I have the pleasure and honor of interviewing my good friend Chris Malek. Chris has been an owner at Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa since 2011. Chris is also the host of one the most popular Disney podcasts: The Dub Dee Dub Revue. If you like our show, you'll love his show. It's a variety show of all things Disney where the focus is friends getting together, hanging out chatting Disney and having a good time in the process.
Have you ever felt like a Walt Disney World vacation has become a reservations required vacation? Your constantly rushing from Fast Pass to Fast Pass in hope that it doesn't become Fast PAST. Rushing from bus to boat to train to make that next to impossible dining reservation you had to make 186 days in advance to get? Your planing requires a 14 tab spreadsheet and takes a professional project manager to design? Today's guest buck's the system. The Malek family throughly enjoy's Disney in their unique laid back way.
This episode was recorded in early December 2018. Chris states one of the good things in his life was that they just completed their Christmas decorations outside the house. Per Chris, his house is not quite at the Clark Griswold level of decorations but he's getting close.
Chris joined DVC in 2011 by buying 160 points direct from Disney. By 2014, they bought 130 more SSR points from resale. After joining DVC, they learned about the resale market and decided it was a better value for them to purchase a resale contract for additional points. (This is a very common practice. Most contracts purchased on the resale market are bought by existing members).
Before becoming DVC members, Chris and his wife had honeymooned at Disney. They were coming to Disney every couple of years with small children. Chris is a dog lover. He always stayed off property so that he could bring the dogs with them. One year his mother-in-law decided to join them, but she wanted to stay on property. She stayed at Port Orleans while Chris and his family stayed off-property with the dogs. Having looked at DVC multiple times, when Chris went to pick up his mother-in-law at Port Orleans, something clicked, and they decided it was finally time to buy into DVC. The beauty of Disney resorts overcame his desire to vacation with the family pets.
The Malek family likes to stay at 1 Bedroom villas. They make use of the washer and dryer. For the last 12 years, Chris and his wife have adopted a vegetarian lifestyle and enjoy being able to use the kitchen on vacation. Chris prefers vacationing with just his immediate family because that best fits their laid-back experience Disney spontaneously style. Chris finds most other families want touring plans; fast passes made 60 days in advance and ADRs. His concern with bringing other family is that they may not fit in with their easy-going approach to Disney vacations. Chris asks me if I would enjoy vacationing with his family. Absolutely, but we would have some boundaries. I would still do all the planning and get the fast passes and Advance Dining Reservations; however, I'm not opposed to canceling them if needed. Because my family has annual passes, we can book fast passes every day like traditional planners but because we know we're coming back, we don't mind making adjustments.
This free-flow vacation style also carries over in the Malek family's use of the 11-month window. They own at SSR, so they feel like there is very little need to book their home resort at the 11-month window. However, Chris's wife is a teacher and has a lot of flexibility in the summer months. The family has never had an issue booking a room they like within the 7-month window. Chris points out that they've stayed at Beach Club, Boardwalk, Boulder Ridge, Old Key West, Saratoga Springs, and both of the Animal Kingdom buildings. The only place they have not stayed in Walt Disney World is the monorail resorts: Bay Lake Tower, Poly or the Grand
To most of us, a Walt Disney World vacation has become a vacation of reservations where we're constantly rushing from a fast pass to an ADR or a Disney show. The Malek family sees things differently. Chris pointed out that we all have too many deadlines, appointments, and requirements in our day-to-day life. They enjoy waking up and seeing what each day holds as they adventure through the Disney parks and resort. They may wait in line or use a rope-drop or park-close strategy; however, his family does not ever feel like they are denied any Disney experience and enjoy an enormous amount of freedom on vacation.
While you may not think Chris is a planner, he did point out that his family had the foresight to stock up on non-expiring 10-day park tickets before Disney quit selling those tickets. Having non-expiring tickets sets up the family to enjoy primarily resort stay vacations with very little park time on vacation. Chris typically spaces out his park days but spend 10-12 hours inside the parks on designated days. Chris describes their touring style as more an of a local mindset. They stroll through the park and enjoy the moment without rushing and planning from one attraction to the other because as DVC members, they know they are coming back. They don't know exactly when they are coming back. Their next visit could be next year, in 6 months or next month if they find a deal on airfare. (To me, this is one of the many benefits of being a Disney Vacation Club owner).
Chris and I discussed his favorite Disney memories. One of which is experiencing It's a Small World with his 6-year-old and seeing Disney through her eyes. Chris shares a story where it was just him and his little girl, and they rode Small World back to back three times straight just because his daughter wanted to see it again and again. Chris sums up that story explains why we go to Disney year after year. It's to grow as a family and create a lifetime of magical memories. He shares stories of his kids being deathly afraid of Splash Mountain and how the ride has evolved in their eyes to being one of their favorite attractions. One of Chris' favorite memories was meeting Disney Legend Aunt Kau'i at the Polynesian. She hired into Disney back in the 1970s to help train the hula dancers. Chris recognized her from historical pictures on display at the Poly. See the images below.
Another one of Chris' favorite Disney memories was his first trip as a DVC Member at an Old Key West Studio. Chris fondly remembers this trip as a sense of personal accomplishment. It was as if the Malek family had finally arrived. After years of looking at DVC from the outside, their membership in DVC had a sense of accomplishment. They bought into something they could be proud to own and looked forward to many years of wonderful vacation memories.
Advice to a new member: Go on the tour multiple times so that you get all of your questions answered and have a complete understanding of how DVC works. When you meet with a Disney Vacation Club guide, please understand that the DVC guides are good at what they do. As consumers, we're not as trained in the art of buying. However, Chris would encourage you to compare and contrast the pros and cons of buying a contract from the resale market. Chris points out that just as I have a relationship with Nick Cotton from Episode 010 and he is friends with Scott Ferraioli and Bee Thaxton from BuyandSellDVC.com. We both encourage you to find somebody you like and trust in the resale market. Chris encourages people to consider resale and ask if the family will benefit from the direct member perks. Other than one Moonlight Magic event Typhoon Lagoon and merchandise discounts, the Malek family has not used the benefits. We did some quick math and concluded that his home resort Saratoga Springs is about 50% more expensive to buy from Disney than it is to buy resale at the time the show aired. Chris encourages people to understand what comes with direct purchase from Disney. (A great way to learn about DVC and member experiences is listening to this podcast).
Chris and I first connected through his podcast, EDCOT group and had met in person at the Disney Indy Meet. I consider him a mentor in podcasting and an awesome friend. Given our friendship and his awesome personality, you can rest assured Chris will be invited back on the My DVC Points podcast. At a bare minimum, he's coming back for an Imagineering interview show with McNair Wilson, a Saratoga Springs review show, a Frankenresort show, and anything else I convince him to contribute on. Chris had one of the best answers to the 2000 points from Tinkerbell question. His answer is a testimony to his character and the awesome people in the EDCOT community.
Connect with Chris
You can find The Dub Dee Dub Revue on every major podcast network. Chris and his co-hosts Stacey and Pete are also found in on Facebook in the “Experimental Dubs Community of Tomorrow” commonly known as “
Bonus Content for Show Notes
In this episode, Chris offered up an interesting story about a trip to WDW on Christmas day for the post-show.
Chris and came to realize we have something else in common: we both independently reached out to Scott Ferraioli, from DVC-Rental.com and BuyandSellDVC.com, and offered our DVC villas to be filmed for his YouTube channel. Chris provided access to the 1 Bedroom video shot at AKV – Kidani village. Come to find out Scott needed footage from three villas on my crazy 5-way split stay.