Tuesday, August 19, 2008

GKTW Castle of Miracles

This was probably the neatest place at GKTW. There were so many things in this one building so check out. First of all, it is decorated as an old fashioned castle and the Carousel is attached on the outside covered with a mushroom cover. There is even a moat with a lochness monster guarding things.

When you enter the Castle, you are greeted by a coat of armor. His name is Rusty!

To your right is a "game" room. They call it the Fe Fi Fo Fun room. It has a "control center" where you can put different animated characters on the screen and make them move with different buttons and switches. There is a television playing kids movies, and lots of toys for the little kids. The coolest thing to me was the giant peeking in through the ceiling!

The main room of the castle is where the stars of all the wish kids are. They are all over the ceiling and they have had to add banners to hold more stars. (I have already posted pics of this earlier). Ashleigh's star is on the first banner. This is where the king and queen thrones are. During the Christmas celebration, we met Mrs. Claus here.
Just to the left of this big room is another play area. They have a few tables for coloring and drawing. My favorite is the wishing well. There is a bucket full of pennies. You can help yourself and throw some into the well. Sometimes, you hear nothing but the clink of the coins, but other times you hear the sound of breaking glass, or someone yelling or my favorite, someone burping! It was pretty silly. There is a wall with tons of drawers. You could open them. Some of them had toys inside and some of them made a noise.

They have a miagic pillow machine here also. Each child is given a coupon to make a magic pillow. The machine squeeks and rattles and blows bubbles as the child tries to "control" it. Then it spits out a special pillow just for the child. It is really cool!

This area also has a really cool magic mirror. "Mirror, Mirror on the wall, Who's the fairest of them all?" Pull the lever, and suddenly your image is complete with a crown and royal cape!

In the back of the castle is a little activity room with a tunnel and slide called the Jolly Hollow. It is decorated like a forest, and has little peepholes where you can peep in and see a family of mice. You can hear crickets chirping and when you enter the tunnel, it sounds like bees are following you! There are lighted footprints that lead up to the slide. Our girls were a little big for this area, but Ashleigh did try out the slide once.

It was a really neat place, and every morning when we left our villa we could see the back of it, we were that close!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

GKTW Odds and Ends (part 1)

Do you know what this is? It's a trash can! There are several of these characters around the campus, and all of them say "I Love You" on them. I believe there is a slight suction to them to help the trash go in. We had to keep Ashleigh away, she kept putting her hand in there! (she thought it was funny).

Here is a park bench that looks like it was created by a child or children. I was not able to find out the history of it, but there are also several of these around the campus. It could be a child who has passed away, or it could be donated by kids for kids. One thing I have learned, everything on the campus has a "story", but you don't always figure out what it is.

This was a cool wall that we passed often on our walk to the many evening events at the theater. It is a mural, and it depicts many of our holidays. Thanksgiving, Halloween, Easter, Valentine's Day, Independence Day, Hanukkah and Christmas. The use of the animals was cute.

We saw these personalized stones in many places along the walkway through the main campus. I asked Alex one day if he had heard anything about these stones, but he had not. I believe he found some information later on their website. This is another way they raise funds. You can purchase a brick for $200 and have an inscription put on it. I think it is a really neat idea, and we plan on doing this, probably next year.

The House of Hearts is the first place you see when you drive through the entrance and past the guard house. It is the administration building. You check-in, attend orientation, rent a movie, get a camera, relax in the tv room, or ask any question! They are open 24 hours a day, so you can always get help if you need it. They have their processes down, and everything runs really smoothly. This is where I would take my laptop to update this blog while we were there because they have a high speed internet connection here. The people working here were great and we really appreciate them!

Friday, July 25, 2008

GKTW Movie Theater

Julie's Safari Theater is the main place for all the activites that happen on campus. Inside there are character meetings and pictures, Christmas pictures and presents, movies, the CandyLand party and games. Outside the theater is the main gathering place for more character meetings and parties. There is more space outside, but the theater is used in case of rain. We met many characters here, had the Princess and Pirates party and presentation and enjoyed face painting. The girls only ended up watching 1 movie here, we were too busy! They offer free refreshments anytime the theater is open including popcorn, icees, candy and sodas. Ashleigh could never pass up a trip to the refreshment counter!

