Zipadeedoodah: 189 days! Choosing an Agent

Only 189 days left: Time to start getting serious about planning!

Walt Disney World is an ideal trip for those who like to plan ahead, make schedules, and dream about their trip well in advance. Your WDW experience will definitely be better if you do at least some planning (unless you are someone who goes very often).

I have 189 days left in my trip, which means in 180 days I will need to make my Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs).  Since I'm going in value season with low crowds, making reservations this far out isn't necessary if you don't care about when and where you eat. However, I have a couple of places in mind that will fill up pretty quick and we like to eat during the typical dinner ours. Therefore, I plan to make most of my ADR's around the 180 mark.

Step 1: Choosing an Agent

Did you know that official/certified WDW agents are free? Further, they might help you save money. WDW already wraps up the cost of the agents into their pricing, so if you purchase from Disney directly, you are paying for an agent without using one.

If you have plenty of time, like to research and pre-plan, and don't mind making phone calls early in the don't need an agent. However, it wouldn't hurt you to have one in case you need trouble shooting.

I love planning and I intend to make all of my ADRs and Fastpass reservations online. Still, I got an agent. My main reasons were time and phone calls. I arranged my trip via email with my travel agent, which was way easier than dealing with Disney's site or phone system. Further, I want the best possible discount when they are released for winter packages. My agent will be up before dawn calling Disney to make sure I get the discount applied to my package, and will do the math to figure out the best possible discount for me.

Also, if I fail to get an ADR that I wanted, or if I have an issue with the Disney system, or want to book a tour (I do!). My agent can handle all that. Less phone calls and stress for me!

To find an agent, I went to what I consider my most trusted Disney resource on the! They write the "Unofficial Guide" which has to be in the top two most popular Disney guides. They have been collecting LOTS of data for years. And as a scientist, I love going by the data!

I went to the above link and I scanned all the entries in the best agents list. I selected my favorites based on their specialties and how they sounded. I selected my top 15 candidates, and then emailed them this:


I'm getting ready to go to Walt Disney World in late January and I'm looking around for a travel agent. I'd like to be up front and say that I am e-mailing multiple agents in an effort to find one that matches my needs.Thank you in advance for reading my long e-mail, I know your time is valuable.

I'm not in need of a quote just yet, as I'm still working out the exact details of the trip. Further, in the past five years, I've gone to WDW twice, during the same time period, and have stayed at two very different resorts. So, I have an idea of what to expect price-wise

I'm a planner, and part of the reason I love Disney is the planning involved. I wish to book my own fastpasses and plan most of the dining. I also love making touring plans so I am set on that front. My main reasons for getting a TA are to make the phone calls for me (my job makes phone calls challenging during the day and I don't really like phones anyway!), getting the hard-to-get fastpasses and dining reservations, and giving me some extra ideas to make my trip a little bit more magical and different than the last one (perhaps a tour, dessert party, etc...)

My party consists of two adults and no kids. However, you should think of us more like an adult plus a kid. I love childish things and I can easily ride It's a Small World five times in a single trip, and I have no desire to spend anytime on the Boardwalk or Disney Springs. I trade pins, collect tsums and will wait in line to hug a character. I go to Disney to be a kid again. My husband is fascinated by the customer service, quality and magic of Disney, and loves seeing me so stress-free. We are planning on staying at a value resort, but we'll be there for awhile (8 days?).

Now that you know a little about me, here are some questions for you:

1) Do you mind if your clients handle their own fastpasses, touring plans, etc...?

2) Do you wake up super early for clients, or check repeatedly when needed, to get discounts or good Fastpasses/reservations?

3) Do you think we'd be a good match?

Sorry for the third-degree grilling, and thank you so much for your patience reading this. I appreciate your time, and the hard work you do. 


One of the things that mattered most to me was their response time to the email. I want a TA that will respond quickly. I appreciate that they all have lives, but I need someone who will be there promptly when there is a problem.

Other than that, I looked to see how well they read my email....if they were just spewing the standard bits, or if they actually addressed what I wrote personally. As well as how they answered the question.

I crossed out people on my list when I wasn't liking the vibe, and added stars next to their name when they responded in a way I approved.

It came down to two Amanda from Small World Vacations, and Mike from Magic for Less. The thing that tipped it was the fact Mike hosts a podcast that I've listened to on many occasions, and I like this personality on the podcast. His enthusiasm really shines through. That ultimately tipped the scales in his favor.

So far...

Mike has been great! Friendly, fast, efficient and thorough! I'm very pleased with my decision!

Here is his travel agency:

And his podcast:

You can also read his description on the touring plans site:

Disney Countdown: Week 20

We have only 20 weeks to go! How exciting! If you are planning your own Disney trip, please let me know in the comments below. Also, if you have any specific aspects of planning you'd like me to cover, I would love some suggestions for posts.

Liner Pins!

My Liner pins arrived! I got two of exactly the same pin. One will serve as a backup, in case I lose the other. The phrase on the pin is very true- I definitely wait less thanks to Lines (and the Unofficial Guide).

