If you’ve ever tried to book and plan a Disney vacation, you probably know just how much goes into it. Picking dates, a resort, price comparisons, booking dining and fastpasses – not to mention researching all of the options! I’m submersed in Disney pretty much all day every day, from reading news, other blogs, and listening to podcasts, and there are still things I hear that I didn’t know about right away. How can a casual Disney fan keep up?
One of my favorite things about having all of this Disney knowledge is being able to share it with other people. That’s why I write the blog! As a travel agent specializing in Disney, I also have the ability to help people book and plan their trips. I know many people think it’s easy to just do it on your own, but just the amount of time involved can make a big difference. Here’s a little peek into what can go into planning your vacation:
This can be much more time consuming than you might think. While I love Disney, even I will admit that their website is not the most user friendly, and comparing prices is difficult. I’ve spent hours just pulling price quotes, especially if someone is flexible. Looking for the cheapest time to travel in the month of March? You’ll have to search for all the specific dates to see the prices. Want to compare prices between hotels with and without the dining plan? You need to individually select each hotel and then manually add and remove the dining plan. The process takes a ton of time. Are you thinking you’ll go in October because it will be slower and there will be more discounts? I can tell you right off the bat that won’t be the case and October is now one of the busiest months of the year. These are the sorts of things a travel agent can help you save time on.
If you’re reading this blog you might already be a Disney expert. But you may also just be a casual fan or someone looking to plan their once in a lifetime trip. There are more than 25 onsite Disney resorts, plus tons of off-property hotels. Not sure which ones fit in your budget? I can help you narrow it down. Wondering how many resorts have rooms to fit your family? I can tell you the different types of rooms at each resort. Did you know that most of the value resorts only have double beds, and not queen beds? This is the seemingly random but useful knowledge I know off the top of my head.
Perhaps you’re saying, “I know all about Disney. I don’t need to spend hours researching resorts and comparing prices.” And there may be many of you where that’s the case. But if you run into a situation where you have to call Disney to make a change to your reservation, get ready to spend some time on hold. 9 times out of 10 that I call the wait times are longer than 15 minutes. Some changes can be made online, but remember what I said about the website not being so great? Many changes can’t happen online. Rather than spending your time on hold, send an email to your travel agent and let them wait on the phone for you.
Getting a discount
The same thing about calling to make changes also applies to getting a discount. Unfortunately, when Disney releases a discount it’s not straightforward. They might say that certain resorts are included, but not every reservation within that resort is eligible. And there are only so many discounted rooms at each location. A travel agent can tell you if you really do qualify (despite what Disney advertising might imply) and then call to get the discount applied to your reservation. Oh, and even if you don’t know that a discount became available – your agent knows and will apply it for you even if you don’t inquire about it.
There are more than 140 restaurants on Disney property. Some people might know about the most popular ones (like Be Our Guest at the Magic Kingdom), but some of the best hidden gems are lesser known locations. Not sure what’s good, or which location will have cuisine you like? You could spend time reading all 140 menus (and I wouldn’t blame you – I’m one of those weirdos who reads menus for fun). But if you don’t want to spend hours doing that, you can let me know what kind of food you like to eat and I can make some recommendations for you.
Figuring out a fastpass plan
Planning for Disney has only become more complicated in the past couple of years with the addition of fastpass+. Now you can plan which rides you’re going to fastpass up to 60 days in advance. What are the best rides to fastpass, and the best times to book them? And did you know that at some parks there are fastpass tiers? For example, in Epcot you can’t get a fastpass for both Frozen Ever After and Soarin’ – you have to pick between them.
And if the words don’t convince you, I like math too – so maybe numbers will! Obviously the amount of time you spend on each of these things will vary wildly based on the person, but here are some general ideas.
Price quoting: I can easily spend 2-3 hours price quoting for clients who are very flexible and just looking for the best deal, or if they keep changing their mind about things. So let’s say 3 hours.
Researching resorts: If you don’t know much about the resorts, I’d say you could spend at least a solid 1 hour here.
Making changes: On average I spend 30 minutes on the phone with Disney to make a change, so let’s go with that.
Getting a discount: The phone lines are insane on discount days. You can easily spend 2 hours on the phone on hold.
Researching dining: With 140 different restaurants, I’d say you’re looking at 2-3 hours here too if you want to be really thorough. Let’s do the average at 2.5 hours.
Figuring out fastpasses: Probably about 1 hour, depending on how many days you’ll be there.
In many ways these are just the minimum things that could come up too. Add on more research time for flights, a day trip to Universal, needing to make more than 1 change to your reservation, etc. In time alone, you’d probably save at minimum 10 hours by having a travel agent help with these things. What else could you be doing with 10 hours of your time?
And this is just quantity, not even quality. A good Disney expert can provide information on things you might not even think about, and give all sorts of recommendations. There’s less to worry about with someone else on your team, and using a travel agent is totally FREE!
So if you’re interested in saving some time (and possibly some money), send me an email today at [email protected]. As you might have been able to tell if you’re a frequent reader of this blog, I know tons about Disney, I love planning trips, and I love helping people!
What part of planning a Disney trip stresses you out the most?