When rumors become reality. On September 16, 2020, in our DVC rumors article, we mentioned the potential of a new DVC point minimum being enacted by Disney. Fast forward a month or so, and we’re confirming the changes to the DVC point minimum requirements for members to qualify for the membership extras have been rolled out. But, what does this all mean? What is the impact on current DVC members and future DVC members? Without any further adieu let’s dive into it!
The date, October 19, 2020. This is the date where our rumor turned into fact. Without any announcement, Disney Vacation Club made a small, but impactful change to their website. Towards the bottom of the “How Membership Works” page (as well as other pages) on the Disney Vacation Club website, the small print around Membership Extras was updated to say 125 points versus 100 points. The change reflects the new DVC point minimum (purchased through directly through Disney Vacation Development, ie Disney) to qualify for the membership extras going forward. Please be aware this is not the minimum number of points anyone has to purchase to become a DVC member, it’s only the minimum to qualify for the membership extras.
The 125 points can be a combination of points from any of the DVC resorts located around the United States. As long as the member’s total number of points purchased through Disney is equal to more than 125 points. It should be noted that this change does not impact the ability to purchase DVC points through the resale market.
What are membership extras? How we like to look at the membership extras is it’s Disney’s way to say thank you. It’s the icing on the cake. Items that fall into the membership extras category would be moonlight magic events, discounts on annual passes or dining or shopping, using your points on Disney Cruise, Disney Resorts (non-DVC), Adventures by Disney, the Concierge Collection, member-exclusive events, and member lounges. With all membership extras, Disney reserves the right the change or discontinue any of the benefits at any time. Over the year’s we’ve seen new things added to membership extra, like 30%-off cruises (both points and cash), as well as things removed.
For new Disney Vacation Club members any contracts purchased after October 19, 2020, these benefits would only be available to guests who purchased directly through Disney and meet the new minimum point requirement.
Impact On DVC Membership
For current members, there is no impact. The key phrase is grandfathered. Meaning that all current DVC members with less than the new DVC point minimum are grandfathered in and are not subject to any of the changes. If you previously had access to membership extras, you will continue to have the same access. This change will only impact new contracts purchased through the resale market and Disney going forward. Yes, contracts purchased through Disney will always be impacted, if and only if, you have less than the minimum of 125 points combined points.
In terms of future members, the impact is grayer. With the DVC point minimum increasing it makes us wonder which way new members would lean, purchase directly through Disney, or the resale market. From a Disney perspective, it appears Disney hopes is to drive more value out of purchasing points directing through themselves. Especially, when you factor in the recent shift to more prominently promote the ability to purchase “resale” points directly from Disney. Any points regardless if it’s for the newest DVC resort (Riviera) or the oldest (Old Key West), if the points are purchased through Disney they would qualify towards the new minimum. Additionally, they would have no restrictions around which DVC resorts you could stay at. While Disney has always offered this option, many times when you spoke with a vacation club guide you found out the points were not available. Now, from our understanding, Disney is actively buying back points when a request is made for a certain resort.
Purchasing through the resale market still has a lot of benefits, especially, when looking at it from a cost perspective. The price per point is well below, in some cases up to 40% below, what Disney is charging for the same points. What it will come down to is what works best for the individual. Our best recommendation is to weight out what works for you and your family, and whether or not the membership extras and resort booking flexibility is worth the additional investment.
Definitely keep an eye out it. When it comes to Disney Vacation Club, we’re guessing things will continue to evolve. It’s clear that Disney is making a concerted effort to have a greater presence in the resale market while increasing the value to purchase through them. In the DVC Duo house, we would expect to see more changes that could impact the resale market and sway more value to buying directly through Disney in the near term. What those changes could entail are unknown, and we have no information pointing to more change, but something tells us more is coming. It’s our gut tell us. Could that be a teaser for another DVC rumor article? Maybe? Until then, we’ll be keeping our ear to the ground!
There’s an app for that! How many times have we heard that phrase in our lives? If we got a dollar for every, well wouldn’t have to blog anymore. Who are we kidding, we would still blog! Back on topic, we’re here today to talk about the new Disney’s Aulani Resort app that released earlier this month. With the Hawaiian resort set to reopen in the coming days, let’s take a look at everything you need to know about the Aulani Resort app. Grab your smartphone it’s time to open the app!
Why An App?
