Disney Vacation Club Buying Guide

If you travel to Walt Disney World or Disneyland and are able to see or hear, you probably are familiar with Disney’s “Best” Kept Secret: Disney Vacation Club (or “DVC” as the cool kids call it). Disney Vacation Club 2014 prices are higher than ever, making many wonder whether buying into Disney Vacation Club is actually a good idea for their families.

Like a lot of frequent Disney vacationers, at one time or another, you’ve probably wondered whether Disney Vacation Club is right for you. Maybe you’ve taken a tour, maybe you’ve done some research online on one of the great resources such as MouseOwners.com or DVCNews.com. Heck, maybe you’ve even crunched the numbers yourself!

If you’ve considered purchasing Disney Vacation Club, one of the biggest considerations, no doubt, is whether it makes good economic sense. Unfortunately, as with almost everything in life there is no definitive answer to this question that fits everyone. From a purely economic perspective, Disney Vacation Club will not make sense for a lot of people. However, it’s worth reading on to see if it makes financial sense for you, or if there are other compelling reasons for you to make the purchase.

As mentioned above, if your main reason for purchasing an interest in Disney Vacation Club is to save money, whether it’s a good deal for you depends of your party size and resort tier preference. Contrary to Disney’s claim that Disney Vacation Club will save you “70% off” of future resort stays, this is not actually the case. If this were true, do you really think Disney would actually be offering the program–and that it would be wildly profitable for the company? Sure, Disney might take a bit of a hit to guarantee that you will be a loyal customer for years to come, but 70% off?! As we all learned in grade school, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Disney’s 70% savings number assumes things that aren’t realistic to reality, such as paying rack rate in the most expensive Disney hotels and no return on investment for the (unfinanced) money invested in Disney Vacation Club. Even assuming these things, I’m still not quite sure how Disney arrives at its 70% off number, especially in 2014 when DVC direct prices are substantially more than they were just a few years ago. I think it might be equal parts magic and advertising puffery, but I’m not entirely sure.

It’s also worth noting that Disney Vacation Club is a pre-paid vacation plan, which differs slightly from the traditional definition of a timeshare. In the strictest sense, Disney Vacation Club can be viewed as an asset, but not a tangible one. This is an important distinction to some people, but it doesn’t matter to a lot of people.

Is Disney Vacation Club A Good Fit?

Accommodations Preferences – This is the threshold question, because if you’re (voluntarily) a Values and Moderates type person, Disney Vacation Club may never make financial sense for you. However, it can be a difficult question to answer, because it’s tough to anticipate your vacationing habits in the future. If you only roll Deluxe, and anticipate demanding posh accommodations in the future, Disney Vacation Club might be right for you. If you presently have kids or anticipate soon having kids, and are tired of sleeping in the same small quarters with them at a Moderate Resort Disney Vacation Club, and its wonderful one-bedroom units, may be right for you as it gives you the option to separate yourself from the kids at night! Similarly, if you have to book two or more rooms at a Value or Moderate, it might be for you… (more…)

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party 2014 Tips

The 2014 Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Parties at Walt Disney World will incur in September and October. On these nights, the Magic Kingdom closes at 7 p.m. to guests who haven’t not purchased tickets for the Halloween Party. So you can prepare for the Halloween Party now, here is our analysis based upon the last several years (we go to it yearly) to help you determine whether this expensive hard ticket event is worth it to you, and if so, what your “Plan of Attack” should be to efficiently conquer the various offerings.

Exact dates of the party are not yet known, but based on the park hours that have been announced, here is our predicted Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party 2014 dates: August 29; September 1, 9, 12, 14, 16, 19, 21, 23, 26, and 28; October 2, 3, 5, 9, 10, 13, 16, 17, 19, 21, 23, 24, 26, 28, 30, and 31; November 2. Again, these dates are presently unconfirmed, but we’ve predicted party dates for the last few years and have yet to be wrong.

Note that this guide covers Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, not Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland. For info about the latter, read our comprehensive Guide to Halloween Time at Disneyland!

Should I Attend?

So at over $50 a pop for tickets to the 2014 Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, you might be trying to determine, “is it worth it?” If you’re asking this, you’ve probably never been, otherwise you’d know the answer to this question. Our opinion, as Disney-biased tourists, is that it most definitely is worth the price: at least once. Once you’ve experienced the party once (it doesn’t change much year-to-year), you might determine that it’s simply too expensive to experience again. For a one time event, though, it’s definitely worth it for everyone except those on traveling on thin budgets. Personally, we prefer Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, but I think it’s fair to say that the two are about equally popular with guests (the guest costumes at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party are pretty awesome to see).


