It’s not uncommon to begin planning a Walt Disney World Resort vacation a year or more before you actually step into the Magic Kingdom and lay your eyes on Cinderella Castle. It can be a whirlwind of ticket purchases, hotel bookings, dining reservations and itinerary planning that can be overwhelming even for frequent Disney World-goers.
Luckily, there are magical genies who will plan your vacation for you … and you don’t have to make the daring journey to the Cave of Wonders or even spend one extra penny to find them.
Related: A magical guide for how to plan a trip to Disney World this year
Authorized Disney vacation planners are only an email or a phone call away, and they will help you plan the Disney trip of your dreams at no cost to you.
Yes, this is real, and no, there’s no catch. This works because 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 can often help you find the best available rates.
Here are the top five reasons you should use an authorized Disney vacation planner to book your next trip to 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 do anything from picking the best Disney World hotel for your trip to choosing the best Disney World restaurants for your family.
“The goal of a travel agent specializing in Disney destinations is to take the guesswork out of your vacation and make it as stress-free and seamless as possible,” Mary Helen Law, a Disney travel agent with Mouse Counselors, told TPG. “We will take the details you give us and use them to curate a trip specifically designed for the needs and preferences of your family.”
FOR NO-COST ASSISTANCE WITH PLANNING AND BOOKING YOUR NEXT DISNEY VACATION, CHECK OUT TPG’S DISNEY BOOKING PARTNER, MOUSE COUNSELORS.
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Popular add-ons like behind-the-scenes tours and character meals book up well in advance. If you have your heart set on brunch with Mickey and Minnie, you sometimes have to be faster than Dash from “The Incredibles” to secure your spot.
Unless, of course, you use an authorized Disney vacation planner.
On a recent visit, I wanted to try out the newly reintroduced Disney Dining Plan. By booking through Mouse Counselors, they reserved my hotel room and added the Disney Dining Plan for me. I didn’t have to lift a finger.
“Certain add-on experiences like a princess makeover at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique or a behind-the-scenes tour of Magic Kingdom open at midnight or 6 a.m. Eastern time, so having someone else handle the booking can be advantageous,” Law shared. “Many agents will also take care of scheduling airport transfers and crib and stroller rentals,” she added.
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For the best possible experience, you should provide a few important pieces of information for your vacation planner.
“We’ll obviously need your dates and the names and ages of everyone in your travel party, but there are other details that can help us build the best vacation for you,” Law said. “If you aren’t familiar with the details of Disney World hotels, for example, you can help us find the right one by telling us what you are looking for in a hotel. Do you want proximity to a certain park or the best pool for kids? Are you on a budget, or do you want to splurge?”
Knowing the answers to these questions before you begin working with your planner can help them guide you in the right direction.
They actively search for discounts
It’s no secret that “Disney World” and “budget vacation” aren’t exactly synonymous, but there are ways to save money on a visit to Walt Disney World.
Disney periodically offers discounted tickets and hotel sales that can help you save hundreds on your vacation.
Availability for these discounts is limited, though, and you sometimes have to stalk Disney’s website so you don’t miss out when a new offer is released. However, a good Disney vacation planner, whose literal job is booking Disney trips, will be up bright and early to ensure you get one of the discounted rooms or packages when they are released.
Related: Are the Disney Visa credit cards worth it?
They also monitor your reservation for price drops. If prices decrease for your dates, they can wave their magic wand and modify your existing reservation to take advantage of the lower price.
This is exactly what Law was able to do for me on a recent stay at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. As a Disney World annual passholder, I was eligible for a hotel discount. After my initial booking, Law applied the discount, saving me nearly $100.
They can plan your itinerary
If you’re paying a large sum for a vacation, 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. However, if you’re a once- or twice-in-a-lifetime Disney visitor, researching crowd calendars and in-depth planning guides may not be the best use of your time.
Related: Disney World making changes to simplify visits and bringing back a fan-favorite perk
Without a doubt, having your vacation planner lay out a daily itinerary for your specific dates is a valuable asset. Before you book, you need to find out how detailed your vacation planner will be if that is a service you are interested in. However, this is where your agent’s time may come at a bit of a cost to you.
“Most agents do offer help with itinerary planning, but some charge a fee for this service and some don’t offer it at all,” Law said. “It’s important to speak to your agent before booking to ensure you are on the same page with the expected level of hands-on service.”
When I booked through Mouse Counselors, Law sent me a thorough guide that detailed how to mobile order food from quick-service restaurants, how to use Genie+ and Lightning Lanes to skip the lines, how to use transportation options in the park, how to use my MagicBand+ or phone as my park ticket and hotel room key, and so much more. As a frequent visitor, I was aware of most of these tips, but they are helpful details you may be unfamiliar with if you don’t visit Disney often.
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 ensure you’re comfortable with the itinerary and cost of your trip.
If you’re hands-off and want someone to handle all the details and tell you where to go and when, you can also do that.
“In addition to booking your vacation, travel agents can assist with navigating the Disney app, linking your resort reservation and explaining the Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lane systems,” Law said.
It’s also possible for your Disney vacation planner to make your dining reservations at the exact time they open up to you before your trip. Your experience with your agent is entirely up to you, but if “Genie+” and “Lightning Lane” are foreign terms to you, your Disney vacation planner can guide you.
I prefer making my own dining reservations, but Law ensured I knew she was at my service if I needed assistance.
Other than a cup of ice water and the celebratory buttons available at each park, there’s not much that’s truly free at Disney World.
However, an agent’s booking services come at no cost to you. Disney pays authorized Disney vacation planners commissions from the sales of hotel rooms, tickets, dining packages and more.
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 benefit of having an agent doesn’t add to the cost.
Some agents may charge an additional fee for specific add-on services, but most Disney vacation planners offer the majority of their services free of charge to travelers booking a Disney trip.
Do know that they make their money off commissions from Disney. This means if you book the bulk of your hotel expenses yourself elsewhere, it may not make sense to work with a vacation planner on that trip unless you do find one who charges a la carte fees for planning services.
Not only can these planners book trips to Disney World, but they can typically also book trips to Disneyland, aboard Disney Cruise Line ships, with Adventures by Disney and to Disney’s Aulani Resort in Hawaii.
To that end, TPG has partnered with Mouse Counselors, an authorized Disney vacation planner; this allows our readers to use an agent at a company we’ve had good experiences with at no additional cost. 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.
After all, they are the magic-making experts.