DIS Contributors only speak to their own experiences as DVC members. They receive no additional compensation or benefits towards DVC ownership so that they may give their honest opinions about planning, price, and value.
Some Disney people are super organized. They have calendars and to-do lists that they work on a year or more in advance detailing the resort they want to book, the advanced dining reservations they want to make and the FastPasses to reserve for their favorite attractions.
I am not one of those people. I plan my Disney trips when I have time, which means that I am not always available to call into Disney Vacation Club on exactly when my 11-month window opens up for my next trip. Now, this would not be such a big deal if my trips to Walt Disney World took place during weekends that are not 1/2 marathon race weekends or Presidents Day weekend or Stars Wars May the Fourth — you know, the popular times to visit. However, they are. I planned trips for the Princess Half Marathon and Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekends for the last four years. So I have some experience planning trips during some of the more in-demand weekends on the Disney calendar.
One of my favorite things about Disney Vacation Club is their booking tool. It is fast and easy to very quickly look over the availability of the different resorts and compare the different room types. DVC also makes it super easy to compare the point cost for each room type at the different resorts. Now if you are looking to go the last weekend in April, or the second weekend in September, you are most likely going to find full availability for your stay even 4-6 months out. But if you are like me, trying to book visits that coincide with busier weekends, you will be faced with three options (procrastination does have its price): either do a split stay, waitlist or pay cash. Waitlisting a night is something unique to DVC members that is not available to guests booking rooms outside of Disney Vacation Club. To guests looking to book a DVC room by renting points or booking through The Timeshare Store*, waitlisting may not be available.
Now clearly the easiest solution to avoid this situation is to stay on top of your planning, but sometimes real life conflicts with our Dislife. The first option is to book a split stay. I have seen availability at Old Key West and Saratoga Springs up to 2 months out. Split stays for regular travelers to Walt Disney World are not that big of a deal, but having to transfer rooms can take up 2-4 hours of one of your vacation days. It’s up to you to decide if you have the time in your vacation to move hotel rooms.
The second option that still uses your points to pay for the night and keeps you in the same room is to waitlist. While looking over the availability calendar, Disney Vacation Club will give you the option to waitlist the nights that are currently unavailable. Here are the details about waitlisting:
The 11-month/9-month booking windows still apply. You can only waitlist a room at your home resort within 11 months and 9 months for the other resorts. Members must also have points available to cover the cost of the waitlisted room. Members can only have 2 active waitlists. Waitlisted requests are active until the request is met or until 31 days before check-in. Members wishing to extend their waitlist request can contact member services. DVC provides a tool called the Waitlist Manager; members can access the tool after logging into the DVC website. Here you can view the status of waitlisted rooms, or you can call member services for updates. The standard DVC cancellation policies apply to a waitlist booking.
It’s important to note, waitlisting a room does not guarantee it will become available at a future date, but at the time of writing this article, I have had all 3 of the nights I have waitlisted come through — making this a positive experience for me. Here are 3 tips I have for you after you waitlist a room:
First, don’t forget about it. Remember, until DVC has satisfied your waitlist request you do not have a room for that night or nights.
Second, monitoring your waitlisted status through DVC can be done through the Waitlist Manager. Members can find this tool by logging into the Disney Vacation Club site and searching for Waitlist Manager or by calling into member services.
Third, the waitlisted night has a separate reservation number. For example, when I was booking our Wine & Dine Half Marathon weekend (October 31 – November 4) I waitlisted Friday, Nov 1, which caused me to have 2 reservation numbers: a number for Oct 31- Nov 1 and a different number for Nov 2-Nov 4. Once DVC filed the request I got a 3rd reservation number for the waitlisted night. Now you don’t have to worry about keeping track of all these numbers, DVC does that for you, but each reservation number corresponds to a room, not necessarily the same hotel room. Three reservation numbers mean 3 check-ins. Don’t worry, a simple call into member services can merge all three reservations into one reservation. Just a small detail that can help avoid any confusion during check-in and ordering excessive MagicBands.
Now in the event your waitlisted request is not met, you have one more option left: book a room for the unavailable night by paying cash. For most Disney Vacation Club members this is the least desirable option. Paying retail for 1 and 2 bedroom suites can be expensive; however, guests can avoid this solution by booking a split stay at a separate DVC resort. Sometimes dishing out the cash to prevent changing rooms can save time that could otherwise be spent enjoying the parks or just relax by the pool.
To all my fellow Disers — May all your unbirthday’s be magical, and your clocks run on time!
*The Timeshare Store is an official sponsor of The DIS.