Because I am no longer booking Disney vacations, I am can offer more real insight than many others blogs.
Booking any vacation, but particularly a Disney vacation, is often overwhelming, for both the first-timers and the seasoned-professionals.
To really stay on top on the new attractions, upgrades, etc, you would need to star your favorite blogger page, preferably mine, Or you can book your vacation with a travel agent, who specializes in Disney, and they will keep you in the loop. Getting Disney tips is easy–with blogs such as this, and several others–in addition to the many veterans.
Booking either directly online or through an app, or through a travel agent are all easy enough. However, by booking through a travel agent you are not charged a dollar more but receive the benefit of having them do much of the legwork for you. If you don’t have the time, it is certainly worth it. They should take care of your Fast Passes+, restaurant/character dining reservations, and more, in addition to what should already be their Disney-planning knowledge.
The two larger benefits in using a Disney agent are the dining and Fast Pass+ reservations, because at 180 days out they should be up at 6 am to secure your dining, and and again at 7 to get your top priority attractions. For many people, this alone makes it worth it.
Some people enjoy planning, and you can certainly request that your agent does not make your reservations.
There is one downfall to using an agent, which is when a big, rare promotion is released. If you are just as on top of the promotions/releases as an agent can be, it is ultimately quicker for you to modify the promotion yourself. While the travel agents have their own phone line, the agents (because they are some of the first to know about the promotions) are often immediately trying to book and/ or modify the promotions for their clients, but because there are so many agents calling at once, there are longer phone line holds. While an agent may spend hours on the phone, a direct call to Disney may only take a few minutes. They Disney Travel Agent phone line is different than the standard consumer/retail line, and surprisingly the travel agents will crash the system during a big promotion, meaning very long hold times and slow-moving Disney agent computer services.
Your travel agent is working effortlessly to save you money even if it means reducing their commission. This applies only to Walt Disney World, as DisneyLand, Disney Cruise Line and Adventures by Disney have different promotional structures.
You can not modify your reservation, only your agent can. You can rebook on your own, if you are able to snag a better deal, cancel your existing reservation/itinerary, but know it can take up to 10 days to see a refund. You can then transfer your reservation over to an agent that previously helped you.
I strongly encourage that you ultimately transfer your reservation to an agent, because you pay $0 dollars more for their services, and this is the only way that they are paid. Vacations can be transferred up to 30 days of booking.
Also most agents, as a thanks for booking with them, will give you goodies as such as gift baskets at check-in, or on-board credits for the Cruise Line, so there is a perk for going with a small business instead of booking directly. You not only get their time and direct number instead of a 1-800 line but you are genuinely appreciated and get more than just the standard welcome button.
Most agents will help you with every component of your trip (tickets, resort and dining) you bought through them, because that’s what they are getting paid for. You can turn to our blog to learn how to handle the “unhandled” areas.
Travel agents really do a lot to make your vacation magical. I just wanted to point out the benefits and disadvantages that can and do arise when booking with an agency. Also check to see what level of earmarker the travel agency is, as you want a gold or platinum level producer that has planned hundreds of vacations to give you more expertise.
When you book with a travel agent their commission is already built into the overall price, even if you opt out of their planning services, so why not give a small business a try?