Is there a difference between booking your vacation (hotel, tickets, air, etc) directly from Disney vs. choosing a travel agent or wholesale site like Expedia or Travelocity? In a word – YES!
We have always gone direct through Disney for our vacations. (except for flights). We always found that the prices were close enough, and I wanted to be able to make changes as I saw fit. We would always buy flights separately – just watching the various sites for price drops and then buying.
If you get your hotel reservation on the Disney site, or by calling Disney Travel Co. you have much more freedom to make changes any time of the day or night. If a deal comes out and you want to change hotels, go for it. If you decide the resort you chose is too expensive, log in and choose another. Its super easy and convenient. If you buy an entire vacation from them, its a little more restricted, you must pay up front and there are cancellation fees associated with it. I am not sure if there are fees to change hotels if its part of a package.
If you get your hotel reservation from a travel agent (Other than Disney directly), they will need to make all changes for you. Not horrible, but you have to constantly bug them to check prices, make changes, etc. There are benefits to using a travel agent. Some of them will keep an eye out for discounts and automatically apply them for you. Some will make dining reservations for you, too. They offer ‘services’ that Disney doesn’t, but you do lose some of the convenience of booking yourself. They dont charge you anything for their services, so its not a bad deal.
If you use a wholesaler like Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity or JetBlue (like we did), you lose out on all conveniences of making changes. In fact, sometimes you cant make changes at all, or you will be charged change fees. We booked our vacation through JetBlue Vacations. We got a great price! Hundreds less than the best Disney could offer if we bought direct. So I went with it. This trip is a budget trip. It was a spur of the moment idea, and I wanted to do it as inexpensively as possible – so to me, it was all about the bottom line. Yes, we wanted to stay on Disney property, and I wanted non-stop flights, but other than that I was willing to compromise.
Because I bought my vacation from JetBlue Vacations, I also bought trip insurance. My entire vacation has cancellation fees, change fees, etc so god forbid we have to cancel, we would lose most of our money. I felt $100 was a good investment in the trip insurance. It also covers delays, lost luggage, etc.
I got my tickets from Undercover Tourist. Price was cheaper than Disney, and we have used them in the past so I trusted them to send me what I ordered. It did take a longer thime than I expected to receive the tickets, but they did arrive and were exactly what I bought.
So, yes, it does matter who you buy from. Do a little research, compare pricing, and ultimately – if you want full control of your vacation 24/7 buy direct from Disney.