Photo Courtesy of Erin Manor Johnson
Naturally, a pro such as myself can plan her own vacation without the help of a travel agent. I mean, c’mon, have you seen the way I throw down those acronyms? What’s a TA (another acronym!) going to do for me that I can’t do for myself?
Turns out, quite a bit.
For years I have labored under the notion that TAs are great for people who are first timers at Disney World, but for people who know what they want or what they’re doing, they’re kind of unnecessary. So imagine my surprise when I, the self proclaimed pro, almost tanked my solo trip and it was saved by a TA.
Here’s the skinny. I decided to use a travel agent for my solo-turned-girls trip because I wanted to write about the experience for the blog. I was doing this purely for research purposes, because remember, I’m a boss babe who doesn’t need any help from anybody.
I reached out to Elizabeth Mallers from Destinations in Florida, the exclusive travel agency of Couponing to Disney and the SavEars. As I was telling Elizabeth about my trip, it dawned on me that this trip was different from anything I had planned before. The tickets would be different so we wouldn’t be doing a package, which meant no Disney Dining, my fave of faves. I had never done Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. We weren’t going to stay at my beloved Coronado Springs. So many new things and different variables. And it turned out I had a bunch of…gasp…questions. If you could see that initial email chain between Elizabeth and I, you would laugh. All my Disney pro attitude out the window.
The big hurdle for me was picking a resort. I knew I wanted to try something besides Coronado (I’ll always love you!) because of the construction, but when we did Caribbean Beach for our 2018 trip, I spent half the time wishing we were back at Coronado. Weeks of going back and forth on resort choices, and here is patient Elizabeth, answering questions and giving her opinions. Finally, finally, I had narrowed it down to two resorts and Elizabeth said, “You know what? I’m going to put a three day hold on these so that you don’t lose the offer prices, and then you can decide from there.”
The next day, Disney announced the opening dates for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. The most anticipated addition to Walt Disney Work would open two weeks before my arrival dates.
To say I was in a panic was kind of an understatement. What if all these StormTroopers and nerf herders took all the hotel rooms and my rates changed and everything was a disaster? I’m calling Mr. B crying, I’m calling my buddy Hillary crying, I’m calling everyone crying. I even wrote a blog post about it. Crying.
Elizabeth checked in right away: my hold was there, I didn’t lose my hotel, or the great rates. I could stop crying. Because of that three day hold, I was able to book my room at the promo rate, and not the increased rates that showed up once those Galaxy’s Edge dates were announced.
Slightly calmer, but still a little jagged after my brush with a galaxy far, far, away, I got a phone call a few hours later. It was Elizabeth’s team member, Erin Manor Johnson. She was calling to double check the information on my reservation so they they could get my confirmation number right away. Elizabeth noticed that my ADR dates were in a week and she wanted me to have everything I needed for that. Gold star and googly heart eyes.
Three day holds are a perk only afforded to Disney certified Travel Agents. If I hadn’t been working with a TA on this trip, I don’t know what would have happened. I wouldn’t have the rates that I do now, that’s for sure. The second those Galaxy’s Edge dates dropped, all the promos were gone and the Disney website was barely controlled chaos. If it had just been me in that situation, all my Disney experience would have gone out the window because as much as I know how to plan my FastPasses, turns out there are situations even a pro needs help with.
What I thought was going to be a research-only experience ended up saving my vacation. And what I thought was going to be one post about working with a TA has turned into a whole series because I, like John Smith, am learning things I never knew I knew. Keep your eyes peeled for the next post in the series.
If you are looking for a Travel Agent to help you plan a trip, be it your first or fiftieth time, consider reaching out to Elizabeth, Erin, or any of the exclusive Dream Team from Destinations in Florida. As Disney Certified Travel Agents, their services are free to you!
Do you have any questions about using a TA? Drop them in the comments and they may be featured in one of our next posts in the TA series.
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!