Hello Fellow Adventurers!
Where do you go when you want something for everyone ages 7-87, excellent service, all the guidance you care for, and zero effort required? Why you go to the experts of course! In this case I mean Adventures By Disney (ABD to those in the know).
As the resident travel planner in our house and as someone that creates customized itineraries across the globe I have a confession: sometimes I want someone else to do all the work and I just want to show up with my suitcase. But I don’t trust everyone to plan like I do, and my standards are high. Enter ABD
Something for Everyone.
ABD did a great job of creating an environment that engaged all the guests. For example, more than once the adults would tour a place (museum, chateau, etc.) and while we were entertained by a local expert, the Junior Adventurers were given the opportunity to make their own art (L’Orangerie), solve a who-done-it (Louvre), or play dress up and have a photo shoot (Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte).
One evening the Adventure Guides had pizza and a movie night with the kiddos while the adults enjoyed their own dinner. ABD understands the reality of family travel. Extra activities for the children and some adults only time are important when traveling with multiple generations.
The Highlights you Expect.
Our particular itinerary included L’Orangerie, the Louvre, the American Cemetery, Omaha Beach, Mont Saint Michel, and other major sites. These are all places you would expect and it was nice to have them included. Each visit came with a local expert and front of the line entry.
Beyond the Highlights.
What makes the ABD trip so special is the inclusion of places you didn’t expect. In retrospect we all decided some of our favorite moments were experienced while visiting places we knew nothing about.
Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte. Many visitors to the Paris region visit Versailles, but did you know that Versailles is based on a smaller (but every bit as grand) chateau? It’s not on any public transport route and is a little out of the way so chances are you’d miss it without an insider pointing you in the right direction.
Les Vergers de Lucy. Apple orchard & cider production. Until our vacation I’d never heard of pommeau, an apple liqueur specific to Normandy. ABD arranged a visit to a local apple orchard owned by a man whose family has been on the land since the mid 1850’s! We saw how pommeau & calvados (apple brandy) are made and then enjoyed a private tasting along with local apple dishes.
Caves du Louvre. Wine cellar created for the king when the Louvre was a palace. We enjoyed a private wine (and juice) tasting guided by a sommelier. The visit was interactive and even the children enjoyed it.
These are just a few highlights that demonstrate the extras you get when you travel with ABD. While you could do the highlights on your own these extras set ABD apart and give you a more in depth experience.
As an added bonus each day comes with a pin specific to the events of the day. The ABD vacation isn’t heavy on the mouse, but it is heavy on the service you know and love.
Your own personal concierge. One of my favorite things to do when visiting a new place is to set out on foot and just see what I can see. Nothing beats the thrill of discovery when you stumble across a place you didn’t expect. Of course the flip side to this scenario is when you find yourself somewhere you don’t enjoy. Enter the Adventure Guides. While the ABD itinerary is jam packed with activities they do set aside “on your own” time and if you’re leery of aimlessly wandering they can steer you in a direction they think you’ll enjoy.
Is Adventures by Disney for You?
Now we get to the heart of the matter. Both during and after the trip my husband and I would ask each other if it was worth it and if we’d travel with ABD again and these are our conclusions:
Multiple Generations– For our particular situation (Grandma in a wheelchair) this was the ideal trip. While some of the major tourist sites have elevators they’re not always (read rarely) easy to find. Having a personal interpreter and tour guide was invaluable in this respect. Also, traveling with multiple generations can be daunting. Everyone in our family found parts of the trip to enjoy.
Parents with Children– Would we travel with ABD if it was just my husband, son, and myself? Depends on the destination. As an avid do-it-yourselfer I generally prefer to be on my own timetable with control over the itinerary. If we were to visit someplace like Asia where I don’t speak the language, and the culture is so different from my own I would likely travel with a group, and the service of ABD has spoiled me for any other touring outfit. Another benefit of traveling with ABD is the almost guaranteed presence of children besides your own. My son enjoyed the company of another boy on the trip and I think that kept him from being bored (not that the trip was boring, but preteens can apparently be bored by any and everything)
Couples Without Children– Would I travel with ABD if it was just my husband and me? Probably not on the land tour though the river cruises have caught my interest. There were many childless couples on our trip and they all seemed to enjoy themselves, but I would personally probably skip the group experience because that’s just how I’m built.
Single Travelers– I would absolutely consider ABD if I was traveling alone. We met a single traveler on her sixth? seventh? ABD tour. She really enjoyed herself and even told everyone at the end that she never felt unwelcome or out of place amongst the groups of families on the trip.
Infrequent/ Novice Travelers– I would recommend ABD without hesitation to anyone or group that wanted to explore another country but was nervous to do so. And if you’re going to join a group tour then you might as well go with one known for their service!
A few final thoughts.
Sadly, ours was the final Esprit de France ABD tour. This particular itinerary has been discontinued in favor of the new Seine river cruise.
Traveling with a wheelchair wasn’t easy. We brought along a collapsible wheelchair because my grandmother can’t walk fast enough to keep up with a group, but she can walk which is an important fact. France (and Europe in general) is not wheelchair friendly as you’d expect given how old some sites are. I could not recommend this trip (or any other to Europe) to someone that is completely wheelchair bound.