Use Year & Booking Window

What does Use Year mean?

Use Year (abbreviated UY) is the window of time in which your points are available for booking. Rather than have all points available annually (Jan 1st - Dec 31st) Disney uses designated use years. The UY of a contracts indicates the start of the twelve month window of use. So if you have a February use year, your 2020 points would be available to use for booking any dates between February 1st, 2020 and January 31st, 2021.

Why can't I just choose January 1st for my Use Year?

Unfortunately, Disney distributes every resorts points across eight different months for the use years. The valid use year start dates are:

  • February 1st
  • March 1st
  • April 1st
  • June 1st
  • August  1st
  • September 1st
  • October 1st
  • December 1st

When buying a direct contract from Disney - you may be able to request a specific use year, but there won't always be available, especially for older resorts.  In addition, once you own a specific UY, Disney will insist on selling you new contracts with a matching UY.

If buying a contract resale, the contract has an already established UY and you CANNOT change the Use Year. 

Why should I care what the Use Year is on my contract? 

You would think that the Use Year doesn't matter much, but it CAN matter. The reason is due to the banking window. (See "Banking and Borrowing" for more details about what these topics mean.) You are only allowed to bank points to the next UY during the first eight months of your UY.  For this reason, it is beneficial if the majority of your travel occurs during the first 8 months of your use year, so that if you have to cancel your reservation, you still have time to bank your points.

Here's an example: You have two trips during your December 2019 Use Year, one May 10-17, 2020 and another October 10-17, 2020.  Disney allows you to cancel your trip up to 31 days in advance of your trip. So I find out March 1st I can't take my May trip. I can cancel the trip and then bank those points to the following December 2020 UY, giving me more time to use them. In fact I have until July 31st to bank those points and still use them for a later trip.  Now, on the other hand, I find out I have to cancel my October trip on August 15th. I don't lose my points, but now I am past my banking date, so those points HAVE to be used by November 31st or I lose them. So this is the benefit of traveling in the first 8 months of your use year. If you normally travel in the spring or summer a December UY would be good, whereas if you often travel in fall then a February or March UY might be better.

Use Year vs Booking Window - or - Do I have to wait until the start of my UY to book a room?

In short: NO. 

Use Year only matters for when points are available for the travel. The booking window for booking a reservation is independent of UY.  Booking window works like this.

  • For your home resort, you can book 11-months to the date in advance of your trip.
  • For non-home resots, you can book 7-months to the date in advance of your trip.

Let's take an example. Using a February UY, I want to book a trip for March 7-14, 2020. while the points I want to use cannot be used until February 2020, I can still BOOK this trip on April 7, 2019 at my home resort, or I can book August 7, 2019 at a non-home resort. I do not need to be within my UY to book the trip. (Note this ignores banking and borrowing, which we are keeping in a separate FAQ.)

If Your CHECK-IN date is in this month: You can start requesting reservations for up to 7 nights at your HOME RESORT in this month
(11 months before your check-in date)
You can start requesting reservations for up to 7 nights at other DVC Resorts in this month
(7 Months before your check-in date)
January February June
February March July
March April August
April May September
May June October
June July November
July August December
August September January
September October February
October November March
November December April
December January May

I want to book a two week trip. Can I book the whole thing at my 11-month booking window?

Disney allows you to book up to 7-nights at your 11-month (or 7-month for non-home) booking windows. So you could book March 7-14, 2020 on April 7th, 2019. However, you can then extend your date by a day the next day, so if you want two weeks, you can wait until April 10th, and extend your reservation to March 17th, and then on April 14th.

Once you are well passed your booking window, you can book a 14-day reservation all at once. 

I have a October 1st use year and I want to book a trip from September 29th to October 4th. Can I do that with a single reservation?

No you can't. You wil have to book two reservations, one for two nights for September 29th through October 1st in one UY, and a second reservation of 3 nights from October 1st to 4th. Disney member services can then combine those two reservations into a single one. 

I want to book a trip starting on January 30th using my 11-month booking window. Since February only has 28 or 29 days, can I book on the last day of February, or do I have to wait until March 1st?

You need to wait until March 1st. On a year where February has 28 days, travel starting on January 29th, 30th, 31st and February 1st would all book on March 1st.  Now, if you have enough points in your account, you could book Jan 28th to Feb 3rd on February 28th, and then on March 1st cancel those first 3 nights of the trip. This can also happen to a lesser extent with other months that have only 30 days. 

If I buy mutliple contracts, what happens if I have different Use Years?

Different Use Years can work, as long as you do not want to use the points from both contracts for a single reservation. So let's say you have two 100 point Animal Kingdom Villa contracts with different UYs. If you want to book a trip that takes 150 points, you would have to make one booking for part of the trip with one contract, and a second booking for the other part. If both contracts have the same use year, they work as one.

So, generally for multiple contracts at the same resort, it is recommended to get the same use year. For contracts at different resorts, it really is dependent on how often one would want to combine the points 7 months for a single reservation.

The other problem with mutliple use years is tracking. It will all show up on the same website, but you will have multiple accounts under the DVC website and will have to keep track of which points are in which account.

The only positive to multiple use years is that each account has it's own waitlists. So having two use years gives you the potential for four waitlists - but you can only access the points from the individual accounts for those use years. 

If I have two membership logins (IDs) with different Use Years, what happens at the 7 month window? Can I still use both points for a larger trip?

Two membership logins are like two different owners. In order to combine the points to use at 7 months for one trip, you have to transfer points from one membership to the other. That means you can’t use those online and would have to call Member Services to make the reservation.

When you book using different memberships for a single trip, each membership would have its own booking window. Say you want to book October 1st through the 8th, but have two memberships and you don’t want to transfer. You have to book the first nights using one membership, and then wait to the 11 month window for the other membership to book the rest.

The best way to do it is to book some nights (half the trip) using one membership and then the rest of the nights on the other membership, but you can’t book all 7 nights at once. Another option is to book the first half of the trip on-line, and then call member services. They may be able to use the points in the second account to extend your stay without waiting for a new 7 month window to open. 

Pro Tip: The following method below may be helpful if you are trying to get two rooms for the same dates at the 7th month booking window. If trying to book a whole trip at 7 months advance with different membership accounts (use years or resorts), an option is to have two different browsers open, each one logged into the each membership and ready to do the date/resort/room search. Once the online booking opens, do a search in the first browser, open the drop down for the room type found that you want and click the blue continue button if it's available. This will hold the room for you - but don't fill it out the reservation information yet. Switch to the other browser and do the search for the second room of your stay in your other membership and click the blue continue button as well if it's available, thus holding the room. Go back to the other browser and fill out the reservation information as quickly as possible and confirm the reservation, then go to second browser  and do the same. This should help get the whole trip as long as it's available with hard to reserve times/rooms.

Are use years evenly distributed amongst the eight months? Is there a way to find this out?

Disney does not release the use year distribution, and no one knows with certainty the system that they use to determine use years. However, data is available that gives the use year distribution for 11 of the 15 current resorts. 

Below is the distribution provided as percent in each month for each of these resorts in easy-to-read tables: