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HEADS UP with your Disney Resort Reservations

HEADS UP with your Disney Resort Reservations

Old Apr 25, 15, 10:14 am
  #1  
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HEADS UP with your Disney Resort Reservations

It appears that Disney has implemented a new rule regarding their resort reservations. If you modify to SHORTEN the length of your stay and were booked on some form of a discount (annual pass, special rates, etc) your entire new stay needs to be available at the same discounted rate and room type or you will have to pay the going rate/discounted rate that is available at the time you make the change.

This is pretty much outrageous. I've never heard of canceling a reservation and rebooking just because you need to shorten. However, the prevailing opinion is that Disney had to do this due to people gaming the new FastPass+ system.

I'll explain:

If you're a resort guest, the new system allows you to book fastpasses 60 days in advance + your length of stay. So if you're staying 10 days, you can book all 10 days at once starting at the 60 day mark.

People were booking longer reservations at the start of their true desired arrival so they could book the hard to get fastpasses (think Anna & Elsa) for the days they will actually be staying. This gave them a several day advantage over everyone else who did not play this game.

The downside is that there are many people who book as soon as discounts are announced and then make adjustments when they are able to get flights, etc. Disney also offers "bounceback" rates when you're onsite to book a future trip. Most people don't know when they want to go back, guess at dates, and adjust when they can make firm plans. These people are caught up in the new rules as well.

Between having to plan your vacation 60 days in advance to get on popular rides and only getting 3 of them a day (versus waiting in long lines) and now this change to the way reservations are made, I suspect they're going take a lot of flack.

I really like the new fastpass system - it does work very well, particularly as a room key and room charge mechanism. This new wrinkle is really annoying.

Don't say you haven't been warned
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Old Apr 25, 15, 10:21 am
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Thanks for the heads up. I find the dining reservation system a pain. It makes zero sense to me that guests at resort properties can find themselves unable to eat at a full table restaurant on site, including for breakfast, because they couldn't figure out what time they
wanted to have dinner 4 months in advance. And if you book sort of last minute, dining
reservations become wildly challenging.
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Old Apr 25, 15, 10:44 am
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The dining reservations aren't the problem. It's the fastpass system that has caused it. Too many people want the really popular rides and are getting shut out or forced to wait 90 minutes in line.

The dining reservations are a pain, and for the really popular meals, such as Chef Mickey's, or Cinderalla's Royal Table, people do pick a date 180 days in advance to make sure they can secure a spot. However, I'm seeing availability for those meals and I'm just about 60 days out. You just have to keep checking. I've had the best luck in the morning.

I agree about last minute dining but have been fairly lucky getting something. Frankly, I've just about given up on sit-down meals, except perhaps for one or two, and do counter service or eat in my cabin at Ft. Wilderness. I actually prefer not going out to crowded restaurants with so-so food.

FWIW - IF you've purchased the dining plan, I would rethink it, even if you got "free" dining (and your room at rack rate). All you're doing is prepaying your meals and subjecting yourself to having to find a place to eat. Unless you have a few teenage boys and are staying in the least expensive rooms, you're not saving anything.
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Old Apr 25, 15, 1:04 pm
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Thanks, Mary. I understand the dining reservations aren't the problem regarding the issue you raised, but it is always my biggest source of frustration. We typically book only 3 or 4 weeks in advance, so I have to keep going on the website just to know I can eat breakfast at the resort where I am staying. And I have been shut out, despite being in
a suite at one of the monorail resorts. Never had a dining plan. Never will. Still, it's such a fun getaway that we deal with it, warts and all.
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Old Apr 25, 15, 4:30 pm
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Agree about the dining frustration. But I'm surprised you can't get a breakfast reservation at your hotel. Since you're in a suite, doesn't it include the club level? And if not, perhaps the concierge could make arrangements for you. While we all know they don't do anything special for guests, even repeat guests, I would think they hold back a few tables for those paying big bucks.

