Why You Should Consider Using A Travel Agent For Your Disney Vacation
Let’s get this out of the way. This article will not address whether now is the time to visit the Disney parks or not given the current circumstances. I will say that I personally have no plans to go though if I lived in Florida or within driving distance I’d strongly consider it. But I don’t so I’m probably not going until Florida’s and the entire country’s numbers get better. This article will instead address something Mark asked me to discuss: why you should consider using a travel agent to book your Disney vacation if you plan to visit in the near or distant future.
Full disclosure, listeners of the Miles to Memories podcast will know that I became a travel agent right before everyone started sheltering in place. Impeccable timing, really. Anyway, obviously a travel agent’s perspective will be biased, so take everything I say with a grain of salt. But I’ll address reasons why now is a good time to use a travel agent and a few reasons why you might want to consider going it on your own. Of course, if you do decide to visit Disney World in 2020 or 2021 and use a travel agent, feel free to e-mail me firstname.lastname@example.org and I’d be happy to help!
This is a guest post by Miles to Memories Podcast Co-Host Joe Cheung
Disney World Has Reopened But Many Other Disney Properties Have Not
In case you missed all the hubbub on the internet, Walt Disney World reopened in Florida a few months ago with very strict (and well enforced) safety protocols. Reports from Disney have been fairly positive; visitors have reported that they’ve felt safe thanks to the social distancing and mask guidelines. Combine that with low crowds due to lack of demand and a trip to Disney World may not be as far-fetched as it seemed a few months ago. Florida’s case counts remain high and problematic but if you can manage to limit your exposure while getting onto Disney property you’ll find yourself in what seems like a very low risk bubble.
Tokyo Disneyland Resort, Disneyland Paris and Shanghai Disneyland also opened in the last several months. However, Hong Kong Disneyland closed after reopening for a few weeks and Disney Cruise Line and Adventures by Disney have remained shuttered. The original Disney theme park, Disneyland in California, remains closed as well.
So let’s take a look at why you might want to consider using a travel agent to book your Disney World vacation.
Reasons To Use A Disney World Travel Agent
I’ll mainly be focusing on Disney World, but a lot of these reasons will apply to Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line or any Disney vacation. A lot of the reasons to use a Disney travel agent right now come from the current covid-19 pandemic and the uncertainty that brings so bear that in mind.
The Travel Agent Does Almost All The Work For You
When you use a Disney travel agent, he or she will do almost everything for you. Planning a Disney vacation these days gets pretty complicated. You have to decide whether to stay on Disney property or off site, what type of tickets to buy, which parks to visit and a whole lot more. A good travel agent will help you navigate all the decisions you need to make which should in turn reduce your stress when booking your Disney vacation.
On top of all that, some agencies will help their clients book their dining and Fastpass+ reservations (though the latter system is currently on hiatus due to the pandemic). That saves you a lot of time especially because a lot of the difficult to get dining reservations get booked up at 7 AM ET when the booking window opens. So you save time, energy and stress by letting a travel agent take the burden on for you.
The Travel Agent Can Handle Complicated Bookings
The value of a travel agent can really shine through when you have complicated bookings. Disney World vacations often entail family reunions, wedding parties or other big parties. Once you have a lot of moving parts it can get confusing to sort through all the options or even to know what those options are.
A good travel agent will help you narrow down your options and pick the one that works best for your party. With large parties getting good dining and Fastpass+ reservations can be even trickier so having a travel agent helps a lot.
The Travel Agent Will Advocate For You If Things Go Wrong
The pandemic has really highlighted the value of a good travel agent. Obviously, Disney World cancelled many hotel and park reservations due to the pandemic. During the scramble to cancel or rebook, hold times were upwards of six hours (!) and options got pretty confusing. Good travel agents not only saved clients the trouble of being on hold for countless hours, good agents also helped to cut through the confusing Disney policies to help clients cancel or rebook in the least complicated way possible.
Even outside of these covid-19 times, things can go wrong with a Disney vacation. You might need to cancel or you might need help moving rooms or hotels during the stay. When things go wrong your travel agent can help you navigate through the problem so you can get on with your vacation as quickly as possible.
The Travel Agent Doesn’t Cost You Anything
When a travel agent books your Disney vacation it costs you nothing extra. On commissionable bookings, the commission is paid by the Disney company. The same goes for all other travel. So any benefits you get from booking through a travel agent are completely free to you. So that means all the work on complicated bookings, helping you solve problems if things go wrong and having someone help you through every step of your vacation costs you nothing. Not a bad deal, but sometimes you can still do better on your own.
Some Reasons To Book A Disney World Vacation On Your Own
While a travel agent definitely saves you time and stress, some still might want to consider booking on their own. While it’s true a travel agent doesn’t cost their client any money, savvy miles and points users may be able to find ways to save on your Disney vacation.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s near impossible to not have to spend some cash on your Disney vacation. But miles and points or the right credit cards can reduce your cash outlay. Here are some quick examples:
- You can use miles and points to book nearby partner hotels and still receive many of the same Disney benefits
- Citi Prestige holders can use their fourth night free hotel benefit even at Disney hotels
- Priceline Express Deals can give you good deals on Disney hotels
- You can use Barclay Arrival+ or Capital One Venture points on tickets purchased from Undercover Tourist
While you generally won’t get outsized value, these small redemptions can cut costs on your Disney vacation.
However, right now during the pandemic, you can actually double dip a great miles and points deal with the convenience of using a travel agent.
A Limited Time Points And Travel Agent Double Dip
Thanks to the current (and extended!) pay yourself back promotion for the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can actually do a sort of double dip. If you buy Disney gift cards at a grocery store you can pay yourself back at the rate of one point per 1.5 cents and then use those Disney gift cards to pay for your Disney vacation through a Disney travel agent. Clients use Disney gift cards with travel agents all the time.
So you could book say a $5000 Disney vacation through a travel agent, pay for the vacation with Disney gift cards bought at a grocery store using your Chase Sapphire Reserve and then redeem 333,333 Chase Ultimate Rewards points for the purchase. Again, we’re not talking outsized value, but if you’re going to pay yourself back with your Ultimate Rewards points, might as well use it to go to the most magical place on earth.
Using a Travel Agent for Your Disney Vacation – Conclusion
While using a travel agent may seem counterintuitive to miles and points aficionados, the reality is a travel agent can definitely save you some time and stress when planning a Disney World vacation. Sometimes the extra brainpower needed to understand the ins and outs of a complicated Disney vacation are worth outsourcing to a travel agent who won’t cost you anything extra. If you’re thinking of planning a Disney vacation in 2020 or (more likely) in 2021, I’d be happy to help you as your travel agent. You can contact me email@example.com to get started.