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Faxing Your Room Preferences
To Your Disney Hotel
By Jack Marshall
One of the most frequently asked questions about Walt Disney World deals with making special requests about rooms. Disney calls these your room preferences.
There is one very important thing to remember when making these requests. They are just that ... requests. Disney will not guarantee any request except in cases of documented medical necessity booked through Disney Special Needs or in the case of parties greater than 5 people needing multiple rooms with only one adult in the party. They will however make every effort to accommodate you if they can.
Room assigners have been getting swamped with room requests where people are requesting 5 or 6 things. Disney will now try their best to fill only your first request. First hand reports seem to confirm that. It also appears that the earlier you check in at your resort, the better your chances of getting a room you asked for or switching to one that you would rather have. With these scenarios understood, you can proceed.
First of all, the absolute easiest way to make your requests is through the Disney Reservations Center (DRC). They will gladly note any and all requests you make directly on your reservation that will be downloaded to the resort. That is what they are there for. These requests will actually stand a better chance of being assigned what you want than a fax will since the fax can get misplaced, misdirected or ignored. You can make, add or change your requests at anytime when you do this through DRC. But don't panic if you don't see your requests listed on your confirmation slip. Disney is now using request codes that are typed into your reservation file and are visible only to Disney CM's at DRC and at the resorts. Every reservation has a "comments" section is passed on to the resort when your reservation is downloaded. That is where all of your request information will appear to the resort CM's.
Previously I had suggested that you should not fax in requests already made through DRC. I am modifying my stance on this now based upon feedback I received from several sources. Go ahead and send a confirming fax to the resort's Room Assigner four days prior to arrival if you want to. List anything in your fax that you would consider a "must have". But remember that while you might consider something as "must have", the resorts will only consider it as a regular non-guaranteed request that they will attempt to meet.
If however you feel you must make your requests directly to the resort you should know that there are certain things which are appropriate to request in advance. Specific building or floor, room view, kind of beds, adjoining (near each other with entrance only from outside door) rooms or connecting (side by side rooms with an inside door between them) rooms and being located near other family/friends who will be there at the same time are all very normal things to request. Make sure that when you list your requests they are in the order of most importance. Put the thing you would like most as the first request and continue from there. Keep in mind that if your only requests are generic ones like "close to the bus stop" and "non smoking" (unless for guaranteed medical reasons), they no longer pre-assigned by most resorts. Instead, they are assigned out of the pool of ready rooms available at the time you check-in.
Be sure that what you are requesting actually exists. People who request a room with a balcony at the All Stars, bunk beds at the Grand Floridian or a room close to the lobby with a lagoon view reservation at the Polynesian really are out there.
There are also some things that should NOT be requested in advance like hair dryers, irons and ironing boards or coffee makers. These items are provided by the housekeeping department upon request at check-in. They do not require advance reservation. The room assigner has no control over these.
Faxes are preferred to phone calls because it allows the room assigner to block requests in their own time. Phone calls can come at bad times and lead to a cast member making a notation on your reservation or on a piece of scrap paper and not actually blocking a room. The fax actually gets put in a file and rotated between the room assigners until you check in. If for some reason the room that was blocked for you gets moved, the next room assigner in rotation should catch it but remember that it is always possible that your preassigned room can be changed for many reasons right up until the moment you check-in. Requests should be faxed directly to the resort and marked "Attention: Room Assigner".
No requests should be sent until 4 days prior to actual check-in. The resorts do not get to download the reservations from the DRC computers until 10 days before your arrival and the room assigners generally block your rooms 3 days before. If you fax a request to a resort before they have the reservation in their computers and are ready to assign it, they will file it in a special "pass" folder. That folder should be checked daily to pull out faxes that came in early but there is always the chance yours could be missed. The best way to avoid getting in the Pass folder is to not send in your request until 4 days before.
Figure your 4 days prior to arrival this way:
- Arrival day/check-in
Wednesday - 1 day prior
Tuesday - 2 days prior
Monday - 3 days prior
Sunday - 4 days prior
Faxing after 4 pm is usually best only because the morning Room Assigner is usually bogged down with checkouts and the evening Room Assigner is usually dealing with check-ins until 4 pm. Honestly though, if you are faxing it doesn't matter when you send it. If they are busy they will file it and the evening Room Assigner will get to it when they start blocking requests.
