Disney Destinations Planning 101 Vacation Planner

What To Expect From Your Travel Agent Booking Your Disney Vacation

February 17, 2020

Boy does Disney keep everyone on their toes. With their constant changes, it’s no wonder so many people think about using a Travel Agent for their upcoming Disney trip.

However, there’s also a lot of questions surrounding what to expect.

While I was doing some research, I found many people talking about the benefits of using a Travel Agent for their Disney trips.

But, what I wasn’t finding was what happens when you do decide to use a Travel Agent. What’s the process? What can Travel Agents do? And more importantly, what can’t we do?

Of course, I can’t speak for every Agent out there. We all have our own processes. But, we all want the same thing…for you to have a magical vacation.

Getting A Quote

The first step is asking for your Free Quote.

To be honest, I’ve had a few concerns from a few Clients about how they received their Free Quote.

Apparently, they weren’t expecting a personalized email from my personal email address. Instead, they were expecting something that looked more official or came directly from the Disney company.

We are not employed by Disney. Instead, we work with Disney to help Guests plan the perfect vacation for their family. So, while all of the information we receive comes directly from them, it’s up to us to decide how we relay that information to you.

If you’re looking to go to Universal Studios, you can receive an email that looks a little more “official.” But, that’s simply because the system we use for Universal Studios does has the ability to send a Quote in a way that Disney does not.

As my business is growing, plans are in the works to soon implement a system that will allow me to send out a more polished looking Proposal for you to look at.

As you can imagine, it does take time to put together. So, until that’s ready to go, you’re still going to get a personalized email from me.

"Wish You Were Here" photo opportunity at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort

Curating A Custom Itinerary For Your Family

Anyone can BOOK a vacation. But, it takes knowledge to PLAN a vacation.

Because there is an infinite number of possibilities for what a Disney vacation can look like, not everyone’s vacation is going to look the same.

And since I haven’t gotten to know your family yet, the only information I have is what you have provided. This information is critical to figuring out who your family is and what you like or dislike.

  • Who are your child’s favorite characters?
  • Some Resorts have giant statues and in-room decor of Disney characters. Are there any characters your child is afraid of?
  • Are there any Resorts you’ve shown an interest in?
  • Are you looking for a place to relax in vacation? (Yes, it is possible at Disney!)
  • How many days do you think you’ll be spending in the Parks?
  • What are a few things you are you looking forward to doing while on vacation?

The more information you can provide, the better your chances are at getting a Proposal that is truly customized for your family.

Your Magical Vacation

If you’re like me, there will come a time when you’ll want to jump up and down and scream, “I’m going to Disney!” And seeing that first confirmation email with your name and Reservation number is it.

Even if you’ve been planning for years, this is the first time it feels real.

Paying Your Deposit

In order to get that confirmation email from Disney, you need to pay a deposit.

Deposits do vary based on the type of Disney vacation you’re planning.

  • Disney Cruises is typically 20%.
  • Adventures by Disney is 10% – 20%, depending on what you’re booking.
  • Aulani in Hawaii is equal to one night’s room price, plus tax, for room-only reservations. If you add a rental car to your reservation, that changes the deposit to $400.
  • Walt Disney World and Disneyland Packages have a flat $200 deposit. Room-only reservations are equal to one night’s room price, plus tax.
  • Ticket-only purchases must be paid in full at the time of purchase.

If you’ve read, What A Travel Agent Doesn’t Tell You (But Probably Should), you already know that all payments must be made through your Travel Agent. Unfortunately, there’s no way around this.

But, Disney does accept a wide variety of payments, including Disney Gift Cards. And we got the forms that keep things all legal and safe.

Confirmation from Disney

Once they’ve received payment, this is when the “official” emails come. But, perhaps it’s still not in the way you expect.

As your Travel Agent, Disney sends me all of your documents, including receipt of payment. I look it over to make sure everything is correct and I forward it along to you.

