Planning a trip to Disney World can be stressful, especially if you’ve never visited Orlando before. And between buying tickets and researching hotels, it’s certainly worth weighing all of the pros and cons of using a Disney World travel agent.
Well today, we will explore this exact question, as we’ll examine all of the advantages and disadvantages the average person will encounter when using a Disney Travel agent, and help you figure out if they are truly worth your money—or if you’re better off booking everything by yourself.
Pros and Cons of Using a Disney Travel Agent
Let’s begin with the basics—how do you go about selecting a Disney travel agent (or agency) in the first place?
Choosing A Disney World Travel Agent
Any travel agency can help you book Walt Disney World accommodations and park tickets. However, if you want the best Disney experience, you’re of course going to want to find the best Disney World travel agents.
In this case, you should find an agent who is an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner (also known as an “Earmarked” Disney Vacation Planner). This can be done as easily as searching for one online.
Authorized Disney planners are travel agents who specialize in Disney theme park vacations, as well as Disney cruises. They must participate in the “Disney College of Knowledge” program to learn all there is to know about Disney resort policies, procedures, and pricing. They’ll know more about Disney World vacation planning than the average travel agent, and can offer personalized guidance based on the activities your group enjoys the most.
Before choosing an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, it’s a good idea to look at their online reviews. Also, have a list of any questions ready to discuss with your chosen vacation planner, so you’ll have a good idea of how much they can assist you.
Benefits of Using a Disney Travel Agent
Let’s begin with the first benefit or “pro,” which revolves around the very important topic of reducing your stress.
Reducing Your Vacation Planning Stress
Making plans to visit Walt Disney World can be complicated. Between choosing accommodations for your group, making park reservations and choosing the right type of tickets, trying to get dinner reservations, and figuring out the Genie+ system, all that planning can seem mentally exhausting.
If you want to book your vacation yourself, most of it can be done on the Walt Disney World website. There is a lot of information on their site, but it can be a little overwhelming. It can take some time to read through a lot of vacation options that you don’t want, before finding the options you do want.
Instead of hunting through the website to find everything you want to do, you can tell your vacation planner your preferences, and they will do the legwork for you. They might even make suggestions for activities you didn’t know about. Be sure to give the names of everyone in your travel party (even children) to the travel planner, so they can make sure all your park reservations and tickets are linked.
A travel agent can help you decide if you want to use the Park Hopper option or buy tickets for any after-hours special events that might be happening during your stay. They can also take care of booking any special tours that are offered, such as the popular “Keys To The Kingdom” tour at Magic Kingdom. Don’t forget about Walt Disney World’s excellent water parks! Your travel planner can book your tickets for Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon, too.
Other benefits that a travel agent might help with include booking a flight, arranging transportation to and from the airport, and finding information on stroller or wheelchair rentals.
Knowledge of the Best Accommodations
An Authorized Disney Vacation Planner should be able to make recommendations on the best hotel to fit your budget and group size. They’ll have the best information on hotels amenities to make sure you’ll find a place that best meets your needs.
If you need special accommodations, such as ground floor rooms or accessible rooms, a travel planner can communicate directly to the hotels with your requests. If staying at a hotel with a table-service restaurant is important to you, or if Disney-themed decor in your room is important to you, your agent should be able to help you find the perfect place.
Working with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner is especially useful if you’ll be traveling with a large group. Making resort reservations for multi-family groups or school trips can be a challenge! It’s not impossible to do it yourself, but it will probably mean spending a great deal of time on the phone with Walt Disney World. Disney’s Authorized Vacation Planners have the expertise to make sure your group will be ready to have fun as soon as they arrive.
Help Plan Your Dining Reservations
Many of the restaurants in the theme parks, with the exception of “quick service” restaurants, will require advance dining reservations. If you’re staying on the Disney property, you can make your dining reservations online or through the My Disney Experience app once you are 60 days from your check-in date.
Although this sounds fairly simple, it can take up more time than you might realize. It might be easier, especially if you want dining reservations for a large group, to have your Travel Planner handle this for you. It would be a good idea to give the Planner a list with several choices of your preferred restaurants and meal times.
Once your reservations are confirmed, they should show up on the My Disney Experience app along with your park admission and tickets. In fact, anything your Disney Travel Planner arranges for you can be viewed on the app.
In short, when you’re seeking the best places to eat at Epcot for dinner, or you desire a tasty breakfast at Magic Kingdom the next morning, you’ll likely sleep a lot easier knowing someone with more knowledge and experience planned out your day ahead of time.
Help Save You Money
An Authorized Disney Vacation Planner doesn’t have access to any discounts that aren’t available to the general public. However, when Walt Disney World does offer special rates on hotels or vacation packages, your Travel Planner will be one of the first to know about it.
Disney does offer special deals periodically with little notice, so you might miss an opportunity to save money, but your Vacation Planner will know about it right away. For instance, if there is a special rate suddenly available for a comparable hotel to the one where you have reservations, your Vacation Planner could call and ask if you’d like to switch hotels to the one with the better rate.
