So, I'll have to credit my mother for today's post. As I was speaking to her about beginning work planning Disney Vacations with an Authorized Disney Travel Planner, she promised me that she would make sure to pass along my information to anyone they new that was going to Disney World. That got me thinking...how many people think of a Disney Vacation and immediately assume it's a Disney World or Disneyland only vacation? Or even how many think that a Disney vacation isn't for them because they don't have or don't want to travel with their own children (or anyone else's kids!)?
I'll be the first to admit that I was unaware of the many offerings that Disney had. Of course, anyone even remotely familiar with the Disney brand knows of Walt Disney World in Orlando, and Disneyland in Anaheim. Many also know of Disneyland Paris and Tokyo Disney. Thanks to recent commercials and, unfortunately bad press for another company, many are now starting to hear about Disney Cruise Lines and what they have to offer. Fewer know that Disney just opened a brand new resort in Hawaii on the island of Oahu called Aulani, and only a select few have even heard of Adventures by Disney, where the traveler can take a road less traveled in parts of the world thought exotic and out of reach.
Let's begin where it all began for Disney...Disneyland. Called the "Happiest Place On Earth", Walt Disney created a fantasy land where the average person could forget their problems and spend time with characters and in settings that allowed for the fun and fancy-free frolicking of youth to abound with rides, experiences, scenery, and interaction. Fast forward a few decades and we come to today's Disneyland, still the fantasy it
once was, but with plenty for all walks of life. Sure...there are still characters, experiences, and rides for kids, young and old, but it's much more. With upscale restaurants, world class spas, and high class accommodations, Disneyland has as much to offer an adult couple on holiday as it does a family with kids. There is plenty more to discover, both within the resort, and beyond. It's really a playground for all people, nestled just south of the thriving metro area of Los Angeles.
Heading across the country to Walt Disney World in Orlando, we find literally thousands of experiences for the traveler to have. I recently had a conversation with a neighbor about where he and his wife were going to go on their next "adults only" trip (they have 3 kids...they just need a break sometimes, as we all do! :) ). I suggested Disney...he giggled a bit and said she wouldn't go for something that had too many kids. One of the best things about Walt Disney World is that you can have as much interaction with others, both young and old, as you wish, with certain factors in mind. The biggest is time of year. Of course, going between September and December and the from February through April, most of the younger crowd will still be in school. Of course, there are few exceptions, but the bulk of the youngsters will not be there unless it's a holiday. The next biggest is what events are happening. If you are visiting during events like Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, expect plenty of kids. If you are visiting with the purpose of attending Epcot's Food and Wine Festival, there won't be as many kids. Do some research. Check out the best times to visit. That can help tremendously if you are trying to avoid a certain crowd. On the other hand, if it is the experience with the kids that is making you think Disney, then certainly look for time and dates that include experiences geared towards kids. The Halloween Party is a great one! The Holiday's are another great time to visit with families. If you don't mind the heat and humidity, I love being there in the Summer. I look forward to the evening fireworks and parades so much more after a fun, but very warm day exploring the parks.
During our last visit to Walt Disney World, my wife and I discussed exactly how long it would take our family (of three) to experience all that we wanted to at WDW. We settled on 14 days. That may seem like a lot, especially if you are assuming that WDW or even Disneyland is only about rides and characters. It's so much more...much more than I can even talk about on this humble blog. Don't believe me? Spend about 5 minutes in any book store in the US. Find the travel section, and check out the section on Disnyland and Disney World. It'll most likely take up not just a shelf, but SHELVES! You can tailor an experience that fits exactly what you'd like, and avoid what you don't.
Disney's Aulani and the Disney Cruise Lines are both in the same realm of travel, blending the family atmosphere with adult experiences. Both offer adult-only areas, and experiences that won't draw young families. Both also offer plenty of family friendly activities, and, in some cases, day care of sorts where the kids can do their own thing while the parents enjoy some alone time! My biggest advice would be to talk with a Disney Travel Professional (like me!!) and they can help build a vacation that will make everyone...yes EVERYONE...happy!
Lastly, and I'll conclude with this, are the Adventures by Disney. I've had an awesome younger life. Due to the work my father was doing with Texas A&M (Gig 'em Aggies!!), I had the unique opportunity to travel all over the world, from Japan to Russia, from Australia to China, from Europe to South America, and plenty of points in between. I even had my second birth day in 1978 in Cape Town, South Africa. Most people never get to experience what I've experienced, and many would be overwhelmed if even asked to consider a 2 week trip to Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia, or how to schedule a 10 day cruise through the Galapagos Islands. Disney does that for you with the Adventures by Disney itineraries.
I can hear it now, though, all you naysayers..."Why would I travel half way around the world just to see characters and ride rides?!?" Of course the answer is you wouldn't!! These experiences are about getting to the destination and connecting with those that call it home, whether it's in Scotland, or Italy...Greece, or South Africa...Ecuador or Alaska. The experiences are tailored to create a congruence with the destination for the traveler that is unparalleled among travel. Sure...you can read, research, and book your own once-in-a-lifetime trip to one of the fantastic destinations that are offered, but you wouldn't get the same experience. Having been to a number of the destinations listed myself, I'd be hard pressed to find a better collection of experiences than what Disney has put together. It's truly designed to have a life long effect on those that take the trips. For those of you who would like an experience with out kids, nearly every destination offers dates that are adults only departures...yes...no kids on a Disney trip! What a concept!!
The bottom line is that Disney is more than the mouse and the castles. It's about the destinations...the experiences...the memories...and the fun! Whether its a 7 day cruise to the Bahamas, a 12 day trip in Australia, a short 4 day trip to the Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot, a Honeymoon in Hawaii at Aulani, or even a 2 day excursion to Disneyland while on business in Los Angeles, Disney will truly offer you an experience that can be tailored to your likes and dislikes, and will leave you planning your next trip on the plane ride home from this one.
Until next post, have a Magical Day!!