COVID-19 has changed many people’s Disney World vacations this year, and will probably continue to do so into next year. So what should you do if you want to buy into Disney Vacation Club, and you find the perfect resale contract at the DVC Store….but you’ve never visited that DVC resort? How do you know if that particular resort is right for you? Do you dare invest without seeing the property?
And I’m here to tell you how since this was exactly the way I purchased my first DVC contract at my home resort of Old Key West. Let me explain the process I went through to determine how Old Key West would be perfect for my family without ever having been there, and I think it will help you choose the best resort for your needs as well.
Really, there’s no such thing as too much research when you are talking about a commitment like Disney Vacation Club. And it is a commitment…in terms of both time and money. You don’t want to make a mistake that leaves you regretting your purchase. So the research will become your best friend during this process. At this point, I’m assuming you’ve already decided that DVC is for you, and now you simply want to pick the best possible home resort. That’s the fun part!
Step one is to learn as much as possible about all of the DVC resorts. Determine which location will work best for your needs and priorities. Will you be going to Disney World or Disneyland the most? If you’re in the western half of the country (as I am), a resale contract at the Grand Californian might work better for you, since that resort is virtually impossible to book during popular times if you don’t own there. Or, wait to purchase the new Disneyland Hotel DVC tower as soon as it becomes available to purchase direct (Disney…take my money. Now).
If Disney World is your preferred resort, then you have more choices to make. This is the good part. Spend as much time as you need to learn about all the resorts on WDW property. Watch all the reviews on the DIS Unplugged and The DVC Show. Stalk the DISboards. Ask questions. Join the DVC Fan Facebook group. We love to talk DVC, and there is no shortage of people willing to help you with your concerns.
The Nitty Gritty
Once you’ve narrowed it down to a few choices, ask yourself the hard questions. What can I afford? As you’ve no doubt learned, with all things being equal, the cost of points at the different DVC resorts vary widely.
And initially, the resorts that cost the least per point (Vero and Hilton Head) usually make up for it in the cost of annual dues. Be sure to figure that into your final purchase price, because dues never go away.
When you’ve determined how much you can spend on your DVC investment, and what will be a comfortable annual dues payment, you can move on to the exciting part…choosing your home resort!
So what are your priorities? How often you’ll be able to go? How long you’ll be able to stay? If you can always book that monorail resort you love? Staying near EPCOT during Food & Wine? Guaranteeing that you’ll secure a studio on every visit? Always being able to book larger accommodations with a dedicated two-bedroom unit? Staying at a resort with an awesome pool?
Show Me the Money
As you can see, there are more questions than answers initially. So focus on what’s important to you. If you want the most possible points for the least amount of money, and don’t mind a shorter contract….Old Key West, Saratoga Springs, or Boulder Ridge might be for you.
Each of these resorts is very different, so spend the time investigating and deciding what’s important to you. Boulder Ridge has the gorgeous Wilderness Lodge and all of its charms at your feet, not to mention the quick boat ride to the Magic Kingdom.
Saratoga Springs is going through a refurb right now, and the new rooms are beautiful. It’s also perfect if you love spending time at Disney Springs since it’s an easy walk from certain areas.
Old Key West is perfect if you want large rooms (the biggest on property, and the only studios with two real beds…the others have one bed and a pullout sofa or a Murphy bed), a Florida neighborhood feel, and the perfect place to relax.
The Monorail is King
If you want to be on the monorail because you spend most of your time in Magic Kingdom and you love that feeling of being right in the middle of it all, take a look at Bay Lake Tower, the Polynesian, or the Grand Floridian.
These resorts are particularly great for families with young children who don’t want to drag strollers onto Disney buses or spend time waiting for the buses to arrive. Bay Lake Tower is my favorite for young families because it’s such a quick walk from Magic Kingdom….and your child can stay asleep in the stroller the entire way. Bay Lake Tower also offers theme park views from some villas, with the fireworks’ show soundtrack available while you watch from your balcony (whenever the fireworks return, that is). A huge bonus if your littles have had enough of the parks. They can sleep while you enjoy the show from the comfort of your villa. Bay Lake Tower also offers an additional full bath in the units, giving a one-bedroom unit two bathrooms, and a two-bedroom unit, three.
The Polynesian is amazing for so many reasons. It’s one of my favorite resorts, and I love staying there. But take note that the Poly only offers studios and the bungalows. No traditional one or two-bedroom DVC units. And while the studios can sleep five, you won’t have much extra room when the sofa bed is out and the pull-down bed is open. The bungalows, while gorgeous, are point eaters. So unless you’re planning on buying a large number of points, they aren’t usually an option for most DVC owners. But if you don’t need anything bigger than a studio, and you love the Poly, it should definitely be on the top of your list.
The Grand Floridian is probably the most beautiful, elegant resort on WDW property. And its DVC villas are no exception. Here you will find touches absent in other DVC resorts…little things that will make you feel very pampered and special during your stay. If this is the kind of vacation you are looking for, the Grand Flo is your resort. Everything about it is stunning. The grounds, the pool area, the restaurants, and the lobbies…all combine to give you a resort that is relaxing and lovely. Honestly, you can’t go wrong here if that’s the vibe you want. I love sitting in the lobby listening to the live orchestra play after eating a wonderful meal. It’s just so beautiful. But you will pay for it. Resale contracts aren’t cheap, and the Grand Floridian will cost you more in points than some other resorts to stay there, so keep that in mind.
Food and Flower and Wine and Garden Are my Jam
If EPCOT festivals are your thing (or just EPCOT in general), then you should consider making one of the resorts around Crescent Lake your home resort. There are only two at the moment, but that doesn’t mean the decision is easy.
First, let’s talk about BoardWalk. I love everything about this resort. It has a great atmosphere, and so much to do right at your fingertips. My husband and I spent a week there this past March, and it was wonderful. The rooms are beautiful. Some of them are a bit of a walk from the lobby, but I’ve always been accommodated when I’ve requested one closer to the elevators. Also, note that BoardWalk has no dedicated two bedrooms. All two-bedroom villas at BoardWalk are lock-offs, meaning a studio and one-bedroom are combined, leaving you with one queen bed and one sofa bed in the second bedroom.
If you’re looking for quiet relaxation, you’ll definitely find it here. But if you’re looking for fun and excitement….that’s here, too. The boardwalk itself is a great place to pass the time in the evenings, with multiple dining choices, as well as shopping and people watching. The transportation is easy here, with the option of either a boat ride or a quick walk to EPCOT and a ten-minute walk to Hollywood Studios. To get to the other parks, the bus service is efficient. The main pool is colorful, with a great theme, but if you have a clown phobia, you might prefer the quiet pool, as the slide at the main pool is a replica of a turn of the century roller coaster with a giant clown face for an exit. His eyes light up at night. Consider yourself warned.
Beach Club is the other EPCOT DVC resort option. BC villas have the same transportation options as BoardWalk, as they’re directly across Crescent Lake from each other. Beach Club also has great dining options in Beaches & Cream and Cape May Café. In addition Beach Club has dedicated two bedroom units, which are a necessity for some families. But the biggest selling point of Beach Club is Stormalong Bay. Easily the best pool on Disney World property, Stormalong Bay has a sandy bottom and a lazy river, as well as a very cool pirate ship slide. It’s a great place to spend the day if you’re not going into the parks, and actually, if you have kiddos, you might have a hard time tearing them away from it. Because of Stormalong Bay, as well as its proximity to EPCOT, Beach Club can be difficult to book at the seven month window. So the bottom line is, if you want to stay at Beach Club….buy points at Beach Club.
I Want to Do This Forever
If you’re looking for a contract with the latest possible expiration date while still buying resale, there are several resorts that fit the bill.
Animal Kingdom Lodge expires in 2057, and while not the contract with the most years left, it hits a sweet spot with a decent length and a good purchase price. Not to mention, the resort is amazing. I mean, who doesn’t want to wake up to zebras and giraffes outside your balcony door? Also, the units here have an additional bathroom in the main area, just as Bay Lake Tower, which is always a plus. The drawbacks are that the resort is a bit isolated, and the only Disney transportation provided is the buses. Also the bulk of DVC villas are located in Kidani, and most of the amenities (quick service dining, and the larger resort store) are in Jambo House. You can easily get between the two with a resort shuttle that runs about every ten minutes, but it’s not as convenient as a quick elevator ride to the lobby. Still, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks at AKL, and this resort is one of my favorites.
Copper Creek contracts expire in 2068, so you will get a lot of bang for your buck here, as they go more than twenty years past the expiration date of the original DVC resort contracts (2042 for the vast majority of the older villas). Copper Creek also has the benefit of being located in the main building of Wilderness Lodge, which is arguably, one of the best resorts on Disney property. You also have the Copper Creek cabins, which I prefer over the Poly bungalows. They have a stunning view of Bay Lake, and they are much more attractive, point-wise, than the bungalows at the Polynesian. Wilderness Lodge also has a great location, with both buses and boats available to transport you around the World.
The final option in the resort portfolio is Riviera Resort, which is Disney’s newest DVC property, with contracts that don’t expire until 2070. This resort has gorgeous rooms, and a lovely, but rather basic, design. It is on the Skyliner, which gives it a distinct advantage in terms of transportation. The only caveat with purchasing this resort through the resale market (as opposed to buying directly through Disney) is that with these contracts, you can only use your points at Riviera. So to purchase this resort resale, you REALLY have to love Riviera, because it’s the only place you’ll be staying. Also note that if you purchase Riviera directly from Disney, you can use your points at any DVC property, but if you have to sell that contract, resale restrictions apply to any potential buyers, which may make Riviera contracts less appealing on the resale market. Time will tell. But please go into this one with your eyes wide open.
Home Is Where the Heart Is
So to sum it up, yes, you can absolutely buy resale DVC with confidence…without ever having set foot on that resort property. Read, watch videos, ask questions of members, and spend the time necessary to learn all you can about the resorts you’re considering. Check out the prices of contracts at the DVC Store and don’t forget to figure in the annual dues when determining final costs. Knowing all about the resorts and being honest with yourself about what you can afford and how you like to vacation at Disney, will allow you to choose a home resort that perfectly suits you. And, after staying at additional DVC resorts, you fall in love with another one and decide you have to have more points….that’s what add-on-itis is all about. Because DVC contracts are like potato chips; you can never have just one. Welcome home!