Enjoy Less Known Disney Experiences
There are so many more options than just theme parks on a Walt Disney World vacation! Experiences known as “Enchanting Extras,” for example, add an extra bit of magic to your vacation. Sadly, they are yet another thing you’ll need to plan ahead for.
Thankfully, your Authorized Vacation Planner can help with most of these experiences.
For example, you might want to book a tee time at one of several golf courses at Walt Disney World if you need a break from the theme parks. Or, if a bit of luxury self-care is something you need, your Planner can make an appointment at one of the resort spas for you. Whatever extra bit of Disney magic you’d like to enjoy, your Vacation Planner can help make it happen for you.
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Cons of Using a Disney World Travel Agent
While I don’t think that there are any overwhelming “cons” or disadvantages to using a Disney World travel agent, there are a few things that I think are worth being aware of before you hire any individual or travel agency.
You Have Less Control Over Your Trip
For some people, making all the reservations, and scheduling dining reservations, is actually part of the fun of the whole vacation prep experience. It can build excitement for your upcoming trip. It can also be fun to review everything on the Walt Disney World website as a family activity; kids love to feel like they’re included in the planning. If you’re the type who enjoys making plans and organizing, using the services of a Disney Authorized Vacation Planner might not be for you.
Using a Vacation Planner means relinquishing a little bit of control over your plans. Any changes to your itinerary will have to be made by calling your travel agent, not by contacting Disney directly. This means that, if for some reason, you need to cancel a dining reservation or change park admission reservations, you have to call your Vacation Planner to do it. If any original plans were made by a travel agent, Disney won’t accept modifications to those plans unless the travel agent does them.
If you are already on your vacation and need to make some “last minute” changes to your plans, you’ll still need to do so through your agent. You should feel confident you will be able to reach your Vacation Planner, and that they will respond quickly, so discuss this with your Planner to see if it will be something you’re comfortable with.
At the end of the day, you are the one that hires the travel agent. So, to that end, I suppose one could argue that you still have ultimate power. But, just like when you hire any professional (like a financial advisor, for example), you’re naturally going to cede some control in order for the hired professional to do their job.
So if you’re a person that relishes that control, and perhaps dislikes having a bit less flexibility in making alterations to your vacation plans on the fly, then you might want to go the route of booking your Disney vacation all by yourself.
You May Find Cheaper Accommodations Yourself
Disney Vacation Planners are limited to only booking Disney property hotels and “Good Neighbor” hotels as part of a Disney vacation package. Staying at one of the Disney hotels is fun and definitely adds some “magic” to your vacation, but if you’re vacationing on a budget, you might be able to find a hotel or vacation rental home nearby for less money.
Vacation rental homes can be a more affordable option for multiple families traveling together. If you are a member of any rewards programs for individual hotel chains, using rewards points could save you a considerable amount at an off-property location.
Your travel agent might be able to help you book offsite accommodations, but they also might charge a fee for this service. Also keep in mind that if you stay off Disney property, you’ll need a vehicle to drive to and from the parks.
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Not All Travel Agents Are Created Equal
While it is unusual to have a very bad customer experience with anyone related to the Disney industry, some Vacation Planners will give you better service than others. Some have more flexible time to devote to your needs, while others may only be reachable within established work hours.
Before trusting any travel agent to help with your vacation, spend a little time finding out if they’re going to be as available as you need them to be. Ask any travel agent or vacation planner how many times they’ve visited Walt Disney World, and how recently they’ve visited. Also, ask them how easily they can be reached in case plans need to be modified or if any last-minute travel problems occur. Check online reviews to see what other travelers have said, as well.
It really can’t be overstated that if you want to hire a travel agent, you should use an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner for your Walt Disney World trip. An Authorized Disney Vacation Planner shouldn’t charge you a fee for their regular services. They are paid a commission from Walt Disney World, based on the bookings they make for you. The Authorized Planners have experience and knowledge of Disney vacations that is unparalleled. That being said, you should always do a little research before booking with any planner.
Are Disney World Travel Agents Worth It?
We’ve described just a few of the pros and cons of using a Disney World travel agent, and hopefully you’ve found this analysis to be helpful. The decision to use a Disney World travel agent depends entirely on your own preferences, but I do have some additional thoughts here.
If you are the type of person who feels making travel plans is part of the thrill of your upcoming vacation, or if you just prefer to have total control of your own plans, you probably won’t want to use a travel agent. Or maybe you will want to have a Vacation Planner handle some of your plans, while you continue to take care of your dining reservations yourself or your ticket purchases or resort accommodations yourself. Give consideration to how comfortable you will be with trusting someone else to plan your family’s vacation.
However, if planning and scheduling seem like a tiresome chore to you, using a Vacation Planner is probably the best choice you can make. A Disney World Vacation Planner is definitely beneficial for planning large group vacations.Save yourself some stress and let a professional do all of those tedious tasks for you! You can communicate to your agent about your priorities and preferences, then let them spend the time making the magic happen.
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