Spread the Good: Voluntourism with Universal Orlando and Give Kids the World

One of the many benefits of my job as a writer is that I get to share news, events and attractions with others.  A lot of the activities and events are things that I actually do myself, but an equal amount involves just getting the word out about good things that are going on, whether I’m actually the one doing those things or not.  There’s so much that is not good in this world.  I like being able to “spread the good.”

I’ve been a fan of Give Kids the World (GKTW) for a long time.  Opened in 1989, GKTW is a non-profit organization that provides a week-long vacation for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families.  This cost-free vacation lets children have a worry-free week just enjoying themselves with their families.  The GKTW Village has 140 villa accommodations on its 70 acre site, and many storybook features, attractions and fun venues are all on site.  Everything is designed and adapted for kids with special needs.

Give Kids the World Village Photo: PR Newswire

Give Kids the World Village – “Where Happiness Inspires Hope”
Photo: PR Newswire

GKTW works with many individuals, volunteers, businesses and wish-granting services, such as Make-A-Wish, to give magical memories and a happy, worry-free time to children and their families.  They spend their time enjoying Disney, Universal, SeaWorld or any other of the many attractions within the Central Florida area, and not concentrating on the various trials and tribulations of their particular illness.

Volunteers are happily accepted at GKTW.  I’ve never had the opportunity to volunteer there myself, but through the magic of social media and my writing career, have managed to virtually meet a few of the good citizens that have volunteered.  Read all about an alternative spring break conducted by Dave Parfitt of Adventures by Daddy.  Instead of heading off to Fort Lauderdale, Panama City or any other of the typical college spring break hangouts, these students spend their time volunteering at GKTW.  That’s what I call “spreading the good” in a big way.

For the past couple of years, members of Coaster Crew have participated in “Coasting for Kids” to raise funds for GKTW.  Roller coaster enthusiasts raise money and then spend a day at Cedar Fair parks across the country, riding as many twisting, turning, looping coasters as their stomachs can handle.  Last year, the event raised $114,000.  You can read all about it by clicking here.

Photo: ©Universal Orlando

Photo: ©Universal Orlando

The latest partnership and voluntourism incentive with Give Kids the World (that I know about) involves Universal Orlando.  The folks famous for movies, adventure and ground-breaking theme park experiences have created a vacation offer that allows guests to spend two days enjoying the fun and thrills of the Universal Orlando theme parks – Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure – and one day of making children’s dreams come true as they meet their favorite storybook characters, get their faces painted, receive makeovers and much more.

Minion Mayhem at Universal Studios. Photo: Universal/PRNewswire

Minion Mayhem at Universal Studios.
Photo: Universal/PRNewswire

Hogwarts - Islands of Adventure

Hogwarts – Islands of Adventure

The package includes:

  • Accommodations for three nights at one of three AAA Four Diamond on-site hotels at Universal Orlando (Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel or Loews Royal Pacific Resort)
  • Two-day Base Ticket – one theme park per day (Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure)
  • A four-hour volunteer opportunity at Give Kids the World Village
  • Free scheduled roundtrip transportation to and from GKTW 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 (Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios)
Caro-Seuss-el at Islands of Adventure

Caro-Seuss-el at Islands of Adventure

Volunteers will be assisting with any number of activities and events:

  • Character Photos – Assist with taking photos of families and  their favorite storybook characters.
  • Express Breakfast – Serve breakfast food to-go.  Greet guests, take orders and package food.
  • Gingerbread House – Interact with guests by serving breakfast, running food, refilling drinks, bussing tables and clean-up.
  •  La-Ti-Da-Spa – Assist with makeovers, face-painting, nails, makeup, hand massage and airbrush tattoos (volunteers must be 16 and older).
Everybody's favorite sea sponge, now in shop form at Universal Studios.

Everybody’s favorite sea sponge, now in shop form at Universal Studios.

"Who lives in a pineapple under the sea...." - Universal Studios

“Who lives in a pineapple under the sea….” – Universal Studios


Hogsmeade - Islands of Adventure

Hogsmeade – Islands of Adventure

The Universal Orlando/GKTW vacation package must be booked by August 29, 2013 for travel through December 31, 2013.  Pricing starts at $589 per adult, or $1489 for a family of four.  Universal Parks & Resorts Vacations will donate $100 to GKTW for every package booked.  Learn more about volunteer opportunities with Universal Orlando.

Seuss Landing at Islands of Adventure Photo: ©Universal Orlando

Seuss Landing at Islands of Adventure
Photo: ©Universal Orlando

Many generous people, businesses and wish-granting organizations have helped GKTW to welcome more than 120,000 families from all 50 states and over 70 countries.  Please visit www.gktw.org for more information, or to make a donation of your own.

The Amazing Adventures of Spider-man at Islands of Adventure.

The Amazing Adventures of Spider-man at Islands of Adventure.

Let’s all try to “spread the good.”



  1. Sandy, thank you so much for the kind words regarding my alternative break trip to GKTW. It’s one of the highlights of my year for sure, and is one of those occasions where I certainly get much more than I give. It’s GKTW that I need to thank for allowing me to do it.

    • admin says:

      You are very welcome. I’m happy to know that there are young adults out there that would give up a “traditional” spring break to volunteer for such a worthwhile cause. Kudos to all involved!

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