- Greg Antonelle has booked thousands of Disney vacations for people through his company MickeyTravels.
- Since founding the company, he’s planned trips for royals, actors, musicians, and athletes.
- The trips often involve VIP tour guides that cost upwards of $29,750 for a five-day trip.
Greg Antonelle told Insider he never planned to work with ultra-wealthy clients when he and his wife launched MickeyTravels, a Disney vacation-planning company, in 2011.
But as the company expanded to 250 travel agents, so did its list of connections to the professional sports world and entertainment industry, Antonelle, the managing director of MickeyTravels, said. Since it was founded, the agency has planned Disney vacations for royalty, musicians, athletes, and actors, Antonelle added.
Today, Antonelle estimates that a third of his clients plan deluxe trips to Disney parks. These trips often involve suites at the nicest Disney resorts and VIP tour guides that cost $850 an hour.
Planning a trip starts by nailing down the desired experience
As long as a client plans to stay on a Disney property, Antonelle and his team will book their trip. In 2021, he said his team booked more than 10,000 Disney trips.
“The demographics can go from a young couple on their honeymoon at a value resort to 25 people for a family reunion where they’re staying at the Grand Floridian,” Antonelle said, referencing Disney World’s most expensive resort.
Antonelle said his wealthier clients often know exactly what they want out of their Disney experience, such as reservations at popular, expensive restaurants like Oga’s Cantina in Galaxy’s Edge at Hollywood Studios and Space 220 Restaurant at Epcot.
When it comes to Walt Disney World parks, Hollywood Studios is by far the most popular among his clients followed by Magic Kingdom, Antonelle said.
Once Antonelle’s team knows what his clients are looking for, he said his travel agents start locking down details like VIP tour guides and reservations in Disney villas.
Antonelle’s wealthy clients often request the $850/hour VIP tour
An upgrade to the traditional park experience, VIP tours — which are run through Disney — assign guests their own personal Disney cast member and give them access to private areas. Plus, they can skip the lines at rides and quick-service restaurants, and park-hopping rules don’t apply, Antonelle said. Typically, visitors can’t move between parks until 2 p.m. each day, but on a VIP tour, guests can go wherever whenever, Antonelle said.
Beyond the perks, VIP tour guides know “the ins and outs of every inch of the parks,” Antonelle said. They provide history, stories, and unusual Disney facts throughout their tours.
Depending on the season, a VIP tour guide costs between $650 and $850 an hour, he said. That doesn’t include park admission plus there’s a seven-hour minimum requirement per day. A single day with a VIP tour guide can range between $4,550 and $5,950, and some of Antonelle’s clients will book a VIP guide for an entire week, he said, costing upwards of $29,750.
The ultra-rich splurge on top Disney hotels, suites, and villas
Plenty of luxury travelers book the nicest suites at Disney resorts, but Antonelle said that’s not always the case.
“We’ve booked certain clients that you would think would go all out and that they’re going to spend incredible amounts of money,” he said. “But they don’t.”
For instance, Antonelle said his team helped coordinate a vacation last December for a well-known singer and actor who didn’t have any special accommodations. Instead, they booked a more basic room in a Disney World hotel.
Most travelers who spend large, however, splurge on luxury suites and villas, and typically stay at the monorail resorts at Magic Kingdom so they can easily get to and from their resort, Antonelle said.
The top three resorts are Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, where the nicest suite costs $4,800 per night during peak season, according to Inside the Magic; Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, where the price of a night in the ambassador vice-presidential suite ranges between $2,500 and $4,000, according to Touring Plans; and Disney’s Contemporary Resort, where a two-bedroom suite is priced between $2,500 and $4,700 a night, according to Touring Plans.
Antonelle said he has one wealthy client who visits Disney World each year and books an entire floor at the Grand Floridian for 10 nights. For reference, a single night in a standard room at the Grand Floridian costs $750, according to Disney’s website.
Booking agents travel to Disney to serve as assistants to their wealthy clients
Antonelle said his wealthier clients are used to a certain standard of living. They expect that standard throughout their Disney trip.
To make sure that’s accomplished, Antonelle said his agency will send the booking travel agent down to Disney to help the clients in person.
“They’ll almost act as their assistant for the week,” Antonelle said, adding that they’ll check into the hotel on behalf of the client, manage dining reservations, and be available on FaceTime if anything goes wrong inside the park.
Additionally, privacy is a big thing for many of his celebrity-status clients.
Antonelle said avoiding crowds is a tough promise to make, but he added that the VIP tours’ access to private areas helps keep his clients as behind the scenes as possible.
Antonelle added that the Florida wardrobe necessities — sunglasses and a hat — dual as a basic disguise.
Ultimately, Antonelle said his clients have the same goal as everyone: They want to experience the magic of Disney.
“When celebrities are here, they just want to be like anybody else,” he said. “They’re just looking to have fun.”