The Disney Difference: Adventures by Disney Group Travel

When I shared with people that I was heading off to Scotland with Adventures By Disney to write about their new “Brave” Scotland Family Vacation, I got many blank stares. Word isn’t quite out that Disney offers much more in family travel than theme parks. Adventures by Disney started offering escorted group trips in 2004, and for those in the know, it’s the best thing going — evident by the 40% guest return rate for these global itineraries.

I must admit, as a passionate independent traveler, I had my doubts about experiencing an international destination as a group through the Disney lens. I was worried about too much Mouse and not enough authenticity. It turns out my concerns were completely unfounded. I discovered that the very fact that the trips are run by Disney provides a huge advantage.

Why? It all comes down to the Disney difference:

Adventures by Disney Scotland
Private archery lesson at Glamis Castle 

Adventures by Disney Review

The Power of the Mouse

Disney is one of the world’s most successful global brands and this position opens doors. We had unbelievable access to one exceptional experience after another in Scotland. Like, our private viewing of the crown jewels in Edinburgh Castle. Like, an archery lesson on the lawn of the castle where the Queen’s Mum was raised. Like, the first-ever tour of the oldest tapestry factory still running in Scotland.

Safety and Security at All Costs

Disney works hard to have a brand that is synonymous with safety and security in everything that they do. This means that in environments they do not control, Disney goes to extraordinary lengths to ensure a near-flawless guest experience.

This provides incredible piece of mind. Bruce Austin, Disney’s Regional Manager for Europe, Africa and Asia, develops Adventures by Disney itineraries; Bruce accompanied us on our Scotland tour and described the unprecedented due diligence his team goes through when selecting different components of a trip. Take dining for example, where no stone is left uncovered during the selection process from food procurement to meal preparation. Even animal welfare is taken into account to ensure partners adhere to Disney’s ethical guidelines for human and animal interaction.

In more extreme foreign destinations like Africa and Asia, this is not an insignificant benefit, with or without kids in tow.

Adventures by Disney Scotland
Adventures by Disney guides ensure kids and their parents have a great time 

Tours are Kid-Centric, Not Just Kid-Friendly

We all know about tour companies who think that taking an adult-focused tour and adding a kids’ menu at meals will create a kid-friendly tour. Disney’s approach couldn’t be further from this paradigm. Trips are designed from the ground up to be fun for kids and their parents. Storytelling is important, as is adult-only and kid-only time, so everyone can unwind completely.

This approach means that some of the adult destination content is more lightweight than you’d get on a more adult-oriented tour, but kids are so happy in this heavily kid-customized environment that this is a price worth paying.

Adventures by Disney Tour Guides are Model Disney Citizens

Disney receives an average of 1,200 resumes every year for their Adventures by Disney tour guides; of this applicant pool, only 12 people are selected as guides. Talk about a rigorous hiring process!

Adventures by Disney guides are trained together to meet Disney standards and run these trips with a professional, consistent approach. Our guides in Scotland had an infinite amount of energy, enthusiasm, and patience. As expected, they both clearly loved children and went out of their way to cater to their every need.

Adventures by Disney Scotland Rothiemurchus Estate
Extraordinary experiences are the focus, not Disney characters 

Minimal Mouse Factor

Before the trip, I wondered if we would be picked up at the airport by Mickey Mouse and friends … I didn’t know what to expect. It turns out that the Mouse Factor on Adventures by Disney trips is kept intentionally low to enhance the authenticity of the destination experience.

Scotland is the only itinerary based on a Disney movie. The only characters present on the trip were on the pins handed out every day after visiting different attractions. The Disney trip elements relate to quality, not theme parks.

Stay tuned for my full review of our Adventures by Disney Scotland adventure. The only negative to note is that these itineraries are already sold out for 2013! 2014 and beyond is still available …

Editorial Note: Adventures by Disney provided complimentary access to their new Scotland itinerary. As always, our opinions on Ciao Bambino are our own.

Need help planning a Disney trip or any other top family travel destination? Our Family Travel Advising Team can  help! Request assistance on our Connect with a Family Travel Advisor page.

Relevant Links:

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Disney dining and allergy-friendly practices

Start a Discussion

  • Adventures by Disney left me and my child stranded at the Lima airport at midnight and I can’t even get a response from them, much less an apology. Our guide mentioned to the guests that he wouldn’t even go out in Lima after dark. So much for safety and security! It certainly wasn’t hassle or stress free. It was terrifying.

  • Adventures by Disney guided tours are so much more than just group travel. I think they are best described by a client that returned and was so thrilled because of the way they are put together. For example -after a quality day enjoying the Louvre he could sit down with his children and discuss everyone’s experiences. They had all done the same things but Disney educates everyone on their own level about the culture and destination that they are in with experiences for all age and attention levels. The best thing is if your child is really into art or history, they don’t have to stick with the kids group they can go along with the adult group and enjoy their tour…and if an adult would much rather do the mask making making in venice rather than what the adults are doing that’s ok too. It’s the best way to have a stress and hassle free authentic experience with hands on behind the scenes experiences for everyone in your group. The vip treatment and admissions alone are worth the trip. There is no waiting in line to enter museums, or tourist attractions, some places even have completely private tours- for example this year we are offering a private after hours tour of the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican. I love Adventures by Disney because of the awesome opportunities it gives families to have a travel experience that they wouldn’t otherwise have if they booked a trip on their own. You wouldn’t be able to knock on the door of a stranger in Italy and be welcomed into their kitchen to make pasta, or pizza in a 600 year old oven. Or to make pretzels and strudel in the oldest bakery in Germany. Awesome, just awesome. If you have any questions let me know I would be delighted to help!!

  • I’ve been wanting to do one of these tours since before I had kids. I liked the way you phrased that they’re kid-centric, not just kid-friendly. I know the one in Germany goes to places that I didn’t even know existed in Germany.
    Looks like it’s time to save some money!

    • Germany was our first adventure by disney in 2009. Our kids were 10, 8, 6, 6 and 4. There were 13 of us on this trip, and it is hard to please everyone. I am pleased to say that is no longer the case! It was the most amazing trip we’d ever taken….surprises around every corner and local guides who knew so much about history…and made the kids want to hear more at every turn! In June we will be embarking on our 4th ABD as a group…this time to Scotland ( we did China and California too). I hope you can save up soon and get out on an adventure! Good luck!

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