Photo Courtesy of Elizabeth Mallers
I have a Disney trip coming up in September. Maybe you’ve read about it? This trip has been a flibbertigibbet. It started as a solo trip, morphed into a girls’ trip. Originally I was thinking one day of tickets, now it’s one day of tickets and a party. I don’t want table service meals, I do want table table service meals. I’m hot and I’m cold, I’m yes and I’m no… As we speak, I’m considering adding an extra night. My travel agent is a saint. Hi, Elizabeth!
We’ve talked about how a travel agent saved my Disney vacation, and we’ve talked about whether it is worth it to use a TA. You know that Disney Travel Agents are FREE to use, you know they have access to things we don’t have, and you know that they want your trip to be as magical as it can be. But you might not know: what can they actually DO? Like, in terms of the nitty-gritty-no fun-make-the-payment type stuff, what can they actually DO to make your trip run more smoothly?
Quite a lot, turns out.
Travel Agents Can Book Your FastPasses
FastPasses can be made 60 days out in you’re staying on-site, 30 days if you’re staying offsite. With Disney constantly adding world class attractions, the FastPasses are the best way to experience the coolest new rides without the wait. The only catch? The booking window is at 7am, EST.
The FastPass system can be intimidating for first time guests, or guest who have not been since it was implemented. The FastPass booking system can be intimidating if you, like me, are a person who wants to sleep all the time. Solution: have your TA book your FastPasses. Send them a list of your top choices and let them do the rest. Don’t know what your top choices are? They’ve got suggestions and ideas to help pick your new favorite ride.
Travel Agents Can Book Your Advanced Dining Reservations
The booking window for advanced dining reservations (ADRs) opens up 180 days from the start of your vacation, at 7am EST. This is a tricky one because often times, you’re planning your meals before you’re planning your park days. Some of the hottest meals (Be Our Guest, Cinderella’s Royal Table) can be just as hard to get as the most coveted FastPass. If you were intimidated or overwhelmed by the FastPass system, the same might go for dining.
But good news! Your TA can book your dining for you! And here’s the best part. If you change your mind at any given time, they can change the reservation. If you realize, 30 days out, that you’ve GOT to get into Chef Mickey’s, they can keep trying to book that reservation up until you leave. While there is no “secret dining” line for Travel Agents, they will do everything they can to get your preferred reservations, and since they often work with a team, that means more people on task to get your breakfast at Tusker House.
Travel Agents Can Make Your Payments
When you book with a Travel Agent, they have to make your payments. Before you decide you don’t like that, hear me out. Having your TA make your payments means you can set up a a payment plan with them (“$100 every week on the card I gave you”) that makes paying off a Disney trip more manageable. What’s more, your travel agent will keep you updated on your balance, and make sure to prepare you for the payment cutoff 30 days out from the start of your trip. You can make your payment plan on a schedule or you can decide how much you want on each payment as you go. This is my preferred method, as it gives me an opportunity to set earnings goals for myself based on my payment schedule and I have a built in accountability partner in my TA. Hi again, Elizabeth!
If you have multiple methods of payment, a Travel Agent will help you navigate that with patience and professionalism. The other day, I made a payment to my trip using three separate methods of payment (credit card, Disney Visa Rewards, and Disney Gift Cards) and my agent never batted an eyelash. She took the info, made the payments, and then sent me a confirmation immediately after.
Travel Agents Can Place a Three Day Hold
When pricing out vacation options, travel agents can place a three day hold on package, meaning the price will not change for three days even though you have made no down payment. This is an exclusive perk offered by Travel Agents. Disney doesn’t do it if you deal with them directly and you can’t do it if you book yourself.
The three day hold literally saved my vacation, since I put one on my solo trip RIGHT before Galaxy’s Edge dates were announced. With the run up to the big 2021 50th Anniversary, new things are opening left and right. Booking times for promotions are shorter, they disappear without warning, and rack rates could possibly increase after the promotion period. In those cases, a three day hold can literally save you hundreds of dollars and the only way you get that is with a TA.
But! Despite me singing their praises for the last five hundred words or so, there is one thing a travel agent cannot do.
A Travel Agent Cannot Read Your Mind
Your TA wants you to have a the best vacation ever, but they can’t make that happen if they don’t know what a best vacation ever looks like for you, specifically. So make sure to tell your TA important details: celebrations taking place, the interests of the kids in the party, whether Great Uncle Stewart will be using a wheel chair, whether you’re taking the double stroller, if you’ve never done rope drop, or you’ve never been to Animal Kingdom, or if you’re nervous about missing your ADRs. They have done this a million times: they’re taken their own trips and planned countless others. What might be a new hurtle for you is a Tuesday for them. Tell them what you need so they can give you the trip of your dreams!
And remember, not just any TA will do here, folks. You want to make sure, for your Disney trip, that your agent works with a travel agency that is Earmarked, ie Disney certified. A Disney certified agency has agents who take Disney Knowledge courses and have to re-certify EVERY year. Not only are these agents logging their own vacation miles, they are literally schooled in the best way to plan your Disney vacation by the House of Mouse themselves.
If you are looking for a Travel Agent, I can’t recommend the Dream Team from Destinations in Florida highly enough. Elizabeth, Erin, and Kari can’t wait to help make your vacation dreams come true.
Did I miss a a super power a TA has? Tell me in the comments!
Kristen B. is wife to the best Prince around, mama to the spunkiest little princesses, and lover of all things Disney. She started her savings journey five years ago and is now dedicated to making her family’s wishes come true one coupon at a time. She is so excited to take her love of saving to the next level and share her journey with you! Click here to catch up on Kristen’s Savings and join in on your own savings adventure!