That is, unless you're trying to get a character meal, and then all bets are off

However, if you look in the mornings, and closer to your desired dates, you probably will get a reservation. With the new no-show fee, people are cancelling reservations 24 hours in advance, at a minimum, to avoid the charge.

We generally don't do breakfast reservations, and since we went from being deluxe hotel snobs to Ft. Wilderness cabins snobs, we eat in the cabin - and love every minute of it. It's like having our own little house in the woods in the middle of Disney.
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Old Apr 25, 15, 7:46 pm
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The reservations rules have nothing to do with FastPass. That is solved by simply cancelling FP's booked outside 60 days when the reservations are changed. This has to do with making sure that people don't game the discount system. No different than changes on discounted air fares.

As to dining, if you are Club Level at one of the luxury resorts on the monorail, those concierges can find inventory not otherwise available and all have contacts at the specific venues whom they can call. You might not get the exact time you want, but if you want 8:00 PM and can live with 7:30 or 8:30 PM, you should be fine.
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Old Apr 25, 15, 8:51 pm
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Originally Posted by Mary2e View Post
This is pretty much outrageous. I've never heard of canceling a reservation and rebooking just because you need to shorten.
Actually, this is pretty much standard-operating-procedure for every major hotel chain in the United States. Some chains are more upfront about it. This text is taken from a DoubleTree by Hilton reservation:
"Any change to the arrival date, departure date or room type of this reservation is subject to the hotel's availability at the time the change is requested and may result in a possible rate change or an additional fee. For example, shortening or lengthening your reservation is subject to availability and may not be possible at a later date."
If you want further details, check out these recent examples from the hotel fora:

Without question, Disney has always done things a little different when it comes to hotel reservations. Yes, this is a big change. But, I see this is a glass half-empty/half-full situation. If you don't have firm travel plans, this policy could certainly be "really annoying".

But, for people with firm dates, this could potentially be a major plus. There are a limited number of discounted rates available each night. This policy change will hopefully stop people from holding rooms at discounted rates that they never intend to use. Theoretically, those rooms are now open for booking to guests who want actually them.
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Old Apr 26, 15, 8:11 am
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I've never run into that situation, but then again, I'm mostly at Hyatts and have never had an issue shortening a reservation. If they have the clause, it's not enforced as far as I can tell.

However, Disney never had this rule before. They actually encouraged people to book as many nights as possible so they were covered when dates firmed up. People booked some of those specials a year in advance. Keep in mind that discounted rates have an expiration date for booking. So someone who needs to change arrival date loses their discount.

They changed the policy overnight with no notice and retroactively.

However, I don't believe it's to equalize their reservations or to make sure the discounts are more evenly applied. I believe it has to do with people gaming the FP+ system and causing problems with lack of discount availability, only to be cancelled.

I would agree with the policy if they did this for people within 60 days - that would cut out the gamers.

If I have a discounted room and discover I need to cut back a night, that puts the room back in non-discounted availability. I think that so many people were gaming the system that they were ending up with rooms at the last minute (5 days out) they could not sell.

But this isn't the way to go about it.

It seems that there is a pretty large community of people who start trying to get an advantage every time Disney comes out with something new. The first I can remember is when Cinderella's Royal Table became so popular that people were SELLING their reservations. Other people were getting paid to MAKE the reservation. Disney put a stop to it, first requiring a deposit, and now it has to be prepaid.

While here on FT we're all looking for an advantage, I don't think anyone has gone to the lengths I've seen. Well perhaps those on the MS forum, but I don't really pay much attention.

The point of my post was to warn people this is now the policy.
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Old Apr 26, 15, 7:53 pm
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Originally Posted by Mary2e View Post
I've never run into that situation, but then again, I'm mostly at Hyatts and have never had an issue shortening a reservation. If they have the clause, it's not enforced as far as I can tell.
I can't really comment on Hyatt. I don't think I've stayed at a Hyatt in over a decade. I'm a Hilton person, which is why I could easily quote their policy.

