Booking a Disney vacation can be a little overwhelming. Theres a lot to plan and do and prepare for already, so do you want to try and figure out the best deals on your own, or let someone else do it?
That's the question I ask myself every time we go to Disney. Remember, I am NOT a Disney vacation planner. You can count on me to be unbiased because I'm not trying to sell you a vacation.
Here are four things to take into consideration when trying to figure out why you might, or might not want to use a vacation planner.
Why might I want to use a vacation planner?
Looking for the newest promotions takes time and a little bit of know how. It also takes a little bit of effort to modify your existing reservations to take advantage of those discounts. If you use a travel agent, its part of their job to stay on top of those discounts and make changes for you. If you decide you want to add dining, they add it on for you. Your travel agent should be trying to make everything as easy as possible for you. Ask questions and email until you are satisfied, that's what they are there for.
Isn't it expensive to use a vacation planner?
If you are booking a Disney vacation, and using a Disney vacation planner, you should NOT be charged at all. They make their commission from Disney. If someone is charging you, STOP and go elsewhere.
That sounds pretty easy, right? But why might you NOT want to use a vacation planner?
You can't make changes on your own
That's right. If you call Disney yourself, and ask for a different type of room, a VIP cleaning or something else, they will not make that change for you unless your travel agent has requested it. Anything your planner says is law. That was very frustrating for us on a recent trip when we asked to stay in a particular section overlooking the lake. We had spoken with our travel agent, spoken with the resort and confirmed everything a few days in advance-- however, because there was an additional person traveling with us, the agent, and the resort assumed we would want connecting rooms, which were in an area not overlooking the lake. We wanted our view, and said so, but there was nothing that could be done at that point. The connecting doors were never used and in the end it wasn't a big deal, the bothers at Disney are better than not being there at all, but we were a little upset it was the agent's preference the resort took, not the paying guest.
You might not immediately get in touch with your agent in an emergency
While we have not had a problem where we needed our vacation planner on the trip, there were times leading up to it, for example, when we were trying to pay for our trip and Disney wouldn't let us make the payment over the phone. It had to be made through the travel agent, and we were on a deadline or the reservation would be canceled. As luck would have it, our agent was on a vacation herself, so it took several hours or phone calls to her voice mail and Disney, and many, many cast member conversations before we found one willing to accept our payment. (I thought that was crazy. Really? Just take my darn money!)
There are both good and not so good things about using a vacation planner. It all comes down to what you think you want out of a trip. Do you want everything arranged for you, where you just pack and go, or do you like to have the fun of stalking discounts and making sure you get just what you want? Really, you can't go wrong either way, but if you do go with a planner, you need to be prepared to wait a little if you need to make a change or get hold of them, because it might take a few days to make changes that you'd like and even then, some things are not guaranteed to be just how you wanted.
Have you had any experiences with vacation planners? Are you one yourself? Any advice you want to share?
This week on Focused on the Magic the topic is Favorite Views. I have a few of those for sure! The Hourglass Lake between Pop Century and Art of Animation is one of my favorites, and it's possible that the landscape will be forever changed, with the new sky gondolas coming. I also love anything from Animal Kingdom, but my favorite thing, is our happy family, there in the best place on earth!
Want to see more favorites? Click on the button above!
What is your favorite shot? I'd love to see!
This is part three of a three part series. You can click here to read part one and here to read part two
Once you get home from the park with your newly traded for Disney Pins, chances are good you are going to want more. There might be sets you want to complete, or maybe you saw some in the parks and didn't have a chance to buy or trade for. In my case, it's both of those, and that I just want more. You can never have too many Disney Pins! But...now what? Disney's alllll the way over there, and you aren't...
Now, you go online!
Before you dash off to Google, Facebook or Ebay, let me give you a few tips to SAFELY buy pins online.
Buying or trading pins online can be fun, but there also is a small amount of risk. If you are trading with someone, there is a chance, though usually very small, that either you will not get your pins, or something will happen and they won't get theirs. That's why it's important to trade through a reputable group.
Where can you find pins online?