Doesn’t everything need an app nowadays? We joke we joke! With minimal fan fair Disney released its newest app on October 8, 2020, in preparation for Aulani to reopen on November 1, 2020. It’s unknown if Disney had always planned for an Aulani Resort app or not, but what is known is the app’s release can be attributed to COVID. In an effort to minimize the amount of guest and cast member interaction, to respect physical distancing, Disney created this new app.
As far as we can tell this is the first app Disney has design specifically for a resort. While My Disney Experience does have resort related information integrated into it, no other resort outside of a theme park area has an app. Neither, Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort or Disney’s Vero Beach Resort has an app. Could we see apps for the other Disney Vacation Club Resorts outside of the parks? Only time will tell.
Logging In For The First Time – Profile
Every Disney app has login requirements, and the Aulani Resort app is no different. If you have a profile created for any of the following Disney services you should be able to use the same log-in credentials. The services include Disney+, Disney Vacation Club (DVC), My Disney Experience, Disney Cruise app, and the Disneyland app. All of these services are connected together as far as log-in credentials are concerned. It was a major update released by Disney, as part of the launch of Disney+.
There could other smaller services that link as well. We would recommend if you have any user credentials for a Disney guest service to try them out. If they do not work, you may need to create a new account.
Within your profile, all related information will be carried over into the app. For example, if you’re a Disney Vacation Club member your reservation information should carry over. If for any reason it does not, you can easily link your reservation under the Reservation Info section in your profile. This will also be where you can check-in to the resort prior to your arrival. Lastly, you can also make a new reservation for the resort in this area. It should be noted for DVC members, this area brings you to the cash (non-DVC) reservation screen. If you’re looking to book with points you should use the regular DVC website or Member Services.
By far the most important aspect of the Aulani Resort app will be the Daily Activities guide. Or, also known as the times guide. Here you’ll find everything that is happening at the resort, broken down by the hour. Well, almost everything. The one thing not included within the daily activities is the Character Meet ‘n Greets, as it has a separate section. At the time of writing it’s unknown whether or not Character Meet ‘n Greets will be part of the initial phase of the resort reopening. If they are available we could see them in a similar capacity as the Disney parks.
The app shows a daily schedule for up to five days in advance. From most screens, you can easily access the Daily Activities section of the app by clicking the Aulani Resort icon on the bottom center of the screen. This will automatically bring up the schedule for the current day.
With everything changing like the wind it will be great to have easy access to daily activities. Previously, Disney would print the schedule and deliver it to your room. Going forward they will update the Aulani Resort app.
Food, the next most important thing. Well, unless you’re us, then it’s the most important. The app outlines all the dining options around the resort, its location, and the type of dining. What is unknown is if Aulani will offer mobile ordering through the app, similar to My Disney Experience. Our best guess would be not yet. This could be added at a later time, as Disney has announced they’ve moved to a cashless or contactless payment method throughout the resort. Cash will still be accepted, but Disney is recommending against it whenever possible. In the DVC Duo house, we are hoping they could link the app to your room charge, as it would limit the number of interactions needed to make purchases around the pool deck and in the shops.
The big unknown for dining is whether or not you make dining reservations for the sit down restaurants. At the time of writing, the app does not offer this functionality. We will keep an eye as we get closer to November 1, 2020, to see if any changes are made.
Beyond the two main aspects, the Aulani app does include a wide variety of information sections. From beach activities to the spa/fitness center, and even where to find a restroom. From what we can tell all of these sections are what you would find on the Aulani website. Over time we could see updates to the app to expand upon each area. For example, the ability to reserve paddleboards from Makiki Joe’s Beach rentals or book a cabana by the pool.
Good first step! The launch of Disney’s Aulani Resort app makes a lot of sense. With how social norms are changing due to our current environment, the addition of the app is a must. We would expect over time Disney will continue to expand upon the app to make the overall guest experience better. It is clear this is an app that Disney had to release quickly for the reopening of the resort. We will keep an eye out for more updates and adjust the article as need. For now, we’re going to go back to daydreaming about Aulani!
Did we prefer the view? Ahh, the million-dollar question. On our last trip to Walt Disney World, we stayed in a Disney’s Riviera Resort preferred view studio. It was our first time staying at the newest resort in the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) family. The question we’re asking ourselves is if the preferred view is worth the extra cost (either points or cash)? Well, that’s what we are here to discuss. Let’s kick-off our Disney’s Riviera Resort preferred view studio!
