You’ve finally made the big decision… you’re going to Disney World! But now you’re facing the daunting task of trying to plan your Disney vacation. Sure, it’d be great to have an expert to help you plan your trip and maybe even make reservations on your behalf. A Disney travel agent can certainly do that. But are Disney Travel Agents free, or do you have to pay them for their services?
Most Disney Travel Agents don’t charge you anything to plan your vacation or make reservations for you. Of course you’ll still have to pay for the products you purchase — theme park tickets, hotel rooms, and such — but you most likely won’t have to pay an agent directly to handle all of this for you. Why? Disney pays the agent for you.
Each agent gets a commission from Disney for the bookings they’ve made on your behalf. That’s why most Disney travel agencies have a policy of not charging their clients any sort of itinerary planning fee — because they’re already getting paid.
Does using a travel agent make your Disney vacation cost more?
The commission that Disney pays to a travel agency for handling your booking does not increase the cost of your trip. Disney does not raise prices on hotel rooms, tickets, etc. just because a trip was booked through a travel agent.
Why not? Isn’t Disney having to give up some of the profit on the trip to send a check to your travel agent? Perhaps. But the way Disney sees it, your travel agent is doing a lot of the work that would normally have to be done by Disney Cast Members. They’re explaining options to you and answering questions — all work that would normally have to be done by a Disney employee.
And, Disney knows that the best travel agents will take time to get to know you and your family so that your trip is just right — that makes you more likely to come back for another trip. So for Disney, it’s a good business policy.
What are the benefits of using a Disney travel agent?
A good Disney travel agent will will make sure that you’re getting the best price on your Disney vacation. A great Disney travel agent will add new Disney World deals and offers to your vacation even after it’s booked! They’ll keep track of new discounts as they’re announced and apply them to your trip automatically. There’s nothing like getting an email from your travel agent that says they found a new discount and were able to knock $500 off the cost of your trip!
Travel agents are great sources of information, too. They can offer suggestions on the best rides at Disney World, help you pick an Adventures by Disney destination, or even answer common cruise questions such as, “is a Disney Cruise worth it,” or “does Disney Cruise offer drink packages?”
Add in the fact that they’ll wake up at dawn to make Dining Reservations (so you don’t have to), that they’ll help you keep track of payment due dates and booking windows, and do so much more — it’s not hard to see that there are plenty of reasons to use a Disney Travel Agent.
How to pick a Disney Travel Agent
There are plenty of agencies that can book Disney trips – but how can you find a reputable one?
Start out by making sure you’re dealing with an agency that’s designated as an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner — that specific wording is a sign that the agents specialize in Disney travel and have undergone training designed directly by Disney.
Then, investigate just a bit further. You’ll see these agencies show a designation of “Earmarked,” which is an indicator of how much Disney travel they book each year. Agencies start out at Bronze, and can go up through the ranks of Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond levels. Find a Platinum or Diamond earmarked agency, and you’ll know that you’ve found an agency that arranges thousands of Disney trips every year… true experts in their fields!
Next up, you’ll want to find out for sure if the agency is truly free to use or if they charge you any booking fees. As we mentioned before, most travel agencies do not charge a planning fee, so it’s free to use their services. Still, there are some agencies that do charge fees for their services. If you do decide use an agency that charges its clients a fee on top of the commission it receives from Disney, make sure you understand how much the fee is, what it covers, and if it’s refundable should your plans change. You might also ask if you have to pay additional fees for things like modifications to your trip or other planning services you might need later.
Booking vacations with a Disney Travel Agent
Once you’ve picked a travel agency, booking your vacation is usually a pretty simple prospect. You’ll typically start by filling out a contact form (or calling the agency) to provide some basic information such as your name, phone number or email address, and very basic details about what you want to book.
Then, the agency will assign a specific travel agent to you. That person will be your primary contact for the duration of your trip planning — they’ll get in touch with you to find out more details about your dream vacation and how they can help make it a reality.
Once you’ve gone through all the options and decided what to book, your agent will handle everything for you. They’ll make your reservations and take your payment information for the deposit that’s due upon booking. Afterwards, they’ll monitor the timeline of your trip to make sure that all further bookings (like dining and recreation) happen exactly on schedule, and will make sure you don’t miss any payment deadlines along the way.
All you have to do is relax, pack, and head to the airport on time!