We had the opportunity to participate in an Adventures by Disney tour of Costa Rica on August 3rd through 9th, 2019. Here is a summary of our itinerary to help our clients understand what is all included in an Adventures by Disney tour.
Saturday August 3 – We flew from Philadelphia to San Jose, Costa Rica via Charlotte. Upon flight arrival we collected luggage and met our contact provided by Adventures by Disney (AbD) at baggage claim. He guided us through security and the mass of people looking for taxis, taxi drivers and general chaos to our transfer vehicle. The contact took care of transferring our luggage. The driver, Sandra, was very well-spoken (English) and welcoming, sharing basic info about San Jose. The vehicle was clean and new. She drove us to our first hotel. The Marriott was the perfect combination of old-world Spanish charm, outdoor lush, and luxury. The central courtyard was beautiful & comfortable. Our AbD guide, Fico, met us as we exited the airport transfer, offered us local juice & our adventure began. Fico & our second AbD guide, Summer Rose, provided a short welcome session and directions for the next morning. She also offered personal recommendations if we wanted to venture off property including specific restaurants and shops that were safe nearby. After meeting both guides and going over the schedule our room was ready, and luggage delivered. We received our first AbD pin – Costa Rica Tico Rhythm. AbD pins are given each day of the trip and are unique to the experience.
Our first evening was on our own as other adventurers came through out the day to join the group. In all we had 37 fellow adventurers join us on our trip. After finding our huge and well-appointed room, we set off to explore the resort, grab a snack and the most amazing fresh juices (strawberry & watermelon). They were clearly pureed fresh fruit! We found another adventurer and planned to meet for dinner. There was a wedding and reception happening at the hotel which added to the magic of the evening. Dinner, one of the two meals not included in our itinerary, was so delicious and in a restaurant off the inside courtyard. Our view was the courtyard & the night sky. This reminded us of the Mexico building at Epcot except there was no roof. A perfect start to our adventure.
Sunday August 4 – We started the day bright and early with breakfast at 6:30. We met the rest of our group, learned some basic information about Costa Rica, had an overview of the trip and then off for a 2-hr ride to our rafting excursion, meanwhile our luggage was picked up from our rooms and loaded on the bus for us. Fico shared much about San Jose, the country, the history and current state of the people, etc during the bus ride. Once at the rafting company, instructions and preparation went quickly. Everything we needed was provided including life jackets, helmets, paddles, bug spray, sunscreen, private changing rooms and towels for after the raft ride. We could safely store our personal items on the bus while we were rafting. Adventures by Disney has thought of and provided all that we needed every step of the way! They spent a good amount of time going over safety details. I would highly recommend sunglasses to use as protection from splashes, dry fit clothing, and water shoes. Rafting was an exhilarating experience yet calm and fun too! Private lunch was provided after rafting featuring many local specialties. It was then a 2-hour bus ride to our next hotel, Hotel Arenal Kioro. It’s a very nice resort with spacious suites all facing the Arenal Volcano. We were greeted with a welcome drink, a personal note and special gift from our adventure guides. All of our luggage was delivered to our rooms. We wrapped up the day with Guaro sour cocktail making and a welcome dinner with dance lessons from several professional Latin dancers.
Monday, August 5- We started the day again with an early breakfast and another 2-hour bus ride to the Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge. We boarded a private river boat with our group. The boat was open air and very accessible to see all the wildlife including monkeys (howler, spider and capuchin), birds, cayman, iguana, basilisk and much more. Snacks were provided on the boat and cold water. Smiles and a welcome glass of fruit juice were waiting for us as we disembarked the boat. Lunch followed at a new bed and breakfast. Next was our ride back to the hotel for relaxation time in the hot springs at our hotel and then dinner at our convenience at the hotel. On our 2-hour return, we play a fun game of “What’s in your bag?” This day truly felt like you were in the heart of Costa Rica. This floating safari offered a rare look at river habitats. Our adventure guides even marveled at our luck when we saw three different kinds of monkeys in the same tree.
