The Pros and Cons of an Adventures by Disney Trip

You won't find Mickey and Minnie on an all-inclusive Adventures by Disney vacation.

By Dave Parfitt, ContributorJuly 28, 2017
By Dave Parfitt, ContributorJuly 28, 2017, at 12:19 p.m.
U.S. News & World Report

The Pros and Cons of an Adventures by Disney Trip

Walt Disney statue and Magical Kingdom.

Join a behind-the-scenes tours of top attractions at Disney World or Disneyland or venture farther afield on a river cruise to remember on a stress-free getaway accompanied by an Adventure guide.(Getty Images)

When you think of a Disney vacation, images of theme parks, costumed characters and cruise ships likely come to mind. But recently, Adventures by Disney announced its first-ever trip to Iceland, departing in 2018. Where does Iceland fit into the mix? Launched in 2005, Disney's Adventures by Disney is the company's guided, group travel arm. With trips to over 30 vacation destinations in 25-plus countries on six continents, Adventures by Disney offers a premium, family-focused vacation experience.

So is Adventures by Disney right for your vacation? Here are the benefits – and the drawbacks of an Adventure by Disney itinerary.

The Upsides

You Can Enjoy One-of-a-Kind Experiences

Adventures by Disney's offerings include weekend getaways, land-based trips, river cruises and upgrades to a Disney Cruise Line vacation. The itineraries typically include iconic bucket-list experiences such as trips to classic European capitals, an African safari, expeditions to the Great Wall of China, hikes to Machu Picchu, exploring highlights in America's national parks and more. Of course, Disney did not invent the guided group travel model. Many other companies, including Austin Adventures, Tauck Bridges and Thomson Family Adventures, also lead trips to many of these same destinations.

So what makes Adventures by Disney different? "Experiences that only Disney could provide, such as a private, after-hours visit to the Sistine Chapel, participating in an alms offering ceremony with monks in Laos, learning the art of Peruvian weaving from master artisans and more," says Ken Potrock, senior vice president of Adventures by Disney,

You'll Gain Added Perks and VIP Treatment With an Adventure Guide

The Adventure Guides are a top Adventures by Disney differentiator. Adventures by Disney has a rigorous selection process to handpick guides from the thousands of Disney cast members who apply. The Adventure Guides are part concierge, part photographer and part camp counselor, and ensure every detail of the trip goes smoothly and everyone in the group feels included. What's more, the crew members aim to create an environment where families feel comfortable stretching boundaries and opening themselves to new experiences. In addition to the Disney Adventure Guide, local experts join the group at each stop to share insider knowledge of the region.

And as far as family travel goes, Disney knows how to cater to family – the company was founded on family entertainment. Adventures by Disney is an extension of the family vacation business that began with the theme parks and expanded to Disney Cruise Line. As a result, all of the destinations and experiences on an Adventures by Disney trip are appropriate for children and families. Plus, the Adventure Guides will not only go above and beyond in keeping the kids happy, but making sure the entire family enjoys their vacation together. As far as the group goes, most of the guests are fans of the Disney theme parks and cruise line. Even better, at the end of each day of the trip, every guest receives a special Disney pin – a Disney collectible you can only get on an Adventures by Disney trip.

The Downsides

You Won't Have Much Down Time for Solo Exploration

Adventures by Disney vacations are not for everyone. These are group trips with up to 40 people, meaning you should feel comfortable sharing your vacation with other families. As with any group trip, someone else controls the itinerary, including when you go, where you stop and how much time you spend at each place. Plus, Adventures by Disney itineraries tend to be jam-packed, catering to travelers who want to do it all. If you're looking for laid-back relaxation on the beach, this probably is not the trip for you. Also, because Adventures by Disney caters to families, the majority of trips are when kids are out of school, meaning you'll be traveling during hot summer months in crowded destinations. There are some Adventures by Disney vacations available in the spring and fall shoulder seasons, but keep in mind that some of these itineraries are exclusive to adults.

If Price is Your Top Priority, You May Score a Better Deal on Another Disney Vacation

Adventures by Disney trips are not inexpensive value vacations. They are high-end, luxury trips. For example, the weeklong Adventures by Disney trip to England and France can cost a family of four (two adults and two children) approximately $20,000, excluding airfare. So what do you get for that price? The Disneyland Resort and Southern California itinerary includes VIP tours inside the Jim Henson Company Studios, Walt Disney Imagineering, Walt Disney Studios and Walt Disney Archives, none of which are open to the public. These experiences are one-of-a-kind and are unavailable, at any price, other than through Adventures by Disney.

No matter the destination, you'll receive VIP treatment on your Adventures by Disney trip. "VIP service and experiences abound, and throughout all our vacations our guests are attended to by highly trained Adventure Guides, who serve as expert storytellers, bringing the stories of the world to life in fun, interactive ways," Potrock says.

The Takeaway

Adventure by Disney trips are costly, but you get an all-inclusive, no-planning required vacation in the trusted hands of Disney with dedicated, experienced Adventure Guides leading the way. You will not find Mickey and Minnie Mouse (or any other Disney character) on these trips, but rather authentic stories of the local destination sprinkled with the country's own distinct traditions. If you can afford it, Adventures by Disney offers a luxurious, hassle-free vacation. However, if Adventures by Disney vacation doesn't fit into your family travel budget, consider another Disney trip or an adventure vacation with a reliable outfitter. Compare similar itineraries, and see which one has the destinations and activities most appealing to your family members' interests and needs.

Splurge or Save: Which Disney Perks Are Worth the Money

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Mickey and Minnie Mouse are seen walking through Sleeping Beauty Castle at the new Disneyland Park on September 1, 2005 in Hong Kong.

Dave Parfitt, Contributor

Dave Parfitt is a reformed academic with a PhD in neuroscience, and began writing about his ...  Read more

About En Route

Practical advice on the art of traveling smarter with tips, tricks and intel from En Route's panel of experts.

Contributors have experience in areas ranging from family travel, adventure travel, experiential travel and budget travel to hotels, cruises and travel rewards and include Amy Whitley, Claire Volkman, Holly Johnson, Marsha Dubrow, Lyn Mettler, Sery Kim, Kyle McCarthy, Erica Lamberg, Jess Moss, Sheryl Nance-Nash, Sherry Laskin, Katie Jackson, Erin Gifford, Roger Sands, Steve Larese, Gwen Pratesi, Erin Block, Dave Parfitt, Kacey Mya, Kimberly Wilson, Susan Portnoy, Donna Tabbert Long and Kitty Bean Yancey.

Edited by Liz Weiss.


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