I promised myself when I started doing this that I would just chronicle my experiences as a new DVC member. Some of those experiences I expected. Things like having to learn a new way to plan, navigating the nuances of DVC ownership, discovering a new community of Disney fans, etc.
My thought process from the start of this journey was mostly financial. Looking at how much I spend at Disney resorts for myself (and my family) every year I, like just about every other person who joins DVC, looked at it all through that lens. So I went in knowing exactly what I was getting myself into financially. That wasn’t a surprise (or even an issue).
What has become more surprising to me (and maybe it shouldn’t be) are the emotional aspects that I never considered, thought of or factored into my decision to join.
For 22 years, I’ve been at the helm of a fairly large, fairly popular Disney fan site. I’ve met many people through it, had experiences I never thought I would and without question it has changed my life in ways I never could have imagined. I thought I knew most aspects of Disney life – then I became a DVC member and found this whole group of people – some of whom are starting to become friends.
I’ve told the story a few times about how, way back in 2009, my mother told me that she thought joining DVC would be a good idea for me. This was right after Bay Lake Tower had opened, and I was telling my mother about it. It was an odd comment for my mother to make, but nonetheless, it has proved prescient. My first stay as a DVC member at Boulder Ridge was with my mom. It was her first time doing a vlog as well. Mom used to travel with me quite often, and while her health (thankfully) is good – she’s 88 years old and those days of long flights and busy trips are behind her. I wanted her to join me on my first stay because, in some ways, this was her idea. But it opened up something for me that I hadn’t considered – this was a way for us to ‘travel’ together, without the requisite stress that a cross country trip would exact. It became a way for me to share an experience with her that I never would have thought about had I not become a member.
Every October, my mothers two sisters come to Orlando to visit. These visits are a highlight in her year, and I have (from time to time), put them up at a Disney hotel for a few nights. They’re not theme park people, but they love the resorts and spending time together. I remember some years ago when my aunts and my mother were staying at the Boardwalk, being on the phone with her and hearing her laughing with them – she sounded like a teenager. This year, I’m putting them in a cabin at Copper Creek.
Later this year, my nephew, his wife and two children will be coming to visit. I’m able to put them up in a studio at Saratoga for the week.
Taking my mother to the DVC mothers day brunch, seeing how much she enjoyed it – how relaxing it was, how she enjoyed spending the time with my sister and her family, as well as our good friends Yvette and Emiel (the Nether-people for those who listen to the podcast).
And then there’s me. This process has had an effect on me that I find difficult to put into words. The moment I signed my first contract, I had this strange yet familiar feeling. It took me a few days to identify it, and when I did – I was shocked. The feeling was the same one I had 22 years ago when I started the DIS. I hate saying that out-loud because the DIS became this massive site and I don’t mean to suggest on any level that I expect anything I do with DVC to follow a similar path. In 1997 I had no idea what the DIS would become – there was no way to know that then. In those days, it was just raw passion and this intense desire to share it. I never expected it to turn into anything else, I certainly never thought it would become my full time job – I just wanted to share something I loved and was passionate about. While I’ve certainly had many things I’ve loved and felt passionate about over the years, this was different and for the life of me I can’t tell you why – it just is. It has renewed my spirit in someways – I’ve found energy and drive like I haven’t had in years. There was no way to factor this in to a financial decision. There’s no back-of-the-napkin math that will quantify that. It is a wonderful, yet unintended and unexpected result of becoming a DVC member.
In the comments below, I’d like you to tell me what the plan vs reality of DVC was for you – particularly the emotional moments that you didn’t consider or expect.