When I first saw the theater inside, I wondered how they fit everyone because I am used to a regular theater filled to capacity. Surprisingly, we never really had problems finding space. When there were parties, the kids would alternate between inside and outside and the movie that the girls went to (Enchanted), there was only 1 other person in there. During the character meetings, they have a line up to the stage to meet characters, and then you leave. The do have a ramp available up to the stage, so kids in wheelchairs can always meet the characters. Outside the theater, designed into the ground, is a medallion that has a picture of a child and the phrase "Make Today Count for Our Children." (If you look at the first picture above, you can see some of it on the ground in front of the theater). There is a design around the medallion that looks like sunshine rays. I didn't notice at first, but there are tiny "spots" in the rays and at night they light up. It looks like little stars and is really a beautiful sight as you walk around.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Universal Studios Islands of Adventure

The last theme parks we made it to were Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. Because of all the 3D and strobing and flashing lights, we did not spend a lot of time at Universal Studios. Ashleigh enjoyed Islands of Adventure though, and we were able to ride a lot of rides there. We started out at Jurassic Park with the pterodactyl ride.
It was a lot of fun, you could see most of the park while you were flying around, but it was so short! Because the regular line was at least an hour wait, and we were able to get right on with our pass, we only rode 1 time. We didn't want to cause much more delay for the people who waited patiently. We found a great roller coaster, the unicorn ride, and the girls loved it. It was tame compared to the Kraken, but at least we all rode together this time!

Our favorite area was the Dr. Seuss section. Everything is Seuss-like, and the attention to detail was amazing. Street signs, rides, shops and decor all stuck to the theme. We rode everything in this land, and it was a lot of fun. After a quick jaunt to Universal Studios to see if we could ride one or two rides, we returned here for some funnel cake before we left for the day. Yum!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

GKTW Chapel

This beautiful chapel was built for families to have a quiet place to come and meditate or pray. Unfortunately, there are no formal services here. It is a small circular room, with a ceiling made to look like the sky. It is surrounded by beautiful stained glass windows depicting Faith, Hope, Love and Peace (GKTW calls them the "four seasons"). I posted these 4 windows on the sidebar to the right. We didn't spend much time here, but we did come and look around during parents night out. The windows are just gorgeous, and there are several books for guests to write in. We found several prayers written by young people who had returned to GKTW. It was very touching!

Friday, July 18, 2008

GKTW Animals

When we first checked in at GKTW, they mentioned that we should not feed any animals that we saw roaming the campus. I was worried we might meet up with an alligator or such, but we never saw anything like that. The most prevalent animals were lizards (sorry mom, granny and susie!). They were skittering everywhere! The day we were leaving, as Alex took me around to take pictures of the different villas, I saw this little guy sitting on a fence. He didn't seem too concerned about me, and sat still while I photographed him. My camera was zoomed in, but I was still surprised at how close he let me get.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Wish Lounge at Magic Kingdom

While we were at Magic Kingdom, we checked out the Wish Lounge. They added this lounge for wish kids and their families when they come to magic kingdom. The girls found a huge stuffed chair and watched part of a movie. The lounge was decorated with many Disney touches, and provided a great place to cool down and relax.

Alex and I almost fell asleep while we were in there. We really appreciate Disney for creating this special retreat. I can imagine that there are many wish children who need this space and it is great that Disney took up some of their valuable space to help these kids enjoy their trip even more. Thanks Disney!

There was one more lounge we tried to visit, but we lost track of what day it was. Saturday we went over to Epcot to check out the Hewlett-Packard lounge at Mission Space. On our way, we remembered that it was Saturday, and realized that all the lounges were closed on the weekends. Alex sure was disappointed. He wanted to visit all the lounges, because once the trip was over, we would no longer have our special pass. I'm sure the HP lounge was awesome as well, and we appreciate the fact that we could have gone in during the week. Thank you Hewlett-Packard!