This past week Universal Orlando unveiled a truly unique vacation package.  One that truly embodies their new slogan “vacation like you mean it!”  This 3 Day vacation package includes 2 Days at the Universal Orlando resort and one 4 hour volunteer shift at the Give Kids the World Village.  Give Kids The World  (GKTW) is a 70-acre, nonprofit resort that is designed through the eyes of a child and immerses kids with life-threatening illnesses and their families in joy, hope, laughter and non-stop fun at Central Florida’s world-class attractions.

Families who book this vacation package will be treated to a 4 hour volunteer excursion, where you will get the experience of a life time spending your day “dream making” for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families.

MiceChat spoke with Public Relations Manager, Colette Krahenbuhl, about this incredible vacation experience:

MiceChat: How would you describe the mission of Give Kids the World?

Collette Krahenbuhl: It is a very simple mission, it is to provide the happiness that inspires hope, and we do that through picking a child and putting them in an environment of pure happiness. We do not say no to anything, if you want to have 8 ice cream sundaes for breakfast the answer is yes! … If you want to have just ice cream for dinner, or if you want to ride the carousel 25 times and then swim in the pool and then go to Disney,  and comeback and see Santa, we can make that happen!  … Our Mission is to provide one week for the family where they don’t have to worry about the medical bills piling up, they don’t have to worry about the doctors visits .. put the weight on our shoulders and we’ll make these magical memories.  We truly believe that when you are really really happy you can conquer the world.  If we can provide that happiness to that child, they might have the power to go back home and fight their illness.

MC:  What do volunteers do at the Give Kids the World Complex?

CK:  We can accommodate up to 140 families at our facility.  In order to operate and keep costs down, we rely on volunteers to provide some of the required services.  Starting at the moment the family arrives at the village helping them check-in, helping them with a family orientation, putting them on a golf cart and driving  them to their villa, serving them breakfast and dinner in the Ginger Bread House Restaurant, clearing their plates, operating the carousel, train, serving ice cream, and every night when they get from the theme parks [thanks to complimentary admissions]… the village comes to life with a party, like Halloween, Christmas, Village Idol, Pirates and Princess, the World’s Largest Candyland Game, we rely on volunteers to put on these events, to partake in the dressing up, trick or treating, face painting.  Every week more than 1,400 shifts are filled by our “angels” or volunteers.

MC:  Can you share with us how this new and unique vacation package (allowing Orlando visitors to volunteer at Give Kids the World) got created?

CK: This volunteer vacation came about partly because of Universal’s commitment to us.  Not only has Universal been providing complimentary tickets to us for many years, but they are also very active in our volunteer program.  Their employees come over several times during the week to come over on their own time to fill our volunteer shifts.  Universal also sends their characters out several times a week so that families can get pictures without having to wait in a long lines in the parks.  Through this relationship, Universal approached us and said, ‘we would like to be more involved, how can we help you?’  and we suggested this volunteer vacation package.

MC:  Families who book this vacation time get 4 hours of volunteer time. What could a family expect to do in those 4 hours?

CK:   There are a couple different options for volunteers.  One is to work in our Ginger Bread House Restaurant serving breakfast to our families where they would greet the families; they would carry the trays for the families, and then bus the table afterwards or serve the food.  The other option is working in the Oh La Ti Da Spa; this is a spa just for our little princesses and princes.  In the spa they can get their nails done, makeup application, or airbrush tattoos.  We also need volunteers to assist with our character programs.  Universal sends out their own characters so that the families can have a more intimate meet and greet than waiting at the parks.  The last place to volunteer is at our express breakfast station and that is in our ice cream palace and that is a quick stop breakfast location for families that want to get off to the parks.


MC:  What is the biggest take away for volunteers at Give Kids the World?

CK:  Knowing that you made a difference for a child with a life threatening illness and their family.  A family could have come from three weeks in a hospital and hearing the answer “NO.”  No, from insurance companies, no from doctors, and all of a sudden they ask you a question and you answer YES!  I believe that from the moment you walk into the gates at Give Kids the World, you become a better person.  I have seen it day in and day out, and there is something about the village that brings out the best in each person.  Everyone has that side of them that is the best person they can be… and when they come through the gates at Give Kids the World you become selfless, giving and happy.

MC:  Is Gives Kids the World always looking for volunteers?

CK:  We always need volunteers! Always!  On any given day we need 300 people to show up!  If only 100 volunteers show up, in some way our families’ experience will be compromised.  It is very critical for us that on any given day of the week to fulfill those necessary shifts so that the families are given the most perfect magical week that they could have!  A shift runs anywhere from 3 hours to 4 hours.   We have a job and a need and a position for anyone’s skill set!

Packages start at 589.00 per Adult and must be booked by August 29th, 2013 and travel by December 31st 2013 and includes accommodations at any of the 3 Universal Orlando hotels.  Universal Orlando has committed to donating $100 to Give Kids the World for every package booked!

Give Kids The World Volunteer Vacation Package

Package includes the following benefits:

  • Three nights of accommodations at one of three AAA Four Diamond Award winning on-site hotels at Universal Orlando2-day Base Ticket – one theme park, per day
  • A four-hour volunteer opportunity at Give Kids The World Village
  • FREE scheduled round-trip transportation to and from Give Kids The World Village
  • Early Park Admission to Universal’s Islands of Adventure to experience The Wizarding World of Harry Potter before the rest of the general public
  • Universal Express ride access to skip the regular lines at both Universal Orlando theme parks

**Pricing starts at $589 per adult, tax inclusive. No additional fees to volunteer.

To Book This Package Call
(855) 275-4955

Vacation package must be booked by August 29, 2013, for travel through December 31, 2013.

