Upon bringing our son for his initial visit to Walt Disney World to ring in his first birthday, my husband and I had a visceral feeling that we were going to be buying a DVC contract. We had visited just a few years prior when he proposed and then again later for our honeymoon. Making the commitment just “made sense” for our family as our history with visiting WDW was increasing–and, to be quite honest, we did not require much convincing after visiting the Saratoga Springs DVC Preview Center. We could not have been prouder to walk away with a contract clad in our blue DVC Members tote bag!
However, this simply isn’t the case with all families ruminating over the decision of whether or not to purchase a contract. We have had multiple conversations with different friends who are on the fence about diving into ownership, and with that, a myriad of questions–sometimes skeptical–of just how does this “DVC thing” makes sense in the long run of life.
More or less, one of the first questions from pondering members is this: “Yea, it makes sense now–you have a young child, but what happens when he grows up and Disney isn’t his thing anymore?” If only a simplistic answer of “Disney is not just for kids (or Millenials for that matter)” would suffice, it would be an easy answer! But the truth is, most I talk to fail to realize all Walt Disney World has to offer, even for us “young at heart” visitors.
To them, I counter: Did you ever Disney pre-children? And most have. My husband and I traveled to Walt Disney World and enjoyed the parks, dining, shopping, and resorts before we became a family of three. WDW is so much more than an amusement park with rides. It is a state of being that applies to people no matter their age, family size, or anything in between. I can’t stress enough that going to Disney is just as much for our son as it is for ourselves as individuals and a couple. And therein lies my case: Membership is not something you outgrow; if anything, it grows and changes with your family over the years. There is always something inspiring and exciting happening at the parks and resorts that keep us coming back for more. Most recently, the addition of experiences like Moonlight Magic, H20-Glow, Disney Villains After Hours, resort additions and renovations, additions in parks, and the explosion of new dining and shopping at Disney Springs have made our trips even more exciting. Being a DVC owner allows us to delight in these events and additions more frequently than if we were not members, no matter how young (or old) we are.
Inevitably, the second question comes quickly: “But don’t you get bored going Disney all the time?” Besides the experiences mentioned previously, there is another fascinating thing that happens when you become a DVC member—you slow down. Suddenly, you no longer dash from Fastpass to dining reservations and back again–and trust me, we have done the rope-drop-and-race to Slinky Dog Dash and barely lived to tell about it!
Ownership is coupled with a flipped mental narration. It’s no longer, “We HAVE to make it to this ride or that table service reservation” because we know it won’t be long before we are back again. You’re suddenly freed from the hustle and bustle so commonly associated with Walt Disney World vacations. You know, the trips people say they need a vacation from when they get home!
With this new sense of calm, we have discovered our want to spend more time at the resorts, which in and of themselves are a vacation. From enjoying a surrey ride, movies and marshmallow roasting beachside, poolside relaxing with a Disney inspired cocktail in hand, and strolling stores and shops in Disney Springs, DVC has opened up a plethora of new avenues that we can walk–instead of race–down.
Coming in at a close third is the next question: “Those maintenance fees are for the life of the contract; isn’t that a lot of money?” Again I have a simple answer: How can you put a price tag on the experiences and memories you are making in Walt Disney World’s parks and resorts? Yet, it is not that simple even for us as owners, as we understand more than anyone the monetary commitment. We look at it like this: We strive to vacation at least once or twice a year as a family. According to Forbes magazine, the average American family spends about 10-15% of their yearly household income on vacations. Being a part of the DVC family allows us to vacation one or two times a year in Walt Disney World from New Jersey for below that average. Also, perks that accompany membership like the opportunity to purchase Gold Annual Passes, 20% off most merchandise, and discounts on some events and dining aid in savings as well. As a family, we make traveling and vacationing a priority, so if that requires sacrificing some daily luxuries it is worth it for us because we are gaining so much in the long run.
Nothing sticks in my mind as much as this: When we signed our contract and our newly one-year-old son was crawling at our feet in the office with the DVC Cast Member, my husband and I realized our ownership at Disney’s Polynesian Villas and Bungalows would last until 2066. We looked at each other and said, “He will have this until he is 51 years old”.
DVC is more than a way to vacation to us. It is a tradition peppered with second-to-none experiences that only Disney can promise. DVC is like going home, all while building a legacy for our family’s future generations. To that, we cannot put a price tag.