Archives for January 2016

Is DVC RIght For You? Baby Steps for Becoming a DVC Owner

Saratoga Springs Resort & SpaThis is a tried and true question.  One that has been pondered by thousands of people.  Some choose to bite the bullet and become members.  Others decide against it.  There may be people who are too afraid to buy in.  Honestly, I do think that people are afraid of the unknown, and, therefore, they maybe don’t pursue it, even if they are interested.  There are a number of factors to consider.  Monetarily, this is a big commitment.  However, there are ways for you to take little steps instead of one giant leap into making this life-altering decision.

  1.  Before you even start…before you even begin to THINK about the money involved, it is important for you to first assess whether it is right for your family.  If you can answer the following questions with all YES answers, then you should move on to number 2.  However, if you cannot, then I would be extremely cautious while proceeding.
    1. Does my family love Walt Disney World/Disneyland?
    2. Do we take multiple trips?  At least 1 trip every year to 2 years?
    3. Will it be possible for me to pay a lump sum or take out a loan to pay for the cost of buying the contract?
    4. Do I have disposable income to be able to keep up on dues and other costs associated with being a DVC member? If you answered yes to all of these questions, what are you waiting for?  Move on to number 2.

If you answered no, you can still move on, of course, but beware that DVC ownership may not be for you.

See below for a quick video of the Boardwalk/Beach Club Area

2.  Yay!  You answered yes to all of the preliminary questions, and now you are ready to move to the next step.   I do think that people need to understand exactly “what” DVC is.  Therefore, step 2 is an informational post so that you know exactly WHAT it is that you will be buying into.  Disney Vacation Club is not like traditional time shares.  Many time share contracts lock you in to certain weeks in the year.  This is not how DVC works.  In DVC, you purchase a contract with a certain number of points.  (we will talk about how to decide how many points you may want to buy later)  With these points, you can utilize them any time of the year, and at any of the DVC resorts, subject to availability.  You will receive some home resort advantages that we will also talk about later.  So, let me give you a few scenarios to help you visualize what your points can do for you.  Right now we are just going to look at what it can get you at your HOME resort.

200 point contract at Boardwalk Villas

  • 78 points for a week during October in a standard view studio
  • 62 points for a Friday/Saturday night in January in a 1-bedroom preferred view (of pools or gardens)
  • 60 points for a Sunday/Monday/Tuesday night during Spring break in a standard view studio

200 point contract at Grand Floridian

  • 199 points for during July for a lagoon view studio

200 point contract for Animal Kingdom Lodge- Kidani

  • 139 points for a week in September for a 1-bedroom value room
  • 60 points for 2 nights in early December for a 2-bedroom value room

My point in all of this is that you have ENDLESS possibilities of when and how you use your points!  It just all depends upon where you choose for your home resort and how many points you buy.  Also, please know that you CAN USE YOUR POINTS AT OTHER RESORTS.  There are restrictions on this, but you don’t have to worry about only being able to stay at just one resort.  You use the point charts in conjunction with how many points you have available, and you can book your DVC vacation where ever and whenever you want.  (11 months out at your home resort and 7 months out at any other DVC resort)

DVC Sample Floor Plan

Notice this is a 2 bedroom, but you can see the conversion to the 1 bedroom or studio options. The Grand Villa will have 3 bedrooms.

3.  The next step involves looking at what DVC will get you.  In other words, you should know what the accommodations look like, and all of the monetary commitments that go along with it.  I am going to save the money stuff for the next post, but in this one, we are just gonna talk about previewing the resorts.  Please know that you should really be working on number 3 and 4 together.   If you already take trips to Walt Disney World often, then I highly suggest that you book to see a model DVC room.  You are going to OWN a piece of Disney property if you decide to buy into DVC.  Before you buy a house, you book showings, and you take a look at where you want your family to reside.  It should definitely be the same with DVC!  You want to see what accommodations you will be buying.

There are 4 options of room sizes at most of the resorts, with differing views which will cost you different amounts of points, depending on what time of the year and what room and view you book.  A studio, 1-bedroom, 2-bedroom, and grand villa are the accommodations that you can book.

Look online at photos.  There are SOOO many of all the different room types, as well as floor plans.  Go to the model rooms.  Look at ALL the resorts.  Visit them, if possible, even just to see the lobbies and get a feel for the style of each resort.  Think about the location of each resort to your favorite Walt Disney World attractions.  See for yourself what you will be buying.  This part is really, really fun.

You could also rent points out to stay in a Disney DVC resort before making the decision to buy.  When you rent points, you pay someone who owns a contract for the use of their points.  You pay them, and then they book for you and place your name on the reservation.  Yes, there is trust involved, but it is a more inexpensive way of seeing the villas rather than paying rack rate through Disney.  Where can you rent points?  There are a number of different places.  First is ebay.  We have sold points there.  You can get good deals there.  Some people are gun-shy for buying from ebay, so you can also look in other places.  Mouseowners has a rent board where you can find owners who are looking to rent out their DVC properties.  We have booked through people from this site with no issues.  The one other place where we found a reservation for a great price was at Redweek.  This site specializes in time share renting and also selling contracts.  The owners of the DVC are the ones who post at Redweek.  Redweek just has a fee if you actually want to contact any DVC owners.  You must become a member of their site.  This is so worth it, because you know that someone who is purchasing membership to their site most definitely has DVC points to rent out.  Why else would they have joined?

Therefore, maybe a stay at a DVC resort with rented points may help you in your decision of whether or not to buy.

DVC Sign4.  While you are looking at the room and resort options, you should, at the same time, be looking into the money involved.  First, there is the cost of the contract.  Sit down with your spouse and discuss how much money you are willing to spend.  What disposable income do you have monthly to cover the cost of dues?  Remember, too, that you will need tickets to get into the parks, as well as the cost of food while staying there.

5.  Once you have a feel for what resort you like to buy into, and also once you have an idea of the money that you have available, then it is time to start looking for contracts.  You need to decide if you will buy directly through Disney, or if you will buy resale.  Many, many people do not know the difference.  If you buy direct through Disney, you have access to their other collections.  You may have other perks (for instance, you get a free tote bag currently with booking through them) for buying direct.  However, please know that it is EXTREMELY expensive.  The point cost is crazy high.  Personally, we bought resale.  We found a reputable resale company named resalesdvc.com  We bought our first contract through them, and we were incredibly happy with our decision to use them.  The cost of  a contract when buying resale is substantially lower than if you buy direct.  Also, if you have your heart set on one resort, you may HAVE to buy resale, because Disney may no longer own any contracts for the resort you wish to buy.  I have a friend who was on a wait list with Disney to purchase a contract for the Beach Club.  She had to wait 2 years for it to become available for her!

I am sure that if you are going to purchase, you will do your own research, but here are all of the DVC resorts from which you can choose from with some of the pros and cons about buying at these resorts.  (you may notice my bias.  lol)

Animal Kingdom-  Pros:  The Savannah has animals roaming.  Savannah views are wonderful.   They offer Club Level rooms.   It is a beautiful resort.  Cons:  The distance from everything.  If you are relying on Disney transportation, it will take you awhile for travel time.

Bay Lake Tower-  Pros:  The proximity to Magic Kingdom.  You can easily walk there from BLT.  You can also use the monorail for Epcot.  It also has low dues compared to the other resorts.   The Top of the World lounge is located here which can be used by all DVC members.  Cons:  Not many, although you might be spending more points for the same room type than other resorts.  Also, if Magic Kingdom is not your favorite park, then the location for you would be unfavorable.

Beach Club-  Pros:  Stormalong-Bay which is the nicest DVC pool on property.  Also, the location of the Beach Club is fantastic because you can walk to Epcot which is right next door.  Hollywood Studios is also not far, and you could technically walk there in 15-20 minutes as well.  You will have access to a LOT of restaurants within Epcot if you stay here since they are all within walking distance.  Cons:  If your favorite park is Magic Kingdom, then the Beach Club may not be for you.

Boardwalk Arch IMG_1677 IMG_1717Boardwalk-  Pros:  Cheapest rooms for the points that you pay.  A lot of Boardwalk entertainment.  Proximity to Hollywood Studios and Epcot.  (we walk to both from here)  Cons:  For quick serve or table service restaurants, you do have to walk out to the Boardwalk area.  There are no restaurants right within the resort itself.

Grand Floridian-  Pros:  The location is beautiful.  Also, the rooms at the Grand Floridian are second to none.  You will find amenities at this resort that others do not have.  Also, it is only a boat ride to Magic Kingdom or you can take the monorail to MK and Epcot.  Cons:  You will pay high points for rooms here.  Also, if you prefer the other resorts, the location will require you to take buses.

Old Key West-  Pros:  If you drive, you are able to park right in front of your room.  This can be helpful for disabled guests.  Cons:  Proximity to parks will require you to take buses if you did not drive.  Also, the boat ride to Disney Springs will take awhile.  Make sure you have transportation time built in no matter where you go.

Polynesian-  Pros:  The newest of DVC resorts, so the rooms will be newer.  Great location on Bay Lake with only a boat ride away from Magic Kingdom.  It is on the monorail line.  Cons:  There are only studios and bungalows offered.  There are no 1 or 2 bedroom offerings.  The bungalows come at a very expensive point cost.

Saratoga Springs-  Pros:  Close proximity to Disney Springs.  Depending on the building you choose, you can walk to Disney Springs.  Otherwise, it is only a short boat ride away.  Decent point costs and the resort is so large that usually you will not have trouble finding a room.  (even possibly booking up to a month or two out, depending on the time of year.  Cons:  Older resort so the rooms may reflect that.  You will need to be bused to the parks.

Wilderness Lodge-  Pros:  Beautiful location and resort  Away from the hustle and bustle of everything.  Cons- Not on the monorail line.  However, you can take a boat to Magic Kingdom.  If the weather is bad, however, the boats will not run.  There are not a lot of restaurant options since there is no close proximity to any parks.

There.  I hope that helps.  Obviously take some more time to research on your own to see what works for your family.  Look at maps.  Read reviews.  This is not a decision to be made lightly.  However, always remember that your points CAN be used at any of the resorts, not just your home resort.  I know of people who have never even stayed at the their home resort.  Don’t count on that, however.  Many have the philosophy of buy where you stay.  It is up to you to decide.

6.  Decide how many points you need/want.  Now that you have decided which resort is best for you, it is time to decide how many points you would want on your contract for your vacationing needs.  To do this, you will have to follow the steps below.

