There's a few different ways - but the easiest is to look under the drop down menu "Plan a Vacation" and then select "Book a Vacation". This is also the page that is know as the Resort Availability Tool, or RAT for short.
First - you will need to choose the number of people in your party and the dates you wish to travel on the screen.
As you scroll down, you will have to pick the room type you want to look for (you may pick more than one) the contract you want to use (at least for 11-month bookings) and also select the resorts you wish to look for. The image below does not show all the resorts for space reasons, but all DVC resorts are listed. Once you have filled out all the information, you can select "Check Availability" on the bottom of the screen.
In this example, I am using my Boardwalk contract and looking for studios at around 10 months in advance, so I can only book my home resort. I selected January 10-17, 2021, and the following availability options were shown:
I am only seeing full availabilty in one booking category - if I want to see other options that aren't fully available, I can select view other rooms. This shows me how many nights are indeed available for those dates.
If I select the specific resort, I will see a three month window around the though it will only show me up to the 11 month mark plus 7 days. (I am looking at this calendar on February 29th, 2020.)
By selecting continue - I can now book the resort with selecting the points I want to use (from which use year and contract) and also the number and name of all the guests. If you make it to this point, you will have successfully gotten the room.
On-line booking is available at 8 AM Eastern time, so in this example on February 29th I could book January 29th to February 5th. If I don't want to or can't do it online, you can also call member services at 9 AM as a second option. You can look at the first RAT screen before 8 AM, but cannot move onto the booking screen until right at 8 AM.
For occurances like this - you have to wait until March 1st to book January 30th, January 31st, and February 1st as starting dates. A second option would be to book on February 29th for January 29th and go back the next day a modify the reservation - but this can only be done if you have enough extra points.
You can only book 7 nights beyond the 11 month mark. (11 months + 7 days). So in the above case, if I wanted to book January 29th to February 8th, I would have to book Jan 29th to February 5th, and then I would have to wait until the next day to add the night of the 5th, etc. This can be done using "modify reservations" on the next day. IF you were to book a reservation later than the 11 month mark - you could book up to 30 consecutive days with no problem, assuming their was that much availability.
Pretty much. The following DVC members can book at addtional DVC resorts at 7-months.
Like with home resort booking, you can book a room at 8 AM at exactly 7 months in advance.
If your accounts have different use years, whether it's at the seven month mark or not, you cannot easily combine the points on-line. You really have two options.
1) Transfer the points you need from one account to the other - this can only be done by calling member services. However, when points are transferred you cannot see them on-line anyways. A better method would be to book the first few nights of the room with whatever account you have the most points available, and then call member services and have them transfer enough points and book the remaining nights. But remember, only ONE transfer in OR out per account (See our Transfer FAQ Page.)
2) Book it as two separate reservations. Let's say you want to book 8 nights for 100 points, but only have 50 points in each account. You book the first 4 nights with one account at 7-months in advance, then you wait four days and book the last 4 nights with the other account. At that point, you can call Member Services, and combine the two trips together.
There's nothing wrong with the system. More than likely, you are looking at a popular room category or date. Often there may be many people on line to try and get the same limited number of rooms. This is the most likely scenario why you would see the room and then it would be gone.
The reservation system will help to a degree with you picking the right points, but in general, this is typically the order you should use your points:
If you have mulitple contracts and are going to use points at less than 7-months, you will have to figure out what points are most advantageous to use.
Disney has made it very easy to modfiy reservations from the "My Dashboard" page, you can pick your reservation and select modify reservations. Amongst the changes you can make:
This can be done using the button "View or Modify Details"
As you can see above - these can all be done from the DVC "My Dashboard" screen. However, for dining and fastpasses, you do need a separate MDE account to link your reservation to.
Other than including the right names on the reservation - the same process is followed. Make sure that the people in the room are listed correctly, with the primary name on the reservation being the person that has the MDE account.
You have to link the Disney Dining Plan to the reservation for them. This means they will have to pay you for the reservation. However, once they've linked the reservation to their MDE - they can book their own Dining and FP+ reservations.
Here at DVCHelp we strive to be the most comprehensive site for DVC information. But, we believe that the process of "walking' a reservation damages the availability of rooms for members, and as such we do not recommend it. That being said, here is an overview about it.