“No matter the age, there’s just something magical about Disney,” said Raymond native Laura Wagahoff, who is now the owner of It’s a Small World Adventures travel agency.
Wagahoff currently resides in Sycamore with her husband, Blake, and three daughters, Anna, age ten, Eden, age eight, and Emma Kate, age five.
Even before she started working as an agent in the travel agency, Wagahoff used their services to help plan two family trips to Walt Disney World in Florida.
“It truly is a small world,” Wagahoff said.
In 2013, Wagahoff’s parents, Larry and Pat Ziegler of Raymond, were planning to take their whole family on a trip, when Terri Pope mentioned the agency to them. Pope’s daughter, Alexis, and the company owner’s (LaRhea Petrea) daughter were college roommates.
“Even though I always liked to plan the trips, I thought she could help dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s to make sure we had everything covered trying to plan a trip in three weeks’ time,” Wagahoff said.
Although she booked all the parks and fast passes herself, Wagahoff said Petrea really “wowed” her with her agency’s efforts, including a welcome packet for the family.
The Wagahoff family would contact Petrea again for another family trip, this time with the Wagahoff side and Blake’s parents, Jerry and Donna Wagahoff of Raymond, in 2017.
Although Wagahoff was still interested in planning many of the trip’s details herself, she reached out to Petrea to help with the financial end of things and making sure the trip went smoothly. It was after that trip Petrea asked Wagahoff if she was interested in joining the agency.
Wagahoff, who has previously worked for hospitals as a child life specialist and hoped someday to return to that position, said she would think about it.
“I have really missed working as a child life specialist and helping meet kids’ needs while they are in the hospital,” Wagahoff said.
But at the time, the family was living in Kearney, NE, a three-hour drive from the closest children’s hospital in Omaha, NE.
“I just needed something else to do for me,” Wagahoff said. “And I love Disney.”
In January 2018, she accepted an offer from Petrea to join the agency as an agent, helping other families to find their Disney magic. This year, she had the chance to become owner of the entire company from Petrea, and helps to manage 14 agents, in addition to helping plan Disney trips.
Their company offers a wide range of travel planning options, not just through Walt Disney World, but also for Universal Studios, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Lines and more. Wagahoff can help by booking hotels, park tickets, dining reservations, Fast Passes and more. She also offers her expertise on the trips as well.
“Families can book a cruise online, but they pay the same price as they would if they book through an agent,” Wagahoff said. “You pay full price, but you don’t get the benefit of having someone help you with your trip.”
As things change all the time in the theme parks and hotels, Wagahoff and her agents are able to stay up-to-date on the latest happenings and plan things accordingly for customers. For example, the park reservation system changed this past year due to the ongoing pandemic, and even the most seasoned Disney travelers often have questions.
“It’s just having that extra person to make sure your trip is set and if you need something while you’re there,” she said.
Wagahoff said she enjoys helping to take the stress off families so they can just enjoy their trip. The job also allows her to be flexible with her daughters, but gives her something to do as well.
“I went to college to become a child life specialist, helping kids not be so scared in the hospital,” she said. “No one chooses to go to the hospital, but I can help with the unknown and ease some of their anxiety. That’s what I love about this job. I can help to reduce someone’s stress about Disney. And I love putting that extra magic into someone’s trip.”
To learn more, visit It’s a Small World Adventures on Facebook.