This year’s Disney Vacation Club Condo Association Meeting took place today, December 9th, at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. We had a lot of hope for what we might learn during the meeting. What would the new refurbishment schedule look like? When is the Boulder Ridge refurb going to finally start? Will the new Disneyland DVC Tower go on sale anytime soon? What about the price and minimum point buy-in for Disneyland? Are the website glitches ever getting fixed?
Let’s take a dive into the biggest takeaways of the news and information we found out from this year’s meeting!
Member Feedback Tool – DisneyVacationClub.com/Feedback
According to Bill Diercksen, new Senior Vice President and General Manager for Disney Vacation Club, using this tool will put your feedback directly in the hands of board members and/or the right person to be heard. While we have yet to experience this new avenue for feedback, we will be giving it a try soon. Based on how the meeting went, I imagine it’s going to get a lot of traction soon.
Shannon Sakaske, Vice President of Member Experiences and Club Management at Disney Vacation Club took the stage and discussed member experiences. He touched on the return of cruising as well as the DVC Member Wish Voyage and the Member Cruise to Alaska. National Geographic Expeditions and the Galactic Starcruiser were also discussed as options for members using their points. As most members know these aren’t great uses of points.
The transition from RCI to Interval International was brought up. Shannon explained this change would bring us more variety and better options. Those who have rolled into RCI previously will have their exchanges honored through 2023 and exchanges can still be made with RCI until December 31st.
It was said that member events have been slowly returning. The special movie screenings of Encanto and West Side Story, the Delicious Disney Cookbook event, and the Remy preview were all mentioned. Noticeably absent was the mention of Moonlight Magic and Top of the World Lounge.
The more recent room and common space refurbishments at Saratoga Springs and Old Key West were discussed as well as the changes at Disney’s Polynesian Villas and Bungalows and Porte-cochere area. Other whole resort-wide updates such as 50th-anniversary food items, new resort mugs, Steakhouse 71 were displayed. The new DVC Merchandise collection was shown. New technology like “Hey Disney” was also discussed. This is the technology in conjunction with Alexa that will be incorporated in your resort rooms.
It’s important to note there was no new information about either the new Grand Floridan Villas opening or Disneyland Tower other than that of which we already know was provided. Overall, I’m disappointed with this lack of information.
We got zero updates on a refurbishment schedule. In the years past, there would be a graphic and a list of which resorts were getting refurbished when. Boulder Ridge was mentioned as upcoming with no definitive date set. Grand Californian was mentioned only because a member asked during the Q&A about the 7% increase in dues and an upcoming 2024 refurbishment was discussed as one of the reasons. I’m disappointed to not have any knowledge of an actual refurbishment schedule.
As I was looking through the questions being asked by our DVC Fan Community, one thing many are wondering is if the fate of Reflections would be mentioned during this year’s meeting. The short answer is no. The long answer is also no. I think it’s safe to give up on the hope of Reflections and replace it with anticipation that maybe someday they will use the land for another DVC resort.
Treasurer, Elizabeth Healey explained the hurricane loans related to Hurricane Matthew and Hurricane Irma have now been paid off for Hilton Head Resort. At Grand Californian, a credit will be issued to refund the surplus left from the extended closure. $1.01 per point will be credited to Grand Californian owner’s 2022 dues bill. It was explained that part of dues increases were related to enhanced cleaning measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As we make our way out of the pandemic, many of these cleaning procedures will continue. Because of the removal of Disney’s Magic Express, those costs were removed from the operating budget for DVC resorts and thus are not present anymore as part of annual dues. Next year also represents a full-year impact of the increase in cast member wages to $15 an hour. As Disney grapples with a labor shortage, some locations have had to increase wages which have also had an impact on dues. Room refurbishments, as well as increased wifi bandwidth (added during refurbishments), also affect the costs of the annual dues budgets. In. nutshell, wage increases, higher occupancy levels, and reserves for refurbishments make up the overall increases in dues this year.
Board Meeting & Member Meeting
As anticipated, the board meeting was short and the annual dues budgets were approved without hesitation. The member meeting added the one representative who votes on all of our behalf (with the exception of Grand Californian owners which association meeting was being held simultaneously in California).
Question and Answer Portion
This portion was limited to 15 minutes “due to health and safety”. Make of that what you will. The first question that was asked by an audience member was how member representatives are elected and what their role is? This question went unanswered as it was reminded that the questions needed to be geared towards the budget. The next question asked was how the budget for member activities (specifically for Saratoga Springs) was so high on the financial statement when these activities are not happening and Saratoga Springs was closed for so long including a closed restaurant. This member asked for the audited financial statement and went on to discuss the audit and how they believe the information provided does not line up. The response to this is that the resorts were not closed for that long, only 3-4 months. Bill also said that the events the member was asking about that are not happening do not come from that budget line (Moonlight Magic for example isn’t paid out of dues). Elizabeth explained DVC is audited every year and their audits are always clean. She went on to say resorts were closed for a small period of time. During the closure, there are costs that still continue. The pools still have to be maintained, horticulture still needs to be taken care of, etc. The member pressed on about the management fee as well. Elizabeth discussed that the areas such as member services and the condo finance team were still working during this time and are still covered under management fees. Any overflow from the closure was returned back to members. While this member still wanted to ask more questions related to the same topic, she was eventually cut off to make time for other members.
The 7% increase at Grand California was brought up by the next member. Elizabeth explained that the driving factor in Grand Cal was based on wage increases. This is because the competition for labor is strong especially on the west coast. Grand Californian is also getting ready to see a refurbishment in 2024, as well as an exterior paint project. The reserves for these refurbs also make up a part of the 7% increase at this resort. The wage increases on the west costs and at the beach resorts are more prevalent in those resorts than in Florida resorts.
Another member in California asked if there would be membership events for the west coast as all of the current offers are for Florida. In return, they were promised things would be coming soon.
Next, we have a member who felt that the salaries offered to employees were abysmal and therefore displayed in the lack of service being received by guests. Bill thanked this member for her feedback and promised a followup.
The last question was for an explanation of how they determine DVC inventory and DVC budgets versus the cash-paying guests and how they determined who pays what operating costs for each resort. Elizabeth explained that when a member transfers their points into cruises and other exchange programs, those points then become cash inventory. She also explained that villa bookings with cash (also referred to as rentals) paid for the maintenance and fees for that percentage of use.
All I can say is the Question and Answer portion of the meeting definitely gets heated. All members who chose to speak had concerns expressed, some in a tone more upset than others. When the Q&A segment was cut at the 15-minute mark, there was some shouting from the crowds as tension mounted for not getting a chance to ask their questions. Promises were made to take names and follow up with any members and it was evident many were flocking to the board members after the meeting.
Join us back here on December 8th, 2022, for another riveting 2022 Disney Vacation Club Condominium Association Annual Meeting!