The next time you consider taking a vacation to the Universal Orlando Resort, consider donating a few hours of your time to making another family’s vacation a little brighter.  Donate your time, save money, and be a hero.

Please do us the favor of sharing this post with your friends and family, you never know who out there might just be looking for an opportunity to take a great vacation and help make magic for a child very much in need. We hope that Give Kids the World is flooded with bighearted volunteers. We’d love to hear from you when you get back. I’d bet that for most of you, those 4 hours at Give Kids The World will be the cherished memories you take home with you from this vacation.

  • Jeff Heimbuch

    I’m super impressed by this. Kudos to Universal!

    • Eric Davis

      This was an experience that I cannot recommend enough. Everyone needs to spend some time there!

  • RosevilleDisfan

    What a great idea? Hey WDW, are you going to let Universal be the ones with biggest hearts?

    • Eric Davis

      I would love for the theme parks to battle over who can do the most good!

  • Gregg Condon

    Love Give Kids The World. I’ve done their Coasting for Kids event the last 2 years and am doing it again this year. I’ve supported a lot of charities over the years and GKTW is the most rewarding one.
    This is an amazing package and one that we will be booking when we make our return trip to Orlando. Great write-up Eric!!

  • What a wonderful idea and clever way to help Give Kids The World. We’ve featured them a number of times over the years and raise lots of money for them during their expansion. But this is really a clever win/win deal that I hope lots of folks take advantage of. Help a very worthy charity AND get a great deal at Universal which includes deluxe hotel, park tickets and front of line passes. I’m in!

  • WesternMouse

    I posted a similar comment on the original Orlando Sentinel article last week. First, it’s awesome that Uni is promoting this. What I want to know is what’s up with the $100 donation. So you, the paying guest, throws $589 to Uni. Is Uni really donating $100? No. YOU are. To top it off, Uni gets the tax write off, too. So you pay Uni, they get the publicity and the tax write off.

    Want to make a difference? Just donate to Give Kids the World directly. If you’re in the area, then go serve there on your own. No need to involve the middleman. Before folks here go flaming me, step back and pay attention to the other posts. Everyone is slobbering all over Uni for what they are doing. What did they do? Not a thing except advertise that they will take your money and send some to GKTW. This is self-serving publicity. Is it smart? Heck yes! Just don’t give Uni too much credit. Remember it’s you, the guests, that are making a difference. If you really want to help, stay home and donate the full $589 to GKTW today. Just do it.

    • Eric Davis

      I disagree with you completely. First the 100.00 is not “tacked” onto the price of the vacation package. Universal is not simply acting as the “middle man” for most families who would want to participate in this sort of activity, the scheduling, and transportation, orientation, etc might seem too overwhelming for some when planning an Orlando vacation.

      Universal Orlando, and Give Kids the World have taken all the logistics out of the equation, and streamlined the process so that you can do some good, when you are here having fun!

      I applaud them, and I encourage everyone else to applaud them as well.

      • I agree with you Eric. While some folks may very well want to donate directly to Give Kids the World (and I hope lots will), this particular offer is expanding the potential pool of volunteers and that’s a very good thing.

      • Gregg Condon

        Agreed Eric.

        Some people might also say that having “Coasting for Kids” at Cedar Fair parks is a lot more difficult than just giving them the $$ directly. But what it does do is bring “awareness”. Before Coasting for Kids I hadn’t really heard of GKTW and it was a great opportunity to give back while doing something that I love. The fact that almost $50,000 was raised in one day last year isn’t too shabby either.

  • Lonnie0616

    My neice has diagnosed with leukemia and was sent to Walt Disney World through the Make a Wish Foundation back in 2006. She flew out on June 25, 2006 and during the flight from Seattle to Orlando, began to run a fever. They arrived and were staying at Give Kids the World. They made a quick trip to the hospital and spent the night at Give the Kids the World but my niece had an infection in her foot that spread up her leg overnight and she passed away mid-day on June 26, 2006. She never got to see any of the parks or anything. Give Kids the World was a tremendous help to my sister as well as my distraught niece and nephew. I can’t say enough how wonderful and accomodating they were to the family during this horrible event. Make a Wish stepped in and helped quite a bit as well. I remember seeing pictures of the kids on the little carousel pictured in the article above. This is a truly wonderful organization and if i didn’t live in Seattle, would gladly volunteer my time. This package is a great deal and while it’s true you can volunteer on your own without this package, it brings attention to the organziation and gives people (and families) an opportunity to see the parks and make a difference at the same time. I think it’s wonderful that Universal is promoting this and allowing those of us who take our Disney/Unversali trips for granted a chance to help grant a special moment (and sometimes final moment) to a young child.

    • Thank you so much for your comments. You made me cry, but that’s a good thing. Give Kids the World really does make a difference and it is stories like yours which help us all understand just what a powerful service they provide.

    • KingEric

      Thank you so much for your comment!

    • Tielo

      Thank you for sharing that story, Lonnie0616.
      I bet your niece was looking forward to see the parks and knowing she would go to WDW.
      The events that happened unfortunately never let her experience the parks but the excitement before that vacation hopefully has given her some smiles. It’s impressive to read how much help the foundation was to her family.

      I’m glad the parks in Orlando are very collaborative about helping children and families to have a wonderful time.

  • jcruise86

    This was one of the most interesting and poignant articles I’ve read on Micechat. Thank you! I’d like to do this with my family. I’m impressed that Universal is encouraging families to make their vacations more meaningful and (hopefully) sending GKTW a reliable stream of volunteers. Some people introduced to this via this plan will later contribute independently of Universal.

    –Tom Sinsky