Once I could just load up a backpack or carry-on and be on my way. Today, I’m a busy mom of three. My days are filled with work, homework, housework, music lessons and soccer practice. After I’ve done all that and gotten dinner on the table, who has time to plan a vacation?
Just as I was about to pack my luggage away in the attic, I came up with an alternative. Tour companies like Adventures by Disney do all the work, removing the guesswork, and reminding you of the joys of travel, instead of the hassles.
Adventures by Disney was created in 2006, for people who don’t want to pack away their sense of adventure, just because they have kids. The Disney tour operator’s most popular itinerary is Italy, but it travels the world, from Asia to Australia, South America and Africa.
Unique to Adventures by Disney are destinations that have inspired their blockbuster movies. After the mega-hit “Brave” they headed to Scotland. Norway was added in 2014, because of the immense popularity of “Frozen”, set in a fictional kingdom based on the country. During the Norway trip, guests explore the fjords and glaciers, listen to storytellers and tour the architecture that inspired the film.
My 6-year-old daughter and I had a “Frozen” week in Norway, beginning in Bergen, gateway to the fjords, and the model for the movie’s Arendelle. We then boarded a greyhound-style bus that took us deep into the wilds of Norway for an adventure into the fjords and folklore of this country whose northern half stretches into the Arctic Circle.
All the daily activities are included in the tour, and days were often packed with more sightseeing than you thought possible. Surrounded by cascading waterfalls and cliffs towering nearly 6,000 feet, we cruised the narrow fjords. Another boat ride got us up close to glaciers, where visible signs of disappearing ice gave us real life lessons in climate change.
We also got cultural lessons, learning about traditional Norwegian architecture by visiting stave churches that inspired “Frozen’s” castle. One day a local folk teller sang traditional Norwegian songs and told tales of trolls who inhabit the forest. My 6 year-old spent much of the trip peering out the bus window for evidence of the mythical creatures. Legend has it that if trolls are spotted when the sun is out, they’ll turn to stone, an inventive way to create fairy tales about the country’s rocky, mountainous landscape. Rainy days are called troll days, where trolls are free to roam about during daylight. It’s another creative way for Norwegians to make the best of their situation, which is often cold, dark and rainy.
Worried a group tour means you won’t get to pursue your own interests? While you are spending plenty of time with strangers in planned activities, there were afternoons and evenings to explore on your own. Most meals are included, but there are a few nights where you’re on your own for dinner. That allowed families to have some time away from the group as well. Another perk was Junior Adventure night. Like on all Adventures by Disney tours, on one night guides supervise the kids in their own activities, allowing parents to have a quiet dinner and time alone.
As with most Adventures by Disney tours, our group had two guides, an American and a local. It was fun to see our Norwegian guide, Torgeir Skjerdal, point to his childhood home just up the hill from the fjords we were cruising by. Our American guide, Kira Butler, spends half the year touring with Adventures by Disney, the other half as a cast member in Walt Disney World, dancing and stilt-walking in parades. She’s an entertainer and adventurer at heart, something that came across during our travels.
Adventures by Disney’s newest journey will be traveling the Amazon River, as well as shorter, more convenient “Long Weekends.” The first long weekend itineraries will be New York City, San Francisco and Nashville, with exclusive behind-the-scenes access and VIP tours. In New York, they’ll visit “Good Morning America” during the show’s live filming, and get a behind-the-scenes peek at Broadway productions. San Francisco itineraries include a tour of Lucasfilm studios, which isn’t normally open to the public. In Music City, they’ll head backstage at the Grand Ole Opry.
Traveling with the brood can be a big challenge. Letting a tour operator figure out all the details will make planning your next family getaway feel like kid’s stuff!
How do you Book an Adventures by Disney Vacation?
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