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.