PP017 | Dreamflight – Part 2 of 2 | Discover how a yearly event has changed over 5000 lives. Dreamflight has given a plane full of deserving children, a life-changing holiday, every year since 1987!


Continuing on from PP016, in this episode we discover what happens during the dream flight holiday. It all starts by organizing coaches from all parts of the UK to arrive at The Hilton T5 hotel at Heathrow Airport in London.  In this mini episode Patricia and Sally give us a mind-blowing blow-by-blow account of what happens during the Dreamflight trip.

In this episode you’ll discover:

  •  What’s on the schedule for the Dreamflight children and helpers.
  • The life-changing highlights of the holiday.
  •  How you can find out more about Dreamflight



Show Notes

00:38 Opening words with Toby and James.
02:19 Interview with Patricia, Sally and Toby.
03:37 Find out where Dreamflight stays before they take off to Orlando.
04:08 Find out what happens on the first night at the hotel.
05:24 Find out how long it takes for everybody to board the aircraft.
05:38 Discover why Dreamflight is not like any other flight.
05:56 Find out what time the trip lands in Orlando.
06:55 Dreamflight’s first day in Orlando.
08:06 Discover Dreamflight’s rule.
08:20 Find out which parks they visit on Tuesday.
09:02 Find out what’s special about the activities on a Wednesday.
09:56 Find out the amazing things the children experience on a Thursday.
10:17 Why being in the water is great for some children.
11:21 Find out Dreamflight’s activities on a Friday.
12:56 Find out Dreamflight’s activities on a Saturday.
13:55 Find out what Patricia’s favourite day is.
14:34 Find out Dreamflight’s activities on a Sunday.
15:19 Discover why Sunday is special for Dreamflight.
15:58 Find out Dreamflight’s last activity before they go back to the UK.
16:51 The little things that add to the happiness of the children.
17:40 Find out what Dreamflight trip back to the UK is like.
18:12 Discover more things Dreamflight do for the kids.
20:22 The friendships that develop in Dreamflight.
21:14 Where to find Dreamflight’s website.
21:53 Find out if Dreamflight partner out with other charities.
22:43 Toby talks about the other charity that PlannersPod is also in touch with.
26:60 Closing chat with Toby and James.

Patricia:                Sunday is my favourite day. It’s every child swims with dolphin and just to see their faces; they go in and they stroke one, and they actually hold on and swim with the child hanging on. It really is something to see.
Narrator:              Toby and James are involved in amazing events all over the world. You’re listening to, where top event professionals share real world experiences and cutting edge ideas. Sponsored by
Toby:                        Hello, again and welcome to Planners Pod, this is a special second part of the Dreamflight podcast. So, if you haven’t already listened to episode 16, then go back and check out our first interview with Patricia and Sally from Dreamflight. Once again, I’m with James. How are you doing?
James:                    I’m really really good, Toby. This episode came around because we had a good 45 minutes or so, talking to Dreamflight about how they put on their events and run their charity, etcetera and we were just so knocked out by how it all came about, there are so much to discuss and then we thought, ‘Hold on, wait, man… We can actually talk about the event in itself, but we’re probably going to end up with ridiculously long podcast’. So, we thought we’d make this a second one in itself because I mean this probably could be whole episode in itself.
Toby:                        Well, it is and I believe what happened is you said, ‘Hold on, I’ve got a great idea. Let’s talk about exactly day by day, what happens’ and we didn’t quite expect to have the amazing account that we were given, so yeah, it does deserve it’s own podcast, it’s gonna be a little bit shorter than the normal one, but yeah, if you follow the journey, so far, then I hope you enjoy this because it’s quite incredible, the amount of stuff that Dreamflight gets up to with the kids that lucky enough to be in Orlando, on that holiday.
James:                    Cool. Let it roll, Toby.
Toby:                        Yeah, here it is.
Narrator:              Planners Pod is sponsored by
Toby:                        So, we know that you leave on a Saturday.
Sally:                        The event, the Dreamflight starts on a Saturday, which is when we bring all the children and escorts down to a  hotel in London, we have the T5 Hilton in London, we pretty much take over the whole hotel.
Toby:                        Which hotel?
Sally:                        It’s the T5 Hilton?
Toby:                        Oh, it’s called the T5 Hilton. Okay.
Patricia:                Yeah, Heathrow.
Sally:                        We’re pretty much okay over that hotel and the idea is to bring all the children down from Scotland, Ireland, Newcastle…
Toby:                        So, that in itself is an absolute mission.
