Welcome to the April installment of our monthly Disney Vacation Club preview. We’ve got plenty of news to share, including a concierge-like option that could be a sign of things to come for members. We also return to our “DVC Explainer” feature this month. You can view the previous explainer here. And click here for the March installment of the DVC preview.
This month, here are some booking window dates to keep in mind. For your home resort (11-month booking window), in April, you will be able to book for dates in March 2019. For all other DVC resorts (7-month booking window), this month you will be able to book for dates in November 2018. Walt Disney World has announced this year’s dates for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, so you can buy your tickets as you plan your stay.
For last-minute trips, now that we’re emerging from spring break, availability is starting to open up a bit more, though you won’t find any studios. You will, however, find larger villas at Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa and Old Key West Resort at DVC’s last-minute resort availability page. The Polynesian Bungalows, Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, and Aulani also have limited availability.
The big development this week is reservations opening on April 4 for Reunion Station, a concierge-style lounge opening April 30 at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. Guests staying at Boulder Ridge Villas or Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge can add food-and-beverage-inclusive lounge access to their reservation for $50 a night for adults and $33 a night for children ages 3-9. The lounge will serve breakfast selections and beverages from 7 to 10 a.m. and from 4 to 6 p.m., guests can enjoy beer, wine, cheeses, salads, soups, desserts, and more. If you’re hoping to try this option out for one night, you can’t. DVC requires adding it for the entire length of stay and for every member of the traveling party.
It’s an interesting approach to providing club level-type service to DVC members, since the only current DVC club level rooms are at Animal Kingdom Villas Jambo House. If you’ve attempted to reserve one of those villas, you know how limited the supply is.
You might be wondering how the price compares. A one-bedroom club level room is 7 points more than a savanna-view room during Magic Season. If you use the $17-per-point price of one-time-use points from DVC, that would be a $119 upcharge per night. So if you’re talking about two adults, the price of Reunion Station access is comparable. But if you have three or more people in your room, you would be paying more for what is less access to Reunion Station. The Kilimanjaro Club at Jambo House offers five different food-and-beverage services throughout the day. It will be interesting to see how popular the Reunion Station offering is and whether DVC will adjust operations. If it’s successful, we could see similar facilities at other resorts.
Beyond the food-and-beverage access for resort guests, all DVC members can sign up for various workshops that will be hosted at Reunion Station beginning May 7. Initial sessions will be from 1:30 to 3 p.m. and include Disney Vacation Club Beverage Tasting Series on Mondays, Phone Photography on Tuesdays, and Animation 101 on Thursdays. Each workshop is $40 per person. Participants younger than 18 must be accompanied by a paying parent or guardian. Reservations for workshops begin on April 4 as well.
If you want to check out the facility without forking over any cash, Reunion Station will open its doors to all eligible members from 7 to 10 p.m. daily for mixing and mingling. A lounge host will be on hand to answer questions and provide assistance.
Planning on going to Moonlight Magic at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park on May 30 and June 11? Booking begins on April 19 for members with resort reservations on the event dates and May 3 for all other members. Mark those dates down, because these events fill up quickly. The Moonlight Magic parties at Animal Kingdom on April 17 and May 16 are all sold out.
Also as part of Membership Magic, a new wine-tasting experience for DVC members will debut April 15 at Olivia’s Cafe at Disney’s Old Key West Resort. From 3 to 4 p.m. each Sunday, as many as 20 members will enjoy a sampling of wines, along with bite-sized foods. The price of $30 per person includes tax and gratuity. Call Member Services for more details and reservations.
If you’re still thirsty, Wine Bar George in Disney Springs will host weekly wine tasting experiences and monthly wine dinners for DVC members and their guests. The tastings will be 3:30 to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays and the dinners will be on select Wednesdays from 6 to 8 p.m. Cost is $45 per person for the tasting and $115 for the dinner. Call Member Services for event registration or more information.
Unless you stayed away from Disney social media and message boards last month, you probably heard all about Walt Disney World instituting overnight parking fees for resort guests. The good news for DVC members is that they will not be charged for parking if staying at a DVC Deluxe Villa. Members also will not be charged to park when using vacation points to stay at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel.
Finally, for Old Key West guests, be aware that the Turtle Pond Pool complex, including the snack bar and game room, will be closed for refurbishment starting April 21 to late June, though those dates are subject to change.
This month, we tackle a topic that is often confounding to new Disney Vacation Club members: use year.
Each DVC contract, along with a home resort, has a “use year.” Quite simply, this is the time of the year that your yearly allotment of points becomes available. If you have a 200-point contract with a February use year, those points will be available for booking reservations on or after Feb. 1.
Along with affecting when you get points, use year affects your deadline to bank points. Your deadline is 8 months from the start of your use year. So that February contract we referenced would have a point banking deadline of Sept. 30.
If you’re buying a contract on the resale market, you can’t adjust the use year of that contract. If, however, you’re buying a contract direct from DVC, you can request the use year of your preference. But you can’t pick any month you want. DVC has designated just eight months as use year months: February, March, April, June, August, September, October, and December.
Now that you know the basics of use year, the obvious question is which use year is right for me? To answer that question, start with the time or times of year that you typically do your traveling. The best use year for you is one that immediately precedes your travel dates. So spring break travelers want to aim for a February or March use year, while members who never miss the holidays at Walt Disney World would prefer October or December.
One reason is that you will have a new allotment of points to use just before your trip. The other key reason is if you have to cancel a DVC reservation, your flexibility is much greater the earlier you are in your use year. With cancellations 31 days or more before check-in, your points go back into your account in the use year of the reservation. If you aren’t going to be able to swing another trip during the year, you can bank those points to the following year, as long as you’re ahead of your banking deadline. With cancellations from 30 days to 1 day before check-in, those points go into holding, meaning they can only be used for the use year of the reservation and only for a new reservation booked 60 days or fewer before check-in. If you’re already toward the end of your use year, it doesn’t give you much time to make other plans.
One other note on use year: If you’re a member who wants to add points at your current resort, having the same use year greatly simplifies management of your DVC account. For reservation purposes, the two contracts behave as one combined contract. If you have two different use years, even if those contracts are at the same resort, points from both can’t be combined in one reservation. Instead, points would have to be transferred from one contract to the other before making the reservation. It can be done, but adds a complicating extra step to managing your DVC points.
If you have any use year tips or any other questions on use years, be sure to leave them in the comments. We will be back next month with more news and another resort spotlight.