VIP Disney Vacations You Need to Take at Least Once in Your Lifetime

From Paris to Peru, the Great Wall to the Grand Canyon, Disney delivers unique vacation thrills and incredible VIP treatment in some of the most spectacular destinations around the world. By taking one of these bucket list adventures, you'll get all of the sense of fun, attention to detail, precision planning, and immersive entertainment that you've come to expect from Disney—no mouse ears required.

Adventures by Disney

Courtesy DisneyWhat it is: Small group trips that let you explore the world without having to do any planning other than the initial booking. You’ll travel with other families who have the same interests and have kids in the same age range, creating instant companions. Every detail is taken care of by guides specially trained by Disney, and you’ll get to try out unique activities, have skip-the-line access to iconic sights, and enjoy exclusive experiences with local experts at some of the most beautiful spots in the world. Don’t miss these 10 other ways to enjoy Disney without going to a park.

Glamping in Yellowstone National Park

Courtesy DisneyThe scoop: Adventures by Disney (AbD) offers trips to the most popular national parks across the United States and Canada, including Yellowstone National Park, which was its very first “Adventure” trip a decade ago and is still one of its most popular. On the summer adventure to Montana and Wyoming, the first half of the week-long trip is spent exploring Yellowstone’s amazing natural attractions, including the soaring waters of Old Faithful, the rainbow-hued Grand Prismatic Springs, and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. (Yep, it has one. The local experts at AbD will tell you all about it.)

The second half revs up the adrenaline-pumping activities, with horseback riding at a real dude ranch, fly-fishing, whitewater rafting in the Gallatin River, and zip lining in Big Sky. One seriously cool part of the itinerary: Roughing it in style with glamping (glamour camping) in spacious tents with real beds, a bathroom, and wood-burning stoves.

Finding “the Force” in San Francisco

Courtesy DisneyThe scoop: In addition to full week itineraries, AbD offers long weekend trips to popular cities around the United States. This one offers seriously cool insider perks, including a visit to Lucasfilm Studios in the Presidio, which is not open to the general public. You can see the real light saber props and Darth Vader costumes from the Star Wars films and kick back in a private screening room while your kids ask a Lucasfilm staffer as many questions as they want. Find out other awesome experiences at Disney for Star Wars fans.

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Perfecting pasta in Italy

Courtesy DisneyThe scoop: Italy is one of AbD’s most popular destinations, and the itineraries are filled with special experiences, such as a private guided tour of the Vatican and St Peter’s Basilica in Rome, personalized gondola tours and mask making in Venice, and authentic pasta making—and eating—at a Tuscan farmhouse (complete with wine tasting for the adults).

Immersing yourself in Japanese culture

Courtesy DisneyThe scoop: The newest adventure in the Disney lineup launches in 2019 and includes cultural immersion in both the bustling cities and quiet countryside of the Land of the Rising Sun. A few preview highlights: Traversing Kyoto and its bamboo forest on an authentic Japanese rickshaw ride, learning to keep the beat on a Taiko drum, perfecting the art of origami with experts in Hiroshima, and watching live Sumo wrestling up close in Takayama. Theme park fans can also add a post-trip excursion to Tokyo Disney and its unique maritime-themed DisneySea park. Maximize your experience at the parks with these 14 insider tips from a Walt Disney World super-fan!

Disney River Cruises

Courtesy DisneyWhat it is: For families that want to explore Europe at a gentle pace and can’t imagine packing and unpacking multiple times (plus figuring out transportation and navigating in a foreign language), these river cruises act like floating boutique hotels, pulling directly into a dock at locations along the Seine, Rhine, and Danube rivers.

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Paris and the Seine River

Courtesy DisneyThe scoop: The Seine River cruise starts in Paris before floating towards Giverny and Normandy, and includes a private tour of the Louvre. While adults are guided through the museum, Junior Adventurers participate in an interactive scavenger hunt and uncover clues leading to some of the Louvre’s secrets and most famous works of art (bonjour, Mona Lisa!). At night, head to your luxurious, extra large staterooms on special AmaWaterways ships. If you prefer the parks, learn how to find these secret spots in Disney parks.

Grown-up food and wine, Rhine River

Courtesy DisneyThe scoop: Inspired by Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival and Disney California Adventure’s Food & Wine Festival, this adults-only cruise is a must for foodies to add to their gourmet bucket list. Hosted by renowned chefs and sommeliers, the cruise’s highlights include activities such as wine tasting; gourmet demonstrations and workshops; culinary walking tours; a French patisserie class; and visits to world-famous breweries, award-winning wineries, and local pubs, all while cruising past the spectacular scenery of Germany, France, Holland, and Switzerland. By the way, these are the healthiest foods you can order at Disney parks.

