Planning a Walt Disney World vacation is overwhelming. There are so many details and deadlines to be aware of. Ever tried to book reservations at Cinderella’s Royal Table, only to be told you should’ve done that 6 months in advance? You too can dine with Cinderella – with a little advanced planning. Speaking of Cinderella, she had a Fairy Godmother guide her along the way. So why shouldn’t you have the assistance of an expert too? Here are Gulf Coast TravelingMom’s 9 Most Important Reasons to Book Disney with a Travel Agent.
9 Most Important Reasons to Book Disney with a Travel Agent
People often think that simply visiting The Most Magical Place on Earth is all it takes to ensure joy for the entire family. Wrong! Seasoned parkgoers such as annual passholders can probably pull this off. However, for those families in the Disney vacation planning process for the first time visit, heed my advice – you need to have a plan!
Booking your Disney vacation with a travel agent specialized in Disney Destinations can make all the difference in the world. Trust me.
Tips on Finding a Good Travel Agent
First of all, you need to find the RIGHT travel agent to assist in your planning. While any travel agent can book Disney Destination packages, not every agent is knowledgeable on the ins and outs of the parks. It is very important to find a travel agent who specializes in Disney vacations.
There are several easy ways to find an agent in your area who specializes in Disney vacations (in this article I will refer to these agents as “Disney travel agents”):
- Try searching the Travel Leaders Network. You can select your state and search for an agent closest to your area. The Travel Leaders Network is a highly respected group of travel agents across the country.
TravelingMom Tip: Always read the agent reviews! If you find an agent and/or agency you are interested in, do additional research online. See if they have a Facebook page. Do they have any reviews there? Do they have a website? Always, always do your research.
- Talk to your friends. Find out who they used for their trip. Personal referrals are always the best way to go.
- Research different Disney blogs. There are thousands to choose from. Many of the blogs will have a preferred agent and/or agency that they recommend.
These days, many travel agents work out of their home offices communicating with their clients via phone, email and text message. This makes it very convenient for clients to work with travel agents in different parts of the country. Find a travel agent who makes you feel most comfortable and go from there.
1. Travel Agents Have a “Disney Degree”
Disney travel agents have successfully passed the Disney College of Knowledge courses and must recertify each year. The majority of travel agents specializing in Disney choose to do so because of their passion for Disney travel. You will find that a lot of them own or write for Disney blogs and websites.
Walt Disney World is constantly growing and changing and agents must keep up with the latest news and details to pass along to their clients. One important detail is the ever-changing refurbishment list. Disney is always having to update their attractions and resorts. They regularly post a list for travel agents to pass along to their clients.
There’s nothing worse than booking a vacation online only to find out that the pool at your resort or your favorite attraction is closed for refurbishment throughout your stay. Booking with an agent can prevent things like this from happening.
2. Knowledge of Disney Parks & Resorts
A knowledgeable agent can help you pick the perfect resort for your family and help you stay within your budget. With over 25 on-site resort hotels to choose from, it can be a little overwhelming trying to pick the best one.
Dreaming of a stay at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa but afraid it’s out of your price range? If your travel dates are flexible, a good agent can assist in helping you find the lowest rates possible to make your Disney dreams come true.
Did you know that you can book a Walt Disney World package with just a $200 deposit? Knowledgeable agents will know all the tips and tricks on how you can budget and afford the Disney vacation of your dreams. Learn more about how you can finance your Disney vacation in Secrets to Affording a Disney Vacation.
3. Save Time – Disney Planning is Complicated
Who knew that planning a vacation could be so difficult? There are so many working parts to a Walt Disney World vacation. Once you narrow down your travel dates and resort hotel, then you have to decide on the more difficult steps.
How many days do I need in the parks? Which parks are age appropriate for my children? Do I really need a park hopper ticket? Do we want to add a dining plan to our package? If so, which one – there are three (3) to choose from.
You can read books, blogs and ask all of your friends what they recommend and chances are you will get a different opinion from each one. Yep, everyone has their own opinion about the “right” way to do Disney. You have to decide what is right for you and your family.
This is where the knowledge of an expert is beneficial. A good Disney Travel Agent will give you the pros and cons to all of the different package components and allow you to decide what works best for you and your family.
