Welcome to the March installment of our monthly Disney Vacation Club preview. After introducing our “DVC Explainer” feature last month, we’re returning to a Resort Spotlight this month, featuring DVC’s first location outside of Walt Disney World – Vero Beach Resort. 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 March, you will be able to book for dates in February 2019. For all other DVC resorts (7-month booking window), this month you will be able to book for dates in October 2018. If you’re planning on going to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom, you can’t beat staying at a DVC villa on the monorail.
For last-minute trips, you won’t find any studios, but there is some limited availability for larger 2- and 3-bedroom villas at Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa and Old Key West Resort at DVC’s last-minute resort availability page. If you have the points, you can stay at a Polynesian Bungalow March 18-22. Aulani also has limited availability.
Last month, we let you know about reservations opening for the after-hours Moonlight Magic events at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. I hope you acted quickly, because the three parties on March 21, April 17, and May 16 are all sold out. The next set of parties will be at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon water park on May 30 and June 11. Reservations for those dates open on April 19 for members with Disney resort reservations and on May 3 for all other members.
Members can enjoy a free behind-the-scenes tour of the Soarin’ Around the World attraction at Epcot on most Wednesdays. Guests will learn about the attraction’s origin, development and the imagineering that makes it happen. The hour-long tour starts at 8 a.m. and includes the full ride experience. There’s no cost, but park admission and reservations are required and can be made by calling member services at (800) 800-9800. The tour will not be offered on April 4 or July 4.
Ticket prices for the Disney Parks increased last month. Along with that came an increase in the still-discounted annual pass price for members, starting at $589 plus tax for a new purchase of the Disney Gold Pass. The Gold Pass includes blockout dates March 24-April 6 and Dec. 20-Jan. 3. The Platinum Pass at $729 plus tax excludes the blockout dates and the Platinum Plus Pass at $829 plus tax also includes water parks and other admissions.
We learned of a new member benefit in Disney Cruise Line’s announcement last week of its summer 2019 itineraries. DVC members will be able to start booking those cruises on March 7, the same day as Silver Castaway Club members and the day before bookings open to the general public. With special sailings to the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, and Alaska, members can take advantage of early booking.
Speaking of these membership perks, Disney Vacation Club has changed its policy regarding Membership Extras, now requiring a minimum direct purchase from DVC. Effective Feb. 25, Members must have a minimum of 75 points purchased direct from Disney Vacation Development, Inc. to qualify for Membership Extras. If you’re already a member eligible for perks, you’re grandfathered in and are not impacted by this change. Obviously, DVC doesn’t want people buying resale, and then a token 25-point add-on to get Membership Benefits.
Some good news for DVC members interested in using Minnie Vans to get around Walt Disney World: The service has expanded to every DVC resort. The price to get around has gone up, however. A one-way trip will now cost $25, up from $20. The service is a partnership with Lyft and guests can use the Lyft app to request a vehicle.
Since we’re approaching spring break season, it’s the perfect month to take a trip to the ocean shore and DVC’s Vero Beach Resort.
Vero Beach, less than a two-hour drive from Orlando on the Atlantic’s Treasure Coast, is the first DVC resort developed outside of Walt Disney World. It opened on Oct. 1, 1995. With a nautical theme and just 211 rooms, the resort offers a more intimate, laid-back experience than your typical Disney destination.
Rooms at Vero Beach are 360 square feet for a deluxe inn room that sleeps four (with two queen beds); 350 square feet for a studio that sleeps four; 880 square feet for a one-bedroom that sleeps five; 1,265 square feet for a two-bedroom that sleeps nine; and the 2,125-square-foot cottages that sleep 12.
The resort has undergone extensive renovations that included retheming of its restaurants. Wind and Waves Grill is the table-service restaurant. It features a character breakfast on Saturdays and a Pirate Night dinner on Mondays. Wind and Waves Market is the quick service. Here, you can find a familiar treat – the Dole Whip. The Green Cabin Room is the resort’s lounge, overlooking the Atlantic, and poolside, there’s the Wind and Waves Bar.
While you won’t find a theme park here, the resort features plenty of activities to keep you busy. The resort pool has a two-story spiral water slide and a wet play area. A variety of rentals are available to enhance your enjoyment of the beach, everything from chairs and umbrellas to boogie boards and kayaks.
Outside of the water, Vero Beach has a 9-hole mini golf course. A campfire area has nightly storytelling and sing-alongs. Resort guests can enjoy massages or treatments at the 1,500-square-foot spa on property. For kids, the Disney Discovery Club provides a 3-hour supervised evening program of crafts and activities that includes dinner.
One of the coolest things about the resort is its conservation work with the sea turtles that nest on its beaches every year. The resort and its lighting were designed to have minimal impact on nesting turtles. Hatchlings rely on moonlight to guide their journey from beach to ocean.
During dates in June and July, DVC members can enjoy a guided Sea Turtle Night Walk. Monitoring scouts will search the beach for nesting turtles, then guide guests to the area, where they can view the nesting process with night-vision goggles. Reservations cost $35 plus tax per person and can be made by calling member services. The fee goes toward Disney sea turtle monitoring, public education, and scientific study at the resort.
Vero Beach is also distinguished as the DVC resort with the least expensive points on the resale market. While you can snag a contract in the range of $60 to $70 a point, there are a couple of caveats. The contract end date is 2042 and you will be paying the highest maintenance fees of any property at $8.53 per point in 2018. So if you’re considering purchasing a contract for the cheap points, be sure to take that into account.
That’s it for this month’s preview. We’ll be back in April with more DVC news and a DVC Explainer. If you have a topic you would like us to tackle, let us know in the comments.