ABD Newbie - Considering Alaska June 2020

TXAKDisneyFan

DIS Veteran
Joined
May 26, 2014
Yes before our first encounter with them we were warned and the guides came armed with air freshener spray and hand sanitizer. We all celebrated when we were at locations with "regular" bathrooms. Everyone kept a good attitude with it and it did not seem to impact anyone's trip. My 16 year old son was the first to go into them on the trip and everyone got a kick out of his very dramatic reaction upon his entrance. My DD has huge issues with these types of restrooms but she is also to wait it out longer than anyone I know so we were fine.

Another note re the bus time is that on this trip you have the same coach driver the whole time. Our driver, John, works all summer on the ABD trips and really was like a third guide. We also had two shadow guides prepping to do trips starting this month so in reality we practically had 5 guides - it was awesome.
As someone from Alaska, this is a pretty funny convo. Good thing the tour doesn't go anywhere with honey buckets, y'all'd be *really* horrified!
 

FoodieFriend

DisneyFan
Joined
Apr 4, 2015
Back to provide some more details on our trip which was from June 3 to 10. We took this trip with my parents to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. They are both 70 and had never been to Alaska. Also traveling were my husband and two teens son (16) and daughter (14). My family of four has been on two European based and one US based ABD in the past - we are Disney freaks and do all the Disney things :) My parents are big fans of the Disney parks but were not into the idea of a cruise especially one that is too much Disney.

This trip was fabulous and I am missing Alaska so much. We had a really good mix of people that all got along well, but because we had a larger family group ourselves we did not form the close friendships with other people that we usually do. There were four families including ours that were multi-generational.

As far as the pace of the activities there were always options or the option to sit out. We actually had a concern re some of the activities as my daughter tore her ACL before the trip and her doctor wanted to wait until after the trip to do surgery. We notified ABD in advance to make sure there would be options in case she wanted to sit anything out (we were mostly concerned with the bike ride). When we checked in with them they made sure to explain what the options were for each day there were strenuous activities. In the end she decided to do all the different activities as none of them were too much for her. On the Denali Park Day the options were a white water raft, a raft float or a bus tour of Denali National Park. My parents and I chose the tour of Denali and the rest of the family the whitewater rafting. We were all very happy with our choices.

As others have mentioned, Alaska is a huge state so there is some bus time to get from place to place, but part of the beauty of the way ABD plans these trips is that it was all phased so well. At the end of the day of biking and kayaking we had our longest bus ride (maybe 2.25 to 2 hours) from the lake to Talkeetna. It was long enough to play a movie and everyone was so tired from the busy day that no one seemed to mind - the guides also brought the snack basket around a couple of times. The next day was a long train ride (probably about 4.5 hours) it was great to have a "sitting" day after the active day and the train was so amazing that I think many of us would have stayed on longer. The other big bus day was Friday for us (after the active Denali day). We spent a good part of the day on the bus leaving Denali fairly early but never had more than 2 hours without a stop. We went: hotel to Denali park entrance to rest stop (longest stretch and a movie played) to pizza lunch and then sled dog (both in same town) to our next hotel in Girdwood (broken up with a snack stop).

The scenery was amazing and we loved all the different activities. We had a hard time picking our favorite part of the trip. This trip did have a lot of moving around with four different hotels in a 7 night trip, but we saw a lot of Alaska. I would be happy to answer any other questions about this trip - I think it would be perfect based on what your interests and travel group is. I guess the only thing that I would say is that I would not recommend this trip to someone that has a huge aversion to porta-potties :) You are in national parks or other rustic locations for most of the trip activities.
Thanks for this info!!! We're doing the Alaska Cruise on the Disney Wonder next year & thought about doing another ABD in Alaska in a couple years, BUT porta-potties would be a deal breaker for my family. HAHA! I always appreciate your helpful info about your ABD experiences!! We love ABD & are searching for our next one!!
 
  • sayhello

    Have Camera, Will Travel
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2006
    Thanks for this info!!! We're doing the Alaska Cruise on the Disney Wonder next year & thought about doing another ABD in Alaska in a couple years, BUT porta-potties would be a deal breaker for my family. HAHA! I always appreciate your helpful info about your ABD experiences!! We love ABD & are searching for our next one!!
    You may want to warn your family to pee before they get off the ship! Depending on the excursion you do, you may still be faced with porta potties! :)

    Sayhello
     

    mtmueller

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Nov 3, 2014
    We're on the Alaska trip now, and hate to say how incredibly disappointed we are. This is our first and last ABD. Disney would have to discount by 50% or more to even tempt us back. As far as I'm concerned, this is Disney's 737 Max and a poster child of today's Corporate America greed.

    For the cost of this trip, we had extremely high expectations based upon our DCL experiences (and yes, I even consider DCL to have gone downhill over the past 5 years but still delivers a great experience).

