Everyone has been asking me: What is this Adventures by Disney Costa Rica trip you just took?
There's so much to tell, I'm just going to get started. In the end, my coverage will contain a number of posts, videos and of course you can search the hashtag #abdcostarica if you want to see the play-by-play on instagram last week.
First things first. Time to explain this trip. Let's start with what it is not. It's not a Disney theme park with rides and shows and it's not a Disney Cruise. Whew, that's out of the way.
Now to what it actually is--Adventures by Disney are expertly planned family vacations and guided tours with a touch of Disney magic. Emphasis on the word guided.
The Disney Difference:
Premiere access to adventures
Unique lodging that is rich in charm & character
Ready to get started? Let's jump in. First, what might appeal to you most is the time you are going to get back in your life. As a dual-career family, vacation planning can be a drain on our time. That's where Disney comes in.
Hassle-free planning: What you need to do: Arrange airfare to your location. Pack. Bring your sense of adventure. That's it. What Disney does: Everything else.
To get your family pumped for the trip, Disney sends a little care-pack and an extremely thorough travel booklet. Let's take a look at what I got to prep me for the trip.
I can tell you my daughter and I got very, very excited about the journey. We were able to look up all the hotels (I wanted to check the weather and wifi) and get a sense for what we'd be doing every day.
One of the big things we sweat over when we travel is where we're going to eat. Disney maps out all the meals. Don't think it's all going to be American pizza and pasta. Disney is trying to immerse visitors into the culture. They'll steer you towards authentic experiences. We dined in the hotel restaurants and while we were traveling across the country, we stopped into some cool local spots. All the choices had healthy options (there were vegetarians and picky eaters on the trip--they were happy) with plenty of ethnic flair.
As for junior diners, I encouraged my daughter to eat off the adult menu as much as possible. She tried many versions of tilapia and learned to love rice and beans for breakfast. If your children really don't want to try the local fare, there are kid-friendly options to be found.
Since there are 4 stops on this trip, packing and unpacking could have been a hassle. Disney makes it easier. One detail I adored--was the "Tinkerbell" luggage service. When we checked out of each hotel room we simply left our tagged luggage outside the room. Voila! It magically appeared at the next room. No, they didn't unpack, but it was sure nice not to have to lug our bags around.
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Premiere access to adventures Great service it nice, but that's not going to make a memory. In addition to hotels and meals on our 6 night/7 day trip, you'll also get 5 adventures. These adventures include tips and transfers (including bus, boat and a short internal flight). Our adventures included tours of Tortuguero National Park and a pineapple plantation tour. We got to go zip lining In Arenal National Park and rafting on the Tenorio River. Our final excursion was on a private catamaran. And those were just the big ones, there were lots of little things planned too--crafts, entertainment and even cocktail mixing classes.
Disney did all the research, hired all the park guides and handled all the fees and tipping. I just zipped, floated and paddled along having the time of my life.
Don't worry about getting from point A to point B to point Z. Disney does it all. Once you arrive in country you'll be warmly welcomed at the airport and DONE with worrying about how you'll get places. On our trip, Disney orchestrated buses (most of the travel was in the deluxe coach pictured above), boats, and even a small plane. You just sit back and enjoy the scenery.
World-class guides: This may have been the biggest surprise for me. Normally our family books things independently. We steer clear of travel agents and overly planned trips. We go for "free form travel" like this trip to Norway we planned last summer. I thought guides would be boring. I was so very, very wrong.
As far as I can tell, Disney searches the globe for the most fascinating hosts they can find. Our guides were fonts of knowledge while also being extremely fun to have around.
You're going to hear a lot about Ron and Zoë in my coverage. The kids and adults were completely charmed by their service and enthusiasm. Zoë was our "cruise director" if you will. She took care of all the little details and kept us on track. She was also masterful at entertaining the kids. Her energy is infectious. Zoë is a US citizen and professional guide. She's been on more than 20 Adventures by Disney itineraries and is a gem.
Ron was our local guide and an expert on Costa Rica. Born and educated in Costa Rica, Ron shared his wealth of knowledge about the country. He knew about the flora, the fauna, the history and current politics. And he is an expert spotter of sloths. Together they made a dynamic duo.
Unique lodging that is rich in charm & character. This was another area of concern. When I travel abroad, I like to soak in the local culture. I worried that the resorts might have a sameness too them--that Disney might play it too safe. They did not play it safe! Each hotel reflected the region and had individual charm.
There's nothing cookie-cutter or bland about the hotel choices-- we got plenty of local flavor. It's hard to compare the four hotels on the itinerary, they each represented a region perfectly. They were restful and had everything we needed. Each spot was visually stunning, thought not every one would be considered luxurious.
Lodging ranged from super-fancy at the El Mangroonve in Guanacaste to eco-rustic at the Laguna Lodge near Tortuguera National Park.
Now you know the big reasons why Disney tours stand out. What's it going to cost? Rates fluctuate depending on the season, prices start at $3300 per person. You can check out the full Costa Rica itinerary here on the Adventures by Disney website, and please come back for more details on the trip.
How do you book? Call a Disney Vacation Specialist (800) 543-0865 or call your local Travel Agent. I found out that both CostCo and AAA sell these trips.
This is not a sponsored post. Disney did accommodate travel expenses to facilitate the review.