  • Decide on which room type is right for your family.  Here are floorplans for a typical DVC resort.  There are slight differences in each, so please research each to make your decision.
  • Check out point charts for each of the resorts.  Decide when your family can take your Walt Disney World vacations.  How often will you go?  The answers to these questions will help you decide how many points you will need for your trip.
  • Look at the amount of points needed for the room type that you chose for the time of year that you think you might visit.
  • Point charts:

Animal Kingdom  |  Bay Lake Tower  |  Beach Club  |  Boardwalk  |  Grand Floridian

Old Key West  |  Polynesian  |  Saratoga Springs  |  Wilderness Lodge

 

 

 

 

How Much To Stay At Disney World DVC For A Whole Year?

how much to go to disney worldOkay folks, we have all dreamed about it nd now I am going to put some numbers behind this dream.  How much would it cost to stay at a Disney World DVC for a whole year?  Yep, something good happened and now you can actually run away to the world of magical memories.  Maybe it was you winning the lottery or your lifelong dream of retiring and starting it out with the vacation of a lifetime.  Whatever the case, there are going to be costs associated with it and now is the time to plan accordingly.  So let’s take a look and see what the different prices will get us for a nice 365 night stay down in the most magical place on earth.

Let’s start with the preliminaries just to get them out of the way.  We will need a basic cost for getting down to Disney World.  You will want to drive down for this once in a lifetime stay for multiple reasons.  One, we will want to drive around while we are “stuck” in Disney World for the next 365 days.  Two, it will save us quite a some of cash instead of flying our stuff down.  I keep saying “our” because I am calculating this for 2 people.  Who wants to go to Disney World for a year all by themselves?  disney gas station With the Middle East being so kind to us and flooding the market with cheap oil, our gas is now under 2 dollars a gallon.  Taking my Pennsylvania location, it will take us 1,060 miles to get there.  At 20 miles to the gallon on average, this will take 53 gallons of gas to get there.  With some simple multiplication, we see that it will cost roughly $106 in gas to pack up the old vehicle and make the trip down south.  Well the first bill isn’t too bad is it?  Of course, we could just pack everything up and fly down.  If this was the case, you are looking at about $750 for you and the significant other to get there.  And remember, that is not without the cost to rent a car for a year now.  I think it is safe to say that we will be hitting highway 95 in order to spare our wallets the pain of all that.  I want to also throw in about $50 for snacks and other meals for our road trip just to be realistic.

Current cost: $156

Wow!  Only a $156 to stay at Disney World for a year?  I should have done this a long time ago.  What do you mean I have to pay for the hotel still?  Unfortunately, we are going to have to pick a place to stay for that period of time.  You will have many different options to choose from.  As I have mentioned in prior articles, you have 9 different resorts to pick from in Disney World.  They include Animal Kingdom Villas, Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Beach Club Villas, Boardwalk Villas, Villas at Grand Floridian, Old Key West, Saratoga Springs, Villas at Wilderness Lodge and the Polynesian Villas and Bungalows.  They all have a different cost associated with them and I will be trying to find the best choice for our little stay.




Next, we will have to decide between a studio and 1 bedroom first of all.  This seems like a no brainer, but the difference in price between the two will make your head spin.  A few nice benefits of going with a 1 bedroom for the DVC resorts is that you get a nice size bedroom, a full kitchen, and most importantly, a washer and dryer in the room.  That doesn’t mean you can’t live it up in the studios though.  The studios come with small kitchenettes, but they are not all that bad.  Below you will see a few of them from the different resorts in order to give you an idea of what you have to work with.

disney world kitchenette 2 kitchenette dvc 3kitchenette dvc 4

You can see from up above, we are not going to have much room to work with.  A nice microwave for those quick meals and a small sink to wash up and get some water out of.  A few storage spaces for our goodies, but no stove, dishwasher, or full size refrigerator.  Uggghhh!  Could be worse I guess, at least we have a coffee maker and toaster.  Now let’s take a look at the full size kitchen that we get with the one bedroom Disney Vacation Club stays.  The following kitchens are from the Beach Club, Boardwalk, Old Key West, and Saratoga Springs Villas.  They all come with a dishwasher, stove, and full size refrigerator as well as lots of storage space.

beach club kitchen kitchen at the boardwalk villas

old key west kitchensaratoga springs kitchen

Well we now know the difference between the kitchenette and the full kitchen, but what about the price?  This is where it becomes a bit more complicated.  If anything, you can’t get the full kitchen without at least getting a one bedroom place.  So before we dive into the cost of the studio and the one bedroom, let’s take a look at the differences when it comes to where we will be sleeping for the next 365 nights give or take a night in case we need a vacation from our vacation. The following are pictures of a studio at the Boardwalk Villas and a one bedroom setup at the same Villas.

The Bed in the Boardwalk Studios:

bed at boardwalk studio

 

 

 

 

 

The 1 Bedroom in the Boardwalk Villas:

one bedroom boardwalk resort

 

 

 

 

 

 

What you are going to have to remember is that with the studio up above, that is your living room as well as your bedroom.  With the 1 bedroom picture below that, you get the added space of a full living room located outside of the bedroom.  I threw a picture of that down below to let you see what that looks like in case you are unfamiliar.

living room-disney-boardwalk-villas

 

 

 

 

 

Quite a bit of difference in space to live in, wouldn’t you say?  But as we all know, it takes extra cash to get the extra space when going to Disney World.  Heck, if we had unlimited amounts of money, we could just stay at a 3 bedroom place with tons of space and never blink an eye.  But that isn’t happening, so let’s get back to finding a REAL alternative to this once in a lifetime stay.  Since some people out there would want the 1 bedroom place and others could easily stay in the studio, I will be doing calculations for both places from here on out.

Let’s start with the 1 bedroom and with full kitchen and see what all the extras will cost us.  The first numbers that we will look at our from Saratoga Springs.  There is no easy way around trying to find out how much it costs to stay there, but I am basically using my DVC membership to search for actual cost on the Disney website.  There is a slight discount for being a member, so we are able to save a bit of cash on our stay.  The first place I looked up is the studio.  You will find the results down below.  Keep in mind that these are not rack rates, but actual prices that someone would get if they were a DVC member using their discount.  (See…there are a few benefits of drinking the Kool-Aid)

Saratoga Springs Studio For One Year: (These are all rough estimates that I found, as the prices change daily)

From January 1st until March 19th:  $228.90 per day x 78  days = $17,854.20

From March 20th until June 11th:  $289.50 per day x 84 days = $24,318.00

From June 12th until September 30th:  $357.67 per day x 111 days = $39,701.37

The month of October:  $365.50 per day x 31 days = $11,330.50

The month of November:  $367.59 per day x 30 days = $11,027.70

The month of December:  $378.85 per day x 31 days = $11,744.35

WOW!!!  That was a ton of work to find all of that, but after it is all said and done, we are looking at a grand total of…

$115,976.12

I guess if it is a once in a lifetime experience, then this is not too awful bad…is it?  If you answered yes…freaking absolutely…or any other affirmative answer, you are probably not going to want to stay in a one bedroom villa then.  The cost for those are just a tad higher.  I have put that expense down below so you can see how “affordable” the studios actually are. *cough cough*

Saratoga Springs One Bedroom For One Year: (These are all rough estimates that I found, as the prices change daily)

From January 1st until March 19th:  $316.40 per day x 78  days = $24,679.20

From March 20th until June 11th:  $439.50 per day x 84 days = $36,918.00

From June 12th until September 30th:  $452.00 per day x 111 days = $50,172.00

The month of October:  $492.00 per day x 31 days = $15,252.00

The month of November:  $493.93 per day x 30 days = $14,817.90

The month of December:  $502.15 per day x 31 days = $15,566.65

As funny as it sounds, I really thought that this would be a tad bit more expensive.  The total for a one bedroom at Saratoga Springs with all that extra space comes to…

$157,405.75

This a mere $41,429.63 extra for the bedroom and the kitchen.  This comes to an extra $113.50 per day in order to have that kitchen and bedroom we all so desire.  So at this point, we have our gas and snack bill of $156 plus the $115,976.12 or $157,405.75 depending if you pick the studio or 1 bedroom for a grand total of $116,132.12 or $157,561.75.  I don’t know about you, but this is a tad bit more than I expected it to beBut hey, we only get a once in a lifetime vacation how many times?

Now I know it sounds like a ton of cash at this point, but the worst is yet to come.  We have only figured out the cost to get down to Disney World and the money it will take to stay at a DVC resort for a full year.  Now it is time to add on my favorite part of the entire vacation…the food!   

There are many different discussions about how much it cost to eat at Disney World for each day.  There are different ways to figure this out and we are going to cover them all.  The first and most expensive way to eat in the land of mouse is to buy a dining plan.  There a re a few different ones to choose from, which I have listed below.  Please be advised that the chart only covers the first three options and that there are actually 5 different dining plan options to choose from based on what you want to spend.

2016 DISNEY DINING PLAN PRICES:

PER ADULT, PER NIGHT
(adults are 10 years and older in Disney prices)
PER CHILD, PER NIGHT
(children are 3-9 years old in Disney prices)
Quick Service Dining

  • 2 quick-service meals
  • 1 snack
  • 1 refillable mug
$42.84 $17.47
Regular Dining

  • 1 table-service meal
  • 1 quick-service meal
  • 1 snack
  • 1 refillable mug
$61.84 $20.96
Deluxe Dining

  • 3 meals (any combination of table-service and quick-service)
  • 2 snacks
  • 1 refillable mug
$111.73 $32.56

You can see the  5different options we now have to choose from down below.  Let’s do some number crunching and see what the total cost of all five are for a year long stay.

OPTION 1:  Quick Service Dining Plan:

With this option, you will receive 2 quick service means and 1 snack every day of the year and a mug for all you can drink soda, coffee, and tea.  This will run you 365 days x $42.84 for a total of $15,636.60 for each person.  So if we go to Disney with a significant other, we can expect to pay $15,636.60 x 2 for a total of $31,273.20.  Now if this is our choice for feeding ourselves, we need to figure on buying something to fill in for the missing 3rd meal.  I think it would be fare to say that we will spend $10 a day on “grocery store” food for the room.  This adds on another $3,650.00 to our bill to give us a new total of $34,923.20. 

Now we can figure out the “cheap” way to feed ourselves and stay at Disney World for a full year.  Taking everything up above into consideration, we are now on the hook for a total of $116,132.12 + $34,923.20 = $151,055.32.  That is for $70 worth of food/hygiene products/beer every week at a local grocery store and quick service meals for 2 people for a year and a studio at Saratoga Springs for a year.  Not to shabby if I say so myself.  For anyone who is wondering, this comes to $413.85 per day.  Whatttt, there are more costs?  Yep, we still have the annual passes and tiny bit of gas money each month to calculate in.  But let’s finish up the different dining plan options first.

OPTION 2:  Regular Dining Meal Plan:

On to the regular dining plan and figure out if this is the way to go.  The regular dining plan is basically the same as the quick service plan with the exception that we are trading one quick service meal for a nice sit down dining meal at one of the many fine restaurants in Disney World.  To me personally, this is a huge must.  I love to eat and nobody does it better than Disney…bar none!  (Check out this article for my favorite steak spots in Disney World)  The regular dining plan comes in at $61.84 per day x 365 for a total of $22,571.20.  We now have to double that $45,142.40 to take into account our 2nd person.  Tacking on the $116,132.12 for the studio gives us a new total of $161,274.52 for our trip down, room, and now food of a regular plan.  This comes to $441.84 per day for shorter vacation calculations. 

