DVC Resale Market’s Disney Parks News for February 2019
In last month’s news, we led with a story about changes to the 2020 DVC Points Chart. This month, we’ll lead with an update to that situation. We’ve also got a lot of new information about Disney’s Riviera Resort, so this month’s DVC News is relevant to all current and future members. Let’s see what’s going on!
About the 2020 DVC Points Chart…
Last month, I had to break some bad news to you. The Disney Vacation Club (DVC) announced their 2020 Points Chart, and it wasn’t great. The cost of many studio hotel rooms increased by two points or more from previous amounts. The variance depended on the resort and season. Program participants expressed outrage over this sudden and shocking increase in DVC Points cost. After all, most hotel rooms are studios.
The alteration of the 2020 Points Chart was the second unpopular decision that Disney revealed in a short period. The other one was a scoop from DVC Resale Market that the program would alter its rules for upcoming resorts. With so much negativity to start the year, DVC members were furious (and rightfully so).
Disney has since recanted on the 2020 Points Chart. The official site now shows a “modified” DVC Points Chart, one that’s almost universally in line with the 2019 version. In other words, you the people complained, and Disney blinked. They accepted that their changes were difficult to justify and recanted. It’s a massive win for DVC members.
The news is less good about the other policy change. Disney executives provided an update on that situation. They affirmed that from now on, resales buyers at new resorts may only exchange their Use Year points at a single resort. It’s an annoying change that will have far-reaching implications about a direct purchase at these hotels. Hopefully, with a bit more distance from the choice, DVC officials will similarly relent on this short-sighted decision. Until then, at least Disney got one decision right. But on the plus side…
New Details Revealed about the Riviera
Disney’s Riviera Resort will open late this fall. This date has been confirmed for quite some time, but it’s a mortal lock now. Disney’s already started booking rooms to non-DVC members. Yes, some guests have already scheduled their December stays at the Riviera. Presumably, DVC owners will have the same opportunity in a matter of weeks if not days.
In the interim, Disney unveiled a slew of new information about the upcoming resort. Most of it is excellent. Some of it is genuinely shocking…but in a good way. For DVC members, the attention-grabbing part is the room types. You can look at each one at the official membership site. One of them will blow your mind.
The Riviera will feature a room type called a Tower Studio. It’s…small. DVC members are used to large hotel rooms that mimic timeshare villas. This room is entirely different. Even the queen bed is a pulldown rather than a permanent part of the room. The Tower Studio is just for two people or solo travelers. Tokyo Disneyland Resort has several rooms in this style, but it’s certainly a first at DVC. Even the Value Studio at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas sleeps four.
Disney believes that they can sell a cheap room for couples who only need a place to stay at night. So many travelers suggest this is the case during a theme park vacation. The company will test the theory with the Tower Studio.
While Disney hasn’t released the Points Chart for Riviera yet, we know that Room Types include a Studio, a one-bedroom villa, a two-bedroom villa, and a three-bedroom grand villa. Room rates start at $335 per night for the Tower Studio and $503 per night for a studio with Standard View. There is a Preferred View room type that costs $566 per night.
Several DVC enthusiasts have tried to project the expected Points Chart based on these numbers, but it’s all just guesswork right now. Perhaps we’ll have this information in time for the next monthly news update.
The other thing we’ve learned about the Riviera is its amenities. Disney has posted illustrations of its highlight areas. The hotel will have two pools, one of which is the quiet pool. That one’s called the Beau Soleil Pool. The main one is the Riviera Pool. It features a winding slide pool and an interactive play area for kids called S’il Vous Play. It mimics the aesthetic of public fountains in Europe. Positioned by Barefoot Bay, it’ll have a Fantasia theme.
The main restaurant is Topolino’s Terrace, the rooftop restaurant that will offer line-of-sight views of nighttime presentations at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot. It’s a Signature Dining experience, meaning that it won’t be cheap. Disney also announced a Quick Service trattoria named Primo Piatto. There’s also a coffee place in the lobby named Le Petit Café that will switch over to wine service at night. Disney’s positioned the Riviera as a wonderful place to spend an evening.
Reunion Station Now Closed
At the same time that Disney announced the DVC expansion at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, they revealed a new area. The highlight of this section is Geyser Point Bar & Grill, but DVC officials trumpeted a different new amenity. They were excited about the latest Disney upsell, Reunion Station.
