Season 3 of the My DVC Points Podcast was made possible through financial support from the DVC Dream Team:
- DVC Resale Market – Industry Leader in DVC Resales
- DVC Rental Store – DVC Point Rental and Swap Partner
- Incredible Vacation Homes – Luxury Vacation Homes for Family Gatherings
- Be Our Guest Vacations – Travel Agent for DVC Point Swap Programs
- Monera Financial – Exclusively Financing DVC Contracts
- Patreon supporters in the My DVC Points VIP Producer Club.
Micah Wyss is the creator of MousePerks.com, a website that pulls together the discounts for Tables in Wonderland, DVC Members, Annual Passholders, and Disney Visa cardholders! As a value-minded person, he has become quite the savvy DVC member himself, maximizing his membership through split stays and leveraging DVC Membership Extras.
Disney's Riviera Resort Review Series
This episode leads our Disney's Riviera Resort review mini-series. The Riviera Resort is one of the most controversial resorts in Disney history due to the new resale restrictions implemented with this resort. Long-time DVC members and fans of resale are concerned that the resale restrictions will significantly impact the market value of Riviera contracts. Consequently, a lot of members see Riviera as a very poor value proposition. Other members see a lot of value in a new resort with 50 years of points available.
“Our goal is to host respectful, honest and authentic conversations so that you can clarify your values and make an informed and educated decisions to drive value from your DVC points.”Chad Pennycuff, Curator of Magical Stories at My DVC Points
In today's conversation, we meet Micah Wyss, the founder of MousePerks.com, which is arguably the most value-driven content created by a Disney fan. Micah explains his rationale behind purchasing Riviera. We will hear from more Riviera owners in the series and end with a multiple-member Riviera review episode.
- Episode 067 – Micah Wyss – Traditional Member Interview
- Episode 068 – Alicia Urbain – DRR Owner Interview
- Episode 069 – Tara Gray – DRR Owner Interview
- Episode 070 – Kati Swanson – DRR Owner Interview
- Episode 071 – Brian Flock – DRR Owner Interview
- Episode 072 – Disney Riviera Resort: A Multiple Member Review
Vacationing Before DVC
“It’s a truly great place for the kids, and it’s a great place for the adults.”
Micah visited Walt Disney World a few times as a kid; however, he has few memories of those vacations. He and his wife went once after they got married, but they didn't see how visiting Disney would be a big part of their life.
In 2010, the couple took their 18-month-old son to Walt Disney World for his first trip. This trip was when things really clicked for them, and they really saw the magic of Disney. The parks went from being an escape from the harsh Wisconsin winters to a place their family would enjoy for years to come.
Becoming DVC Members
“DVC has definitely allowed us to stay in much nicer accommodations and be able to make those trips continue on. It was a shocker the first time we stayed DVC at the Grand Floridian.”
In 2013, after making Disney vacations a yearly tradition with their two sons, Micah went on a DVC tour. This was only their second or third trip as a family, but they knew they wanted to bring their boys to Disney every year. While they loved staying at Value Resorts like Pop Century, Micah was curious to see how DVC could make their vacations even better. He admits to doing what some may consider “too much research” online. Still, he wanted to gain a real understanding of DVC and how it worked before they made the investment.
The family's first contract was a small 50-point resale contract for Animal Kingdom Lodge, which they planned to use every other year. However, it didn't take long for them to realize they needed more points. Hence, they added another small contract at Animal Kingdom Lodge and one at Saratoga Springs.
Micah's family definitely works to stretch their points! They bought into Animal Kingdom Lodge, specifically for the Value Studios, which allow them to have extended vacations. They almost always stay in Deluxe Studios in the cheaper room categories, as they are a family spending a lot more time in the parks than at their resort. They stayed in a One-Bedroom Villa at Old Key West once, due to lack of availability during Marathon Weekend. Still, Micah says they are just fine in Studios for now.
In regards to their Annual Passes, the family also stretches their value. Micah's family typically vacations in January and August (as a bonus trip), so they will purchase their APs in January. They visit the parks the following August and in January, just before the passes expire. This strategy allows them to buy APs every other year, yet still do an annual Disney vacation.
Micah's boys understand that DVC allows them to stay in such deluxe accommodations, but don't really understand how the points system works. According to Micah, “They don't ask if we're going, they ask when we're going.” (8:40)
Life As DVC Members
Although DVC ensures that Micah and his family will be coming back to Disney World for a long time, this hasn't changed their rope drop mentality! Micah says his boys are usually up early anyway. Hence, the family rope drops the parks almost every morning during their vacation. He always has a touring plan for these mornings, as they really want to maximize what attractions they can do. He also says this strategy is helpful during their August trips, as it is more crowded and they can do a lot of things before it gets too hot.
