I have been vacationing at Walt Disney World since 1974 (my first trip as a young child), and every trip has been an enjoyable experience with many magical memories. So when my husband and I purchased Disney Vacation Club, I thought we would continue enjoying the same Disney vacations we always had, just with more space to spread out. While that’s true, it doesn’t come close to describing how much DVC has enhanced our Disney World experience. Here are just a few of the unexpected benefits I’ve enjoyed as a DVC owner:
Less Stress in Planning
There’s no doubt about it, planning a Disney World vacation can be stressful. Before I owned DVC, I would spend hours deciding where to stay. We always wanted to be on property, so it came down to deciding which resort we could afford. We tried to balance the cost with how long we wanted to stay, and more often than not, we chose a value or a moderate resort so that we could vacation for ten days to two weeks. We live in Utah, so driving is prohibitive, and the cost of airfare meant I wanted to stay at WDW long enough to justify the expense of five plane tickets.
Now when I plan our trips, accommodation costs are no longer a factor in my decision. Our choice is based solely on which resort we want to stay in at the time. We own at Old Key West, and I love it there. It’s so relaxing and a complete escape from the theme park chaos. So I always book there initially, and then if we decide we’d prefer to stay in another resort, or do a split-stay, I can change it at the 7-month booking window. I’ve never had a problem getting the resort I want, and booking online couldn’t be easier.
With DVC, I no longer have to worry about making payments on our vacation before we arrive, and I never worry about the inevitable yearly price increases at the hotels. Pre-DVC, I always had such sticker shock when I’d input our vacation days into the WDW site each year. “They want how much for a hotel room?” Then I’d cross my fingers and pray for a discount during our travel time. Sometimes we’d get lucky, and sometimes we wouldn’t.
Which brings me to my next hidden gem: Member Services. Nobody told me when we bought DVC what a huge help Member Services would be to us, or how much I would come to rely on them. What is Member Services? Basically, it’s a concierge service for DVC owners. Member Services is there to help you with anything you might need for your Disney vacation.
These people are incredible. They genuinely have that Disney spirit of yesterday; they put the guest experience front and center, and go out of their way to help guests with anything they might need.
On my last DVC vacation, we added a member to our party, and were unable (in spite of my checking online, and phoning Disney dining every day) to add this person to our Hoop-Dee-Doo dining reservation. I mentioned this while on the phone with Member Services on another matter, and the cast member said, “Oh, let me take care of that for you.” Within three minutes, we had our extra reservation for Hoop-Dee-Doo.
What I enjoy most is that you can have your own Member Services cast member, and speak with them every time you call. It’s lovely when the person knows you and your family, and what your needs and preferences are. You develop a personal relationship in a way that you can’t with an anonymous cast member (no matter how helpful they might be) on the end of an 800 number line. Member Services is one of the best hidden gems of my DVC membership.
More Relaxing Vacation
As a DVC owner, I no longer feel pressure to have the “perfect” Disney vacation. We know we’ll be back, and soon. Because we now travel there so often (at least two, and sometimes three, times per year), when things don’t go as planned, it’s no big deal. If we don’t get to ride all the rides we’d like, or it rains continuously, or we can’t snag the Fastpasses we want…no worries, we’ll be back in a few months.
Being able to visit Orlando so often means that we are now taking time to smell the roses. We have “stay at home” days where we do nothing but take time to get to know our resort, enjoy the restaurants there, shop, and most importantly, sit by the pool and do nothing at all. It’s a great escape when you hit the wall after three or four days of going hard in the parks. And it was something I never really wanted to do before we owned DVC…after all, time was money, and we wouldn’t be back for a couple of years. Even though those trips were fun, we felt like we’d been chewed up and spit out by the Disney machine when it was over. We needed a vacation to recover from our vacation.
Yes, it’s sappy. Yes, they’re playing on my emotions. Yes, it’s a great marketing strategy.
No, I don’t care.
I love hearing “Welcome Home” as a DVC member. From the moment I check-in at Magical Express to the moment we leave Disney property, it’s a constant refrain from cast members, and it is always accompanied by a big smile. It makes my day. I consider it another intangible perk, and it might even be my favorite. I can say wholeheartedly that every cast member I’ve encountered has made me feel special, feel like part of the family, feel like a welcome member of the “neighborhood,” and most definitely like I’m home.
From the cast members at the park entrance turnstiles who say “Welcome Home” when my magic band makes the light turn purple instead of green, to the DVC sales teams who shout it out en masse when I walk past their kiosk wearing my Old Key West hoodie…it always makes me smile.
Owning DVC makes me happier than I ever imagined it would…and that is the biggest hidden gem of all.
About the Author: Diane has been a Disney addict since childhood, going to Walt Disney World shortly after it opened in the 1970s. Since moving out west, she has also become a huge fan of Disneyland as well. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter.