When it comes to planning a family vacation, anything with the word Disney conjures up images of magical, fun-filled experiences. But what if we told you one of the most enchanting Disney vacations isn’t in any park? We recently experienced an Adventures by Disney New York City Short Escape and came back with plenty to report (and smiles from ear to ear). From Broadway musicals and behind-the-scenes VIP tours, to backstage passes, theater workshops and exclusive interactive experiences, read on and get ready to book a hassle-free, one-of-a-kind adventure to the Big Apple.
Your Worry-Free Backstage Pass to the City That Never Sleeps
One of the biggest perks of traveling on a guided group vacation with Adventures by Disney? You’ll never have to worry about where to eat, what to do or what to see because every single detail of your trip is carefully curated by your two Adventure Guides. Throughout your journey, your Adventure Guides will not only provide renowned Disney VIP service, but they will handle just about all of your needs. (Seriously, they’re amazing!) From transportation to and from the airport, to front-of-the-line privileges at major attractions, to exclusive access to backstage events, your Adventures Guides will make sure every detail of your trip to New York City is taken care of, so you can sit back, relax and enjoy the magical experience with your kids.
Bright Lights, Big City Right Outside Your Window!
Once you arrive in New York City, you’ll make your way to your hotel room at the InterContinental New York Times Square. This beautiful 36-story hotel, rising right above the world-famous Times Square district, is just steps away from New York City’s Broadway Theatre District and a plethora of dining, shopping and entertainment attractions. Your kids will love watching all the action on the streets below and you will love the oh-so plush beds, spacious room layouts, extensive in-room dining options and spa-inspired bathrooms (think: walk-in rain showers which provide a peaceful escape from your kids and the pulse of NYC).
Don’t miss the The Stinger Cocktail Bar and Kitchen by Chef Todd English in the hotel lobby. This delish restaurant is where you and your kids can indulge in a variety of comfort foods and light bites alongside custom-made cocktails and an extensive offering of wine and beer.
Short Escape Highlights
Your Adventures by Disney New York Short Escape will include a one-of-a-kind adventure into America’s melting pot of culture and cuisine as well as special activities for Junior Adventurers. During the four-day journey, you and your kids will have an opportunity to touch, taste, hear and explore New York City firsthand as well as gain inside access to places you can only enter with Adventures by Disney. Here are some of the highlights to expect on this year’s roster:
THE RIDE: NYC Tour
Whether you and your kids are first-time visitors to the Big Apple or it’s been awhile since your last visit, THE RIDE is the best (and most entertaining!) way to see the sights and sounds of New York City, including Manhattan’s most iconic sights like Times Square, Madison Avenue and the Chrysler Building. With music blasting, lights flashing, two comedic hosts (who also double as singers and dancers), live performances and a few surprises, THE RIDE turns a 75-minute bus ride through the streets of Manhattan into an interactive entertainment experience like no other. The best part? THE RIDE turns the history of New York City and its famous landmarks into fun facts, tidbits and onboard trivia that your kids will totally get into.
Psst…there’s even a prize for the rider who scores the highest number of points on the trivia questions. Watch out parents, kids these days know their facts!
Good Morning America Backstage Visit
Lights, camera, action! During this early morning adventure, you and your kids will have the opportunity to go behind the scenes of Good Morning America at Disney’s Times Square studios. You’ll learn about the daily logistics of filming one of ABC’s longest running shows, get a sneak peek at the show’s control room and green room, talk with producers and floor directors and even sit in the audience during a live East Coast broadcast.
Psst…if you’ve got a future TV star in the house, he or she is going to love watching all the behind-the-scenes action as well as participating in the pre-show entertainment with Tom Kelly of “The Tom Kelly Show.” This is what TV dreams are made of!
Private Tour of the New Amsterdam Theatre
With over 40 Broadway theaters in Midtown Manhattan alone, it’s almost impossible to see and visit them all. But during your Adventures by Disney New York City Short Escape, you will have the opportunity to pass by many of them during your daily excursions and will have the exclusive opportunity to go behind-the-scenes of one of Broadway’s most iconic theaters–the New Amsterdam Theatre. Located between Seventh and Eighth Avenues in the Theater District of Manhattan, the New Amsterdam Theatre is the oldest operating theatre on Broadway (really, it was built in 1903) and is an official New York City landmark. It’s also home to Disney’s Aladdin which is going to really excite your Junior Adventurers. You’ll learn about and discover the restored art and architecture of the theater, explore the history and magic of Disney Theatrical Productions, experience what it’s like to stand on the stage in front of a packed theatre house and see, touch and try on several iconic costumes from some of Disney’s most popular Broadway productions.
