Should you use a Disney travel agent?

by Shannon Albert · 23 comments · Like the Facebook page

(Article last updated: July 28, 2014)

Should you use a Disney travel agent? from WDWPrepSchool.comAlthough general travel agents aren’t needed as much anymore, destination-specific agents are still invaluable since they provide such detailed guidance on a specific place.

Unless people are willing to spend a lot of time reading and researching (like on this site!), I usually recommend they use a Disney World-focused agent (also called “Authorized Disney Vacation Planner”).

However, there are pros and cons to using a travel agent. Here’s my list to help you evaluate if using a travel agent is right for you.

Pros

Knowledge
This seems obvious, right? But when it comes to Disney World (the place that requires more research than any other destination), it can be a huge time and stress savings to rely on an expert to help advise you on your trip plans.

Free to you
It doesn’t cost you any extra to book through an agent vs. booking straight through Disney. Disney pays commission to the agency that books you but at no cost to you.

Saves you money
Not only does it not cost you anything to use an agent, it can actually save you money because agents are aware of all new discount codes and will apply them to your reservation as they become available.

Dining, FastPass+ and other reservations booked for you
Many of the super hard-to-get dining reservations require being online or on the phone at the crack of dawn 180 days in advance of your trip. Disney travel agents will make these reservations for you, allowing you to relax and sleep in. They will also make all of your FastPass+ reservations for your trip and special bookings such as Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique as well.

Cons

Relinquishing control
Control freaks may not be comfortable relying on somebody else to book their trip. You really have to have a lot of trust that the agent will be diligent about making your dining reservations and staying on top of discounts.

Changes must go through the agent
If you want to make changes to your reservation that was booked through an agent, you have to go through the agent to make those changes. You won’t be able to call Disney to make modifications.

Options are restricted
Disney agents use Disney’s systems to book your travel. That eliminates some options that might make more sense for your family – things like renting DVC points.

A word of caution

If you spend an hour reading this site, you’ll know more about Disney World than a general travel agent. Many people use AAA to book their travel because of some extra perks offered to members, but you need to know what you’re talking about to do that. You’re basically just booking through them for the discounts, not for their knowledge.

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If you decide to go with an agent, the one I trust the most is named Cheryl Koren. You can fill out the quote form in the right sidebar of the site or on the Get a Quote page and it’ll go right to her.



Should you use a Disney travel agent? from WDWPrepSchool.comShould you use a Disney travel agent? from WDWPrepSchool.comShould you use a Disney travel agent? from WDWPrepSchool.comShould you use a Disney travel agent? from WDWPrepSchool.com
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{ 23 comments (add yours) }

Amelia June 25, 2014 at 8:08 am

I’ve already booked rooms, but nothing else. Can the travel agent still help us out?

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Shannon Albert June 25, 2014 at 11:17 am

You’ll have to transfer your reservation to her but she can still help you.

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zahurulislam June 4, 2014 at 3:02 am

Aside from dining reservations, agents will also make your reservations for special tours, things like Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and Magical Express.

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Amanda May 28, 2014 at 7:21 pm

Has anyone heard of Destinations in Florida…says it is an authorized Disney planner but, want to make sure before I hand over money/ credit card info

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Robin March 7, 2014 at 10:54 am

Hi. I’m just starting to plan a Disney vacation for April 2015 for 8 adults and 4 children. Do authorized Disney Vacation Planners also book air travel?

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Shannon Albert March 7, 2014 at 1:55 pm

Yes, they can book flights as long as you’re booking other things (like a hotel room) as well.

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Natasha February 26, 2014 at 12:12 pm

So I am looking to do a Disney trip for about 10 people. I believe an agent will be my best bet. I need to get some advise on this please!!!!!!!

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Stephanie Madrigal January 26, 2014 at 11:41 am

Cameron, I love that you made a PowerPoint! The summer is a great time to visit Walt Disney World because historically Disney offers special promotions (free dining, discount on resort, etc…). Nothing is guaranteed, but it has been the case for the last several years :)

To persuade you mother, I would first find out what her apprehensions are. If finances are holding you back, Disney has recently launced “Disney Vacation Account.com”, which enables you to save up a little at a time for a future trip to Disney.

I’d be happy to talk with her as well!

Disney is contagious, so she’ll instantly realize why you love it so much when she sees that “Walt Disney World” sign!

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Cameron January 4, 2014 at 8:34 pm

Hi! I just read this amazing article as I am trying to persuade my mom to take me this summer 2014. I’m so set on getting my mom to take me to Walt Disney World as I am a major major major Disney fan. I even made a PowerPoint for her explaining in much detail why she should take me. This would be my irate time going, and I really want it to be a magical and special trip for me and my mom. I’m sixteen and I’ve been begging her to take me before I go off to college. She hasn’t said no yet, but I know that if she says yes, she won’t want to do all the planning as I know more info than she does from all the research I’ve done. I think my mom would like to work with a Disney travel agent if we do decide to go. Any recommendations??? :) Thanks!

