Traci C. (NDM#118) (37 Posts)

Traci was born and raised in Ohio, but has been visiting Walt Disney World since she was 18 months old (in 1974)!! She has always had a special place in her heart for all things Disney, but especially loves Winnie the Pooh, Mickey Mouse, and her favorite princess - Cinderella. Traci spent her childhood visiting the Magic Kingdom for just one day every summer (her grandparents lived in Tampa, Fla.). It wasn't until 2003 that she finally was able to stay "on property" .. and now visits at least once a year (more if she's lucky). The family's favorite resort - Beach Club. The love of Disney runs deep in Traci's house - her daughters love all things Disney and are always looking for "hidden Mickeys" (and both been counted as NDKs). And her husband? Well, he's almost as Disney-obsessed as the girls. One of these days the family hopes to make the move south to be closer to The Mouse (and away from the cold, snowy Ohio winters).

When it comes to planning a trip to Walt Disney World you yourself can arrange and plan everything or you can use a travel agent. Whether you decide to use a travel agent or not, you won’t be able to escape some of the research and vacation planning that goes along with any trip to Disney World.

Some years back I stopped using a travel agent because I love doing all the research that goes into a Walt Disney World vacation. Additionally, I wasn’t thrilled with the service I was getting from our agent who was not a Disney travel expert. Recently, I have gone back to using a travel agent that specializes in Disney vacations and I couldn’t be happier.

It would unfair of me to tell anyone that they should or should not use a travel agent. However, if you are planning your very first vacation to Walt Disney World I suggest you use a travel agent with a very strong background and knowledge of Disney.

There are definite pluses and minuses for anyone acting as their own travel agent just as there are for anyone using a travel agency. I am merely going to point out some of the advantages and disadvantages of each.

If you are planning your own Disney vacation then you are in total control of your trip from transportation, resort accommodations, park tickets, dining, etc. That means you need to do all the research and price comparisons to get the very best deals. Familiarizing yourself with airline ticket prices, as well as, hotel and resort pricing and packages is a definite must. Knowing when to purchase your airline tickets and when to book your hotel or resort is essential to getting the best possible deal. Act too fast or too slow and it can cost you hundreds of dollars.

To be successful at this you first need to have sufficient time to get things done. In addition, you need to be a very patient and calm individual. Those with a bad attitude or bad temper need not apply. Also, you have to be the kind of person that just loves doing hours of research. I can assure you there is a lot of information that you will need to absorb. Another key is being organized. There will be a lot of important information that you will need to keep track of and have readily available. I hope I haven’t discouraged anyone because this really can be a lot of fun. The internet has a wealth of information right at your fingertips and there are several Walt Disney World guide books for you to choose from that are loaded with helpful information and trip planning tips. There is also a sense of accomplishment that one can only get by planning out their entire vacation themselves.

Many people simply don’t want the added strain of planning their own Walt Disney World vacation and they rely on a travel agency for their accommodations and transportation. Finding a good travel agent takes the guess work out of it for you. They’ll find the best possible deals for you making it a stress free process. A travel agent can also be used as a source of information for your Disney vacation giving you an additional outlet for planning your trip. Although it’s not as simple as leaving everything for the travel agent to do and just show up at the parks but it does take the pressure off you from having to deal with certain aspects of planning a Disney trip. The time, how, and where you spend it at Disney World will remain largely your responsibility. That’s part of the fun, researching the parks and picking places to eat and a Disney travel specialist will even make advanced dining reservations (ADRs) for you. Using a travel agent for many means no worries and more time to sit back, relax, and watch the days tick off the calendar until your departure date to Walt Disney World arrives.

Whether you decide to do everything on your own or you are using a travel agent make it fun by having everyone in your family or those traveling with you participate in some form or another with the planning process.

In no particular order, the following is a list of helpful online Walt Disney World travel planning sources:

Disney Moms Panel

WDW Radio Show



WDW Today

Beyond The Attractions

WDW Info

Be Our Guest Podcast     

Hidden Mickey

Contributed by: Stuart S. (NDD #47). Stuart is a contributor to the Disney Driven Life and is the author of the Disney Geek Dad blog.


  1. Hysterical memories of people asking me for advice on their Disney vacation plans come to mind. I want to say, “I will be as involved as you want me to be,” come to mind. I worry that I'm taking over, but to me, they are holding a basket of adorable puppies named ADR, Free Disney, and Magical Express.

  2. Great article, I can remember the 1st Disney trip I planned on my own for our family in 2005, not knowing everything, when we arrived I was still overwhelmed with the fact we were not well planned. I will say though over the yrs I have learned for trail & error.

  3. Great article, I can remember the 1st Disney trip I planned on my own for our family in 2005, not knowing everything, when we arrived I was still overwhelmed with the fact we were not well planned. I will say though over the yrs I have learned for trail & error.

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