Sally:                        It is. Because within each group… for example, if you take our Tigger group which is the North East of England, we’ve got all our group leader, our doctor, our three nurses, our three non-medical escorts and we’ve got sixteen children we have to get from New Castle to London. Again, we work with British Airways to bring them down and we replicate that with groups across the country and we make sure they arrive mid-afternoon at the T5 Hilton. Even just getting groups from the airport, from Heathrow to this hotel which is a few minutes away is a feet in itself because obviously we have, sometimes four, five, six, wheelchairs, we have walking aides, we have medical equipment, oxygen…
Toby:                        Yeah.
Sally:                        So, even that in itself is an event, it’s getting somebody Newcastle down to London. Everybody arrives at the T5 Hilton and there are two floors at the hotel, ground floor, we have this British Airways check in’s, so, we don’t go through the airport for check in, it’s too problematic for Dreamflight and all the equipment we have. So, the ground floor, British Airways come over and turn that into an airport check in, we take everybody’s bags to the aircraft and then, upstairs because Dreamflight check in, so everybody gets a lanyard with their name, the room keys, etcetera… everything they need. We then, make sure everybody’s checked in. We say goodbye to any parents that have come along to say good bye to their child, and then we have a big party, 6pm to 9pm – massive party time, four hundred people and ballroom at the Hilton. We have a Dick and Dom who are our patrons coming along to host it . We’ve got entertainers, we’ve got Star Wars characters, we’ve got Captain America, princesses, minions, Harry Potter, all that to entertain the kids.
Patricia:                And then we have the RAF marching band.
Sally:                        Oh, yeah, we have the RAF marching band.
Toby:                        (Laughs)
Sally:                        Yeah, it’s pretty special. So, we have the air cadets, marching band, who come along to perform for the kids. Nine o’clock is bed time and then we sleep over night in the Hilton and then on the Sunday morning, so the eighteenth of October this year, we all have breakfast and then we have twelve coaches , special wheelchair adapted coaches, that will take each group over to a hangar at Heathrow Airport, it’s the Dreamflight hangar. Again, we have entertainers in the hangar, we’ve got the marching band, we’ve got Star Wars characters, all sorts of things going on, police cars, the fire engines that the kids can climb in, while they wait to board the aircraft.
Patricia:                And the little dogs.
Sally:                        Police dogs. All sorts. And then, it takes around an hour and a half for everybody to board the aircraft, again with all our equipments and then we’ll take off at twelve noon, on a Sunday for a nine-hour flight and it’s not like any other flight we’ve ever been in on.
Toby:                        Yeah.
Sally:                        Pat can probably tell you!
Patricia:                It’s the only flight you see when it lands, the captain’s got different colored nail polish on each hands. The kids have done his nail polish.
Sally:                        Yeah, we have face painting, we have all sorts going on, games… Yeah, and we land, it’s usually around half four… five o’clock Orlando Time on a Sunday. We’re greeted by the local police and the fire engines, who usually do an arch of water over the aircraft as we land. We have thirteen coaches there ready so that when we disembark the aircraft group by group, they get on their coach and then we have the police escorts to our hotel and that’s amazing because they’re close, they are full-force. They only other person they do that in the world force is the president of United States. We get the lights going, all the sirens, it’s pretty special and then, we arrive at the hotel, exhausted. Absolutely exhausted. Pizza for the kids and bed. That’s the first day.
Toby:                        Day 2?
Sally:                        Day 2.
Toby:                        How long is this trip?
Patricia:                Ten days. Yes.
Toby:                        So, briefly, can you go from two to ten?
Sally:                        Sure. Patricia can chip in.
Toby:                        Yeah.
Sally:                        So, the Monday, it’s the first proper day of the trip, that’s  Magic Kingdom day, so what we find, though, is because of the time difference, the kids are awake early. Waking up really early, so four… five AM, and they all want to. Then, we have breakfast and then, we board the coaches off to Magic Kingdom, and we spend usually half nine till six in Magic Kingdom. We do everything there, we do all the rides. The best thing, one of the things about Dreamflight is we’ve got such great relationship with the park providers out  in Orlando and they know we’re coming and we do get special assistance so we don’t queue for rides. We get straight on rides, there’s no waiting about because some of these children just can’t wait in the heat. It’s pretty warm out there.
Toby:                        There’s a place for them to go that’s sort of in the shade and all that kind of stuff.
