I love planning vacations. I love it. I love it almost as much, if not more than actually going on the trip. I have traveled around the world, from Europe to Hawaii, Brazil, and, of course, Walt Disney World. During twenty years of traveling to more than a dozen countries, I have never utilized a travel agent.
Gasp! I know; some of you are likely nodding along with me saying, “why would you?” and others judging me for not using the expertise of a travel agent. Either way, COVID-19 has altered my ability to plan a trip to Walt Disney World by myself. Everything I knew to be true from dining plans to park planning and even ticket purchasing has changed.
I live in Canada, and that limits my ability to plan a trip to Disney. But, I know the next time I plan a trip to Disney, I will be calling a travel agent, and here’s why:
1. Having someone to tell me what’s changed for MY trip.
Before March 2020, I had Disney down pat. I was a veteran of the My Disney Experience app and its foibles. I knew what restaurants to hit and which rides to FastPass. When I wanted to go to which park. How my kids would react to each park, ride, restaurant, restroom, you name it. I was a confident Disney traveler. Unfortunately, that was in the before time.
For the foreseeable future, my knowledge of what a trip to Walt Disney World entails will have gaps. Having an agent to guide me through Disney World as it is right now will be quite helpful. What to expect from restaurants? What has changed entering the parks? This type of information will be invaluable.
I could track all the twists and turns instituted by Disney, but it's a lot of work. I wish I could, but like so many, I do not have the time. A travel agent helps fill that knowledge gap.
2. Advocate in case of refunds or major changes.
I had to cancel a Dinsey trip I had booked in January to take place this past September. It was a sad realization towards the end of Spring that our planned trip wasn’t going to happen given I live outside of the United States. It was also a challenge to deal with my cancellation.
I won’t put you in suspense; I received a full refund. But I also spent hours getting a Disney representative on the phone and to process the refund. This was while I was trying to earn a living and help with remote homeschooling at the end of the school year. Have you ever asked your partner to borrow their cell phone to dial into a work call? All the while you’re on hold with Disney on yours and your oldest is on a dysfunctional Zoom call with his class? It was challenging to say the least, and it wasn’t the last.
In the possible chance that my future trip needs to be altered in some way, having an advocate in a travel agent will make a big difference to my life. They know who to call. They know what’s expected. And, that means a lot.
3. The breadth of local knowledge is unmatched.
Having known many travel agents over the years, most of them are natural networkers. They like people. They like helping them and building connections with others. This certainly extends to local, Orlando knowledge. Tack on the “love of Disney” factor and a Disney-focused travel agent is likely to stay informed about all this on and off property better than most.
Even if the agent isn’t based in Florida, Disney-focused agents have a Disney World network of knowledge of what’s happening. How are people feeling? What’s changed inside and outside of the Disney-bubble that I should know about? Are cast members handling changes all right? These questions matter to me because I would like to know how the people I’ll be traveling around and assisting me are doing.
You might get some broad strokes from forums and other agents that have a wide variety of clientele, but Disney travelers need to know a little more.
4. No added cost to me.
Everything so far has been about services. Quoting, booking, double-checking reservations, passing on expert advice. It starts to stack up. As I mentioned before, I typically love doing these things myself. I relished getting into finer details of planning, but that’s just not possible. With an agent, I can get the service I need at no cost to me.
The agent or travel agency receives payment from Disney or other services for making the booking happen. Sure, there are less than reputable agencies out there who may seek to benefit themselves. More often than not, I believe the agent benefits from serving the guest before anyone.
Repeat business and referrals are essential to any business’s survival. Travel agents are no different. This puts the emphasis on my satisfaction so I can come back and tell others, and at no direct, added cost to me. I think an agent would be a good decision.
5. Peace of mind.
At the end of the day, I want peace of mind. I had confidence in knowing what to expect from a trip to Walt Disney World. I once knew Disney World well. I could plan a Disney trip better than recite the lyrics to “It’s a Small World.” Now, I’m not so confident.
It can feel a little lonely planning a trip with no one to bounce ideas off or ask for advice. A travel agent provides a level of assurance that someone knowledgeable is there to help, there to answer questions and they to simply help. That’s something almost priceless.
I could wax poetic about planning a Walt Disney World trip for another thousand words, but instead will leave you with a simple question: what do you have to lose? Travel in the time of COVID can be challenging and an agent is there to help. Couldn’t we all use a little help right now?
As always, the expert travel agents at Dreams Unlimited Travel (official sponsor of the DIS) are ready to help you plan the Disney vacation of your dreams, at no additional cost to you.