What Is Adventures By Disney PLUS Part One Of Our Montana Vacation With Disney
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Extra special thanks to Adventures By Disney for hosting this amazing vacation! We are so happy to be able to share this full review of our Adventures By Disney Montana Trip Report.
After our near miss when it came to catching our cruise ship to Alaska last month, we chose to fly in a day ahead of time for this adventure. Having been on an Adventures By Disney Danube River Cruise last year, we knew we wouldn't want to miss a single second of it. I'm so glad we did, too. This way we were able to fly in (super short barely 2 hours non-stop flight from LAX to Bozeman, Montana) the afternoon before, get dinner, get some good rest and then meet the rest of the group back at the airport for the official start.
Rested and ready for the adventure to start, we joined the group and hopped on our tour bus. This is one of the many things that sets Adventures By Disney apart from other tours. They take care of everything and there is never any wasted time waiting. As soon as our group was ready to go, we loaded right away. Cory, our bus driver, was with us the entire time we were traveling and was always seconds from where we were.
When there were stops along the way where there wasn't parking, it didn't matter to our group because Cory would drop us all up right up front to maximize our time and then he would magically appear when it was time to go!
Going into this vacation we were all extremely excited. We were excited about the places we would see and the things we would do, but we were even more excited about the whole Disney experience.
I'm always asked, what is Adventures By Disney? I wondered the same thing before we went on one. I imagined going on vacation with Mickey Mouse and Goofy, outside the theme parks. My imagination couldn't have been farther than the truth. Adventures By Disney are more like traditional tours that are taken above and beyond your wildest dreams. There are little touches of Disney Characters, like in the pins you get (more on that later) and every once in a while they will pop up in the shape of your waffle or a reference when on the tour, but the Disney in Adventures By Disney is in the service and the experience. Have you ever noticed at the parks how the flowers are always perfect, and how the cast members are so well trained that they anticipate your questions or needs before they even happen? That is what an Adventures By Disney tour is.
As soon as the tour starts (and even sooner if you book your airfare through Disney) you will find an Adventure Guide waiting for you. I call them the “Magic Makers”. They are there to make sure you have the most amazing vacation ever. They work non-stop behind the scenes and are prepared for anything. Random rain storm? No problem, they have ponchos in their backpacks for everyone, a word game for entertainment and one of them will literally run down a hill in the rain to get the bus if need be. The best part is that while all of this is happening, you don't even feel like it is an out of the ordinary situation. It almost feels like it is part of the fun.
Adventures By Disney also have experiences that are special just for their tours. This includes experiences you just can't purchase and viewings that are before or after regular hours so that there are no lines or crowds. It is these little touches that add up to a truly remarkable experience.
After we set off on our bus from the airport, we first stopped at our accommodations for the night. We had two side by side rooms at the Yellowstone Village Inn. It is family owned and operated and a cozy little place in an adorable town called Gardiner, Montana. The rooms were nothing fancy, but they were clean and everyone was super friendly.
Since the hotel we were staying at was just a short 5 or so minutes away from the Yellowstone Park entrance, our real adventure started rather quickly. We hopped off the bus for a couple photo ops, because this moment needed to be documented.
Then it was time to see the park! We drove to the Mammoth Hotel for dinner and we saw our first Elk!
What a way to kick off our vacation! I fell in love with the Mammoth Hotel Dining Room. We had tables waiting for us in this beautiful room. There was a definite art deco vibe going, and the food was delicious and fresh. We were so surprised by all the healthy and gourmet options! Disney really must have scouted out this place. It was perfect! Although we ended up really getting to know all the other people on our tour, I thought it was pretty brilliant to have dinner set up individually per family since we had just met. Disney did a great job of getting all the families to know each other really well that by the end of our time together. All the kids had taken over tables of their own and the adults all sat together too!
After dinner, we explored Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces. This was one of the coolest things I've ever seen… although I'm sure I said that a lot on this vacation. We got to see our first hot spring right before the sky opened up and flashes of lightning-sparked across the sky. Rain wouldn't have stopped up but lightning did. We wrapped up our stop and headed back to the hotel. The next morning we would come back here to see the rest of what we missed before the next day's activities.
