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?
Benefits of Using a Disney 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 specialized Disney travel agent can make all the difference in the world.
Finding A Disney Travel Agent
Any travel agent can book Disney Destination packages. Always make sure you find a travel agent who specializes in Disney vacations, as these are the ones who will have the most knowledge on all of the deadlines and can best answer your questions. 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 Vacation.com. You can select your state and search for an agent closest to your area.
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? Always, always do your research.
- Talk to your friends. Find out who they used for their trip.
- Research different Disney blogs. There are thousands to choose from.
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. The benefits you will receive as opposed to planning on your own are priceless.
Personalized Planning Services
When you book your vacation with a Disney travel agent, he will be your main contact throughout the planning process. You will go to him 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.
If you do book with a travel agent, you will not be able to discuss your resort reservation with Disney once it has been booked. All communications will be handled between the agent and Disney. While some may find this to be frustrating, others are relieved to know they never have to sit on the phone for hours (yes, hours) waiting to make changes or ask questions regarding their resort reservation. You can always access your reservation details through My Disney Experience, which allows you to book, edit and change dining and FastPass+ reservations. You simply will not have access to make changes to your actual resort reservation.
Knowledge of Disney Parks and Package Components
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 became an certified 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. Something else of importance are the benefits offered by the First Aid Stations and Baby Care Centers. This information can be extremely helpful when planning your vacation. Most travel agents will share these details and many more with their clients.
Promotion & Discount Monitoring
Booking your vacation with a Disney travel agent can actually save you money. Disney often releases highly sought after travel discounts. The most popular discount is always the Free Dining offer that has been typically offered for guests traveling during the months of 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, a Disney Travel Agent will apply the discount to your package. Sometimes this process can take hours on the phone. Hours that your agent is on hold instead of YOU.
TravelingMom Tip: Disney’s prices are universal across the board. The price you pay for a Disney vacation package if you book through a travel agent is the same price you will pay if you book directly through Disney.
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 you should start planning your vacation at least 7 months in advance. You need time to research the different restaurants, the details on the different Disney Dining Plans and their credits (this can be confusing), and the refurbishment list to make sure the restaurants are all scheduled to be open.
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.
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 My Disney Experience 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 and Hollywood Studios.
Other Possible Benefits
The possibilities are endless depending on the Disney travel agent you choose. Each agent has different specialities 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
- Airport Transfer Booking (Limousine or towncars)
- Stroller / Scooter rentals
- Grocery delivery orders
- Scheduling Childcare/babysitting services
- Assistance with Birthday/Anniversary Celebrations
- Booking Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique/Pirates League/Specialty Cruises
- Scheduling Golf tee times
- Scheduling Spa Treatments
- Assistance with runDisney (some agents specialize in this area of travel)
- Access throughout your trip for assistance
TravelingMom Tip: Most 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.
Have you already booked your vacation and realize you are overwhelmed? Many Disney travel agents will offer concierge planning services for a fee. Looking to travel to other Disney Destinations such as Disneyland, Aulani, Disney Cruise Line or Adventures by Disney? Most Disney travel agents specialize in these destinations also.