Reserving a Disney Resort Roomauthored by Jennifer and Dave Marx, Authors of PassPorter Travel Guidebooks
updated by Marnie Urmaza, PassPorter Guide
With 20 resort hotels and over 31,000 rooms, reserving a room at Walt Disney World is somewhat different than the typical hotel reservation experience.Reservations for all Disney-owned resorts are made through the Walt Disney World Travel Company. The Cast Members at the Walt Disney World Travel Company can help you explore room availabilities at all resorts, make note of your needs, and help you with nearly any matter involving your stay at Walt Disney World. If you phone a specific resort in hopes of making reservations you will be redirected to the Walt Disney World Travel Company.
So, Let's Get Started!
First, decide when you want to go, and at which resort you wish to stay. We advise that you select several alternate dates and several alternate resorts, just in case your first choice isn't available. Write them down on a piece of paper (like the handy Lodging Worksheet in the PassPorter's Walt Disney World guidebook.)
Just by the nature of the process, your best bet is to use the telephone, especially if you're taking advantage of a discount program. The one-on-one contact with a reservation agent is invaluable as you explore all the options.
Be prepared to take notes, especially if you're shopping for discounted rooms.
You can book more than one reservation, at more than one resort at a time, which gives you an opportunity to present options to your traveling companions.
When you're finished, the reservation agent will give you a reservation number, which you should use whenever you call about the reservation. Within a week you'll get a written confirmation of your plans from Disney, via U.S. mail.
For Room-Only Reservations: You generally have 10-14 days in which to pay a deposit on the reservation, equal to the cost of one night's stay. (Exceptions to this rule enter when your stay begins in less than 30 days.)
For Package Reservations: Packages require a deposit of $200, also due in 14 days, and full payment for your vacation is due 45 days in advance.
Both packages and room-only reservations made online will incur a $100 charge for cancellations made between 6 and 45 days prior to your arrival, and $200 for cancellations made less than 6 days prior. There's a $50 charge for modifying package reservations within 21 days of your arrival.
Now You See It, Now You Don't, Now You Do Again!
Room availabilities (whether at regular rates or discounted) are constantly changing. If the reservation of your dreams is available, book it immediately, even if you must confirm your decision later with your traveling companions' blessings. Room availabilities have a way of disappearing right from under your nose. Note Disney used to hold your reservation for three weeks without a deposit, but now requires a deposit at the time of booking if your stay begins in less than a month. If your stay is over a month away, you have two weeks to pay your deposit.
If your first preference is not available when you speak to Central Reservations, reserve an alternative or two, and try calling back at a later time or date. Cancelled and expired reservations are tossed back into the pool of available rooms all the time. Just keep trying!
One aspect of an enjoyable resort stay is getting the right room, in the right location. Do you want a room on a particular floor, or near the pool? Do you want a king-sized bed or two queen beds? If Disney doesn't charge a different rate for the privilege (as they often do for things like water views) you'll have to note your preferences with the reservation agent who takes your reservation, and hope your wish can be granted.
The reservation agent cannot promise you'll receive your request, and there is no guarantee that your request will influence your room location. Actual room assignments are made by the staff at each individual resort, and are not finalized until you check in at your resort. If you state no special requests or preferences, rooms are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis. If your request has been entered into the computer system Disney will do what it can to honor your request. Sometimes you get your heart's desire, other times you get a reasonable substitute, and sometimes... well, you can't win them all.
It helps to understand the dynamics of the system, and to be patient, understanding, and persistent with the Cast Members you deal with. They do want to please you, but sometimes it's just not possible.
Our basic technique for getting the room of our choice is pretty simple. It's not always successful, but we've done pretty well over the years.
Note: If you book with a travel agent, they will note your room preferences and pass these along to Disney. You'll want to confirm preferences with your travel agent prior to arrival, as Disney reservations will likely not have your information in their system until the day you arrive.
We've had a few cases where we simply got the wrong room. For example, once at the Old Key West, we requested and needed a One-Bedroom Villa and when we arrived at the room, we'd actually been given a Studio. The Cast Members worked very hard to set things right, and we were transferred to our preferred accommodations with very little fuss. For the occasional problem like this, be sure you keep your confirmation slips with you when you check-in.
This article was last updated on 2/19/2008 by Marnie Urmaza