Each ABD Trip is Guided by Disney Cast Members and Local Guides
This may seem simple, but it shouldn’t be underestimated. The Disney name is not merely licensed to a local tour company in the destination country. Adventures by Disney trips are completely conceived, designed, organized, and led in-destination by actual Disney Cast Members (Disney employees). Cast Members are, of course, well versed in how to interact with children – so it’s no surprise that the on-site Disney Adventure Guides are great with the younger adventurers in their care.
And these aren’t just any Cast Members. Becoming a Disney Adventure Guide requires a rigorous five month series of applications, interviews, and auditions. As a result, Disney is able to select the best-of-the-best to ensure they’re able to safely, competently, and energetically lead tours that are far removed from any theme park. This means that competition for the role is high, and it’s not hard to imagine the caliber of people who make it through the process. They’re the ultimate VIP tour guides for Disney Guests.
Adventure Guide job requirements specifically include being “guest-focused, including children, adults and families,” and job listings for the position often note that guides must be able to build connections with – and among – Guests in their care. In other words, they’re supposed to make sure that Guests of every age feel included and connected to their Guide, to their fellow travelers, and to the destination they’re visiting.
Most Adventure Guides don’t actually live in the areas for which they offer tours, though they’ve received extensive classroom and field training. To help bridge this gap, Disney hand picks skilled Local Experts to join the group. These are locals who have known the area for years and have a gift for sharing engaging stories.
This again is where the power of the Disney name comes into play; Disney is able to be extremely selective with the local experts it picks and works to ensure they’re great with travelers of all ages. This intense local knowledge also helps ensure that everything – from hotels to restaurants to activities – is not only authentic but the best choice for families.
Disney’s Junior Adventurer Program is Made Especially for Younger Travelers
With the exception of a few special Adult Exclusive departures of some itineraries, every Adventures by Disney Trip welcomes younger travelers provided they’ve reached the trip’s required minimum age. Younger travelers are such a consideration on these Disney adventures that there’s a special term for them: Junior Adventurers.
Each trip includes activities exclusively for Junior Adventurers. Sometimes, it’s as simple as giving kids their own meal separate from the adults, or perhaps a karaoke night where they can sing along with travelers their own age. Other times, these can be elaborate activities in unique locations, available solely to those under a certain age.
Our picks for a few of the Best Children’s Activities on ABD trips:
- Alaska itinerary: Junior Adventurers explore native village heritage sites with an outdoor scavenger hunt, followed that night by learning to spin an Eskimo yo-yo, playing soccer, or other activities. Later in the trip, they are sworn in as Junior Rangers at Denali National Park.
- Danube River Cruise: Younger travelers visit the Schönbrunn Palace Children’s Museum, dress up in historical garb, and explore the labyrinth maze in the palace garden.
- Grand Europe itinerary: Junior Adventurers pick herbs from the garden at the Fioroni Winery and learn how to infuse them into bottles of olive oil.
- Greece itinerary: As part of a guided tour of the Panathenaic Stadium (home of the first modern Olympic games in 1896), Junior Adventurers compete in a mini-marathon to win a prize.
- Italy itinerary: Junior Adventurers participate in a special art detective game at Doges Palace in an activity designed by Disney exclusively for kids. Later, the entire family visits Tragicomica for a private, hands-on workshop in the art of mask-making under the guidance of an artisan.
- Wyoming itinerary: Following a visit to Old Faithful, Junior Adventurers make their own geyser and watch it erupt.
In addition to these kids-only activities, many of the regular itinerary items for all travelers are designed so that kids remain engaged.
Our picks for a few of the Best Kid-Friendly activities (open to all ages) on ABD trips:
- Alaska itinerary: Visit Happy Trails Kennels for an up-close encounter with the sled dogs and this season’s litter of puppies. Later, pan for gold in Crow Creek.
- Antarctica & Patagonia Expedition Cruise: Walk along paths through penguin colonies as you see the creatures tending their young.
- Danube River Cruise: Participate in a unique marionette demonstration at Schönbrunn Palace, followed by a private marionette show.
- Egypt Itinerary: Learn about papyrus and paint your own name in hieroglyphics on an authentic scroll.
- Germany itinerary: Learn to make pretzels from at a bakery that opened in 1644; later, dress up as knights, kings, queens, and princesses at a medieval shop and enjoy a photo session.
- Ireland itinerary: Learn some classic Irish dance steps as you enjoy traditional music performed by local musicians. Later, spend an evening at an authentic Irish farm and have a chance to bottle-feed a baby lamb or piglet.
- Japan itinerary: Visitors to a museum fold origami cranes and add them to the collection at a statue of 10-year-old Sadako Sasaki, as part of an ancient legend that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish by the gods.