Good morning day 2!
After breakfast at an adorable mom and pop restaurant called Yellowstone Grill, with the most fabulous looking cinnamon rolls I have ever seen, we headed back into Yellowstone. Today was all about the wildlife…well, at least it was for me! Seeing animals in the wild is one of my favorite things to do. Since we were going to be taking a motorcoach tour of Lamar Valley, I was almost guaranteed a good time. As we entered Yellowstone, we made a quick stop to pick up a local park guide named Sally. She actually accompanied us the night before too. Even though we had our Adventure Guides, Doug, and Lauren, Disney also arranges for local guides to join whenever possible. We thought it was absolutely brilliant to have the bonus guides when we were in Europe, and it worked out to be equally awesome here.
Our drive took us back by Mammoth Hot Springs to see what we missed the night before during the storm. I could have called it a day after seeing this sweet mama and baby. Our guides always pointed out any wildlife and also made sure we were always a safe distance away.
Back on the bus, we headed off to look for more wildlife when we found some American Bison, who were not concerned about keeping safe distances from us. This guy blocked our road for a bit, but nobody cared. We all just wanted to stare at him. During this time, Sally our local guide gave us some history of the park and really interesting information about the animals that call it home.
A big question that I received from families thinking of taking this vacation is… are there enough things to eat and are there enough bathrooms? These are important to us too, of course. There is nothing like having an eight-year-old that is hungry or has to use the bathroom, so I totally get it. The answer is yes to both. Disney has you covered. The guides always have snacks. They actually offer them up before you even realize you are hungry. They walk about with snack baskets and then there are the scheduled meals too. We were never hungry!
As for restrooms, there is one on the bus that nobody ever needed. The guides have all the bathrooms and stops plotted out and would tell us when the next one was and the “level” of restroom we would be experiencing. This is a nice way to say if it was a flush toilet or not. Ha! We never had an issue with anyone having to go and not having a place. Plus the motto that we stole from our first Adventures By Disney trip is, “go when you can, not when you have to”.
We also had plenty of stops to stretch our feet and we were all mesmerized by the sights!
Lunch was a total treat! We took a stagecoach adventure to a picnic lunch. Back when we first met up with our guides, they planned ahead and we ordered it then. It's those little things you don't have to worry or even think about with Adventures By Disney.
They also passed out bandanas that the kids and teens loved! This was the only place I was really glad that I had bug spray with me. We brought a few cans of bug spray and sunblock, but of course, the Adventure Guides had enough for everyone in case we forgot.
See how I'm actually in these pictures? Yep, the Adventure Guides take pictures of everyone the whole time. I love taking pictures, but that means I'm rarely in them so this is like a huge deal to me!
You guys, Emmy was all about the horses. They were really sweet and she was thrilled to be around them.
We also had a reverse robbery on the stagecoach. Back in the day, it was quite common for coaches to get robbed, but I'm thinking a reverse robbery is only a Disney thing, ha! When our robber came up instead of taking things, he gave everyone our daily pins.
If you are a Disney Pin Collector, or not, you will love this. Each day you get a special collectors pin that you can only get on this adventure!
We were all pretty dusty and so relaxed at this point. In the park, we got very spotty cell service so we all pretty much turned off our phones and just talked to each other. The guides led some trivia games and we all started to feel more like longtime friends than people who just met the day before!
Our next stop was to a place I didn't even know existed- Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone!
This was one of my favorite places and a really short walk from the bus to this lookout point. There was even a Bald Eagle flying in the canyon!
Thanks again to the guides for their camera skills! I love this picture!
Soon after it was time to check into Yellowstone Under Canvas.
Let me start by saying that I am not an outdoorsy person. I've been camping once and that was at the zoo in a tent that they provided and it wasn't a real camping experience… and yet it was still enough for me. So when I saw there was glamping, all I could think about was camping outside where there are bears. I was stressing big time. The reality was that we were in canvas safari-style tents with stove heaters, a flush toilet, and a warm running water shower all in our tent. The beds were the softest most perfect beds I have ever been in. I liked them so much I am considering buying one.