At Disney’s Riviera Resort guests have the option to choose from a variety of room types and views. The rooms options consist of either a standard studio or tower studio (only holds to two guests), 1-bedrooms, 2-bedrooms, and 3-bedroom villas, for Disney Vacation Club (DVC) members and guests. Within each room type (except for the Tower Studio and 3-bedroom villas) are two different view options, standard view, and preferred view. The preferred view rooms overlook the lake and the Caribbean Beach Resort. Whereas the standard view rooms overlook the parking lot and out towards Disney Springs. Rooms can be reserved either for DVC points or cash. The rooms at the resort would be considered Disney Deluxe room accommodations. For our review, we’ll be focusing on Disney’s Riviera Resort preferred view studio.
The 423 square foot studio sleeps up to 5 people and includes one queen bed, one pulldown queen-size sofa bed, and a twin pulldown bed. The twin pulldown bed is designed for younger guests or smaller adults. Nate is six feet tall and the twin bed is too short for his height.
Opening The Door
Luxurious! For us, it was the most luxurious Disney resort room we’ve had the opportunity to step in to. Immediately, our eyes were drawn to the balcony and the grand views of the lake. After dropping our bags, we rushed to the balcony to get a better look at the view. Walking out we could see Disney Skyliner in the distance, and the sun reflecting off the lake. Truly magnificent! After a moment or two of taking in the view, we turned around to explore the room. To say the room was spacious would be an understatement.
Only Disney’s Polynesian Resort has larger studios than Disney’s Riviera Resort. As two adults we always appreciate the studios that offer a couch over two beds. It’s great to see Disney adding the couch with a full pulldown queen bed to the studios over the traditional pullout couch. Definitely an upgrade! But, we’ll chat more about the beds in a second. Filling out the living space was a small bistro styling table and chairs, perfect for a quick bite.
Let the luxury continue! What makes a great room is the bed. Are we right? Or, are we right? When it comes to Disney’s Riviera Resort preferred view studio, the queen bed was fabulous. As two people that prefer different firmness’ of a bed, we both found the mattress to be comfortable. It definitely helps that it’s brand new. We’re not sure if it was because we were tired from being in the parks all day or the mattress, but we definitely got our best sleep at this resort.
Beyond the main bed, there are the pulldown options. As we mentioned, we’re glad to see Disney switching over to the full mattress pulldown option over the pullout couches. We definitely slept on the pullout couches on more than one occasion, and let’s just say they worked well when we were younger. Our backs recommend that we don’t sleep in them anymore. In regards to the new pulldown bed, we love it! We found the mattress to be of a similar quality and comfort as the standard bed.
Or should we say bathrooms? Yes, that’s right. Disney’s Riviera Resort preferred view studio (and the standard) has two bathrooms. Well, more like two showers and one toilet. Either way you look at it, it’s a win in our books. With floor to ceiling tile, the two showers are exactly what a family needs to get ready in the morning. No more lining up for the shower! The best part is one of the showers includes a full tub for any kids or adults that prefer a bath.
In between the two showers are the sink and toilet areas. The sink is part of one of the bathrooms and the toilet is part of the other. For us, we found these to be the best bathroom/shower options in all the DVC studios. Especially, when you add in that one of the showers has a rainfall option. Yes, the rainfall option sealed the deal for us!
The Kitchenette and Storage
Did we hear you say kitchenette? Yes, yes you did. All the DVC studios have a kitchenette area that includes in a mini-fridge, coffee pot, microwave, toasts, and sink area. Additionally, Disney includes paper plates, coffee cups, and utensils. The fridge is big enough for holding a few items like a small milk container for coffee, or leftovers from dinner. It’s a bigger fridge than standard resort rooms. We found it to be just enough space to hold food for a quick breakfast before heading off to the parks.
In regards to storage, the room has a good size closet when you first walk-in. Plenty of space for hanging your clothes. Alongside the bed are two side tables with two drawers for clothes. Additionally, the bed has two drawers underneath it, as well as room to store your luggage. If you’re a larger group or have larger luggage, we recommend using the area near the closet to store your bags.
Loved it! Disney’s Riviera Resort preferred view studios quickly becoming one of our favorite studios at Walt Disney World. When you factor in the location and the easy access to Epcot and Hollywood Studios, the resort is a home run. Overall, if you’re going to spend a good amount of time in the room then the preferred view is worth the extra points or money. If you’re more a rope drop to park close type of family, than it may not be worth it. Alright, we gotta go, that balcony is calling our names!
Cannonball! What can we say we like to make a splash with our articles. Especially when our topic of the day is the best DVC pools at Disney World. After sharing our favorites lobbies it only makes sense to talk about our favorites pools, right? While traditionally, we’re rope drop to park close type of Disney vacationers, in recent years we’ve been shifting gears to spend some time reading by the pool. It is a vacation after all. We got the sunscreen, you grab the beach towels, it’s time for us to share our top 3 DVC pools at Disney World!