- London & Paris itinerary: Visit the remarkable Queen Mary’s Dollhouse and see one of the world’s most incredible collections of dolls.
- Scotland itinerary: Guests of all ages compete in a family-friendly version of the traditional Highland games competitions including caber toss, shot put, and tug-of-war. Later, feed the “hairy coo” (traditional Highland cattle) and Scottish red deer.
- Sicily itinerary: Partake in the puppet experience at Opera dei Pupi, including a customize-your-own puppet workshop, backstage tour, puppet museum visit, and private puppet show.
- South Africa itinerary: Visit the African Penguins that live along Boulders Beach.
- Winter in Wyoming itinerary: Enjoy a dogsled ride through the snow and perhaps take the reins to guide your dog team.
Age Recommendations Help Families Pick the Right Trip for Their Kids
It’s a common question: is my child old enough for Adventures by Disney? As family-friendly as these Disney adventures might be, there are still some age restrictions to be aware of, but we see those as a benefit rather than a restriction; they help give you guidance on making sure the trip is appropriate for your children. As you research potential itineraries for your family, you’ll often notice three age requirements mentioned. Here’s what each of them means, and which of them is the most important:
- Minimum Age: This is the lowest age at which your child will be allowed to travel with ABD. The minimum age for an Adventures by Disney trip is typically age 4-6 depending on the trip, and refers to the child’s age as of the starting date of your trip. But a word of advice to parents of kids who “just barely make it” – your child probably will not have the best time on this trip. It’s better to look at the “Suggested Age” for the trip and choose accordingly.
- Suggested Age: This is the guideline that’s the most important to pay attention to; it’s the age Disney believes your child should be in order to fully enjoy their trip. The suggested age for an Adventures by Disney trip is often just a year or two older than the posted minimum age, but it does vary by trip. It’s based on several factors, including the strength/endurance needed for the scheduled activities, length of daily programming, length of the trip, weather extremes, and other considerations. It’s also worth noting that occasionally an individual activity such as horseback riding might have a different age requirement beyond the suggested age; in those cases, alternate activities are usually offered for those who don’t meet the guidelines.
- Adult-Exclusive: Some individual trip dates are listed as adult-exclusive, which means… well… just that. Those particular trips are open only to adults, with no one under the age of 18 allowed. You’ll see the adult-exclusive age (18+) listed among the age requirements for each trip, but it applies only if you’ve selected a trip date that is specifically listed as Adult Exclusive.
Some Trips Weave in Disney Elements
Let’s be clear from the start: Adventures by Disney is absolutely not teeming with Disney characters. If you’re expecting Mickey Mouse to lead you on a tour of the Louvre, you’re going to be disappointed.
Most of those who travel with ABD choose to do so because they want to see the world but have the comfort, security, and Guest service of Disney at their side. They’re usually not so concerned with having Disney animation / theme park content in their vacation.
That said, Adventures by Disney does occasionally weave in some Disney content from time to time, which can help keep your child from getting bored on their trip. And if you are interested in adding some outright Disney Theme Park time to your trip for the sake of the kids, you do have some options.
Adventures by Disney Trips with Minor Disney Content
Disney has experimented in the past with international trips that leaned heavily into Disney or Pixar animation. The most ambitious example of this was an ABD Scotland: A Brave Adventure itinerary that was previously offered. That trip was conceived from the start to tell the story of Disney-Pixar’s Merida using the real-world context that was the inspiration for the film.
More recent efforts have not gone to the extreme of impacting the itinerary of the entire trip, but still try to include mention of some Disney content when it’s relevant; this is especially true if you Disney vacation adventure takes you to a country that also served as the inspiration for a Disney film.
For example, your Germany trip’s stop at Neuschwanstein will almost certainly include talk of how this castle served as inspiration for the castles found in the Disney theme parks. And your Scotland itinerary includes a stop at the statue of Greyfriars Bobby, a renowned Skye Terrier that inspired a 1961 Disney film.
Elements such as that can help keep younger travelers of a certain age interested. To most benefit from this, your kids will have to be of an age and mindset of “how things work” and able to make the connection between what they’ve seen in animated movies and what they’re seeing in the real world.
You’re also likely to find Disney movies sneaking directly into your trip. Many itineraries feature a Disney movie night as part of the schedule.
Adventures by Disney Trips with Extensive Disney Content
There are a few itineraries which lean heavily into Disney content. Specifically, some Adventures by Disney trips include time in Disney’s theme parks as either as a core element of the trip or an optional add-on once the trip concludes.
