Even though I had never been to the West growing up, I have always felt a connection to the land of cowboys, adventure, and huckleberries. I did not know what a huckleberry was, but it sure sounded cool when Val Kilmer said: “I’m your huckleberry” when he played Doc Holliday in Tombstone. My name is Billy and so naturally I was called “Billy the Kid” a lot growing up. That pretty much makes me a cowboy right? When it was time for me to go on my own adventure out west, I was over the moon excited!
My wife and I got to spend our 10 year wedding anniversary and my 35th birthday on the Adventures by Disney – Wyoming trip. They call this trip the Quest for the West and it did not disappoint. You might be asking yourself what is Adventures by Disney? Disney has created a VIP guided group vacation for both domestic and international locations that bring the magic through storytelling, customer service, and amazing access to can’t get anywhere else. You get to experience the people, history, and culture of your adventure without having to worry about the hassle of logistics and surprises that might happen on a vacation. Disney takes that worry away so you can focus on your family and making memories.
Back to our Quest for the West – Wyoming adventure. We started our adventure in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Did you know that the Jackson Hole airport is the only airport in America located in a National Park? That is a true story. The Grand Tetons in the background will take your breath away as you walk off the plane. We were greeted by one of our two Adventures by Disney Adventure Guides, Laurie. She is literally one of the sweetest people I have ever met. She directed us to our private Cadillac Escalade that took us to our first stop on this amazing journey, the historic Wort Hotel in Jackson Hole.
This hotel was amazing. The best way to describe it is rustic chic. Here we met our second Adventures by Disney Adventure Guide, Stephanie. The first thing she did was offer us a piece of huckleberry salt water taffy. Finally! I figured out what a huckleberry was. They love some huckleberries in Wyoming. After enjoying that taffy and grabbing a few for the road, Stephanie went over all details of the trip during check-in.
After getting settled in our room we had a little free time to go explore Jackson Hole before our welcome dinner. We grabbed some lunch at this cool little pizza place across the street from the Wort that was on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. My wife and I like to try and eat at all the DDD restaurants whenever we go to a new city, so we were able to check that one off the list. We went to the town square where every corner has an elk antler arch leading into the park. After shopping and walking around for a bit we found an ice cream parlor called Moo’s Gourmet Ice cream. This was another place on DDD. You will never guess what kind of ice cream I got. You got me, huckleberry. It was so good! Later that evening we all met back at the Wort for our welcome dinner. Here we got to meet everyone going on our adventure with us. They had a cowboy singer who sang and played all evening while we ate delicious food and did get-to-know-you games. This was the night some really great friendships started.
Day 2 of our Adventures by Disney Wyoming adventure kept us in Jackson Hole. That morning we woke up and had breakfast (which is included with the trip) at the restaurant inside the Wort Hotel. I had the elk skillet breakfast, which was amazing. I also had the absolute best orange juice I have ever had in my life here at the Wort. I cannot stress this enough how good this orange juice was. This orange juice is so good that if I had to pay for it (which I did not) I would not have blinked twice at the $4 price tag per glass.
After breakfast, we took a tour of the historic Jackson Hole Playhouse. Here we got to go on stage and try on some costumes and take pictures with the props. After that, we were served lunch by singing cowboy and cowgirl servers. These were the same actors that perform in the productions they have at the playhouse. They are also the same actors and actresses who perform in the daily (except on Sunday, because there ain’t no shooting on Sunday) shootout in the town square.
After lunch, we boarded a bus which took us to go get our wetsuits on (which was an adventure by itself) because it was time to go whitewater rafting down the Snake River. We did have a few Adventurers fall out of the boat during the rapids, but I am glad to say that Michelle and I only got out of the boat when they said we could jump out. They also offer a scenic tour for those who do not want to go whitewater rafting. We had some friends who did that and got some amazing pictures of bald eagles and they really enjoyed it. After rafting we had the rest of the evening to do what we like in Jackson Hole. Michelle and I went and ate at this really good fine dining place down the street from the Wort. One of the great things about the Adventures by Disney guides is they know the area and will give you recommendations on where to eat and will even set up reservations for you if you need them. After dinner, we both crashed.
On Day 3 we had our bags outside the door when they told us to and they were magically transported to the bus and eventually to our next hotel room. We started our journey through the Grand Tetons National Park and Yellowstone National Park. Adventures by Disney brings on local experts as well as your normal Adventure guides. These local guides provide more knowledge of the places you are touring. Our first stop of the day took us to Mormon Row, which is this barn right in front of the Grand Tetons. It is one of the most photographed barns in America. Google it, it’s worth a Google. After touring Mormon Row, the Grand Tetons, and the Grand Tetons National Park Center, we headed on the bus to a scenic picnic that overlooked the mountains. One thing our Adventure Guides would always tell us is this is not “Vacations by Disney its Adventures by Disney.” We had a cold front in the middle of June come through. It was very cold and rainy during our picnic. The adventure guides had hand and feet warmers for us all. Also on our way back to the bus they had stopped inside a coffee shop and bought everyone hot chocolate to warm us back up. These little things I like to call extra pixie dust.
