Psst, Wanna Buy 45 Years of Vacation?
Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida, USA
A good friend recently phoned me from a remote location in Gabon, Africa. He was on another extended business trip, this time assisting with the modernization of the electrical systems of one of the world's largest manganese mining facilities. From Gabon, he would jet to Algeria and Tunisia, en route to his final destination on the sunny banks of the south of France. After about ten minutes conversation on his many adventures he asked if my wife and I had any travel plans soon. Oh sure, I explained, we were going to Disney World the following week. After a slight pause my very polite friend said that the trip sounded like a lot of fun, and then explained that he to go because tonight he was having a special dinner with some tribal leaders, featuring a delicacy in which the main ingredient was apparently some type of large, local snake. Sure, eat your jungle snake, have fun. In seven days time I would be eating my own delicacies, the traditional chicken finger basket served with love at Columbia Harbor House in the heart of the Magic Kingdom.
|This Sign is Everywhere…|
I have been around the globe and I know that the world is full of many travel adventures. Sometimes, however, I simply prefer not to go on an adventure. I just want to rest, eat junk, drink a lot, and generally lounge about in causal clothing. This is why I go to Disney World every year, even though some people mock me for it. People often ask me if I ever get tired of it. I do not. My wife and I make a trip to Disney World in Orlando, Florida every year, regardless of what anyone else thinks. Sometimes we even sneak in two trips a year. Sometimes we take the kids. Sometimes we do not. We can travel on a lark because it the Disney trip is not an expensive getaway for us anymore. A few years ago we discovered a not-so-secret secret that subsidizes the main expense of the annual Disney trip; the deluxe hotel rooms at the Disney World resorts. For a mere $14,700 we were able to partake in the secret that 91,000 other folks had already figured out.
A while back the brilliant minds at Disney figured out that there had to be a way to get people like me to actually pay them to build new resorts. If that was not enough, they even hoped they could convince people like me to help pay the ongoing operating expenses once the resort was built. Sounds crazy, but yes, I was willing to do just that. It all boils down to a simple question. Would you pay fifteen grand now, plus a small ongoing maintenance fee, to get a package that pays for a 40 years of vacation with deluxe accommodation?
Here's how it works: For an initial investment I purchased deeded property and an ownership interest in one of Disney Vacation Club's villa resorts located on the Walt Disney World property. It is sort of like buying a long term lease on a condo. I paid about under $15,000 for the property and I pay about $600 a year for maintenance fees. For this I get 40 years of DVC Club ownership, which includes 170 "Vacation Points" a year. I don't have a set time of rental unit. Instead Disney gives me 170 points a year which I can use to book rooms at any Disney resort, the Disney Cruise Line, other Disney locations, or one of hundreds of other participating resorts around the world. I can use the points now, bank them for later, and even borrow from next year's points. If I go during off season I might be able to book two weeks with my points allotment. If I go during high season, perhaps I will get four or five days. Right now I can book at studio room at Disney's Saratoga resort for a week around the 4th of July and it would cost me about 125 Vacation Points. Unlike a traditional timeshare we can use our share whenever and wherever we want. With over 500 participating resort locations we can visit just about anywhere we desire, from a Serengeti Safari to tours of the lush Costa Rican rainforest.
Our first big family trip under the plan we booked four rooms for a week; three studios and a one-bedroom hotel room, all at the Wilderness Lodge deluxe resort. Retail price for the entire stay would have cost us more than $4,200.00. We used some points banked from the previous year, our current year's points, and borrowed some point from next year. When all was tallied we didn't pay a dime for the rooms. Not too shabby for a single trip. That's the beauty of the system, and proof claims Disney, that the over the long haul you will actually end up with years of free hotel stays. The plan is now slightly more expensive than when we joined, but the time span is even longer at 45 years. The idea is that you will give this deed over to your own children someday. Disney claims that the cost of the average membership (210 points) pays for itself in just seven family vacations.
The Disney Vacation Club secret is actually very easy to discover. Turn on your resort TV and you'll eventually hit the Disney Vacation Club cable channel. Resorts with an attached DVC villa complex will have an information booth near the main lobby. Information kiosks exist throughout all the theme parks as well. Express an interest in DVC and a Disney Castmember will cheerfully whisk you away in a car to the property for a first hand look.
Of course there is a down side. The villas are generally built next door to the main hotel. Although they have their own amenities, the really cool resort features are usually close in to the main resort. As a DVC guest you'll usually stay at the villas because they are cheaper than the other resorts. At the villas, maid service is less frequent as room cleaning does not occur every day. You might actually have to walk a few blocks to reach the nearest pub or snack bar. Then there is that annual maintenance fee which never dies. On the plus side, villa rooms are more like condos, so you can get a full kitchen, washer, dryer, full sized refrigerator, and so on, most items that are not found in the main resort rooms. This is great if you travel with a big crew. You get all the perks of a normal resort guests, including free internal transportation and early admission and late stays at the theme parks. You also get treated even nicer than regular hotel guests, with a sincere "welcome home" from everyone you meet at the DVC villas.
Overall we are very happy with the DVC package. I am planning on taking the grandkids in the year 2036, assuming I actually have grandkids by then. In the mean time we know that even if we don't use this year's points someone else we know will use them. Perhaps when my friend finds his way out of Africa he can bring his kids to Florida for a relaxing getaway and a traditional chicken finger basket in the heart of the Magic Kingdom. For more information, check out the Disney Vacation Club on the web.