At the beginning of August I introduced ‘Dream Along With Emma’, a new series of posts featuring friends from my Disney community; highlighting how their hobbies, work and special interests influence their daydreaming Disney!
The series launched with an extra special audio interview featuring the great Lou Mongello from WDW Radio.
Today I want to introduce you to my good friend Tim and would like to share with you how his Disney Vacation Club membership and his love for the Disney Cruise Line affects his daydreaming and planning that next special vacation….
So before we talk Disney tell us a little about Tim – So I’m Tim, I’m 35, I live in Hessle (next to the Humber Bridge) in Yorkshire, England with my lovely wife Kerrie and our big softy Rottweiler Hercules.
To fund our Disney trips I am sales manager for a soft drinks company that supplies dispense soft drinks including Pepsi to independent bars and restaurants etc.
I’m lucky that myself and Kerrie have the same passion for Disney, all of our working weeks revolve around our next trip, we are told we are mad and should try other things and other places but Disney is where our hearts are so that is where we go. Basically I’m just another regular guy who loves going to Disney.
And when was your first visit to Walt Disney World? My first trip to Walt Disney World wasn’t until 2003, as a child there was no way my parents could afford a trip to Florida so my childhood vacations were to places like Butlins or camping, the furthest we ever went was to the Isle of Wight so a trip to Disney was out of the question until I was old enough to fund it myself, so I’m doing my best to make up for lost time.
2003 was also extra special as myself and Kerrie made a last minute decision to get married whilst we were in Florida, we only decided a few weeks before the trip and although not the ideal Disney wedding we wish we could have had we got married in Kissimmee making our first trip together extra meaningful.
Describe your first memory from the parks – Looking back I think my first memories from the parks were how clean, friendly and organised they were and the magnitude of the entertainment that was on offer was staggering, having only had a few trips to some U.K. amusement parks the scale and quality of the Disney parks was mind-blowing.
Firstly let’s talk Disney Vacation Club; just what is DVC? Basically Disney Vacation Club (DVC) is where you buy a set number of points directly from Disney or on the re-sale market, you receive that same allocation of points every year on the same month for the remainder of your contract which is around 29 years for the older resorts or 48 years for the newer ones.
The accommodations in the DVC resorts all carry a per night ‘points cost’ to stay at, the amount of points to stay per night varies from resort to resort, the type of accommodation and the time of year.
You simply spend the points you own on the accommodation you want to stay at. If you’re not visiting one year you can bank that years allocation of points (or any you have left over) into the next year and have more points to spend that year (although you must use them the year after banking) alternatively if you need more points one year you can borrow up to a full years worth of points from the following year.
You buy points at a specific resort which becomes your home resort, the only real difference being that you get home resort booking priority. This means at 11 months out you can make your reservations at your home resort, to book at other DVC resorts your reservations can be made at 7 months out. Most people make a reservation at their home resort at the 11 month mark so they know they have a room guaranteed for their trip but if they want to try a different resort then look at making an alternative reservation at the 7 month window.
So having a home resort that you really like should be a priority just in case you can’t switch to where you’d like to stay at the 7 month window as this can be difficult during the holidays or say the Boardwalk and Beach Club during the Food & Wine festival.
Although not generally the most ‘cost effective’ way to use points if you have bought from Disney direct you can use your points for Disney cruise line, Adventures by Disney as well as exchanging through RCI to vacation pretty much anywhere in the world. Points bought through resale can now only be used at DVC resorts although resale is a much cheaper way to buy into DVC.
After your initial purchase of points your only other cost is the yearly annual dues which are to pay for the upkeep of your home resort and it’s grounds as well as it’s associated taxes etc. The annual dues vary from resort to resort currently the lowest being about $4.22 for Bay Lake Tower and the highest being $7.12 per point for Vero Beach. I kind of see the annual dues as the real cost of DVC as your initial purchase of points could easily be covered by the equivalent of maybe 5 or 6 stays in a deluxe resort.
