3 years ago this summer, a dream that was once a wish that a young girl’s heart made became reality. After many trips to various Disney properties throughout her young life, something was convincing her to consider using her love for Disney as a chance to make a good living. And now 3 years later, with a team of almost 40 agents across several states, she’s ready to share her story.
Welcome to Believe Vacations’ Weekly Post where today, we’ll take a break from the normal insights about Disney and instead, use this space to focus on and celebrate our owner, Mary-Morning Radcliffe. MMR (as we love to call her) started Believe Vacations 3 years ago and for this anniversary, we thought it’d be a good time to share her story and the history of Believe Vacations. You may be thinking about being an agent like us or even wonder how you can transfer your love for Disney into something more. Regardless, we hope you enjoy this Q&A article and celebrate Believe and MMR with us!
What are your favorite Disney memories growing up?
I have so many wonderful memories from all of my travels! As a young child, my favorite
memories were from exploring the different hotels. At that time, the only hotels on Disney
property were the Grand Floridian, the Contemporary, and the Polynesian. I grew up in
Alabama, so we always drove to Disney World. I still remember the butterflies that I would get
as our car pulled up to the front of the hotel and I gazed out my window in awe of how beautiful
and magical it was. Now, when I take my kids to these three original hotels, there is always
something that brings back a flood of memories from my childhood. It’s a magical feeling, but
also a feeling of comfort because I truly feel at home when I stay at these hotels. At the Grand
Floridian, it’s the courtyard outside of the Main Building at dusk and remembering the many
walks that took place there. At the Contemporary, it’s the view of Bay Lake and watching the
Electrical Water Pageant at night. And at the Polynesian, it’s the lobby and all those stairs that
lead to the monorail. I am a huge proponent of staying at a Disney hotel while visiting Walt
Disney World because I feel like the hotel enhances your experience and keeps you immersed in
the magic during your vacation.
How often did you go growing up?
My family went to Disney World at least once a year. As I got older, the trips became more and
more frequent, and I started traveling 2-3 times a year.
When did you first consider planning vacations could be a “job”?
Friends and classmates would always look to me as the “expert” when it came to Disney World
because they knew that I visited so often. So they always asked me questions and looked to me
for advice. There was one instance in particular when I had the “lightbulb” moment. I was
chatting with some friends one night about their upcoming trip to Disney World. I walked them
through all of the options that you have to consider when planning a trip – the hotel, the dining,
the FastPasses, and everything in between. It was at this point that I realized the value that I
could provide for others who were traveling to Disney World for the first time. Disney World is
truly like my second home, and I have so many tips and tricks that I can share to take the stress
out of planning and to allow guests to relax and focus on enjoying their vacation.
How did you initially launch Believe?
I previously worked with a different agency that was in the development stage. I helped through
the startup phase and was responsible for recruiting and training new agents. After a year and a
half, I decided to leave and launch my own Travel Agency, Believe Vacations. I have a
background in Finance and Education, and I have served in various leadership positions, as well
as, on the Board of Directors of a non-profit organization. So I felt confident and well-equipped
to venture off on my own to see where the path would lead. After all, “Adventure is out there.”
Is there a process to owning a Disney Travel Agency? After forming the business and registering with the State, there are a few steps that you need to
go through in order to work with Disney. You first need to become a member of either IATA or
CLIA, which is essentially a way to show that you are a seller of travel. Then you must complete
an application through Disney Destinations in order to become eligible to sell vacations to the
various Disney destinations. Once you are registered with Disney, you will gain access to a
special website that is designed specifically for travel agents, and we must complete the College
of Disney Knowledge training. From there, it is just a matter of keeping your trainings up-to-
date, renewing your memberships, and maintaining licenses that are required for sellers of
How did you find your agents?
Believe’s growth has been very organic. There were only two agents that I actively recruited when
I first started the agency. From there, all of the agents have been brought on through referrals
from current agents. I have standards in place for the qualities that I look for in potential agents.
For example, they must have extensive experience traveling to the Disney destinations, with an
emphasis on Walt Disney World. They must have personal experience staying at the various
Disney hotels, eating at the many dining locations, and using the FastPass system. They cannot
just be Disney fans. They must be knowledgeable and have first-hand experience. Clients come
to us because they need help and guidance to plan their vacations. They look to us as being
experts, and they expect us to be able to answer all of their questions. So I want to ensure that
the Believe agents can meet those expectations, and that clients feel comfortable knowing they
are in good hands.
How has ownership increased your love for Disney?
I love that my workday is centered around Disney! I have a group of people with whom I can talk
Disney all day, every day, and my job is to stay up-to-date on the latest Disney news. I also have
the best job because I make dreams come true! I love the relationships that I build with my
clients, and the dreams that I am able to help fulfill. I have helped a client setup a proposal; I
have helped parents surprise their kids; I have helped a husband surprise his wife; I have helped
clients celebrate being cancer free, and everything in between.
Have you learned anything new in the three years of your business?
I am constantly learning because Disney is constantly changing. No matter how often I travel to
Disney World, there will always be something new, and there will always be a client who comes
up with a question that I have never encountered before.
What areas of Disney are you most excited about in the next 3 years?
I am a huge fan of Epcot, so I am excited to see the changes that are coming! I am also excited
about the new cruise ships that will be joining the Disney Cruise Line fleet, and to see where
Disney Cruise Line will go in the future.
Finally, why choose Believe Vacations?
As I previously mentioned, we recruit high-quality agents who are knowledgeable about Disney
destinations and offer first-hand expertise. We take the stress out of planning a Disney vacation
because we help guide the client every step of the way – from resort recommendations, to
advanced dining reservations, to FastPass selections, and even custom itineraries. Our passion is
helping design personalized Disney vacations that will bring enjoyment to the young as well as
the young at heart.