Booking System Issues and Sudden Availability

This morning (8/9/21) there was a surprising flood of availability for hard-to-get dates at nearly every DVC resort. When poking around just before 7am, instead of seeing the typical 1 or 2 nights available in a studio across any resort for the months of November and December, I saw full availability for weeks like “Jersey week” (the first week of November) and “marathon weekend (the second weekend of January).

For the first half of November, nearly every night was available in hard to get resorts. For example, Boardwalk studios were (briefly) fully available for every night the first two weeks of November. Boardwalk studios are usually pretty darn near impossible to get for dates during Food and Wine Festival, nevermind Jersey Week (the first week of November when all public schools are closed Thursday and Friday in NJ for a Teachers’ Convention, so everyone heads to Disney). I also saw full availability in both studios and one-bedrooms at Bay Lake Tower for nearly the entire month of November! At 6:45am the entire second week of November, as well as a large chunk of October and December, was all showing up as available at the Beach Club in one bedrooms and studios (note that even in this circumstance, Jersey Week didn’t show up at Beach Club because inventory is that challenging there). I did not continue to check every single resort, but I did also see availability in Savannah view studios at AKL – Jambo and Kidani for the end of October and beginning of November (since I was checking that for someone).

There has been frequent speculation amongst DVC members this year that getting rooms is increasingly challenging and availability is increasingly limited as a result of everyone’s cancelling trips last year and moving them to this year. While this makes a good deal of sense, it shouldn’t be as huge of an issue as people have made it out to be. First of all, DVC resorts were the only resorts open for awhile in Disney last year and plenty of DVC members chose to visit while WDW was so empty (myself included, 4 times). Also, there was a flood of cheap points on the rental market, meaning that a lot of members chose to rent their points to people who travelled last year, instead of banking them and saving them for a trip this year. Also with the borrowing restrictions in place, people who banked last year’s points don’t have a full extra year’s worth of points compared to those that they usually have access to any given year, but potentially do have half a year’s worth of extra points available this year. If anything, I imagine people are upgrading to bigger rooms for their normal annual trip this year, making one bedrooms a little harder to come by than usual as compared to studios. Just a theory.

Regardless, the activity this morning seems to suggest that maybe something else could be at play with regards to the impossible availability this Fall. It almost would seem to indicate that perhaps some inventory is being held back by DVC resorts. This is universally shot down as something that does not happen when it gets suggested, although DVC acknowledges that they always hold back a tiny percentage of DVC rooms to be booked with cash by non-DVC members. Clearly something happened this morning where a flood of rooms were released to the DVC member availability pool of rooms. This comes after the system had a lengthy outage last week, followed by a seemingly unplanned outage late last night (Sunday night). Then this morning, I awoke to every room being available. I don’t know if it is a system issue, or maybe the system was mistakenly not releasing cancelled rooms for the past couple weeks as everyone has rushed to cancel/modify trips due to the return of masking rules. On the phone with Member Services this morning, the representative said that maybe “the resorts” released extra rooms this morning (granted Member Services reps always have absolutely no insight into the workings of the availability or what is going on with the systems, especially while working from home for the past year). It almost seems as though the system erroneously (or intentionally) held back some rooms throughout the fall/winter as people cancelled trips, and all of those rooms were released last night.

I am also curious about whether the waitlist was working properly this morning. When working properly, the waitlist automatically and instantly grabs any room that becomes available if a waitlist is in place for that night. Years ago, the waitlist was flawed and people could grab available rooms before the waitlist picked them up, but back in 2019 the system was upgraded to check for rooms real-time, instead of 2 or 3 times per day, making a huge difference in the waitlist’s effectiveness. This morning, I saw a room available for a night that I had waitlisted, and my waitlist didn’t appear to have matched, but I wasn’t able to call in and confirm because it was too early in the morning. Typically when a room becomes available, the waitlist grabs it immediately, but then a cast member has to manually book the reservation later that day when they have time. At that point, you are notified. Usually the waitlist disappears from your dashboard before you are notified though, so I was surprised to still see the waitlist on my dashboard and the room showing as available. I assume that several rooms must have opened up for that same night, one was picked up by my waitlist, and the others were left as available. I am assuming the waitlist was in fact working because the availability for Beach Club studios looked like this:

For anyone who watches the availability, you know it’s unheard of to see even two consecutive nights in a studio at Beach Club in November.

This shows that the week that presumably has a lengthy waitlist did not show up as available. Presumably several waitlists were filled for people wanting studios the first week of November at Beach Club, but not enough rooms opened up to fill all of them and have rooms show up as available. If you had a waitlist for any night in any room type for the beginning of November, the odds are that it matched last night, so I would call in to Member Services to check, if you haven’t already been notified.

If you did NOT get the room you’ve been looking for during one of those busy times that opened up last night, definitely check extra this week. Whenever rooms open up and people grab them, there is a chain reaction. If people’s waitlists came through at Beach Club for example, you’d expect rooms to open up for the same nights at another resort, since people probably had a room booked elsewhere while waiting for their waitlist. As an example, this evening, tons of availability opened up at Saratoga Springs, presumably because people got rooms they wanted elsewhere and cancelled their Saratoga Springs rooms. When people get waitlisted rooms, they also often change their minds and cancel what came through, keeping what they already had booked, so rooms may pop back up as available at hard-to-get resorts in the upcoming days.

Lastly, Member Services had another system outage this morning and for most of the day after all of this happened. Something is definitely wonky with their systems right now. The online booking tool was down most of the day, and they couldn’t access the system over the phone either. So for all the availability stalkers, keep an eye on your dates for the next few days!!

Leave a Reply