While so many of us are excited about finally having an opening date for Top of the World Lounge at Bay Lake Tower, the announcement has also stirred up some controversy over access and benefits.  To understand this all, let’s take a step back to before everything closed due to the pandemic.  Top of the World Lounge used to be open to all DVC members, both resale and direct, who were staying on property.  There were only a handful of occasions where access to the lounge was limited to Bay Lake Tower guests (like certain holidays in years past), or the lounge was closed for certain paid events.

Now that the lounge is reopening with a new villains theme, the rules appear to have changed.  Access to the lounge has been changed to a membership extra.  This implies that you have to be eligible for benefits either as someone who has the required minimum number of direct points or someone who may have purchased resale points years ago and has been grandfathered into membership extras to visit Top of the World Lounge.  The change has led many DVC members to question how Top of the World Lounge can be restricted as a membership extra.  Well, when you examine the Bay Lake Tower Public Offering Statement and the 2022 estimated budget for Bay Lake Tower, it all falls into place.  Let’s dig a little deeper into some fact checking, shall we?

#1: Access to Top of the World Lounge is not written into our deeds.

I’m not sure where this rumor stems from, but it’s not true.  If you go to the Bay Lake Tower Public Offering Statement, Top of the World Lounge is simply categorized as a commercial space.  

 I went down the rabbit hole of my hard copy Bay Lake Tower Public Offering Statement and found the following description for Top of the World Lounge on pages 15-16. The bolded parts are my emphasis. To me, this sounds like any changes are fair game.

The observation and lounge area located on the top floor of the Bay Lake Tower Resort (the “Observation Area”) is a Commercial Unit of the Condominium made available as a courtesy to Owners and their Guests staying at the Bay Lake Tower Resort from time to time. Due to the occupancy limit of this area, Owners and Guests staying at the Bay Lake Tower Resort must make reservations to visit this area, subject to availability. The Observation Area is not an accommodation or facility, as those terms are defined in Section 721.05, Florida Statutes, of the Vacation Ownership Plan.  The Observation Area, including the facilities, amenities and services available in this area, may be modified, supplemented, or terminated at any time without notice to, or the consent of any Owner.

Bay Lake Tower Public Offering Statement, Pages 15-16

Essentially, with the lounge being a courtesy to DVC members, we were never guaranteed access to the space, so anything goes when it comes to eligibility for access.

#2: Top of the World Lounge is not paid for by DVC membership dues.

This is another common fallacy that I see often on the interwebs.  Some believe that there is no way that DVC can restrict access to the lounge because we pay for it with our dues, but this is not the case.  Top of the World Lounge is a commercial space leased out and operated by Disney.  Just as our dues don’t pay for any of the other resort restaurants and lounges, the same is true of Top of the World Lounge.  If you look at the 2022 estimated operating budget for Bay Lake Tower that breaks down what dues, breakage income, parking fees, and late fees/interest cover, you will notice that it outlines and describes all the cost components. Top of the World Lounge is not among them.

I’m not a big fan of DVC creating different classes of membership benefits and access, but it’s also pretty clear that no rules are being violated with the latest change in access to Top of the World Lounge.  I think this is just another example of why you shouldn’t buy into Disney Vacation Club for perks.  Buy it for the years of stays at your favorite resorts.  You never know what will change outside of that.

16 thoughts on “DVC Fact Check: Access to Top of the World Lounge

    • Thanks! There’s so much misinformation out there on this topic, so I’m hoping this gives everyone a little clarity.

  • Sounds similar to what happened with The Attic room at the BWV. Early on, it was open to those staying at the BWV, but is now used as a private event space.
    AFAIK, it was also defined as a commercial space. I’m told it is a popular choice for wedding activities.

    • Exactly! And yes, The Attic is very popular with Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings for receptions.

  • I appreciate this information. I count myself among the misinformed.

  • Now I know I may be getting a little technical….however as a bay lake tower dvc owner my dues go towards things like taxes, housekeeping and building maintenance etc. Is Top of the World Lounge cleaned and maintained by different staff than the rest of the building? And are these maintenance/cleaning and tax costs paid for with different funds than the rest of the building?

    • With TOTWL being a commercial space, I would imagine that whoever chooses to lease it has to contribute to that since our dues do not cover its maintenance.

  • Stuff like this is exactly why I won’t buy in to DVC. I’m not paying full price to be treated as a second class member just because I was born later.

    • If you’re direct your not a second class citizen. We all get the perk. Blue card owners get perks. White card (resale) don’t. Buy direct. Too many problems with resale.

  • Excellent work! Thanks for the insight.

  • Disney World…. Only for the rich

  • I agree not to buy for perks, however disney is 100% responsible for providing perks to entice future sales. Good marketing tactic, but very sleazy at the same time

  • Totally agree with this. Blue card owners deserve the perks. White cards don’t. We had to pay the higher price. So what is it? Equal perks but unequal prices? What people are complaining about makes no sense. What Disney is doing makes sense.

    • What you fail to realize is that all resale contracts had to be direct at one point, that owner paid the high price and decided it wasn’t for them anymore and resale buyers are buying those contracts. So Disney is trying to punish the people who bought the contracts off those people and keeping the money and not having to pay out to that member anymore. What you also fail to realize is resale buyers actually keep the value of your contract up. If it wasn’t for resale buyers your contract would be worth 0 the minute you sign the contract with Disney, would you have bought it knowing that you would have to pay 30,000 plus and then dues for 50 years knowing you couldn’t sell it for more than 10 dollars, like every other timeshare on the planet. So instead of hating on white card members treat them a little better.

  • Can owners determine what the lease cost is for Disney? Or does Disney get this rent ‘free’?

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