Our flights to Orlando were super delayed - we didn't end up arriving in Orlando until almost 10pm. A GKTW greeter met us at the gate to help us collect our baggage and pick up our car rental. By the time we arrived at the House of Hearts (no, really) for check in, it was after 11. Gifts for everyone at check-in...
They had also arranged for food to be brought to our villa, and waived the normal 11:30pm visiting hours cut-off to let my in-laws come and see the girls for a few hours.
The village is set up to provide a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom villa to each wish family (I saw one with the same name on both sides of the duplex, so I'm guessing that's what they do for larger families).
|Hello, Mayor Clayton|
The kids' bedroom - 2 twin beds, 2 dressers, and attached handicap accesible bathroom.
And a giant tub with jets. (warning, naked babies ahead...)
I know. It is REALLY EXCITING.
The second bathroom is standard and normal. Second bedroom has a dresser and king size bed.
They include a crib, an extra bed that folds up and I know there's a word for this but I cannot think of it, and a fold out couch. I think, all told, you can fit up to 7 people. We had some cousins stay over a few nights, and there was plenty of space.
They also aren't joking when they say to pack an extra suitcase. The Gift Fairy comes for a visit every.single.day.
During our planning, I was admittedly a little bummed that we weren't staying at a Disney resort. We've always stayed on Disney property, and I just love it. I kept seeing other people recommend leaving a day open to explore the Village, and kept thinking there's no WAY I'm taking a day out of the parks to hang out at a resort.
I was super, duper wrong.
I totally should have planned more time at GKTW.
I'm sure I'll forget something, but... on the 70 acre property... mini-golf, remote controlled boats, fishing, 2 pools, horseback riding, train rides, movies (in a theater), character greetings, arcade with pool tables, WII/PSsomething, and basketball, a nature trail, basketball courts, a "spa" to get your nails painted or a hand massage... There are also multiple planned activities every day - Real Life Candyland Game, cookout at the pool, Pirate and Princess Party, Halloween themed party, Christmas party, Mayor Clayton's Birthday... we didn't manage to hit any of them, and I wish we had (disclaimer, I planned on doing the Christmas party, since it ran until 9pm on Thusrday when we arrived, but then our flights were delayed).
And it's totally, totally runnable. You could probably loop through it for a good 1.5 miles? Maybe? I didn't try. But it's safe enough. The property is enclosed, with manned gates to let people in - you have to either swipe your meal card, or, if you're visiting, be buzzed in and announced to the villa you're visiting.
The layout was a little confusing for me at first, because I'm directionally lame that way, but once you realize everything is centered around the House of Hearts, it's super easy to navigate.
|You can't hear it, but they're yeehaw'ing. You know. Because they're cowboys...|
Eating All The Things
A stay at the village includes food. A lot of food.
Gingerbread House serves hot meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A continental breakfast opens a little earlier than the regular dining room, as well. And, there are these semi-creepy dolls hanging over your head in one of the rooms...
Katie's Kitchen serves Boston Market for lunch and dinner, either for eating at the picnic tables there, or take out to the pool, your villa, the car, whatever.
And, best of all, the Ice Cream Palace is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Castle of Miracles
Every family at GKTW attends an orientation, to review the amenities, learn how the Magic Pass works, get park tickets, etc. In our welcome packet was a star. The star is for the Wish kid to decorate, however she wants, and then bring to the Castle of Miracles for placement, where the Star Fairy will fly away and hang her star.
Decorating with a picture of herself :D
|The new Star Tower, where Gabby's star is - they ran out of space in the Castle.|
I took some pictures of the star fairy and the whole ceremony, but I kind of don't want to spoil it for anyone who might stumble through here.
A few days later, you get a postcard with a barcode, and an invitation to come see your star in it's permanent location. This is also super, SUPER cute, and I'm not spoiling it.
But I might have cried. Just a little.