What Is A DVC Pool?
Similar to our underrated attractions lists, we’ve got put a few parameters around what qualifies as a DVC pool at Disney World. First and foremost, it must be a pool associated solely with the DVC (Disney Vacation Club) portion of the resort. We’re sorry Storm-a-long Bay over at Disney’s Beach Club Resort and the Lava Pool at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, while you’re both unbelievably fantastic pools you don’t qualify for our top 3. If they did qualify they would both surely be on the list! Now that we’ve taken the two most obvious choices away, let’s get down to business. Here are our favorite DVC pools at Disney World.
The Underrated One
Could it be possible for a pool to fly under the radar? In our world, this pool is definitely flying under the radar. Kicking off our list of best DVC pools at Disney World is the Samawati Springs pool over at Kidani Village Resort. Known mostly for two things, the bread service at Saana and the savanna view rooms, it’s easy to see how Samawati Springs could be overlooked. Surrounded by trees, this secluded oasis could be considered the main pool at most Disney Resorts. This zero-entry pool has a 127-foot water slide, two hot tubs, and two different kid areas depending on your child’s age. As we like to say this pool has something for everyone, especially with the quieter hot tub on the second level of the pool area.
One of the best parts is how the pool bar is located very close to the pool. So close, that you can easily grab a drink or poolside snack while still seeing your kids splash around. We all know who the little ones don’t like having to get out of the pool.
New Is Always Better!
We’re channeling our inner Barney for our second choice on our best DVC pools at Disney World list. Give yourself an “A” if you got the Barney reference, from How I Met Your Mother. Let’s get back on task. Our second stop brings us to the newest DVC resort, Disney’s Riviera Resort. Themed around two our favorite things, Fantasia and the Mediterranean, the S’il Vous Play pool is both a great name and wonderful addition to the pool options. The zero-entry pool has a massive deck with plenty of lounge chairs for everyone. Like all great Disney pools, the S’il Vous Play pool is anchored by a waterslide the winds through the rocks. Next to the slide, you’ll find the splash pad themed after the ballet scene from Fantasia. Who wouldn’t want to hang out with a hippo in a tutu?
What we love about the S’il Vous Play pool area is the other amenities nearby. With both a quick-service and pool bar within an arms reach of the deck, it’s perfect for those Disney pool days. Additionally, there is a bocce ball court that is calling our names!
Swimming With Mickey!
More like swimming in Mickey? You’ll see what we mean in a second. Topping our list of best DVC pools at Disney World is the Sand Castle pool at Disney’s Old Key. As the saying goes, they don’t make them let like they use to. Or, something along those lines. You know what we mean, right? The Sand Castle pool is a Mickey-shaped pool. That’s right, if you look at the pool from above you would see the hidden Mickey (one of the larger ones on Disney property, but not the largest). With a 125-foot water slide, the Sand Castle pool area offers an array of fun activities for everyone. You’ll find shuffleboard, a basketball court, hot tubs, and even a sauna inside the lighthouse. What we like best about the Sand Castle pool area is the sandy beach area off the back.
For the little ones there’s a smaller kid pool to splash around. When they’re not in the pool there is a jungle gym, and area to make sand castles.
You can’t go wrong! All of these pools have something different and special about them. By far if you’re looking for the best pools on Disney property, we would recommend Storm-a-long Bay and the Lava pool. For us, these pools are not too far behind, especially, when you factor in they tend to be a little quieter than their famed counterparts. Alright all this pool talk has got hankering for a swim, where should we take a dip? Who are we kidding, we’re suckers for nostalgia…Sand Castle pool here we come!
Flying under the radar! With the opening of Disney’s Riviera Resort, there are now twelve Disney Vacation Club resorts (DVC) at Walt Disney World. It got us thinking, what are the underrated DVC Resorts at Disney World? While everyone has their favorite go-to DVC resort, there are a select few that traditional fly under the radar. These are the resorts you can usually find for a last-minute getaway or are overlooked when compared to newer options. Alright, the time has come to reveal our top 3 underrated DVC resorts. Drumroll, please!
Kicking It Off
You have to start somewhere. In traditionally list fashion we’re starting our list of underrated DVC resorts with our third selection. You can have to build up the excitement, right? Our first stop is Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort, or as we like to say the resort you can usually book. First and foremost, you can more often than not find a last-minute reservation at Saratoga Springs because it is the largest of the 12 DVC resorts. More room means more space!