There are several Disney Pin Trading or Selling groups on Facebook. Search for Disney Pins and you will have a lot of places pop up. You can also find various Disney forums that have members hoping to buy, sell or trade. It doens't matter if you sell or if you trade, be sure that you mail your pins in a bubble envelope, mail when you say you will, and send over the package tracking number. Those three simple steps go a long way in assuring that people will want to trade with you again!
If you'd rather just straight out buy your pins from a place, Ebay is my first stop. While you CAN buy mystery lots of pins, I prefer not to, because I like to know what I'm getting. If I can't see the actual pins I'm buying, I tend not to buy because many of the mystery lots are priced well, but will have pins that are damaged, much older and the parks will be flooded with them, and there's a good possibility the pin might be an overrun, or a scrapper pin, which are better used for crafts, or decorating, and not trading.
There are loads of people selling perfectly legitimate Disney pins on Ebay though. Some of the best buys are when you search “Booster pack” or “Mystery pouch” because those usually contain between 5 and 7 pins each. Often you can get those for around $10 a package, and if these are going to be pins you want to trade, or collect, $2 or so a pin isn't bad at all! Often I can get lucky and get them for just under $2 each. That sure beats in park prices. Another time when being prepared pays off!
You can also find a lot of single pins, including ones that are currently sold in the Disney Parks, for half the price, so it's worth a quick look. There are several sellers I've had good luck with and both feedback, plus a listing with good photos and enough information about your pin are indications of a good seller.
Need some good suggestions?
I am happy to suggest the names of groups I have bought or traded pins from before on Facebook. If interested, just send me an email!
There are also stores that sell the pins online, and some people sell through Pinpics. I have not done either of those myself, so I don't feel confident in recommending any one place in particular.
I've just made an online trade! What's the best way to ship it?
Congrats! Now let's make sure that pin makes it there safe! Always secure your pin when you ship it, either with bubble wrap, in a ziploc bag, or pinned through some cardboard. That keeps the pin from being tossed around and getting damaged, especially if there are other pins in the envelope. The pins headed your way might not arrive like that, but you should always do the right thing and package it nicely. Once you've mailed it is the next most important step: always send the tracking info to each other. Tracking info isn't a fail safe, but by doing so, it not only shows you mailed or were mailed your pins, but that you also took reasonable precaution in sending them with tracking. Tracking comes free with first class mail packages in the USA.
That's really all there is...now go have fun browsing and daydreaming about all of the millions of pins out there! Just buy responsibility! It's addictive!
If you have bought, sold or traded pins online, would you like to share some of your favorite places?
If you haven't gone inside of your post office in the last few days, RUN RUN RUN! They have Disney villain stamps there! They are also Forever Stamps, so that means if the postage goes up, the stamps won't need more postage applied. I was excited to be the first person at our Post Office to get a sheet. I even got to see her take them out of the vault!
Aren't these adorable? I LOVE how even the back has an image, and quotes! Not sure I can bring myself to use these!
I ask you....is there anything a little Disney CAN'T make better?
High on the hill, and truthfully, not really noticeable to many people's line of sight, sit's Beast's castle. During the day when the sun is bright and you are squinting and hurrying for your reservation at Be Our Guest, or perhaps heading towards the Rapunzel area or Prince Regal's Carousal, you might not even notice this small castle. It's easy to miss until dawn, when the castle becomes aglow in sort light.
While my photo makes it look larger and closer to the walking area, here is a really fascinating one I found that Disney took when they were creating Be Our Guest that show's how far back it really sits. If you'd like to see a few more photos, just click on it, and it will take you to the Disney Parks Blog article.
For those of you who can't quite picture in your mind where this castle, it is located between Be Our Guest, and Journey Under the Sea, the Little Mermaid Ride. If you were to go to the stroller parking near Gaston's Tavern, and turn around and look up-- there it is.
Our most recent visit was the first time I ever got to see the castle at night. In fact, our first visit I had no idea that it was even there. It just goes to show that no matter how many times you go, you can never see it all! There's just too much, and that makes Disney World Parks a magical place to explore over, and over, and over again.