The mantra of tour operators has always been, "The more inclusive the tour, the better the savings."
The rationale is classic escorted-tour math. Operators tout the discounts they can get on all the components of a tour because they're buying in bulk. In other words, they can get your lunch at a cheaper price because they're not just buying one lunch, they're buying 45 of them.
So, when it comes to a product such as Adventures by Disney's new Gateway Collection, touted as a lower-cost alternative with more free time built in, one has to wonder whether the product will in fact be cheaper than the regular Adventures by Disney tour offering.
"The impetus was to broaden the portfolio," said Randy Garfield, executive vice president of sales and travel operations for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, on a recent media conference call. Disney's tour product needed to be more accessible to a wider audience, he explained.
"Some folks were asking us for free time, and it also helped bring the cost down," said Garfield. When asked if, for example, during that free time some of the meals would be included as they normally are in the traditional Adventures by Disney packages, Garfield said that a Gateway Collection vacation "probably has a few less meals. That's how you actually carve out some of the expense."
The Gateway Collection itineraries range from between 15% and 30% cheaper than similar Adventures by Disney itineraries, so maybe travelers will be able to keep the spending down enough during their free time to make the Gateway experience a better value.
Hey, walking around town doesn't cost money. But eating, entering many tourist attractions and shopping sure does. Free time can be as cheap or as costly as the traveler chooses. That's the price of freedom.