Yes, the resorts do room assignments 7 days a week. Many Disney resorts will assign their rooms to medical needs and groups first followed by regular guest requests. Oldest reservations will usually have priority but that isn't always the case.
You should also be aware that if you made your reservations through a travel agent, you may not be able to add or change anything on the reservation. That includes room requests. You may have to go through your booking agent to do those things.
Be sure you include the pertinent information in the fax. Your name, home address and telephone, your reservation number(s), the dates of your arrival and departure, and the requests you wish to make. It would be in your best interests to list your requests in the order of importance to you. And remember that the more requests you are making the greater the chances you will not receive all of them.
If you have more than one reservation at the same resort that will run consecutively be sure to indicate that in the fax by informing the assigner that you have "continuing reservations". Make sure you list all the reservation numbers and dates on each. This will tell the assigner that you want to remain in the same room during both reservations. You will still have to do the "check out/check back in" at the front desk on the day your second reservation starts but you will likely not have to actually change rooms.
You should always give a reason why you are requesting something. This is to help the room assigner figure out what your intent is if he can't fulfill your specific request. Did you request a second floor room because of the view or is the first floor too noisy for you? Is the building you wanted because it is close to the bus/food/pool/etc or because it is a nonsmoking building? If the room assigner knows the reason, he can put you in another room that will better meet your needs if what you wanted isn't available. The more narrow and specific your request is such as with a specific room number, the harder it will be to fulfill.
Remember that it is always best to use the friendliest tone possible in your faxes and in your face-to-face dealings with the front desk CM's. "May we", "could we possibly", or "if it's possible" work really well. "I want" or "I should get" do not. Room assigners don't want to hear "I read on the Internet that someone else got such & such and I want it, too." Demands and entitlements are frowned upon. Please be polite. Most room assigners cringe at bold, underlines, all caps, and sentences that include "we REQUIRE a room with a balcony" or "I MUST HAVE a pool view or my vacation will be ruined." And when a room assigner cringes at your requests, you can bet that your requests aren't going to the top of his/her list. These are only requests. Never lose sight of the fact that nothing is guaranteed.
The subject of asking for free upgrades (standard to water view or standard to king beds) when making requests comes up constantly. These are not granted by a room assigner. A resort won't know whether they have better rooms available until the day you check in. The times that they have been granted have mostly been to people who never even asked. You stand a better chance if you request one at check-in while you are standing there. Your odds are better in slow periods of the year but even then are not guaranteed. Do not set yourself up for disappointment by expecting to get an upgrade. Just because someone else got one doesn't mean you will. Be sure you are ready and willing to stay in the room category you actually reserved. Incidentally, Disney Cruise Line resort reservations are always for standard rooms and are not upgradeable per the DCL contract.
The room assigners try their very best to get all requests met but sometimes this is just not possible. Please remember that if your requests are not met it is not because they did not try. You will not receive any additional confirmation back from the resort regarding these requests. Most times of the year the requests will be granted if available. Certain busy periods may have an effect on them however.
All rooms are not pre-assigned before the arrival of the guests. There are many times that the Front Desk CM selects the room from a pool of available rooms at the time of check in. As a general rule, when your most important request is either smoking/non-smoking or "close to the bus stop/food court", your room will not be preassigned. It will be chosen from this pool of rooms by the CM checking you in.
Keep in mind that although your resort may have 1,000 rooms, only 100 may turn over on Monday, 150 on Tuesday, etc. So that means if you are arriving on that Monday, the room assigner only has 100 rooms in the entire resort where they can put you because the rest are already occupied. If there are no rooms that meet your requests among that 100, then you don't get your request.
The question of whether it is better to arrive at check-in early to get a room that meets your requests rather than a late check-in often comes up. You are more likely to get the room you want if you check in earlier in the day rather than later. That's because the more unoccupied rooms that are in the available pool to be assigned to you, the better your chance of getting (or switching to) a room that fulfills your requests. Front desk CM's have the latitude to change your room assignment from one that the room assigner blocked to one of the unassigned rooms in the available pool. Even though most room requests are pre-assigned, the resorts will not hold rooms empty to meet the requests of a guest who has not yet arrived if another guest arrives first and requests the same things.
