Florida this year, with the Christmas tradition that brings over 20,000 square feet of 9-degree fun. Two-story ice slides constructed from 2 million (MILLION?!) pounds of ice will chill bundled riders as they giggle and wiggle their way down. In addition to the frosty (no, not THAT Frosty) fun, will be dazzling lights, Madagascar Merriness, ice sculptures, holiday treats, and the Luminescence Christmas Show.

Don’t want to pack a parka for the event? No problem. Calf-length hooded winter coats are provided. Long pants and closed-toe shoes are, however, required. ICE! is open daily from November 10, 2012 through January 1, 2013, including holidays.

Purchase your tickets online at least 24 hours in advance of the date you plan to attend.

A Voluntourist’s Guide to Give Kids the World Village

Not all visitors to Orlando and Central Florida come to our area just for our world class theme parks and attractions. Some, solo and family alike, visit local spots just to volunteer their time because that’s how they choose to spend their time away from home – and we LOVE THIS! Some call this kind of tourism and volunteerism hybrid ‘voluntourism,” and we fully encourage all to give it a try.

Even if you’re a Central Floridian vacationing elsewhere or abroad, look into this option on your next vacation. The experience could be far more rewarding than simply visiting a historic landmark or attraction, and it’s a perspective one may not ever experience otherwise.

There are many voluntourist options in Florida and Central Florida. One of our favorite places to hope and help? Give Kids the World Village, the 79 acre, nonprofit “storybook” resort in Kissimmee which provides cost-free vacations to children with life-threatening illnesses and their families.

What’s a “storybook” resort, and can I stay there?

Imagine being a kid with a huge wish to visit a place where the Mayor is a rabbit and ice cream is served for breakfast (or any time of day) FOR FREE. This storybook fairy tale couldn’t ever possibly happen anywhere on Earth, right? It’s not possible.

WRONG! This is a huge reality at Give Kids the World Village!

The Village, however, is reserved for very special guests and their families. Children diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses already have enough ‘reality’ to deal with in their everyday lives. And, as anyone with a sick loved one knows, there are no days off – for the child or their family members.

While The Village won’t take the illness away, it can absolutely provide a respite for all involved and the closest to a ‘day off’ that a child and their family may experience for awhile. A bit of magic, if you will.

So, no, not just anyone can stay at The Village however, you CAN be part of the magic in helping families in need of a little hope and happiness together.

79 acres? That sounds massive!

It IS. There are almost 20 venues and 168 villas inside The Village itself! More than 154,000 families from 70 countries and all 50 states have been hosted by GKTW thanks to some very generous wish-granting partners, corporations, and individuals like you!

Upon entering, you’ll see the House of Hearts. This is where families check in, and like any resort Guest Services counter, is open 24 hours. You’ll also see Amberville, Julie’s Safari Theatre, Marc’s Dino-Putt, JJ’s Express Train, and the Ice Cream Palace.

The Ice Cream Palace will soon be known as Henri’s Starlite Scoops, named after GKTW founder, Henri Landwirth. Learn more about how you can help The Village’s ‘cool’ fundraising effort called $90 for 90 by visiting http://www.gktw.org/90for90.

Towne Hall is a 53,000 square foot, two story building where families go to eat and experience nightly entertainment. It’s a very new, very sweet addition to GKTW!

If you’ve ever seen pictures of The Village, the Castle of Miracles and Enchanted Carousel will look very familiar. All wish children get to personalize a star inside Star Tower, and the Enchanted Carousel is wheelchair-accessible so everyone can ride. Inside the castle is Twinkle Hope’s La-Ti-Da Royal Spa, which was just remodeled with additions for the whole house and named after the My Little Pony character of the same name! Boys and girls of all ages can visit to get a temporary tattoo, makeover, and more.

You can visit more of the Village online by clicking here!

How can I help? I don’t live in Florida!

Fear not, fair voluntourist and/or virtual friend! You can still help! Some of the many ways you can help as a voluntourist;

Fundraising can be done anywhere. Host a fundraiser at school, work, or elsewhere in your home community! You can donate your birthday on Facebook to fundraise, or make a donation in honor of someone else’s birthday.

Click here to Create Your Own Fundraiser online!

In-Kind Giving is also another big one. The Village is run almost entirely by in-person volunteers, and those volunteers need supplies to keep things sterile, tidy, and sparkly. The Village also hosts nightly entertainment events which also need supplies. Donating goods from this wishlist helps keep costs down at The Village