Tuesday, August 6 – Today was a later departure. We had breakfast provided at the hotel and then boarded the motorcoach for a 20 minute ride to ziplining (Sky Adventure). Upon arrival, we were suited up in safety gear including helmet, gloves and harnesses and were given very detailed safety instructions. Keep in mind that seven in our group were very apprehensive about participating. Our experience started with a gondola ride to the top that afforded magnificent views of La Fortuna. From the beginning, the staff did an outstanding job making us feel safe and confident with this experience. The staff was dedicated, caring, patient, and encouraging every step of the way as were our adventure guides who joined us. For fearful guests, tandem runs were an option with an experienced staff member or an alternative hiking activity was available. The views up above the canopy included the Lake Arenal and three volcanoes. After we finished, fresh juice and snacks were provided. We then boarded the motorcoach and headed into the town of La Fortuna for shopping and lunch. This was one of very few meals that was on your own. After lunch and shopping, we headed back to the resort to get ready for our amazing evening at the Ecotermales Hot Springs for a soak and dinner. The warmth from the volcano heats the ground water providing a natural relaxation bath.
Wednesday, August 7- An 8 AM departure for the Chocolate Rainforest Tour near La Fortuna. The bus ride was relatively short. Bug spray was provided upon arrival. We met our guide, Chapo, who we very learned quickly would be the most fun and informative guide on the trip. We weren’t sure what to expect at first knowing it would be a 2-hour tour in the rainforest. Chapo shared the history of the cacao plant & chocolate. Did you know that cacao was first used as currency before becoming a popular commodity? While many people believe it originated in Africa, making chocolate from cacao beans started in South America in the rain forests along the Amazon. Chapo sure made learning about the history of chocolate fun and interesting! We experienced the detailed process of making chocolate and were able to taste the chocolate at the end. After this tour, we were on our way our next hotel, El Mangrove, on the west coast near Guanacaste. We stopped along the way for lunch at a restaurant overlooking a river as always an opportunity to enjoy some local tastes. Then back on the road for a bit further with a fun Disney trivia game along the way. Upon arrival at El Mangrove, we were welcomed with a refreshing glass of fruit juice and a cold towel. Our rooms were unique because there was an outdoor space with a couch, chair, table and hammock, then a separate space with typical accommodations. We had time to rest and refresh before dinner. We chose a later dinner time with some of our new friends. Our guides were on hand throughout this time to answer questions and offer direction.
Thursday, August 8 – We met for breakfast early again and then headed off for a catamaran swimming and snorkeling excursion in the along the Pacific coast. Bug spray, sunscreen and towels were provided as were drinks and snacks onboard. The catamaran took us out an hour from the hotel with stunning views of the water. We saw dolphins on our way to the private beach. We spent an hour swimming and snorkeling. After our excursion, we had free time to refresh by the pool, enjoy lunch at Matisse, an outdoor restaurant serving light fare and we were free to explore, rest or indulge in a spa treatment until our farewell dinner. The evening ended with private Costa Rican dancers and a wrap up video of our week. The video was a wonderful recap of our week of adventures and fun. It was so hard to say goodbye to our guides and new friends.
Until next time, Pura Vida!
Friday, August 9 – Last day! We had breakfast at the hotel and said our goodbyes. Our luggage was transferred from our room to the coach. Our adventure guides were still available in the lobby to answer last minute questions. We took a 20-minute bus ride to the airport to catch our flight home. We truly enjoyed this exotic adventure and appreciated all the attention to detail and service provided by our AbD adventure guides and the locals that we came in contact with. They thought of everything so we could enjoy our vacation. The guides even served as our own paparazzi taking tons of photos during our adventures to share with us. We will definitely being doing another Adventure by Disney. Care to join us?
What makes the Disney Difference?
- 16 meals (on this trip) included along with snacks and drinks, not all meals are buffets
- Good mix of menu options everywhere including a good balance of local (adventurous) fare & more common American fare
- Supplies and equipment for all excursions provided
- More all-inclusive feel, very few items not included other than alcohol
- Private luxurious motorcoach
- Luxury resorts
- Connecting rooms for larger families available, or guests are advised in advance if rooms are separated
- Smaller group than typically travel (35-40)
- Good mix of group and on your own time
- Kid-focused with unique activities available for them
- Adventure Guides experience the tours with you
- Adventure Guides and other staff are taking photos throughout the trip and shared with guests (included)
- One of the Adventure Guides is local and speaks the language
- Adventure Guides truly care about the guests’ experiences and foster comradery
- Adventure Guides train for a full year and are advocates in times of emergency or illness
- Suppliers and tour guides for the excursions that provide great customer service are specifically sought out and selected by Disney
- Disney is always tweaking tour components based in feedback