Originally Posted by Mary2e View Post
However, Disney never had this rule before. They actually encouraged people to book as many nights as possible so they were covered when dates firmed up.
That's not true...at least not officially. I used to be a Sales and Systems "Facilitator" at the Disney Reservations Center (DRC). That's Disney-speak for Trainer. Sales Agents were never trained to encourage guests to book extra nights.

In practice, however, I can certainly see that happening. Doing that would be beneficial to the Sales Agent, as they have sales metrics to meet each shift. I honestly can't recall how reservation modifications/cancellations are calculated in the metrics. I think the removed nights would get subtracted from the sales figures for the booking agent. But, those "extra" nights would certainly look good for the week in which they were booked.

Originally Posted by Mary2e View Post
They changed the policy overnight with no notice and retroactively.
This is a tricky one. From a technical standpoint, the only options are "on/off". Without extensive programming, there's no way to limit this to reservations made before a set date.

Therefore, the only way do this non-retroactively would be to involve transfering the guest to a Supervisor. That's a huge hassle for everyone involved. I'm guessing you might know that from experience.

Originally Posted by Mary2e View Post
I believe it has to do with people gaming the FP+ system and causing problems with lack of discount availability, only to be cancelled.
I'm sure that the FP+ system was the reason why this change was made. However, the question about allowing unrestricted changes to existing reservations was discussed back when I was working at DRC. The issue was more about stay controls, not discounts. When minimum-stay restrictions were used, cheaters were booking multi-night stays and then modifying them to a one-night stay. Stopping that practice wasn't a priority when I was there. The issue with FP+ might have given leadership a reason to implement this new policy.

Originally Posted by Mary2e View Post
While here on FT we're all looking for an advantage, I don't think anyone has gone to the lengths I've seen. Well perhaps those on the MS forum, but I don't really pay much attention.

The point of my post was to warn people this is now the policy.
I agree with your view of FT. And, I'm glad that you did post about this policy change.

I know we "argued" in the past about Disney resort ratings. I've definitely moved past that. I hope you didn't take my initial post as attacking you. That wasn't the intent.
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Old Apr 27, 15, 7:48 am
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Actually, I didn't take your post as such, but that you for mentioning it.

From what I've read, the computer system will not allow an agent to shorten without rebooking. Perhaps they turned the feature "on".

When you were there they probably were talking about it regarding stay controls, but I suspect it wasn't that detrimental to Disney. I did it all the time - booked when the discounts were announced and then subtracted if I had to. Actually, more often than not I had to add since I wasn't able to get the full length I wanted on the first try.

FP+ has definitely magnified the problem. Everyone wants an advantage to get the popular rides, and well, with only 3 bookable in advance per day, frankly, I don't blame them. That is my biggest gripe with the system. That, and having to decided where I'm going to be in advance of getting there.

I actually didn't run into the problem - my flights changed and I extended I rarely subtracted.

This policy was very poorly implemented and done so retroactively. That is patently unfair and supervisors have to become involved to override the system. It would have been far easier to cancel all the fastpasses of those shortening within 60 days. That would have stopped it dead in it's tracks.
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Old Apr 29, 15, 10:14 am
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Originally Posted by Mary2e View Post
I've never run into that situation, but then again, I'm mostly at Hyatts and have never had an issue shortening a reservation. If they have the clause, it's not enforced as far as I can tell.

However, Disney never had this rule before. They actually encouraged people to book as many nights as possible so they were covered when dates firmed up. People booked some of those specials a year in advance. Keep in mind that discounted rates have an expiration date for booking. So someone who needs to change arrival date loses their discount.

They changed the policy overnight with no notice and retroactively.

However, I don't believe it's to equalize their reservations or to make sure the discounts are more evenly applied. I believe it has to do with people gaming the FP+ system and causing problems with lack of discount availability, only to be cancelled.

I would agree with the policy if they did this for people within 60 days - that would cut out the gamers.

