Three Disney Adventures Beyond the Theme Parks

Pirate ships, princesses, castles and character meet-and-greets with Mickey at a Disney theme park are a rite of passage for many American families. Disney touts its high level of customer service, attention to detailand high-tech storytelling, and devoted families have come to trust that a visit to a Disney Park will deliver satisfying vacation memories. But did you know you can travel the globe with Disney and receive the ultimate in serviceand storytelling? Read on for a guide to three types of magical Disney vacations outside of Walt Disney World and Disneyland.

Disney Cruise Line - Disney Dream

The Disney Dream docked at Castaway Cay, photo by Dave Parfitt.

Disney Cruise Line

Launched in 1998, Disney Cruise Line’s four ships are packed with beloved characters. Onboard, families can meet Mickey and his friends, pirates and princesses and even and “Star Wars” characters. Evening entertainment includes live Disney shows such as “Beauty and the Beast,” “Frozen, A Musical Spectacular,” “Tangled: The Musical” and “Disney’s Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular” performed in the Walt Disney Theatre.

What’s more, these state-of-the-art cruise ships offer exciting itineraries tailored to a variety of age groups and interests. In addition to the Caribbean, families can also visit Europe, Canadaor Alaska onboard a Disney ship. Designed specifically with families in mind, Disney Cruise Line has plenty of age-appropriate activities, along with separate clubs for kids ages 3 to 12, tweens and teens. There’s even an onboard spa dedicated for teens.

Adults have spaces of their own, including a quiet pool, cafe, spa, nightclubs and lounges. Need an adults-onlynight out? Grown-ups can head to sophisticated onboard dining venues, such as the Palo and Remy (on two Disney ships). By day, you can explore new destinations and ports-of-call. And by night, you can enjoy fantastic restaurants and service and Disney-inspired showsand entertainment.

Disney Cruise Norway

The Disney Magic stops at Geirangerfjord, Norway, photo provided by Dave Parfitt.

Plan a Disney-Themed Hawaiian Getaway

Aulani – A Disney Resort and Spa is Disney’s first hotel outside mainland USA not associated with a theme park. In creating Aulani, Disney consulted with Hawaiian cultural advisers, experts, artists, and spiritual leaders. And while you will find Disney characters, including Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Stitch and Moana greeting guests at the resort, you will also find Menehune, mythical mischievous little people of Hawaii, the ‘Ōlelo Room filled with wood carvings of objects labeled with their Hawaiian names and the Ka Wa’a Lū‘au that tells a cultural tale of Hawaiian history.

Aulani 2 bedroom view

View from Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa, photo by George Gensler

Beyond the Disney-inspired accommodations, guests of Aulani can enjoy a fantastic beach, a private lagoon and beautiful landscapes. As one would expect from the high-end, luxury resorts of this Ko Olina development on Oahu, Aulani features spacious, well-appointed rooms, a full-service spa, a teen-focused spa, multiple restaurants and lounges, Aunty’s Beach House kids club and a seven-acre water play area with a pool, a lazy river a slide and a snorkeling reef.

Adventures by Disney

In 2005, Adventures by Disney launched guided, group travel trips. Today, Adventures by Disney takes parties of up to 40 guests to more than 30 vacation destinations in more than 25 different countries on six continents. While Adventures by Disney vacations swap out costumed characters for authentic real-world luxury experiences, you can count on high-quality customer service and impeccable storytelling from start to finish.

Budapest, Hungary Danube River Cruise

Budapest, Hungary at night as viewed during Adventure by Disney’s Danube River Cruise, photo by Dave Parfitt

For example, Adventures by Disney Rhine River cruises explore the French villages that inspired “Beauty and the Beast.” Meanwhile, guided trips to Norway take in the fjords, churches and culture behind “Disney’s Frozen.” And during a weekend in New York City, families experience a Broadway workshop and learn songs and dances from current Disney theater productions. Disney-trained Adventure Guides lead each trip passionately translating stories of the destinations, providing VIP service and engaging families with interactive activities along the way.

Adventures by Disney NYC

Backstage tour of the New Amsterdam Theatre’s costume department on Broadway, photo provided by Dave Parfitt.

A version of this story previously appeared on US News and World Report. For more family travel news, reviews, and trip reports, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on InstagramTwitter and “like” our Facebook page, too.

About Dave Parfitt

Married, father of two girls, and living in the heart of the Finger Lakes. I'm a runner with a PhD in neuroscience and a passion for travel.