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View Full Version : did I bite off more than I can chew??


tammz
08-17-2011, 08:14 PM
Hi all I am plaining my first Disney world vacation!!!! so excited! I am a single mom of a 5 yr old boy and just the two of us will be going to WDW in April :cool1: So Ive decieded to spend the extra cash and fly out of Toronto instead of relying on someone to drive me to buffalo (big difference in price :confused3) Ive decieded on where to stay where to eat what I need to bring etc etc!! doing ALL mi DIS homework:) I was going to go through a travel agent I have visited 2 in the last week and let me tell you business must be GREAT for them because both were extremely rude and seamed to shrug me off! So I am going to jump into unfamiliar water and book myself :scared1: I want a great vacation and I think I can do it all myself Flight Disney and ADRs right? doesnt seam THAT hard :confused3 Maybe some of you wonderful people can help me do you think a first timer can book everything without the use of a travel agent? has anyone booked themselves before? any Tips Ive learned SO much from being here and I want to thank you all!! :hug:

grantclaire
08-17-2011, 08:21 PM
You can do it yourself! Just takes some more time. Just find prices you are comfortable and book away! Good luck

SmilingGrump
08-17-2011, 08:36 PM
Sorry to hear of your frustrations with Travel Agents, I've had similar (and worse) experiences so rarely use them anymore. Doing vacation planning yourself is pretty simple, though it does take a bit of homework for the best cost savings.

Sign up for Travelzoo, they come up with some great deals and the concept of the site is pretty cool.

Use points if you can for flights. Airmiles, Aeroplan, Avion, TD, whatever you have. In most cases you're still on the hook for taxes which could be more then the flight! You may be able to use Airmiles for Park Tickets too (sometimes Airmiles has them, sometimes they don't).

If you don't have points, then check Expedia, Westjet, Air Canada, and any other airlines flying into TO etc for deals. Each site has their own "Deals" section to watch. While there, check out their "Flight + Hotel" option and take note of what pricing is (I'm assuming you don't need a car)

Also, check out Disney's site directly for costs. Note that this can be a bit tedious as their site is really poor (ie. checking pricing on the various resorts and hotels can be tedious and not all options will appear) ... you can also package in your park tickets here, though you may save a bit at mousesavers. You can also get airfare pricing, though it's been my experience that the pricing you get is higher then elsewhere but I've heard of people getting better deals.

As long as your staying on Disney property, you can use the Magical Express from the airport to your resort. We usually rent a vehicle for convenience sake (and my DW LOVES to shop the malls ... it's SO cheap compared to Canada). If you do rent a vehicle, then it becomes a bit trickier to find the best deal: 1- Check Expedia for car rentals (note that they don't always show the cheapest ones first!); 2- Go to each car rental company's website directly (their US site, not Canadian), MCO is your rental location (that's the Orlando Airport), check their pricing BUT also check for CITY SPECIALS or other SPECIALS (somtimes obscuring placed on their website) ... you can get some amazing deals .... NOTE: Other people have suggested Priceline and have gotten car rentals for as low as $7/day plus taxes, we haven't tried it yet but we will our next trip!

Hope this helps, if you have any more questions, please ask them!

Have a Magical Trip!! :wizard:

iluvtheworld
08-17-2011, 08:40 PM
You CAN do it by yourself! It is easy and fun! If you have any questions, just ask away. Feel free to PM me if you'd like. I LOVE helping people with Disney vacation plans. If you need help looking up the different options or anything, I would gladly assist you! Happy Planning! :yay:

lizzyb
08-17-2011, 09:14 PM
You can definately do it yourself.

Legend of Odon
08-17-2011, 09:27 PM
I too have had many many frustrating times with travel agents. Having said that, sometimes I use mine who is actually very good, BUT I know EXACTLY what I want and have done ALL my own research beforehand. I will use one if they can offer discounts that I can't get on my own. Like the other posters have said go for it and try it on your own! Planning a Disney trip is so much fun!!

You can also go to your library where you will find lots of guidebooks that will give you great information on everything you need to know. If you want to splurge you can buy WDW guidebooks (amazon.ca is great) and read them back to front. There are lots of good ones but "The Unofficial Guide" and "Passporter" are really good, there are others but those ones are excellent. Other posters might be able to suggest additional good guides as well. Most guidebooks come out annually and so are really up to date.

You are going to have a great time planning your trip! Have your son help with the research and involve him in the planning where you think it is appropriate and do a count down calendar. These boards will be of great help, everyone is very friendly and offers fabulous advice! :grouphug: Have a great trip!

tone.def
08-17-2011, 11:08 PM
If you have time to do it yourself then great!

I don't, so I use a travel agent.