If I have a discounted room and discover I need to cut back a night, that puts the room back in non-discounted availability. I think that so many people were gaming the system that they were ending up with rooms at the last minute (5 days out) they could not sell.

But this isn't the way to go about it.

It seems that there is a pretty large community of people who start trying to get an advantage every time Disney comes out with something new. The first I can remember is when Cinderella's Royal Table became so popular that people were SELLING their reservations. Other people were getting paid to MAKE the reservation. Disney put a stop to it, first requiring a deposit, and now it has to be prepaid.

While here on FT we're all looking for an advantage, I don't think anyone has gone to the lengths I've seen. Well perhaps those on the MS forum, but I don't really pay much attention.

The point of my post was to warn people this is now the policy.
My gut feeling is that this has absolutely zilch to do with FP+ gamers.

If you book a stay at a WDW resort, make your FP+ selections, and subsequently cancel your resort stay - all of your FP+ selections are automatically cancelled - even if you're with the 30-day window for off-site Guests.

I cannot believe that the My Magic Plus system, which knows the length of your stay and limits your FP selections to those dates already, would not simply cancel any FPs you selected for the days you lop off when you shorten a stay.

I'd say it probably has everything to do with money. By forcing people to re-book rather than shorten, they increase the possibility that they'll have to rebook at a higher rate. Rental cars have operated on this policy for as long as I have been renting - if you book at a discount, then later want to add or subtract time from your reservation, the res is rebooked at whatever rate is currently available, not at the original rate. If you originally booked under a limited-time discount, then rebook later after the discount is over, you have to rebook your whole res without the discount. The agencies make more money that way.

And I suspect that's the whole impetus behind Disney's policy change. If you book in January, under a pin code or discount that can only be used until the end of March, then you want to alter your res in April, the pin code is no longer available, so the pin code can't be re-saved with your res. You'll have to find a new pin code that's still good in April, or save the res with no pin code at all.

I don't particularly like it, but it makes sense to me.
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Old Apr 29, 15, 10:26 am
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Actually, that's not what my post said.

It said that people were booking the room for longer than they needed at the start of their trip so they could get Fastpasses at 60 days from their arrival through the end of their stay.

They only book fastpasses for they days they actually want, and the rest would remain.

As a matter of fact, it already works that way. Unless you're within 30 days and have an annual pass, the FP would be cancelled when you shortened or cancelled your reservation.
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Old Apr 29, 15, 11:09 am
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thanks for the heads up. i hated the new FP+ system, booking stuff 60 days out and the GAS system that was inflexible for my disabled child's needs, and as such, i honestly am not sure when I will go back. and before then, we would go at least 2 times a year for the last 10 years or more...
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Old Apr 29, 15, 2:28 pm
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I'm on the fence about the new system.

What I hate is planning 60 days out for some items. For example, I'm going to be there around July 4th. If I wanted a prayer of getting on anything on either the 3rd or 4th I had to decide what I was going to do YESTERDAY so I could line up the FPes at my preferred times. Even then, I was shut out of special fireworks viewing areas. They will add more, but I have better things to do with my time than check.

The upside is I love the magic band. It makes my life so much easier - no room key, no tickets, and frankly, no need to carry money or a credit card.

Lately I've been going 3-4 times a year, at least a full week, and several long weekends. However, we have decided that even with a castmember friend (and all his discounts) we will not be renewing the passes and probably won't buy another one.

They're improving the system. It's vastly better than it was in 2012, but it's still not there yet. When I can park hop with FPes, I'll be happier
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Old Apr 30, 15, 6:55 am
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I also find the tracking aspect of it disconcerting although this is not the primary reason that I do not like it and will temper my trips to WDW as a result of the same. I was somewhat taken a back when there were videos of us on rides....

At least I have 7 days left on a PH w/ no expiration that i can use a day at a time if, when in the area, we decide to go for a day, appreciating that we are not likely to get on any rides without waiting....
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