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:
- Book the trip yourself through Disney World (using the website or by phone)
- 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 many times themselves.
It doesn’t matter what agency they’re with, or what certification they have. Even if they’re in a “Disney Platinum EarMarked” Agency, that doesn’t mean they have first-hand knowledge of Disney. You’ll want someone who has really explored Disney World themselves.
Disney is huge and complicated, and if they haven’t been there many, many times, and spent a lot of time and effort learning about Disney, find someone else. Even if a travel agent has passed the Disney College of Knowledge, it’s not nearly enough in my opinion.
TIP: If you have any special needs, extra challenges or disabilities, find a Travel Agent who knows Disney well and specializes in supporting people with those needs.
You can always check in our facebook group, where we have at least a few of them hanging out. View the file section where you’ll find a Travel Agent document where our members who are travel agents can post about themselves.
TIP: Make sure they’ll be easily and consistently accessible to you, should you have a need.
Some travel agents are easily accessible, and can be reached by text, email and phone. Others restrict the way you can contact them. We also hear from people who can’t get a ahold of their travel agent after booking, even when it’s time for their payments to be made to Disney.
Tip: Some travel agents make Fastpass and Advanced Dining Reservations for their clients, and some don’t.
If you want them to do any of the above for you, make sure they do that for their clients on a regular basis. Also make sure they’re willing to to do it at the first possible time and date that those things are available to you. If they won’t, then you’re less likely to get your first choice picks.
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:
They’re given a commission from Disney, but it doesn’t increase your price at all. It comes out of Disney’s profit.
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.
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.
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.
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 certain elements of 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 to things like the date, resort or room type 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.
This does not include some things like Fastpass+ or Advance Dining Reservations, which you could still make or change yourself without your travel agent. You can also link your tickets with other people’s tickets.
If your travel agent is easily accessible, and very willing to be consistently helpful throughout the process, the loss of control 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.
⇒ 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.
Regardless of whether you book with an agent or by yourself, you can still schedule your own Fastpass+ reservations.
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.
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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