A day in the parks with the Wyss family starts with rope drop, a few strategically chosen attractions, and maybe a few FastPasses. If they're vacationing in August, they will typically go back to the resort in the afternoon for a pool break and/or nap, then return to the parks in the evening. If the vacation is in January, they can typically do a full park day with no breaks, as the weather is cooler. This day could also include some park hopping! The family will start with rope drop at one park, then move onto their FastPass+ reservations at another park.
The Wyss family has stayed at almost every DVC resort at Walt Disney World; they still have Kidani Village and Copper Creek to cross off their list! They've enjoyed the experience of staying Club Level at Jambo House, while not “splurging” on points. Micah has done the math and found that the point cost of a few nights in a Value Studio and one night Club Level equals the point cost of a Standard View Studio. He recommends this strategy and adds that members should conclude their trip with the Club Level room, to add a little something special to the end of their vacation.
Their favorite resorts are Animal Kingdom Lodge (Jambo House) and Disney's Polynesian Villas & Bungalows. Micah says to them, “Animal Kingdom Lodge feels like home.” They love the large Deluxe Studios with a split bathroom layout, Trader Sam's, and the overall atmosphere at the Polynesian.
The Wyss family has had experience with both renting and transferring points in from another DVC member. They rented out their Animal Kingdom Lodge points. They used the funds from that transaction to get BoardWalk points to book a Standard View Studio.
The Beauty of Split Stays
Micah's family has gotten into the habit of doing split stays on every vacation. Initially, this was out of necessity when they booked their first trip as members. However, they really enjoyed the ability to experience two resorts in one vacation. The family usually vacations for nine to ten nights, booking four to five nights at one resort and four to five at another. They find this split works for them, as it allows them to unpack and relax in each room and minimizes the shuffling around they have to do between resorts.
One of the planning strategies Micah's family has used is to plan their park days around which resorts they're staying at. For example, if they're staying on the Monorail Loop for part of their vacation, they'll plan all their Magic Kingdom days during that window. When they move to an Epcot area resort, they'll spend more time at Epcot and Hollywood Studios. This allows them to maximize their time in the parks while minimizing travel time.
Micah always books the family's vacations at seven months, but will sometimes book their home resort at eleven months to secure them accommodations. He is diligent with being on the DVC website at their seven-month mark, as soon as it opens, to piece together which resorts they will stay at. His family benefits from flexibility. They always have Plans B and C, as this keeps them from ever being disappointed in the resorts they book at. In the past few years, he's stumbled onto quite a few surprises at seven months, including a Standard View Studio at Bay Lake Tower.
For the seven-month window, Micah recommends members book as many nights at their desired resort as they can and piece together the rest through waitlisting and checking the Availability Tool. After all, it's easier to waitlist one night than three or four!
Adding On at Disney’s Riviera Resort
Micah's family has added on two contracts since buying into DVC, one at Animal Kingdom Lodge and one at Saratoga Springs Resort. He and his wife wished they could own at an Epcot area resort, but the expiration dates of BoardWalk and Beach Club were “deal-breakers” for them, even on the resale market. When Riviera opened up, Micah knew it would be a great addition to their DVC portfolio! In regards to the resale restrictions, he says:
“We knew about them, but the more we thought about it, we could tell that this was the resort for us. It gets us the Epcot area. It gets us the Skyliner, which we were really looking forward to, long before it opened. And it also gets us some of the rooms at Riviera that are harder to get.”Micah Wyss on Disney's Riviera Resort resale restrictions
He also says that if they had to sell any of their points (as a last resort), they would hang onto Riviera and sell the others. The Wyss family was also strategic in their purchase by buying small contracts that sell quickly on the resale market. Micah and his wife reasoned that their risk in listing their Riviera contract would be quite minimal, should they ever have to sell.
Micah says owning at Riviera is worth it just for the Standard View Studios, which allow him to really stretch his points. They also offer better views than advertised by Disney! While looking at a map of the resort, Micah found the Standard View Studios are all located on the north side of the resort, with the best views of the EPCOT fireworks. Disney advertises the views as parking lot views, they are the most desirable from the fireworks viewing perspective. On the other hand, the Preferred Rooms have views of the pool, gardens, or Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort. While the numbers aren't official, Micah's research leads us to believe just over a third of the rooms are standard, and about two-thirds are preferred views. If a member doesn't own at Riviera, it may be difficult for them to secure a Standard View Studio.
The Wyss family also bought into Riviera for the layout of the Deluxe Studios that sleep five. About half the time, Micah's sister-in-law joins the family's Disney trips, so they need rooms that accommodate 5 people. Therefore, room layout and function is significant. They liked that the Deluxe Studios featured a split bathroom, which allows several people in their party to get ready at once.
The family's first trip to their new home resort will be in January 2020!
