Should I use a Travel Agent or Book My Disney World Trip Myself?

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Should I use a Travel Agent to book my Disney World trip?

This question gets asked in my facebook group a lot, and a long thread of opposing viewpoints always results! There’s the “do-it-yourself” camp and the “we love our travel agents” camp. What you choose will depend on you. You have two choices:

  1. Book the trip yourself through Disney World (using the website or by phone)
  2. Use a Travel Agent to book for you.

The actual process of booking a trip yourself is very easy, and so is booking thru a travel agent. Yet there are some pros and cons to consider. I’ll talk about those below.

First, here’s what to know if you decide to use a travel agent to book Disney:

TIP: Make sure they’ve been to Disney World many times themselves. It doesn’t matter what agency they’re with, or what certification they have. You’ll want someone who has really explored Disney World themselves. Otherwise, in my opinion, you may as well do it yourself.
TIP: If you have any special needs or extra challenges, there are Travel Agents out there who know Disney well and specialize in supporting people with those needs. I’d recommend using one of them if you decide to use a Travel Agent. You can always ask in our facebook group, where we have at least a few of them hanging out. 
TIP: Make sure they’ll be easily and consistently accessible to you, should you have a need. 

The Pros & Cons of Using a Travel Agent for Your Disney World Trip

Remember that this isn’t black and white. It’s a personal choice, and you can also do a combination. For example, you can use an agent to book your room, tickets and dining plan, and then book your own Fastpasses and dining.

Pros of Using a Travel Agent: 

check-mark-box-speaker-conference-convention-Orlando-Video-ProductionTheir services are free.

They’re given a commission from Disney, but it doesn’t increase your price at all. It comes out of Disney’s profit.

check-mark-box-speaker-conference-convention-Orlando-Video-ProductionThey may be able to save you time.

If they’re knowledgeable, rather than spending time researching and booking yourself, they can make recommendations based on your interests, budget, etc. They can then take the time to book for you. Some agents will also make your dining reservations as well as your Fastpasses. Taken together, all these things can save you a great deal of time.

check-mark-box-speaker-conference-convention-Orlando-Video-ProductionTravel Agents may watch for discounts for you. 

Periodically Disney releases discounted rates, which you can get yourself if you keep checking for it. However, any good Disney focused travel agent will know about these discounts when they’re released. They can contact Disney and see if they can get you that discount for your travel dates.

By the way, getting the discount is not always a sure thing. It will depend on your travel dates, your resort, and whether or not there are any of the special rates available there and then by the time your agent gets to it. I’ve personally gotten a discounted rate applied for most of my trips, but not all.

check-mark-box-speaker-conference-convention-Orlando-Video-Production

If you have a problem, you have someone to go to for advice and support.

They may be able to make some calls and help out, or at least they can give you advice.

Having been to Disney more times than I can count, I’m not sure that problems would arise very often, but personally I can think of one situation where it may have been nice to have someone to call. Many years ago we arrived at Pop Century Resort. It was our first time staying on Disney World property. On the day we arrived we had problems with luggage service and with our room. This was just before they had renovated the resort and our room was very sub par. Ultimately we went to the front desk and complained, and they upgraded us to the Contemporary Resort! So it worked out well, however I could see how having someone to talk to for advice or support would have helped us that day.

check-mark-box-speaker-conference-convention-Orlando-Video-ProductionA good agent keeps your profile and knows your preferences.

Then whenever you travel, they’ll be able to keep your unique likes and dislikes in mind. The better your agent knows you, the easier it becomes to book successful trips.

Cons of Using a Travel Agent: 

⇒ You lose control over your reservation.

If a travel agent makes the resort reservations for you, they own the booking. Now the only way you can make a change is if they do it for you. You will not be able to call Disney yourself for any changes. You’re relying on someone else to make changes, and that could be very good or very bad.

If your travel agent is easily accessible, and very willing to be consistently helpful throughout the process, that won’t be a problem. However if they’re difficult to get in touch with, and not quick to make your changes, frustration could ensue.

If you make your own reservations, you have control. Remember though, that booking a trip to Disney yourself requires some knowledge. Planning a Disney World trip is unique – It’s a different “world” there. If you’re going to book it yourself, you’ll need to spend some time gathering information. You’ll want to learn about the Disney resorts, the Dining Plan, tickets, etc. There’s so much information out there that this won’t be hard. It will just take time. You can study this website, visit others, buy a book, and join facebook groups where you can ask unlimited questions.

⇒ You may be making decisions based on one person’s opinions.

If you’re deciding on things like which resort you’ll stay in based on your travel agent’s recommendations alone, that could be a problem. Here’s my cautionary tale: When I booked my honeymoon through a travel agent (many years ago), she highly recommended a particular hotel that her daughter stayed in. It was an epic fail, and basically ruined our honeymoon. We were choosing based on one person’s opinion.

If you take the time to research throughout the web, on social media, through guidebooks, and through review sites like tripadvisor.com you can get the input, experiences and opinions of many people to help you make your decisions. Of course you can still do the research and use the travel agent to book your trip for you, but I’d advise against taking the recommendation of only one person.

⇒ For scheduling Fastpass+, you may be better off making them on your own.

This is for two reasons:

  • First, if you’re staying at a Disney resort you can make Fastpass+ reservations starting at 7 am, 60 days prior to your trip. Some Fastpass+ reservations go very quickly, and to get them you’ll need to be online right at 7 am that day they first become available. Some travel agents will get up at 7 am to schedule them for you so that you don’t have to. That’s a great convenience. However many travel agents don’t make Fastpass+ reservations for their clients, but of those who do, many of them will do it during their normal work hours. You’re less likely to get 100% of what you want.
  • Second, whoever is scheduling your Fastpass+ reservations will be making on the spot decisions. For example if they can’t get the Fastpass+ you want in Epcot on the day you planned to visit that park, they have choices. They can either change your schedule and have you visit Epcot on a different day, or they can choose another attraction instead. Some people want the ability to make these decisions themselves. The same is true of dining reservations.

If none of the above is important to you, then you may want to have your travel agent schedule your Fastpass+ reservations for you.

⇒ Ultimately, doing it yourself allows you freedom to make your own plans and changes.

A Disney trip has so many elements that you may want to have the freedom to go online or make a call and change things. As we discussed in the “Pros” section, there may be a need to make choices while you’re booking.

Are you a person who likes to take control of your plans? Do you enjoy doing things yourself? Are you willing to spend time learning about Disney? If  you said yes to these questions, you definitely can and should plan your Disney trip on your own.

Do you have some opinions about whether to use a Travel Agent or not? Please share your tips, as well as your good and bad experiences below in the comment section.

Please feel free to post them in a comment below. We’d love your input.

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About Author

I'm Stephen Ashley. My wife and I are huge fans of Disney World. I'm the author of Walt Disney World With Disabilities. I also wrote a book called Walt Disney World Made Easy for Everyone, but rather than have it published, at this point we've decided to place all the material from the manuscript on this website so everyone can have access to it! I hope you enjoy it, and I hope it makes your day just a little bit brighter and easier.

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