Kids flip for Disney's global family vacations
Destinations include Cape Town, Paris, Costa Rica, Machu Picchu, the Great Barrier Reef and the Great Wall of China — places that become wildly fun when served up to young people in the right way.
BURBANK, Calif. — Remember the Griswolds during their hapless and disastrous "European Vacation"? That movie may be a quarter of a century old, but it remains hard-wired into the primal brains of many parents today. Is it any wonder so many moms and dads recoil at the idea of traveling across an ocean with their kids?
For the past six years, Adventures by Disney has been toiling mightily to change parents' minds about overseas travel with children. In 2005 Disney began providing guided group family vacations to a slew of exotic locations — along with the promise that kids would be involved, engaged and entertained every step of the way.
Potential destinations include Cape Town, Paris, London, Costa Rica, Pompeii, Egypt, Machu Picchu, the Great Barrier Reef and the Great Wall of China — places that can be wildly fun and fascinating if served up to young people in the right way. Disney's secret to keeping these trips interesting are its tour guides; they're hired because of their enthusiasm, friendliness and ability to connect with younger travelers.
The guides help kids have fun — even in places that might not normally be fun for kids, like some museums — by offering up special activities just for them. For example, at the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo or at the Louvre in Paris, young people play an "art detective" game while parents take private tours with historians.
Another key detail: Many of the activities chosen for these trips are simply amazing, regardless of how old participants are. It's hard to imagine a teen acting checked out and aloof while snorkeling with sea turtles in the Galápagos or white-water rafting in Costa Rica or eating dinner surrounded by a herd of elephants in a South African forest.
Building excitement before trips begin
The trips usually have minimum age requirements as well as suggested ages for children. (A common minimum age is 4 and suggested age is 6+ or 7+.) Both before and during the vacations, Disney aims to help young people see, hear and taste things they might not experience otherwise.
For instance, JuniorAdventurers.com builds anticipation for a trip by giving kids sneak peeks of the places they'll soon be exploring. The website offers trip-countdown calendars, photos, destination-specific games, downloadable coloring maps and an abundance of fun trivia. Here are examples of trivia tidbits shared about some of Disney's destinations:
--The Tower of London was once a zoo.
--Ice cream was invented in China around 2000 B.C. when the Chinese packed a soft milk and rice mixture in the snow.
--Costa Rica is home to 112 volcanoes.
--Sausages are so popular in Germany that the country has more than 1,200 different types of sausage.
Providing support for parents
Parents also can prepare for an upcoming trip with their kids in mind at AdventuresbyDisney.com. That site's frequently-asked-questions section covers everything from different destinations' climates to children-friendly cuisine for each itinerary.
Moms and dads also can expect to enjoy some quality time together during their vacation. Most trips include a "Junior Adventurers night," during which youths have a special evening experience with their guides while the adults get a quiet evening on their own.
Costs range from about $2,100 to $6,700 per person, depending on the destination and the length of the trip. Prices do not include airfare to and from the starting point of each itinerary. To learn more, visit AdventuresbyDisney.com, call (877) 728-7282 or contact your travel agent.