Most people make vacation plans all on their own, with just help from their families. They decide where they’re going, when they’re going, how much they’re spending, etc. While that’s fine when it’s a family vacation to the beach to sit around and do nothing, things can get much trickier when you decide on a destination vacation, such as Walt Disney World or any other major theme park. The mere thought of planning a Disney vacation can make even the most travel savvy person curl up into a ball and cry. Trust me, I know. I’ve been there. My first trip to Walt Disney World was supposed to be a surprise for my brother and I and, as such, my parents (mainly my mother) did all of the planning on her own. We didn’t know much about Walt Disney World (my parents hadn’t been since before EPCOT opened), and once we found out we were too deliriously happy to really think much about the planning that it would involve. We just decided to wing it and see and do whatever we could. The week that we were there was the last week of the Main Street Electrical Parade (one of my favorite parades of all time) and it was also Spring Break for much of the country. Luckily the crowds were a bit on the smaller side due to the weather (it rained extremely hard one day and was miserably cold). Little did I know that this trip would cement my love of Disney for the rest of my life.
Fast forward several years, and now I’m “living the dream” by living in Orlando. I spend a lot of time at all of the parks, including Universal and Sea World. With each passing day I realize how much we missed on that first trip simply because we weren’t prepared. It is in this spirit that I became a travel agent specializing in Disney vacations. In doing so, I learned how I can personally help people get the most out of their Disney vacations, all while educating them at the same time. So here I share my top 5 reasons for using a travel agent/vacation planner that specializes in Disney. These are in no particular order (except the last and best one), and I’ll hope they help you realize how much you have to gain with this advice.
Number 1: They do as much (or as little) of the planning as you need.
Disney-centric travel agents spend a lot of time getting to know their products. We all have to go through a program known as the “College of Disney Knowledge”. This program is designed by Disney to familiarize travel agents with every aspect of the Walt Disney Travel Company, from the parks to the cruise line, Adventures by Disney, and even Aulani, the Disney resort & spa in Hawaii. Agents have access to a special website exclusively for travel agents with up-to-the-minute updates from everything in the Disney travel family. We regularly get e-mails from Disney telling us whenever they launch a new feature at one of their destinations. And agents regularly visit these amazing destinations, each time focusing on new things that they can help their clients with. We plan everything, from fastpass+ reservations, to dining reservations, and even those hard to get photo opportunities. Leave the planning to us, and you won’t have to worry about a thing, except being where you need to be – with your family.
Number 2: They stay connected with you from start to finish.
When you book a vacation through a big name travel agency such as AAA, you get great customer service…when you book. However, once you’ve booked your vacation, you’re on your own and for the most part don’t hear from that agent again (unless they’re trying to sell you something else). However, when you book with an independent agent that specializes in Disney, you get a world-class “bedside manner” type of relationship with your agent. We go above and beyond throughout every process of your vacation, from the initial inquiry all the way through your return home (as a matter of fact, 99% of us will continue to communicate with you just to make sure everything was as magical as you hoped). There’s nothing that makes us happier than to receive a letter or e-mail from a client stating that their vacation was more than they ever could have dreamed of. That’s our job. We are “magic makers”, which is why so few of us have a traditional “travel agent” name (for instance, I’m a Dream Designer. I’ve heard other agencies use similar and unique terms, but very rarely do I hear travel agent as a title).
Number 3: World Class Concierge Service.
Each agency is different, but they all offer one very similar service: World Class Concierge Service. What this means is that your agent is there with you every step of the way, anticipating your needs and making everything possible happen for your vacation. Like I said before, these agents are very knowledgeable in the destinations they represent, and nothing gives us greater pleasure to talk to a client that thought they couldn’t get a certain fastpass or dining reservation, only to see it magically appear before their eyes. From welcome letters in your guest room, to a special “Happy Birthday” wake-up call from Mickey Mouse himself, agents will go above and beyond for their clients. I can only speak for myself here, but I imagine this same sentiment applies to all fellow agents: I give each client vacation a level of service even higher than I would expect on my vacation. These are not simply client’s vacations; these are my friends’ vacations. I want them to feel my personal touches everywhere they look. I want them to realize the extra level of service they can only find with an agent that specializes in Disney. I want them to enjoy that world class concierge service.