Hong Kong Disneyland and Shanghai Disneyland
The current Adventures by Disney China itinerary includes an afternoon and evening at Hong Kong Disneyland park on Day 2 of the trip, as well as an afternoon and evening at Shanghai Disneyland park on Day 11. Note that these visits to the parks are essentially “day trips” and you will not be spending the night at the Resorts’ hotels.
Following the conclusion of certain European departures, you have the option of extending your trip by adding up to six nights at a Disneyland Paris resort hotel. In addition to a room at Disneyland Hotel, Newport Bay Club, or Hotel New York – the Art of Marvel, you’ll also receive ground transportation, a complimentary plush toy, and several complimentary soft drinks.
For the ultimate mix of the Adventures by Disney touring style with the Disney Parks experience, you’ll want to look into the Disneyland Resort and Southern California itinerary. This trip is without a doubt the best Adventures by Disney trip for a Disney fan, and it’s open to those ages four and up. Take a look at just a few of the itinerary highlights:
- Exclusive VIP visit to the Jim Henson Company Lot
- Lunch at Tam O’Shanter, one of Walt Disney’s favorite hangouts with a special stop at Walt’s “regular” booth
- Private tour of The Walt Disney Studios and the Walt Disney Archives
- Tour of Walt Disney Imagineering
- Privately guided VIP visit to Disneyland Park, including some backstage content
- VIP visit to Disney California Adventure, including behind-the-scenes at Cars Land
- VIP viewing of parades and fireworks when available
A shorter, scaled-down “escape” version of this trip is also offered should you find that your kiddo can only handle a few days of a theme parks trip before starting to get antsy.
Adventures are Packed with Activities, So There’s Less Time to Get Bored
Don’t get us wrong; there’s certainly a bit of downtime planned for every Adventures by Disney vacation. You’ll probably be glad it’s there, too, because these are certainly not leisurely trips. ABD focuses on active experiences, and your trip will be full of them.
That’s not to say that every waking hour will be filled with hiking, bike riding, and whitewater rafting, but the itineraries are so full that on occasion your lunch might be a boxed meal while on your bus or plane to the next city. You’ll find yourself up and moving pretty much from morning until evening, and there might not be quite as much time for sitting and taking a break as you might expect.
While your feet might be aching just thinking about the prospect of that, it’s good to remember that an active schedule help you pack the most experiences into what might be just a few days of a once-in-a-lifetime trip. And, for families with children, keeping them busy with something new around every turn certainly helps keep boredom at bay.
Spending Time with Other Junior Adventurers Keeps Boredom at Bay
ABD is first and foremost a family vacation company, so it’s all but certain that there will be other families with children on your departure. It’s hard for kids to slip into boredom when there are new friends to be made and a chance to spend time doing activities with others their own age.
Adventure Guides are tasked with gently nudging travelers into interactions with each other, and kids are no exception. You’re not likely to run into many “you can’t play with us” squabbles here.
It’s also worth noting that adult travelers on these trips (even those who are traveling without children) can generally be counted on to be open to interacting and engaging with children. If a traveler truly isn’t interested in being anywhere near kids on vacation, they’ll likely pick one of the many Adult Exclusive departures that are offered each year.
Your Child Can Choose Their Own Disney Adventure
A great way to help keep your kids engaged throughout your trip is letting them have a say in their guided tour. If they’re able to pick a few things they like to do, they’re less likely to become bored. There are a several ways to bring your children into the decision making process for their Disney adventures. Some of these are built into the trip itself by Disney, but we’ve also included an important first one that’s solely up to you.
Let your children have a say in which trip you pick
Do you have a child who’s really into animals? Snow? Swimming? Or maybe your kids were fascinated by a movie or television show set in another country. You certainly know the types of activities and interests your kids love. Take those hints as inspiration while you look through the different itineraries Adventures by Disney offers. There’s sure to be something your kids will find interesting.
After you have a few possible itineraries in mind, have a family vacation planning meeting where everyone – kids, teens, and adults – gets to openly and honestly discuss what they do and don’t like about each potential trip. It’s better to find out now that something’s a non-starter than to find out when you’re already on the trip!
Many Itineraries include travelers-choice options on some days
Many ABD trip schedules include a few time slots where participants can decide which of two or three activities they’d like to do. This is a great way to give your kids some say over what happens on vacation and keep them interested and engaged.
For example, the 2023 Australia trip offers a period of time where travelers can choose to go snorkeling or instead take a ride in a semi-submersible submarine vehicle.
Adventures by Disney River Cruises tend to offer even more of these options. The Budapest day of some Danube River Cruises offers the choice of either an equestrian park, city tour, and shopping – or a foodie tour of the city followed by solo exploration time.