OPTION 3:  Deluxe Dining Meal Plan:

Now we get to figure out what it would cost to stay in a studio but live on the “fill me up” meal ticket…the deluxe dining plan.  This gives us 3 sit down or quick service meals a day.  That means eating at the best restaurants that Disney has to offer 3 times a day  365 days a year.  It just doesn’t get any better than this my friends.  But with all good things comes a price tag and this one is steep.  We are looking at 365 days x $111.73 a day for a total of $40,781.45.  Let’s not forget about our roommate either.  Adding that person on takes the total up to $40,781.45 x 2 = $81,562.90.  Adding this onto the prior bill of $116,132.12 for the room and the money to get down to Disney World, we are now looking at $197,695.02.  This comes to $541.63 per day for figuring out a shorter vacation.  Now the question is, do we want to add on a gym membership to counter the food we can eat?  Oh yeah, we have free access to the gym located at the resort.  Wheeewww…that was a close one.

OPTION 4:  Premium Dining Meal Plan:

With all this has to offer, you would think that this is top option, but it is not.  It is a very close second place.  Coming in at $208.08 per person for 365 days will run you $151,898.40 for the entire stay for you and that significant other.  (Getting expensive to bring them at this point…might have to go solo. :) )  But what do we get for the upgrade you may be wondering.  Well, Disney will give you 3 table service meals, 2 snacks, unlimited golf, and a ticket to Cirque du Soleil for each person as well as our refillable mugs.  Now adding that to our room and weekly expenditures gives us the following total for the studio stay:  $116,132.12 + $151,898.40 = $268,030.52

OPTION 5:  Platinum Dining Meal Plan:

This is the Cadillac of possible meals plans.  Did I tell you that it doesn’t get any better than this?  This is it folks, the best of the best.  This plan isn’t just about the food, you will get a ton of extras outside of the restaurant to take advantage of.  You will get everything up above from the premium dining plan as well as free golf lessons and carts with the unlimited golf, fishing trips, balloon rides, swimming with dolphins, watersports, horseback rides, carriage rides, mini golf, archery, in room child care, fireworks cruise, free spa treatment, backstage tours, and many other things that make this worth its price in gold.  Well maybe not gold, but platinum according to the name.  We will not be paying with platinum, but with good old fashion greenbacks.  That total will be as follows:

365 days x $260.10 x 2 people = $189,873.00

$189,873.00 + $116,132.12 = $306,005.12

That is $306,005.12 to stay at a studio on Saratoga Springs property with the platinum dining plan.

But like I said before, I would want to stay at a one bedroom for this trip because of the extra room and full kitchen we will get to utilize.  So let’s figure out that cost and see what that will run us.  Starting with the totals we found up above for the studio, we can just switch out the cost of the room and “upgrade” our dream vacation to a one bedroom pretty simply.  The calculations below will give us these new totals.

1 Bedroom year long stay at Saratoga Springs:

with quick service meal plan:  $157,561.75 +  $31,273.20 = $188,834.95 or $517.35 per day

with regular dining meal plan:  $157,561.75 +$45,142.40 = $202,704.15 or $555.35 per day

with deluxe dining meal plan:  $157,561.75 + $81,562.90 = $239,124.65 or $655.13 per day

with  premium dining meal plan:  $157,561.75 + $151,898.40 = $309,460.15 or $847.83 per day

with platinum dining meal plan:  $157,561.75 + $189,873.00 = $347,434.75 or $951.87 per day

Looking at the options above, you can have this dream vacation for as many days as your bank account can handle.  The per day is more reality, but how about coming up with that $347,434.75 so you can live it up for 365 days of all you can eat and all you can do adventure.  But worse case scenario is that we can make this trip for as little as $151,055.32 or as much as $347,434.75 or any number in between.  Well here’s to wishing upon a star and hoping our dreams come true.  I will  have to put in some overtime in case that wish doesn’t come true.  Let me know what you thought of all this down below and join my newsletter so you can see all these cool little articles in the future.

 

 

 

The 10 Best Things about Owning DVC (Disney Vacation Club)

best way to buy Disney vacation clubHello, there!  Well, it has been quite a few years now that my husband and I drank the DVC Kool-aid.  We liked it so much that we went back for seconds!  :)  Yes, we are DVC owners at Boardwalk and also at Old Key West.  A lot of people argue for or against owning DVC.  Even Disney Moe himself has been writing articles assessing the whole money situation when it comes to DVC.  Well, I am not gonna go there.  On the contrary.  Instead, I am going to tell you all about the fun stuff:  the 10 best things about owning DVC.  I won’t be talking about whether it is worth it.  So get that out of your head.  I am just telling you what I love about it.

10.  The pools.  Storm-a-long Bay could technically be a post by itself.  That pool, the main pool at Yacht & Beach Club, is definitely awesome.  The slide comes from a humongous ship.  You have to leave the pool area just to get to the slide!  However, what I love about all DVC pools is that there are many of them at each resort.  I truly have never been at a DVC pool that was so packed that you could hardly move, and I have heard people talk of this issue at value resorts.  I believe that is because there are a few options for swimmers at the DVC resorts.  You are not all sharing one pool.  I know that isn’t true at all places.  However, you have to think about the amount of people staying at some of these resorts in relation to how many people the pool will hold.  I just don’t feel that it has been that busy at the DVC pools.  (and we go often during Magic Season)  Also, the pools at DVC resorts all have slides!  Woo-hoo!  Yes, even my husband and I have tried the slides at the various DVC resorts where we have stayed.




9.  The closeness to the parks.  Ok, I admit. Right now, I am talking about two of my favorite DVC resorts:  Boardwalk and Beach Club.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE staying there for the reason that we can WALK to Epcot and even Hollywood Studios!  (many people don’t seem to know how close Hollywood Studios really is to the Boardwalk Villas)  So, you get a room, you go out the farthest exit away from the lobby.  That exit leads you to the path to get to Hollywood Studios.  It is fantastic!  It is a lovely walk along the canal.  You see ducks and the boats coming and going.  Really, I would say the walk to Hollywood Studios only takes about 10-15 minutes tops.  You can wait longer at the bus stop for a bus just to come and pick you up!  If you love the dining, Epcot is a restaurant lover’s paradise.  Staying at Beach Club or Boardwalk is perfect for getting to your dining reservations without any time issues.  Therefore, to maximize your time, I highly suggest staying at a resort that is close to the parks.  Bay Lake Towers would be another example.  Its proximity to Magic Kingdom is fabulous.

8.  The variety of room choices.  OK, so when you buy into DVC, you are staying at deluxe resorts.  The comfort that these resorts provide is second to none.  You have the option of a variety of different room structures…there is something for every point owner.  The studios provide a nice place to stay with a small kitchenette.  The one-bedrooms have a full kitchen and a washer and dryer.  The two bedrooms have two full bedrooms plus the full kitchen and washer and dryer.  Finally, the Grand Villas offer a large space with 3 bedrooms as well as the full kitchen, substantial living area, and washer and dryer.  The nice thing for me is the king beds.  My husband and I are used to sleeping in a king bed.  I guess we are kinda spoiled.  When taking a vacation, we want the same.  We don’t want to be in a queen or double.  Therefore, for me, the bed itself is a plus.

7.  Washer/Dryer.  Call me crazy, but I love keeping up on laundry when on vacation.  I like to come home and allow everyone to open up their suitcases and put their clothes away.  At DVC resorts, you will have your own laundry facilities if you are staying in a 1 or 2 bedroom unit.  However, do not worry if you choose to stay in a studio, because there are free laundry facilities usage near the pools.  If you would want to do a load of laundry while on vacation, you can find the washer and dyers in a designated area near the pool.  The really nice thing about this (for me), is that I can wash and dry towels.   I have no problem washing a load of towels while heading out to the park, and then putting them in the dryer later that day.  Once mousekeeping comes to refresh your towel supply, you will have many to choose from.  (my kids seem to use towels like water).  Therefore, the washer and dyer in our room is a definite plus.  Just be sure to take a small container of regular detergent with you or buy it once you are in your resort.  They do provide free detergent, but it is only one or two boxes.  I do much more than this, so I take my own.  Make sure it is not high efficiency detergent, as their washer and dryers take the regular kind.  Oh, and bring your own dryer sheets, too.

6.  No daily mousekeeping.  OK, for some people, this may be a downfall, but not for my family.  At home, I clean for the cleaning lady.  Have you ever heard people saying that?  Yes, because we both work and have a business on the side, we do have someone clean our home once a week for the deeper cleaning.  Well, the night before she comes, I announce to the kids that it is time to clean for the cleaning lady.  I am the same way at Disney.  The night before Mousekeeping comes in, we tidy up and clean some things.  (yes, I know she will reclean them, but oh well).  I LOVE not having the Mousekeeping daily.  LOVE it.  I am on vacation, after all, so I want to be very lax and not be as uptight as I am when I am at home.  If the kids feel like dropping their pin lanyards on the floor near the front door, then that is where they will stay.  If someone drinks a soda and leaves it on the table, no biggie.  You get the idea.  In addition to this, we choose to do a 1-bedroom.  The reason for this is we want to stretch our points.  We bring our own blow-up twin sized mattresses for 2 kids, and the other sleeps on the pull-out.  We don’t put the beds away every day.  (we are hardly there!  What’s the point?)  If I had Mousekeeping there each day, I would feel obligated to “clean for the cleaning lady”, so I am just thankful that I don’t have to do that for the majority of my vacation.  Oh, and just so you know, Mousekeeping comes on the 4th day for towel service/light cleaning, and again for a full cleaning I believe on day 7.  (could be wrong on that, I gotta check it)

5.  Being part of the group.  Please don’t think of me as an elitist, because that is not what I am going for here.  However, I truly feel that being a DVC member allows you to become a member of a family.  You become so close with other owners, because they “get it.”  They get the Disney obsession.  There are multiple Facebook groups dedicated to being a DVC member.  There are many, many websites with message boards that have boards dedicated to DVC.  You get to know people.  You learn from people.  And, I am not going to lie, being able to say to people, “I own DVC” is really, really fun!  For me, becoming an owner was kind of like that feeling of becoming a mom.  Before being a mother, I really had no idea.  Then, my first son was born, and I felt like a member of a group for which before I could never identify with.  DVC is the same.  Before DVC, you can read things and try to understand the process and have your judgments on different things related to Disney.  However, AFTER owning, you understand.  You have that right now to share your feelings with non-members.  I kinda feel like it is getting a degree in Disney, so to speak.  And, for that reason, it makes me feel as if I am part of the gang.  I like that.

