Welcome to the October installment of our monthly Disney Vacation Club preview. This month, we round up the latest news, including changes to the dining options at the Wilderness Lodge, the upcoming upheaval of WDW ticket pricing, availability of fall and winter parties, and more. We’ll also take a look at some common DVC owner questions.
This month, here are some booking window dates to keep in mind. For your home resort (11-month booking window), in October, you will be able to book for dates in September 2019. For all other DVC resorts (seven-month booking window), this month you will be able to book for dates in May 2019.
Booking directly through Disney, during the next two months (October and November 2018) there is extremely limited availability at Walt Disney World (as I write there’s only a smattering of 1-bedroom, 2-bedroom, and 3 bedroom units available at Saratoga Springs), there is moderate availability at Hilton Head, and nothing at Disneyland, but Aulani is wide open, with 1-bedroom, 2-bedroom, and 3-bedroom villas available nearly every night.
If you want to expand your options, you may want to explore renting points as an alternative to booking through Disney. (If you rent points through the affiliate link to David’s DVC rentals, TouringPlans receives a commission.)
DVC and Disney News
There is BIG news in the realm of Disney World park ticketing. Beginning on October 16, 2018, Disney is completely shaking up how its tickets will be priced (moving to date-specific pricing), the ticket use window, and how tickets expire. We don’t have many specifics at this point about whether there will be any pricing specifically for DVC owner; stay tuned. However, you should be aware that tickets purchased prior to October 16 will be grandfathered into the old ticketing rules. If you’re planning a trip for 2019 and don’t want to deal with date-specific pricing, you may want to scoop up some tickets now.
The Disney Parks Blog announced that Artist Point, currently the signature dining venue at the Wilderness Lodge (home of the Copper Creek and Boulder Ridge DVC Villas), will be transitioning into a character dining location, featuring Snow White and at least two of the dwarfs. The last day to dine at Artist Point in its current form is November 10, with the characters meal debuting sometime in the winter. The initial character dining experience will be for dinner, with other meals perhaps added later.
Owners visiting WDW during the remainder of 2018 should remember to purchase their Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party tickets soon; some nights are already sold out. And the Epcot Food & Wine Festival continues until November 12. Some events have discounted ticket prices for DVC members. Additionally, remember that the DVC owner website includes a calendar of member-specific tours, classes, and other activities, many of which require advance reservations. Take a look to see if any appeal to you.
DVC Tip: Standard vs. Preferred Rooms at Saratoga Springs
As is often mentioned here, when DVC members are looking to book a last-minute room at Walt Disney World, Saratoga Springs is often the only game in town. Owners who haven’t stayed at Saratoga in a while should note that 2016 introduced split pricing for rooms there, with villas in the Carousel, Paddock, and Grandstand areas charged a “standard” point rate, and villas in the Springs and Congress Park areas charged a “preferred” point rate.
As you can see from the points chart, the difference in points charges in standard vs. preferred rooms varies considerably, from a low of two points per night difference for a studio villa during the low-demand Adventure season, to a high of thirteen points per night difference for a Grand Villa during the peak Premiere season. Yikes.
So why pay the extra points for a preferred room? Disney rationale is that the Springs and Congress Park rooms are in a better location; they’re either closer to the walkway to Disney Springs or closer to the Carriage House main building and pool area.
And that may be true in some instances. My family has stayed in the Congress Park building 1100. We were steps away from the walkway to Disney Springs and had a fabulous view of Disney Springs from many windows. That particular trip was meant to be a splurge, celebrating a milestone event in my daughters’ lives. We planned to have many meals at Disney Springs and we were with several first-time visitors that we wanted to pamper. The extra points were worth it to us, for that particular trip.
However, I’ve also stayed in Saratoga standard rooms in the Grandstand area that were equidistant to the main pool as some preferred Springs rooms. And I’ve stayed in some standard Paddock rooms that were actually closer to Carriage House and not much further to Disney Springs than some of the preferred Congress Park rooms.
Some things to think about as you decide standard vs. preferred room at Saratoga are:
- Do I have access to car? Would I use it to park close to the Carriage House when I need to go there?
- Will I be visiting Disney Springs? Do I want to walk there? Do I mind taking the bus or driving?
- What’s the weather forecast for my trip dates? Will that make a difference about my interest in walking around the resort? Will that make a difference in my use of various pools around the resort?
- Do I want/need to visit the Carriage House during my trip? If you’re not a swimmer, you have a car, and you’re cooking in your villa, then you may never need to set foot in the Carriage House area.
- Are you a golfer? Many Grandstand rooms may be appealing for view of the adjacent golf course.
- Do I have points that will expire if I don’t use them? In some instances, you may want to spend down a few more points. Conversely, if you’re running low on points, a standard room may be your only option.
- Will I be upset if I pay for a preferred location but don’t get the view that I want? Not all Congress Park rooms look across the water at Disney Springs, some look at parking lots or trees.
To sort out whether spending points on a preferred room makes sense to you, take a few minutes with our room finder and room request tools to see if you can find a location that balances your need for convenience with the point price difference.
A new feature here each month, I’ll tackle a frequently asked question or two about Disney Vacation Club. If you have ideas for future featured questions, let us know.
Question: I’m a DVC owner. Can my children use my DVC extra perks like the Member Lounge at Epcot?
Answer: This question actually comes from my own children, who are starting to travel to Walt Disney World on their own.
My husband and I have been DVC members since 2001; our names are on the contract. Our daughters, now young adults, have been staying with us on points for as long as they can remember. They’ve been to Walt Disney World DVC resorts so often that they feel like they’re DVC members too. However, even though my children have emotional ownership of what they (and we) view as the family’s points, since their names are not on the contract, there are a number of DVC perks that are unavailable to them.
They can’t go to the member lounges at Epcot or at Bay Lake Tower unless accompanied by a member. So, no, when the children of DVC members travel on their own, even when using “family” points to book a DVC resort room, they are not allowed access to some of the DVC-specific perks.
Some owners decide to add family members, such as adult children, to their contracts to facilitate their use of member perks. However, there are fees and a host of legal ramifications related to this decision.
That does it for this month’s wrap-up. Got any DVC questions? Comments? Let us know below.