Dancing down the Danube

Courtesy DisneyThe scoop: These eight-day, seven-night vacations visit iconic locations and hidden gems in four countries—Germany, Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary—all while you stay in the same comfy room. Cool highlights include revisiting scenes from “The Sound of Music” in Salzburg, exploring Devín Castle in Bratislava, and taking a traditional Austrian folk dancing lesson in Melk. In December, unique shops and twinkling holiday markets filled with tasty holiday delicacies are a special treat, as are strudel-making lessons.

Content continues below ad

Disney Cruise Line

Courtesy DisneyWhat it is: Ocean liners with all the classic fun of Disney parks (except the rides), offering a world of theming, from restaurants that morph into animated wonderlands to kids’ clubs filled with interactive activities to shows that rival Broadway productions and character meet-and-greets in intimate settings with everyone from Mickey Mouse to Cinderella. On these custom-built ships, you can sail through northern or southern Europe, Alaska, or the Bahamas and the Caribbean. Learn what’s worth splurging on—and what’s not—on a Disney cruise.

Be amazed in Alaska

Courtesy DisneyThe scoop: A cruise to the 49th state with Disney offers a uniquely family-oriented approach to learning about the snow-covered state’s natural wonders, including glacier spotting and whale watching. One example: A shore excursion in Skagway aboard a scenic train where parents get treated to champagne while kids participate in junior activities under the watchful eye of counselors. Added bonus: Lumberjack Goofy!

Get “Frozen” in northern Europe

Courtesy DisneyThe scoop: Thanks to cruise itineraries in northern Europe that include the Norwegian fjords, Iceland, and England, you can sail around the prehistoric ruins of the British Isles, view spectacular geysers in Iceland, or get a close-up look at the land of Elsa and Anna in Norway with a tour of the stave churches and Art Nouveau architecture in Ålesund. Here are the secrets Disney employees won’t tell you.

Content continues below ad

Soak up the sun in the Mediterranean

Courtesy DisneyThe scoop: Can’t decide between all the picturesque port cities in southern Europe? You don’t have to with cruises that sail the Mediterranean and stop to let you soak up the sun in spots like Capri and Saint-Tropez, then take you to learn how to make pesto in Genoa, visit the prince’s palace in Monaco, and sight-see in cosmopolitan Barcelona and Rome.

Aulani, a Disney Resort

Courtesy DisneyWhat it is: Say “aloha” to Disney in paradise—this resort on the island of Oahu offers a mix of authentic Hawaiian culture with Disney entertainment, all set along the golden sand shores of Ko Olina. Among the highlights at this luxurious resort are seven lagoons filled with snorkeling and swimming experiences, a free kids’ camp with Hawaiian cultural activities, luaus (a great place to show off your Moana makeover), breakfast with Mickey, and sandy beaches and water sports. Read on for the 14 best Disney resorts for a perfect family vacation.

Adventures by Disney

Courtesy DisneyWhat it is: Small group trips that let you explore the world without having to do any planning other than the initial booking. You’ll travel with other families who have the same interests and have kids in the same age range, creating instant companions. Every detail is taken care of by guides specially trained by Disney, and you’ll get to try out unique activities, have skip-the-line access to iconic sights, and enjoy exclusive experiences with local experts at some of the most beautiful spots in the world. Don’t miss these 10 other ways to enjoy Disney without going to a park.

Glamping in Yellowstone National Park

Courtesy DisneyThe scoop: Adventures by Disney (AbD) offers trips to the most popular national parks across the United States and Canada, including Yellowstone National Park, which was its very first “Adventure” trip a decade ago and is still one of its most popular. On the summer adventure to Montana and Wyoming, the first half of the week-long trip is spent exploring Yellowstone’s amazing natural attractions, including the soaring waters of Old Faithful, the rainbow-hued Grand Prismatic Springs, and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. (Yep, it has one. The local experts at AbD will tell you all about it.)

The second half revs up the adrenaline-pumping activities, with horseback riding at a real dude ranch, fly-fishing, whitewater rafting in the Gallatin River, and zip lining in Big Sky. One seriously cool part of the itinerary: Roughing it in style with glamping (glamour camping) in spacious tents with real beds, a bathroom, and wood-burning stoves.

Finding “the Force” in San Francisco

Courtesy DisneyThe scoop: In addition to full week itineraries, AbD offers long weekend trips to popular cities around the United States. This one offers seriously cool insider perks, including a visit to Lucasfilm Studios in the Presidio, which is not open to the general public. You can see the real light saber props and Darth Vader costumes from the Star Wars films and kick back in a private screening room while your kids ask a Lucasfilm staffer as many questions as they want. Find out other awesome experiences at Disney for Star Wars fans.

Content continues below ad

Perfecting pasta in Italy

Courtesy DisneyThe scoop: Italy is one of AbD’s most popular destinations, and the itineraries are filled with special experiences, such as a private guided tour of the Vatican and St Peter’s Basilica in Rome, personalized gondola tours and mask making in Venice, and authentic pasta making—and eating—at a Tuscan farmhouse (complete with wine tasting for the adults).

