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Opening Magic Kingdom

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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Adventures By Disney

Are Adventures By Disney only available to Disney Vacation Club members? NO! Just like Deluxe Villas are not just for Disney Vacation Club members only at the Walt Disney World Resort. This is a question we get asked often when folks find out that we have one Adventures By Disney adventure under our belts. We are not Disney Vacation Club members and we enjoyed an awesome Adventures By Disney tour to the Southwest--officially titled Southwest Splendors.




Adventures By Disney began by field testing tours with guests and Adventure Guides in 2005. By 2006, Adventures By Disney became more well known and today, the Adventures are advertised throughout the media, including the video that guests see while using Disney’s Magical Express to get to and from Orlando International Airport.

The Grand Canyon!

As soon as I learned about Adventures By Disney, I began calling my travel agent. Ok, how much for. . .? What is the age limit for. . .? We were ready to book and take our first Adventure by the summer of 2009.



Adventures By Disney are known for many things, so let me highlight just a few.

Ready to tour with the Cowboys!

Service: Adventures By Disney is known as a concierge level experience. And, while we have yet to stay at concierge level accommodations at Walt Disney World, we now can imagine the level of service those guests receive.



We were greeted at the airport—in Phoenix, Arizona—by two representatives of Adventures By Disney—not our tour guides—yet. One person greeted us with the Adventures By Disney sign, while the other looked for, grabbed, and loaded our bags at the baggage carousel. We didn’t see our bags again until we were in our resort room in Sedona. The other person took us via bus to the airport terminal where we would meet up with the rest of our travel party. Note: She didn’t send us or provide us with directions, she went with us; walked with us; checked to see if we needed to stop for food, water, or a restroom break. She hand delivered us to our guides who were waiting with the rest of our group. (An Adventures By Disney group usually consists of 40 guests (max.), 2 Adventures Guides, and in our case, one motor coach driver.

Arches National Park!

That level of service continued throughout our tour. Our guides made sure we were well taken care of and anticipated our needs. There were snacks and water on the motor coach for whenever we needed something. Our luggage was magically transported from one hotel to another as we made our way through the Southwest. One day there was a bit of rain and ponchos magically appeared from the guides’ backpacks. The day we white water rafted on the Colorado River, snacks, towels, and water to rinse off our feet before entering the motor coach were ready available. I’m telling you, they thought of everything! Yet, the level of service never kept us from experiencing an authentic Southwest adventure.

White Water Rafting!

The service also included photography. Our Adventure Guides—Tiffany and Diana—were also responsible for taking photos of us throughout the adventure. Those photos were then uploaded into a Disney Photopass Account that we could access to purchase photo prints or downloads. The photography and Photopass service were a surprise for us—something we hadn’t expected.

Montezuma Castle!

Unparalleled Guest Access: Disney is a big name and because of it, we were allowed access to local expert at every turn. Personal guides took us to Red Rock State Park, Box Canyon, Arches National Park, the Grand Canyon, and white water rafting on the Colorado River.



We were also granted access to the grounds of El Tovar, the Granddaddy of hotels on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon as we were guests at the Thunderbird Lodge, just next door. We have watched our son play tag on the grass at the “back door” of El Tovar, swung on a porch swing overlooking the Grand Canyon, and watched Elk roam freely beside us while they ate breakfast. We woke up two mornings and opened the curtains at our hotel to view the majestic Grand Canyon while staying at Thunderbird Lodge. While we dined we learned how to lasso, enjoyed Native American singing and dancing, and learned about snakes and tarantulas.



A Helicopter Ride Over the Grand Canyon!
While not included in the Adventure, it was an
extra we loved!



Magic: This is Disney and they are going to put as much magic and pixie dust into the experience as possible. And, boy, did they! We received a large box in the mail about 3 weeks before our adventure. It contained backpacks for the three of us, one especially designed for the boy. We also received a personalized. . . that’s right, it included our names. . . itinerary, including what to do when we arrived in Phoenix. All the directions were specific and clear. Our box also included special luggage tags to make identifying our luggage at the airport easier.

Our last night in Moab.

Then there were the little surprises throughout our adventure. Picture postcards, pins and lanyards, an evening just for the adults while the Adventure Guides fed and entertained the kids, double rainbows over the Colorado River during dinner, music, and starry nights.



The only thing missing was Mickey. I asked if he was coming. No, not this trip.



If your family is considering an Adventures By Disney tour, go for it!


Monument Valley!




Adventures By Disney tours, like I said earlier, are a concierge level experience, and can be a bit pricier than touring the parks. Most of the guests on our tour were seasoned park visitors and Disney Cruise Line cruisers. In fact, we bumped into a family that was on our tour at Walt Disney World last March. They were headed to Italy on an Adventures By Disney tour for the summer.



But before you dismiss the idea due to price, consider that lodging, most meals, transportation from one stop to another, experiences, and admissions are included. For our week long adventure, we were on our own for 3 lunches and 2 suppers. And, even then, the guides were helpful in selecting a place for us to go and making it accessible. (We ate at Burger King for one of the lunches!)



Another thing to consider before booking an Adventures By Disney tour is the age of the children that will be accompanying you. Adventures By Disney will provide age recommendations for specific tours, but be mindful that certain experiences within the tour may have age/height restrictions.



Right now, Adventures By Disney offers 19 tours across the world. Disney can take you to Australia, Alaska, China, Costa Rica, London and Paris, South Africa, Egypt (this one is new!), or the Galapagos Islands. There are also several Adventures By Disney tours in the U.S. and North America.

Red Rock State Park in Sedona.

After 7 trips to Walt Disney World, people sometimes ask why we don’t go other places on vacation. Our response is that we do, we just let Disney take us there!



Enjoy this video and a taste of what Adventures By Disney has to offer:




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