When did you first hear about DVC and decide that it was for you? I kind of heard about DVC on our first trip, but didn’t really know what it was, I noticed the kiosks around the parks and being typically British steered clear thinking they were just selling time share and back then after having a couple of holidays in Europe had it drummed into me ‘stay away from time shares, people selling time shares are evil’
It wasn’t until a few years later when more sites about Disney were appearing on the internet that I started looking at DVC properly but could never get the figures to add up.
At the time we were booking package holidays with the likes of Travel City Direct and Virgin, staying in the value resorts and getting a 2 week ultimate ticket but over the last 3-5 years with competition for the big operators disappearing and taxes to fly from the U.K. getting higher and higher those great value packages we used to book were getting more and more expensive.
To balance those figures that I could never get my head around I looked at the bigger picture other than what it costs to visit WDW now and thought more of what is it going to cost in say 25 years time. When the Contemporary resort first opened it cost around $30 per night to stay there, now 40 years later it can run you $500+ per night, you’d be lucky to get a value for much less than $90 a night.
So looking at us normally staying in a value is it inconceivable that in 25 years time a nights stay at say Pop Century is going to be $250 or more a night, it doesn’t take many trips at that sort of prices to balance the initial purchase cost of DVC, but (and I know this sounds like DVC guide spiel lol) that doesn’t matter as I’ve paid for deluxe accommodation for the next 48 years now at todays prices with my only yearly outlay being the annual dues which is why I see them as the true cost of DVC.
Obviously it might not look as attractive if you don’t plan on visiting WDW for the rest of your life, but we do and although DVC isn’t really an investment you can always sell your points in the future should you need to.
2009 was the year we finally took the plunge and bought our points whilst cruising on the Disney Magic with Bay Lake Tower as our home resort, after having stayed at the values and moderates and visiting the deluxe resorts we had always thought wow can you imagine if we could afford to stay at these resorts, buying DVC has finally allowed us to live that dream.
I have to admit I am in the majority of people who now say ‘I just wish we’d bought sooner’
Does being a DVC member mean that you have stayed in Disney resorts that you might not have stayed in otherwise? DVC has definitely meant that we have stayed in resorts we otherwise wouldn’t have, unless there was a dining offer available for the moderates we always chose to stay at the value resorts and still do if we make a cash booking as we enjoy the values in their own way as much as any other resort. We tended to book the value accommodation rather than the deluxe as the cheaper we could make the trip then the sooner we could re-book and return to the place we love. Now thanks to DVC we’ve stayed at Bay Lake Tower, Kidani village and Wilderness Lodge places we wouldn’t have paid cash for in fact looking at paying cash bookings for those resorts has already justified our initial DVC purchase cost.
Do you visit WDW more frequently because of DVC and do you plan your trips differently because of it? Since DVC we have managed to visit WDW more frequently, we used to as most people in the U.K. book a 2 week package with one of the major tour operators but now we book our flights separately and don’t mind flying in-direct, use DVC points for most of our accommodation, maybe take a Disney cruise and have a few nights at a value resort on a cash basis.
The DVC discounted annual pass is fantastic, we get the basic pass which is little more than a 2 week ultimate ticket that is available in the U.K, this also brings with it other benefits like room discounts for cash bookings and 10% off merchandise in WDW.
At the moment we are lucky enough to spend around 4 weeks a year at WDW with DVC points being used for some of our accommodation and cash bookings at value resorts for the remainder, we also now use Suzy at Mousefan travel for any cash bookings or cruises as the service offered is far superior to that offered by any U.K company.
I have to give a shout out to John at Owners Locker too, the service John provides is outstanding and not having to carry things like toiletries, hair straighteners, some clothes and other bits has enabled us to make trips with just hand luggage which makes flying seem so much less stressful.
Does living in the UK make the DVC experience different from a US WDW visitor? I don’t think there is much difference between a U.K and a U.S DVC owner visiting WDW, a U.K visitor may typically have a bit longer stay, the only real differences I can think of are U.S members will receive their Disney Files magazine a lot quicker than I do lol and U.S members from most states are eligible for some quite nice rewards for introducing new members.
