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Friends for Life Orlando 2023 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.

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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.  

Friends for Life Orlando 2023 will follow the CDC recommendations in place at the time the conference opens, as well as any guidelines Disney has in place. We will update the COVID protocols based on the changes up until the conference. We do not intend to limit capacity this year. As in past years, the conference has space for about 2,200 participants.

Sessions begin on Wednesday at 9:00 a.m. for both adults and children. This includes a First Timers Welcome and Orientation (for 18 and older; kids have orientation in their age groups) first thing. Most participants arrive by Tuesday and spend the day getting settled in, retrieving registration materials and t-shirts, and meeting other FFLs by the pool or at the refreshment venues. Tuesday is also a good day to take the Disney bus transportation over to Disney Springs and enjoy the shops, restaurants, and impromptu entertainment. Note that many families who plan to visit the nearby theme parks arrive over the weekend and spend a couple of days ‘doing the parks’ before the conference begins.

Yes! We will have a banquet this year in the Coronado ballroom, complete with great food buffets, a short program, dancing with our favorite DJ Miles, and—of course—Disney characters! The theme for this year’s banquet is space!

Yes! The exhibit hall is back to ‘normal’ size and will be located in Veracruz A and B. We’re so excited to have our sponsors back in their amazing booths, and also to welcome brand new exhibitors!

The exhibit hall will open on Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. There will be Thursday and Friday daytime hours, and the hall will close at 4:00 p.m. on Friday.

No, CWD will not require a COVID vaccination to attend. However, we do encourage all attendees to get vaccinated and boosted, if eligible.

Please note that all CWD staff and volunteers are required to be fully vaccinated—including boosters, if eligible—for Friends for Life Orlando 2023.

To see more about Disney’s guidelines, click here.

We are currently busy planning all of the social activities for this year! These include your usual favorites: Family Movie Night, Teen Dance, the Family and Friends Banquet (Space theme!), Dessert and Posters with the Faculty, T1D Adult Friday Social, and Family Fun Night (Carnival). We will also have many meet-ups…more info to come!

Yes, the teens will be going off-site as a group on Friday, with the exact park still to be determined. We provide transportation (private bus), the park ticket, breakfast, and lunch. The teens have a home base in the park, and our staff is with them all day. This includes medical staff. Note that teens must participate in sessions all day Wednesday and Thursday in order to join park day. This is ONLY for participants in the teen program - parents and siblings in other age groups stay at the Coronado for their respective program.

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 for those within our room block. If you reserve a room outside the room block, there is a per day fee for parking.

You can review Disney’s most current COVID guidelines here. Our CWD team follows the protocols put in place by Disney and the CDC. 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.

Our COVID protocols for FFL Orlando 2023 will be online in the spring. In the meantime, the protocol from FFL Orlando 2022 can be downloaded here.

Yes! The conference scholarship application process will open on February 1, 2023. We have reserved conference registration spaces for scholarship recipients. Scholarship applications are due by March 31, 2023, and all scholarship applicants will receive notification in mid-April 2023. Visit https://cwd.is/scholarships to apply.

Register online at ffl.is/RegisterForOrlando. You may reserve a room online at ffl.is/OrlandoHotel.

We have youth programming all day 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. We do offer gluten free buffets for every meal and snack break. You must indicate on your registration form that you require gluten free meals. That helps us get the numbers right.

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. A Volunteer Application is available online from September 1 through December 31, 2022.  If we find there is a need for additional volunteers as we get closer to the conference, we will send an email to those registered for the conference to see if anyone is interested in helping out this year. To apply for a volunteer role, please visit ffl.is/volunteer.

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.

Yes. Children with Diabetes supports our "Type Au-Some" families with special sensory bags that are age appropriate. Bags can be checked out from our registration areas and can be used during the conference to help ease times of sensory overload. We will also have a designated quiet area where families can visit during the conference if you need to take a break. Sensory bags will include sterilized noise canceling ear muffs, fidgets and puzzles, and a variety of other small items that can help to redirect individuals. Please contact us via email at [email protected] for more information about potential accommodations for those with autism or neurodiversity or to learn more about our sensory bags.   

We must be very strict about kids staying within their particular age groups. This year we will have Kiddie Kove (ages 0-5), 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 both Wednesday and Thursday in order to participate in the off-site event on Friday. If your teen is scheduled for a Retinal Screening during one of the sessions, please make sure to alert the Teen Program leader beforehand.

The Youth Program schedule will be online later this spring. The program runs from 9 a.m. on Wednesday to 4:30 p.m. on Friday, with four sessions per day. 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 infant 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 parent 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 2023) 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 Coronado Ballrooms as well as several designated areas for outdoor seating in the Porte-Cochere areas outside the Coronado Ballroom and the Veracruz Ballroom.  

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.

We respectfully request only those who plan to attend the entire conference register for Friends for Life Orlando 2023. We are not able to offer decreased registration fees for those who cannot attend the entire event

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. Social media is a great way to connect with others who might be on site!

Yes, we have a private Facebook Group: www.facebook.com/groups/FriendsForLifeOrlando. 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 a ballroom in the convention center equipped with all kinds of sports equipment: basketball hoops, soccer nets, mats, volleyball courts. The space is used by the youth program for specific sessions on Weds-Friday, and also there are open gym hours when anyone can come play drop-in sports. Sports Central is staffed by CWD volunteers who are athletes, as well as HCPs who can assist as needed.

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.

We hope to offer rooms that sleep up to 5 at Disney's Port Orleans Riverside. We should have more information shortly.  We do not offer transportation between the venues. Another alternative is reserving two rooms at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. For information, please email [email protected].

Round-trip transportation from Orlando International Airport (MCO) to Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort is available to book through Mears Connect at $32 per adult and $27 per child. We encourage you to book your airport transportation after your hotel room and flights have been arranged at mearsconnect.com. Please know that Mears Connect is the replacement service for Disney’s Magical Express, which ended on 12/31/21. Through the Mears Connect service 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 0-5
  • Wednesday Grand Opening of the Exhibition Hall
  • Thursday breakfast, lunch, and snack breaks
  • Thursday Family and Friends Banquet – FFL space theme! (dinner)
  • Friday lunch and snack breaks
  • Friday Off-Site Day for teens
  • Saturday events
  • Sunday Farewell Breakfast
  • All of the various receptions/socials
  • 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.

Yes!  We do.  Social stories are coming soon.  Check back for social stories for each youth programming area and also for adults.  In the meantime, reach out to us at [email protected]childrenwithdiabetes.com if you  have any questions or need other accommodation assistance.

Need more?

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