“On Your Own” time gives kids the chance to do whatever they like
Despite offering very full itineraries, Disney still includes ample time designated as “on your own” in various cities along the way. While most travelers use this time to shop or stroll the streets, there’s nothing to say you can’t use it to do one of your kids’ favorite activities. Do a bit of research ahead of time (or just ask your Guide), and you’ll find plenty of local options that might be right up your children’s alley.
You could even use this time to just take a nap and recharge… no judgments here! Sometimes a bit of downtime in the midst of a busy vacation is just the thing to reset everyone’s attitudes and make the remainder of the trip all the more enjoyable.
Shorter (or Longer) Trips Might Appeal to Younger Travelers
Adventures by Disney offers trips of all lengths, from brief weekend-style escapes to longer experiences that last nearly two weeks. For kids who easily get bored, it might be advisable to select a shorter trip that will allow them to get back to their routine a bit sooner. On the other hand, if you know your child typically needs a few days to become comfortable around new people and places, then a longer trip may be a better option so they have time to truly enjoy themselves. Of course, the length of the trip is a major factor in how much Adventures by Disney costs; we certainly feel that even the longer trips are worth the price, but you’ll need to find the right balance for your family and your budget.
How long is an Adventures by Disney trip?
For Adventures by Disney Escapes, most trips are around 4 days. Land Adventures are typically 6-9 days long, though some last up to 12 days. River Cruises usually last 8 days, and Expedition Cruises are 6-12 days.
What’s the shortest Adventures by Disney trip?
Adventures by Disney Escapes are the shortest trips offered. Of these, a select few last only 3 days and 2 nights, and can be done as either a stand-alone trip or as an add-on to select Disney Cruise Line sailings.
- London Escape
- Paris Escape
What’s the longest Adventures by Disney trip?
Disney offers several trips which cover 12 days and 11 nights, the longest departures currently offered. These include:
- Antarctica and Patagonia expedition cruise
- China land adventure
- New Zealand land adventure
- Vietnam, Laos & Cambodia land adventure
Special Access to Area Attractions Means Less Time Waiting in Line
If there’s one time that boredom loves to creep in, it’s while you’re waiting in line. Let’s face it, even adults can struggle with standing in an hour of switchback queues before they’re even able to view the landmark they came to see. And unlike in a theme park, waiting lines in the real world don’t often have built-in entertainment to help pass the time.
To help combat this, Adventures by Disney tries to arrange special access to popular destinations whenever possible. This might involve bypassing regular queues, entering during private touring hours when fewer (or no) additional tourists are allowed in, or simply taking advantage of knowledge of the more- and less-crowded times to plan visits accordingly. Dining is often prearranged and scheduled in private rooms so as to minimize waits for a table.
Some examples of Adventures by Disney special access to local attractions:
- Australia itinerary: Take a private backstage tour of Sydney Opera House; Enjoy Early access to Walk the Plank & The Edge at Eureka Skydeck
- British Isles itinerary: Experience a once-in-a-lifetime private-access viewing of the Royal Crown Jewels at the Tower of London (led by the Jewel House Warden), along with privately-guided tours of the Tower and Westminster Abbey.
- Egypt itinerary: Experience a “private, uncrowded opportunity to see the Sphinx that is typically only available to visiting dignitaries” and an after-hours tour of Luxor temple.
- Grand Europe itinerary: Marvel at thousand-year-old relics in an exclusive after-hours, privately guided tour of the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel. Later, experience a guided tour of St. Peter’s Basilica with a “Jump-the-Line” pass.
- Italy itinerary: Enjoy a VIP tour of Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio. Explore hallways rich with artwork from Michelangelo, Botticelli and Vasari; climb the high tower; dress in medieval period costumes; and explore secret passages used by the Medici family.
- New Zealand itinerary: Experience a private after-hours tour of Auckland Zoo.
- Poland, Czech Republic, and Austria itinerary: Join a Vienna Zoo zoologist for a private after-hours tour of the oldest zoo in Europe, followed by a private dinner at the Emperor’s pavilion.
- Portugal: Experience a private after-hours tour of Pena Palace.
Some Final Thoughts on Family Travel through Adventures by Disney…
We hope we’ve helped shed some light on some of the ways Disney works to make sure that Adventures by Disney is not boring for kids, and also shared a few tips that you can use to make the trip even better for your child. We believe Adventures by Disney is one of the bets to make sure you don’t wind up with a bored kid while traveling internationally. But you know your children best, and every child is different. Look through the itineraries, check out online reviews from other travelers with kids, consider the suggestions we’ve made here, and open a conversation with your little ones ahead of time. This will help you decide if Disney vacation adventures are right for your family, and can make sure that everyone has a fantastic trip.