Theme Park Characters Visit Give Kids the World Village

Every day at all the Disney Parks found around the world, the Disney characters create happiness for Guests. From character greetings to parades, live shows and more, these experiences bring beloved stories to life in storybook settings.
Disney characters have also been known to visit the surrounding communities; in fact, the Walt Disney World Resort acts on a special outreach opportunity to bring its characters to Give Kids the World Village, located in Kissimmee.

The gates of Give Kids the World Village opened in 1989 with the mission of fulfilling the wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses and their families to visit Central Florida. The 79-acre not-for-profit resort works closely with wish-granting organizations, including Make-A-Wish, to provide cost-free accommodations for over 140,000 children and counting.

During their stay, the children and their families are able to visit local theme parks and attractions, as well as enjoy a variety of activities offered by the Village. While most families will visit Walt Disney World Resort multiple times, the Entertainment team also ensures that they can meet some of their favorite characters without leaving Give Kids the World Village.

Walt Disney World Resort has had characters visit the Village since 1990. Epcot Entertainment Guest Service Manager Missy Claus has worked with the characters there for the last eight years. “Every time you’re there, it’s so special,” she said. “The characters would stay there all day, because they recognize the gratitude and emotions of the families.”

Walt Disney World Entertainment partners with the Give Kids the World Entertainment team to make these magical visits possible. “Dee Dee, Abby and the rest of the team at Give Kids the World are just so appreciative and welcoming to all of us - whatever we need, they are able to provide,” shared Missy.

“Families come here to visit the theme parks and meet characters, and they stay at our village so that they can feel normal,” said Dee Dee Martin, Give Kids the World Entertainment Coordinator. “It’s so special to see those two worlds collide and to see wishes come true.”

The characters come to the Village twice a week in the morning so that families can see them before heading out to the theme parks. Mickey Mouse visits every Monday and Thursday, and is joined by several friends, including Goofy, Pluto, Belle. or Mary Poppins.

This past October, Give Kids the World opened its new Towne Hall, a 53,000 square-foot space that houses a variety of restaurants and a flexible entertainment space dubbed “The Hoppening Place.” The new facility makes it possible for families to see all of the Disney characters in one location, and enjoy more time with each of them.

“This is really special one-on-one time for the kids and the characters,” said Character Captain Russ Reynolds, who has been coming to Give Kids the World with Entertainment for the last three years. “When we’re here it’s not about the numbers, but about the experience.”

The children share stories, smiles and hugs with the characters, and all of the families take away hope, joy, and a little extra magic.

PHOTOS: © 2015 Disney/Give Kids the World Village. All Rights Reserved.

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