The Best Parts of DVC Membership
Hi, my name is David, and I’m a Disney Vacation Club evangelist. No, you don’t have to respond with, “Hi David” in a monotone, robotic voice. You already get where I’m coming from on this subject.
Those of us who spread the word of DVC have a reputation among our friends. We’re the weird people who spend all of our vacation time at Disney theme parks. Some folks will never understand the joy of this practice, and that’s unfortunate. Maybe we can change their minds a bit by proselytizing about the best vacation club on the planet. Here are my favorite aspects of DVC membership.
The Early Window
I’m currently planning a trip to Disneyland in December. We have family in the area, but we don’t own at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. I lament that situation at times like now. Disney’s hotel offerings are a bit strange in that they don’t offer their Disneyland deals this far ahead of time. The Grand Californian is also so popular that I already missed my window to book there for December.
I’m currently stuck in a gray area wherein I can’t book via DVC, and Disney actively discourages me from booking a regular room this early. I’m friends with a couple of travel agents who will let me know when Disneyland’s winter hotel deals are available. Until then, I can’t book my trip.
To most people, that might sound like no big deal. For my family, it’s a frustration. We’ve fallen in love with the DVC booking window. Some people don’t like to plan. I used to include myself on that list, but DVC has changed me. Now, I describe early booking as the best way to travel. It’s oddly liberating to know the vacation plan that far in advance.
We Have a Plan from Now through 2042
Barack Obama, the former President of the United States, once described how he found choice as one of the worst time burglars of his jobs. He wanted someone to plan his wardrobes and meals so that he could focus more on the big stuff that comes with the job. None of us are ever going to become POTUS, but that premise still holds. Too many permutations of vacations are available. People can go anywhere at any time. Paralysis by analysis can and does set in.
By joining the DVC program, my family has already settled on a couple of things. The first is that we’re going to visit Walt Disney World a lot and Disneyland some. The second is that we’re going to pick our vacation dates well ahead of time. We made these two decisions when we bought into DVC, and now we don’t have to stress about seemingly infinite vacation plans each year. My wife and I love that we can book almost a year ahead of time for our home resort. We’re good through 2042! If you pick new DVC properties, you could know where you’ll stay in 2066!
As an FYI, DVC works best when people use the 11-month and seven-month booking windows. These are the times on the calendar when DVC members can book rooms. The 11-month window is for the home resort, the place where a person owns points. For example, if you want to stay there from Christmas until New Year’s Day of 2018, you can book on January 25, 2018.
The seven-month window is for all the other DVC participating locations. If you own at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa but want to stay at Disney’s Beach Club Villas, you absolutely can. In the same example, you could book the identical Christmas week’s stay at any other DVC resort starting on May 25, 2018. Disney gives home resort owners an earlier opportunity to book. That’s why you should lean toward buying at your favorite resort. You’ll never have to worry about availability or waitlists for the place where you prefer to stay.
We Get to Treat Disney’s Nicest Hotels like a Giant Buffet
My family especially loves the seven-month window. Our favorite DVC property these days is Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, but we don’t own there. We always decide when we’re arriving at Walt Disney World and then backtrack seven months to book at Poly through DVC. Our goal is to spend a few days there each trip. We don’t just to stay there, though.
My family loves the split stay. This is a strategy that some DVC owners employ to check out a lot of DVC properties. The way it works is simple. During our most recent 11-night stay, we booked four nights at Poly. We also spent three nights at Beach Club Villas, and four nights at Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. I just did a head count and realized that we’ve spent time at ten different DVC properties over the past three years.
A Better Vacation for the Same Price
We never would have fallen in love with Poly if Disney hadn’t added it to the membership program. That’s because we rarely think about staying at hotels that don’t participate in DVC. In fact, we’ve only stayed at Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter during that same timeframe. We have become almost totally reliant on DVC resort since we joined. And why wouldn’t we be?
The beauty of DVC is that members get to stay at Disney’s finest resorts. Most of them cost $400 or more per night to book. Over an 11-night vacation, my calculations indicate that we would have spent $5,700 for the same rooms if we had paid in cash. We’d never do that of course, and that’s the genius of the system.
Disney increases the hotel occupancy rate of their most expensive locations while giving its most loyal customers a chance to stay in those rooms. Best of all, DVC members only pay a fraction of the cost over time. Depending on the number of times you visit Disney, you could feasibly earn back your ownership expense within six years. That would make the rest of the lifetime of your ownership interest essentially free!
How great are the rooms and hotel amenities? They’re definitely much better rooms than I’d buy otherwise. Without the DVC incentive, I’d view every dollar I spend on the hotel as money I should have used for Disney merchandise or, you know, personal savings. With the discount, I can roam around Poly like I own the place, and I’m 100% guilt-free as I do.
To a larger point, this conversation’s not even about what a person can or cannot afford. If you can get a new car for the same price as a used car, you do it, right? If you can buy a steak for the same price as a salad, you do that, right? Why would I stay at All-Star Resort or a non-Disney hotel if I can stay at the Polynesian? Why would ANYONE? That’s the glory of DVC membership. I get more for my money. I enjoy a better class of vacation for the same price, simply because I shopped smarter by joining the program.
Spend Every Season at the Most Magical Place on Earth
Since my wife and I joined DVC, we vacation more. Learning all of the ins and outs of the club has allowed us to hack it to maximize benefit. With an annual pass and enough DVC points, we’ve taken care of the two major expenses of a theme park vacation. We can visit more since our only remaining expenses are food, which we would have anyway at home, plus transportation and souvenirs. As long as I can keep my wife out of Mitsukoshi at the Japan Pavilion, DVC gives us the cost control that we need to spend more time at Walt Disney World.
Over the past 12 months, we’ve taken three trips to Walt Disney World. These vacations have varied significantly from our standard Disney visits. That’s thanks to the way that Disney strategists keep the parks fresh throughout the year. Disney is a lot more seasonal than most people realize.
When I visited in May, I got to enjoy the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. Last September, I sang “Boo to You” (loudly and off-key) during Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. I also sampled kimchi for the first time during the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. This year, I’ll see the Christmas holiday decorations. One of these days, I may even try one of the Run Disney marathons if I’m ever feeling adventurous (and self-delusional).
DVC Members Vacation More
As workaholics, my wife and I rarely vacationed before becoming DVC members. We’d have staycations where we worked on other projects and spent time together at home rather than traveling anywhere significant. Since joining DVC, we’ve now spent 50 days at Disney since 2014. It’s like a second home for us, and it’s even causing us to expand our horizons. We’re current planning trips to Disneyland as mentioned and also Tokyo Disneyland. We’re even discussing the pros and cons of Aulani – A Disney Resort.
From the Disney perspective, this information suggests that the program is working precisely the way that the company originally intended. DVC works so well that it entices people to vacation more.
Disney Welcomes You Home
The final benefit is my favorite one. From the time we’re children, all of us learn to love Disney characters. They’re an unmistakable part of youth culture. The maturation process might change us over time, but we never truly outgrow that young love of Disney entertainment.
A trip to a Disney theme park restores that love. DVC membership takes that passion to an even higher level. You will feel more invested in Disney, like you’re a part of the family. Disney even plays up this aspect by letting you deed your ownership interest to someone else, allowing you to carry on the tradition for generations afterward.
So, while you don’t know for sure that you’ll be around in 2066, you do know that someone you love will get to enjoy a Disney vacation even if you don’t. In fact, you don’t have to wait until then. You can use your DVC points to book a room for a loved one right now! It’s a great option during those years when you can’t make it to a park yourself. You’re giving the gift of Disney. It’s one of the purest things that you can do.