4.  The dining options.  OK, I admit, I may be posting a bit one-sided on this, because I have never stayed at a value on property, but I am writing this based on the fact that I have looked up dining options sooooo often when booking my dining.  We are a family who loves our sit-down dining experiences at Disney.  For us, the dining experiences are like attractions.  If you have not experienced some of them…well…then I feel like you are missing out on some of the Disney magic.   I have to admit that the eateries at the DVC resorts are much better than other Disney resorts.  (I am just talking resorts here…not dining within the parks).  There have been times where my husband and I have considered taking a resort-only Disney vacation with no parks.  In this case, we have talked about it in terms of which resort has the best dining options.  Let’s look at Disney’s Boardwalk Villas for instance.  When staying at our home resort, we have a number of different signature options mixed with fabulous regular dining options as well as quick-serve!  When staying at the Boardwalk, we have all of the Epcot dining places available, of course, but in keeping with the previous statement of not taking that into account, there are STILL so many other options within such an easy walking distance.  Some that come to mind are:  Flying Fish Cafe and Yachtsman’s Steakhouse, which are signature dining experiences, and Trattoria al Forno, Cape May Cafe, ESPN Club, Big River Grille, Beaches & Cream, and Captain’s Grille which are all regular table service.  In addition, there are many quick-serve places like Leaping Libations, Boardwalk Bakery, Beach Club Marketplace, and Hurricane Hannah’s Grille.  There is literally something for everyone!  This is definitely something to consider when becoming DVC members or if you are thinking about it.  The dining options just seem so much better to me.

3.  Discounts.  Being a DVC member comes with its perks.  There are a variety of different discounts that are offered to DVC members that other Disney vacationers do not get.  First, there is the ability to book cash rooms at a great discount.  Obviously these are subject to availability, but we have used this before when we have wanted to extend our stay but didn’t have enough points.  Usually this discount is 25% off for DVC rooms, but I swear I have received bigger discounts than that in the past.  I think it all has to do with the idea of how many rooms they expect not to be booked for the dates you are looking for.  Please note that this is all conjecture.  I am not claiming to know for sure, but it has been very nice to book with cash.  If you are not looking to plan very far in advance, but wanting to book a quick trip, this discount may work for you as a DVC member.  (just writing this makes me want to call and see what they have available.  haha!)  OK, for other discounts, my favorite has to be the AP discount.  (Annual Pass)  Why is this a good thing?  Well, because when you are taking a Disney trip, obviously a large part of the expense is the tickets to the park.  What we have been doing is using the DVC prices for annual passes.  These are sold at a lesser cost than non-DVC annual passes.  We plan trips so that we go late one year and early the next which allows us to take 2 trips with one pass.  Sometimes we squeeze one somewhere in between.  By doing this, it makes the cost of each trip not so bad.  In addition to the annual pass prices, there is also the dining and merchandise discounts. So many Disney restaurants offer a DVC discount to members.  Although we do Tables in Wonderland,  we do use the DVC discount on some restaurants that are not Tables in Wonderland locations.

2.  Disney vacations for life.  When buying into DVC, you are planning your Disney vacations for life!  Pretty much, that is true!  When you know that there is a place that you love, knowing that you are going to go back often, well…that is just a great feeling!  And, you know what the cool thing is?  These vacations are in such demand, that, even if you don’t feel that you can use your points, you can actually rent them out and make money on them!  We have used Paul at DVCrentalstore.  Such great customer service!

1. Welcome home.  The last thing I like about owning DVC is how welcome you feel when you arrive and during your vacation.  When the gatekeeper says welcome home, you know you made the right choice in buying DVC.

10 Off-the-wall Things to Pack for your Walt Disney World Vacation

What to pack for Walt Disney WorldYes!  You are here most likely because you have planned a Walt Disney World vacation.  How exciting!  This type of vacation is not a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants vacation.  On the contrary, this one needs a lot of planning, even down to the nitty-gritty details of odd things that you may not normally pack for a vacation.  However, if you follow this list, it will make your vacation to Walt Disney World even more magical.

Body Glide

Stop the chafing at Disney!

10.  Body Glide.  I know.  Some of you may not have ever heard of this.  And, perhaps, some of you may not even need it.  However, in Disney, you do a lot of walking.  A lot.  Did I mention a lot of walking?  Well, when you do a lot of walking, depending upon your body composition, parts of your body can rub together.  This usually is not a big deal.  However, when you are walking hour after hour…well…let’s just say that some chafing occurs.  Once the chafing has started, it really goes downhill from there.  Body Glide, and other products like it, provide a protective coating over the parts of your body that may be affected by the constant friction caused by hours of walking.  Runners use it for long races.  Walking around Disney is like running a half-marathon, except it takes you all day.  Try this stuff out.  It certainly cannot hurt.  Also, it won’t take up much space in your luggage.

Disney Frogg Togg9.  Frogg Toggs.  I have told people about these, but they just cannot wrap their brains around this concept  These are the most amazing cooling cloths.  We all know that Florida heat can be rough when you are trying to enjoy your vacation in Walt Disney World.  These cloths can help combat this issue.  How?  First of all, they really do stay cool throughout the day.  By carrying these around your neck, you will generally stay cooler.  Also, they are nice for wiping your face or brow.  How do they work?  You take the cloth.  You wet it down in cool water.  You wring it out, but not completely.  Now, these towels do hold 8 times their weight in water.  Therefore, you want to keep some of that moisture in the towel.  Something inside the towel literally keeps them cool.  They are supposed to keep you cool for up to 4 hours.  My family loves them.  The boys sometimes wear them under their hats to cool their heads down.  I like to wear mine around my neck.  When you don’t need them, just keep them in a large baggie inside of your bag.  You can keep it wet/damp, and you will still be able to use it for a long time later.  I have washed mine in my washing machine, too.  I just used Tide detergent.  When they dry, they become kind of crisp…I don’t know quite how to describe it.  You can still fold it up to place inside of luggage, but the composition of the cloths will make them unable to be completely flat.  They come in a wide variety of colors.  You can use them to wipe your face, carry around your neck, wipe down your arms, or any number of other ways to stay cool.  You will be amazed at how cool to the touch they stay even in 90 degree weather.

Moleskin for Disney blisters8.  Moleskin.  What the heck is moleskin?  Moleskin is a soft, rather thick cotton fabric.  It is sheared on one side to create a super soft pile.  It feels so soft to the touch, much like velvet.  Please refer to number 10.  Chafing.  Not only can body parts chafe other body parts, but your shoes can rub in the wrong places.  When your shoes rub  in the wrong places, this can cause an extremely painful blister.  Who would have ever thought that such a small injury would cause such debilitating pain!  Because you will be walking so much at Disney, you do NOT want to start out with blisters.  Keep moleskin with you or if you know your shoes rub in a certain spot, you should start out wearing it.  Moleskin may also stop calluses and corns from forming, too, which are due to the pressure of your feet inside of your shoes constantly throughout the day.  It is wise to keep bandaids on hand, but, truly, for blisters, the moleskin cannot be beat.

poncho7.  Ponchos.  It is quite possible that for other vacations you do not have to worry about this.  However, the weather of Florida can change on a whim.  You could be in the midst of a glorious, hot afternoon, when, all of a sudde, a downpour interrupts your fun.  Don’t let that happen!  Some of the BEST Disney memories for my family and I have been when the weather is rainy!  All we do it don our ponchos or rain jackets and we are good to go!  Other people leave the park, and you can stay and enjoy!  If you don’t have room to pack these, or if you have forgotten, Disney has them on sale everywhere.  I recommend not getting the flimsy ones that resemble saran wrap.  They are just awful.  Buy decent ones.  The absolute best are the ones that fold up into one of its own pockets to be stored when not using it.  We have bought these on Amazon, and they work wonderfully!  They fold right up to store in your backpack when you aren’t using them.

6.  Motion sickness products.  Dramamine is first.  This one you might want to pack on your carry-on.  What is it?  It is anti-nausea medication.  So I am thinking that you can use this double-fold.  One for the plane ride.  The turbulence of a plane ride can sometimes give you an upset stomach.  Then, when you get to Disney, you can use it to try out some of the bumpier rides.  Or perhaps the rides with intense situations like Mission Space in Epcot.  I know that even my husband experiences some uncomfortable dizziness while on Star Tours.  You know your family best.  If any family members do get dizzy easily or are prone to motion-sickness, this is definitely the stuff to pack in your luggage.  (probably carry-on would be best!)  They also make it for children.  Now, if you are driving and not flying, you can pack it for the people riding in the back seat.  My oldest son used to get motion-sickness on longer car rides.  I used Bonine for him because it was chewable, and it tasted good to him.  It worked!  When my kids were younger, they hated medicine.  Of any kind.  Whether it tasted good or not, they would not want it.  If this sounds like your child, you could try sea bands. Something about the pressure points in these stop motion sickness.  Regardless of what you use, you may want to try some kind of product for motion sickness.  It just might save you from some miserable days.

Glow Sticks for Disney5.  Glow-in-the-dark products.  I know you are getting to this one and thinking whaaaa?  Why would I need glow-in-the-dark products?  Ok, so I admit, these are kind of just for fun.  They just add the magic to your vacation.  There are tons of options.  You can buy glow in the dark necklaces, bracelets, or glow sticks.  And make sure that you are in on the action!  If you want to give light to others, you have to glow yourself!  Remember, all people are kids when at Disney.  OK, so back to the glowy stuff.  We use them during the parade.  Each of us (5 in our family) play with glow sticks during the parades.  We wave them at the good characters as they pass.  It becomes so magical because they ALL look and smile and wink and do fun stuff right at my family.  This probably would not happen without the glowiness getting their attention!  Another reason to use these products is that it is easy to pick out your child in the midst of the other children all over the place.  Put a glowy or blinky necklace on him/her and you will be able to keep an eye on your child much easier at night.  We have also used these glowy-fun-filled items to make magic for other families.  We bring enough to pass out to kids around us.  My kids just love doing this.  It is fun to see other kids’ reactions when they receive them.

Disney Buffet4.  Antacids, heartburn, and gas medicine.  You are laughing.  I know you are.  But, for realz, this is a must have for this vacation, especially if you are using the dining plan.  There is no way that you would be eating this mixture of foods if you are at home making your own meals.  It isn’t just one type of food, either.  Sure, if you have Italian food, you might want to take some heartburn medicine before you eat.  However, the bad part about Disney is the MIXTURE of foods.  At times, you may be eating off of buffets.  Buffet meals have the widest variety of foods, especially at Disney!  I mean, let’s pack 35 different types of food all onto a table, and let guests help themselves.  You are BOUND to get “bound” or the opposite, if you know what I mean!  Haha!  Salads, cheeses, fried foods, fish, meat, vegetables, fruits, (but, let’s face it, who really puts many of those last two on their plates), casseroles, wide varieties of desserts are offerings on buffets, just to name a few.  And then, at many buffets, you are going to see “specialty” foods that maybe you have never tried before.  Germany in Epcot at the Biergarten comes to mind.  Lots and lots of German delicacies.  If you are not used to eating like this, you may feel poorly after a large meal.  This mean that you probably will want to take preventative measures with your heartburn or gas medicine.  There is nothing worse than getting a bad stomachache at Disney.