So, as well as being a DVC member I know you enjoy a Disney cruise; when was your first trip with DCL? We love Disney Cruise Line and have now been lucky enough to travel on all 4 Disney ships the last being the Maiden voyage of the amazing Disney Fantasy. Our first cruise was in 2008 on the Disney Wonder, we were blown away by the service, the food, the entertainment, the amenities, the whole experience was amazing and had us hooked.
Disney Cruise Line has given us the chance to see and meet some amazing people including John Lasseter, Jodi Benson, Lea Salonga, Bob Iger, Tom Staggs, Karl Holz, Don Williams, Steven Schwartz, Larry the cable guy as well as getting to see presentations by Imagineers and getting to meet some amazing people from around the world who are part of the crew.
Our next cruise is the WDW Radio cruise this November and we’re looking forward to seeing Lou again and obviously meeting Richard Sherman.
Do you combine your cruises with a visit to Walt Disney World? As a rule yes, we like to visit WDW and take a Disney cruise as they are the perfect complement to each other, the only time we just did a cruise was in 2010 when we crossed the Atlantic on the Disney Magic, we had to fly home the day we docked so only had time for a couple of hours at Downtown Disney.
Have you been on non-Disney Cruise Line trips and if so how do they differ? We haven’t cruised with anyone else and to be honest I can’t see us doing so either, Mickey isn’t going to be on any other ships!
Would you recommend a DCL vacation to both families and couples? I think a Disney Cruise is perfect for families and couples and all ages, the ships cater so perfectly for every category that everyone can have a great time, there are areas for the adults, areas for the kids, areas for the teens and areas where everyone can be together, Disney really does cater to everyone so well.
Finally; whether it’s DVC, DCL or just a general Disney experience, do you have any Disney daydreams as yet unfulfilled? Loads lol, We want to visit Disneyland (which we are doing in May 2013). I want to get to the point when I can look back and say I’ve spent 365 days at Disney and know that I’ve spent a year of my life enjoying myself in a place I love.
Next year we get to have that Disney wedding we wanted back in 2003 when we renew our vows on the Disney Fantasy, and long-term when we are mortgage free we’d love to get a small place in Celebration.
Then there are all the other little things, resorts and restaurants to try, new things to see and experience, that’s the great thing whatever I am lucky enough to do and see there will always be something new to daydream about.
And to finish, here’s the quickfire round…
Favourite WDW park – My favorite park is the Magic Kingdom, even without riding a single attraction I can’t think of a nicer place just to be.
Favourite WDW resort – Although I tend to change my mind (just like with restaurants and attractions) at the moment it’s probably Bay Lake Tower, I love being able to walk to the Magic Kingdom, to watch Wishes from the Top of the World lounge and hear the sounds of the Magic Kingdom from my balcony.
Favourite WDW souvenir / collectible – I’m going to answer this in 3 parts lol, firstly my actual WDW collectible is an Olszewski Cinderella castle, which was a nightmare to get home, no it won’t fit in hand luggage as Kerrie likes to remind me, it won’t fit in the plane overhead lockers and I was very lucky that the attendant on American Airlines took pity on me and put it in his own private locker for the flight home. Secondly is a lithograph by Don Ducky Williams that we were given on the 2010 Westbound Transatlantic cruise on the Disney Magic, I was lucky enough to have it signed by Don, Captain Thord and Jodi Benson, and lastly the most invaluable thing is the friendships I have made. It’s hard to believe how many people I have met through a mutual love of Disney and how many people I can now class as friends.
Your top tip for WDW visitors - A top tip is difficult as everyone likes different things but from personal experience I would say enjoy every minute and treat every trip like it’s your last as you never know what the future brings.
I want to give Tim a huge THANKS for taking part in this Dream Along With Emma interview and sharing his daydreams with us all, thanks Tim!!