It’s been quite a year for DVC members. The perks of being a member have dwindled with the borrowing restrictions, the lack of new annual pass sales, cancelled Moonlight Magic events, and the temporary closure of the Top of the World Lounge, just to name a few. Throw in the recent news of Magical Express service ending in 2022 and Extra Magic Hours being a thing of the past, and it’s hard not to feel disappointed. While it’s well known that perks are not guaranteed, it is a bummer. Magical Express is valued both as a convenient form of transportation and as a fun tradition for kicking off a Disney trip, and I truly enjoyed Extra Magic Hours, especially the ones at night. All of this got me thinking: what advantage do you have by staying at the DVC resorts compared to staying off-property? There are admittedly tons of options between other resorts and vacation home rentals in the Orlando area. Well, there are some compelling reasons why DVC resorts come out ahead.
To me, there’s something special about just being immersed in the “Disney bubble.” DVC resorts have some of the best locations that bring you as close as possible to the parks. From Bay Lake Tower you are just a short walk away from the Magic Kingdom, and you have some of the best theme park views from the villa balconies. From the Beach Club Villas and BoardWalk Villas, you can be at International Gateway in EPCOT or Hollywood Studios in a matter of minutes. Being so close to the parks means less time traveling and more time to enjoy the attractions.
We have pride in our home resorts for a reason. Each has its own unique theme and feel, from the wilderness of the Northwest at Boulder Ridge and Copper Creek to a tropical paradise at the Polynesian. Perhaps no other DVC resort is as detailed and immersive as Animal Kingdom Lodge. Between the animals on the savannas and the African art, the resort is an experience unlike any other. It is truly Disney Imagineering at its finest.
We may not have the Magical Express after this year, but we still have lots of great transportation options to travel between the resorts and theme parks. Bay Lake Tower, the Grand Floridian, and the Polynesian have the iconic monorail system. Riviera has the Skyliner, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite modes of Disney transportation. Then there are the many ferries and boats, such as the ferries from Wilderness Lodge to Magic Kingdom and the Friendship boats that take passengers from the Crescent Lake resorts to Epcot and Hollywood Studios. Even the buses from the DVC resorts have an advantage over any non-Disney resort bus with the ability to pick up and drop off right at the front entrance of the Magic Kingdom instead of the Transportation and Ticket Center.
The Cast Members
Cast Members are nicknamed the “magic makers” for good reason. They are the ones who create magical moments for DVC members. At the BoardWalk, Poe from bell services went out of his way to help us commemorate our wedding trip. Right before we left for the Magical Express, he brought the pin trading board to my husband and me and offered us each a pin. In the past, cast members also helped us out with transportation to MCO when our flight changed at the last minute. It’s the little gestures like this that make DVC members feel so special.
Early Park Entry*
I put an asterisk on this one as early park entry is a perk that we have yet to experience; it will begin later this year as part of the 50th anniversary celebration. I am partial to Extra Magic Hours, but I am open to seeing if the 30-minute early entry to all four parks for resort guests may make for thinner crowds compared to Extra Magic Hours, which only had one park open for an additional hour for resort guests.
Perks may come and go, but I think there is still a lot to love about the DVC resorts. (After all, I am a DVC Fan.) As DVC members, we are in it for the long haul. Once we get past this pandemic, I’d like to think that there will be brighter days ahead.
Have the changes in perks affected the way that you feel about your DVC membership? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
11 thoughts on “The Advantages of Staying at DVC Resorts Versus Staying Off-Property”
One last thing – knowing that you’re ‘Home’ is a priceless feeling and that I own a piece of the ‘magic’ – I always tear up when the guard at the gate says ‘Welcome Home’!!!
We have been wanting to add on points but without the option for annual passes once again it just doesn’t make sense. Hopefully we will be able to purchase them once again and SOON!
Imersion into the whole Disney experience, as soon as your on Disney property. It really feels like a escape, a vacation. When I have stayed off property, it just does not feel the same, until I am on Disney grounds. Sure I will miss the Magic bus, but I will go back and stay on property, because it is like a whole new world as you leave the real world behind into the Disney imagination. A off site property is just a place to lay your head. We fans of Disney go to Disney parks because we want that total package.
My wife and I have been DVC members for
4 years. Long enough that we grew fond of our short lived traditions of magical express, staying out late at the parks and other passholder/dvc perks. With 200 points we managed to go quite often. The loss of magical express is by far the hardest. If anything has made us question keeping our points it has been this.
Honestly it feels as though all of the “perks” that came with staying at disney (and paying the inflated price to do so) has disappeared. Yes you are closer to the park, but the transportation system that you have to rely on for most resorts take about as long as it would to stay close in an airb&b and drive to the park. Especially if you just miss a bus. There are a few resorts that have the time saving perk, but i believe only 4 or 5 of the 12 do.
I understand that disney is hurting for money with the pandemic, but it seems as though the restructuring is going to hurt the most devote fans the most. I just hope they find a way to bring back some of these perks, otherwise I am afraid there will be a mass exodus from DVC as people weigh the pros vs cons to staying onsite verse other options.
The loss of Extra Magic Hours and the reduction of operating hours—MK only open until 7:00!— affects the value of our property.
Nice article … We have been DVC members since 2000 and we’ve witnessed many changes that were good and not so good. We’ve never questioned our DVC membership until recently. We pay a lot of money in dues each year and they seem to increase every other year. Our combined annual dues would pay for a REALLY nice vacation elsewhere.
The decrease in perks and the discontinuation of annual pass discounts has us thinking hard about getting out. The money grubbing aspect of Disney was always hidden behind the magic. Lately it’s in our face and “ magic “ is being shoved to the background.
I’m a DVC member strictly for the benefit (paid) of staying at a deluxe resort MULTIPLE times a year for the cost of our annual dues. I have 280 points. If I play my cards right, theoretically, I can stay 25 nights a year, assuming I’m using 10-11 points a night (think low season, Sunday thru Thursday in a studio). The perks are just icing on the DVC cake.
We just stayed at Jambo House and the animals did make for an enjoyable stay.
Yes def. I am beyond disappointed. What have we been given as dvc members? Lower monthly maintenance? Nope. Special anything? Nope. If it were up to me, I’d sell it honestly. I am very disappointed to say the least
I sold my contracts last June. No regrets. DVC will never return to what it once was.
The bus service from the resorts to the parks had become unreliable; 1:50 hour wait to board a bus home from Disney Springs is not reasonable. That was October 2020. We saw service degrade from July to September and October was shameful. I’m tired of being taken for granted.
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