The 3 different ways I have booked a Disney vacation.
Someone DM'd me and asked how we have booked our Disney vacations. The answer is this, we have booked the past 3 times different each time. Here is a quick summary of the ways we did them. With links to the companies we used. I am not affiliated with them in any way and won't receive anything from them.
When I did my first Run Disney event we only needed a hotel for a couple nights, the day before the race and the race night. The easiest way to do that was directly through Disney. It was simple. We didn't add any park tickets or dining, and paid the room in full the very first day. Most people feel most comfortable using Disney directly and worry about being ripped off by other companies. This is the safest and most direct way to book a vacation at Disney. Keep an eye out for deals or specials they run during the "down times" and find the hotel that fits your budget.
Buying someone's DVC Points
When I ran the marathon this past January I wanted a hotel on the marathon route. I also had my mother coming with us since my husband would be leaving early. When I looked on the Disney site I found the one bedroom villa to be too expensive. So I started researching. I happened upon David's Vacation Club Rentals. This is a site (not associated with Disney at all) where vacation club owners can sell their points, and you can reserve a room for a discounted price. Follow the link because I think they have changed the payment options. We paid 60% and then the remainder had to paid a month out. When recently looking on the site I saw they have the option of PayPal payments for US residents. So I'm assuming that will allow you to pay as you go until a month ahead, and then the full payment would be required. We got to stay in a one bedroom villa at the Boardwalk Hotel for about half the price on the Disney website. It was unbelievable. Best slide on property, in my opinion, and great hotel for those who love Epcot. You can walk there in under 10 minutes and to Universal in about 15 minutes. We liked this payment option because it didn't leave us in debt and thinking "can we afford this" because we did two smaller savings instead that were spread out. If you buy DVC points there are certain resorts you can stay at, which to some is a big CON. Also, you will receive mouse keeping only for trips greater than 7 nights. Otherwise no one will enter your room unless you request towels or more toiletries of something
*Side note. The closet at the Boardwalk one bedroom villa fit a pack and play perfectly. My daughter never slept better. Obviously the door was open, but it was nice to have her away from the tv and bedroom.
Official Disney Travel Agent
For our trip in August we went a totally different route again. We wanted to stay at a specific hotel, (not DVC one) but also not have to pay for the entire trip upon booking. We used Patti Stewart who is with Upon A Star Travel. This is still new to us so still paying for the trip. We paid half now and owe the other half a month before. I had to call Patti, so know that the agent will have your credit card information in paper form. Not sure if all Disney authorized agents do this, but you can pay for Disney gift cards which is how I plan to pay my part of the trip. Bonus of the agent is they will look for dining reservations for you and book Magic Express and print you a whole schedule out. I'm Disney OCD so I do the dining and Magic Express myself. She also kept in contact with me when the summer deals came out and asked if we wanted to save a couple hundred and switch hotels. She also emailed me back many times when I kept changing the dates and amount of park tickets, and kept sending me new quotes. So far this has been a fantastic process. I'll keep you posted on if shit hits the fan.
How have you booked your Disney vacations? And overseas trips as well?