Top 12 DVC Highlights of 2019

Filed in Disney Vacation Club, Disney's Riviera Resort, Star Wars

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The calendar has turned to a new decade. Before we fully embrace the 2020s, however, let’s take a look back at one of the most exciting years ever for the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) program. Here are the top 12 DVC highlights of 2019:

12. 2021 Points Chart Changes

Throughout 2019, DVC officials demonstrated that they were willing to shake things up in the program. While I recognize that change isn’t always good for many people, I try to keep an open mind on the evolution of DVC. It should get plussed just like all other Disney parks and attractions.

I, for one, am excited by the recently announced Points Chart changes coming in 2021. DVC will change the segmentation from the current structure of up to five Seasons into seven Travel Periods. This newfound flexibility with the Points Chart will empower creative people with a chance to spend more time at Walt Disney World for fewer points.

11. DVC Helps 83 Dogs and “One Very Special Cat”

Okay, this didn’t tangibly help DVC members, but you like to feel good about the program, right? And the most heartwarming DVC story of the year started in The Bahamas in the wake of a tragedy.

Hurricane Dorian savaged the people and lands of The Bahamas. As part of the devastating weather event, many animals got displaced from their homes. Since DVC works closely with The Bahamas for Disney Cruise Line tours, company officials learned of this problem.

DVC Resale Market donated to H.A.L.O No-Kill Rescue in Sebastian, Florida during Hurricane Dorian.

DVC generously donated 600 pieces of linen to H.A.L.O No-Kill Rescue in Sebastian, Florida. This animal shelter provided shelter to the suffering animals, and DVC’s charity gave 83 dogs and “one very special cat” comfortable bedding. I felt much better about my DVC membership in reading this news.

10. Pool Hopping Returns to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

For the longest time, DVC has trended the wrong direction with pool hopping. Many members love to grab their bathing suit and head to a different resort for the afternoon. A nice swim or a relaxing chair poolside can provide a lovely respite during a hectic Disney vacation.

Due to congestion issues, Disney has limited many resorts by making the pools exclusive to guests only. When you’re not staying at the hotel, the pool’s off-limits.

Pool hopping returns to Animal Kingdom's Lodge with pools at Jambo House and Kidani Village

Photo Courtesy of DisneyTouristBlog.com

Thankfully, the company reversed course at one of everyone’s favorite resorts. The pools at Jambo House and Kidani Village allow pool hopping once again. It’s the first time in many years and hopefully a sign that Disney’s ready to relax their policy.

9. Details Revealed for Reflections – A Disney Lakeside Lodge

We already knew that Reflections – A Disney Lakeside Lodge will join the DVC lineup in 2022. During the 2019 D-23 Expo, Disney revealed new details about the upcoming resort, though. And this information proved tantalizing.

Reflections will become the second DVC property to host Treehouse Villas. The shape of these rooms will differ from the ones that you know and love at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa, of course, but the idea is the same. You’re alone in the woods in a magnificent DVC villa.

Stunning concept art of Reflections – A Disney Lakeside Lodge that will join the DVC lineup in 2022

Remarkably, Treehouse Villas aren’t the most significant new rooms at the Deluxe Resort. A-framed houses represent the new hotness in DVC lodging. Judging from the pictures that Disney displayed, this room type will offer standalone rooms akin to the Cabins and Bungalows at other DVC properties. Get excited, everyone!

8. Mobile Ordering Now Available at Some DVC Resort Restaurants

Mobile Ordering simplifies a Disney vacation. You don’t need to waste time standing in line to order. Instead, you pull out your smartphone, load the My Disney Experience app, and select a meal.

The lone drawback to Mobile Ordering since it debuted in 2017 was that only theme park restaurants were available. Gradually, that changed, but the historic movement for DVC fans arrived in 2019.

DVC favorites like Capt. Cook’s, Contempo Café, and The Mara joined the Mobile Ordering lineup. Now, DVC members barely have to leave their room to eat a meal. You can order from anywhere and then signal when you’re ready to pick up your food. It’s an incredibly efficient solution for dining at Disney hotels and a much-needed option for DVC members.

7. Moonlight Magic 2019

Card-carrying DVC members have developed a fondness for Moonlight Magic. These events allow some program participants to enter Disney theme parks when they’re otherwise closed to guests. DVC members get in free of charge, and Disney even includes meals.

During 2019, DVC sponsored more Moonlight Magic events than ever before. Disney threw 12 different parties across five theme parks and one water park. And a good time was held by all. Moonlight Magic parties aren’t as good as paid ticketed events, but the price is right, presuming that you have a DVC membership card.

6. Disneyland Hotel DVC Resort Announced

One of Disney’s most frustrating failures in recent years occurred in Anaheim. The city that Walt Disney made famous turned around and bit the hand that fed it.

Anaheim’s city council decided not to honor a $267 million tax rebate because the company’s plans for a new DVC resort moved two blocks. The entire public relations fiasco seemed equal parts petty and shortsighted.

During 2019, Disney revealed a back-up plan. The company will construct a new 12-story DVC resort on land adjacent to Disneyland Hotel.

Many people, myself included, view Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort as an analog to this decision, but it’s entirely possible that the new property claims no connection to Disneyland Hotel. Who really cares, though? We’re finally getting new DVC inventory at the Happiest Place on Earth!

5. Resort Character Meetings

On rare occasions, Disney has hosted character meetings at the hotels. Sometimes, during severe inclement weather, cast members would put on rare costumes and head to various resorts. It’s a smart move since a chance at a character interaction will keep some guests at the hotel.

