Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Planning A Trip to Walt Disney World-Should I Use A Travel Agent?

Once we had the dates of our trip-it was time to officially start planning out the details of our journey to the House of Mouse.
As I mentioned, this wasn't our first trip to WDW but our first with kids-not just one, but two.  I knew putting in the legwork planning up front would be well worth it once we got there.  There are many things that have changed since our last trip, and we are taking advantage of some things we haven't before (Disney Dining Plan is one big example) so I really wasn't sure where to start.
After reading a ton of blogs online, I found a highly recommended travel agency (TA).  With it being of no cost to us and what seemed like some additional perks-I thought why not?  I will go into the details as to why a bit later but at this point (pre-trip) I will say that for someone who is a natural planner and doesn't mind doing the work upfront, I personally don't think I will utilize a TA in the future.
Some perks of utilizing a TA-first the obvious:they will actual create your reservations, make payments and advise you on particular aspects of your trip.  My TA did assist me on what week to decide on since my original dates weren't kosher with my work schedule. Additionally I found my TA to be a wealth of knowledge and someone I could ask targeted questions and know that I will get a prompt response.
Another TA perk is the additional discounts that Disney provides for planning with a Disney approved vendor.  The offers/discounts that I received at the time of my January 2015 booking were:
Disney Quest - Guests will receive two vouchers, each valid for a 1-Day admission ticket to DisneyQuest Indoor Interactive Theme Park located in Downtown Disney® West Side (vouchers must be exchanged for tickets at DisneyQuest Indoor Interactive Theme Park ticket window; valid for two tickets per package; restrictions apply).

Planet Hollywood - Receive a $10 voucher valid for food and non-alcoholic beverages and a souvenir merchandise keepsake at Planet Hollywood, Downtown Disney West Side. VIP Preferred Seating is available from 11:00 a.m. through 6:00 p.m. Not valid with any other offers or discounts. (One per package).

Miniature Golf - Guests will receive two vouchers, each valid for one round of miniature golf prior to 4:00 p.m. on one day at either Disney's Fantasia Gardens or Disney's Winter Summerland Miniature Golf Courses (valid for two rounds of golf per package).

Spa Discount – 15% off most 50 minute or greater services at select Disney Resort hotels. (Hand and foot treatments are excluded. Age restrictions apply. One per package).

Walt Disney World Marina Discounts – 15% off the non-discounted price of any boat rental at participating Walt Disney World marina location. (One per package).

Guided Fishing Excursions Discount – 15% off the non-discounted price of a 2 hour Guided Bass Fishing Excursion or a Bass Nitro Fishing Excursion at select Walt Disney World marinas. Excursions include fishing equipment, rod, reel, shiners, artificial bait, non-alcoholic beverages and a 1 year membership to B.A.S.S. (Bass Anglers Sportsman Society. One per package).

Sammy Duvall's Watersports Discount – 10% off the non-discounted price of all activities including parasailing, water skiing, wakeboarding, and tubing trips at Sammy Duvall’s Watersports Centre located at Disney's Contemporary Resort. (Subject to availability; restrictions apply. One per package).

Children Activity Centers – 15% off the non-discounted hourly rates at the Children Activity Center located at select Disney Resort Hotels. Minimum charge of two (2) hours per child. Services available for children age 3-12. (One per package).

Arcade Game Card - 100 points game play in arcades located in Disney Resorts. (One card per package; available only with Magic Your Way Packages).

Downtown Disney® Area Shopping and Dining
*  Planet Hollywood® - Receive a $15.00 voucher valid for food and nonalcoholic beverages and one souvenir merchandise keepsake. Not valid with any other offers or discounts. (One per package).

10% to 20% off at the following locations – some exclusions apply:  Arribas BrothersBasin,Bongos Cuban CaféCurl® by Sammy DuvallFulton's Crab HouseHouse of Blues,Hoypoloi Gallery , Little MissMatchedParadisio 37,Pop GalleryPortobello Country Italian Trattoria, Something Silver,Splitsville Luxury Lanes,Wolfgang Puck Café

While those things are a great perk, so far they just haven't weighed far enough on the plus side to warrant me feeling like I need someone to assist me next time.  I am an obsessive researcher so while I wouldn't have a direct contact-there are a copious amounts of blogs and forums of Disney obsessed invidiuals who could assist me in whatever I needed to find out.
Another disadvantage is that you can't make changes yourself.  For example, we initally planned and scheduled arrival on one day and then later on decided to add an extra night at the start of our trip.  We are traveling during a promotional period and when we first decided to make the change, I was able to secure a room that was included in the promotion and just add onto the trip.  But due to the fact that I had worked with a TA, by the time she had gotten around to secure the room for us, less than 12 hours later, she was only able to reserve a room only at the rack rate (without a discount).
Now I am saying this all before our trip.  I will be sure to update how I feel once I have taken it, my mind may change.  Hopefully everything goes smoothly as far as my reservations go, but if not I do have an advocate to assist me.  Also, at this point I don't anticipate utilizing any of the discounts/offers but if I do that could greatly sway me towards using a TA in the future.
Only a few more weeks to go, I will be sure to update this post with my experienced thoughts!


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