We find Saratoga Springs to be a very underrated DVC resort, especially when you consider the amenities. For us, one of our favorite aspects of the resort is access to Disney Springs. The walking path that connects the resort to Disney Springs is perfect for our early morning runs or heading over to one of the many restaurants for dinner or a cocktail after a day in the parks. Or if a boat is more your style, you can cruise on over as well. This definitely makes up for the more limited to dining options at the resort.
Back the resort the amenities continue to match up very well for how we like to vacation, especially with it having the best gym on Disney property. The activities continue with the Lake Buena Vista Golf Course, which is attached to the resort. No need to shuttle over to the course, you can easily walk to the first tee from your room. This is great for those early morning tee times. We definitely appreciate getting an extra wink or two or sleep.
Rounding out what we love about Saratoga Springs is the points per night (ie cost per night). If you’re looking for a way to maximize your points, Saratoga Springs is a great value, especially when you factor in the newly refurbished rooms.
Surprise? We’re always up for a good surprise. Well, coming in second on our underrated DVC resorts is Boulder Ridgeover at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. We know what you’re thinking and yes, we can read minds! How is Boulder Ridge underrated? For us, what makes Boulder Ridge underrated is that Cooper Creekis also a DVC option at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. With Cooper Creek being the newer addition to the resort, it tends to be the more popular option and book up faster. Paired with the fact that Disney’s Wilderness Lodge tends to be the last Magic Kingdom resort option behind The Contemporary, The Polynesian, and the Grand Floridian Resorts, Boulder Ridge is “underrated”.
Now that we may or may not have successfully defended our underrated tag for Boulder Ridge (we’ll let you be the judge), onto why it’s a great option. First off is the themeing, it feels more rustic to us. When we think of the wilderness our minds quickly go to camping and a more “homey” feel. Boulder Ridge knocks this out the parks. Especially with the knotted pine doors, tall trees out the windows, and the less modern feel that you’ll find with the updated Copper Creek rooms. The Copper Creek rooms are gorgeous, but they are more like glamping than camping. The best part is the rooms at Boulder Ridge are bigger than Copper Creek while having the same resort amenities. We call that winning!
Beyond the themeing is the easy access to the Magic Kingdom. For us, there is nothing more relaxing and easy than a boat ride to the house of the mouse. You just cannot beat the breeze and views as you make your way from Bay Lake to Seas Lagoon, on your way to the Magic Kingdom. If you’re looking for a faster way to the Magic Kingdom, you can also jump on the bus for a short 7 minute tide to the park.
Finishing up what we love about Boulder Ridge is how you feel like you’re away from it all, but still close to the action. There is something about waking up to the views of Bay Lake that is so peaceful!
An Oldie But A Goodie
Or should we say classic? Let’s say classic, it sounds more timeless. Topping our list of underrated DVC resorts is the resort that started it all. Originally named The Disney Vacation Club, Disney’s Old Key West is by far the most underrated resort of the twelve. Where should we begin? Walking into Disney’s Old West you immediately feel the laidback vibe as steel drums play in the background. We don’t know how Disney does it, but somehow this resort doesn’t have the same hustle and bustle feel of most Disney resorts. It’s got that Hawaiian shirt vacation feel we all dream about!
Similar to Saratoga Springs, Disney’s Old West is the best point value for DVC members. With the lowest point per night cost, the resort definitely offers a wide variety of amenities. From the boat ride to Disney Springs to the two main pool areas, and our favorite off the beaten path restaurant in Olivia’s Cafe. Outside the amenities, the resort has some of the largest studios at Walt Disney World, only being outdone by the Polynesian Resort. Plus, it has two full queen beds instead of the standard pullout sofa.
What puts Old Key West over the top is the resort layout. Whereas most DVC resorts consist of a single building or larger buildings altogether, Disney’s Old Key West has smaller more spread buildings. The buildings are spread across the majority of the front nine of Disney’s Lake Buena Vista golf course. For us, this makes feels like the resort is a little quieter and less like we’re at a “hotel”.
Every DVC resort has something special about it. Over the years, we’ve found ourselves switching back and forth around which resort is our favorite and which ones are underrated. If you ask us next month this list may change. One thing is for sure and that’s Disney Old West could be the best least talked about DVC resort. It only takes staying there once to fall in love with it. Alright, that concludes our top 3 underrated DVC resorts, there is only one thing left to do. Book another trip!