BORN2LVDISNEY
08-18-2011, 01:01 AM
Just want to let you know that there are buses (Megabus, Greyhound, etc) that travel between Toronto and Buffalo Airport. They are great if you don't want to rely on others for a ride to BUF.

dennise
08-18-2011, 08:53 AM
Planning is part of the fun, you can do it. Enjoy the planning and don't stress about it. Have fun.

YukiPhnx
08-18-2011, 12:14 PM
You can for sure do it all yourself, there is so much information here to help you do that!

It's too bad you had such bad experiences with travel agents. Try the authorized Disney ones online. You don't see them in person, but they are usually good at getting back to you asap by email. At least, I know the ones at MouseFanTravel do.

You can easily find your own deals to book and do everything yourself, but if you ever need to call to confirm something or to ask about ADR times that might not be posted on the website, having a travel agent do the calling can save you a lot on long distance calls!

IMO, I love doing all the planning myself, but it's just great to have a travel agent to split the work with me. Authorized Disney travel agents don't charge a fee.

minnie mum
08-18-2011, 01:53 PM
It is so hard to find a really good travel agent who is knowledgeable about WDW. You really do need a Disney specialist for this kind of thing. And I've experienced agents who call themselves a Disney specialist who know very little. With all the variables involved, you don't want mistakes made that you can't correct. Remember that if you use a TA they "own" the reservations until you show up at the resort. So if a mistake is made you cant correct it. Only the TA can. We made the mistake of using a TA once for a WDW trip. Never again. I make all our reservations direct now.

Since you already know where you want to stay and where you want to eat, then a lot of your pre-planning has already been done. When you check out your room/ticket/dining packages on the WDW site, make sure you check out the 'special offers' tab. That's where you'll find the current room discount or free dining offers.

We usually book using some kind of discount offer, either one is fine with us. You know your budget, so you already have a good idea of whether you'll be staying value, moderate or deluxe. We prefer booking a package to simplify things (luckily for us we've got free dining this time which works out well for us). Booking each element separately may save you a few dollars, but not usually much. You will need to decide if you want a dining plan or will pay OOP. With one young child, you may find that OOP is cheaper.

We always book our own flights. I've heard of some people having problems when booking them thru Disney. If you have travel rewards points, this would be a good place to use them. Otherwise you just have to be on the lookout for seat sales, etc. I usually start checking prices 4-5 months out (usually on a Tues. or Wed.) and pull the trigger when I find a good one. If flying out of Buffalo is an option, be sure to check out the possibility of taking the bus from TO to the airport there.

You have all kinds of time yet, and lots of friends here willing to answer any questions you have. Good luck and have fun planning your trip! For me the planning just adds to the excitement of the trip.

MedicGoofy
08-18-2011, 02:44 PM
Booking your own trip is so easy and tons of fun!!! I have been doing it since I was a late teen (altho paying with moms VISA:rotfl2:)

Best place to start....go on the Disney site. Start looking at the different resorts. Understand the price variations, figure how much you want to spend a night, then look at those resorts. Wanna budget, look at Value, maybe moderate if getting a good discount. Wanna spend money...look at deluxe. Start looking at the resorts in the right price category. Go from there.

Add tickets....either regular tickets, or hoppers or water parks.

Do you want dining included? Or not. Look Under 'Where to Eat' and check out the Disney Dining Plan and it will explain how it works and if you might want to add that.

When you have searched through all this.....go to tickets and packages and 'book an offer'. And start to play around with pricing different packages. It's fun. You don't have to committ till you hit the button!!!

Best part is, you have tons of people on here to help you out!!!! We can be your travel guide:cool1:

I have found working with an agent can be more frustrating, no matter how well they know Disney. For some it works. I have found MUCH better deals without using an agent.

I would suggest, as a past poster has mentioned, trying to fly out of BUF. It is tons cheaper....either leave a car there, or get a shuttle.

Have fun while you plan. You CAN do this!!! And we are all here to help:banana:

lizabu
08-18-2011, 03:04 PM
I'm a first timer too and I found it super easy to book on the Disney website. I just did the package and it was during free dining. I had to call once when I couldn't book one ADR online and they are super nice and helpful. I did all the other ADRs online. Disney makes everything super easy. For the flight I'm waiting a bit. I like to buy tickets 3 months out. I've price Toronto vs Detroit and for me Detroit will be cheaper. I can drive there myself though. I've bough airline tickets a number of times. I like to look online and get an idea of the cost and times of flights and then I call a travel agent and buy the tickets through them. If the first TA gives you a price much higher than you saw online call another one. The prices shouldn't be drastically different. I'm sure I could buy the tickets online but for some reason there is something comforting about having the airline tickets in my hands

knud
08-18-2011, 03:49 PM
I have almost always booked my own trips to Disney. Their website can be a bit flaky sometimes, but I've never had any major issues. I used a travel agent one time, but didn't find it any easier, cheaper, or more convenient than doing it myself.