Disney Coffee3.  Coffee.  I know this isn’t something that you think of when it comes to packing.  However, coffee at Disney is nothing to write home about.  It just doesn’t seem right to me that there you are, at the most magical place on Earth…the first thing you do when you wake up is have a nice, flavorful cup of cof….wait a minute…THIS is coffee?  No.  No, no, no.  That is not how you want the first day of your Disney vacation to start.  Seriously, though, Disney is a multi-billion dollar company.  Can’t they do their coffee right?  The answer is, no, they cannot.  My advice?  Bring your own.  If you are driving, this is a no brainer…bring your own Keurig.  Bring your own k-cups.  If you are staying for a week or more, it may even be wise for you to purchase a tiny one cup coffee maker to take with you.   You may not get the chance to drink a full pot while still in the room, and this allows all coffee drinkers in your party to make their own hot cup whenever they would like.  It only takes minutes.  If you are flying, you may want to take your own coffee packets.  I have used my Disney mug to get their coffee.  I am trying to think of a good way to describe it.  What is that stuff called that black licorice is made of?  Amarise?  I have no idea if that is even right.  Anise?  Yes, I think that’s the one.  Their coffee tastes like burnt black licorice.  I am sorry, Disney, but it is true.  (I still love, you, though!)  Trust me.  Take your own.

2.  Child identification tags.  This is kind of a scary one.  And this actually happened to me.  What if your baby gets lost amidst the hundreds if not thousands of people within Walt Disney World? disney id bandsI know you may tell yourself you won’t let that happen, but it can take only a split second.  Let me tell you my story.  My family was in Epcot.  My youngest was 5 at the time, I believe.  We were walking from Soarin’ and decided to veer off to the right.  This is one of those cases where I thought he was with my husband, and my husband thought he was with me.  I mean, it was literally only like 3 seconds into us turning right for me to realize that he wasn’t with us.  “DaddyMo, where is P?” I said, frantically.  “I thought he was with you!”  Fact.  Heart sinking into the stomach only takes aproximately 0.0746 seconds.  Did you know that?  That day I found out. I scanned the whole environment of people walking in groups.  And, there, literally already 20-30 yards away, was my 5 year-old, just walking beside some lady obviously assuming that it was me.  I ran up to him, took his hand, and said calmly, “Come on, honey, let’s go this way.”  “OK, Mommy!”  Whew!  He was oblivious.  He had no idea that I had almost dropped over from cardiac arrest just seconds before at the thought of him going missing.  Don’t let this happen, people.  Now, I don’t mean don’t let your child get lost, because of course you wouldn’t!  But, don’t let yourself not feel prepared at what to do if it DOES happen.  Bring identification tags.  Put them on your child.  They should have your name and cell phone number.  Now, luckily today, the magic bands really do have a built-in child identification tag. Give yourself peace of mind, though.  Put notes in their pockets.  Buy a special identification tag for your child.  Put a phone number on their shirt tag.  Anything.  I never, ever, ever, want to feel that feeling again like I did that day.  I don’t ever want you to experience it, either.

1. Portable personal air conditioners.  These may not seem like a must have, but when you are down in Florida, you find out very quickly that it gets hot, and I mean that kind of hot that makes it hard to breath.  personal air conditionerWith that being said, there are a few products out there that can take the sting out of the heat for you and allow you to enjoy your walking around in the 90 to 100 degree temps.

In conclusion, it is best if you are well-prepared for your trip to Walt Disney World.  I know that these items seem as if they are the strangest things you could possibly take on vacation, but, as you can see, they are definitely worth taking along with you.  Have fun packing!

 

Best Way To Buy Disney Vacation Club

Disney Vacatioin Club 2016What is the best way to buy Disney Vacation Club?  I can tell you from personal experience that you can buy directly from Disney or go out into the second hand market and purchase your DVC membership through resale.  Each has its own benefits as well as drawbacks which will be discussed in detail shortly.  Remember that this is a very large investment to make on both the upfront payment as well as the annual dues, so please take some time to read through this thoroughly so you know how to maximize your DVC timeshare and minimize the associated cost.

Now that you are considering buying a Disney Vacation Club membership, let’s take a look at all the possibilities.  Disney Vacation Club currently is operating 13 different resort areas.  These include 9 different resorts over at Disney World which are Animal Kingdom Villas, Bay Lake Towers over at the Contemporary, Beach Club Villas, Boardwalk Villas, Villas at Grand Floridian, Old Key West, Saratoga Springs, Villas at Wilderness Lodge and the Polynesian Villas and Bungalows.  The remaining 4 resorts are the Villas at Grand Californian located in Disneyland, the Villas at Oahu, Hawaii, the Villas at Vero Beach, Florida, and the Villas at Hilton Head, South Carolina.

One of the major advantages that Disney tells you about when considering buying into DVC directly from them is that you will be able to use membership points at all Disney properties located around the world.  Though this may be true, you are not going to get as much stay time as you would at the DVC resorts listed up above.  In other words, you are not maximizing your vacation dollars and annual dues dollars by staying outside of DVC properties that the points were originally meant for.  Sure, you can go on a Disney cruise or stay over in Europe or Asia if you wish, but you are not going to get very much for the points you are going to use.  I will give one detailed instance below of what I am talking about.

There is a rough price for a Disney cruise of 714 points or $5,000 in cash per person.  In looking at this price, you can see that Disney is only giving you about $7.00 a point credit towards the cruise using your DVC points.  Most annual dues are running in the low to mid $6.00 range at this point in time.  It is like you paid for points that didn’t even get you a notable discount on the cruise.  But if you stay at the resort that the points were originally meant for, then you get the maximum usage out of them.  For example, if you stay in a standard studio at the Boardwalk Villas in Disney World during Adventure Season, you can stay a full week for only 76 points.  This equates to around nine and a half weeks worth of stay for the same cost of the Disney cruise for 1 person…OUCH!!!  But what does it cost to actually use points at the Boardwalk Villas compared to paying cash?  Well, that same standard studio at the Boardwalk Villas cost roughly $500 on average per night throughout the stay if paying with cash.  That equates to spending roughly 67 days times $500 per night for a grand total of $33,500.  Yep, you read that right…$33,500!  So here at Disney World, you can see Disney gives you about $48 a point value compared to the $7 a point value for the cruise, no comparison with this one.  Like I said, this is just one example of how it really only makes sense to use Disney Vacation Club points at the original 13 resorts.

So to put all the numbers out there so far, here you go…

Disney Cruise Comparison:  $5,000 or 714 points.  This comes to $7.00 per point in value going on a Disney Cruise and you are paying a little over $6.00 a point in dues.  There is little to no benefit in using DVC points in this manner.

Boardwalk/DVC Villas Comparison:  For the same 714 points, you get 67 days at the Boardwalk Villas and this gives you a value of roughly $48 a point.  It totals $33,500 worth of rake rate stay at the Boardwalk Villas.

The difference between the two is about $41 a point in using the points at the Villas of DVC or using the points for a cruise or some other non Disney Villa vacation.

We have now discussed one main aspect to think about before buying Disney Vacation Club, and that is if you are going to be using this for annual or at least biannual vacations to one of the thirteen Villas?  If so, then you are going to be saving money by purchasing a DVC property and it will make prudent financial sense in purchasing it.

Now on to the next thing to consider when thinking about buying into a Disney Vacation Club.  If you have recently been down to Disney World or over to Disneyland, there is not doubt that you have run into one of the booths that have the cast members ready to pitch to you a very emotional appeal into why it is a great idea.  And for some people, that is all it takes to sign on the dotted line and become one of the cool kids with their “DVC” membership and all the benefits that come with it.  (Don’t worry…I am one of those kids too) For others, you will need to sit down and see if it makes financial sense to put up $10,000 to $30,000 upfront and then another $600 to $2,000 in annual dues for the next 40 years.  Rest assured that we will cover this and a whole lot more down below in order to make the most prudent decision.

As the aforementioned has stated, if you are looking at saving some cash by investing into a Disney Vacation Club, it will all come down to how you plan on using it.  A few simple questions that will need to be answered are…

  1.  How many people are you looking at taking with you while you utilize the points?
  2. What destination do you have in mind for your vacations?
  3. Are you planning on staying at a lower tier resort or a premier resort?
  4. How long of a stay are you looking to take?
  5. How ofter are you planning on using your Disney Vacation Club?

When you see advertisements claiming to save you up to “70% off”, it would seem that investing in the happiest place on earth would be a no brainer.  But contrary to popular belief, as well as their claims, we will not be saving that much money on our trips by buying into DVC.  If we did, do you think that Disney would be building new properties just to give away most of their profits?  Are they lying?  Nope, you definitely can save 70% if you are going to the most expensive resort during the most expensive time and paying the most expensive prices better known as rack rate.  I personally have never met a person or family that has booked their vacation that way. But if you are all about spending the most you can spend, then you are going to want to buy DVC immediately.  This is why Disney is able to advertise that they can save you up to 70% on your future stays.  I would be interested in seeing exactly what numbers they use to come up with the 70% savings based on the upfront cost of buying into DVC and adding in the annual fees.

BENEFITS OF BUYING DISNEY VACATION CLUB:

One true financial benefit of buying DVC that you will want to consider is that you will be able to have more than 2 adults stay in the room at no additional charge.  If you go to any resort in Disney that is not DVC, you will be charged extra for each adult past the first two that stays in the room.  Disney considers you an adult if you are 18 or older for billing purposes.  This can add up to quite a bit of savings for those traveling with adult friends or older children.

One of my favorite benefits that Disney Vacation Club members receive is access to free laundry services.  Not that you are going on vacation to do laundry, but we all know that accidents happen and it is nice to be able to get that article of clothing into a washer as soon as possible to avoid permanent staining.  The 1 bedroom villas and up have their own washer and dryers right inside the room.  The studios have a laundry room close by that are rigged to allow free laundry service anytime you desire.  You need to supply your own laundry detergent and dryer sheets, but everything else is on Disney.  I don’t know how much this is worth to someone going on vacation.  There are those that like to keep up on these things and this is an invaluable service that they are able to take advantage of.

One of the nicer benefits of buying Disney Vacation Club is that you may be able to deduct those nasty property taxes in your annual dues from your overall tax bill that is due every April.  This is usually done by those tax payers that itemize their deductions.  A prime example of this is in the 2010 taxes of $0.9498 per point.  So if you have a 300 point contract, then you will possibly be able to deduct $284.94 from your taxes.  You will want to check with a tax professional in order to see if you qualify.  One thing I have been told is that you are only allowed to deduct the property taxes on your main home and one second home.  In other words if you own two homes and deduct the taxes on them, you may not be able to deduct the taxes on DVC.  All in all, you will want to check out what you can do when it comes tax season.

