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Disney World: Travel Agent or WDW online?

Walt Disney World: Got some questions.

From B Koen
Posted March 17, 2010 at 12:16 PM
I have been to 4 travel agents and all of them have given me quotes for a trip around Sept-Oct 2011. I am not looking for exact numbers because the date we are heading is over a year and a half from now.

Budgeting 6-10K

The 3 main questions I ask are:

1. What is better 2 weeks or 3 weeks? I go online and everytime I enter 3 weeks it never gives me the correct info, they always assume its no more then 2 weeks. All travel agents tell me that you can not get GREAT deals for 3 weeks only 1 or 2 weeks.(this sounds kind of odd) Any advice?

2. Our goals for the trip is too hit WDW 10 times, Universal Studios once, Atlantic Coast once and spend a few days relaxing and shopping. I have gotten quotes ranging from 6-9k on the same resort, same fast pass deals and commuters to other nearby (non) DisneyWorld attractions. We really need help from you pros! Any advice?

3. When I insert the number of days online for any resorts they seem to be at least a few thousand dollars more then the agents price. Can agents actually get this deals? Or is it one of those deals where you go to WDW and then you get the shaft and are told to stay at a hotel outside the park due to problems in communication?

I read online the experiences of having a hotel INSIDE the park are great, you just need your room card which acts like a fastpass etc. Is this true?

What travel agencies are more reliable with greater service. I do see lots of these smaller places I have never heard of.

Any advice?
Thanks everyone!


Comments in chronological order. Most recent at the bottom. Scroll down to respond.

From Anthony Murphy
Posted March 17, 2010 at 1:42 PM
Well, the good news is you came to the right place for all these questions. I will try to answer them the best I can!


As for "deals", I would check one more time on that to see how much you would spend "per day". You might not appear to get a deal because you are going for an odd number of weeks.

As for resorts, stay at the parks you are going's resorts, especially Disney and Universal. You get many perks such as free transportation and early/late entry (at Disney) and fastpasses (at Universal).

I would go through planning your trip with Disney's website, but it might be early to do that at the moment. Disney is usually very up front with where you are and how much you are going to pay. I am almost sure that the travel agents are talking about hotels outside of Disney World.

From Michael Smith
Posted March 17, 2010 at 1:58 PM
I can't answer most of your questions, but if someone is trying to sell you fastpasses to disney, run. Fastpass service is already included in your park admission on even the cheapest ticket. If they are selling "extra" fastpasses, they are doing so illegally. The passes are probably old and will be confiscated at the park if the date is noticed.

Your disney room key will serve as your park ticket for however many days you purchase admission, will allow you to charge things to your room(they will deliver the merchandise to your room for free if you desire), and It will allow you to get the same fastpasses that all guests recieve from the fastpass machines .

From James Rao
Posted March 17, 2010 at 7:18 PM
If you want a hassle free trip, and the best deal possible with NO extra charge, try out a site like Mouse Fan Travel or Small World Vacations. Their certified Disney vacation experts will help you plan everything you want to do. And again, their services are free.

From Satch Foley
Posted March 17, 2010 at 7:20 PM
Three weeks is good but you really got to love theme parks for three weeks. Since you are talking 2011, I would book room only at Disney. Currently, room only reservation can be cancelled 5 days from arrival with no penalty. This way, as rate change, and deals become available, you can book the new rate and then cancel the old reservation. Disney will lower room rates if demand is low. Disney will offer the dining plan for free during the "off season" or slow periods to attract business.
Ten days at disney starts to approach the break even point with an annual pass. You can get room and food discounts with an annual pass. You can also obtain a "dining in wonderland" card with an annual pass that offers dining discount including alcoholic beverages at selected restaurants and "bars".
I would book a room at the Universal hotels. You get front of the line access with your room key. Then I would move to an on site Disney hotel. If you are a U.S. government employee, a nurse, a teacher, check out the Swan and Dolphin hotels. They have large room discounts if you qualify.
AAA (American Automobile Association) has discounts avaiable but you can usually get a better discount with an annual pass.
Disney's online web site is one of the worst web sites created. It looks nice, has pretty colors and such, but if you realy want to book a room, you are better off calling the reservation telephone number.
Universal's hotels room key acts as a "fast pass". At Disney, you need to go to individual attractions and insert your admission card to get a fast pass. Disney can/does combine your room key with your park admissions on a single plastic card.
I do agree with James that Mouse Fan Travel or Small World Vacations are good disney travel agents. They are very familiar with how Disney works. I would also include dreams unlimited.
So, first decide when you want to visit Orlando. Discount can be had if you travel during off seasons - non holiday weeks (Christmas, New Years, Easter, Thanksgiving are very busy and more expensive) or when school is in session. Spring break, June/July, are busy because school is out an everybody thinks it is a good time to go. Late August, September, early December, January, and early February tend to be the less busy times and cheaper rates are usually available.
After you pick your travel dates, then decide what hotel you want to stay at. Staying at a hotel inside the theme park cost more money than staying outside the parks. You do get extra "perks" by staying on site and it is more convient. Walt Disney World is very large and most guests underestimate the time it takes to travel within Disney. WDW is about 47 square miles (120 kmĀ²).

