Asia

China: The Long Haul Family Adventure

written by | Posted on September 1st, 2009

Yes, it’s truly a long-haul destination. But for families seeking a cultural and experiential vacation like no other, China is more than worth the effort and expense because it will provide an unforgettable family experience mom, dad and kids will remember always.

Giant pandas and exotic dining in Chengdu; kite flying in Tiananmen Square; visiting the Forbidden City and walking along the Great Wall in Beijing; a tai chi lesson and a boat cruise in beautiful Guilin; learning about the terra cotta warriors in Xian; watching fan dancing and Chinese acrobatics in Shanghai—throw in some traditional Chinese opera and a kung fu lesson or two and everybody goes home happy.

Indeed, says Don Gross, v.p., Adventures by Disney, “It’s a great trip that we’ve really developed for families and for kids, parents and grandparents.… With Adventures by Disney, we’re definitely creating a guided tour market for families. When we create these trips, we want to make sure there are activities for everybody. Our trip developers go out and source and look at where and what cities we should go out to. Specifically in China, we travel to Beijing, Guilin, Shanghai and Hong Kong. We just want to make sure there are activities that are relevant for every member of the family.”

From a targeting standpoint, Gross says, “We’re looking at families that have a high Disney affinity, families that are looking to show their kids culturally and historically relevant places with really immersive activities that can really engage the kids. From our standpoint, being that it’s Disney, storytelling is really important to us. So we bring on local experts, guides that are from the country to really tell the stories that immerse our families and kids in the local culture and activities so the trip really comes to life for our families. It’s not a passive sort of experience, it’s really learning and understanding the historical relevance and cultural activities that exist.”

In Beijing, kids try their hand at kite making and calligraphy and in Chengdu, they paint opera masks that are used in the opera and they actually go to the Szechuan face-changing opera performance, as well as the giant panda breeding research center to learn all about the pandas in their natural environment. “The kids and the families get to take kung fu lessons and get demo lessons in tai chi. In Shanghai,” Gross says, “we go to the Children’s Palace so kids can see other kids as they’re learning and dancing. It becomes a very relevant cultural experience, and our guests actually get to do the activities and partake in them, versus just seeing them.”

The 12-night China Family Vacation from Adventures by Disney threads across China starting in Beijing and continuing on to Chengdu, Guilin and Shanghai before winding up in Hong Kong where participants enjoy a VIP visit to Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, including Disney’s FASTPASS service, special entry passes for stage shows and reserved viewing for the afternoon parade. Rates run from $5,309 for adults and from $4,779 for children.

globus “It is a long-haul destination, so I doubt it’s going to be for the first-time international family traveler. But there are plenty of families now—especially with younger boomers or even older boomers taking their grandchildren—who’ve maybe traveled in Europe,” says Jennifer Halboth, director of marketing for the Globus Family of Brands. “And given the fact the Olympics happened there just a short time ago and with the Olympics being very top of mind with children, I think Asia has become a little more front and center for a lot of kids who are privileged enough to be able to travel long-haul.”

In terms of where families are going to travel in China, Halboth says, “It’s not so different than if you’re taking a family anyplace the first time—you’re going to hit the big cities, the big sites. You’re going to hit Beijing, Shanghai and maybe Hong Kong. You’re not going to take your kids on a 30-day tour of China—that’s not going to happen. And, because you are going to look for a little bit shorter stay, you’re going to want to hit the highlights—the Great Wall, the Ming Tombs and really focus on the iconic cities.”