UK journalist and television presenter Jennie Bond is an avid supporter and ambassador of CLC World Resorts & Hotels and has participated in many of its charitable initiatives. Since 201 8 CLC World Charity Holidays has partnered with UK based children’s charity Dreams Come True, which helps children and young people with serious and life-limiting conditions to fulfil their dreams, and to provide free accommodation at their portfolio of luxury resorts across the globe. Here, Jennie shares her discover Disney Florida experience, where she got to see first-hand how youngster’s dreams come true.
Discover Disney Florida, where dreams come true
Disney, they say, is in the business of making magic. And it must be every child’s dream to discover Disney Florida and visit the famous theme parks in Orlando.
For two years running, I’ve been lucky enough to see those dreams realised for a group of youngsters with a range of special needs. They’ve been treated to a week at one of CLC Regal Oaks, as part of the company’s partnership with the charity, Dreams Come True.
It’s been a most humbling experience. And it has put into sharp perspective any trivial grumbles I might have about my cushy, privileged life.
To see the joy on the faces of children with life-threatening conditions and lifelong disabilities is a privilege in itself. Many of the families never imagined they would get the chance to embark on such an adventure and discover Disney Florida: a week away from the endless round of hospital appointments and crisis management. A week to immerse themselves in sunshine and fun and also to meet other families facing similar difficulties.
Luxury accommodation at CLC World Regal Oaks
Discover Disney Florida is a fantasy world full of excitement, thrills and joy.
It’s also absolutely exhausting. The children were so enthralled with the Magic Kingdom that we ended up spending 11 hours there! Few of us could keep our eyes open on the short journey home.
But that’s one of the delights of staying at CLC World Regal Oaks. It only takes about 15 minutes to arrive in the land of dreams and discover Disney Florida. And when the day’s fantasies come to an end, it is a truly magical thing to get back to the peace and tranquillity of this lovely resort.
It’s like staying in a small village, with smart, identical townhouses built amongst lush vegetation and lakes. The water attracts all sorts of wildfowl and one of the families this year was lucky enough to spot a couple of deer and a racoon outside their house.
After walking several miles around the Disney parks in the Florida heat, I can assure you that there really is nothing quite so relaxing as a soak in your own private hot tub or perhaps a
sundowner by the pool after a Discover Disney Florida experience.
The resort is the sort of place where you can keep yourself to yourself if you want to or enjoy a bit of company around the huge swimming pool. The restaurant serves some delicious dishes, but most people also do a fair bit of self-catering.
As in all CLC World Resorts & Hotels, the houses are spacious, elegant and superbly equipped with pretty much everything you’d expect to find in your own home. So, it makes cooking for the family easy.
Exploring beyond Disney
If you hire a car, Florida is a great place to explore. From the resort, it’s a short drive to Orlando itself, or to the curious town of Celebration — which is rather like walking straight onto a film set, with its colourful houses, cafes, boutiques and horse and carriage rides.
If beaches are more your ‘thing’, head to the Atlantic or Gulf coasts. But most people, of course, spend their days “doing” Disney. I didn’t have a car this time, so instead, I took a short walk down the road and came to a strange array of shops and bars called Old Town. There I discovered that you can get an artificial tattoo or buy a bar of the purest organic soap.
America is nothing if not fascinating!
When I left, the children and their families were about to head out to a shopping mall to pick up some premium outlet bargains. It was meant to be a rest day for them, but they were so revved up by their discover Disney Florida experience and the excitement of it all, that they just had to go and explore.
During my stay, we had talked at length about their lives, danced together around the pool, cried together as we watched those precious, brave children achieve their discover Disney Florida dreams and hugged together as we parted.
On behalf of the children and their families, I want to thank Dreams Come True and CLC World Resorts & Hotels for making their troubled world a better place.