Family Memories & Traditions
Micah shares one of the moments that really “sparked the magic” for him and his wife. During their first trip with their oldest son, the family was watching a parade in the Magic Kingdom. At some point, Micah stopped watching the show and simply watched his son's face. He says:
“I quit watching the parade itself and started watching him. While watching a one-and-a-half year old with big eyes just enjoying everything he's seeing, I realized that you could enjoy Disney through the eyes of a child. You never reach an end for that, no matter how many times you go.”Micah Wyss on Favorite Disney Memories
In 2014, Micah and his mother went on a week-long vacation to Walt Disney World together, and they had some fun recreating a family picture from their vacation in the late-1980s. His wife and her twin sister recreated family photos as well!
On one morning in the Magic Kingdom, Micah and his family were selected from the crowd to enter the park early for something extra magical. They were in the background shot of a segment on Good Morning America!
The Wyss family has several traditions they must repeat on every Disney vacation. As soon as they get on the property, the kids guess what color the first Monorail they see will be! The quintessential photo is of the kids wearing sombreros in the Mexico Pavilion at Epcot. The family also enjoys taking silly ride photos and rocking matching t-shirts!
Would Micah Do Anything Differently When Becoming a Member?
Micah knows that a lot of DVC members say they wish they had purchased sooner, but he thinks that when his family purchased at the right time for them. He's happy with the resorts they bought into. Looking back with years of experience, he wishes they would have purchased small contracts at more resorts for multiple eleven-month windows.
Back Story of the MousePerks.com site and App
Micah created the extremely-useful website and android app called MousePerks! He started MousePerks to gain experience building an android app. He wanted to learn app development and make something useful for the Disney community. MousePerks provides a quick and easy summary of four main discount programs in Walt Disney World: Tables in Wonderland, DVC Members, Annual Passholders, and Disney Visa cardholders.
Micah explains the site is not very flashy; however, the site loads fast and looks great on PC, tablets, and mobile devices. His design allows people touring the parks to load the pages quickly and easily. Micah never developed an iOS app for Apple users; however, the website works great in Safari. It's important to note that this is not an official Disney site. All of the discount information comes from his own research and feedback from fans of the site supplying the latest updates. Click Here to Donate to MousePerks!
Leveraging DVC Membership Extras
On a past vacation, Micah and his wife had a great experience at the Speakeasy Craft Cocktails workshop at Reunion Station! He gives a shout-out to Cast Members Mike and Jen for doing a great job presenting the information and ensuring the guests had fun. This workshop discussed the influence of the Pacific Northwest on Wilderness Lodge and the cocktails the group sampled and created.
Micah's wife and sister-in-law signed up for the “Painting With a View” course twice. Marle E leads the class for blue card DVC members at The Top of the World Lounge. His wife has painted Olaf and Ariel on her two visits. She absolutely loves it!
Using Tinkerbell's 2000 Pixie Dusted Points
If Tinkerbell were to add some pixie dust to the Wyss family and gave them 2,000 one-time use points, Micah would spend the points at WDW with his family. His strategy would be to book as many Grand Villas as he could to bring as many family members to Walt Disney World as possible! The resorts do not matter, as he only wants to ensure that his and his wife's families can experience Disney and understand why they love it so much.
DVC Bucket List
In the short term, the Wyss family has the goal of staying at all the DVC resorts at Walt Disney World. They only need two more – Kidani Village and Copper Creek – to complete this! Long term, they want to stay at all the DVC resorts, with loose plans for Aulani and Grand Californian in their future.
Advice for New or Prospective DVC Members
Micah cautions every new and prospective member to think about if DVC works for their family, as it does not work for everyone. For example, those who are last-minute planners may be very disappointed in the lack of availability one month before they want to travel.
He also advises new or prospective members to really do their research on how DVC works. He says he's heard a lot of new members becoming frustrated with not being able to book the exact resort they want when they want to book it.
Patreon VIP Producer's Club Question: Do you have a single tip for maximizing the value of DVC?
Micah urges DVC members to try every resort, even if the reviews online are not glowing. He says that every resort has its pros and cons, so if members listen to that negativity, they may miss out on a resort they may have really liked!
He also encourages everyone to try a split stay at least once. They allow you to try out multiple resorts in one vacation and may help stretch your points.
Connect With Micah!
Today’s episode was produced, edited, and engineered by Chad Pennycuff. Show notes by Samantha Kurtz-Seif. Facebook admins and moderators of the My DVC Points Community Group: Andrew Darden, Valerie Fairnington, Donna Bickert, and Jeremy Murray.
If you enjoy the show, please consider buying Chad a dole whip and joining the VIP Producer's Club. Your support allows us to continue producing high-quality content every week. Patreon's receive a bonus episode once a month diving a little bit deeper into ways to make the most of your membership and have access to the Podcast syndications of our live shows.