Welcome to the June installment of our monthly Disney Vacation Club preview. We’ve got news about the 2019 DVC member cruises and a booking reminder for the next Moonlight Magic events. Our DVC explainer this month is all about those member benefits we’re discussing. 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 June, you will be able to book for dates in May 2019. For all other DVC resorts (7-month booking window), this month you will be able to book for dates in January 2019. If you’re looking to book a room for marathon weekend Jan. 9-13, 2019, don’t delay. Availability gets scooped up quickly.
For last-minute trips, Saratoga Springs and Old Key West have availability for their 1- and 2-bedroom villas for much of the month. And if you have the points available, the Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Villas and Bungalows have availability for most days June 10 and later at DVC’s last-minute resort availability page.
Disney Vacation Club has announced two DVC Member Cruises for 2019, departing from each coast.
From May 15-20, 2019, a 5-night Pacific Coast cruise on the Disney Wonder will depart from San Diego, making stops in San Francisco and Victoria, British Columbia, disembarking in Vancouver. From Oct. 5-12, 2019, the Disney Magic will host the 7-night Bermuda cruise out of New York City with a port stop in Boston and a two-day visit in Bermuda before returning to New York.
Member Services will begin taking reservations for both cruises on June 23. Full payment is required at the time of booking. DVC has waived both the $95 fee for using DVC points toward a cruise and the policy of requiring at least one passenger to sail using vacation points. You can use a combination of cash and vacation points for a room, but individual passengers must either be all cash or all vacation points.
Registration is set to open for the next round of Moonlight Magic parties for DVC members on July 16 and Aug. 15 at Epcot. Members with resort reservations during the event can register online beginning Wednesday, June 6, at 9 a.m. Eastern time. Registration opens to all members on Wednesday, June 20, at 9 a.m. Eastern time.
At the Disneyland Resort, a Father’s Day lunch will be offered from 12 to 2 p.m. June 17 in the Sequoia Ballroom at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. Pixar-themed games, activities, and characters will be part of the event. Prices are $53.95 per adult and $29.95 for children 3-9. Call Member Services to reserve your space.
As part of the effort to promote Incredibles 2, DVC has launched the Incredible Family Vacation Sweepstakes. First prize is a 5-day, 4-night vacation in a 2-bedroom villa at Copper Creek Villas & Cabins with park tickets and round-trip flights for up to eight people. Go to incrediblevacationsweeps.com to enter by July 19.
Last month, we mentioned no information had been released about any possible Toy Story Land previews for DVC members prior to the official June 30 opening at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The follow-up is that it’s looking highly doubtful that there will be any previews, except perhaps for media and cast members, as work continues to finish construction.
DVC Explainer – Member Benefits
Much of what we discuss in our monthly preview can be placed under the category of member benefits. At its core, Disney Vacation Club is a timeshare with your real estate interest being represented by vacation points. The one guarantee to all members is the ability to use those points to book rooms at resorts that have been sold as Disney Vacation Club properties.
As the years have gone on, additional member benefits have become part of the appeal of owning DVC. That appeal has prompted Disney Vacation Club to ratchet back the amount of benefits received by owners who buy resale, thus making direct purchases more appealing.
So this month, we will briefly explain the benefits, then explain how benefits have changed for those who purchased DVC contracts resale and don’t have that blue membership card.
Here is a rundown of the various categories of benefits for DVC members:
- Events/experiences – Events such as the Member Cruise and the Moonlight Magic nights fall under this category. DVC also offers smaller events for members, such as the weekly member nights at Splitsville Luxury Lanes in Disney Springs, fitness activities at Disney California Adventure, and exclusive culinary experiences at the resorts.
- Member-exclusive areas – The Top of The World Lounge in Disney’s Bay Lake Tower and the Member’s Lounge in Epcot’s Imagination Pavilion are two areas that require a blue membership card and ID to access.
- Annual pass discounts, ticket offers – The value of this benefit has varied year to year, but in general, members have received discounted annual passes. Annual pass discounts are limited to those living in the household of the owner. In the past, DVC has also provided other theme park ticket offers, though they haven’t done that recently.
- Tour/party discounts – Members get discounts (typically 15 percent) for all kinds of tours, activities, and spa treatments. Members also get discounted tickets for select dates of the Halloween and Christmas parties.
- Dining/merchandise discounts – These can add up quickly while you’re on vacation. Many table service dining locations are discounted 10 percent, though you can find some select Epcot or Swan and Dolphin restaurants with discounts as high as 20 percent. The shopping discount at Walt Disney World owned and operated shops is currently 20 percent, though that could return to 10 percent in the future.
- Other Disney destinations – Members can use points for Disney Cruise Line, Adventures by Disney, and even non-DVC rooms at Disney resorts throughout the world. Though, as members will tell you, the value of using points for some of these options is debatable. Here is DVC’s information on booking the Disney Collection.
- Non-Disney destinations – Non-Disney resorts worldwide are available to book with points through the Concierge Collection and the World Collection through RCI exchanges. There are complicated rules for booking these destinations, including fees to book and use year limits. If you’re interested in learning more, here is DVC’s information on booking the Concierge Collection and the World Collection.
- Disney Files magazine – Comes in the mail to members four times a year.
Printable lists of member benefits can be found here. I recommend printing them or saving them to your mobile device for quick reference while you’re on vacation.
Now, here’s how benefits for resale owners have changed through the years:
- For resale purchasers after March 21, 2011: DVC points are no longer eligible for reservations in the Concierge Collection, the Disney Collection, or the Adventurer Collection. This includes Disney Cruise Line and Adventures By Disney. As we said earlier, the value of using points for some of these options was already questionable, so the change wasn’t considered a huge loss to resale buyers.
- For resale purchasers after April 4, 2016: Members who did not purchase points direct from Disney are no longer eligible for Membership Extras, such as exclusive experiences and discounts. This change had a much larger impact, affecting nearly all of the benefits we’ve outlined above. The workaround that some used was to purchase a small contract direct from Disney to get the benefits, then purchase the bulk of their points resale.
- For resale purchasers after February 25, 2018: The tiny direct purchase “workaround” brought the next change, which was the requirement of at least 75 points to be bought direct for the owner to enjoy full member benefits.
So owners considering whether to buy direct or resale (or a combination of both) must weigh the value of member benefits into their decision. The complicating factor is that none of these benefits is guaranteed. As we mentioned at the outset, the only guaranteed benefit for any member is the continued ability to use your purchased points to book rooms for the length of your contract.
Admittedly, there would be loud howls if some of these discounts and benefits were to be taken away. And it’s in DVC’s interest to keep members happy, as word of mouth is one of their best selling tools.
Which member benefits do you use and consider most valuable? Which would upset you the most if they went away? And what benefits would you like to see added in the future? Let us know in the comments.