When Amy, a little girl with leukemia, was unable to fulfill her wish to visit Orlando’s theme parks before she passed away, hotelier Henri Landwirth vowed that he’d never let a child in need’s wish go unfilled again. So he enlisted his colleagues in the hospitality and theme-park industries to help him make his vow a reality. His idea, Give Kids The World, expanded to a 70-acre resort village with more than 140 villa accommodations for wish children and their families, plus entertainment attractions and fun activities specially designed for children with special needs. The organization works with wish-granting organizations, such as Make-A-Wish Foundation, to fulfill any wishes to visit Orlando-area theme parks. In 2011, more than 7,000 wish children and their families from all 50 states and 25 countries visited the resort for a cost-free vacation.
In the world of reality TV, it can be hard to separate fact from scripted sensationalism. But with Ghost Tracker Ghost Tours, visitors can see firsthand how the investigators on Ghost Tracker TV gauge the paranormal activity of reputed hauntings, and will even get to help document the spooky goings-on. Using the tools showcased on the screen—including EMF readers and K2 meters—tour-goers track the level of paranormal activity at 5–7 haunted sites, all while listening to their guide recount stories of the old court house or the hanging tree. During their 90 minutes of ghost hunting, guests maintain a leisurely pace while covering less than a mile of ground, allowing them ample time to peer around with cameras for spectral images that can’t be seen with the human eye. Some tours may be filmed for the show, so guests may be asked to sign a waver in order to enjoy their 15 minutes of fame.
Dade City's Wild Things puts visitors within 3 feet of most of its menagerie, which includes more than 200 animals on exhibit. Botanical gardens blanket the zoo's 22-acre expanse, providing a scenic backdrop for creatures such as a tiger, lion, lemur, bear, and baboon. Separated from most animals by a few feet, a chain-link fence, and the ability to knit socks out of their own fur, opposable-thumbed guests can explore the animal offerings by walking tour or tram ride. Dade City's Wild Things further upholds its aim to connect people with animals by offering opportunities for close cross-species interaction, such as feeding buffalo in grazing fields on the Jungle Safari Ride, swimming with a tiger, or reserving an animal encounter, which provides a chance for visitors to interact one-on-one with a choice of critters including a zebra foal, gator hatchling, and African pygmy-goat kid.
Part of a national organization originally founded to emphasize agricultural education, Orange County 4-H now supports young people with developmental programs to help them achieve their full potential in a variety of areas. 4-H programs engage more than 900 youth in Orange County in a range of activities, including robotics, public speaking, horseback riding, and gardening.
The Epilepsy Association of Central Florida distributes bike helmets to economically disadvantaged children to save lives during accidents and reduce head-trauma-induced conditions. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration determined that if children universally wore helmets while biking, it would prevent roughly 40,000 head injuries every year, which would also reduce the risk of youth developing epilepsy.
The certified instructors of Zumba on Wheels pack up their fancy-footed dance moves and kick off aerobics parties at nearly any location or event. Demonstrating the workout's signature cardio steps set to Latin-inspired music, mobile hosts add rhythmic pizzazz to birthday parties, gym routines, corporate gatherings, and State of the Union addresses. Their collective energy creates an electric and supportive atmosphere as students shimmy along to multiple Zumba variations, including traditional Zumba, Zumba Toning, and ZumbAtomic for kids.