As a family, we’ve wanted to travel to Italy for a while. We finally decided to book a summer trip to Italy, deciding that the kids were old enough to enjoy the trip to Europe. We considered our options, and ended up booking a 7-day trip through Adventures by Disney (AbD) after hearing so many Adventures by Disney reviews. Although AbD trips are definitely expensive, there are so many benefits. Here’s our Adventures by Disney review, including many reasons why you may want to travel with Adventures by Disney.
A side note – we chose to book our trip through a travel agent, my friend Kirsten at Pure Magic Travel. It doesn’t cost extra, and it made everything so much easier. Kirsten booked the trip, reminded us when payment was due, and made sure we had all of the paperwork in on time. Although we do sometimes receive media rates on trips, this trip was booked at full price. We always disclose when we’ve received a discount or comp.
Update: since writing this post, I’ve traveling on three AbDs at full price, and experienced a media preview of the New York Long Weekend at no cost. This post has been updated several times to reflect our different experiences on the four AbDs we’ve experienced.
Adventures by Disney Review: Reasons Why You May Want to Travel With Adventures by Disney
What is Adventures by Disney?
Wondering what is Adventures by Disney? Adventures by Disney is a guided group tour company run by Disney. Families go in groups to various destinations, accompanied by tour guides.
These trips are generally appropriate for slightly older kids (trips have a minimum age). Adventures by Disney adult only trips are also available. The trips don’t include any characters or other Disney elements, but do offer the level of service that guests expect from the Walt Disney Company. Adventures by Disney offers tours in the United States, Europe, Australia, Asia, and Africa. There are long weekend trips, short breaks, and full vacations offered.
You can also get an add-on with a European Disney Cruise Line vacation, where you join your AbD group and guides for excursions off the ship. Family river cruises (including a Rhine River Cruise) are also available.
Two Adventure Guides on Adventures by Disney
Most Adventures by Disney tours include two tour guides on each adventure. Of these Disney trained Adventure Guides, one is often from the country you are visiting, while the other is typically from the United States. Having two guides can be a huge benefit because there can be one guide at the front of the line and one guide at the end of the line. In addition, the guides often sat with the children at group meals, and were always available to help with any questions we had. On the nights when dinner was on our own, the guides offered suggestions for where we should eat, and booked reservations for us.
On our Italy trip, our AbD guide was Italian and it was so helpful for her to translate things. In Greece, our Greek guide was also our local guide, and was incredibly knowledgeable about the area. We were so excited to go on our most recent adventure, the Adventures by Disney London and Paris trip, and found that we had one of the same guides that we had in Italy! The guides almost feel like family by the end of the trip.
Free Time During Adventures by Disney Trips
When we booked our trip, we wanted to make sure that we’d still have some free time to do things on our own. Because of the time difference between Boston and Italy, we booked an extra day at our first hotel. We booked it through AbD, so we had the same hotel room and our transfers from the airport to the hotel were included.
In addition to that extra day, we also had plenty of free time at each destination, ranging from an hour (in the smaller locations) to an entire evening. Our guides were always available to provide recommendations on what we could do in that time, and even made restaurant reservations for us.
Of the three AbD trips that we have done, the Greece trip had the most free time. We still had lots of time as a group, but we did have a good amount of time to enjoy the pools and beach.
I was so impressed with the premium service we received. For instance, when we traveled from Naples to Florence, we had reservations in the first-class cabin of a high-speed train. We also had front-of-the line privileges at many attractions, and our guides pre-booked times so that we didn’t have to wait in line. This is the type of thing that we may not have even known to book if we were traveling on our own.
In addition to our regular guides, we were also met by fantastic local guides in each destination. Those local experts typically led our walking tours and were able to give us very detailed information. We had “whispers” – little personal earbuds connected to a device that helped us hear the guide – so we heard all of the information that each local guide provided.
We had different local guides in each distinct area, as they were experts in their specific destination. Greece was a bit different, however, because our Adventures by Disney Greece guide also served as our local expert. Each country has its own set of rules for guides.
Top Notch Family Hotels
The two hotels that we stayed in were absolutely perfect, and were centrally located. It was great to stay in places that were already vetted, so we knew that we’d have a great experience.
Since I initially posted this, we went on three other AbD trips and stayed at eight hotels in total. We loved all of them. They do a great job in finding hotels that have amenities that are comfortable for Americans, while also being in a prime location. Of course, in most of our experiences, we really didn’t have too much time in the rooms.
Perfectly Timed Adventures by Disney Itinerary
I still can’t believe how much stuff we were able to see in a 7-day trip. Our trip was so well planned, and our guides knew exactly what time we’d need to leave to beat traffic and crowds. It would have been nearly impossible to see all of that on our own.
The same was true for the other AbD trips I went on. They were jammed packed, but also so well planned that we were easily able to see so much more as a group than we ever would have seen on our own.
Our guides took photos throughout our entire adventure, and they were all available to download, free, after our trip. They took well over 3,000 images – documenting every single moment of our adventure. In addition, they took family photos at many locations, using their cameras as well as ours. I rarely have photos with me in them, so these pictures are so nice to have. Because of our guides’ experience, they knew exactly which spots were the best for great photos.
On our Italy trip, once we arrived in Naples, we didn’t have to deal with our luggage again. The bellmen brought the luggage to our rooms on the first night. When we left Naples, the bags were collected that morning and reappeared in our Florence hotel. It was great to board the train with only our small day luggage, and not have to worry about our big suitcases.
