Back in July, I had the opportunity to attend the first ever private Disney Vacation Club party at the Top of the World Lounge in Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. While Pete shared his thoughts on this in a previous blog post, I thought I would take a second to explore what this event means for the future of TOTWL.
Thus far, 2019 has marked a year of change for the lounge and how its view is being leveraged by Disney. Starting in January, DVC members were able to enjoy a reserved outdoor viewing area for evening fireworks as part of a new Member Dining Package. Offered daily and now extended through December 21, 2019, this experience includes a three-course prix fixe dinner at The Wave as well as champagne and chocolate at TOTWL during the fireworks for $59 per person plus tax and gratuity. Then, we saw the addition of the 4th of July DVC Party (mentioned above) which provided a small buffet of food as well as unlimited beverages including beer, wine, and cocktails for $99 per person plus tax and gratuity.
These attempts to monetize what has historically been a free member benefit for DVC owners has been met with criticism from many members. One large reason for this is the confusing nature of who actually owns and operates the TOTWL space atop Bay Lake Tower. While some guides may have promised access to the lounge when initially selling points, this was likely just a sales tactic and never officially written into any signed contracts or deeds. Based on my research over on the DISboards, my understanding is that TOTWL is officially owned by the managing organization of DVC – Disney Vacation Development Inc. The lounge space is then leased from DVD by Disney for their use and functions officially as Top of the World Lounge. With that being said, member access has officially been nothing more than a member benefit that can be restricted at any time.
With that out of the way, my thought is that what we are seeing in 2019 is just a warm-up for what is yet to come. With New Year’s Eve added as a blocked out date for all members, we can likely expect another event similar to the 4th of July scheduled on this night. Executives have acknowledged that they may have dropped the ball on how they announced and reserved the first private event, however, this likely will not stop them from moving forward with their future plans for the space.
The next opportunity I would see them targeting would be a dinner party once or twice per week for Happily Ever After. Special parties or events scheduled around Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party would also be another option due to the perimeter fireworks display held these nights. Having attended parties and seen these shows in the parks previously, my wife and I would likely be more inclined to shell out some money for these types of events rather than the parties themselves in order to have a more peaceful evening and fireworks experience.
It will be interesting to see what the future holds for TOTWL. For now, it continues to be a wonderful spot where DVC families can enjoy a drink, a small bite, and a beautiful view… it just may cost a little more in the future.