Sally:                        Yeah, exactly. So, we do Magic Kingdom on the first day and then, we come back on our coaches, usually back in the hotel half six. Swimming again, and then get changed, showers and it’s party time and we usually have a disco on a Monday night for the kids and then bed by nine. The rule on Dreamflight is all the children go to bed at nine o’clock and the adults stay in the hotel because obviously we have to ensure safety. That’s when we do our meetings and catch ups and talk about what went wrong that day, how we can improve, plan the parks for the next day.
Toby:                        Right.
Sally:                        Tuesday is one of the days we split our groups, so we have twelve groups in total and we split across two parks, so we have six groups in Island of Adventure and six groups in Universal Studios and this is the day where we have a lot of the big rides. Compared to Magic Kingdom, this is the big roller coaster day. So, we have the Hulk, Hogwarts Express, we have the Jurassic Park, lots of the big… The Mummy, Transformers, lots and lots of big rides. And again, we have swimming in the morning, swimming in the evening. Those parks in between and then a disco in the night for the kids. Amazing day. Wednesday is Sea World day. Again, swimming in the morning, and we’re off to Sea World where we see all the shows, some take their children to see the dolphin show and we should go on the rides, we’ve got Manta and Kraken, which are quite big rides at Sea World. We have special entry into the Shamu Show , the whale, that’s a big show there. We have a nice buffet lunch for the children to all the rides in the afternoon and then come back and have a big party, we have Halloween that night. We have a big Halloween party on the Wednesday night.
Patricia:                All characters from Universal come ever, don’t they?
Sally:                        Characters from Universal come over, so we have Gru, minions, they come in to the hotel to entertain the kids and they dress up in Halloween costume.
Toby:                        Okay.
Sally:                        Thursday is our quietest day. We go to the Water Park.
Toby:                        (Laughs) Of course, you do.
Sally:                        Yeah, we don’t tend to go swimming so much in the morning that day. We usually go to Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon which is both Disney water parks. There’s Lazy River, which is great, some of the children with disabilities find that day particularly great because they can be in the water and does ease their disability. It does make it a little bit easier for them. There are also big slides.
Patricia:                (Laughs) Summit Plummet.
Sally:                        Blizzard Beach. Summit Plummet. All the kids get a wedgie on Summit Plummet.
Toby:                        Excellent.
Sally:                        Which is, I think, is the second tallest free fall slide in the world.
Toby:                        So, take it easy that.
Sally:                        It’s pretty scary when you’re up there actually watching.
Toby:                        Alright.
Sally:                        But that’s a really nice day because , as I’ve said, some of the children with disabilities, it’s great for them to be in the water . They can move much easier. Even though there’s lots of rides and slides and activity to do, we can take it a little bit slow if we want to. As going round the parks is pretty full on.
Toby:                        Yeah.
Sally:                        Friday. Again, we split the groups between Islands of Adventure and Universal. So, if a group was in Scooby Doo’s, we’re at Island of Adventure on Tuesday, they’ll be at Universal Studios on the Friday. And this is also a really special day for Dreamflight because this year, we’re really really lucky, there’s a train opened between the two parks, they’re both owned by Universal Studios and that’s where the Harry Potter, World of Harry Potter is. They have the Hogwarts Express between the two parks.
Toby:                        Wow.
Sally:                        And on the Friday, Universal Studios will open early for us, to allow all Dreamflight  children on the Hogwarts Express before anybody else gets into the park, which is pretty special. So, our groups will go on the Hogwarts Express and then end up in the park, they’re going to be in that day. And again, we go on big rides, we’ve got Gringotts, Escape from Gringotts, visiting World of Harry Potter, Minions 3D, Shrek 4D, there’s lots of amazing rides at those parks. And then, come back another party at night.
Toby:                        Cool.
Sally:                        Sorry, I forgot. Yeah, we have NASA who come in, just forgotten about NASA. On the Thursday night, NASA come to meet the children and bring moonwalks and all sorts of interactive activities to do which is pretty special.
Toby:                        Wow.
Sally:                        Yeah. Friday is just the disco, isn’t it?
Patricia:                Yeah.
Sally:                        So, Saturday is we go to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which is going to be a fantastic day. Lots of big rides at Hollywood Studios. One of the highlights there is this is the day the children get a private meet and greet with Mickey Mouse and friends. So, we arrange this year, will be Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy, will have a private greeting with the kids. They all get their autographs and photos taken, in a really lovely setting, it’s in Hollywood prop shop at Hollywood Studios. So, that’s a really special day.
Toby:                        Wow.
Sally:                        Especially Mickey Mouse group and Donald Duck group and Goofy groups really look forward to.
Patricia&Toby: (Laughs)
Sally:                        We also have lots of shows at Hollywood Studios, so we go and see the… what’s that called? Lights Camera Action.
