Welcome to the February installment of our monthly DVC preview. We’re going to switch things up this month. Instead of a Resort Spotlight, we’ve got a new semi-regular feature, “DVC Explainer,” which will take an in-depth look at a certain aspect of membership. The Resort Spotlight will return in March. You can view last month’s preview here.
This month, here are some booking window dates to keep in mind. For your home resort (11-month booking window), in February, you will be able to book for dates in January 2019. For all other DVC resorts (7-month booking window), this month you will be able to book for dates in September 2018. If you’re looking to snag a reservation at Disney’s Boardwalk Villas or Disney’s Beach Club Villas for the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, don’t wait. Those rooms go fast.
For last-minute trips, we’re starting to see some increased availability, as long as you’re not looking for a studio. Through much of Februrary, you can find 2- and 3-bedroom villas for select dates at Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa (including Treehouse Villas) and Old Key West Resort at DVC’s last-minute resort availability page. Aulani and Hilton Head also have limited availability.
If you are hoping to enjoy one of the after-hours Moonlight Magic events at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, get ready to reserve your spot. Members with Disney Resort reservations during the event can book online starting at 9 a.m. Feb. 8. All other members can book starting Feb. 22. The three dates for the Animal Kingdom parties are March 21, April 17, and May 16. If you were planning to attend the August Epcot Moonlight Magic event, be aware that the date has been changed to Aug. 15.
DVC has posted printable lists of member perks for 2018, including restaurant and merchandise discounts. Here are the links for Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Aulani, Hilton Head Island, and Vero Beach.
You may have heard about the new FastPass+ benefit available for purchase by guests staying in Club Level rooms. Three additional FastPass selections can be made for an additional $50 per day, per guest. Those selections have a 90-day booking window. It also provides a preferred viewing location for nighttime spectaculars each day. For DVC members, the rooms with this benefit include the Club Level rooms at Animal Kingdom Villas, along with the Polynesian Bungalows and Copper Creek Cabins.
As DVC continues sales at Copper Creek Villas, they’ve introduced a new enticement for runDisney enthusiasts. Purchasers have the option to select a guaranteed week, which would assure them accommodations for the runDisney race of their choice, along with advance race entries. Eligible events include Marathon Weekend, the Disney Princess Half Marathon, Star Wars Half Marathon, and Wine & Dine Half Marathon.
For those staying at Disney’s Old Key West Resort, the refurbishments going on at the resort will have the Turtle Pond Pool closed from April to early July. The nearby Turtle Shack Snack Bar and Flying Fish Gameroom will also be closed during this time.
We’re waiting to see if Disney will have any new ticket or annual pass offers for DVC members to replace the ones that expired on Jan. 3. In the meantime, members can still get discounted annual passes. You can see the Walt Disney World annual pass discounts here and the Disneyland annual pass discounts here.
Keep in mind that as of April 4, 2016, membership extras like discounts and Moonlight Magic are limited to members purchasing direct from Disney. All purchasers previous to that date have access to all these extras.
Lately, I’ve been seeing TV commercials touting services to help people get out of their timeshares. They reflect the checkered reputation that timeshares can have with high-pressure sales and purchasers who end up with buyers’ remorse.
It’s not something they necessarily emphasize, but Disney Vacation Club is a timeshare. When you purchase your points, you are purchasing a real estate share in a particular resort. So in this first edition of the DVC Explainer, I thought a good starting point would be to explain how DVC distinguishes itself from your typical timeshare.
It starts with the sales method. If you’ve ever sat in on a timeshare presentation, you know the meaning of high-pressure sales. If you’ve sat in on a Disney Vacation Club presentation, your experience is quite different. Informative, with no pressure to immediately sign a contract, a place for your kids to play and perhaps even some FastPasses, or other thank you gift for your time. It’s the benefit of having a product that sells itself, and an audience that is likely already enjoying a Disney vacation.
For me, a major part of the appeal of Disney Vacation Club over a typical timeshare is its flexibility. Rather than having a set week at a specific resort, DVC opts for a point system that allows members to book villas at more than a dozen different resorts, at any time of year. The ability to bank and borrow points allows varied vacations between years, or even skipping a year when situations arise.
And then, there’s the intangible value of owning a piece of a Disney resort, hearing the “welcome home” when you enter your home resort and knowing that a piece of that resort is in your name. Knowing for the next several decades, you’ll be enjoying Disney vacations. Heck, even the little pleasure of getting the latest issue of “Disney Files” magazine on a cold winter day. All of it adds up to more than just a room to stay in.
Finally, there’s the resale value of Disney Vacation Club contracts. This brings us back to those commercials offering help to people get out of their timeshare contracts. DVC’s healthy resale market means that if your situation or travel preferences change, there are plenty of others willing to take your points off your hands. If you’ve watched the resale market over recent years, you’ve seen the value of DVC contracts rise markedly. It’s impossible to say where the market will go in the future. But Disney’s vested interest in maintaining the value of DVC is good news for the investment of current owners.
That’s it for this month’s preview. We’ll be back in March with more DVC news and a resort spotlight.