    We have done adventure travel on our own across Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. The service experienced on this Disney trip is just poor in comparison. A LOT of wasted time, and some activities were not well organized or explained. My wife got so frustrated with the kayaking experience she just walked away. She then found our "base camp" for the day completely unattended and random hikers rifling through the bags people left (were told they had someone watching and would be safe.)

    Our guides made a good effort and are genuinely sweet people, but we felt the trip just wasn't close to being worth it. We arrived in Anchorage a few days early (before ABD started) to visit old friends and get used to the time change. We also did two activities on our own (glacier landing and off-roading) that totally blew away the Disney activities.

    We also found the "on your own time" to be very awkward and not very useful to coordinate other activities. Times shifted around and impossible to plan. We had extra time in Talkeetna we COULD probably have arranged a jet boat ride, but why did we have to think of this? For the price we expected more of a concierge experience helping us find the kinds of activities we like. We just got a Xerox list of vendors that "might" have something in Denali... Unsat.

    We're now just kind of resenting every day we have left on this trip. If you are already an active outdoors family, skip ABD.
     

    sayhello

    Have Camera, Will Travel
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2006
    Wow! I'd really love to hear more detail about what you did not like about this trip. We so rarely get reports from people who are *this* disappointed, and any detail you could give us would be helpful!

    Like, I would love to know what it was about the kayaking experience that was so frustrating for your wife.

    It *definitely* sounds like ABD is not a good fit for you guys, and that you are used to a far more "active" Adventure trip than what ABD offers. I'm so sorry to hear this. They *are* extremely expensive, and to find out you spent money on a trip that doesn't suit you, I can imagine would be quite upsetting.

    And wow! The base camp being left unattended would really have upset me. I would DEFINITELY let ABD know so that they can address that. That's a vendor issue, since the Adventure Guides accompany you on the kayaking, so they'd need to either address it with the vendor or find a new one. If folks like you don't tell them, they can't address it!

    So sorry you're having this experience.

    Sayhello
     
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    WishUponAStarryNight

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 4, 2014
    @mtmueller I'm sorry you're having such a disappointing experience. Honestly, I'm not sure how it's possible to have a truly active adventure with up to 40 people. DS8 and I just got back from a trip to the Grand Canyon with a different tour company. There were 9 of us in our group with 2 guides (the trip maxes out at 12) and it was seamless. No waiting in long lines at the restroom. Easy transitions between hotels. Guide-prepared lunches and snacks that seemed to pop up out of nowhere, including on the trail. I can't imagine it would have been the same with 4x as many people. Hopefully, you can make the best of your time left and enjoy Alaska.
     
  • sayhello

    Have Camera, Will Travel
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2006
    @mtmueller I'm sorry you're having such a disappointing experience. Honestly, I'm not sure how it's possible to have a truly active adventure with up to 40 people. DS8 and I just got back from a trip to the Grand Canyon with a different tour company. There were 9 of us in our group with 2 guides (the trip maxes out at 12) and it was seamless. No waiting in long lines at the restroom. Easy transitions between hotels. Guide-prepared lunches and snacks that seemed to pop up out of nowhere, including on the trail. I can't imagine it would have been the same with 4x as many people. Hopefully, you can make the best of your time left and enjoy Alaska.
    Which company did you do the Grand Canyon with?

    And yes, the number of people on ABDs is definitely an issue! I wonder how many are on @mtmueller's trip?

    Sayhello
     
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    WishUponAStarryNight

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 4, 2014
    Which company did you do the Grand Canyon with?

    And yes, the number of people on ABDs is definitely an issue! I wonder how many are on @mtmueller's trip?

    Sayhello
    We went with Austin Adventures. I think they do a great job, at least with the National Parks trips. A family on our trip had taken AA's Alaska trip and said they'd do it again in a heartbeat. I feel the same way about their Yellowstone trip. Our GC trip was excellent, but I've learned that the Southwest isn't my favorite area of the country - a bit too "beige" for me :).
     

    mtmueller

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Nov 3, 2014
    Wow! I'd really love to hear more detail about what you did not like about this trip. We so rarely get reports from people who are *this* disappointed, and any detail you could give us would be helpful!

    Like, I would love to know what it was about the kayaking experience that was so frustrating for your wife.

    It *definitely* sounds like ABD is not a good fit for you guys, and that you are used to a far more "active" Adventure trip than what ABD offers. I'm so sorry to hear this. They *are* extremely expensive, and to find out you spent money on a trip that doesn't suit you, I can imagine would be quite upsetting.

    And wow! The base camp being left unattended would really have upset me. I would DEFINITELY let ABD know so that they can address that. That's a vendor issue, since the Adventure Guides accompany you on the kayaking, so they'd need to either address it with the vendor or find a new one. If folks like you don't tell them, they can't address it!

    So sorry you're having this experience.

