Are Preferred Rooms Worth It? DVC Time!

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Can you relate to DVC owner Diannelynn? She and her husband stayed at Saratoga Springs in January 2020 (in the before-times). They spent extra points to stay in a preferred room. And she even put in a room request for a specific building – Springs 6. She requested an upper floor and a view of the fountain. Sounds pretty ideal. She and her husband enjoy sitting on their balcony in the morning or evening to relax. On this trip, they were assigned room 4123. Definitely not on the upper floor, and definitely no view of the fountain. Instead, they got …

… a heavily-used access door.

Not a great view. Certainly no quiet balcony time happening here. They couldn’t even leave their blinds open, since everyone staying in the building uses that door at all hours of the day. Ouch. So spending more points for the upgraded room didn’t help them out. But might it make an impact at other DVC resorts? Read on to find out. And if you’re more interested in Value/Moderate resorts or Deluxe resorts, you can read about those too.

Explain the Math!

TouringPlans users can submit a survey after each DVC stay. They rate their overall satisfaction, and they can also submit their room number. Using the room numbers that are submitted, I can determine the room type, view and location.

To do the analysis for today for each room type, I need to know three things:

  • The average satisfaction. Averages allow us to compare across room types.
  • The 95% confidence interval. The confidence interval allows me to visualize how reliable the averages are. If there aren’t many results, or the results were really spread out, I can’t be incredibly confident in the average. That generates a large confidence interval.
  • The average increase in points per night compared to the next-cheapest room category. For this, I’m going to be using the 1-bedroom point cost to grab the upgrade cost. It’s generally a nice average between studio, 1-bed, 2-bed, and grand villa upgrade costs.

Each graph in this post will have room types along the horizontal axis. Then satisfaction will be on a scale from 4.0 to 5.0 on the vertical axis. A zoomed-in scale like that can be misleading. So take all graphs with a visual grain of salt. You’d barely notice a difference of 0.2 on a graph that goes from 1 to 5. But it’s much more noticeable in my smaller version of the axis. So why’d I do it? I’m only going to show room types that had enough responses to get a really solid average (usually 60 or more surveys). And no qualifying room type had a confidence interval that dipped below 4.0.

Preferred Rooms at DVC Resorts

Are preferred rooms worth the upgrade cost at Animal Kingdom Lodge?

Average satisfaction at different room types at Animal Kingdom Lodge (DVC at Jambo and Kidani)
  • We’re going to start off strong with a result that I just straight-up did not expect. Even given the deluxe results for Jambo House, I figured in the DVC world the savanna upgrade would show up as worth the cost.
  • Room 5134 at Animal Kingdom Lodge – Jambo House. This is a Value Studio, which you can book for as little as 7 points per night!

    The value rooms (which are only found in Jambo) are the sleeper hit here. They don’t have a higher average just because they’re in Jambo. In general, Kidani standard and savanna rooms perform slightly better than their Jambo equivalents. But I get it. If I was paying 14 points per night less than a savanna room, and this was the view out of my window, I’d be pretty darn pleased with myself too.

  • In the end, I guess it logically makes sense that there is no difference in satisfaction between standard and savanna rooms. I’ve always stayed in standard rooms. At Jambo I had a “hidden savanna” view (they’re much more common there) and at Kidani I had a view of the road just outside of the entrance. But both times we spent most of our time on the communal “back porches” of the lodge and loved every minute of it. Both standard and savanna views can be as much as a 1/4-mile away from the lobby at Jambo, and a whopping 1/2-mile away from the lobby at Kidani.

Are preferred rooms worth the upgrade cost at Monorail resorts?

Average satisfaction at different room types at Monorail DVC Resorts (Grand Floridian and Bay Lake Tower)
  • Upgrade costs along the monorail line aren’t wildly expensive, but none of them results in significant increases in satisfaction. Note: I didn’t have enough data about the Polynesian to compare DVC room types there.
  • Bay Lake Tower has some of the best views and locations on property, if you get the right room. Even a few lake view rooms can yield a better view of Magic Kingdom than many Theme Park rooms at the other monorail resorts. This is a perfect case for saving the 7-ish points per night, booking a lake view and using the Room Finder to attempt to get a partial theme park view. The standard views are generally on lower floors, so you’ll see trees or buildings or other parts of the resort.
  • Room 1605 at The Villas at Grand Floridian. This is a Standard View, which you can book for as little as 16 points per night.

    The Villas at Grand Floridian have the highest satisfaction scores of any resort at WDW. So even a view upgrade can’t gain you much upward momentum. And the Grand Floridian is such a picturesque resort anyway, even standard views can be pretty amazing. Some of the lake views may get you a far-off view of Space Mountain, but no matter where you end up, you should be happy.

Are preferred rooms worth the upgrade cost at Old Key West and Saratoga Springs?