There are other taxes to consider when buying DVC.  Most people don’t even realize that they have to pay 12.5% hotel tax when they stay at Disney World in Florida.  For example, if your hotel stay is around $5,000 for your stay, you will need to pay an additional $750 in hotel taxes.  The nice thing about being a DVC member is that you are not a hotel visitor, but a property owner.  This subtle distinction allows you to avoid paying that costly hotel tax when using your points to stay in the Disney World resorts.  This is a pretty big financial aspect that helps to offset the annual dues you will pay once buying into DVC.  If you consider the $33,500 in rake rates from the above mentioned stay, you would be looking at $33,500 x .15 = $5,025 in hotel taxes.  That would make that 76 day stay at the Boardwalk Villas a tad bit more expensive.  It would come in at a total of $38, 525 for that stay.  Once again…OUCH!  This is one of the major cases for buying into DVC concerning the financial part of the purchase.  Nothing like saving thousands of dollars every year.

Now you always have the argument of potential gains in the market from the money you have to pay upfront.  Disney is requiring a minimum payment of $11,500 in order to become DVC member.  For some people, this is the end of the road when it comes to owning DVC.  You will want to continue reading to see how this is not what you actually have to pay in order to buy into DVC.  This is the price Disney is charging and not the resale prices that you can get it at.  In other words, you can buy DVC in the secondary market for about half the cost.  But if you do want to buy DVC directly from Disney, you are required to buy a minimum of 100 points at $115 a point for a grand total of $11,500.  The properties that are currently charging that price is Vero Beach and Hilton Head.  You are able to use these points at any Disney Vacation Club resort you desire based on the charts below.  You will see the difference in points needed at the 13 resorts.

Point Charts For The 13 Disney Vacation Club Resorts:

Animal Kingdom Villas Points Chart

Bay Lake Tower Villas over at the Contemporary

Beach Club Villas

Boardwalk Villas

Villas at the Grand Floridian

Old Key West Villas

Saratoga Springs Villas

Villas at the Wilderness Lodge

The Polynesian Villas and Bungalows

Villas at the Grand Californian in Disneyland

The Villas at Oahu, Hawaii

The Villas at Vero Beach, Florida

The Villas at Hilton Head, South Carolina

I should tell you upfront that if you want to buy DVC at Disney World, it will cost you $13,000 compared to the $11,500 up above for Vero Beach or Hilton Head.  If you want to stay at the Grand Californian Hotel, you will need to pony up $16,500 for those same 100 points.  In other words, you will want to see which resort will give you the most bang for your buck.  So you can see that buying through Disney will run you anywhere from $11,500 to $16,500, not an inexpensive purchase no matter what resort you decided to buy.

Then you have the annual dues for all these resorts that you must pay for the life of the contract.  You will end paying the following prices for dues based on 2016.

Annual Dues Chart For The 13 Disney Vacation Club Resorts As Of 2016:

Animal Kingdom Villas Points Chart:  $6.4152 per point

Bay Lake Tower Villas over at the Contemporary:  $5.2830 per point

Beach Club Villas:  $6.1277 per point

Boardwalk Villas:  $6.1753 per point

Villas at the Grand Floridian:  $5.7119 per point

Old Key West Villas:  $6.0107 per point

Saratoga Springs Villas:  $5.4391 per point

Villas at the Wilderness Lodge:  $6.2152 per point

The Polynesian Villas and Bungalows:  $6.0937 per point

Villas at the Grand Californian in Disneyland:  $5.3730 per point

The Villas at Oahu, Hawaii:  $6.7913 per point

The Villas at Vero Beach, Florida:  $8.0846 per point

The Villas at Hilton Head, South Carolina:   $6.8153 per point

So the average DVC annual due rate per point comes out to $80.536/13 = $6.1950 per point.  That means that you should expect to pay about $619.50 per 100 point contract for DVC. You are basically looking at an extra $50 bill you need to pay every month.  The other thing to remember is that the annual dues will increase about 3% every year based on historical data.  From 2015 to 2016, DVC annual dues increased by about 3.1%.  Don’t forget that we will be able to write off the property taxes from these dues though. (As long as this is your only 2nd property)

Now that you have all the pros and cons of investing into DVC, let’s take a look and see how much you can save from buying DVC in the resale market.

 

 

 

 

What Is The Best Way To Pay DVC Dues?

Disney-Vacation-ClubYou finally pulled the trigger and bought into a Disney Vacation Club timeshare.  First off, I would like to congratulate you for giving yourself and family one of the best experiences you can give them.  Second off, it is not a cheap investment upfront or down the road when dues come up for payment.  The question is, what is the best way to pay DVC dues?  I am going to show you quite a different amount of ways to tackle this issue and hopefully, one of them will be perfect for you.

Well now you have gone and bought yourself a hundred or two points to enjoy for the next few decades.  How you paid for your DVC timeshare is for another article.  This is all about figuring out how to pay your DVC annual dues that creep up on you every single year.  For this article’s example, I am going to use a basic 100 points to pay for every year as the basis of all monetary calculations.  This will make it easier for those with bigger contracts to figure out their best ways to pay.  I am also going to simplify the annual fees down to a rough $6.00 per point.  If you are familiar with DVC, then you know that the different properties have a few cents difference per point for dues.  But for simplicity, we will stick to using the $6.00 per point estimate.  So now we have our basic bill of $600 to pay in annual dues.  Now the question remains, what is the best way to pay off our DVC dues?

Solution number 1 is to send in a check for $600 and be done with it.  As boring as this seems, it can be the easiest way to deal with this bill.  Is it the best possible way?  Absolutely not.  It does not take advantage of the many different ways to lower that bill.  But with that being said, you have it paid off and you avoid the late payment fee that could hit you if you don’t pay up.  And according to the Disney website for DVC members, if you are late with your payments, you could face this...“Any payments received after the “Past Due After” date will be subject to Late Fees in the amount of $25.00 per Contract plus interest at the maximum rate permitted by applicable law accrued from the original “Payment Due” date.”  You read that right, the maximum rate of interest permitted by law.   Kind of just like a credit card if you fail to pay on time and you get nailed paying around very high interest rates based on the state you live in…OUCH!  So in other words, just pay the bill on time and be done with it at the very least if you don’t have time for any of the options below.

Solution number 2 is to pay using a credit card that gives you some good cash back.  There are a large number of credit cards to use if you choose this route.  They have the Disney Visa Rewards Card that gives members 2% on all Disney purchases.  Sorcerer_Mickey_Classic_Chip_Card_FrontSo you can take that $600 bill and pay it with the Disney credit card and then just pay that off with your cash, thus receiving $12 in rewards cash.  This effectively makes that $600 bill now only $588.  The best part of this right now is that after paying your first $500, they give you a $100 statement credit.  So now you are looking at $488 for this year’s dues.  This gives you a nice 18.6% discount on this year’s dues.  Not quite the best we can do, but not too shabby if I say so myself.

Now there are plenty of other credit cards out there that can help you lower this even more.  You just need to check out some of the newer offers that pop up.  For instance, there is the Marriott Rewards Premier Visa that gives you a bonus of 50,000 points and a $200 Marriott gift card when you spend $3000 in purchases with 3 months of opening the card.  Marriott Credit CardWorst case scenario, you can buy some Disney gift cards at a 5% discount at Sam’s Club to use down the road to pay for future year’s dues.  But that is $500 in rewards and another $200 Marriott gift card equaling $700 in cash back for using their card.  Marriott is also known for giving out $700 in bonus cash as well as the $200 Marriott gift card for a total of $900 during special occasions.  You will need to review periodically to find the best deal.

The ultimate solution combines everything above for maximum savings.  Let’s start out with this, 5 years of dues will be roughly $3000.  You need to go out and buy $3000 worth of Disney gift cards at Sam’s Club so you can take advantage of getting them at 5% off.  This will actually cost you $2850.  You will then combine them onto one card over at www.disneygiftcard.com so you are not carrying around or storing 60 different $50 cards.  The site allows you to put all of the funds on one card.  Sure it is a pain in the butt, but you do save $150 right up front for doing it and it will only take you a few minutes to do it.  After you have the $3000 on one card, you can use it to pay your dues for the next 5 years.  Just store it in a safe place and pull it out every January to pay the annual bill.  The benefit of doing this will be not just the $150 you saved at Sam’s club, but an additional $700 back in rewards from the credit card taking your actual payment down to $2150 for the 5 years.  Dividing this out gives us a very nice $430 a year compared to the original $600.  This is over a 28% discount on your annual dues.  I have not noticed a better way to pay then this out there anywhere and yes I came up with this for myself. :)  Necessity to me is the greatest motivator for innovation and this frugal method is a direct result.  If you have such a way to take out even more out, please share it in the comments so we can make this an even better deal.

Another solution out there is to just set up a payment plan with Disney.  The dues are meant to be paid by January 15th every year.  You need to set up your payment plan as soon as possible in January or even the December before in order to make the payments the lowest that they can be.  Doing this will give you a monthly bill of $50 for the dues.  This is much easier for those that like to budget everything down to the penny.  It can also work for those that don’t have the $3000 from up above to take advantage of that form of paying the dues.  The down side of this is that you don’t get the discounts listed above, but $50 isn’t too bad to budget every month.

 

Don’t Just Visit Disney…Buy It!

In the wise words of those who want to make a ton of cash, don’t just visit Disney, buy it.  By this point, we all have read the news that the Powerball is worth well over $1,300,000,000.  Now it would be nice to bank on winning that and retiring to the life of luxury, but we have to prepared that we are not going to win.  With that being said, we are going to have spend a ton of cash at Disney for the once in a lifetime vacation.  Why don’t we invest in Disney stock so we can recoup some of this cash back.  You will see shortly why this is a great time to start a position with Disney stock to earn some nice returns.

For those that don’t know, I was a stock broker/financial planner for American Express before going to the world of academia.  One thing that has never left me is finding a good investment and making money off of it.  Don’t get me wrong, I am all over winning the Powerball this Wednesday, but in case I lose, I will have this Disney stock to soften the blow to my wallet.  Take a look at the following 5 reasons for why Disney will pad our investment accounts in the very near future.

Reason 5:  Disney is paying a great 1.43% dividend on common stocks as of the writing of this article.  In case you don’t realize it, banks are only paying around .1% on all savings accounts.  (This can vary slightly from bank to bank)  That means you can earn 14 times what a bank would pay you to park your money at their place.  Now there is risk when you invest in the stock market.  Stocks go up AND they go down.  Our goal is to minimize the loses and maximize the gains.  Disney stock at this particular moment in time gives us that opportunity.