Custom Ears

I had another splurge on items for my Disney trip this week. I had been wanting a pair of ears from Mila Mouse, but she only opens her website for orders occasionally, at very specific times. If you don't order quickly, you'll likely miss out on the ones you want.

I was refreshing the page until it opened, and I still missed a pair that I wanted (Spaceship Earth). So I snagged Finding Dory and Haunted Mansion instead.

Goal Update

It's time to take another look at my list of goals to see which ones I need to work into my touring plan. Also, I plan to add reminders and suggestions for goal completion in my touring plans.

Here is what I have...

Goals for 2017 WDW Trip:

  • Record ride order on park map to help remember my trip details better- Still works!
  • Eat a Disney Cupcake (that’s not the Grey Stuff, already tried that)- Keeping thisone!
  • Do Pick-A-Pearl in the Japan Pavilion- Definitely in the plan!
  • Get at least three character autographs- I'm hoping to get more than this, but this is good start.
  • Buy a pair of earrings from a country in the world showcase (not Mexico, already have a pair)- Still doable.
  • Ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train- I'm so looking forward to this! I've seen enough ride videos, and read enough feedback that I'm not scared at all!
  • See Festival of the Lion King- Can't wait for this either!
  • Watch the Main Street Electrical Parade- I'm so sad, but I will need to remove this. No more MSEP!
  • Take photos and record useful information for three excellent experiences with Cast Members, so I can give them a shout-out- Definitely doing this!
  • Three photos of us (either Jimmy or I) per day- And this!
  • Be a Fairy Godmailer for the Lines community- And probably this too.

Okay, it looks like my goals are mostly still going to work. I just have to lose the Main Street Electrical Parade. I'm going to add reminders to my touring plans for some of these...For example, the photos and info of cast members I'd like to acknowledge..I'm going to add reminders in my touring plan under Notes (either in a break or on specific rides). Even if I don't use them at that time, they can keep me thinking of it. Other goals, such as Festival of the Lion King and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train I can incorporate easily into the touring plan without having to remember them. For the goal "Three photos of us per day", I can add in suggestions for places to take the photo (in front of the castle, with a character, with a particular attraction/decoration/scenery item, etc...) It's important to keep these goals in mind as I make my plans.

Touring Plans

Speaking of plans, my strategy for making my Magic Kingdom plans is to break each of our three days down to the following components:

  • 11 attractions (each attraction will appear once in the touring plan)
  • 1 character venue (such as Mickey's Town Hall)
  • 1 lunch plan
  • 1 parade/fireworks/castle-show

All of the above will be completed before 5pm (unless its fireworks), and the remaining time will be spent on dinner (I'll just list suggestions), as well as additional rides that have a low-wait time or that we just want to do again. By having our plans end early, we can decide when we are ready to leave the park. If we have plenty of energy we can ride whatever rides we want, but if we are exhausted (or wet from rain/Splash Mountain), we can leave early without messing up our touring plans for subsequent days.


Disney Countdown: Week 22

Whoa! It has been 10 weeks since I've posted my last countdown post. Life- new job, the process of selling out old house, a small first floor flood, and many other things- has kept me away. However, you may have noticed that the blog posts have been working their way back into my routine. As things settle down, I'm able to find more time to blog. And as Disney grows closer the more I want to talk about it. Blogging also helps organize my thoughts and planning strategy.


Our 180 day mark has already passed, and I've already made our dining reservations. 

We have lunch table service reservations at Skipper's Canteen, Coral Reef, 50's Primetime Cafe, Yak & Yeti and Be Our Guest. We also have a pre-rope drop breakfast reservation for the Garden Grill!

Updated Guide Book

My copy of the 2014 Unofficial Guide has been missing since the movie. I decided to use that as an excuse to buy an updated one! I now have the 2017 guidebook, which I will read happily from cover-to-cover during my lunch breaks for the next couple weeks. 

Attraction & Show Changes at WDW

I desperately need to post a news update because lots of changes have occurred recently at WDW. Many of which have impacted my touring plans. The Jungle Book and much of the nighttime entertainment at the Animal Kingdom will not be continuing this fall. This means AK will close at 6:00pm. I'm not sure what this means for our dinner prospects. 

Sum of All Thrills and another attraction are closing in Innoventions leaving a single display left in the pavilion in Epcot.

The Main Street Electrical Parade has also been canceled. As you may recall, seeing the MSEP was one of my goals for this trip. Sadly, that will be another goal that I need to remove.

A Stash of Quarters

I found a bunch of quarters in a box we hadn't gone through yet from the movie. I'm pretty sure these were from my yard sale last summer. Regardless of their origin, I now have a pile of quarters that I can use for my pressed penny mini M&M tubes!

Movie Updates

I've been updating our movie list on a regular basis. You can see it on the Disney page. 

The above is just a brief overview of the Disney planning that has been going on over the past 10 weeks. I'm getting deep into planning my touring plans now, so I will be going into more detail on those soon.