    Sayhello
    One of the other guests who's 5-time ABD also mentioned they were unimpressed with this trip.

    My wife is a novice kayaker and was excited to get on the water. We were expecting some instruction, but just got a basic safety briefing. We are a family of 3, and my 10yo wasn't going to paddle much, so our plan was I would take a tandem and my kid would ride with me so my wife could practice on her own. After a 10 minute hike to the launch with all our gear, the lead told everyone we had to double up and everyone goes tandem. This really upset my wife. She wanted to learn and have fun, not fight paddling with a stranger just to be on the water (if you've ever paddled tandem, you know what this means.) The ABD Guide saw she was visibly upset but made zero effort to work the problem. We've been on other activities were there guides would work to accommodate specific needs. ABD did nothing, and at those prices really set a negative tone (so we decided to run a family demerit system that reduces their tip money with each issue.)

    That was the first day of activities!

    We did mention the site security issue, and after lunch there were several folks that elected to stay behind within the group... Self-remedied. Another tip penalty!

    Finally, the food so far has been fair to poor. We had so much better food on our independent activities than their current vendors. Very surprised by that. How can an Alaskan screw up fish (dry and tough)?

    It's not all horrific, the Alaskan train ride to Denali was fabulous due to the wonderful vendor. Today is white-water rafting and we are cautiously optimistic. But we have no transportation back from the park after 6, so we have no late hiking option for the 20 hours of daylight up here. Kind of disappointing again. For these prices...
     

    AquaDame

    Disney Cruise Line
    Moderator
    Joined
    Jul 7, 2010
    After a 10 minute hike to the launch with all our gear, the lead told everyone we had to double up and everyone goes tandem. This really upset my wife. She wanted to learn and have fun, not fight paddling with a stranger just to be on the water (if you've ever paddled tandem, you know what this means.)
    There is a reason they are (lovingly!) referred to as divorce boats... :rolleyes1
     
  • mtmueller

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Nov 3, 2014
    An answer and an update:

    There are about 35 on this trip, a good mix of kids from 5-18. Surprised that most of the kids are pretty well behaved.

    Today was a bit of a redemption for us. The Whitewater rafting was really, really well done. The operator got 50 people into dry suits (including kids) without issues and the boats launched on time. A fantastic ride, one of the highlights of our trip.

    We also managed to rush our lunch and the Disney driver decided to run a special trip for many of us back into Denali NP. I guess we weren't alone in our desire for more time. We pulled a hard corps speed hike to the summit of Mt Healy and back in under 3 hours and managed to catch one of the last shuttles to the hotel for the day. A big victory, but we had to work for it. The view from the summit is breathtaking, and well worth the effort.

    One of the other families did the 4 wheeler excursion, and came back disappointed...
     

    sayhello

    Have Camera, Will Travel
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2006
    An answer and an update:

    There are about 35 on this trip, a good mix of kids from 5-18. Surprised that most of the kids are pretty well behaved.

    Today was a bit of a redemption for us. The Whitewater rafting was really, really well done. The operator got 50 people into dry suits (including kids) without issues and the boats launched on time. A fantastic ride, one of the highlights of our trip.

    We also managed to rush our lunch and the Disney driver decided to run a special trip for many of us back into Denali NP. I guess we weren't alone in our desire for more time. We pulled a hard corps speed hike to the summit of Mt Healy and back in under 3 hours and managed to catch one of the last shuttles to the hotel for the day. A big victory, but we had to work for it. The view from the summit is breathtaking, and well worth the effort.

    One of the other families did the 4 wheeler excursion, and came back disappointed...
    Glad to hear this. Alaska is so amazing, and I'd hate for anything to spoil your trip for you!

    Sayhello
     

    hilarys

    Hilary S
    Joined
    Sep 5, 2008
    An answer and an update:

    There are about 35 on this trip, a good mix of kids from 5-18. Surprised that most of the kids are pretty well behaved.

    Today was a bit of a redemption for us. The Whitewater rafting was really, really well done. The operator got 50 people into dry suits (including kids) without issues and the boats launched on time. A fantastic ride, one of the highlights of our trip.

    We also managed to rush our lunch and the Disney driver decided to run a special trip for many of us back into Denali NP. I guess we weren't alone in our desire for more time. We pulled a hard corps speed hike to the summit of Mt Healy and back in under 3 hours and managed to catch one of the last shuttles to the hotel for the day. A big victory, but we had to work for it. The view from the summit is breathtaking, and well worth the effort.