Reason 4:  Disney stock is well off 52 week highs and ripe for the buying.  There is an old thought when it comes to making money in the stock market.  You don’t want to buy when a stock is at the top of the chart for the last 52 weeks, but when it is down a bit with room to grow.  Well, Disney fits that bill perfectly right now.  Their stock price on the close of market on Friday 1-1-16 was $99.22 a share.  Their 52 week high was $122.08, which gives us a nice upside potential in addition to the dividend from reason 5.  In other words, we will realize an over 20% gain if it reaches that high again.  Depending on what you are investing, this could easily pay for another trip to Disney.

Reason 3:  Have you been to the Disney World parks lately?  “Wow!” is all I have to say.  They are completely packed and pulling in some serious cash.  Over the last few weeks, they have had to actually shutdown entry to some of the parks due to over occupancy.  Disney Parks PictureThis is a very bad thing if you are on vacation and was looking forward to visiting said park.  But if you are an investor, this is a very good thing.  That means money is flowing into the coffers of the stockholders.   The parks are a big piece of the pie when it comes to the money Disney earns as a whole.  For instance, in 2013, Disney pulled in $2.2 billion in profits from the park division out of the $6.1 billion in profits they earned for the year.  That is one third of the profits coming from the parks.  So looking at the current situation there, I am feeling REAL good about the profits for the current quarter coming from the parks division.

Reason 2:  They are growing like a champ as a company.  Every time you see the news about Disney, you see they are expanding.  This goes for all of their divisions.  If you have been to Disney World lately, you see that they are doubling the size of Disney Springs adding a ton more income producing opportunities going forward. disney-springs-bridge-Logo If you have been to any Disney parks located all over the world, you see they are constantly adding new attractions and expanding as much as the land allows them.  In other words, they are growing both physically and potentially.

Reason 1:  Star Wars…Star Wars…Star Wars!  This is the big one in my mind.  Disney bought the Lucasfilm company and the right to make future films for about $4 billion dollars.  What does this mean?  It means that Disney is going to make a ton of cash on the Star Wars AND Indiana Jones franchises going forward.  With Star Wars:  The Force Awaken now released and the money pouring in, we can see that Disney did very well in taking the chance with this franchise.  Most experts are predicting that the movie will finish with around $2.3 billion in sales.  If we go ahead and take that figure and multiply it by the 5 films they are going to make, you are looking at about $11 billion over the next decade.  This easily will pay for the initial purchase and then you have the Indiana Jones sequels which will only add to that number.  Disney will no longer have to pay for the right to use the Star Wars and Indiana Jones logos and such for the parks, saving them millions in fees.disney star wars

So there you go.  Disney is looking very attractive as a stock going forward to add to your portfolio.  You have a stable income in the form of dividends.  You also have a great stock appreciation with a possible 20% in the very near future.  Then add in the recent investments into Lucasfilm, you have the right combination of park growth with movie growth.  All in all, Disney gives you a great entertainment industry investment to diversify your portfolio a bit more.  Think of it this way, they say you should invest in what you know.  Do you know Disney?  If you are like me, you and you bank account know it very well.  And now you can tell all of your friends that you don’t just visit Disney, but you own it!

5 Things that Might Really Annoy You about Walt Disney World

AnnoyingI know, I know…Walt Disney World is the most magical place on Earth.  However, things are not ALWAYS going to be perfect.  I hate to say that, but it is true.  I just want to prepare you for the worst.  If you read this article and decide for yourself that you won’t let these things bother you, or if you find ways to combat these things that might annoy you, then you will be ahead of the game.

Join me into looking at the negative aspects of Walt Disney World.

5.  The crowds.  Depending on the time of the year, the crowds at Walt Disney World can be overwhelming.  As a matter of fact, there can be days where they actually start closing the parks in phases…usually during holiday and school break weeks.  If you are there on one of these days, you may not be a happy camper.  However, the crowds can be there any day of the year, not just during holidays.  There are days where you can hardly move down Main Street.  You will have to desperately keep hold of your child’s hand.  Forget the little ones being able to see the view of the castle on Main Street, because they can only see the bottoms of the people in front of them.

When there are crowds like this, it means that you will have to stand in lines for attractions…sometimes even in the FastPass line.  I have been at WDW in busy times of the year.  We had fast passes, but still had to wait a significant amount of time to get on the ride.  Granted, it was much better than waiting in the regular line, but I want to warn you.  We are not talking about the lines you may wait in at a local fair or carnival.  These are wait times that can add up during the day.

4.  Walking.  A lot.  For some people, the walking may not bother you.  It may be actually a welcome thing since it may counteract some of the food that you eat.  haha.  However, it can truly and honestly be exhausting.  If you have a smart watch or smart phone with a pedometer app, you will see that you can log miles and miles per day…sometimes miles into the double digits.  If you are not used to this, you are going to have sore feet, legs, body…you name it.  In addition, if you have some extra meat on your bones, you may find that the constant rubbing motions of walking can do havoc on parts of your body.  Your inner thighs can become chafed and raw.  Luckily, they make something called Body Glide.  This is a product that you put on your skin BEFORE a full day of walking.

Please know that you won’t be able to wear some of your normal shoes when going to Disney.  Shoes that you may have thought are very comfortable may not be when you are using them for more than a casual stroll in the mall or grocery store.  Your very own shoes that you have always loved may actually become an annoyance to you because they may hurt your feet when going that many miles.  Some of my most comfortable shoes have even caused blisters!

If you are ready for the miles and miles of walking that you will do in Walt Disney World, and if you prepare yourself with comfortable shoes and Body Glide if needed, your trip will be much less annoying.

3.  Prices.  For real.  How much does a hot dog really cost?  If you bought a full pack in the grocery store, along with a pack of hot dog buns, you would probably be looking at fifty cents per hot dog.  My husband, who used to manage a restaurant, knows that the actual cost of soda from a fountain for the restaurant owner is approximately 2-3 cents per ounce.  Yes, I said PER OUNCE!  So, that $8 hot dog and $3 soda you buy does, in reality, cost less than a dollar total.  The markup up at Disney is outrageous.  Why?  Well, let me take you back to economics class.  It is all supply and demand.  When people demand a service or goods, the price can go higher because people are willing to pay it.  Lately there has been argument that Disney is no longer even for the middle class because prices have been gouged so significantly.  This is true for prices for resorts, parking, food, services, and goods throughout the property.  So, yes, it is annoying to have to account for the fact that you have to pay some of these prices to enjoy a place that everyone SHOULD enjoy at least once in their lives.  I saw a lady on a facebook group post that she has a budget of $6,000, and she was afraid of not having a good Disney experience.  Let’s think about that a second, folks.  Six.Thousand.Dollars.  And still not feel like it is enough?  The average salary for an advanced degree in the United States is $72,000 at the time of this article.  If you figure that out for 50 weeks of work, it is around $1,400 a week, which is more than a MONTH of working to take a trip to Disney on $6,000.   And yet, that still may not be enough.  If you think of it in this perspective, especially for those of you who make less than $72,000, that can certainly be discouraging.  Therefore, start saving your pennies, people!  There is no denying that you will have a lot of expense when visiting Walt Disney World.

2.  Sickness.  Yes.  It happens.  You are with thousands and thousands of people.  Lots of people together in one space means that sickness can run rampant.  (Believe me, I know this because I am a teacher!)  Be ready for someone to get the stomach flu.  These viruses are difficult to stop in areas of large population.  Also, people are still going to go out at Disney, even when ill.  They have paid good money (see number 3…ha!) so they don’t think twice about dragging their sick children everywhere.  Therefore, these illnesses just continue to run their course in person after person after person.  Even my family has been affected by illness several times while on our Disney vacations.  Diarrhea, puking, high fever, aches, headaches, sore throats…we have had it all.  I remember once my poor son was hit with a virus.  Now, I don’t think the one that he had specifically caused vomiting, but his fever was high, and the medicine that he was on may have upset his system.  Yes, we were one of those parents who still took him to Magic Kingdom (hey…don’t judge!  lol)  He felt suddenly ill and ran to the nearest trash can.  (I give him a lot of credit for thinking of doing that instead of just letting go right in the middle of the restaurant. )  He stuck his head in one side of a trash can and was vomiting all the while people on the other side of it were still using it to dispose of trash.  Lovely.  His germs were definitely shared that day, as are all others who frequent ANY of the locations within Walt Disney World while ill.

It was also annoying when either my husband or I had to stay back at the room with him while the other family members went and enjoyed themselves.  And, to be honest, even when I was with the other two children, and my husband and son were back in the room, we did not have nearly the fun that we would have had if it had been all of us together in the parks.  However after the previously-described puking incident, we knew that we had to keep him back in the room resting for a couple of days.

All in all, you just have to be prepared for the fact that someone will most likely fall ill while at Disney.  There are ways to combat this and try to prevent it, which I will share another time.

1.  Planning and Preparation.  For some, this becomes a wonderful pastime.  Those who go often have the process streamlined.  However, Disney is not an easy vacation to take.  For you to truly have the most magical experience possible, you need to plan, prepare….plan again…prepare some more, and then plan.  This need starts happening around 11 MONTHS before your trip.  At the very least, probably at 6 months.  Even before preparing your actual trip, you will most likely spend hours and hours comparing resorts and reading everything you can to make the perfect Disney vacation.

What are the things that take so long to understand?  First of all, the resorts.  Which one?  On-site or off?  Then there are tickets.  Then a flight.  If not flying, you will have to worry about the distance and how to get there.  What about eating?  You have to eat.  Dining reservations are strongly encouraged because there are thousands of people in the same place at the same time, so the restaurants are always packed and tables are in high demand.  Therefore, you will have to learn the ins and outs of making dining reservations.  If you are a true planner, you will make sure that you have some knowledge of the parks.  You will research the attractions to find out which will work best for your family.  You will look at maps and make transportation plans, not just for your travel time to the park, but within Walt Disney World, too.  You will probably read about others’ experiences.  You will ask others about their experiences.  You will seek out advice for different aspects of your planning.  You will decide what park you will attend on which days and what you will do in that park.  You will have to plan out your FastPasses.  You will have to decide what you need to pack.  Then you will have to pack it.  This list is not all-inclusive.  There are a lot of other things you might include in your planning and preparation for Disney.  Therefore, in addition to working, paying bills, cleaning, doing laundry, helping and playing with the kids, you will have to make a lot of time for your Disney planning and preparation.  For some, this is too much and becomes overwhelming.  I do think you have to be a fairly intelligent individual to plan a vacation on this scale.  It isn’t like going to the beach where you can just grab your swimsuit, some sunscreen, and a towel and jump in the car.  For some, the time it takes will be annoying.  To be honest with you?  The annoying part of for me comes when I actually have to go to work or clean or cook or run errands, because that means I cannot spend that time planning for Disney instead. :))

Thank you for reading about my thoughts on the annoying aspects of Walt Disney World.  I want you to know, that, even though I do believe the things on this list, it is still one of my favorite places on Earth!  Don’t let my list scare you into not going.  Instead, use it as a preparation guide so to speak…one that will help you with expectations and perhaps plan enough so that at least they are annoyances that you don’t expect.  Your trip will still be wonderful, trust me!  All it takes is faith and trust.

