As professional travel planners, we sometimes see multiple clients ask the same question. One of the questions we see most often for Adventures by Disney is the simple question of: Why? What’s so special about an Adventures by Disney trip and is it worth the cost? Why travel with Disney instead of planning a trip on your own to the same destination? Our Firefly owner, Kristen, recently traveled on an Adventures by Disney adventure to Southern California for 4 days/3 nights. We wanted to answer those questions we see so often from our travelers, so you can learn about how that Disney magic weaves itself through each and every incredible adventure so we interviewed her as a team to get her thoughts. Here’s what she had to share:
First, let’s answer the obvious question: What IS an Adventures by Disney adventure? Simply put, it’s a hassle-free, guided small-group vacation to various domestic and international destinations. You choose where you want to go from the available destination list, who’s coming, and how long you’d like to travel. Then let DIsney Destinations plan the rest of your trip with exclusive itineraries and locations not available to the general public, magic surprises, and dedicated tour Adventure Guides local to your destination!
Arrival, Departure, and Getting Around – What to Expect
Getting to your adventure destination is super simple. Simply fly into a local airport, and an Adventures by Disney guide will escort you directly to your car, grab your luggage, and then whisk you off to Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. If you aren’t flying in, you can meet the Adventures by Disney team in a designated meeting spot. In our case, we could drive and leave our car with the valet at the Grand Californian, and pick it up once our adventure concluded.
Traveling from location to location was great as well. We had a wonderful chartered bus with a bathroom for travel from location to location. It was very comfortable, and they really thought of every detail, like snacks on the bus everyday, coolers of water waiting for us when we were boarding our bus at the end of each day. There was always something for us to make us truly feel pampered. Keep in mind this isn’t a one-on-one tour. You’ll travel with a group for your entire vacation, and stay together for both transportation, and to each of your exclusive destinations.
Upon departure, Disney also takes care of your transportation back to the airport, or if you drove, your guides accompany you back to the appointed meeting place where you originally started (in our case, the Grand Californian.)
Accommodations and Expenditures – What to Expect
On our escape, we stayed at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and Lowe’s Hollywood Hotel. Both of these would be considered a deluxe property, and right in the heart of our explorations. The Grand Californian was right onsite, and the convenience cannot be beat. You can be back in your hotel in minutes, or walk right out into Disneyland. In Hollywood, you’re literally IN Hollywood, walking right out of your hotel onto Hollywood Boulevard. You’re very close to everything, in a luxury hotel, but you feel very safe. Accommodations are top of the line, with all of the amenities.
When you check in, an Adventure Guide is waiting for you. They have an envelope for you, and take your luggage up to your room. One of the nice things is you don’t have to worry about extra gratuities. These days, it seems like there’s a tip jar just about everywhere, and for everything… but not with Adventures by Disney. All of our tips were included in the cost of the actual trip, like baggage, drivers, restaurant waitstaff, and even your airport transportation drivers. There is only one tip not included, and that’s the tip for your adventure guide. Usually about $10 per person per day per guide is the recommendation. If you’ve traveled on a Disney Cruise, it’ll feel very familiar, with tip envelopes already prepared for you.
Your Adventure Guides – What to Expect
When you visit other countries, you’ll have both a Disney guide and a local guide from the area. In our case, visiting Southern California and Disneyland, our guides were both Disney guides AND locals who knew the area and had lived there for years. No matter where your adventure is, you’ll always have someone from that region that knows the answers to those questions on the entire length of your trip, who is able to provide insider tips that most people won’t know.
Why not just book these things on your own?
That’s probably the number one Adventures by Disney question we see… Why would I want to do an Adventures by Disney trip when I could just do these things on my own? Three things stood out to us while on our trip: Exclusive Opportunities, Relaxation, and Safety/Security.
Every Adventures by Disney escape includes special behind-the-scenes things that you would not get to do on your own. Even before we started the trip, we received a welcome package included a nice backpack, pins specific to our tour, luggage tags, and a few other magical Disney surprises. In CarsLand we got to go behind the scenes, see how some of the rides work, what keeps them operational. There were things specified in the itinerary, but so many surprises along the way, that aren’t mentioned in the details of the tour… hidden magical moments that make your trip really special. Our tour mixed exclusive dining locations, personal touches, backstage areas, and innovative technology. The locations and personal touches you’ll experience are not available to the general public.
Having everything planned for you is truly amazing. There are a few moments woven into your itinerary where you have free time and options. As the planner in the family it was so nice to go on a trip and not have to plan everything. All I had to do is be where they told me to be when they told me to be there. I didn’t even have to handle my own luggage, or figure out how to get from point A to point B. It was so simple to just know I had to be in the lobby by 8 am.
On the Disneyland days we would start together in the morning. I have to stress, every morning is an early morning. You get up and get going to soak up as much exclusive tour time as you can before the crowds come in, but by 10:30, you already had free time. Several travelers would visit the parks, then come back and enjoy the pool on a midday break, and then meet up again in the evening for dinner. It was a very nice blend of group activities and time to relax or take it easy.
Our adventure was adult-only, but each trip is designated as either adult-only, or family-friendly. If it was a family trip, they have evenings with planned activities for the children so the adults can enjoy a relaxing moment on their own. Because they have adventures that are for adults only, AND adventures that are for families, it’s nice to have that option and be able to choose.
One thing that really stood out to everyone on our trip was the number of singly-traveling women on our tour. You feel very safe because you’re in a group with other people. If you are traveling on your own, (like a single parent or grandparent traveling with kids), group travel is a great way to feel confident that everything is going to be taken care of for you.
And if it is an area where you shouldn’t be (such as a sketchy area, or time of day) your guides will give you those safety tips. On our trip, there were at least three ladies traveling by themselves. They met people and made friendships that made it even more special. In my group there were several girl trips and friends too. Knowing everyone was staying together, in a group, and not worrying about how to get from point A to point B really adds to the level of relaxation. It really does create a safe and stress-free vacation.
Standout Moments and Memories
On our trip, we met several travelers who were celebrating–honeymoons, life events, or annual girl trips, and some who have even done this same trip in the past. There really was a sense that you’d made new lifelong friends just by spending a few days with your fellow travelers. I can see now how I’ve heard people say that they met on one trip and continued to go on other adventures together. It was so much fun and it really made the trip really special. Nobody was ever left out, and everyone intermingled. The next day you’d see the same people with different people.
My other standout memory? Visiting Imagineering. Going behind the scenes, seeing how the creative process is, how young these kids were… we give kids a gaming headset, and some adults will tell our kids that’s never going to lead you anywhere, but yet these imagineers have done exactly that. One castmember we met on our tour did the Muppets Halloween Special. Another had just finished Guardians of the Galaxy, just seeing these are normal people, I thought that was amazing and it made me understand how much magic and creativity is behind all of it.
So, what’s so special about an Adventures by Disney vacation?
We can truly say from experience, everything is taken care of for you. Perfectly planned itineraries, blending idyllic sights and relaxing moments, exclusive behind-the-scenes activities and experiences, in a safe, friendly environment… these are all key to the exclusive Adventures by Disney experiences we know and love. If you’re looking for that perfect way to memorialize a life event, celebration, or want to experience exclusive magic, an Adventures by Disney trip is just what you need!
Our Southern California and Disneyland Escape was just one of DOZENS Adventures by Disney. Whether you want to swim with sea turtles in the Galapagos Islands, or saddle up to a dude ranch in Wyoming, one of our agents will be happy to help you choose the right trip to make your celebration one you’ll never forget.
Contact Us today to start planning your own adventure!