6 ways using an authorized Disney vacation planner will improve your trip
Three years ago, I was a brand-new Disney novice. I knew there was a monumental effort required to plan the perfect Disney trip, so I proverbially shelved that travel project for years until I believed my kids would be old enough that the effort would be worth it. What I didn't know at the time is that there are people who would do the majority of that mental lifting for you ... for free.
I met a travel agent specializing in Disney destinations who was a points-and-miles novice. For a year, we traded each other knowledge within our unique skillsets. And while I'm no longer a Disney novice myself, what I've learned is that Disney World is such a unique vacation destination that it's still one of the arenas in travel where it greatly benefits you to have an expert guide you along the way.
Related: Everything you need to know about visiting Walt Disney World Resort
Authorized Disney vacation planners make their money off commissions they receive from Disney when you book a trip through them. Their vacation prices are not inflated, and as we'll discuss, they are often the way to find the best prices available.
Here are the top six reasons you should use an authorized Disney vacation planner to book your next trip to Disney World. I've now booked this way several times, even though I'm no longer a newbie to visiting Disney World.
Related: What it's like inside a reopened Disney World
They do all the work
Booking a Disney hotel and buying theme park tickets may seem easy enough, but a complex array of options and add-ons can make it daunting to a Disney novice -- even once you've picked the best Disney World hotel for your trip.
Currently, things are a bit different than normal. FastPass+ is temporarily suspended and you need to book parks for specific days you are going to visit due to COVID-19 precautions.
But, there are still premium Disney restaurant experiences and character dining you want to reserve well in advance as these do book up. Your vacation planner can handle all of this for you and offer a variety of overall trip-pricing options based on which level of luxury you want to travel in.
Sometimes bookings (and any related changes) may need to be made over the phone or early in the morning, starting at 6 a.m. -- but that won't be your problem as your vacation planner will handle it for you.
Related: How much does a trip to Disney World cost
FOR NO COST ASSISTANCE WITH PLANNING AND BOOKING YOUR NEXT DISNEY VACATION, CHECK OUT TPG'S DISNEY BOOKING PARTNER, MOUSE COUNSELORS.
During non-pandemic times, the FastPass+ system is the key to strategically avoiding long waits for popular attractions. The maximizing of this system alone can make your head spin, so having your planner take care of it for you takes hours of research and planning off your plate.
Related: Best times to visit Disney World
They actively look for discounts
While there's no magic way to make a Disney vacation truly cheap, there are a few ways to save money when promotions like free dining appear.
Here's the problem though: A limited number of rooms are available to book with these discounts and they are often released early in the morning. Your good Disney vacation planner will be up at 5 a.m. to ensure you get one of the discounted rooms or packages when they are released. They also monitor your reservation for price drops, and if something lowers for your dates, they'll modify your existing reservation to the lower price.
They can also advise you on ways to save money during your stay if you are on a set budget. Even if your goal isn't the cheapest Disney trip possible, they will know what splurges are worth it and which ones are more easily skipped.
They plan your itinerary
If you're paying a large sum of money, the last thing you want to do is wait in long lines, miss out on activities because you're in the wrong place at the wrong time or spend time doing things you don't want to do. If you want to maximize your time at Disney, you need a wealth of knowledge to know what to do and when to do it.
You can research and learn much of it yourself, but if you're a once- or twice-in-a-lifetime Disney visitor, then pouring over crowd calendars and in-depth guides to Disney World may not be the best use of your time.
Without a doubt, having your vacation planner lay out a daily itinerary for your specific dates is the most valuable asset they bring to the table. On my last trip, with the help of my Disney vacation planner, I was able to ride everything I wanted to (some attractions multiple times), and I never waited in lengthy lines.
I knew where to be and when to be there with insider tips and tricks that made my visit to the parks incredibly enjoyable.
Related: 5 ways Disney World is now better than ever
You can be as involved as you want
If you're a Type A personality and want to be involved in every step along the way, you can work hand in hand with your vacation planner to make sure you're comfortable with the itinerary and cost of your trip. If you're hands-off and just want someone to handle all of the details and tell you where to go and when, you can also do that.
The experience you have with your agent is entirely up to you and you'll find most good agents will play off the personality of their clients and tailor the experience to fit the customer's desires.
Related: The one week we wouldn't visit Disney World
Other than a cup of ice water, there's not much that's truly free at Disney World.
However, the services an agent provides come at no cost to you. Disney pays authorized Disney vacation planners commissions from the sales of hotel rooms, tickets, dining packages, and more. But, much like how travel agents are paid (and are still very valuable) when booking cruises, these agents' prices are not inflated or grossed up over what Disney charges directly. They can book anything you see online or find the lower prices you may not have found yourself. So while your trip to Disney probably won't be inexpensive, the added benefit of having an agent doesn't add to the cost.
The agents I've worked with are motivated to do a good job because of repeat and referral business. Many agents work solely off referral-based clients and get a reputation for their knowledge and ease to work with.
Related: Inside a Disney World VIP private tour
You don't want to wait on hold right now
It's been quite the year for planning a Disney World trip. The park was closed for about four months and then moved to a phased reopening with an all-new reservations-required approach. Disneyland is still closed after seven months and counting. Needless to say, many, many family trips to Disney have been impacted and the Disney phone lines -- at times -- have been overwhelmed.
Those that booked Disney trips themselves have very possibly spent hours online researching options, or on hold listening to the magical Disney hold music. I know I have friends who spent hours refreshing the Disney homepage and on hold just to make simple changes to impacted bookings.
An authorized Disney vacation planner will take care of any changes you need, or contact Disney for any reason on your behalf. Take the assistance of a professional who will wait on hold for you and deal with any changes as they come. We've had to have changes made to our booking this year and it took no work on my end other than letting my agent know what we needed.
Related: How to make Disney Park Pass reservations
It's a completely noble decision to decide planning the perfect Disney vacation is too much to add to your plate, even in a normal year. Right now, it's an especially good time to let someone else deal with the changes and ambiguity that surround a trip to the most "Magical Place on Earth." I may love booking complicated award flights with built-in stopovers, layovers and open-jaws but I'm more than happy for an authorized Disney vacation planner to take the stress of planning a trip to Disney World off my to-do list.
These planners can typically not only book trips to Disney World, but also Disneyland, aboard Disney Cruise Line ships, an Adventures By Disney tour or Disney Aulani in Hawaii. (Note all of those elements of Disney are up and running again yet, but most are taking future bookings.)
To that end, The Points Guy has partnered with Mouse Counselors, an authorized Disney vacation planner to provide our readers with the chance to use an agent at no additional cost. This is the same agency I've personally worked with for several trips and have referred many friends to Mouse Counselors -- all who have reported very positive experiences. If devoting a chunk of time to planning a Disney trip doesn't make sense for you, give an authorized Disney vacation planner a try.