Some of you may know or possibly have even used this service. It was a gathering place for DVC members, at least the ones willing to pay for special food, beverages, and concierge privileges. Initially, Disney required guests to buy Reunion Station access each day of their DVC stay at one of the Wilderness Lodge resorts. That strategy proved ambitious, as the new building was hilariously unused for long stretches.
After a few months, Disney changed the policy so that anyone could use it, and they only had to pay for a day they wanted access. Even this much more reasonable pricing proved unpopular. This week, Disney has ended its Reunion Station concierge and restaurant services. The facility is still open for seminars and classes such as wine tastings and culinary training.
Before the opening of Reunion Station, the majority of DVC members predicted failure, and time has proven them right. Had Disney opened the building as a Membership Extra or just a regular one of the hotel’s amenities, it likely would have experienced a kinder fate. It’s like DVC owners keep telling Disney what they want/think, but the company doesn’t listen enough.
Yes, It’s Still Winter
This week marks the start of February. The 2018 edition of Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP) ended just three months ago. Although we’re more than half a year away from the start of the 2019 event, Disney has already announced its dates! Yes, you can buy tickets for everyone’s favorite Halloween party! The 2019 schedule is:
August 16, 20, 23, 27, 30
September 2, 6, 8, 10, 13, 15, 17, 20, 22, 24, 27, 29
October 1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11, 14, 15, 17, 18, 20, 21, 24, 25, 27, 29, 31
Yes, the party starts in mid-August once again. This time, it lasts until November 1st, a Friday. This may delay Christmas decorations by a bit since the Magic Kingdom must leave up the Halloween stuff an extra day. The prices are static from last year, and card-carrying DVC members and annual pass holders still receive discounts on certain nights.
Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is probably the most popular ticketed event each year, and the early ticket access presents a fantastic opportunity for DVC members. We book half a year in advance anyway, right?
New Nighttime Options at Disneyland, Downtown Disney & Epcot
Speaking of upsells, Disney has added a new option to a popular staple of nighttime Epcot dining. They’ve also introduced the latest nighttime presentation at Disneyland. So, it’s a good news/bad news deal.
The upsell is at my favorite World Showcase restaurant, Rose & Crown Dining Room. The United Kingdom Pavilion eatery sits right by the water of the World Showcase Lagoon. Frequent park visitors know that booking a meal here is the best way to guarantee a great view of IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth.
As you know, that nightly presentation will wrap up a 20-year run later this year. To maximize profits and give guests a chance at watching the show from the closest seats, Disney’s introduced a prix fixe dinner. Rose & Crown guests willing to pay $85 per person ($35 for children aged 3-9) can enjoy a multi-course meal and a dazzling view. It’s the same meal that a lot of us have gotten for much cheaper for many years now; however, the ending of IllumiNations justifies Disney’s decision. It’s a much-deserved curtain call for the most lauded nighttime presentation in theme park history.
At the Happiest Place on Earth, Mickey’s Mix Magic Nighttime Show debuted in mid-January. You can watch a video of it here. You’ll appreciate that it’s a clever mix of explosive fireworks and state-of-the-art digital projection. Early reviews are universally positive, and it’s a great reason to visit Disneyland this year.
Speaking of which, Downtown Disney opened its first-ever bar in January. Ballast Point Brewery & Kitchen is a large but intimate space that features 3,000 square feet of patio dining/hanging out. Since that’s the favorite thing for locals to do at Downtown Disney, it’s a long-needed addition.
Coming and Going
The final news items this month are at the Magic Kingdom and the Epcot area. The former park has changed a couple of its favorite character meeting spots. Minnie Mouse has switched from the back of Fantasyland to the front of Main Street U.S.A. She joins her fella, Mickey Mouse, at Town Square Theater. It’s part of their Surprise Celebration lasting through September 30, 2019.
To fill the void that Minnie left at Pete’s Silly Side Show, Pluto has stepped up as a replacement. Well, I should say that Wonder-Pup Pluto has arrived. He joins the other uniquely themed characters at this greeting. They are Daisy Fortuna (Daisy Duck), Astounding Donaldo (Donald Duck), and the Great Goofini (Goofy). It’s pretty adorable and well worth your time the next time you’re at the back of Magic Kingdom.
The Epcot closure isn’t at a park. And don’t panic! It’s not permanent! Disney announced that Beaches & Cream, the favorite of Disney’s Beach Club Villas owners everywhere, will close later this year for renovations. It’s apparently going to be down for repair from August through early December. Since everyone loves visiting here during the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, you should be aware in advance that it’s unavailable for the 2019 event. But it should be good to go by the time that the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays returns.