Finding unique, bucket list excursions for our Disney Alaska Cruise was a priority for this once-in-a-lifetime family trip. While I was excited, and honestly very nervous, about Dog Sledding on the Mendenhall Glacier, this amazing experience was a highlight of our trip.
Dog Sledding on the Mendenhall Glacier Review
Morning of Our Mendenhall Glacier Dog Sledding Excursion
Juneau is notoriously rainy and cloudy which are dangerous conditions for helicopters. Watching the Juneau weather as our excursion approached was nerve wracking.
Obviously safety is first, but the disappointment of a last minute cancellation would be intense.
We woke to a thick cloud cover over the mountain peaks, but during breakfast the sun started peeking through. All of a sudden dog sledding seemed like it might actually happen.
We got on our waterproof and warm layers before checking in for our dog sledding tour on Disney Wonder. Once everyone arrived staff led us out to the dock where we met our bus driver.
Fill out paperwork for your group, including each person’s weight for the balancing equations, before boarding the bus. These weights are crucial for balancing the Temsco helicopter and improving passenger safety.
Take about a 20 minute bus ride through downtown Juneau to the airfield. After arriving, sign waivers and watch a short safety briefing video. Then it is time to get fitted for glacier overboots and use the restroom before boarding the helicopter.
Adults get special boots with traction for the glacier that slip on over existing boots. Kids, and adults with very small feet, switch out to glacier boots and leave their shoes at the airfield.
No bags are allowed on the helicopter. Put essentials in pockets and leave the rest of your personal items locked in the storage container until you return.
Mendenhall Glacier Dog Sled Helicopter Ride
I had never been on a helicopter and was extremely nervous. The staff did a great job of explaining procedures which helped put me more at ease before we boarded.
Helicopter ride groups are determined by weight since the helicopter must be properly balanced for safety. On our excursion immediate families were together, but our larger group was split up.
Before loading into the helicopter staff explains exactly where you will sit and in what order you board. We carefully got in, buckled up, and put on our headsets before lifting off.
The air currents sometimes moved the helicopter more than I expected. I found the movement scary while others thought it was a unique thrill.
Our pilot was extremely reassuring and pointed out some beautiful views of the ice fields which was a great distraction for those of us who were nervous.
Dog Sledding Experience
When exiting the helicopter the sound of excited barking dogs mixes with the steady beat of the helicopter blades. Mendenhall Glacier is covered in snow pack which feels a lot like walking in snow, not the icy surface I expected.
Once you are safely away from the helicopters, staff assign you to professional dog mushers. After a brief introduction, and some explanation of the day’s dog sled tour activities, you board the sleighs.
Two sleds make a train with a team of huskies attached to the front sleigh. The forward sled had two seats in the front and the second sled had one seat and a standing platform.
We stopped several times during our dog sled tour and used this as a chance to try out different sled spots. Each seat location made a significant difference in our mushing experience.
The front seat had incredible views and let you see the dogs excitedly jump when starting to pull, but the standing position at the back was a surprisingly exhilarating sledding experience.
Our loop around the glacier, including photo stops, was about 25 minutes. Then we arrived back at the dogsled camp.
Although mushing was done, our fun wasn’t over yet. One of the professional mushers had several sled dog puppies that we got to snuggle and pet before it was time to leave.
Return To Disney Wonder
A light rain started as we finished our excursion and the helicopters arrived while we still had a window to safely fly back to Juneau.
At the helicopter base we removed our glacier boots, grabbed our stuff, and boarded a coach bus back to Juneau. Our driver offered to let people off in downtown Juneau or back at our Disney Wonder cruise ship.
How Much Does Dog Sledding on the Mendenhall Glacier (JU01) Cost?
Budget $859 per person for Mendenhall Glacier Dog Sledding during the 2024 Disney Alaska cruise season. Please note all guests aged two years and older pay the same fee for Dog Sledding on the Mendenhall Glacier.
Tips For Dog Sledding on the Mendenhall Glacier
Book Dog Sledding on the Mendenhall Glacier Early
Dog Sledding excursions are popular Disney Alaska Cruise experiences with small groups and limited availability. This excursion routinely sells out well before the cruise.
Book your dog sledding adventure immediately when your excursion window opens for the best chance of securing a spot.
One bit of good news is you don’t pay for this pricey excursion ahead of time. It is added on to your Disney Cruise Line folio and billed during the cruise. If weather, or other unforeseen circumstances, causes your dog sled tour to be cancelled you are not charged.
Don’t Forget Your Sunglasses
The glare on Mendenhall Glacier, even on an overcast day, is unbelievably intense. I packed sunglasses for us, but then left them locked in our backpack at the airfield.
Thankfully there were a handful of sunglasses at the glacier camp which they loaned us to keep from struggling during the excursion. Although they were functional, the sunglass selection was not exactly the most fashionable.
Put your sunglasses in a jacket or pant zipper pocket while on the bus to the airfield to avoid forgetting them like I did.
What Should I Pack For Dog Sledding on the Mendenhall Glacier
A waterproof jacket, like my North Face Triclimate (affiliate link: buy it on Amazon), was perfect throughout our Alaska cruise, but definitely handy on the glacier.
We also packed sunglasses, gloves, a hat, thin waterproof pants which go over our jeans, and waterproof boots for Dog Sledding on Mendenhall Glacier.
In July, the glacier temps were surprisingly comfortable. Our cold weather gear and waterproof pants were great on the sled, but we got overheated when playing with the adorable puppies.
Layers are key since you never know what the conditions will be like on the glacier.
Have A Backup Plan
Several Mendenhall Glacier Dog Sled Tours before and after ours on the same day got canceled due to weather conditions. In fact, a shocking 30-40% of dog sled excursions in Juneau are canceled.
Since you won’t know until the last minute if you’ll be Dog Sledding on Mendenhall Glacier, have a back up plan for Juneau. Not getting to do this amazing experience would be devastating, but made significantly worse if you don’t know what to do in Juneau.
My backup plan, which we fortunately didn’t need, was to take the Mount Roberts tramway up the mountain to hike or a last minute whale watching cruise.
Know The Cancellation Date To Avoid A Penalty
Port excursions must be canceled 3 days BEFORE your sail date, not your excursion date, to avoid penalties.
Is Dog Sledding on the Mendenhall Glacier Worth It?
This Disney Alaska cruise excursion was the most expensive add-on to our trip, but I am grateful I overcame my fears, the weather cooperated, and we got to do this once in a lifetime experience.
The scenic helicopter ride over the deep blue crevasses in the Juneau icefield and exciting dog sled ride were a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
However, this grandiose excursion isn’t the only way to interact with Alaskan sled dogs. Disney Cruise Line has another dog sled option, Dog Sledding Summer Camp, which I considered for our Alaska Cruise.
This less expensive camp lets you ride a summer sled and still play with husky puppies, but in a forest setting. Make sure to pack sunscreen and bug spray if you opt for this excursion instead.
For us, Dog Sledding on Mendenhall Glacier was worth it because of the incredible memories we made. However, we got very lucky since a canceled excursion would have been a huge disappointment.