After lunch, we had a little drive to Yellowstone National Park. Once we arrived, we took group pictures by the sign, saw some really cool geysers and hot features. We then arrived at our hotel, the Old Faithful Snow Lodge. This hotel might not have all the bells and whistles as a 5-star hotel but it does provide a nice room that is literally a block away from Old Faithful. You cannot get any closer. Our guides gave us food vouchers for dinner and breakfast and we had the evening to explore Old Faithful ourselves. They had made dinner reservations for everyone at Old Faithful Inn. (This is the hotel that inspired Disney’s Wilderness Lodge at Walt Disney World). Our dinner voucher included 1 full appetizer, salad, soup, entrée, and dessert per person. I did not want to look at food after that meal. It was like the Deluxe Dining Plan at Walt Disney World plus some.
That afternoon I was able to check the first bucket list item off of my list. I got to see Old Faithful which was super cool. I actually got to watch it twice in the daytime and once at night! That next morning, we had our bags (which had magically appeared the day before in our rooms before we even got in them) out by the door at the designated time and we headed out to explore Yellowstone. We saw geysers, heat features, and the Fountain Paint Pot Trail. We had laser thermometers that let us see how hot the springs were. Our local guides were extremely passionate about Yellowstone and were a wealth of knowledge. We had a private lunch at a restaurant the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone Welcoming Center before we got to see the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. I do not know why I had never heard of this before, but the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone was one of the coolest, most beautiful things I have ever seen. The size of it was breathtaking and the waterfall was massive. It was a wonderful day that I will never forget. Then we were off to finish the rest of our trip at the Brooks Lake Lodge.
In the afternoon we arrived at the final destination on our Adventures by Disney adventure, the Brooks Lake Lodge. The evening of day 4, 5,6, and 7 took place on this property. This is a ranch that overlooks the most beautiful Wyoming mountains. It really looks like a screen saver. We met the General Manager of the Lodge who lives on the property – actually, the entire staff lives on the property, and Disney had rented out the entire property just for us. Michelle and I were shown to our own private cabin. This cabin had a claw foot tub in the bathroom. It was called the Fisherman cabin, which was very appropriate for me. (More on that later).
That first night before dinner we headed down to the 18 person jacuzzi at the spa on property that overlooked the beautiful mountains. Here we watched the sunset as we drank Huckleberry margaritas that we brought down from the full bar. Then it was time for dinner. They had a fine dining chef on staff that cooked us the most delicious meals the entire time we were there. They would post the menus every day in the lobby and I really wish I could have tried everything. They have fish dishes, and elk dishes, steak, and some of the best soups I have ever had. During the day there was tea time with cookies and dessert. The food was absolutely amazing the entire time we were there.
They had activities during the day that we could sign up for. Michelle and I picked archery for the first activity. On trips like these, you make lifelong friends. One of the couples we met fell into this category for us, the Sawhooks. They had signed up for the same activity that morning. The experiences we shared, inside jokes, and pure fun had was priceless. That afternoon I signed up for fly fishing. This was bucket list item #2 for me. I have always wanted to do this after seeing “A River Runs Through It” as a kid. Michelle hung out in the lobby that afternoon just to rest by the fireplace (she’s always freezing so this was perfect for her). While out fishing with my guide, it was everything that I had imagined. We were up in the mountains with there still was snow on the ground in some places. They put me out on the river’s bend and showed me how to cast. After a while, I caught a trophy rainbow trout. Bucket list complete!!
Some of the other activities Brooks Lake Lodge offers are hiking, canoeing, and horseback riding with a real cowboy. We did not have the greatest weather when we were there, so we were not able to ride the horses due to safety issues, but they did go above and beyond with other activities that they normally do not offer. We got to go to this historic cowboy town and sightsee. We were there on Father’s Day and my wife treated me to an hour-long massage at the spa as a Father’s Day gift. They bring in a professional masseuse which was amazing! The whole time at Brooks Lake Lodge was magical. Speaking of magic, for those extreme Disney fans out there, Adventures by Disney gives you a Disney themed pin that goes along with the activities you did that day for each day of the adventure. My family collects pins from Disney so these were amazing to get every day.
I am so thankful I got to spend this week with my wife on this adventure. Disney went above and beyond for the VIP vacation. I did things that I always dreamed of and made memories that I will hold dear forever. Can you picture your family on one of these trips? The memories you make are priceless.
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