Immersing yourself in Japanese culture

Courtesy DisneyThe scoop: The newest adventure in the Disney lineup launches in 2019 and includes cultural immersion in both the bustling cities and quiet countryside of the Land of the Rising Sun. A few preview highlights: Traversing Kyoto and its bamboo forest on an authentic Japanese rickshaw ride, learning to keep the beat on a Taiko drum, perfecting the art of origami with experts in Hiroshima, and watching live Sumo wrestling up close in Takayama. Theme park fans can also add a post-trip excursion to Tokyo Disney and its unique maritime-themed DisneySea park. Maximize your experience at the parks with these 14 insider tips from a Walt Disney World super-fan!

Disney River Cruises

Courtesy DisneyWhat it is: For families that want to explore Europe at a gentle pace and can’t imagine packing and unpacking multiple times (plus figuring out transportation and navigating in a foreign language), these river cruises act like floating boutique hotels, pulling directly into a dock at locations along the Seine, Rhine, and Danube rivers.

Content continues below ad

Paris and the Seine River

Courtesy DisneyThe scoop: The Seine River cruise starts in Paris before floating towards Giverny and Normandy, and includes a private tour of the Louvre. While adults are guided through the museum, Junior Adventurers participate in an interactive scavenger hunt and uncover clues leading to some of the Louvre’s secrets and most famous works of art (bonjour, Mona Lisa!). At night, head to your luxurious, extra large staterooms on special AmaWaterways ships. If you prefer the parks, learn how to find these secret spots in Disney parks.

Grown-up food and wine, Rhine River

Courtesy DisneyThe scoop: Inspired by Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival and Disney California Adventure’s Food & Wine Festival, this adults-only cruise is a must for foodies to add to their gourmet bucket list. Hosted by renowned chefs and sommeliers, the cruise’s highlights include activities such as wine tasting; gourmet demonstrations and workshops; culinary walking tours; a French patisserie class; and visits to world-famous breweries, award-winning wineries, and local pubs, all while cruising past the spectacular scenery of Germany, France, Holland, and Switzerland. By the way, these are the healthiest foods you can order at Disney parks.

Dancing down the Danube

Courtesy DisneyThe scoop: These eight-day, seven-night vacations visit iconic locations and hidden gems in four countries—Germany, Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary—all while you stay in the same comfy room. Cool highlights include revisiting scenes from “The Sound of Music” in Salzburg, exploring Devín Castle in Bratislava, and taking a traditional Austrian folk dancing lesson in Melk. In December, unique shops and twinkling holiday markets filled with tasty holiday delicacies are a special treat, as are strudel-making lessons.

Content continues below ad

Disney Cruise Line

Courtesy DisneyWhat it is: Ocean liners with all the classic fun of Disney parks (except the rides), offering a world of theming, from restaurants that morph into animated wonderlands to kids’ clubs filled with interactive activities to shows that rival Broadway productions and character meet-and-greets in intimate settings with everyone from Mickey Mouse to Cinderella. On these custom-built ships, you can sail through northern or southern Europe, Alaska, or the Bahamas and the Caribbean. Learn what’s worth splurging on—and what’s not—on a Disney cruise.

Be amazed in Alaska

Courtesy DisneyThe scoop: A cruise to the 49th state with Disney offers a uniquely family-oriented approach to learning about the snow-covered state’s natural wonders, including glacier spotting and whale watching. One example: A shore excursion in Skagway aboard a scenic train where parents get treated to champagne while kids participate in junior activities under the watchful eye of counselors. Added bonus: Lumberjack Goofy!

Get “Frozen” in northern Europe

Courtesy DisneyThe scoop: Thanks to cruise itineraries in northern Europe that include the Norwegian fjords, Iceland, and England, you can sail around the prehistoric ruins of the British Isles, view spectacular geysers in Iceland, or get a close-up look at the land of Elsa and Anna in Norway with a tour of the stave churches and Art Nouveau architecture in Ålesund. Here are the secrets Disney employees won’t tell you.

Content continues below ad

Soak up the sun in the Mediterranean

Courtesy DisneyThe scoop: Can’t decide between all the picturesque port cities in southern Europe? You don’t have to with cruises that sail the Mediterranean and stop to let you soak up the sun in spots like Capri and Saint-Tropez, then take you to learn how to make pesto in Genoa, visit the prince’s palace in Monaco, and sight-see in cosmopolitan Barcelona and Rome.

Aulani, a Disney Resort

Courtesy DisneyWhat it is: Say “aloha” to Disney in paradise—this resort on the island of Oahu offers a mix of authentic Hawaiian culture with Disney entertainment, all set along the golden sand shores of Ko Olina. Among the highlights at this luxurious resort are seven lagoons filled with snorkeling and swimming experiences, a free kids’ camp with Hawaiian cultural activities, luaus (a great place to show off your Moana makeover), breakfast with Mickey, and sandy beaches and water sports. Read on for the 14 best Disney resorts for a perfect family vacation.

Originally Published on Readers Digest