Adventuring Through Costa Rica with Adventures by Disney: The Disney Difference

Posted:  Recreation Trip Reports

When you imagine a perfect Disney vacation, most people envision the theme parks, Disney resorts, rides, characters, fireworks, or some combination of the above. Disney fans love all of the little details that make up the magic of a Disney trip and sharing it with friends, family, and loved ones. When you really get right down to it, a Disney trip is all about spending quality time with the people you love and creating magical memories to last a lifetime. As we all know, Disney takes care of their guests down to the smallest details and spares no expense when it comes to making the magic come alive.

In August 2022, I was so incredibly fortunate to experience Disney in Costa Rica with Adventures by Disney. We did a 6-night, 7-day tour across this breathtaking country with all of the comfort, safety, and familiarity of Disney that we all love so much. While there are no theme parks or characters, these nearly all-inclusive group tours are luxurious, fully planned itineraries that immerse you and your family into the culture of your destination. What an incredible way to see the world!

Volcano in the Rainforest

Mickey Mouse Plush and Adventures by Disney Name Tags

So why travel with Disney? Let’s break down the “Disney Difference” that you’ll experience on Adventures by Disney vacations around the globe!

First and foremost, I have to highlight the Adventure Guides! All land-based vacations with Adventures by Disney include the expertise and guidance of two Adventure Guides – one North American-based guide as well as one guide local to your destination. These Adventure Guides are truly an extension of your family while you are away. They are with you at every point of the adventure, ensure your safety and comfort, and anticipate your needs before you even know that you need anything. Their knowledge about the tour and the country you are traveling in is unmatched.

Team Members Lindsay and Debbie with their Adventure Guides

Our Adventure Guides were Byron, from Kentucky, USA (also a Cast Member at Guest Services in Magic Kingdom), and Fico, born and raised in Costa Rica and with Adventures by Disney in the country from day one! Fico is also a Naturalist and more knowledgeable about the animals, history, and ecosystem of Costa Rica than I could’ve imagined. Fico was never without a pair of binoculars, seeking out any wildlife near or far, and having our bus driver pull over or our catamaran captain turn the boat around to ensure we missed no opportunity to see the animals of Costa Rica. Byron ensured that we had snacks, bottled water, sunscreen, and bug spray at every turn. He knew that when we got back to our hotel, our room was a bit of a hike from the lobby. Each and every time we came back to the resort, he would be off the bus arranging the shuttle with the front desk before we even realized it so that we could step off of the coach and into the van without a wait. These guides are your family photographers, so there is no need to bring along your phones or cameras if you don’t want to. At the end of your adventure, you’re provided with a link and code to go and download all of the photos they have taken along the way. We had over 900 to download when we finished!

Adventure Guide Byron offering snacks to travelers

Adventure Guide Fico on a boat

The second Disney Difference to mention is safety. When traveling with young ones, on your own, or with your family members in unfamiliar places, safety can be a huge concern. When you travel with Disney, you feel and know they are taking care of you. On our tour, we traveled across Costa Rica via motor coach. The transportation was state-of-the-art, safe, and comfortable – large cozy seats, personal tray tables, wifi, televisions, air conditioning, restrooms, and enough space for 50 (we were only a group of 24). Our driver, Chalo, traveled with us throughout the entirety of our trip. If we were off at an activity, Chalo was with our bus and belongings, ensuring that everything was safe upon our return. For certain activities, Disney arranges private pick-up or drop-off areas for their guests so there are no other tour groups present. On this tour, it was our white water rafting on the Sarapiqui River and our boat tour at the Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge.

Motorcoach Bus Driver Chalo in front of the Motorcoach

When exploring new destinations, Adventures by Disney knows that drawing attention to a tour group by advertising the Disney brand could be problematic, so they use only unmarked signs when out and about in public for the safety of all guests.

Team Members Lindsay and Debbie sitting in a carriage

Upon arrival in Costa Rica, everyone was provided with a cell phone number for each of our Adventure Guides that we could call or text at any time throughout the trip. If there was ever a concern of any kind, our guides were only a call away.

The third notable difference with Adventures by Disney was the exceptional choice of resorts. Each of the three luxurious properties we stayed in on this itinerary was absolutely breathtaking! In San Jose, we were welcomed by our Adventure Guides with a refreshing and delicious drink, some local chocolates from Costa Rica, and immediate photo opportunities for the family album. Though we were located in the heart of a city, you would have no idea that you weren’t secluded and nestled in the wilderness. There were multiple dining options, beautiful pools, and a coffee plantation to explore. This resort even had a very active garden that provided fresh produce to the restaurants!

