Our Make-A-Wish trip to Disney World was hands down the best experience of our lives. Mathew and I had been to Disney World several times as children and adults, but there will never be anything that compares to a Make-A-Wish trip to Disney World.
Being a parent of a child with special needs can be so hard, but for our family, it’s always fulfilling. Addie is our world and I always feel like we do our best to give her an amazing life, but when the opportunity to have Addie choose a Make-A-Wish trip, we knew Disney World would be a once in a lifetime opportunity for her. I’ve dreamed of Addie being able to go on a commercial flight, and always wanted to take her to Disney World, but there are so many logistics when taking her to a doctor appointment, let alone the Happiest Place on Earth several states away. Make-A-Wish made all the logistics happen so effortlessly, and it was such an amazing thing to take Addie on the trip of a lifetime.
With the help of my sweet friends Kathy and Christy (and several of my amazing Disney blogger friends), we had an amazing experience that I truly felt was the epitome of a Disney dream. I want to share our tips so other families with children that have special needs or other Make-A-Wish families can enjoy when they go on their very own Make-A-Wish trip to Disney World!
1| Buy the Magic Band. Magic Bands are a completely optional purchase that I recommend all Make-A-Wish families purchasing. We purchased one for our trip and it was so worth having! We were able to use it to get all the pictures from our rides and Photopass photographers with ease. To make sure I didn’t lose it during the week I bought a cute Magic Band bow.
2| Do Bibbity Boppity Boutique with a Savings Twist. My sweet friend Kathy gifted Addie money for her birthday to do Bibbity Boppity Boutique. Although some people ask Make-A-Wish for this as their “extra” we opted for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party tickets as our extra. Kathy had sound advice for Addie and I’m thankful we took it. Buy your Disney Princess dress ahead of time. By bringing Addie’s dress with us, we saved SO much money! We spent $75 and Addie got her nails, hair, and makeup done, a cute cinch backpack, face gems, pixie dust nail polish, and a sash. She still had the full experience but for a fraction of the cost.
3| Dress up for the Occasion. This was the best thing we did. If you know what characters will be at which parks, take the extra time to grab princess dresses or costumes for your wish kid and siblings to wear. It makes for the best photo ops! Lawson got a great picture dressed in a Buzz Lightyear costume with Buzz Lightyear and dressed as a Stormtrooper in Galaxy’s Edge. Addie dressed as Anna from Frozen when she met Anna and Elsa, had a BB-8 dress on when she met Rey and Chewbacca, and even dressed as Moana for Animal Kingdom! If adults want to get in on the fun, definitely DisneyBound or get matching Make-A-Wish family shirts.
4| Reserve a Character Dining Option. It’s one thing to meet the characters or to have a Genie Pass and meet a lot of characters, but it’s a whole other thing to have a meal with a character. In the past we’ve done fun character dining like Chef Mickeys or Crystal Palace, but we wanted an extra special meal for Addie’s Make-A-Wish trip to Disney World. I absolutely recommend dining at 1900 Park Fare, especially at Christmas to see the gorgeous gingerbread house at the Grand Floridian, hear Christmas music from a pianist, and you can have a delicious and upscale meal with Cinderella, Prince Charming, and the evil Stepsisters. The food was incredible (get the prime rib!) and everyone in our whole party enjoyed it.
5| Get the Best Parade Spot. I’m going to give you my best Magic Kingdom secret spot for parades. Make-A-Wish families, this spot is incredible for character interactions. Across from the Hall of Presidents is a handicap accessible spot. If your wish kid is in a wheelchair or medical stroller, go there! There is also a small section blocked off for those that are hearing impaired. Since Addie has a cochlear implant we were also able to go to that section without a problem. So many characters stopped and loved on Addie! Make sure to wave and blow kisses. You’ll be surprised at how much Disney magic you’ll see.
6| Have Fun with Stormtroopers. Don’t miss Galaxy’s Edge on your Make-A-Wish trip to Disney World even if you aren’t a huge Star Wars fan. Get your family some Ronto Wraps at Ronto Roasters, ride Rise of the Resistance several times in a row (gotta love that Genie Pass), and then walk around! If you see Stormtroopers, mess with them! Tell them someone in your party is with the Resistance, boo Kylo Ren, or anything else funny. It’ll give you another fun experience to add to your trip. P.S.- don’t forget the blue milk.
7| Grab an Iconic Disney Snack. Whether it’s a Mickey pretzel, Mickey donut, Dole Whip, or churro- don’t miss out on the amazing snacks Disney has to offer. They make for the best pictures (especially if they’re as big as your wish kid’s face), taste delicious, and are an essential experience for a Make-A-Wish trip to Disney World. The sweet cast members at Harambe Market gifted us with Disney snacks on our first day at Animal Kingdom as pixie dust and it was so special to us!
8| Rest Your Feet at the Lion King Show. If you’ve never seen the Lion King show at Animal Kingdom put it on your list. It’s a great show to see to rest your feet, get out of the rain, and just enjoy in awe. Plus, if you let them know you’re a Make-A-Wish family, they’ll try really hard to put you in the front row. You may even experience pixie dust! We were asked to join at the end for dancing on stage and took Addie out for a spin. It was so cool seeing all the characters so close!
9| Get A Face Painting. Did you know Make-A-Wish kids get a free face painting in each Disney World park? We found a face painting booth near Rockin’ Roller Coaster and while our families enjoyed the ride, my mother-in-law and I took Addie to get her face painted. The artist was so sweet with Addie and made sure she was comfortable in every way while doing her face paint. It made the day just a little extra special and many people were remarking how cute it was! Don’t skip this fun freebie.
10| Use Your Genie Pass As Much As You Can. Listen, Genie Passes are one incredible perk during your child’s Make-A-Wish trip to Disney World. Use it as much as you can during the trip. Make-A-Wish parents face the harsh reality that their kids can die, their kids are very sick, they’ve practically lived in hospitals so long, and/or their kids can get progressively worse over time. A Genie Pass is such a privilege, but at the same point, you’ve earned that pass. Anyone who is rude has no idea the struggles you’ve gone through. They might say, “Oh must be nice…” but they would never be able to walk a mile in your shoes. Brush them off, say a prayer for them, and enjoy every single ride with your wish kid.
I truly hope that you and your wish kid have a phenomenal Make-A-Wish trip to Disney World. Our time there was such a blessing and it truly was the most magical experience ever. Make-A-Wish did a phenomenal job in planning everything and we are so grateful to them for this opportunity for Addie. I pray we will be able to take Addie to Disney on our own someday and have another incredible time.