Patricia:                Yeah.
Sally:                        The Indiana Jones Stunt Show, lots going on, lots of shows at Hollywood Studios. And then, the Sunday… Do you want to talk about the Sunday?
Patricia:                Sunday is my favourite day. It’s every child swims and dolphin,  and just to see their faces. They go in and then they stroke one, and they actually hold on. With the child hanging on. It really is something to see. In fact, the first year we did it, I’ve never seen so many adults in tears watching their little child, that they got so close to over that week, swimming with the dolphins. It was just amazing.
Toby:                        Wow. Is that your favourite one, as well?
Sally:                        Yeah. That is an amazing day, we go to Discovery Cove, there’s lots. It’s a great park, there’s lots to do there. We swim with whales and go around the Lazy River but watching the children get in the water with the dolphin, there’s just something magical about it and it doesn’t matter what kind of disability the child has. They’re able to get in the water and there’s something about healing about it.
Patricia:                Yeah. Some may have to carry in but they all managed to hang on.
Sally:                        Yeah. And the children, we always interview the children, you know, when they come out and they always say it was the best day. We’re really lucky, I’m gonna jinx in that on, Dreamflight it’s always a sunny day at Discovery Cove. Lovely. And it’s just magical, it really is. It’s a beautiful day. And then, also the Sunday is special because it’s the last full night in Orlando. So, we have the biggest party, we have last night party and we have an entertainment team over there, who spend the whole day, they don’t come with us to watch the children with the dolphin but they spend the whole day planning this party. Blowing balloons that fall from the ceiling, it’s just an amazing event and that’s the night that the children get dressed up and they bring their best clothes and we have a big disco and they all get up on stage and get medal and awards and different things and that’s really lovely.
Toby:                        Wow.
Sally:                        And then, the last day.
Patricia:                Going shopping.
Sally:                        Yeah, we do. So, the Monday, we fly home on the Monday night, and during the day, you can’t go to Orlando and not go to the malls. So, each group goes off shopping. You’ve never seen kids shop. (Laughs)
Patricia:                I thought I can shop, until I saw the kids.
Sally:                        Yeah.
Patricia:                And it’s because we don’t have a weight restriction. It’s not fully three kilos last because we got the whole aeroplane.
Toby:                        Yeah.
Sally:                        They can buy what they like. So, again, we provide. Dreamflight raises money so we provide the children with some funding for shopping, as well.
Toby:                        Wow.
Sally:                        And we take them to the malls, Florida Mall, Millenia Mall, and they go crazy and it’s just fantastic. But again, it’s that experience of the mall, sixteen children going around together in a group, they’ve never been… all of these children haven’t been on holiday in the UK, never mind on an aircraft and never mind to Orlando.
Toby:                        Clearly by their minds, every day… yeah…
Sally:                        Yeah, it really is. And it’s just little things that you take for granted but some, for example our American helpers over there, because a lot of children who come on Dreamflight haven’t left the UK before, haven’t been on London before, did not necessarily meet Americans, so their accent, they love the American accent so they kept saying, ‘Again, do it again. Say sidewalk’.
Toby:                        (Laughs)
Sally:                        It’s little things like that actually, that add to the trick as well. We might take for granted but actually really special. And then, we fly back over night on Monday.
Patricia:                That’s when the tears start, saying good bye to the American summer time.
Sally:                        Yeah.
Toby:                        Yeah. And what is the flight back a bit kind of more?
Patricia:                It’s over night.
Sally:                        It’s over night. So, so exhausted.
Patricia:                I think what is nice is the first time that we sit was going out, there’s sort of things going on. They’re carrying bag, they got closed to their escort, too, they got their head in their escort’s lap and that is lovely. It’s what around that aircraft at night.
Sally:                        Yeah. It’s very special. And then, we land back at our hangar at Heathrow on Tuesday morning and some of the parents come to pick their child. Lots of tears.
Toby:                        Yeah.
Sally:                        Yeah, but amazing.
Patricia:                But they don’t wanna go home. (Laughs)
Sally:                        Yeah. But that’s really special.
Toby:                        Wow.
Sally:                        And the thing is, that’s not where Dreamflight ends. I mean obviously, the trip is done, with ten days of magic. But, within each group we take a camera man, who films the whole ten days for that group and then, afterwards they edit down which is a huge feet. The make it into a 90 minute film of that groups’ trip and we have a premiere for each group, usually in January because it takes that long to edit. You guys would probably know. Thousands of hours of footage, into this ninety minutes of amazingness. In January, every group has a premiere and usually in a local cinema, a special venue. We roll out the red carpet, we take over the big screen and the children can come along with their families to watch their trip.
