It’s been several weeks since I returned from the American Southwest. In some respects, it feels like yesterday, and then sometimes – it feels like a dream (sound familiar like a visit to Disney World?).
I have looked at the photos continually, reread my blogs and those of LindaMac and am simply amazed at the adventure. LindaLou and I keep talking about returning to Moab someday… and someday not too far away. Figuring it into our schedule is another thing LOL.
If I had to sum up the trip in just one word, I would say “VISUAL”. In fact, sometimes it was visually over stimulating. There was so much to see, such incredible landscapes, colors, natural creations, that my mind can easily be flooded when I think about the trip.
38 of us lived together for a week. 2 Disney guides, 20 Adults, 16 kids, 1 bus, 1 bus driver, 3 hotels, 500 some bottles of water consumed and maybe a thousand miles!
I will admit, those first 24 hours I was wondering what I had gotten myself into with all the kids. I just wasn’t used to that many in a “concentrated” area before. On the Disney Cruise Ship, it’s easy to just wander to an adult only area. But, that wasn’t possible here. I later found out, some of the kids were thinking the same thing in the beginning LOL. As the week progressed we all found our niches within the group and everyone came together to enjoy their vacation. Looking back now, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. We met some great folks and shared some incredible experiences.
Before this trip, I found the Adventures by Disney offerings intriguing, but so expensive. Everyone I spoke with who had done an Adventure raved about it and said it was worth every penny. I had never done an organized tour before, wasn’t sure what I’d think of it. I now stand with those folks and can only sing the praises about the incredible experience.
I have done National Park vacations before – planned them all our own, we did researching, reservations, driving, the whole thing. And yes, you could do it for far less money.
However – there is nothing like having “Disney” be your tour guide. Everyplace we went, our rooms were ready and our luggage was already in them! No check-in lines, our guides had us all pre-registered and handed out the keys as we entered the lobby of each hotel.
They did all the research of the places to see along the way. If there was one drawback, it was not being able to linger places or stopping at every place; but that was minor in the scheme of it all.
We had bottled water readily available to us anytime we were on the bus. No need to look for a store to purchase it or find ice and a cooler to keep it cold.
Our guides, Mike and Tiffany, were like the energizer bunnies. No matter what time of day, where we were, or what the situation – they consistently went over and above. They made the Disney Difference.
Some examples – The first night in Sedona, we told them we wanted to do a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon. While they don’t make any of the outside “excursion” reservations for you, they do recommend vendors to use. After calling, and getting a rude person on the other line, I asked Mike for another recommendation. He asked what the problem was, I explained and he said.. I’ll call you back in a bit. On his own, he called the vendor and well, let’s just say, when I called again, the person had a whole attitude adjustment. We were still unable to book what we wanted for our group size. At that point, we figured it wasn’t meant to be. Yet, Mike persisted in finding us a qualified helicopter company that would meet our needs. He didn’t stop until we got booked. We were amazed at his level of customer service.
Another example – One young man on the trip had to go to an emergency room in Flagstaff (we were in Sedona at the time). Tiffany and Mike did everything they could to help the family out with whatever was needed. And, as we headed on the bus from Sedona to the Grand Canyon, they talked with our great bus driver and figured out a place we could meet and pick them up.
We were treated like VIPs at almost every place we went. The Disney name goes a long way! We only had to mention at any of the hotels we were with the “Disney” group and folks couldn’t do enough to make us happy.
Each stop we had local guides on the tour sharing their knowledge and expertise. They were able to answer just about any question asked and knew the special things to point out to us, things you wouldn’t necessarily find in a printed guide.
It was wonderful to be able to both look at the bus windows and see the scenery along the way. Since we weren’t driving, one person wasn’t missing the highlights.
The Stars – the sky was so crystal clear, free of city lights and smog that the sky put on a special show each night. Lots of folks saw shooting stars at the Red Cliff Lodge. The constellations were so bright it was amazing.
I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. It was an Adventure as only Disney could provide. It was an incredible vacation and one that was indeed better with friends, both old and new.
So thank you Mike, Tiffany and all the folks who traveled with us. Til we meet again…
I look forward to a future Adventures by Disney vacation!