4. Save Money – Yes, Seriously
One common misconception is that booking a Disney vacation through a travel agent is more expensive than booking direct. This is simply incorrect. The price you pay for a Disney vacation package, regardless of where it is booked, is the same across the board.
However, booking your vacation with a Disney travel agent can at times save you money. Here’s how.
Disney often releases highly sought after travel discounts throughout the year. The most popular discount is always the Free Dining offer that has been typically offered for guests traveling during the months of August, September, November and December. Other discounts offered throughout the year include Room Only discounts (up to 25% off) as well as the Play, Stay, Dine & Save discount offered in the Spring.
If you book your package before the discount is released, you can still take advantage of the deal. If applicable, your travel agent will apply the discount to your package as soon as the promotion is released. You do not have to do anything.
There’s no need to search the blogs or Disney’s site for discount offers, as your agent will monitor this for you. You do not have to call Disney to apply the promotion when it is released; your agent will do this for you. Sometimes this process can take hours on the phone. Hours that your agent is on hold instead of YOU.
5. Premium Concierge Services
A lot of Disney Travel Agents do not charge any fees for their services. There are some, however, that charge planning/concierge fees for itinerary planning. If the travel agent is going to charge a fee it should be advertised on their website. If you are uncertain, always ask before booking.
The possibilities are endless, depending on the travel agent you choose. Each agent has different specialties to offer. Some other common benefits to using a travel agent in the Disney vacation planning process include:
- Free travel quotes
- Detailed Dining Plan explanations
- Assistance in choosing a package
- Park navigation assistance
- Character location
- Insider tips and tricks
- Magical Express Scheduling
- Airport Transfer Booking (Limousine or towncars)
- Stroller / Scooter rentals
- Grocery delivery orders
- Scheduling Childcare at Pixar Play Zone/babysitting services
- Assistance with Birthday/Anniversary Celebrations
- Booking Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique/Pirates League/Specialty Cruises
- VIP Tour Scheduling
- Scheduling Golf tee times
- Scheduling Spa Treatments
- Assistance with runDisney (some agents specialize in this area of travel)
6. Dining Reservation Assistance
ADRs – also known as Advanced Dining Reservations – are one of the most important details to Disney vacation planning for anyone looking for character dining experiences. Dining reservations open 180 days in advance. This means it is always best to start planning your vacation at least 7 months in advance. You need time to research the different restaurants, as well as the details on the different Disney Dining Plans and their credits (this can be confusing).
A good travel agent will be able to assist you with all of this. Most Disney travel agents will also book your dining reservations for you. If this is something you prefer to do on your own, you will certainly be able to. Simply tell your agent you would like to handle this planning on your own.
7. FastPass+ Assistance
Disney travel agents will explain the FastPass+ process and many will offer to book them for you. FastPass+ reservations are available to book online through your My Disney Experience account 60 days in advance for guests staying in Walt Disney World resort hotels and 30 days in advance for guests staying offsite.
The FastPass+ system can be confusing as there is a tiered system in Epcot, Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. For more details on how the FastPass+ system works, read The Ultimate Guide to FastPass+ at Walt Disney World.
8. One Point of Contact Throughout the Planning Process
When you book your vacation with a Disney travel agent, that agent will be your main contact throughout the planning process. You will go to your agent with all of your questions and concerns. Your agent will then work with Disney on all the details. You will not need to contact Disney for anything.
If you book your reservations directly through Disney, you will speak with a different agent (Cast Member) each time you call. You will not have the personal relationship you develop when you work directly with one travel agent. There’s no need to explain something more than once when you have just one point of contact.
9. Emergency Contact During Travel
No one wants to think about an emergency occurring during their vacation. Unfortunately these things happen. When you book your vacation with a travel agent, you have someone on stand-by throughout your travels. All you have to do is pick up the phone, call your agent and they start working behind the scenes to assist on your behalf. If you book your vacation through discount outlets such as Costco I can assure you they won’t be there to pick up the phone and help in the event of an emergency.
Already Booked and Need Assistance?
Have you already booked your Walt Disney World vacation and realize you are overwhelmed? Many Disney travel agents will offer concierge planning services for a fee. If it has been less than 30 days since you made your reservations you can fill out a form with Disney and have your reservation transferred to an agent.
Looking to travel to other Disney Destinations such as Disneyland, Aulani, Disney Cruise Line or Adventures by Disney? Using a travel agent for these destinations is always a good idea too.