Have you come across a website of a company or individual advertising themselves as an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner? If so you probably wondered if 1) their service was legitimate, and 2) whether or not it would actually save you time and money.
The answer to both questions is yes, but like all businesses you should look for references and reviews before signing up. Your Disney Vacation has the potential to be the highlight of your family’s year, so you don’t want to hand over the most important responsibilities until you know more about whom you will be working with.
One of the first things people are suspicious of is the price of this service. All Disney Vacation Planners work on a commission structure, so they do not actually charge you for anything. I forget where I read it, but planners earn approximately 3% to 5% of the package price the customer pays. That means they would earn about $150 for a $5000 package. Not much, but it can be a nice secondary income for a stay-at-home-mom or someone else trying to earn extra cash.
Now when it comes to saving money a reputable planner could very well save you hundreds of dollars. Typically there are a handful of Disney vacation specials going on at the same time. This can make it difficult to navigate what discount is best suited for your family. Your planner will ask you about your preferences and budget prior to making any reservations. They will then run the numbers through different scenarios to find the cheapest option for you. This by itself can make it worthwhile to work with a planner.
One thing to note is that most Disney Vacation Planners work exclusively with Disney World hotels since this is where their commissions come from. Thus, if you are planning to stay off-site you should tell them up front. Disney World offers a wide range of hotels and resorts for every budget so don’t completely rule out staying on the property for cost reasons.
The best planners will help you with all the little details to make your trip memorable. This includes creating a park itinerary that will save you time, booking character dining experience meals, and answering any questions you have about what to expect when you arrive. Having a single contact person for all this information is definitely a luxury. Busy parents and working couples will appreciate being able to call someone with questions as opposed to digging through the internet for answers.
I have not personally used a Disney Vacation Planner for any of my trips. This is mostly because I enjoy the planning process as it provides valuable insights for this blog. That being said, if you want to inquire about partnering with a planner then I would start with Small World Vacations. They have the strictest requirements for their agents, so you can feel confident about getting an experienced representative. Each member of their team has stayed 3 or more nights at 4 or more Walt Disney World resorts within the last five years, and each is also a graduate of the College of Disney Knowledge for travel agents.
In short, Authorized Disney Planners can be a tremendous asset to first-timers and busy parents. You will definitely save time and more than likely money by outsourcing the reservation process. Just make sure you interview your planner before signing up, and be as transparent as possible about your trip. This will allow you to get the most out of your experience!