Hotel Room with Two Beds

Hotel Pool area with chairs and umbrellas

Sign about Hotel Garden and Gardener

At our second resort, we were located at the base of the Arenal Volcano. Each and every suite at this resort faces the volcano and is outfitted with full-length windows, a balcony, and a private hot tub, all with a perfect view of the splendor. Room assignments and keys are always ready upon arrival– there is no work to do except head off to your room to unwind. At this second resort, there were two pools overlooking the volcano, as well as a Hot Springs area with multiple cascading mini pools warmed by geothermal heat, and an internal shuttle to move you quickly around the property.

Hotel Room with Two Beds and Seating Area

Mickey Mouse Plush sitting on a balcony with a Volcano in the Background

Hot Springs with Multiple Mini Pools

Our third resort was located along the Pacific Ocean in Guanacaste and offered some breathtaking sunrise and sunset views, an opportunity to enjoy the warm ocean, and multiple open-air restaurants and bars. Upon arrival, we were greeted with welcome drinks, cool face towels to freshen up with, and a private check-in area to pick up our room keys. This resort also had staff set up to take our reservations for dinner that evening so that we could select our own meal times and ensure tables were ready when we were. Dining at this resort was phenomenal, and the atmosphere was unbeatable.

Hotel Room with Two Beds

Beach with People swimming and Boats in the water

Beach Ball floating in a Pool

Pool Area with Chairs and Unbrellas

Last but not least, let’s talk about activities with Adventures by Disney! On the Costa Rica itinerary, there was so much room for adrenaline, leisure, wildlife, and relaxation. The balance was perfect. Disney always ensures that everyone is included and, therefore, always offers a less intense option on days when the activity is going to be a rush! Having two Adventure Guides means that there is always someone to lead both activities, in addition to the hand-selected local experts. When our group headed out for some White Water Rafting, those who preferred something a little more leisurely were treated to a gentle boat ride down the river on a quest to spot some wildlife!

Team Member Lindsay and Adventure Guide Byron posing in Life Jackets

Monkey in a Tree

During Ziplining, our whole group participated in the activity; however, the option for a nature walk through the mountains was available to everyone as a more relaxing choice.

Team Members Lindsay and Debbie posing on a large Statue of a Hand

Team Member Lindsay Ziplining through the Forest

At all activities featuring water, Disney provides fresh towels for all guests, so there is no need to worry about packing one. They also offer bags for wet clothes and store them in the luggage area of the bus so that there is nothing wet in your bags or seats on the bus ride back.

Each activity along the way includes a local guide selected by Disney specifically for their knowledge, charisma, and expertise in their specific area. No tour is ever boring when you have the best of the best to guide you. At the Rainforest Chocolate Tour, our local expert was Chapo Guapo, and he made the day everything that it was. His energy was infectious, his humor was on point, and his knowledge was top-notch. Every single one of us would return just to see him again!

Local Expert Chapo Guapo posing with a Cacao Bean

After each activity, meals are prepared and ready immediately upon arrival. Our Adventure Guides joked that Disney requires them to feed us every two hours, so we definitely were never hungry! In Costa Rica, we were treated to all meals included in our itinerary except one, which was a lunch on our own in the town of La Fortuna. While most meals were delicious buffet-style, serving foods traditional to Costa Rica, there were always options for folks who were looking for something a little closer to home (burgers, chicken fingers, fries, peanut butter sandwiches, etc.) available by asking an Adventure Guide. A handful of meals were a la carte, and menus were hand selected by Disney with choices for every palate and kids’ options as well.

Buffet of Food

Costa Rica had always been a bucket list country for me, and combining my love of travel with my love of Disney created the most wonderful trip experience. I have long dreamed of going on an Adventures by Disney vacation, and I can say with complete certainty that it blew my already high expectations out of the water. The Adventure Guides were absolutely amazing; the planning was all taken care of, and I felt safe, excited, and engaged throughout the entire trip. The resorts were phenomenal, the food was absolutely delicious, the wildlife was mesmerizing, and the culture and hospitality of this beautiful country were nothing short of spectacular. Disney knocks group travel out of the park, no pun intended, and while this was my very first Adventures by Disney trip, it will absolutely not be my last. Hope to see you on one soon! 

Team Member Lindsay and Adventure Guide Byron smiling on a Boat

Mickey mouse Plush and DVCR Hat sitting in the forest


DVC Rentals Magical Hat