San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Disney Adventures include Costa Rican Tours

Costa Rica’s tourism industry is keeping some pretty nice company these days – namely, London, Paris, Rome, Hawaii and the other places recently selected by The Walt Disney Company as the destinations for its new “Adventures by Disney” tours.

The all-inclusive, family-oriented tours will bring travelers to San José, Arenal Volcano in the Northern Zone and Manuel Antonio on the central Pacific coast starting June 18 for eight days of activities from rafting to canopy zip-lines to nature hikes, all entitled “The Trail of Pura Vida,” according to the Web site, which features the complete itinerary and pricing information.

“Costa Rica is one of the world’s most popular tour destinations, and Adventures by Disney is an opportunity for us to test this new travel concept,” Adventures spokeswoman Lisa Haines told The Tico Times this week. “It’s really taking the Disney experience to new audiences in new corners of the world.”

For Ricardo Araya, owner of the family-run Hotel Kioro Arenal, one of the chosen destinations for tours, the advent of Disney and the company’s choice of his hotel is “a source of pride for me and my family” – not to mention a jackpot of sorts, since all 29 Disney tour groups planned for this year are scheduled to visit the hotel during the April-November low season.

Costa Rican travel agency Horizontes is serving as Disney’s in-country provider, selecting hotels and attractions. Disney worked closely with Horizontes to select Tico destinations and ensure all hotels and food service is up to Disney’s standards. Horizontes will organize all logistics for the tour, ensuring tourists receive the “hassle-free” service typical of Disney, Haines said.

She added that Disney began testing the Adventures model last year with two destinations, the U.S. States of Hawaii and Wyoming; based on the success of those tours, the company expanded this year to include Costa Rica, Italy (Rome, Tuscany and Venice), London, Paris, and the Canadian Rockies. Additional itineraries could be added later depending on the success of the seven 2006 destinations, she said.

In all the chosen destinations,Adventures by Disney takes travelers to natural and cultural attractions and provides extra programs for children, according to the Web site. The eight-day tour begins at the Marriott, northwest of San José, then whisks guests off to Arenal, with a visit to the La PazWaterfallGarden and Butterfly Farm on the way. At Arenal, guests visit the active volcano and stay at Hotel Kioro Arenal. After visits to hanging bridges, a zipline and aerial tram, the Hidalgo Hot Springs and a pineapple plantation, as well as a jungle cruise on the Sarapiquí River, they’ll head to tourist favorite Manuel Antonio National Park, where they’ll stay at the Hotel Parador, snorkel, take a catamaran cruise of old banana plantations and a mangrove cruise, and tour the park.

Hotel-owner Araya said that being chosen by Disney, “with so many years in the (tourism) market, is the best letter of recommendation you could have… it’s very nice that they chose us out of so many hotels in the country,” he said. “They’re very careful with the quality of the product, the quality of the food.”

The first “Trail of Pura Vida” tour will take place June 18-25, with the last one scheduled for Oct. 8-15. Those two tours, along with one departing Sept. 17, are “adultonly” (18 years and up), while the rest are designed for travelers ages 8 and up.

The tours range from $2,999 per person for a double to $2,699 per person for a quad, with children ages 8-14 who are the third or fourth members of a party receiving a $500 discount.


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