Number 4: You’ve got questions, I’ve got answers.
It thrills me to be so knowledgeable about Disney, because it helps me to be a better agent. If you’ve got a question about something, ask away. Chances are I know the answer to the question. However, if I don’t, I’ll make sure to get it. AND I will always verify it before I answer you, to make sure it is the most correct answer. You have a 4 year old that loves dinosaurs, but is afraid of the dark? I’ve got the perfect place for you to take him: an incredible pre-historic dino-dig located in Dinoland USA in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. He’ll have loads of fun on a humongous playground complete with dinosaur fossils hidden throughout the area for him to find. And it’s a great place for mom and dad to sit down and breathe for a minute during the hectic day. Want to know what the best restaurant is for a picky eater that loves Mickey? Absolutely. Try Chef Mickey’s Character Breakfast at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. This amazing all-you-can-eat buffet is full of tantalizing food choices and chock full of characters, including Chef Mickey himself. Want to know what time the 3 o’clock parade is? (Don’t laugh, this is one of the most asked questions to Magic Kingdom cast members every single day) It is at 3:00pm daily, weather permitting (it may be delayed or changed to the Rainy Day Cavalcade due to weather – or on rare occasions cancelled completely). Be sure to check your guidemaps for viewing locations. I’m also fantastic at making recommendations, since I spent so much time in the parks. You can tell me a ride at another theme park that your children loved and I’ll find a similar ride at Disney. Love a particular place but want to visit it with a Disney twist? I can find a Disney Cruise Line or Adventures by Disney itinerary that’s similar or in the same location.
Number 5: We’re always watching.
Cue the creepy music. Actually, I’m referring to price watching. We are always on the look-out for new and exciting offers that will help save you money during your trip. For instance, free dining from Walt Disney World. This offer pops up once or twice a year and is always a hotly discussed discount. Agents usually find out just a few days before (sometimes we don’t even know until the day before) that Disney is releasing it’s free dining for certain packages and certain dates. At 6am on the day the promotion starts, thousands of agents from around the world sit on hold for HOURS on end to switch their clients’ reservations over to reflect the free dining discount. Some of us will actually go online and run the same quote with free dining that we currently have, to see if it does actually save the client money. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. If it does, we’ll call and get everything changed over for the client and then call them and tell them the wonderful news that we just saved them $300 on their vacation (or whatever the actual savings are). If you book directly through Disney or through a major travel agency like AAA, you’re stuck with your reservation the way that it is. This is again just another small service we offer to make sure our clients get the best vacation at the best deal possible. We actually enjoy spending hours on the phone waiting, just to save you money! Why? Because we’d want the same thing done for us if we were traveling.
BONUS #6: This tip is the best of all. ALL OF MY SERVICES ARE 100% FREE!!!!!
Yes, you heard that right. My world-class concierge services are 100% FREE. Every destination I sell has a commission already built into their rates, regardless if you book online or through an agent. If you book through Disney’s website, they get the commission. If you book through me, I get it. BUT, you still pay the same price as if you’d went through Disney. The real difference between booking through them and booking through an agent like me is the level of service after the sale you receive: that world-class concierge service. I’m not happy until you’re happy. One of the most unique things about this service is the way in which agents get paid. We don’t get our commission payments until after you have traveled. This allows us to really focus on making sure that you have the best vacation possible. We really do earn our keep, as my father would say. I genuinely feel like I’ve failed if a guest doesn’t book with me again, because it means that I didn’t provide that amazing level of service. More than anything, I cherish the handwritten notes I receive from my clients, thanking me for my service and professionalism. When you initially contact me for a quote, you may be a stranger, but by the time you return from your trip, you’re part of my family. And you can count on that level of service every time you book with a vacation planner like me.
Joshua Snyder is an avid Disney fanatic. He recently moved back to Indiana after spending 2 years living his dream in Orlando, FL. When Josh isn’t dreaming about the parks, he’s helping people plan their dream vacations. As a Dream Designer with My Mickey Vacation, Josh loves helping people make their Disney dreams come true. He is also the senior writer and head of the writing team at Living The Dream Podcast. Josh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for travel agent inquiries, or at email@example.com for all other inquiries.