Travel Agent hanging out with Prince Eric at Art of Animation

What Happens Next?

Depending on when you booked your vacation, months may pass where nothing “big” happens. And that’s ok.

Of course, we’re still in contact. I give you some tips and recommendations based on what you’ve told me.

But, physically seeing your Itinerary take shape with Dining Reservations, Spa appointments, or snatching a spot in Savi’s Workshop won’t happen until 60 days prior to check-in.

But, there’s a few things you can do in the meantime…

My Disney Experience / Disneyland App

I recommend downloading the My Disney Experience App (for Walt Disney World) or the Disneyland App. Start to familiarize yourself with it, so it’s not so overwhelming once you get there.

You can technically still go to Disney without using your phone. But, in my experience, knowing the App and what it can do, will not only help you navigate the Parks better, it’ll help you avoid those long waits.

Why stand in long lines when you can Mobile Order your lunch, purchase souvenirs on your phone, and skip attractions lines with Genie+?

My Disney Experience is one of those things you wish you didn’t need. But, once you see it’s benefits, you’re so glad you have it.

Park Reservations

Remember when I said earlier that there are things we can not do for you? Well, making your Park Reservations is one of them.

In order to do this, you’ll need to link your Reservation to your account. Once you do this, you’ll be able to reserve your Park Reservations.

I can’t stress this enough, but just because we are your Travel Agent, Disney does not automatically give us access to your account. Disney takes your privacy very seriously.

Of course, we’ll be right there helping you.

Choose a Few “Must-Do” Things

While researching on your own is encouraged, it can become way too easy to start filling notebooks with things you want to do once you get to Disney.

Don’t get caught up in the mentality of trying to “do everything”. It’s physically impossible. So, don’t even attempt to figure it out.

Choose a few “must-do’s”, as well as a few extra things you’d like to do, if you have time. Trust me…you’ll enjoy yourself more.

New Promotions

I like to say that nothing is ever set in stone at Disney. And that includes their prices. If you booked at rack rate, you can still save money later on.

Part of my job as your Travel Agent is negotiating with Disney to apply any savings that you qualify for…even after you’ve booked.

On new promotion days, if you don’t hear from me right away, don’t worry…there’s a lot going on behind the scenes…

New promotions can result in hold times that can only be measured in hours. In fact, the longest I’ve ever been on hold to speak to a Cast Member, was 8 hours! Don’t believe me? I’ve got the screenshot.

And if that’s not a reason to work with a Travel Agent, I don’t know what is.

Mickey waffle at Boma, in Disney's Animal Kingdom

Booking Advanced Dining Reservations

One change that stuck around after the Parks reopened was a new timeline. Advanced Dining Reservations (or ADR’s) can now be booked at 60 days, instead of 180 days.

Of course, I’ll remind you of your “ADR window opening.” If you have any questions or you need some recommendations, I’m happy to give my opinions.

But, as far as how involved I am in this part of the planning is completely up to you. If you prefer doing it all yourself, that’s completely ok.

But, if you’re busy with work or you’re having a hard time finding the Reservation you want, just let me know. I can step in to see if there’s anything I can do.

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Got questions? Feeling a bit anxious? Not sure where to begin? We help families, just like yours.

Planning an entire vacation can be overwhelming. But, here’s the good news: we have the answers to the questions that have been stopping you from pulling the plug on your next vacation.

We understand the journey, the ups, and the downs. We’ve been through the training, made our fair share of mistakes, and learned valuable lessons from them. This is what makes us the perfect people to assist you.

From thoughtfully crafted itineraries to having direct access to your dedicated Travel Professional, our mission is to remove the stress from your vacation planning. With our simple 3-step process, we’re here to help you every step of the way, ensuring that your dream destination becomes an unforgettable reality.

ExploreWithCatherine.com is not authorized or endorsed by, or officially connected with The Walt Disney Company, or any of their affiliates. For official Disney information, visit http://www.disney.com.

Hawaii Destination Specialist

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