Broadway Workshop Experience
If you and your little theatergoers have ever dreamed of being part of a Broadway show (or at least wanted to find out what it takes), this Broadway workshop is going to rock your worlds! Your 90-minute class takes place in a private rehearsal studio in Times Square, and it’s where you and your fellow Adventurers will make your debut as you learn music and steps from one of your favorite Broadway numbers.
After all that improv, you’ll be hungry. New York City is known for its iconic eats, and no visit to the Big Apple would be complete without a slice of New York-style pizza. Enjoy a delish lunch at John’s Pizzeria, voted one of New York’s best pizzas, (it also received the title of Most Unique Pizzeria in the World). But the most impressive part of this Times Square pizza joint? The restaurant is housed in a converted tabernacle church. For real! And because of this, John’s Pizzeria has also earned the title of Largest Pizzeria in the Country! Now, that’s amore!
Experience Disney’s Frozen: The Broadway Musical at St. James Theatre
Broadway shows are synonymous with New York City, so it’s no surprise that this New York City Short Escape includes front row seats to one of the hottest shows for kids on Broadway: Disney’s Frozen: The Broadway Musical. Taking places at the historic St. James Theatre, just steps away from the InterContinental New York Times Square, Disney’s Frozen: The Broadway Musical includes amazing special effects, jaw-dropping costumes, incredible performances and all your fave songs from the Disney animated classic film. From the moment you step foot into the theatre to curtain call, you and your kids will experience the magic that can only happen on Broadway when you “let it go” as you marvel at this magnificent Broadway production.
But Wait, There’s More!
In addition to Broadway musicals, theater workshops, behind-the-scenes VIP tours and backstage passes, you will also experience a variety of other activities, including a group tour and special lunch at the Tenement Museum; getting acquainted with Harlem’s history during a Harlem Heritage Tour; dining at Sardi’s (the legendary Times Square restaurant); experiencing the 9/11 Memorial and Museum; visiting the One World Trade Center and taking a ride to the observatory to see the best view in all of New York City and the Tri-State area. Plus you and your fellow Adventures will indulge in a private dinner at Tribeca Grill, the renowned NYC eatery that is co-owned by Robert De Niro.
Free Time to Explore the Big Apple
Though your Adventures by Disney tour has plenty to offer, you are afforded time to explore the sights and sounds of New York City on your own. Kids will especially love visiting Rockefeller Center, in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, where they will find the Rockefeller Center LEGO Store (and everything awesome inside!), the American Girl New York Store and the Nintendo New York flagship store. In the heart of Times Square, other kid faves include the M&M’s World New York store and Hershey’s Chocolate World where kids can buy the world’s largest KitKat bar, indulge in made-to-order s’mores served out of an authentic camper, make a personalized Hershey’s milk chocolate bar wrapper and nosh on an array of Hershey’s homemade desserts.
If you and your kids have never visited New York City before, we strongly suggest taking a trip to the top of The Empire State Building, a 102-story art deco skyscraper in Midtown Manhattan. Here, you can travel to the 86th and 102nd floor observatories to get breathtaking 360-degree views of New York City and beyond. In addition to the Observations Decks, you can see a two-story building model of The Empire State Building, experience the Dare to Dream Exhibit and take in the restored lobby with its stunning art deco ceiling murals.
Psst…purchase Express passes online (before your visit) and you can skip all the lines. If you decide to purchase your tickets when you arrive, be sure to spring for the 102nd floor tickets. Not only will you get to see the city from 102 stories above the ground (in the comforts of air conditioning), but you will get to skip the 86th floor elevator line back to the bottom (which can take an hour or more on busy days). Trust us! The 102nd floor tickets are worth every penny for your sanity.
Upcoming Trip Dates & Important Deets
The Adventures by Disney New York City Short Escape is designed for families with children ages 6 and older (kids must be at least 5 years old) and is currently being offered during the following dates in 2018 and 2019: Oct. 10-13, Nov. 14-17, Dec. 6-9, 2018 and Apr. 18-21, May 9-12, May 23-26, June 20-23, June 27-30, Jul. 11-14, Jul. 25-28, Aug. 1-4, Aug. 29-Sep. 1, Sep. 12-15, Dec. 5-8 & Dec. 19-22, 2019.
All New York City Short Escapes include accommodations at the InterContinental New York Times Square, transportation (including transfers between airports and hotels) and three breakfasts, two lunches and two dinners. The trip also includes all taxes and gratuities, admission to all of the activities and experiences mentioned in the trip highlights and complete confidence in a hassle-free journey of a lifetime. Need we say more?
—Kristina Moy (all images provided by the author)
This trip was paid for by Adventures by Disney, but all opinions expressed here belong to the writer.