A New Disney Offer and Potential Reopening Date?
Right after we went to press on the last Coronavirus article, three different stories changed the situation. Let’s quickly discuss what just happened in another DVC news update about the impact of COVID-19.
A New Disney Offer!
The best news is that the Disney Destinations mailing list surprised users with an unexpected offer. Here’s the pertinent text:
“We appreciate your ongoing support as we continue to adjust our operations and offerings for our valued clients.
Below is information about a Walt Disney World summer recovery dine package. We expect to provide you with more information on Monday about offers for Disneyland Resort and Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa.
Eligible Guests can take advantage of a vacation package offer that includes accommodations at a select Disney Resort hotel, park admission and a Disney dining plan—valid for arrivals most nights June 1 through September 30, 2020 when you book through May 31, 2020.
This offer is valid only for Guests who booked a vacation package or room reservation to stay at a Disney resort hotel from March 16 through May 31, 2020 (even if the park opens before then). Offer not valid for reservations cancelled before March 1, 2020.
Call the Disney Reservation Center today to learn more about his offer, check availability and book.”
Yes, Disney will bring back the free dining plan package this summer, only this time it’s explicitly targeting guests who had vacations disrupted by coronavirus. The company has contacted these customers directly to tell them about the deal.
All impacted guests will receive a free dining plan as a reward for the previously cancelled trip. Disney didn’t have to do this, but it’s a shrewd business decision. It will push more guests into rebooking a Disney trip this summer. Guests will have a four-month window of potential bookings for the new trip.
Obviously, this offer isn’t available to everyone. However, it does cause optimism for DVC members. The dates listed here suggest that Disney believes its theme parks and resorts could return to operation by June 1st.
So, hopefully, at a maximum, we’re two months away from the re-opening of Disneyland and Walt Disney World. I don’t think that Disney would do this unless its officials felt some confidence about park status.
This decision doesn’t provide much insight for DVC members with May bookings, of which I was one before recently canceling. It’s helpful for everyone with June plans and beyond, though.
Another Message from the Head of DVC
Thus far, Terri Schultz, the Senior Vice President in charge of DVC, has done a solid job in keeping members updated about the program. On Saturday, she sent out the following statement, from which I’ve highlighted important points:
I know the last couple of weeks have been a challenge for all of us. As we navigate the rapidly changing COVID-19 environment, we continue to make decisions focused on the health and wellbeing of our Members, Guests and Cast Members. Today I want to share another update with you.
As a result of this unprecedented pandemic and in line with direction provided by health experts and government officials, Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort will remain closed until further notice. This closure affects all Disney Vacation Club properties, including Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort and Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa.
During this temporary closure, it is our priority to continue providing you with helpful and efficient service, even as the majority of our Cast Members are working remotely, including those in Member Services and Member Accounting.
Until the decision is made as to when the resorts will re-open, all reservations scheduled for arrival during the closure time will be automatically cancelled by Disney Vacation Club on a week-by-week basis. Members do not need to cancel the reservation online or contact Member Services. In light of the unusual circumstances and to provide more flexibility, Disney Vacation Club established a temporary cancellation policy to supplement our existing cancellation rules. Details include:
Vacation Points returned due to a cancellation of a resort reservation will not be placed in a holding account and will be returned to the current Use Year. This applies to all reservations checking in within the next 30 days.
When a reservation involving Borrowed Points is cancelled, the Borrowed Points will be returned to the Use Year they were borrowed from. This applies to all reservations regardless of arrival date. Please allow up to 15 business days for this process to be completed.
The following existing cancellation rules continue to apply:
- Reservation Points returned due to a cancellation of a Disney Collection Resort reservation will be returned as Reservation Points to the current Use Year.
- Reservations made with points Banked from the previous Use Year will be returned as Banked Points to the current Use Year.
- One-time use Points will be returned to the current Use Year as one-time use Points.
In addition, some Members may have questions about reservation cancellations involving Points that are set to expire soon. At this time, we are evaluating the banking and expiration policy and the use of certain Points impacted by the closures. As a part of our evaluation process, we need to be considerate of the impact any changes could have on future inventory availability for the Membership overall. A decision will be made when we better understand how long COVID-19 will impact our operations.
As we anticipate high call volume in the days ahead, we encourage you to use the Disney Vacation Club website for general information—and we ask that you contact Member Services only if you need assistance with an existing reservation. Any Member who would like to book a new Disney Vacation Club Resort reservation or modify an existing reservation may do so through the Member Online Booking Tool.
We realize that disruptions related to COVID-19 are altering your family’s vacation plans, and we thank you for your understanding during this unprecedented time. It is our commitment to stay focused on serving you with ongoing communication and updates.
We look forward to “welcoming you home” as soon as we can.
The Key Points Here
First of all, DVC has thoughtfully demonstrated some flexibility with member points. Due to the unique nature of the cancellations, Disney won’t punish DVC owners by placing points into a holding account.
Similarly, anyone who borrowed points from a different Use Year now has them returned. In other words, you aren’t stuck with the borrowed points in the current Use Year, where you might not possess the ability to use them.
Also, Schultz has confirmed that all DVC properties are closed now and for the foreseeable future. I’ll expand on that a bit in the next section, but it does let guests know that all scheduled April bookings are in question. May dates might operate similarly. Right now, all we know for sure is that DVC hotels aren’t open until Disney says otherwise. This bit of clarity helps.
Everything else I’ve highlighted qualifies as informational. The immediate cancellation of so many DVC reservations understandably led to questions. Disney’s still feeling its way through an unprecedented circumstance. So, the company doesn’t have answers for everything, but it’s trying.
A Bit More Clarity
With a situation like Coronavirus, everything is fluid. So, a government official’s statement today could change tomorrow or next week. Still, we do possess some timeline confirmation now.
The national stay-at-home request will presumably last through the end of April, as the President has extended social distancing measures until April 30th. Should the spread of infection slow, things could change.
For now, the most reasonable assumption is that Disney parks will remain closed through April 30th. The same thought process should apply to DVC resorts, too.
Clearly, Disney believes that everything should remain in flux for another eight weeks. Thankfully, the company has some belief that everything could ramp back up again by June 1st. So, we have at least one more month, or possibly two, before some sense of normalcy returns.