Friends for Life Orlando 2021 FAQs

If you're new to Friends for Life Orlando, these Frequently Asked Questions can help you understand what it's all about. If you've been before, we'll explain how this year will be different.


It is important to note that, despite the changes made to Friends for Life due to COVID mitigation protocols, the magic of FFL remains unchanged. We are excited to see everyone, and to bring our families together. But yes, for 2021, things will be a little different than in the past.

Friends for Life Orlando 2021 has been adjusted to meet CDC recommendations for social distancing, Disney’s event restrictions, and to ensure the safety of our faculty, staff, and attendees. Following the CDC recommendations means including fewer sessions during the same time block, but we are excited about the new faculty and programs coming to Orlando. Attendance capacity will also be limited this year, and we will not be accepting in-person registrations during the conference.

For 2021, due to COVID mitigation protocols, we are unable to provide Kiddie Kove programming for our youngest attendees (children under the age of 24 months). This is due to the fact that the CDC does not recommend masks for children under 24 months, and the vaccines are not available yet for this age group. Families who bring children younger than 24 months may be able to book in-room childcare through Disney’s preferred program, Kids Nite Out: https://kidsniteout.com/in-room-sitter/

We require all youth (ages 2-17) to wear masks in the Friends for Life program sessions.

As of June 15, 2021, children aged 12 – 17 who are fully vaccinated are not required to wear masks in the conference center and on Disney property. All children aged 2 – 11 are required to wear masks while indoors, as they are not currently eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations.

All Friends for Life attendees will receive a copy of our COVID protocols, which can be found here.

Yes! We are working with our friends at Disney to create a unique banquet experience, which could include special character appearances. We’ll also have a fun, socially-distanced version of our big banquet buffet! And, yes – we will be having an exhibit hall this year which will include in-person and virtual experiences with our wonderful sponsors.

No, CWD will not require a COVID vaccination to attend. However, we do encourage all attendees to get vaccinated when it’s their turn. Please note that all CWD staff and volunteers are required to be vaccinated for Friends for Life Orlando 2021.

Disney requires anyone who is not vaccinated to wear a mask while indoors, and requires that children ages 2-11 wear masks indoors. Disney requires everyone, regardless of vaccination status to wear masks while on Disney transportation. To see more about Disney’s guidelines, click here. Disney has also enhanced their cleaning protocols in parks, public spaces, and in hotel rooms.

At Friends for Life, we require all youth ages 2-17 to wear masks while in the youth programming sessions, regardless of vaccination status. We will also be limiting the seating per table to eight (8) per table, offering outdoor seating for meals, and hosting events that are outside to reduce risk. Please see our protocols here.

As Disney adjusts their protocols, we will update this FAQ.


Wearing a mask is not required if you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, but we encourage anyone who wants to wear a mask to do so at their discretion and preference.

We will not be hosting a formal virtual version of the conference, like we did in 2020. However, we do plan to livestream some of the major sessions and keynote presentations – details to come!

Yes. The overall number of attendees has also been restricted to 1,000, which is half than normal FFL years.

Children who are two years of age or older are welcome to join us for FFL Orlando 2021. Children under the age of 12 are not able to be vaccinated at this time, so we are limiting the numbers of children enrolled in our youth program, as outlined below:

  • Kiddie Kove (2-5) - 24
  • Elementary (6-8) - 50
  • Tween (9-12) - 60
  • Teen (13-17) - 100

Due to COVID mitigation protocols, we are unable to provide Kiddie Kove programming for children under the age of 24 months. Families who bring children younger than 24 months may be able to book in-room childcare through Disney’s preferred program, Kids Nite Out: https://kidsniteout.com/in-room-sitter/.

Yes! CWD staff is working with our sponsors to host social activities for our attendees that align with Disney’s COVID-19 safety policies.

No, the teens will not have a park day in 2021, due to the park entry limitations at Disney. However, we do have a special teen day planned on Friday away from the Coronado. 

Currently, Disney allows ten (10) people per round table, and to err on the side of caution, we are allowing eight (8) per table. There will also be additional, shaded seating outside if you are more comfortable eating outside.   

Breakfast and lunch on Thursday and Friday will be a boxed meal. You will receive a coupon for each boxed meal. You may pick up your boxed meals and take them to the Veracruz eating space or outside the convention center – you are not required to sit in the ballroom assigned as our dining area. You may take meals outdoors to seating under the two porte-cochere areas (across from the Veracruz Ballroom and the Coronado Ballroom), back to your room, or to any of the tables set outside on the hotel property.

For snack breaks, we will (of course!) have Mickey Bars in the afternoon. You will pick up your refreshments and either take them into the seating area or outside. The Banquet and the Farewell breakfast will be modified buffets, with food and servers behind Plexiglas. You will point to the items you’d like on your plate, and they will make it for you.

Friends for Life Orlando 2021 will have capacity limits. We are working with the team at Disney to include as many people as possible, as safely as possible, following Disney's COVID mitigation protocols. With that said, as we get closer to July, and as people continue to get vaccinated, capacity limits may increase and guidelines may be modified in accordance with guidelines from state and federal health agencies and Disney.

We anticipate offering fewer sessions during each time block – instead of ten, there might be five or six sessions. This will allow CWD to utilize larger spaces and provide proper distancing in sessions. You may also see changes to the schedule timings to allow Disney adequate time to refresh the meeting rooms.

If you’re interested in attending, we encourage you to register as soon as possible. Spaces will be filled on a first come, first served basis.

You may stay wherever you’d like to stay. In past years, over 95% of FFL participants have stayed on site. Parking at Coronado is free.

Disney has put strict COVID-19 policies into place for on-site event attendees. You can review Disney’s most current guidelines here. Our CWD team follows the protocols put in place by Disney, while also adding our own protocols for increased safety. We are asking all attendees self-screen for symptoms of COVID-19 or any other illness.

If a Friends for Life attendee, volunteer, or faculty member is sick, they and their family members may not participate in the conference. If a child in the youth program shows any signs of illness, the child’s caregiver(s) will be contacted and the child will be removed from youth sessions. We ask that you please stay in your hotel room if you or any member of your family is showing any symptom of illness.


Yes! The conference scholarship application process will open on May 1, 2021. We have reserved conference registration spaces for scholarship recipients. Scholarship applications are due by May 15, 2021 and all scholarship applicants will receive notification by June 1, 2021. Visit https://cwd.is/scholarships to apply.

Register online at https://cwd.is/RegisterForOrlando. You may reserve a room online at https://www.mydisneygroup.com/cwd21.

We have youth programming on Wednesday. 

Yes. As with past Friends for Life® conferences, we take great care in trying to accommodate the special dietary needs of our conference participants. Please note that all food served at our conference will have portion size and carb counts available. If you need special dietary accommodations, there is a place on the registration form for you to note that. Note that you must alert us to allergies prior to the conference in order for us to ensure meals and snacks that work for you. Please note that all meals and snacks at FFL are nut-free.

Friends for Life® is for your entire family. Kids who don't have diabetes, whether they have a sibling or parent with type 1, participate in their age group sessions. There's much to learn and share for them too.

Orlando in July is hot and humid. Dress comfortably. For most people, this means short pants and a t-shirt or collared golf shirt. Also, it rains almost every day in Orlando in July. Plan accordingly. Most people bring one or two nice outfits for evening social events. The youth program includes sessions which can be quite active. Please make sure your kids wear appropriate shoes for these activities.

Each year at Friends for Life, we rely on the help of about 200 volunteers. Laura Billetdeaux coordinates the team. While we usually post a Call for Volunteers in May, this year we are holding off adding any new volunteers. If we find there is a need for additional volunteers as we get closer to the conference, Laura will send an email to those registered for the conference to see if anyone is interested in helping out this year.

Children with Diabetes encourages persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. Our youth programming staff are primarily college-aged students who have experience with type 1 diabetes. They are not trained to work with children who have disabilities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation or have questions about the physical access provided, please contact us via email at [email protected] in advance of your participation or visit to ensure that you or your child will be able participate.

We must be very strict about kids staying within their particular age groups. This year we will have Kiddie Kove (ages 2-5), elementary group (ages 6-8), a young tween group (ages 9-10), and older tween group (ages 11-12), a young teen group (ages 13-15) an older teen group (ages 16-17). Those who are 18 are part of the young adult group, not teens.

This is a special event just for the teens. Note that teens must participate in all four sessions on Thursday in order to participate in the off-site event on Friday.

To learn more about the youth program at FFL Orlando, please read the welcome letters from our youth program leaders, which will be posted by June 1:
• Kiddie Kove Parent Letter (ages 24 months to 5 years)
• Elementary Parent Letter (ages 6-8)
• Tween Parent Letter (ages 9-12)
• Teen Parent Letter (ages 13-17)

Unless otherwise noted, they may, although we strongly encourage kids to be in their age-appropriate sessions. The material presented in adult sessions is on an adult level. Often, some of these same topics are discussed with the children within the context of some of their other learning activities - and the material is at an age-appropriate level for their group. Be aware that some adult and parents sessions include topics that are not appropriate for kids and kids will not be permitted in those sessions. Also note that teens must attend their teen sessions to be permitted to join in the offsite activity on Friday and attend the Teen social event on Saturday. Note that some sessions are for adults only and the room captain will not allow children into those sessions.

See our page about Traveling with Diabetes for suggestions.

The confirmation form verifies what you paid for. You should have received an email (subject: Registration Confirmation for FFL Orlando 2021) right after you completed payment. Please print out your registration confirmation and bring it with you to the conference. When you pick up your registration materials on Tuesday or Wednesday, you can double check that everything is correct. At the registration desks, we will hand you name badges and conference t-shirts (the sizes you indicated on the registration form). Nothing is mailed ahead of time.

All of the sessions and all of the meals are held right on site. Disney's Coronado Springs Resort is a large resort with a big convention center attached. For conference meals, there will be indoor seating in the Veracruz Ballrooms as well as several designated areas for outdoor seating in the Porte-Cochere areas outside the Coronado Ballroom and the Veracruz Ballroom. You may also pick up your boxed meals and bring them back to your room or to a seating area outside by the lake or pool.