Where To Stay During The Food And Wine Festival

foodandwinefestivalYou finally pull the trigger and you decide that you are going to go to the annual Food and Wine Festival at Epcot in Disney World.  Now you need to know where to stay during this extravaganza of food and beverages to maximize your enjoyment.  Where are you going to be able to stay to take full advantage of this once in a lifetime experience?  You basically have two options, stay off property and pay less or on property and pay more.  Each one has its advantages, but which one is right for you?  Well I am hoping to help you answer this question and much more.

First things first, there are so many things to think about when getting ready for the Food and Wine Festival.  Do we have sunscreen?  Did we pack enough Tylenol?  Did we pack the elastic waistband clothes?  Are the Antacids packed?  These and many more questions will need to be answered before you stroll through the World’s Showcase enjoying all of what the Food and Wine Festival has to offer.  But one main question will have to be tackled before worrying about everything else, and that is “Where are we staying?”.

I know many people have their opinions on this subject, but I feel to maximize your enjoyment, you need to stay on property within walking distance.  This is why I suggest three resorts as prime places to stay during your trip.  The first resort and my personal favorite is the Beach Club.  Beach Club ResortThis has many great reasons to stay there, from their private pool to the short walk to Epcot, it displays everything one would want in an upscale resort.  But let’s be honest here, if you are truly going to take full advantage of everything that the Food and Wine Festival has for you to try, you will be drinking quite a few beverages of the adult types if you know what I mean.  And there is nothing better than being able to walk back to your  room in about 5 to 10 minutes with a few bathrooms along the way in case nature calls.  For example, you have all the restrooms in the different restaurants dotting the World’s Showcase as well as one located right outside of the back entrance to Epcot.  Then finally, you have a bathroom at the pool area lounge back at the resort.  In other words, you won’t have to be uncomfortable at all during your adventures and your bladder will thank you for it.  But let’s not pick the Beach Club just because of bathrooms.  The Beach Club is home to the best pool in all of Disney World and it is elusively for those staying at the resort as well as those staying at the Yacht Club.  This gives you some nice options of relaxing by a full service pool in the afternoons and enjoying your food and wine during the evenings over at Epcot.  Let me say this again, it is just a five minute walk to the Food and Wine Festival, avoiding all public transportation issues…ahhhhh!

The next resort that would allow you to enjoy all that the Food and Wine Festival has to offer is the Boardwalk Resort.  It has so many great aspects that make it a prime destination for anytime of the year, let alone the Food and Wine Festival.  We can start with the actual boardwalk that is located around the lake outside of the resort.  Boardwalk ResortOn that boardwalk lies the ESPN restaurant that has something for all sports fans.  Then you have the shows that play every day for the crowd to enjoy, free of charge of course.  If you are looking for some fine dining, then you have the Flying Fish Café located right on the boardwalk.  And if you area steak lover, you will want to see how the Flying Fish Café made my top 5 list of best steak dinners at Disney World and give your taste buds a great vacation of their own.  Now that we have the food covered, you will be a short 5 minute walk to one of the best piano bars in all of Florida for some extra entertainment options.  Jellyrolls, as it is named, has dueling pianos and tons of great beverages to make the night last a little longer after the food and wine festival is closed for the evening.  And in case I didn’t mention it before, you are right next to the World Showcase so you can enjoy a nice leisurely walk back and forth from you room.  It really doesn’t get much better than that.

Now the third resort in this same general area is the Yacht Club.  With this resort, you get all the perks of the Beach Club, with a more quieter and secluded stay.  Yacht ClubThe Yacht Club is attached to the Beach Club and if you stay at the Yacht Club, you are allowed to use the Beach Club’s pool.  The main difference between the two resorts is that the Beach Club Resort is a Disney Vacation Club, while the Yacht Club is not.  So you get a little less traffic over at the Yacht Club for those that are looking for that kind of stay.  But the best part of the Yacht Club is the short walk or stumble, depending on your beverage indulgence, from the Food and Wine Festival over at Epcot.  Imagine trying about a dozen drinks and feeling quite good.  Do you now feel like using the public transportation system to go back to your  hotel and thus taking an hour of holding your bathroom breaks and just sitting on a bus or sitting at a parking lot waiting for said bus?  The easy answer is no.  You want to be able to skip back to your room in five minutes with tons of bathrooms and restaurants on the way and the Yacht Club gives you that opportunity.

There are many solid reasons to stay at one of the three resorts that I listed above to fully take advantage of the proximity of the Food and Wine Festival.  Now I know there are quite a few greenback reasons to stay off Disney property and I don’t want to take away from that.  Yes, it can be cheaper to stay off property, but you will definitely cost yourself quite a bit of time in terms of transportation and just good old fashion convenience.  It is very nice to walk outside and have a dozen restaurants within a five minute walk for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  And for many people, this is a once in a lifetime experience, so why not treat it like one with where you decide to stay.  It really isn’t that much more in money and if you use resale site to rent a week, it can be almost the same cost.   (Currently about $143 a night)  All in all folks, this is about getting the most entertainment and fun out of your stay.  Take advantage of what an onsite stay has to offer and you will not be disappointed.  And while you are at it, have a perfectly prepared snack and glass of vino for me…enjoy your stay. :)

 

3 New Ideas for Disney Movies Part 1

disney moviesI cannot pass this up.  Knowing that all of you are Disney lovers, I just had to share with you.  I teach 7th grade reading, and recently, we have been working on theme. A theme of a story is the moral or lesson that a reader gains from the reading.  Sometimes, it is a lesson that the character learns as the character progresses in the story, which then the reader can interpret as a good life lesson in general.

Disney is FABULOUS for teaching life lessons.  (see my other article, The Top 5 Life Lessons in Disney Movies)  In my lessons with my students, I shared clips from Disney movies, and we talked about the themes of the movies.   I stressed to them that any movie, television show, or play was, at one time, written down first.  Therefore, I felt that Disney movies were a fun and educational way to introduce theme.

After students learned about the topic of theme, I put them to the test.  They had to pretend that they had been hired by Disney to create a new Disney animated movie.  First, they had to think of a theme or life lesson that they would want their viewer (reader) to learn.  Then they had to share all of the details of the story without really writing it and explain how they accomplished that theme.

I wanted to share with you some of the good ones.  I have a LOT of students, so I am sure I might have a part 2, part 3, part 4…etc.  For now, though, I am going to post 3 at a time.  I think Disney would be proud of these kids.

Don’t just a book by its cover by McKenzie H.    I’ve been hired by Disney to create a new movie. The title of this new movie is “The Friendly Outcast.” The theme of my movie is don’t judge a book by its cover. I think that this is a good theme to make a movie out of. As humans, we tend to judge people by their appearance and never get to know them just because of what they look like. Next, I will tell you about the characters, setting, and the conflict of my movie.

The main character of this movie is an eleven year old girl named Rachel. There are two girls who are very mean to Rachel named Alexia and Melissa. Melissa just goes along with whatever Alexia says. The setting of this story is John Quincy Adams Middle School. All of these girls are in sixth grade. The conflict of this movie is that all the kids (mainly Alexia and Melissa) are mean to the new girl Rachel because of her appearance. Middle school is already tough, and Rachel is getting made fun of for something that she can’t control.

The plot of my story is relatable. Rachel was born with a cleft palate and has scars from where she had surgeries on it. One day, her parents tell her that they are moving because her dad got a new job. Rachel is just starting sixth grade and she has to move to a new school. On her first day at John Quincy Adams Middle School, she discovers that just like at any school she’s ever been to, the kids make fun of her looks and judge her on it. The kids at Rachel’s new school don’t even bother to try to get to know Rachel because of what she looks like. The leaders of the teasing are the mean girls Alexia and Melissa. The teasing is continuous until one day in Rachel’s language arts class. The language arts teacher pairs Rachel and Alexia up for a project. As they spend time doing their project, Alexia discovers that Rachel is funny, extremely kind, and intelligent. After they presented their project, Alexis noticed that Melissa was making fun of Rachel and Alexis makes a speech about how you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. From there on out, the kids at John Quincy Adams Middle School all tried to get to know someone before judging them by their appearance.

My theme is accomplished in the story. It is accomplished by the characters. The book (Rachel) is being judged by her cover (her appearance). The kids in Rachel’s class were missing out on a really awesome girl. Therefore, don’t judge a book by its cover.

Balance is crucial by Avery J.     Producer time today, eh? Ah, alright. I’ll do this song and dance.
Let’s just imagine my setup for a moment: fairly similar concept of Inside Out. However, instead of emotions in her conscious, we deal with morals and intentions in her soul. We see through the eyes of: Innocence, Generosity, Courage, Peace, and Hope to start off. Then as the “host” would grow, more sinister forces would surface: Deviousness, Depression, Insanity, and Malice. As we see these forces meld and fight against each other, me meet our “main protagonist”; Defiance.
I say Defiance is the main protagonist, or hero, because Defiance cannot be categorized into good or bad. The nature of the defiance depends on who someone is defying, and what action the person is taking to make someone outwardly defy them. Thus, in most cases, Defiance is neutral, so to speak.
In conclusion, the overall theme would be that balance is crucial. Not only physically, but more emotionally, mentally. Without the bad emotions, the horrid intentions in the back of your mind, you would become almost…inhuman. The same thing would happen without the good intentions and moralities. The unique mixture of good and evil is what makes us uniquely human.

You deserve the outcome of a situation if your decisions led to it by Kelly S. 

Dear Disney,

After many tireless hours I work I think I finally have a suitable idea for the story. The theme should be that you deserve your outcome of a situation because you made the choices that lead to it. I feel this would be a great idea to place into people’s minds.
The title of the story will be something along the lines of,”Our future is our past,” describing a heartbreaking story of a boy with his mother and dog. The story would take place around October in a town right around the time cars were invented. The 2 main conflicts would involve the mother being sick and the kid completely ignoring every responsibility he has.
The plot of this story would consist of a normal family in the time, and the kid would be average except that he’s irresponsible. First the story would go on about how the mother would keep dying while the kid wouldn’t try to get her medicine instead he would play. After her death the boy would “wake up” to the world and try to start a new life with his dog.
The theme would be accomplished by when he takes things for granted he loses his most important, his mother, then when he tries and is responsible his life gets better.
As you can see this story would be great and still convey a great theme.

Sincerely
Kelly

Okay, so that last one is really really sad, and maybe Disney would not choose it for a new story idea.  However, I was really proud of their work and wanted to share some of these great story ideas for Disney movies with excellent themes.  More to come, I am sure.  :)