Episode 002 is a membership report. DVC offers a lifetime of magical vacation memories. A trip report covers a single trip; however, a membership report covers years of vacations. Join us as we learn from Valerie's 11 years experience with Disney Vacation Club.
Meet Valerie Fairnington from Miami, Florida.
Valerie is an owner at Animal Kingdom Villas, Villas at Grand Floridian and Boardwalk Villas. She typically goes to Disney with her husband and three boys (ages 18, 15 and 11 at the time of recording). They’ve been DVC members since 2007 when AKV first opened. The youngest was six months old when they bought into DVC. Her family has grown up DVC. She finds that as the kids grow their interests change but Disney is continuously adding new attractions and features and they’re always something of interest to everybody in her family.
Before joining Disney, they were value and moderate guests; they never thought that the deluxe resorts were within their reach. Even though they live in Florida, they still only went every other year. DVC put the deluxe resorts within range and made them accessible for multiple trips a year.
After buying AKV, they added on at VGF when that resort opened. Valerie also mentioned adding on a Boardwalk contract just for Food and Wine season. Valerie discusses direct vs. resale and the value of resale Boardwalk contracts despite the 2042 expiration date. In her mind, the 24 years left on the contract made it worth it to her.
We discuss the variety of Disney resorts and come to the consensus that Disney created something for everybody. After level setting that DVC is all about personal preferences, Valerie discusses her love for the Concierge level rooms at Jambo and VGF. Poly, Boardwalk, and Beach Club are also favorites. Bay Lake Tower isn’t her favorite, but a recent trip to Old Key West made her fall in love with that resort.
How does your family use the DVC Kitchen?
Valerie discusses cooking in the room and how over time they have started to use the kitchen more. Valerie drives in from Miami every trip. We consider the value of having a car on property. Another interesting factor is that despite driving up from Miami, Valerie finds value in using Shipt.com for grocery delivery for snacks, milk and breakfast items.
However, the family enjoys eating out at least one meal a day at a Disney restaurant. Valerie and Chad both conclude it’s just too hard to pass up great dining when you’re that close to excellent options that you don’t have at home. We discuss a pro-tip and work around to Disney prohibiting the overlap of Advance Dining Reservations (ADRs). Walt Disney World has been the reservations required vacation. We both like revolving our trip around the extremely difficult to get fast passes like Flight of Passage. Because you want to book popular reservations in a park at 180 days out but cannot book fast passes until 60 days out, the common problem is that you have ADRs for one day but cannot get the fast passes you want to align up at 60 days out. We discuss a solution of double booking ADRs using each spouses MDE account. Since both spouses have their own My Disney Experience accounts, at the 180-day mark, you can each make ADRs on both accounts that do overlap. After booking fast passes at the 60-day mark, you can cancel ADRs and assign people to the reservations.
As a seasoned DVC member, what would you do differently?
Valerie follows a very familiar pattern we find with DVC members. If she could do anything over again, she would have bought her membership sooner. Valerie would also have bought a higher percentage of her DVC points from resale for financial savings but still advocates ownership of direct points for the member benefits. Valerie is delighted with owning AKV, VGF and loves her BWV points. Valerie also discusses an off-property strategy her family uses to stretch points. Quite often they drive to Disney on a Saturday and stay off-property and this allows them to avoid the higher point cost of Saturday night stays and get a full day in the parks and on-property.
Valerie highlights a benefit of DVC – “Feels Like Free Vacations!”
Because they budget in their annual passes, have pre-paid DVC villas, and they drive to Walt Disney World, the entire vacation feels like it’s free from a budgeting and cost perspective. She’s quick to point out it’s not free but because everything is prepaid and there is no additional budgeting required for the vacations they feel like they are free.
Valerie’s advice to new DVC members:
Buy where you want to stay and buy and don’t look back because it will be one of the best decisions you ever made.