Back in June, 120 girls from the Ann Carroll School of Dance in Franklin, Tennessee, thought they had booked and paid for their Walt Disney World vacation. When they showed up, they had no hotel rooms or park tickets, despite paying tens of thousands of dollars to a company called Blue Sky Journeys. The company's owners were later indicted on theft charges, but that didn't help the dance team when they discovered they had no reservations.
Several parents, including Rhonda Adkins, wife of country star Trace Adkins, saved the trip by putting the expenses on their credit cards. It was a narrow escape from a big disappointment.
Travel agents can help you make your Walt Disney World trip the best possible vacation by helping you find discounts and assisting you with trip planning advice, dining reservations and other arrangements. You just need to be sure you use a reputable agent. Here are three tips to help you avoid a rip-off.
1) Use a well-established travel agency. There are many online travel agencies that concentrate on Disney vacations. Choose one that's been around for several years. Ask how long the agency has been in business, and check how long the web domain has been registered to confirm this.
2) Never pay any money directly to the travel agency. Your agent should get your credit card number and use it to make the payment directly to Disney. There's no reason for the agency to act as a financial middleman. That way, if something happens to the agency, your payment is still safe with Disney.
3) Don't pay a fee to the travel agency. Legitimate travel agents make their money directly from Walt Disney World, which pays them a commission for each booking. This has no effect on the price you pay, which should be the same whether you use an agent or book the trip yourself.
While there's no way to be 100 percent safe from a rip-off, these tips will give you protection in most cases. Follow them to help ensure that your dream trip won't suddenly transform into a nightmare.