Disney World Honeymoon Tips

Are you taking a Walt Disney World Honeymoon in 2014? We honeymooned at Walt Disney World, and it was a great time. Scratch that–an unbelievably amazing time. This is unsurprising, as Walt Disney World is one of the most popular honeymoon destinations in the world, and for good reason. Our honeymoon (or “Disneymoon” as we like to call our honeymoon–you can read the full trip report from our honeymoon here!) was such an amazing experience that we’ve been back to Walt Disney World many times since.

Sarah and I, as you probably guessed if you’ve been reading this site, are big Walt Disney World fans, so we knew exactly what we wanted to do for the trip. However, if you’re not as familiar with Walt Disney World, planning for a Walt Disney World honeymoon can be a bit overwhelming.

In no particular order, here are our top 10 tips for a Walt Disney World honeymoon…

10. Splurge On Your Hotel

First and foremost, this means staying on property. Granted, you could find a very luxurious resort off-property, but for convenience’s sake, which will be important for the other tips, stay on property. We highly recommend staying at one of the Epcot Area Resorts: BoardWalk, Beach Club, Yacht Club, or the Swan and Dolphin Resorts. These resorts are within walking (or boat) distance of two theme parks, Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and are a walk plus a monorail ride to the Magic Kingdom. These resorts are also within walking distance of one another, and also offer exceptional dining options, including Flying Fish Cafe and Yachtsman Steakhouse, and many excellent non-Disney options in the Swan and Dolphin hotels. Most importantly, they’re within walking distance of Epcot’s World Showcase, which is a great place to spend time on your honeymoon. There’s nothing magical about a rental car on your honeymoon, unless you share a mutual love for traffic and road rage, so avoiding conventional forms of transportation on your honeymoon can really enhance the trip. (more…)

Disney Dining Plan 2013 Costs and Review

The 2013 Disney Dining Plan at Walt Disney World is now available for booking, and not much has changed from the 2012 Disney Dining Plan, besides the price. As has been the case each year since the popular meal plan was first offered, there are more price increases for 2013. Luckily, the 2013 Disney Dining Plan does not feature any cuts to what’s included in the meal plans, which has happened in many years prior.

2013 “Free Dining” is now available for Walt Disney World guests with arrival dates most nights between September 29, 2013 and December 22,  2013 (meaning you have to arrive between these dates to be eligible–so if you arrive December 21, 2013 and stay until December 29, 2013, free dining is available for your entire stay!), and we anticipate even more Free Dining dates will be offered in 2014. If and when this happens, it’s important to compare the “Free” Dining Plan to other discounts. If the Disney Dining Plan is “free,” that means you’re paying rack rate for your room and full price for a minimum number of tickets, whereas other packages may discount your room or tickets. For most people, Free Dining is the best discount that Disney offers, but you should still check. Whether Free Dining is best depends upon party size and resort tier, so do the math and compare the Free Disney Dining Plan promotion to other available discounts–if there are other available discounts. (more…)

Walt Disney World Discounts: Examined

Disney World has already announced discount vacation packages and other room only, military, and free dining discounts for 2013. Some of these Disney World discounts are better than others and discounts are quite predictable as they typically repeat, so to get an idea of how the various discounts stack up, we’ve put together this article rating Disney’s discounts. To see which discounts are best for particular “types” of guest read our summary and review of all Walt Disney World discounts below.

Rather than this being a generic post providing specific details (like dates) of the various discounts at Walt Disney World, this post will instead editorialize. You can find the information concerning applicable dates and the like on DisneyWorld.com or on a myriad of other fan sites that simply copy and paste the information from DisneyWorld.com. This post is meant to help those of you who are unfamiliar with Walt Disney World discounts get an idea of how good the discount you’re considering really is (despite Disney’s best marketing efforts, some discounts are better than others).

I’ve planned every Walt Disney World trip we’ve taken over the course of the years, and I’ve learned a lot about traveling frugally to Walt Disney World in the process. Hopefully this provides a primer for those who don’t visit as often, but are looking to save the most money possible when planning their Walt Disney World trip! (more…)