Coming from the UK to Walt Disney World, we are fortunate enough to have a variety of travel agents we always book directly with Disney.
There are many benefits you get when booking with both agents and Disney themselves. Usually, this comes from Disney depending on what they are running at particular times of year such as; the free dining plan, $100 gift card, Memory Maker (all your photos practically), Magical Express and a few others that may pop up. There are though, some I have only been able to find if you book with Disney themselves; Magic Bands (those beautiful wearables that I know some people have to pay for with tour operators), discounts at specific dining, leisure and merchandise locations, a percentage off additional tours and experiences and money off your first purchase here at the Disney Store in the UK. Up until recently, they were also offering an entire year’s access to their online streaming service, Disney Life.
Mostly for myself and my family though, is the greater flexibility it gives. Being locked in with a tour operator or travel agent, you are booked in their flights. We usually find our own flights to meet our dates with other operators for much less. More money for spending in our pockets. You can take your saved travel miles and spend them with who you wish, this is partly why we go with British Airways as often, Tesco Points have massively reduced our flights or given us an upgrade since we spend them on nothing else. It has let us choose an operator such as Aer Lingus, where you clear US Customs in Dublin and quite happily walk off the plane at the other side.
This also means you can be arriving or leaving at different times having booked with a different flight company. Too often have we seen a Thompsons and a Thomas Cook plane in years gone by arriving in at the same time. Getting off the plane means you face more extended security and immigration lines. On the way back, longer times at security and a generally more crowded terminal. See our point about Aer Lingus above as well for avoiding this.
You Are in Control
Your holiday, your way. Your dates, your timeframe. I’ll admit, I have been fortunate growing up, being able to see Disney as often as I have but then taking a trip to a different coastline to see what there is for a few days, all thanks to having some time before our much cheaper flight home. Being with an operator means you are stuck with a set amount of days that meet with their flight schedule. Often we have picked up a day or two at each end of our holiday because flying on that particular day was much cheaper. That has sometimes meant three and a half weeks in the US instead of just three, the difference we would have paid for the flight goes towards accommodation, that once you get out of the downtown Orlando bubble is very reasonable.
Some Pixie Dust
While booking with an agent seems like the safe, secure thing to do, there are savings and adventures to be had by going it on your own. I won’t be recommending it if it is something we hadn’t been doing for more than twenty years already. I may actually need to go back to my family and ask if we ever booked through a travel agent!