Disney resorts offer so much for families, but the magic isn’t relegated to the theme parks in Florida and California. There is an entire world of enchanting opportunities that bring to your family superior customer service and a knowledge of what makes kids “tick.”
From guided tours taking you on secret adventures in the US and around the globe…to international parks and resorts…to beach retreats that bring Disney to life. Tell us which is on your family’s wishlist!
Adventures By Disney
Truth time. I just learned about Adventures by Disney this year, and I am BLOWN AWAY! More truth? Our family just isn’t going to visit WDW multiple times a year…and probably not even once every year …but we still enjoy the way Disney makes us feel special.
But why not, Lesli? Because we love traveling the world!
Well now we can do BOTH!
Adventures by Disney offers hassle-free, guided group vacations where your family becomes part of the story as you are immersed in the people, places and cultures of destinations around the globe.
But why pay a premium and go with Disney??
Adventures by Disney vacations include travel guides, VIP admission and entrance, very special accommodations, most meals, experiences with the locals, activities specially designed for families with kiddos.
Disney offers over 30 tours in 6 continents…. I’m going to tell you about FIVE special ones.
Those of us that live in the Southeast adore a trip to New York, no? How about marrying the magic of the Big Apple with the magic of Disney??
Your guided tour includes highlights like a private tour of New Amsterdam Theatre, a Broadway Theatre workshop, and a showing of Frozen at St James Theatre. Tour Times Square, Harlem, and the 9/11 Museum…that’s just the tip of the iceberg in this 4-day excurison.
Their other East Coast tour is perfect for history lovers. You’ll arrive in PA and check out historical stops like the Liberty Bell and Betsy Ross’s home. Then you’ll head out to Gettysburg and enjoy a stay at the Mayflower Hotel. Tour DC and Mt Vernon, and fly out of Dulles at the end of the week.
I’m not going to lie – this is my very favorite. It’s one of Disney’s NEW destinations. For those that don’t know, I lived here for 4 years, and I would give anything to be able to return with my kiddos in this special way. It’s an 11 day adventure, so you’ll need to plan accordingly.
Take a rickshaw ride through a bamboo forest, put on traditional costumes and take a samurai lesson, visit Hiroshima, and ride the “bullet train.” Learn traditional drumming, take a bento-box class, and go bike riding in the countryside.Take a calligraphy lesson and enjoy a riverboat ride. That is only the beginning…
We are in the planning stages of a visit to Denmark in 2019, so this was especially interesting for us, and it’s also one of Disney’s NEW destinations. You’ll visit The Little Mermaid statue, take a ride on the canal, visit a few castles, and take in the fun at Tivoli Gardens, the world’s 2nd largest amusement park. WOW!
Finally, I know all my nature-loving readers will adore this NEW week-long trek into the Canadian Rockies! Start your explorations in Calgary, including a farm tour, a cowboy experience and a honey tasting. You’ll take a float trip into Banff for hiking, biking and more. After that? A glacier excursion, stargazing, and so many more Rocky Mountain highs!
Disney Vacation Club
Imagine yourself staying with Disney about 7 nights a year (at least) over the course of a decade or more? Maybe your kids are young, and you want to visit regularly…or you want to invest in vacation memories for your kids now and your grandkids in the future. Then use Disney Vacation Club memberships to save up to 50% over the lifetime of that membership.
Disney Vacation Club Resorts include studio, 1-, 2-, and 3-bedroom accommodations in Hawaii, South Carolina, California and Florida…and around the world with their approved partners. My dream resort? A savannah view Villa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, with a Wanyama Safari dinner! That’s where you can see giraffes like the one pictured above.
3 Disney Beach Resorts
Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa
Aulani pays homage to the Hawaiian culture while presenting a magical, Disney-esque experience for its guests. Besides character breakfasts and complimentary child care at “Aunty’s Beach House,” the water slides, water-spray area, gentle snorkeling at “Rainbow Reef”, and the calm bay and expansive beach area the resorts sits on make it ideal for families. And guess what, there’s a truly outstanding spa, as well; one of the best I’ve been to (and I’ve been to a lot).
Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort
Did you know there was a Disney resort in South Carolina? Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort sits on the water, showcasing the charms of a modernized 1940s hunting and fishing lodge. It includes multi-roomed villas, a pool with waterslide, and 12 miles of heavenly beaches.
Disney Vero Beach Resort
Two-hours southeast of WDW on the gorgeous coast you’ll find Disney’s third beach resort tucked away in Vero Beach. Relax at the spa while the kids enjoy supervised play activities…then head to the beach for everyone to enjoy.
Disney Cruise Lines
Disney Cruises are magical escapes for Disney-loving families. We loved the kids’ club – it truly made our vacation magical.
I am most excited about their NEW Alaskan Cruise, where you can pick 5, 7, or 9 nights of exploring out of Vancouver. Visit the 600-ft tall Hubbard Glacier or see spawning salmon in Ketchikan. Sitka, Alaska holds the state’s oldest national park, and Tarcy Arm boasts waterfalls and glacier views from the ship!
For those who prefer the tropics, don’t miss Disney’s Marvel Day at Sea or Star Wars Day at Sea, with 2018 and 2019 dates already released.
Also NEW for 2019, round trip cruises from Rome, Italy and seven NEW European ports including Denmark and Ireland. The title photo above is a Norway Port Adventure in Geirangerfjord where guests can kayak right up to the mountains and waterfalls.
Finally, keep an eye out for NEW and BIGGER ships from Disney beginning in 2021.
International Parks and Resorts
Disneyland Paris Resort
This summer guests visiting Disneyland Paris will see Spider-Man, Black Widow, Captain America, and even Iron Man during Marvel Summer of Super Heroes!
Iger also announced an upcoming 2-billion euro, multi-year expansion for Disneyland Paris, including the addition of three new areas that are based on Marvel, Frozen and Star Wars.
Need a few years to save up? The new Disney’s Hotel New York – The Art of Marvel opens in 2020. The resort will showcase the inspiring worlds of Iron Man, The Avengers, and Spider Man, among others in the style of a contemporary art gallery.
Tokyo Disney Resort
Fun fact: My sister was in TV commercials and billboards for Tokyo Disneyland while we lived there. Ask me for photos!! ha.
They are celebrating 35 years this year with a new parade that includes the beloved Baymax. Tokyo DisneySky is set to open in the next 4-5 years, with rumors of a Star Wars and Avatar installation here.
Hong Kong Disneyland Resort
There is no castle here…right now! But 2019 will bring forth a bigger, better castle modeled after the California castle. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. From 2018 through 2023, the expansion will include a number of new adventures, many unique to Hong Kong Disneyland.
This year guests will see new experiences featuring Ant-Man, The Wasp and S.H.I.E.L.D. This is said to be their second Marvel ride, which is the precursor to an entire Marvel section of the park coming in 2023.
You’ll also love the upcoming Frozen-themed area opening in about 2 years.
Shanghai Disney Resort
Walt Disney World isn’t the only place to see the new Toy Story Land – it’s already opened in Shanghai Disneyland! And what better way to get there than on the new Toy Story-Themed jet flying out of Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport, See how incredible it is here. StellaLou also makes her way here this Spring, with new shows and encounters.
Disney World and Disney Land
And if you do want to stay closer to home, you can always do Disneyland and Disney World in a different way. Consider going during the Holidays or Halloween. Instead of focusing on rides, consider all the things you can do outside the parks, or try one of the many unique in-park scavenger hunts available.
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All photos courtesy of Disney
After 18 years in software development, Lesli bailed on the corporate scene. When she’s not traveling, she’s hiking in the mountains or checking out Atlanta’s culinary scene, whiskey in hand.
Lesli has two kiddos -Cooper and Elliot- plus two bonus kids currently at UGA, and she’s happily married to her soul mate.