Average satisfaction at different room types at Old Key West and Saratoga Springs
  • Old Key West is an anomaly in that an upgrade to being “near hospitality” costs no additional points. And it can save you up to 0.65 miles of walking to the lobby (if that matters to you). That walking saved doesn’t equal an increase in satisfaction, though. “Near hospitality” rooms have a much smaller sample size than the standard rooms, so the confidence interval is larger.
  • Unlike Old Key West, a room near to the main building or close to the walking path to Disney Springs at Saratoga Springs will cost you points to upgrade. If you want to end up in The Springs or Congress Park, it’ll be about an additional 4 points per night. But remember the story at the top of this post. Preferred rooms can still result in “horror” stories.

Are preferred rooms worth the upgrade cost at Wilderness Lodge DVC properties?

Average satisfaction at different room types at Wilderness Lodge
  • Room 1505 at Boulder Ridge. This is a Pool View Studio, which you can book for as little as 13 points per night.

    I’ll just go ahead and spoiler alert the rest of the post, but the no-cost “upgrade” from woods view to pool view at Boulder Ridge is the closest to actually being a significant satisfaction increase compared to all other DVC resorts. And it’s still just barely not significant. But for a zero point increase, it’s worth a shot. Just know that a pool view is a pool view, complete with potential noise. Unless, of course, it’s a “pool view”, like this example.

  • And from a 0 point upgrade we jump to a ….. 50 point per night upgrade. Yep. But that’s because we’re talking totally different room types. If you want a lake view at Copper Creek, you’ve gotta get yourself one of those very fancy schmancy cabins. The views will be nice, but you will be paying handsomely for it. With no guarantee of increased satisfaction.

Are preferred rooms worth the upgrade cost at BoardWalk or Riviera?

Average satisfaction at different room types at BoardWalk and Riviera
  • These last two resorts are sort of orphans from everything else. The Beach Club Villas are all standard views, so there is nothing to compare there.
  • All BoardWalk rooms are similar in distance to transportation and the lobby, so the view is really the only differentiating factor. The vast majority of standard views are in the South building, and are therefore a longer walk from EPCOT. Boardwalk views can be beautiful. But for the 8 points per night, they don’t guarantee any increase in satisfaction.
  • Riviera is another interesting case study. Preferred rooms are a relatively costly upgrade at 10 points per night. And they overlook the lake or fountains. But standard rooms also usually have a nifty feature – they offer views of EPCOT (especially on higher floors), along with fireworks. Perhaps as a result, the two views don’t differ in satisfaction.

What’s Does This Mean For You?

  1. If there are any preferred room winners in the DVC category, it’s the pool view at Boulder Ridge. There is no cost to select that view, but it’s the closest to providing a significant increase in satisfaction over a standard room.
  2. Especially if you’re staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge, it’s worth using the Room Finder to determine which rooms provide the best views. A Value room is the cheapest DVC room on property and can look out at just as many animals as the much more expensive Savanna view.
  3. If you’re staying at the Riviera, you can use the 10 points per night to get a preferred view, or you can save your points and still watch fireworks once they start up again (crossing my fingers that it’s soon!).

 

How do you use your DVC points? Do you book the cheapest room for the longest amount of time? Or splurge for the best views? Let us know in the comments!

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Becky Gandillon

Becky Gandillon was trained in biomedical engineering, but is now a full-time data and analytics nerd. She loves problem solving and travelling. She and her husband, Jeff, live in St. Louis with their two daughters and they have Disney family movie night every Saturday. You can follow her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/becky-gandillon/

4 thoughts on “Are Preferred Rooms Worth It? DVC Time!

  • June 9, 2021 at 1:10 pm
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    The elements that make up a preferred room are so variable from person to person that I cannot see a homogenous answer to this problem. Possibly touring plans could become very complicated in the future ( Thinking AI) that a lowly visitor as myself could have the perfect room handed to them. Until then we must all look at the room views and do our own cogitation. having said all that the touring plans pictures have been of great use to me in picking a room or general location of rooms. I do not believe AI will replace that element. Bottom line would be keep on keepin’ on with the room pics and evals. They are of immense value to me.

    Reply
    • June 9, 2021 at 9:48 pm
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      Fritz, you’re speaking my love language. An algorithm that’s trained to predict which rooms I’ll like? And which meals at which restaurants? So I don’t have to guess. That’ll be the day.

      Reply
  • June 13, 2021 at 8:37 am
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    At the Pop century a preferred room is worth it when you considered The Pop Century is extra large in size and a standard room is very far from the restaurant and bus stops. I had to pick up my breakfast during the night and eat in my room so I wouldn’t miss my bus in the morning. A preferred room would of given me a relaxing morning time in the restaurant.

    Reply
  • June 23, 2021 at 11:43 am
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    Part of my satisfaction rating always considers the “value” I paid for something. So I am much more dissatisfied with a bad meal at an expensive restaurant than I am with a bad meal at a cheap restaurant. I do this for rooms too, so these results don’t surprise me. If Disney is doing it right, I think people should be equally satisfied across categories because you expect more when you pay more and that factors into how satisfied you are. The Value at AKL are a great example of getting more and paying less – so satisfaction should be the highest! Can’t wait to book one of those rooms someday.

    Reply

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