No. However, if a child is participating in the conference, a parent or guardian must be registered and participating as well.

People who are staying at Disney’s Coronado Springs but have not registered for the in-person conference will not have access to sessions, meals, the convention center, the exhibition hall, or social activities.

Due to capacity limitations, we respectfully request only those who plan to attend the entire conference register for Friends for Life Orlando 2021. Soon, information will be available regarding livestreams of some of our major sessions.

There are usually hundreds of FFL participants at the hotel from Sunday on. CWD families are pretty easy to recognize pool-side: we're the ones with the diabetes t-shirts, the glucose tabs and juice sitting out, the diabetes technology on the pool chairs, and pumps and CGMs everywhere! Also, there is a Facebook group – Friends for Life Orlando - for anyone participating in the conference. You may post to that anytime. You might ask, for instance, if other families with a 7 year old would like to go to a theme park with you on Monday. Or if anyone with preschoolers would like to meet at the kiddie pool at 2 p.m. on Tuesday.

CWD staff and volunteers fully explored Walt Disney World during our planning visit in April. Please note that additional travel time should be added for any reservations in order to get through the health screening process and security.

In addition, Disney is limiting capacity on buses and other modes of transport. As such, you may wait longer for buses than you have in the past. This includes Disney’s Magical Express from the airport.

Disney has very strict COVID protocols, including physical distancing, temperature checks, and mask compliance reminders within the resorts and theme parks.

Yes, we have a private Facebook Group: www.facebook.com/groups/FFLOrlando. You must ask to be admitted to the group. If your Facebook profile doesn't immediately convey that you are part of the type 1 diabetes community, please email Jeff Hitchcock ([email protected]) and ask him to approve your request to join the group.

Focus groups are offered on Wednesday only. These are small group discussions or presentations, hosted by the sponsors of the conference or an academic institution. It is their opportunity to interact with you on a more personal level, to get your ideas and insights, present some of their new concepts, and perhaps get your feedback on new products they are developing. The groups are small - some have only a few people and others have up to 40. But they are not large like the regular conference sessions on Thursday or Friday which may have several hundred people in each. You do not need to sign up for focus groups unless specifically requested by the company leading the session.

No, you do not sign up for the Thursday and Friday sessions. Just go to them. Please be on time, as the seats do fill up.

Sports Central is going to be different than in past years. We will have indoor and outdoor activity space, and both areas will focus on fitness and fun. Sports Central sessions are part of our youth program Unfortunately, we are not offering Open Gym hours this year.  

CWD is unable to provide any assistance with obtaining a visa. Visitors from outside the US are encouraged to submit a visa application well in advance of their anticipated travel date. Note that you will also need to make your own hotel reservations using a credit card. CWD cannot help with that either.

CWD receives hundreds of requests from organizations such as yours. The only companies and organizations which are allowed to hand out literature and demonstrate their products at CWD conferences are the ones who are in the Exhibit Hall. There are a number of lower-cost exhibitor tables in the exhibit hall that are specifically reserved for smaller organizations.

Per Fire Marshal regulations, the rooms at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort accommodate up to 4 people (a few rooms accommodate 5 with a crib). If your family is larger, you may wish to reserve two rooms and request adjacent or connecting.

Disney's Magical Express offers free transportation to the resort and back to the Orlando International Airport (MCO). You may book Disney’s Magical Express reservations by visiting www.disneyconventiontickets.com/disneyworld/transportation/ or by calling (407) 827-6777 with your flight information AFTER your hotel reservation has been entered into the system and you have received the Resort Confirmation email. Note that this year, you are responsible for picking up your luggage, bringing it to the bus, and retrieving it from the bus when you arrive at the hotel.

Registration includes:

  • All sessions and session materials for adults and children
  • Kiddie Kove for children ages 2-5
  • Wednesday Grand Opening of the Exhibition Hall (tiered entry beginning at 6:00 p.m., refreshments)
  • Thursday breakfast, lunch, and snack breaks
  • Thursday Family and Friends Banquet (dinner)
  • Friday breakfast, lunch, and snack breaks
  • Friday Off-Site Day for teens
  • Saturday events
  • Sunday Farewell Breakfast
  • All of the various receptions/socials (specifics TBD)
  • One t-shirt per registered person

The staff at FFL is well aware of the positive impact that Diabetes Alert Dogs (DADs) can have on children and adults who live with type 1 diabetes. While we do not want to disturb these relationships, we want to ensure that the presence of DADs do not interfere with the positive experiences of all our attendees. While DADs are welcome, we discourage conference participants from bringing their DADs to FFL. We have learned from past experience that DADs have a tendency to become overwhelmed and stressed by being in a closed environment for several days with hundreds of individuals who have type 1 and type 2 diabetes. We have seen DADs become overly aggressive and exhibit signs of anxiety because of their situation at FFL. In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, we will ask that a DAD be removed from FFL if the DAD exhibits any unacceptable behavior that is disruptive to conference attendees.

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