It was still very much camping with no electricity and no food allowed in the tents (to keep the bears and other wildlife away), but there were also battery packs for us to charge our cell phones each night and you could check larger electronics into the lobby tent to charge. This was absolutely the perfect compromise for a non-camper like me. The kids felt like they finally got that camping experience and I got to have some great nights rest.
A couple of little practical details for you all. Each time we moved locations, we just put our bags outside our door and the guides arranged for them to be loaded and unloaded. We didn't lift a finger. When we were gone from our rooms all day, we took our “valuables” with us onto the coach which was watched carefully by the driver. We didn't bring gold bullion or anything, mostly laptops, and camera equipment.
Dinner tonight was also fantastic and really fun! We had a cookout at the Bar N Ranch Restaurant that is on the same property as the glamping. They grilled us up portobello mushrooms instead of the meat option. Another thing about the food is that the guides were always making sure that those of us with dietary concerns were well fed. They handled the communication for this so that it was smooth sailing at mealtime.
Can you believe this was just the first day and a half? Here is our day three video:
Good morning to you from day three of our Adventures By Disney Montana vacation.
We all woke up to the sounds of cowboys riding their horses and the wind pushing through the tall Montana grass. Even during the height of summer, it was still a cool night and morning, which made the whole experience more fun. The Glamping experience was something that I was so uncertain of, as I shared before, and yet it was one of the best nights of sleep I've had in a long time.
We took full advantage of everything our Adventure Guides told us, and we had the glamping folks come out and light our heaters. Plus having a real flush toilet in our tent meant no walking around in the middle of the (cold) night. This is just another way that Disney made sure that we could have a camping experience, but not have to rough it at all!
Waking up in the wilderness 😍😍😍
Breakfast was in the lodge on the property so we took a golf cart over there and walked back. Yep, there are even golf carts here with drivers to take you everywhere!
The girls loved the big open spaces! After breakfast, we all loaded onto the coach and headed out to see more sights in Yellowstone. Our first stop was to Grand Prismatic Spring!
This was one of the most beautiful places we have ever seen in nature. The colors are almost unreal! Our guides and driver had the perfect places picked out for us and lead us to all of these. I would have never kept going to the top without their insight and I'm so glad I did. It was like seeing a rainbow up close. So gorgeous!
Have you ever seen colors like this? Wow!
Next up was Old Faithful Geyser, which I accidentally kept calling Old Geezer! Ha! Poor Geyser! This was one of those moments in life where the world kinda shifts and it all starts making sense. You read about things in books when you are in school, and then life circles around and you find yourself teaching your children these things, and then you all find yourself actually being in the place you learned about. It all makes sense. You feel the magnitude of it all and the science behind it makes sense. It's no longer something that is taught on a piece of paper, it is real. We all felt that.
When you go to see this magnificent geyser, you will see everyone lining up in front of it… but if you take the path behind it, you will be able to see more beautiful things like this one below. Also, there is just as great viewing from behind and almost no crowds!
There are also some benches for sitting down and relaxing, or silliness like Emmy was into!
The Adventure Guides and our local guide planned our visit to coincide with the geyser erupting. They do post and share that info publically and it is pretty accurate within a 20-minute variance.
It was so powerful to be standing right there next to it!
After this, it was time to say goodbye to our local guide and park ranger, Kimberly. We loved having her expertise and insight to help guide us through Yellowstone!
We also had lunch while we there at the Old Faithful Inn Dining Room! This is what the Wilderness Lodge at Walt Disney World is inspired by, so we all geeked out about that a bit!
After that, Pete and Ashley went biking in the backcountry and Maddie, Emmy and I went to the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center! Emmy was so excited to see wolves!
Back at the glamping spot, we had dinner and then s'mores. You guys, Disney even got Maddie and me vegan s'mores!
Then it was back to our tents because we were tired and so happy!
Part two is coming up soon!