There’s no name more synonymous with family fun than the Disney brand, with its decades of cartoons, family-oriented feature films and, of course, the global amusement theme parks—they are the ultimate “storytellers,” as Disney describes itself. And, since 2005, Adventures by Disney has brought that classic formula for family fun and storytelling to travel.
In just seven years, the company has developed more than 20 family-oriented itineraries across the globe: in the South African plains, the great cities of Europe, North America’s national parks, the ancient monuments of Egypt, Costa Rica’s rich rainforest, the ruins of Pompeii and Machu Picchu, Australia’s Outback and the Great Wall of China. And now for 2013, they’ve added two new itineraries—one in Southeast Asia featuring Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, the other in Scotland themed on Disney-Pixar’s film, “Brave.”
According to Craig Parsons, v.p. of travel agency sales, “Adventures by Disney—much like Disney theme parks and resorts—offers a unique travel experience that only Disney could provide. We know our guests, and our itineraries prove it. We provide experiences that are imaginatively planned, often incorporating costumed historical characters and expertly executed tours—all to help connect families to the destination in ways they could never do on their own.”
For example, on the new 12-day Southeast Asia itinerary that visits Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Hoi An, Luang Prabang, Siem Reap and Angkor Wat, “families will become participants in the stories of this incredible region,” Parsons says. “In Cambodia, adults will have time to take in the unique architecture of the Temples of Angkor Wat while ‘Junior Adventurers’ live the history of the ancient structure on a tuk tuk vehicle treasure hunt. In Laos, families will work together at an organic rice farm, and in Vietnam, they’ll visit a local market in Hoi An and handpick ingredients before taking a cooking class.” Rates start at $4,849 for adults and $4,609 for children.
Parsons stresses that “Adventures by Disney always aims to take families off the beaten path, to meet the locals and experience the essence of the destination.”
And, like the Disney theme parks, Adventures by Disney often plays off a Disney film for a trip theme as in the case of its Scotland itinerary. On this trip—Scotland: A Brave Adventure—Parsons explains, “families will discover the castles, landscapes and legends that inspired the lush settings and memorable characters in the film. They’ll also step into Merida’s shoes and learn archery at Glamis Castle, ride a Highland pony through the Caledonian forest, marvel at the 5,000-year-old Callanish Stones on the Isle of Lewis and compete in a special version of the Highland Games.” Rates start at $5,619 for adults and $5,339 for children.
The key to keeping multi-generational and family travelers all engaged and entertained throughout whatever trip they may choose—ensuring everyone’s interest is covered—is the company’s unique guide system. “We provide two guides for each tour—and our guides are some of the best storytellers and entertainers in the world. Take a traditional visit to a museum, for example…sometimes it’s difficult to keep kids (and even some parents) interested. At Adventures by Disney, our guides and trip developers focus on making these experiences anything but ordinary,” Parsons points out. “At the Louvre, adults can experience some of the world’s greatest works of arts with a local expert, while ‘Junior Adventurers’ join an adventure guide to become art detectives as they search for clues among the masterpieces. An exclusive visit to the Gold Museum in South Africa becomes an adventure when the guides shut off the lights, give ‘Junior Adventurers’ flashlights, and organize a scavenger hunt for treasures.”
On every trip, he says, there is a special adults-only evening and a ‘Junior Adventurer’ night. This enables adults to sneak away for a special dinner, often featuring activities like wine tasting, while kids enjoy bonding with their new friends and adventure guides.
Parsons, who works closely with travel agents, says, “Travel agents are, and will continue to be, very important to Adventures by Disney. Recent research shows that consumers are overwhelmed by the amount of information available today and are turning back to travel agents to guide them to unique travel experiences that bring the family together. In the field, we support Adventures by Disney to its fullest with our national account directors and regional sales directors who manage 41 district sales managers. We’ve also generated a lot of interest and excitement in the trade industry through our Adventures by Disney Guide Events. These programs are a great way for the agents to establish a personal connection with our Adventures by Disney guides. Lastly, we work closely with our sales account network to host several travel agent FAMs during season, so that agents can see first-hand how Adventures by Disney creates a truly unique family travel experience.”
The company also provides a wealth of marketing materials, including customizable postcards, fliers, self-mailers, ad shells and web art for agent use. They also have brochures, promotional DVDs and posters. “But perhaps just as important,” Parsons says, “is the online agent training tutorials and web seminars we have available via our
disneytravelagents.com site. In addition, our Disney sales managers are very well versed in these products and can serve as a great resource should agents have any questions.”
Adventures by Disney: (800) 543-0865; adventuresbydisney.com