One of our favorite nonprofit organizations is Give Kids the World Village. It’s an 89 acre complex in Kissimmee, Florida that gives Wish Kids and their families a week that they will never forget. Critically ill children have the opportunity to forget about treatments and tests for a few days, and their parents make memories that will last a lifetime. This is all at no cost to the families. Give Kids the World Village works closely with Walt Disney World, since that is the desired destination for many children. For the holiday season, Give Kids the World Village is even more magical, and the public is invited to be a part of it.
It’s called Night of a Million Lights. The event officially runs from November 12, 2021, until January 2, 2022, but I was invited to a preview on November 9. If you are going to be in Central Florida this holiday season, you will want to check it out for yourself. Last year was the first year of the event, and they welcomed over 92,000 Guests. This season it’s bigger and even better.
Over 3.2 million lights were donated by Walt Disney World. I’ve been told by multiple sources that they were originally from the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, but that hasn’t been confirmed. Night of a Million Lights has the same feel, without the overwhelming crowd.
There is a beautiful trail of trees that you can walk through, or you might want to take the Village Tram Tour right through the village. That is narrated by Jodi Benson. The cottages around the lake are all decorated, and every few minutes they “dance” to the music. The effect is stunning! There are multiple picture opportunities.
South Pole Marketplace has Give Kids the World and Night of a Million Lights merchandise for sale. There are also places where you can grab a snack or a chicken sandwich. There are strolling entertainers in the area. The best part of South Pole Marketplace, though, is that you can meet Santa in his summer home! You’ll first see the cottage where he and the Mrs. are staying (she’s not there) and then you can meet him in his living room. It’s been years since meeting Santa was a priority for me, but this was a lot of fun.
If you would like an even more immersive experience, you can sign up for a private behind-the-scenes tour. Another option is a dessert party ticket. The cost will include your admission. The dessert party is held in the playground area that is also the world’s largest game of Candyland. Private events are also possible.
Many local companies have helped to make the second year of Night of a Million Lights possible. Walt Disney World has decorated a cottage with an “it’s a small world” theme. The Universal Orlando Resort cottage features minions. SeaWorld, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, and some other businesses also have decorated cottages. There are also sponsors on some of the trees along the trail. The sponsorship adds to the fun and can make for some whimsical pictures.
The best part of Night of a Million Lights is that you know that it’s to raise money for a worthy cause. Since 1986 over 177,000 critically ill children and their families have visited for the week of a lifetime. Tickets start at $15 for kids and $25 for adults. Peak nights and holiday nights cost more, but it is still affordable. If you go, please remember that most of the workers who you may encounter are volunteers. This is one holiday event that you don’t want to miss.