There are destinations well-suited for a trip where a multi-faceted itinerary is managed by a talented tour operator. Scotland is certainly one of them, particularly if you want to see and do as much as possible in a short amount of time. Adventures by Disney launched their new Scotland itinerary in 2013 and I gave a condensed five-night version a go on their inaugural media trip.
I now understand why Adventures by Disney escorted group travel makes a fantastic family vacation in Scotland for families with kids ages 8 and up. A huge benefit of a tour like this is the sheer number of activities you can enjoy without having to worry about logistics and details. You just show up and appreciate each stop with zero stress as there is no reason to think about the how or what, or if your kids will be happy. For those of us who engage in marathon trip planning, this is a very liberating experience!
This Scotland itinerary is the first Adventure by Disney trip to be connected with a movie. Brave, the award-willing film by Director Mark Andrews, provides the inspiration for the itinerary.
I don’t want to give the trip surprises related to the movie away as they are part of the fun, but the movie theme enhances the trip experience as Mark and his team provide insight into how they developed the film through travel in Scotland via daily videos. Their visual approach is so detailed that after hearing their explanations, you look at the scenery through an entirely different filter.
Here’s an overview of our itinerary and activities:
Adventures by Disney Scotland: A Brave Adventure Highlights
The beauty of Adventures by Disney Scotland itinerary is that you experience many destination highlights with a variety of activities incorporated into each stop; it’s not just looking, but doing, which of course is the ultimate kid-friendly approach.
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Overall, I’d recommend arriving a day or two prior to when the Adventures by Disney Scotland tour starts to give everyone time to adjust to the time zone and recover from jet lag.
Note: The actual (versus media sampler) Adventures by Disney Scotland itinerary follows a different trip flow. See the Adventures by Disney Scotland page for details.
Ghost Stories and Archery at Glamis Castle
Privately owned by the same family for 600 years, Glamis Castle is the grand estate where Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother grew up and is filled with original furnishings, art, and memorabilia.
A visit is like stepping back in time and the castle guide captivates children and their parents by sharing the castle’s numerous ghost stories. The interior castle visit is paired with a private archery lesson on the grounds. It’s one thing to learn to shoot a bow and arrow, it’s another to learn to shoot one with this backdrop!
Castle Right Out of a ‘Visit Scotland’ Postcard
Like a ‘Visit Scotland’ postcard, the setting of what’s left of Donnottar Castle is perched right over the sea and view is truly spectacular.
With over 300 steps each way to get to and from the castle, everyone gets a big stretch. There’s nothing too rigorous to uncover, it’s just a fun place to check out an amazing castle’s crumbling nooks and crannies, plus take wonderful photos (weather permitting).
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Searching for the Loch Ness Monster
Believe it or not, the story of the Loch Ness monster is very much alive and a visit to the lake gives families a first hand look at what all the fuss is about.
The tour starts at the Exhibition Center, which provides the background and history of Nessie sightings and research through the years. The museum is not for kids per se, but the videos and large-scale reproductions of lake artifacts and research equipment keep everyone’s attention through the short tour.
After the exhibition, families choose between kayaking or a boat ride around the lake. We chose the latter and loved the opportunity to get in the middle of the lake and get perspective on its scope. The captain entertains the kids with more accounts about Nessie sightings over the years.
The Loch Ness experience ends with a visit to Urquhart Castle with a glorious expanse of grass and ruins perched right on the shores of the lake.
Sporty Adventures in the Largest Natural Forest in Britain
Rothiemurchus Estate, a privately owned wilderness area in the Highlands, was a trip favorite for us. The estate includes the largest natural forest in Britain set against wild mountain scenery.
On this day the Disney Adventurers explore the vast estate via Highland Ponies and mountain bikes, with a delicious picnic lunch in between each excursion.
Disney is good about customizing experiences; families who couldn’t participate in both activities were provided with other options.
Weaving with the Masters
Our tour ended in Edinburgh where we toured Dovecot Studios, the oldest working tapestry factory in Scotland set in an old public bathhouse filled with light. It’s amazing to see master weavers doing the same intricate work that has been in place for generations. The kids had an opportunity to join the weavers for a wee session on a Brave-themed tapestry.
A Royal Evening at Edinburgh Castle
Our last night with Adventures by Disney will be stuck in our memory banks forever. We had a private viewing of the crown jewels followed by a private dinner at Edinburgh Castle. We felt like Royalty. Disney magic at its finest.
Editorial Note: Adventures by Disney provided complimentary access to their new Scotland itinerary. As always, our opinions on Ciao Bambino are our own. Photos by Amie O’Shaughnessy