This luggage handling was especially helpful in Greece, where we had to take both an internal flight (where we did have to bring our luggage to the airport ourselves, due to security concerns), and a ferry. This is just one example where Adventures by Disney vacations are hassle free.
In England/France, the luggage handling as we did our channel crossing was also helpful. Instead of lugging bags onto the train, we just sat back with only our carry on pieces.
Adventures by Disney trips are definitely kid-friendly (although they do offer a few select adult-only adventures). The kids on the trip had so much fun together, from making pizzas in Sorrento to tasting Italian sodas in Tuscany. The kids often had meals together, even if there wasn’t an official kids’ table, and they also played cards on the train and on long bus rides. While kids usually brought some of their own games, our guides also carried cards to entertain the kids.
The kids became such good friends with other kids on our trip in England/France that we ended up hanging around with them even during our free time. One of my favorite AbD moments was the meal in Paris that we enjoyed with two other families.
In Italy, there was also one night where the kids watched a movie with our adventure guides while the parents got to relax in the lobby bar. In Greece, the kids all dined together and watched a movie while the parents were able to go to an upscale dinner in our hotel at a restaurant of our choosing. These nights, called Junior Adventurer nights, are often my kids’ favorite evenings on our Adventures by Disney family vacations. On our London/Paris trip, the Junior Adventurer night was on the second night, and gave the kids a great opportunity to meet each other. After that, they were inseparable.
One of the things that I’ve loved the most about our AbD family vacations is the unique experiences they arrange for travelers. We’ve stomped grapes in Greece, competed in archery in England, learned Broadway dance moves in NYC, and made pizza in Italy. These were all highlights of our trip, but not something that we would have been able to arrange on our own.
As the mom in the family, I’m often responsible for carrying everything – from the camera to first aid supplies to water to hand sanitizer to sunscreen to wipes. But on our trip, our Adventure Guides handled all of this. Water bottles seemed to appear out of thin air whenever I was thirsty, and they always had a full supply of snacks. As we headed out of public restrooms, one of our guides stood outside doling out hand sanitizer. Often these European public restroom also charged a small fee, which our guides paid for. It was so nice not to have to worry about these things.
Food Allergy Help
My daughter is allergic to tree nuts, so we definitely had some concerns traveling to Europe. Our Italian guide did a great job of talking to the servers, in Italian, to make sure they understood her allergies. They also provided nut-free snacks during the day. When we dined separate from the group, they gave her a card to show the server that carefully explained her dietary restrictions. It definitely helped ease our concerns.
Adventures by Disney Destinations
Adventures by Disney offers travel to so many different destinations, including Greece, Italy, China, Peru, Norway, Alaska, and more.
Adventures by Disney Reviews
We’ve been on four AbD trips, and here’s just a brief review of each experience.
Italy and the Amalfi Coast Adventures by Disney
This was our very first AbD trip, and after that, we were hooked. This trip was a seven day adventure, although we arrived a day early to acclimate to the time change. We started in Sorrento, Italy, where we took several day trips to other spots, including Amalfi, Positano, and Capri.
One high-speed train ride later, and we were in Florence. Again, we did some day trips, but also explored the local area.
This trip was completely magical, because we’d always wanted to go to Italy, and this itinerary let us see so much in a short period of time. I definitely would recommend it for anyone who wanted to explore the Amalfi Coast and Florence. There was a small amount of down time, with several nights where we were able to eat meals on our own.
Greek Odyssey Adventures by Disney
For our next trip, we decided to go to Greece. All four of us had wanted to travel there, and we knew that we would never want to go on our own.
It’s really difficult to compare this trip to the others, because it was so different. As a ten day trip, it felt so much longer than the others. We also traveled to three different locations, and didn’t take as many day trips. We spend so much more time on the water, and had more free time.
I have a full trip report on Adventures by Disney Greece trip here. If you have Greece on your bucket list, and you want to take only one AbD trip, this is the trip I would do. We saw all of the major sites, had outstanding guides, ate delicious food, and enjoyed our trip so much.
England and France Adventures by Disney
Although I had been to both London and Paris before, my kids had not. They both really wanted to see all of those world-famous landmarks in England and France, and my husband and I wanted to see them experience the sites. This trip was sort of a last-minute plan, and we ended up really loving the experience.
Because this trip was mostly city tours and attractions, it was very different from Greece. In fact, we never even needed bathing suits. However, it was still a fantastic experience. We never would have been able to see that many attractions and landmarks in that time frame on our own.
It felt like a much shorter trip, after the Greece adventure, but it truly wasn’t. We added on a day at the start, and two days at Disneyland Paris at the end. I’d definitely recommend doing that if you are interested in visiting the parks. By booking through AbD, we received a special FastPass that let us use the FastPass line at all of the attractions that used the system.
You can read our full Adventures by Disney London/Paris trip report here.
New York City Long Weekend Adventures by Disney
Right after we returned from our England/France trip, I was invited, with a guest, to experience a complimentary media preview of the New York City Long Weekend adventure. My daughter loves theater and is actively involved in community theater, so I was thrilled to be able to take her on this trip.
We only experienced one full day of the adventure, but it is truly a “bucket list” type trip. In that one full day, we visited the set of Good Morning America, got a backstage tour of the New Amsterdam theater (home of Aladdin), learned part of a song/dance number from Disney’s Frozen, and got to see Frozen on Broadway. It was a completely magical day, and one that we never could have coordinated on our own.
See our full review of the Adventures by Disney New York City Long Weekend here.
To learn more about Adventures by Disney, visit their website.
Read about our Adventures by Disney tips here.