DVC History the 2010s AKA the Magic Kingdom Era
In 2009, Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort opened. In the process, the Disney Vacation Club set the stage for its next decade of resort expansion. Let’s discuss DVC in the 2010s or, as I call it, the Magic Kingdom era.
DVC in the 2010s: the Grand Floridian Debuts
I often say that Bay Lake Tower worked as a proof-of-concept for one of Disney’s most ambitious ideas. The company recognized the value of the DVC program and sought to expand it.
Alas, Disney faced challenges with what it sought to accomplish. DVC executives identified Magic Kingdom as the place where many members wanted to be. Survey data suggested that if DVC added more inventory close to the world’s most popular theme park, the ownership interests would sell quickly.
Alas, the Kingdom Tower section at the Contemporary represented the only obvious parcel of land for a new DVC property. The company had already added a DVC option at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. So, the most logical choices became two of Walt Disney World’s oldest properties.
In 2011, exploratory work began for a DVC addition at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, the crown jewel of Walt Disney World resorts. It’s no exaggeration to say that fans begged for this property for 20 years. As soon as Disney’s Old Key West Resort opened in 1991, people pointed to the Grand Floridian and asked, “When?”
We finally learned the answer in December 2011, almost 20 years to the day after the DVC program started. Two years later, The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa opened as a DVC property. How popular was this resort? In 2022, Disney converted Big Pine Key to provide more DVC inventory.
So, DVC members went from asking for a Grand Floridian option for 20 years to having two different booking options within nine years. That statement alone reflects Disney’s evolving philosophy about DVC membership.
DVC in the 2010s: The Polynesian Joins the Program
On Walt Disney World maps, you’ll notice four resorts that Disney lists as Magic Kingdom properties. Those are the Contemporary, the Grand Floridian, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, and Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.
With the Grand Floridian’s DVC addition in the offing, officials turned to the next and most obvious choice: the Polynesian. For years, fans had argued that it was one of the easiest conversions for Disney to perform. After all, the Polynesian consists of several longhouses. Switching some of them to DVC buildings should be easy, right?
Here’s a rare instance where the fans were so right that Disney listened and agreed.
The Polynesian converted the Moorea, Pago Pago, and Tokelau buildings into DVC inventory. This process created absolute chaos on the Polynesian campus for a while, something longtime members recall all too well.
However, once the construction walls came down, the Polynesian became what I consider the perfect DVC resort. Its combination of theming, location, amenities, and logistics are challenging to match.
More importantly, the arrival of the Polynesian to DVC in April 2015 signified an essential moment in DVC history. At the start of 2009, no monorail resort participated in the DVC program. Six years and three months later, ALL of them did!
DVC in the 2010s: DVC Adds Another Option at Wilderness Lodge
In 2011, Disney also plotted a DVC ownership interest at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground. While this story sounds more topical than ever as 2024 arrives, it played out a different way during the 2010s. DVC officials chose to develop some of the additional land at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.
In the process, DVC took the unusual step of creating two different ownership interests at a single hotel. DVC renamed the existing entity as Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. The new offering became Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.
This dichotomy remains unique in the DVC program. In fact, a Disney official just stated that the expansion tower coming to the Polynesian will use the current condominium association.
You may wonder why Disney did this, and the answer is simple. It’s the same reason why Fort Wilderness will add a DVC internet in the summer of 2024. Similarly, it’s the underlying justification for Disney’s expansions during the 2010s.
Many DVC members want to own a contract at resorts that are a boat ride or monorail ride away from Magic Kingdom. In lieu of that, we’ll accept a gondola ride to some of the other parks at Walt Disney World.
This aspect brings me to the next and final update in the history of DVC. We’ll talk about the novelty of Disney’s Riviera Resort and what it portends about the future of DVC.