After a year like 2020, things could only go up from there, right? Slowly but surely we saw the final DVC resort (Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian) reopen as well as some of our favorite resort restaurants like Cape May Cafe and ‘Ohana. We also celebrated DVC’s 30th anniversary and ushered in the long-anticipated 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World. Here’s a look back at some of the big DVC headlines of 2021.
I really thought that we had left all the “gates” behind in 2020, but the brilliant minds over in the DVC forums of the DISboards shed light on a discrepancy in the 2022 points charts. The eagle-eyed DVC members found that with the new system of seven travel periods, Easter could fall into one of three travel periods. This can then lead a traditionally cheaper travel period to have an inflated point cost without being balanced out by reduced point cost in another travel period. Ultimately, the increase in total points for the year is problematic in that it makes points charts about 0.5% higher than the total number of points sold. This means members’ stays would be more expensive and create excess inventory while providing more income for DVC through breakage income.
In early August we finally saw DVC’s response: revised points charts that reduced the number of points per night in September 2022.
Expansion of the Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian
In May, we learned that two hundred new Resort Studios would be added through the conversion of hotel rooms at Big Pine Key (Building 9) at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. Disney noted that the expansion would become part of the existing condominium association, leading many to wonder what that would mean for the points chart and possible resale restrictions. By early December, we saw the 2023 points chart that includes the Resort Studios, which are projected to open in summer 2022. However, Disney has not yet announced when sales will begin. As for the existing DVC building, it has begun a soft goods refurbishment that includes the addition of the popular Murphy beds that are at Riviera and were recently added to Saratoga Springs and the Polynesian.
Minimum for Direct Ownership Requirement Increased to 150 Direct Points
Also in May, we began hearing rumors that the minimum number of points for membership benefits would increase to 150 points as of June 3, 2021. Sure enough, the minimum increased to 150 that day, doubling the minimum points needed for perks over the span of the last two years.
Grand Californian Hits Over $300 Per Point
Points for perks weren’t the only thing to increase this year; prices increased as well. As of June 24, the Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel became the first DVC resort to reach a direct price over the $300 mark. It is now $310 per point, up from $295 per point. This was the second time in 2021 that the price for the Grand Californian increased.
DVC Website Undergoes Extensive Update
In what DVC Fan dubbed as “#BookingGate 2.0” in June, members were having difficulty booking or modifying reservations without seeing the dreaded words “Sorry the room you requested is no longer available for the dates you requested.” These issues preceded a long system-wide outage that took place July 17-July 20. When the site returned online, it seemed that nothing on the user end had really changed. In fact, things may have gotten worse temporarily with the appearance of “ghost rooms,” as we took to calling them in which rooms that show as available for booking are grayed out on the calendar as if they weren’t available.
DVC Starts Buyback Program
In late August, DVC owners at Old Key West, Saratoga Springs, and Animal Kingdom Lodge began receiving some interesting emails about a buyback program. DVC was offering about $80 per point to Old Key West owners, which is well below what is offered on the DVC resale market. In other words, this program would allow DVC to buyback points at a cheaper rate than it would pay through ROFR. The buybacks appear to be aimed at reducing the impact of Old Key West’s 2042 contracts and increasing the inventory of points for Saratoga Springs and Animal Kingdom Lodge, but perhaps more is to come.
Bill Diercksen Becomes DVC SVP
On September 7, Bill Diercksen was announced as the new senior vice president and general manager of DVC while Terri Schultz moved on to become Senior Vice President of Commercial Strategy for Disney Signature Experiences businesses.
DVC Membership Cards Go Digital
In November, DVC announced that the physical blue DVC membership cards are being replaced by digital ones. Current blue cards will be valid through December 31, 2021. Starting in 2022, members will be able to access their cards through the My Disney Experience app.
Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort Parts Ways with B’Lou and Shadow
Later in November, Disney made the controversial decision to let go of B’Lou Crabbe and Shadow who were beloved by visitors of Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort. Shadow the dog was the official mascot of the resort, and B’Lou entertained guests with stories and music for over twenty-one years. In light of the news, there has been a huge outpouring of support from their fans; hopefully, there is a chance that they will return to Hilton Head Island Resort in the future.
Interval International to Replace RCI as Exclusive Exchange Provider
In early December, Bill Diercksen emailed members to announce that Interval International would become the exclusive exchange provider for DVC, effective January 1, 2022. Its network includes more than 3,200 resorts in more than 80 countries. This includes resorts from Marriott, Sheraton, Hyatt, and Westin. The email noted that members “can continue to book nightly and weekly exchanges in the traditional exchanges through our current program until Dec. 31, 2021. Additionally, any confirmed reservations or points that have been deposited to RCI will be honored through 2023.” Interval International was the exclusive exchange provider for DVC prior to RCI.
That wraps up 2021. I wish you and your families a very happy and healthy New Year!