    One of the other families did the 4 wheeler excursion, and came back disappointed...
    I am glad you had a good day today - everyone has different experiences and different hot buttons -rafting day was the one day I felt a little bit disappointed in how the guides organized things. My parents and I and two others from our trip chose the Denali tour instead of rafting and originally the guides had us going on a really early departure and then late at night called to tell us our start was much later which meant some nice sleeping in while the rest of my family was up early for the rafting. However, it also meant that the 5 people from the ABD who did the Denali tour arrived back into town much later than the rafters (I think two hours) and they kept them all waiting for lunch until we arrived. I felt horrible that they all had to wait - if they could not get us on an earlier tour, they just should have let the rafters eat and then have the small group of Denali tour folks have OYO lunch. We still had time to do a hike in Denali after lunch (we did a much shorter and flatter one due to my daughter's ACL injury) and barely made the very last shuttle.

    Do you have John for your driver? He is a really nice man and was very much like another guide for us. My family really enjoyed getting to know him. He offered to take people to separate hike drop offs on Denali day and on the final day to a glacier which we did as well.

    Today will be a long bus day for you but I think most in our group were ready for the rest after the active day before and the payoff of the dogs was worth it for everyone (our whole group seemed to be big dog lovers). I hope you enjoy your day on Saturday - it was really a favorite of a lot of people in our group. It felt a lot like going on an adventure day in a park with friends and the food tasted like great picnic food made by a friend that cooks really well.
     

    mtmueller

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Nov 3, 2014
    I am glad you had a good day today - everyone has different experiences and different hot buttons -rafting day was the one day I felt a little bit disappointed in how the guides organized things. My parents and I and two others from our trip chose the Denali tour instead of rafting and originally the guides had us going on a really early departure and then late at night called to tell us our start was much later which meant some nice sleeping in while the rest of my family was up early for the rafting. However, it also meant that the 5 people from the ABD who did the Denali tour arrived back into town much later than the rafters (I think two hours) and they kept them all waiting for lunch until we arrived. I felt horrible that they all had to wait - if they could not get us on an earlier tour, they just should have let the rafters eat and then have the small group of Denali tour folks have OYO lunch. We still had time to do a hike in Denali after lunch (we did a much shorter and flatter one due to my daughter's ACL injury) and barely made the very last shuttle.

    Do you have John for your driver? He is a really nice man and was very much like another guide for us. My family really enjoyed getting to know him. He offered to take people to separate hike drop offs on Denali day and on the final day to a glacier which we did as well.

    Today will be a long bus day for you but I think most in our group were ready for the rest after the active day before and the payoff of the dogs was worth it for everyone (our whole group seemed to be big dog lovers). I hope you enjoy your day on Saturday - it was really a favorite of a lot of people in our group. It felt a lot like going on an adventure day in a park with friends and the food tasted like great picnic food made by a friend that cooks really well.
    The long bus day was grueling, but the sled dog parts were very interesting and enjoyable. My daughter went ape over all the puppies. We made it to Alyeska, and the resort is very nice.

    My wife has a lot of experience as a marketing executive. We have been big Disney fans and longtime DCL cruisers, even own DIS stock. We want them to do well and deliver exemplary service - it can only make us more money as shareholders.

    I think we will average out to have had a positive experience on this trip, but from a shareholder and business executive perspective the ABD CEO needs to be fired. This trip has seriously damaged Disney's brand for us. That is why I equate this to Boeing's current problems.

    As someone once said, "a fish rots from the head down." At these prices, I shouldn't have to deal with rotting fish.
     

    DCPhotoGal

    Photographer and Mom to 2 Princesses
    Joined
    Mar 4, 2011
    The long bus day was grueling, but the sled dog parts were very interesting and enjoyable. My daughter went ape over all the puppies. We made it to Alyeska, and the resort is very nice.
    Be sure to take the hike out to the hand cart crossing while at Alyeska. That was our favorite OYO activity there.

    I'm sorry to hear you're having a bad experience with the start of your trip. We took the trip last June and found it on par with our many other ABDs, although I also was frustrated with the large group. Beware that the group size will be an issue at the glacier because the bathrooms are limited. Maybe try to plan around it for your family so you're not having to wait in the lines.
     

    PackYourPixieDust

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jan 4, 2016
    My sister and I did this tour last August and absolutely loved it! I was surprised how much I loved Alaska and I encourage you to go. We are not the active outdoorsy types but there were no activities we could not have done if we choose. We did skip the mountain biking in favor of a hike, but that was mostly because it was raining and the track was quite muddy. Other than the pins you receive every day maybe some entertainment on the bus, there wasn't much that screamed Disney. I would be happy to answer any other questions you might have.
    If you don’t eat fish, did they have another option of food for people- mainly at the salmon bakes. And did anyone in your trip have any food allergies that Disney worked with?
     

    hilarys

    Hilary S
    Joined
    Sep 5, 2008
    If you don’t eat fish, did they have another option of food for people- mainly at the salmon bakes. And did anyone in your trip have any food allergies that Disney worked with?
    Yes to both question. I do not eat any meat (including fish) and always has plenty to eat. Each dinner or lunch had several choices.
     

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