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Cameron January 4, 2014 at 8:30 pm

Hi! I just read this amazing article as I am trying to persuade my mom to take me this summer 2014. I’m so set on getting my mom to take me to Walt Disney World as I am a major major major Disney fan. I even made a PowerPoint for her explaining in much detail why she should take me. This would be my first time going, and I really want it to be a magical and special trip for me and my mom. I’m sixteen and I’ve been begging her to take me before I go off to college. She hasn’t said no yet, but I know that if she says yes, she won’t want to do all the planning as I know more info than she does from all the research I’ve done. I think my mom would like to work with a Disney travel agent if we do decide to go. Any recommendations??? :) Thanks!

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Amie Wyman November 18, 2013 at 11:35 pm

Thank you Shannon for providing this non-biased information! I am also a Disney travel agent and I think you’re spot on in the article. Another pro I see of using a Dis travel agent is the passion and enthusiasm most agents bring to the table! While a traditional travel agent may just be trying to earn a paycheck, all the agents I know (including myself!!) are true lifelong Disney-lovers who just want to spread the magic to everyone =) As Stephanie says above, planning the vacation is part of the fun, and Disney travel planners truly enjoy working with guests and building customized, affordable, and truly special moments for the people who entrust them with this task.

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Kari September 22, 2013 at 5:30 pm

Hello. I am currently in the process of applying to work with an “authorized Disney vacation planner.” How do I know they are legit?

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Stephanie Madrigal September 22, 2013 at 7:36 pm

Hey Kari,
An easy way to make sure the travel agent you are working with is “Authorized/legit” is to make sure they are listed as an agent on their agency’s website. You could also give their agency a call to make sure they indeed work there. Happy planning :)

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Jennifer Hennequant November 16, 2013 at 9:41 pm

Another great way to confirm they are an authorized Travel Agent is to ask for ID! Any travel agent should have ID from an authorized program such as IATA, IATAN, CLIA and/or ASTA.
Some of the programs require the agent to meet certain criteria to receive a card and has them submit information annually to renew.
I use IATA and am happy to share my ID to any client that asks!
Better safe than sorry!

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Jessica Smith May 17, 2013 at 11:39 am

I need a travel agent for our trip in two weeks. Any suggestions?

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Shannon Albert May 17, 2013 at 11:49 am

Yep! The one in the right sidebar. Her name is Cheryl.

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Shannon April 20, 2013 at 5:07 pm

These are beautifully valid points that you make. Before I became a ADTA I planned my own families vacation. The amount of research that can go into finding all the best deals can be very time consuming for the typical family who wants a great deal but doesn’t have the time to do all the research. I agree with Stephanie, I like to keep an eye out for additional deals for my clients after they have booked. A happy client is a return client!

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Stephanie Madrigal March 2, 2013 at 10:26 am

Great article!
Agents, such as myself, offer magic, knowledge, and a little bit of pixie dust to those who need it :) Sometimes it can be too overwhelming and time consuming for people to spend the time necessary to get the most out of their trip to Disney. People often think there is a catch when we tell them it is free to work with a Disney travel planner. I can assure there is no catch! I know a lot of planners go above and beyond to ensure that their guests get what they want and more. I know I will include fun surprises for the children of my guests to enjoy on their trip.
Another bonus of working with a DTP is that good ones will look for special promotions that apply to your trip even after you have already booked with us. We will adjust your trip and get you the better price. Even Disney does not do this automatically!
People should know that a good agent is one that goes above and beyond. They will answer any and all questions without hesitation. They are available and return any emails/phone calls within 24 hours or less! They focus on your budget and do not try and add things to your trip in order to drive up the cost. There is a difference between making a suggestion and selling you something you are not comfortable with.
Planning your Disney Vacation should be almost as much fun as the vacation itself! Just my two cents…

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Amy July 11, 2013 at 11:48 pm

Stephanie, I am planning a trip for Feb 2014. You sound passionate about your work & would be interested in your services! Can writer, Shannon, send you my email address so you can email me so we chat!? :) :)

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Shannon Albert July 12, 2013 at 1:08 am
Amy July 14, 2013 at 7:19 pm

thank you!

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Stephanie Madrigal July 14, 2013 at 8:17 pm

Thank you Shannon for passing along my information! It is my pleasure to spread the magic to anyone looking for stress-free vacation planning!

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Nikki September 26, 2013 at 1:21 am

Hello I would like to use her as my agent can someone send her my email address?? Nikki_curry1@yahoo.com

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