Is the Disney Vacation Club Right for your Family?
Last week, I looked at the financial piece of the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) as it relates to my family. I was trying to answer the question, “Is the Disney Vacation Club Worthwhile?” Financially, it is for my family. However, there is more to the DVC than financial considerations. This week, I’ll look at some other aspects of a DVC membership and determine if it is a pro or a con based on my family’s needs.
Space and Privacy. When we stay in the DVC with the family, we book either a one- or two-bedroom vacation home depending on who’s traveling with us. We also return to the room for at least a couple of hours in the afternoon to take a break. With different nap schedules (Who am I kidding? My soon-to-be five-year old has pretty much decided naps are unnecessary.) and bedtimes, having a separate living space goes a long way toward family harmony and making sure everyone gets the sleep they need.
When we bring my mom, reserving a two-bedroom allows us to share a living and eating space but gives her a separate sleeping space, bathroom, and the privacy she deserves.
Kitchen. You might resist the notion of cooking on your vacation but it’s an integral part of a happy, relaxed vacation for my family. With two kids under the age of five, eating three meals out can be challenging and not so relaxing for mom and dad. Quick-service meals means finding something everyone likes from menus that are generally more limited than table-service, hoping the line isn’t too long, finding a clean, empty table, preferably in air-conditioning, and juggling trays of food. Table-service brings a different set of issues for our one-year old. He’s pretty well-behaved in sit-down restaurants but at home we usually try to keep the meal around 45 minutes; in our experiences, meals at Walt Disney World are usually a bit more than an hour. After an exciting day filled with new sights and sounds, that extra twenty minutes or so can push him over the edge.
We try to eat one meal out and the rest in our villa; the kids can eat as quickly or slowly as they want and then have space to relax and play with their toys while we take a break from the parks. Typical breakfast choices are fruit, frozen waffles, oatmeal, english muffins, or cereal. Lunch and dinner can be peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, grilled cheese, macaroni and cheese, or take-out pizza. Not gourmet food, I know, but it’s quick, easy, and satisfies the rather unsophisticated palates of my kids.
No Mousekeeping Every Day. With the DVC, mousekeeping doesn’t visit every day. Instead, guests receive “trash and towel service” on day four of their stay and a full cleaning on day eight. With two kids under the age of 5, you must be wondering why this is a pro. The answer is…because I have two kids under the age of five and a husband who doesn’t like to pick up his socks up on vacation. Here’s my dirty little secret – I don’t vacuum the carpet or change the sheets every day at home. So, it’s not a big deal that my room isn’t cleaned every day on vacation. What is a big deal is not having to spend time every morning cleaning up the kids’ toys and the aforementioned dirty socks when I could be boarding a bus to the Magic Kingdom.
Limited Lodging Choices. Let me preface this by saying that one of the things I love about the DVC is its flexibility. I do not have to stay at our home resort, I can use our points for the Adventures by Disney collection, Disney Cruises, or select from a wide-range of other locales. But, I believe you get the most value for your dollar when you stay at a Disney Vacation Club resort. This means I’m not nearly as likely to try other non-DVC properties that I never stayed at before.
Cancellation Policy. Canceling a DVC reservation at the last minute is more restrictive than other Disney reservations. If you cancel within thirty days of your reservations, points move to a holding account that frankly always seemed complex to me. Maybe it’s because I never wanted to think about canceling a reservation so I never paid close attention to the details of the holding account. If the stars don’t align, the DVC points for a cancelled reservation may expire.
No Mousekeeping Every Day. I know I also listed this as a benefit but between preparing one to two meals a day in our room and having a child still in diapers, there are times I wish the room was cleaned more frequently.
Is it Worth It?
All in all, the pros outweigh the cons for my family and I wish I had purchased my Disney Vacation Club (DVC) membership sooner. If you’re considering a DVC membership, do your research, ask questions, but most importantly consider whether the DVC would work for your family before you sign on the dotted line.
Lisa M. Battista is the author of Beyond the Attractions: A Guide to Walt Disney World with Preschoolers When she’s not chasing after her little ones, you can most likely find her at the beach or in the kitchen trying her hand at a new recipe. You call follow her on Twitter @DisneyExplorer and Facebook.