If you have checked in late and the room assigned to you is not what you asked for and nothing else is available, you can nicely ask the front desk CM to have the room assigner move you tomorrow to a better room. Most times, a room that more closely fits what you want will open up. Remember that this requires a change of rooms. The resorts will move your luggage for you if you wish so you must be completely packed up before you head out to the parks on the morning of your move. Just remember that you may not get your luggage delivered to your new room prior to your returning from the parks. You may have to call Bell Services or Luggage Assistance at your resort to have it brought to you.
One more thing to consider: the more requests you make, the less likely that your room will be ready before the 3 or 4 o'clock check-in time except during extremely slow times of the year. It is entirely possible that you will see that the person next to you in line gets a room right then while you have to wait. They were most likely assigned a room from the available pool.
And keep in mind that there is always the possibility that you may well get what you asked for and find out it's not what you thought it would be. Water view rooms are particularly susceptible. You may have a bush or a fence or a tree in the way or you may have to look around the corner to see the water. Disney categorizes these rooms as water view, too. And a first floor pool view room (or any other pool view room) may sound nice, but you may find yourself very unhappy with all the noise you'll hear coming from the pool until very late at night.
There have been many instances of people saying that Disney now pays no attention to these faxes. That is a distinct possibility that will vary from one CM to another, even within the same resort. As I said previously, all Disney resorts are different. Some room assigners are better than others just as some resorts are better than others. Most room assigners will try to do the best that they can in meeting your requests. Many will not ignore them unless you have faxed to a resort that no longer accepts them. But not every one can be filled as the guest wants. Some guests have even resorted to tears and tantrums when they couldn't get their requests fulfilled. Neither one works when the rooms you want are just not available.
One last suggestion: for those of you who have used a fax for your requests and had the perfect room assigned to you for your vacation, a note of thanks to the room assigner upon your return home is not out of line. You can find the mailing address for each resort listed in the resort fact sheets that are accessible from our Accommodations page. You could also send a fax of your thank you to the same number you sent the room request to. It will be seen by the right people, honest.
Disney's Wilderness Lodge discontinued accepting fax requests on December 15, 2003, for room assignments. All room requests must be added to your reservation by the Disney Reservation Center (WDTC and/or CRO) at least 10 days prior to your arrival at WL. They may be called in at 407-WDISNEY. This change now means WL and all the DVC resorts no longer accept room request faxes.
The official Disney policy on room preferences has always been that they need to be added directly to the reservation by DRC and contact with the resort was discouraged. In the past, that policy has not been strictly adhered to as the volume of the faxes received by the resort has been manageable. WL made this decision based on several factors which included the increase in the number of faxes received and the adverse reaction upon resort arrival of many people who could not have their room requests granted. Currently, each resort is free to adopt this policy or not as they see fit.
Disney's entire system of assigning rooms has recently undergone a metamorphosis. The Disney Reservations Center (DRC), which is comprised of both the Walt Disney Travel Company (WDTC) and the Central Reservations Office (CRO), had a new reservations computer system put online in 2004. This program will mesh seamlessly with the new property management computer system that the Disney resorts are now using, thereby eliminating the need for faxing room requests. Our best advice remains that you give your requests to your reservations agent for them to note directly on your reservation.
Any reports of "official" Disney memos to all reservations and/or resort CMs that purport them being told to ignore faxed requests cannot be verified by our very reliable network of DRC and resorts contacts. But unofficially, the word is that current resort policy is that faxes are no longer looked at because there were too many of them coming in and because it goes against the "rooms ready" policy of assigning a room that is currently ready and available at the time of your check-in. This varies from one resort to another and even from one CM at a resort to another.
So you may continue to follow the faxing advice listed below if that is your preference. Keep in mind that all resorts do not operate exactly the same. Some will no longer accept and/or read faxed requests. Others still welcome them ... for now.
DVC Resorts Room Request Procedure
This information comes direct from Disney's DVC Member Services:
The established procedure and appropriate time
for making special room requests is when you make your reservation with Member Services. If you have
any additional requests, or changes to your original request, call Member Services directly. Please do
not call or fax the resort where you'll be staying. To be fair to all Members, the only information we
use when trying to honor special room requests is that which comes from Member Services.
DVC Resorts are no longer pre-assigning rooms by reservation date anymore. They will assign you a room upon arrival while trying to meet your requests you made with Member Services. Should you not like the room that you have been given, you have the option of turning it down and returning later to see if something better has opened up. Doing this means you will no longer be able to still take the first room offered as it will likely have been given out to someone else already.
Last Update: 09/11