In 2019, Disney accepted the savvy nature of installing characters at resorts. The company added potential character meetings at these DVC properties:

  • Disney’s Beach Club Resort
  • Disney’s BoardWalk Inn
  • Disney’s Contemporary Resort
  • Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
  • Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
  • Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

The characters aren’t at the hotels all the time. However, you’ll find them throughout the day, and these photo ops are among the easiest to get at Walt Disney World. Plus, you’ll have more time with the characters since the crowds are smaller.

4. Grand Floridian Updates

The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa already held the title of most in-demand at Walt Disney World. However, Disney’s not resting on its laurels with its most storied property. Instead, the company introduced several significant changes at the Grand Floridian during 2019.

The resort opened Enchanted Lounge, a new bar and lounge themed after Beauty and the Beast. Imagineers divided this facility into four sections, each of which tells a story from the film.

Inside Disney's Beauty and the Beast Bar Enchanted Rose Lounge at Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

The bar features a magnificent chandelier styled like Belle’s party dress. The library’s baroque elements would seem right at home at Be Our Guest. And the garden room mimics the enchanted forest from the movie. Finally, there’s an outdoor patio similar to Beast’s garden terrace. It’s a dazzling new place to hang out at the Grand Floridian.

Disney didn’t stop with a themed lounge, though. Cast members are currently working on a long-anticipated walkway that will connect the hotel to the entrance of Magic Kingdom.

Analysts performed a few calculations to determine that the walk will take longer from the one at the Contemporary….but not much more! This change is welcome for those of us who love to walk to the parks.

3. Disney Skyliner Opens

Differentiating Disney stories from DVC stories isn’t hard as a rule. You’ll notice that this list primarily consists of highlights that impact DVC members directly. However, the next two stories are so important that they merit not just mention but high placement on the list.

The first of them is the Disney Skyliner, which finally opened in late September, only to tear up by the end of its first week. While the incident garnered serious media attention – and rightfully so – park planners have bet big on the concept of skyway transportation at Walt Disney World.

The thinking here is that ski resorts and other mountainous areas safely operate gondola systems in exponentially more challenging environments. Walt Disney World should have no problem doing so on relatively flat, albeit swampy land.

Since its introduction, the Skyliner has shown DVC members the future of Disney travel. It’s an elegant, efficient solution for switching between the parks.

The Skyliner opened in September 2019, showing DVC members the future of Disney travel, allowing elegent and efficient travel between the parks.

Photo Courtesy of DisneyTouristBlog.com

Since the system is always during operation throughout the park day, it’ll transport you where you need to go with little to no time spent waiting in line. Once Imagineers have the kinks worked out, the Skyliner will become the de facto transportation method on the Disney campus.

2. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Finally Arrives – annual passholders got an early preview

In terms of the most compelling story to Disney fans, the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge towers above anything else. Since we’re discussing DVC highlights, I had to place something above it, though.

Still, the reality is that Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios will never be the same again. Now, both theme parks host an entire alien planet that guests may visit each day.

Batuu resides on the outskirts of civilization, just before Wild Space begins. Due to its location, few people willingly travel there, making it a terrific place for criminals to hole up beyond the reach of The First Order.

Unfortunately for these folks, The First Order recently learned of something important located near/at Black Spire Outpost. So, Kylo Ren’s militant organization has suddenly appeared en masse.

On the other side of Black Spire Outpost, The Resistance hides in the forest, with an entourage that includes leaders like Rey and Chewbacca. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge represents a fully realized world disguised as a themed land, and it’s impeccable.

DVC annual passholders get early access to the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge

When you eat here, you’ll dine on Batuu cuisine and shop in stores that believably feel like retailers at an alien bazaar. It’s a dazzling Imagineering achievement the likes of which we’ve never seen before. With attractions like Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, Disney has raised the bar for the future of theme park immersion. That statement alone should make you feel great about your DVC membership.

1.     Disney’s Riviera Resort

Every other year on average, DVC has introduced a new resort. You can check the math on this, as Disney’s Old Key West Resort opened in 1991. There are 15 resorts in the DVC lineup, with the most recent debuting in December of 2019. Also, there won’t be another DVC property added in 2020 and probably not 2021, either.

As such, the introduction of any DVC resort matters a great deal to members. That goes double when the property in question is an exclusive DVC property. We only had two of those heading into 2019, Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa and Old Key West.

So, the introduction of Disney’s Riviera Resort is all but impossible to top as a DVC highlight. I mean, if Star Wars Land couldn’t do it, nothing can.

Disney’s Riviera Resort is introduced as the latest resort to join the DVC lineup in 2019.

Photo Courtesy of DisneyTouristBlog.com

DVC insiders had hinted at this resort for years before it came to fruition. Everyone knew that Disney owned a parcel of land near Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort that park planners wanted to utilize.

What none of us could anticipate was the luxurious nature of the Riviera. We’re talking about a hotel that marries the style and elegance of European vacations with the convenience of the Disney Skyliner.

While some have questioned whether the new hotel is “Disney” enough with its theming, even the harshest critics acknowledge that it’s a terrific addition to the DVC lineup. The Riviera would be a resort that Walt and Lillian Disney adored, and that’s plenty good enough for the rest of us. In a year full of fantastic enhancements, the opening of Disney’s Riviera Resort provided the most significant highlight for DVC members.

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