Toby:                        Wow.
Sally:                        And they get a DVD or USB of their trip to take home with them, to keep forever. As well as all the photos and various other things they get.
Toby:                        When did that start?
Patricia:                Well, we’ve always done it. We did it first year because we see the forty-minute documentary. There was a program called “40 minutes” – probably before your time!
Toby:                        Yeah, I remember it. (Laughs)
Patricia:                So, we’ve always had it, but it’s changed over the years…
Toby:                        Yeah, you were able to more with film internally…
Patricia:                It was original a nightmare getting each child in .. now there’s a camera man is for each group.
Toby:                        Okay.
Patricia:                That’s much much best.
Toby:                        That’s unbelievable. Amazing to talk through actually. Well done, James – it was a good idea!
James:                    Thank you J
Sally:                        Yeah, it’s pretty full on but it’s just the best.
Patricia:                And before we go, we have featured meetings, too.
Toby:                        Cool.
Patricia:                And they all get together, where they get to meet their flatmate or roommate. (Laughs)
Toby:                        Yeah.
Patricia:                The doctors, nurses, get a chance to talk to the parents . They get to know each other. Which we didn’t use to do, so, that’s another thing.
Sally:                        Yes, by the time, we know… it’s always a bit strange being away from your parents at that age for the first time. By the time we land in Orlando, they know each other really well.
Patricia:                Yeah.
Sally:                        Met in the summer, they’ve met at our Pre Trips . We’ve had our party night at the Hilton, they know each other pretty well by then and all inhibitions are out the window, it’s just about having fun which is the point of Dreamflight.
Patricia:                It’s quite nice to see that it starts with the adult pushing a child in wheelchair, after a day or so, it’s the roommate pushing the chair, not the adults.
Toby:                        Yeah.
Patricia:                Frightens the daylights out of me if they’re doing wheelies!
Toby:                        (Laughs) Wow, that’s brilliant. I think that’s a really valuable thing, isn’t it? To talk the week through because imagine an NHS person going ‘what actually is going to happen?’.
Sally:                        There’s lots of footage if you go to, we’ve got a TV section and every year, iTV, we’ve been really lucky for the last few years, iTV have come out and filmed the trip as well. There have been some regional films which go out on news and they’re all on our website so in two and half minutes you can see these children having fun.
Toby:                        Ah, I love it.
Sally:                        It’s brilliant. It really is.


Narrator:              You’re listening to
Toby:                        Alright, James. So, that was the emotional second part there…
James:                    Emotional roller coaster there.
Toby:                        Ah, love a pun, I love a pun . Yeah, that was indeed exactly right, that was the emotional roller coaster that was the second part of Dreamflight. Really good idea, man. I’m really glad that you put that idea forward because we learned even more and found it even more humbling.
James:                    I’m presuming you’re talking about the interview rather than the pun? Yeah, cool. Yeah, that was pretty amazing all the same. So, I think, let’s leave it there. If you wanna hear Toby and I’s thoughts about the whole Dreamflight experience, just go back to the previous episode and go to about fifty minutes in and you’ll hear us talking about that. So, let’s wrap it up there. Don’t forget to listen back to PlannersPod in about, June or July, and next year, we’ll be talking about the big event that’s gonna *28:03 the hotel in London in a lot of depth and we will have learnt even more about Dreamflight I think by then and we’ll hopefully have even more of an in depth understanding, I believe they’re taking off in a couple of weeks’ time. We hope to be able to go down and see them off at the aircraft hangar in Heathrow. So, we may even check in back then about what happened there, Toby.
Toby:                        Who knows. But yeah, expect loads of media for this, because it’s just fascinating, it’s equally as amazing and fascinating, just everything is great about this charity, so we’re gonna try and do as much as we can because what they do for an event’s perspective is astounding as well. So, yeah, well worth keeping on that. Once again, please find us on, Twitter is Metropolislive1, the number one, you can also find us on iTunes and Stitcher. I’ve just got Stitcher in my car so I’m gonna try and make that work. You can search for PlannersPod and we should come up on those search engines, you will find a company notes and media and links from this podcast. Of course, more about us on
James:                    Brilliant and I just found Stitcher on my sauna system, so I’ve got it all around the house, too.
Toby:                        Lucky you. Alright. Cheers, mate. See you later.
James:                    See you later.
Toby:                        Bye.
Narrator:              You’ve been listening to with Toby Goodman and James
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