We live in St. Catharines, Ontario so we are a bit closer to Buffalo than to Toronto. We've always priced out both options for flights, and BUF always comes out significantly cheaper. Also bear in mind that flying out of Toronto, you won't be able to use the luggage delivery service on the Magical Express.

nancyjvanwyk
08-18-2011, 04:00 PM
I go each year and always book my own---this is a great website for finding information and helpful folks. Have fun.

DisneyFairytale
08-18-2011, 10:28 PM
We have always booked our own. My future DH has always gone through travel agents, so I gave it a go to have the travel agent give us the best quote they could, vs what I could come up with-and I still saved us about 600 more than what they quoted us with.

To say the least I am still doing all my own work. You also have the advantage of using the pro's expertise here on the forum, which not very many people would ever know about, so I recommend doing it on your own :goodvibes

tammz
08-19-2011, 10:06 PM
Thank you all for your replies! I have been doing research for a while now and it all seams pretty easy so I thought I was missing something! :) I would love to fly out of buffalo and save some cash however because I dont drive I think it will cause all sorts of headaches and a quick 2-3 hr direct flight from Toronto will turn into 2 busses and a 6+ hr flight from buffalo with a stop over or transfer really I dont want to begin or end my vacation with the headache!! I cant wait to be disney bound!!! I may even attempt a trip report when I return :surfweb: Thanx all!! and Im sure I will be asking many many more questions before my trip in April :hug:

Hockey Mom KQ
08-21-2011, 09:19 PM
We always book our own trip. The best part about planning it yourself is that you get to do all of it on your own time. And, booking through Disney is very easy. If you book and then a deal comes out, you can always call Disney and they will apply it to your package. We usually book what we want, then watch for a deal. It feels like a sale when they take the amount right off your total. :banana: Just don't pay the full amount until the due date. We have had friends who missed out on the savings because their travel agent "couldn't" apply it to their package even though we had the exact same deal. Needless to say, those friends book their own vacations now. So have fun, take your time, and most importantly do your research. :surfweb: Remember, it is Disney so how could you ever make a "mistake"? It will be awesome!

Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina
08-22-2011, 06:37 AM
Also bear in mind that flying out of Toronto, you won't be able to use the luggage delivery service on the Magical Express.

We flew Sunwing from Toronto in January 2009, stayed at POR and had our luggage delivered to the resort via Magical Express.

Susan2771
08-22-2011, 06:45 AM
Also bear in mind that flying out of Toronto, you won't be able to use the luggage delivery service on the Magical Express.

This information is not correct. Disney guests flying out of Toronto and clearing immigration can use the luggage delivery service on Magical Express if they wish and have the luggage tags on their bags provided with their Disney Documents.

tammz
08-22-2011, 08:27 AM
I will have to look into the luggage delivery I was under the impression that I would have to claim my own luggage and bring it on the magical express myself its not that big of deal BUT If I can get it delivered I will look into it :)

minnie mum
08-22-2011, 12:24 PM
I will have to look into the luggage delivery I was under the impression that I would have to claim my own luggage and bring it on the magical express myself its not that big of deal BUT If I can get it delivered I will look into it :)

Absolutely you can use ME; we've done it for many years now. When you sign up for ME they will send you a voucher and special luggage tags to use. Then DME will collect your luggage at MCO for you and deliver it to your resort.

What a PP may have been referring to is the difference on your return trip to Canada. You will give your luggage to the DME bus driver to be stowed on your bus to the airport. At the airport you claim your bags and have to check them in at the desk yourself. Guests who are flying on participating airlines with destinations inside the US have the option of actually checking their luggage for the flight AT THE RESORT. Guests on international flights don't have this option.

mtmbyck
08-22-2011, 08:25 PM
I've never used a TA. Go get yourself a book on WDW. The Internet is amazing but a lot of navigating. The Birnbaumbook has photos and tips/ideas. You can read and compare resorts.

My recommendation for first time on a moderate budget:
Stay at Port Orleans - great pool, wonderful grounds, love the boat that takes you to the Disney Marketplace (where'd I'd make a reservation at the Jurrasic Park restaurant - forget the name).
My MUST meals are dinner at 1900 Park Fare (with Cinderella,prince, godmother and stepsisters), breakfast at Crystal Palace (Winnie the pooh and others), breakfast or dinner at OHana (making sure to stroll the grounds of the Beautiful Polynesian resort), and of course Le Cellier if it's available at EPCOT.
My MUST dos while there: strolling the boardwalk in the evening for desserts and entertainment, catching the beachside movie or campfire at Beach Club, ice cream at Grand Floridian, night vision glasses at Animal Kingdowm lodge, and a round of mini putt at Fantasia golf.

Have fun planning.