From Anthony Murphy
Posted March 17, 2010 at 8:53 PM
As mentioned before, I would just deal with Disney and Universal and not travel agents. The only reason why is because you know exactly what you are getting and all the perks.

BTW, you can find a very nice hotel room at Disney for relativly low prices.

From Bob Miller
Posted March 18, 2010 at 7:53 AM
Anthony, I've been trying to reserve a room at Disney Pop Century for August 2011 since January. Each time I enter the date of arrival and departure, a pop up comes on and states that reservations can not be make past December 31, 2010.

I don't know when Disney will take this off, but it's sill on when I checked earlier this week. Sooner or later they'll have to do it, so I'm checking every month now. So unless they change it, there's no sense of trying to book a room yet.

From Anthony Murphy
Posted March 18, 2010 at 11:11 AM
Disney only lets you book like 6 months in advance or something.

If that was not the case, I would have booked a room already for October 1 2021 (WDW's 50th).

So when you can do it, just pounce on it. Disney does reward the early riser!

From Frank Forrester
Posted March 18, 2010 at 7:04 PM
You can book a room only reservation up to 445 days in advance. Package reservations can only be booked six months ahead. If you want the best Travel Agent for Disney World you should check out Kingdom Konsultants. They deal with Disney World as their main place and there is no charge. They will find the best rate for you and if a better rate comes along before you trip they will rebook you at that rate. They will also make any reservations for restuarants that you may want. Their website is kingdomkonsultants.com and I have dealt with them before and the service is great.

To give you an example of how they helped me with my next trip I wanted to go from April 23 - April 30th. The rate for those dates for a room only reservation was around $625 for the value resort with my discount, but I was told by the agent I was dealing with that if I delayed my trip by two days and went from the 4/25 - 5/2 then he could get me in for $516. I saved over a $100 just by delaying the trip by two days.

From Bob Miller
Posted March 19, 2010 at 11:43 AM
Frank, after reading your post, I thought I was doing something wrong. So I just tried to book "just a room only" at Pop Century for August 2011. And it's still a no go, that pop-up keeps coming up that you can not book a room past December 31,2010.

So could you explain how to book a room as you stated? I tried Disney directly, but they won't take the request.

From Steve K
Posted December 11, 2010 at 7:16 AM
We use a travel agent for several reasons. We love the one we have used for years and she has Disney experience. I don't know if I can post their name here, but if I can, we use Pixie Vacations. http://www.PixieVacations.com Everyone we have worked with over there is very friendly and either worked at Disney in the past or is a big Disney fan and knows all the tricks and tips. Also they are free. They get paid buy Disney to help you, so it costs us nothing to use them. We used Lisa and she planned every detail of our vacation, even dining. The little extras they send are also very nice and magical.

From KJ Simpson
Posted December 13, 2010 at 7:04 PM
That no booking past 12/31 sounds like some kind of technical glitch- I booked for May 2011 last month, via Disney's website. I think a travel agent is good for people who either can't or don't want to do any of the research themselves- otherwise, Disney makes it extremely easy for you to do it yourself, and to find the best deals. Another thing to consider is that new deals are being offered all the time, and if you've booked the trip yourself, you can go online or call their hotline and ask for the better deal, ask to apply a new promo, etc. If a travel agent has booked it, you don't have any control over the reservation directly with Disney- everything has to be done by the agent, which can be a pain. Time is of the essence with some deals, and a travel agent may not be as interested in tweaking your trip as you are.

From Bobby Miller
Posted December 14, 2010 at 8:47 AM
KJ, yes they did take that 12/31 block off in August when they started their free dining promotion. My grandson Zachary and I are booked into Pop Century and Carribean Beach in August 2011.

From Tony Duda
Posted December 14, 2010 at 2:28 PM
I was wondering about the travel agents you used. Were they the Disney-specific travel agents that specialize in only Disney World and Disneyland trips or were they the all purpose local agents in your hometown? There are several Disney travel agencies that do what you want, they get the lowest deals and keep current on special deals and rebook as appropriate. They book dining reservations and all the other special things at the resorts. You should give them a call if your local agencies seem overwhelmed.

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