Disney Vacation Club Members… how do you decide where to stay? 7

It’s a simple enough question. If you’re a Disney Vacation Club Member, how do you decide where to stay on your next vacation?

It’s a question posed recently in Owning the Magic, the Disney Vacation Club message boards and I was fascinated to see the breadth of responses from Members.

Now, first off, let me say that I’m talking about staying at Walt Disney World, not Hilton Head, Vero Beach, Disneyland or Aulani, as there’s no choice to be made there right now as far as Disney Vacation Club resorts go anyway.

Old Key West.... cheap on points

A number of people replied saying that it came down to how many points they have available, and that’s a practical response. Well, if that’s the case, then you’re looking at either the value accommodations at Animal Kingdom Lodge Villas, where a studio in the lowest priced Adventure Season costs just nine points, or Old Key West, where a studio at the same time of year will set you back just 10 points. In terms of value for money, you can’t go wrong with either, with the size of the rooms at Old Key West (the studios are massive!), and the amazing atmosphere of Animal Kingdom Lodge, with animals out on the savannah outside.

The next consideration of course is where you can actually book. You should always, in theory anyway, be able to book at your home resort at 11 months out, but then it can be tricky moving your reservation to other resorts, particularly places like the Beach Club Villas or the BoardWalk Villas, which are even more popular than usual during the Food and Wine Festival. We’ve certainly struggled to get into those during that time of the year.

So, assuming you’ve got enough points to pick between the various resorts, and they’re available, then what other considerations are there? For me, one of them is where haven’t we stayed yet? I love being able to sample all the Disney Vacation Club resorts. For starters, it’s useful for research purposes for PassPorter’s Disney Vacation Club for Members and Members-to-Be, but just as importantly, if you don’t stay at all the DVC resorts, how do you know which one’s your favorite?

We always adored the Beach Club Villas, from our very first stay there, but by trying other resorts, we also found out that we loved the Animal Kingdom Lodge Villas, and we were staggered to discover how much we enjoyed Bay Lake Tower. We thought it would be sterile, and just between us, we honestly thought we’d hate it, but actually it was great! What a wonderful discovery that was, and there could be similar discoveries waiting for you too, if you try out something new…

Something else to consider is where you’re going to be spending the bulk of your time. For example, if the Magic Kingdom is your top priority, then perhaps Bay Lake Tower or Wilderness Lodge Villas would be good choices for you. And, of course, by the end of 2013, the Grand Floridian Villas may be another option as well….

The BoardWalk Villas - popular for Food and Wine Festival

Equally, if it’s Food and Wine Festival, you may want to be close to Epcot, and stay in the Beach Club Villas, or BoardWalk Villas, although as I’ve already alluded to, you won’t be the only one with that idea. Be prepared for disappointment, or be prepared to book at exactly nine months out to get into those at that time of the year.

For Christmas, perhaps the Villas at Wilderness Lodge are more appropriate, although while it’s got a lovely feel to it, I personally adore the amazing lobby decorations in places like the Beach Club, or BoardWalk.

Space could also be an issue, especially if you’ve got a lot of people staying in your room. If that’s the case, you might want to look at the BoardWalk Villas for studios, or three-bedroom Grand Villas. For one-bedroom or two-bedroom villas, then Old Key West takes the prize for the most space.

Where our heart lies.... the Beach Club Villas

And, of course, then there’s your heart. Where does your heart lie when it comes to Disney Vacation Club resorts? It’s impossible for us to drag ourselves away from our beloved Beach Club Villas, and at least part of any trip to Walt Disney World is spent there, with Animal Kingdom Lodge Villas also squeezed in, if that’s possible. Sometimes the heart just rules the heart….

So what about you? When you’re planning your next vacation to Walt Disney World, how do you pick which Disney Vacation Club resort to stay at?

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What Do You Think?

7 thoughts on “Disney Vacation Club Members… how do you decide where to stay?

  • picc_2

    Even though our home resorts as DVC members are Animal Kingdom and Bay Lake Tower, we always stay at Boardwalk because of the heavy restaurants influence in the immediate vicinity (approximately 20+ options for quick service and sit down at Swan, Dolphin, Yacht, Beach, Boardwalk, EPCOT and Hollywood Studio). Oh, and did I mention Boardwalk is sandwiched between EPCOT and Hollywood Studio’s (big bonus). You can walk or take a boat to the two parks which is so much nicer than waiting for the buses.

    Now if we have a car (no waiting on buses) and want to save on points we then stay at Old Key West. We get late night munchies so we can jump in the car and drive over to Port Orleans famous for their Beignets (open till midnight) and to Downtown Disney for an ice cream sundae or anything else that fancies your munchies.

  • Heather

    Great post Cheryl! My favorites are Animal Kingdom Villas and Villas Wilderness Lodge, but you are so right–at Food and Wine we try to stay near Epcot if it is available!

  • Karen

    We stayed for the first time we used our points at Beach Club. Our home resort is Saratoga. We completely fell in love with Beach Club. It fit great for our family. We loved Epcot so the location was perfect. My daughters love the pool so we couldn’t have asked for a better choice. I’m having a hard time thinking about going somewhere else!!!

  • Debbie

    We couldn’t possibly choose just one DVC resort so we always villa hop! If we are going for a week or more, we usually stay 2 to 3 nights at a different resort and spend most of our time exploring the park or parks nearest that resort. Since we are frequent visitors, enjoying the ammenities of the hotel is just as a big a part of our vacation as enjoying the parks. And Disney makes it so easy to move! A simple phone call to bell services and you’re off to a park before checking in to your new digs.

  • Janet

    Old Key West was the perfect place for my family trip – I hosted my brother and his family of five. We stayed in a 2 bedroom villa and I was amazed at how much room we had. OKW has the most square footage of any DVC.
    Our villa was beautifully decorated and very comfortable, we all had the privacy and shared time we wanted.
    One fun memory was of my sister in law and her three teenage daughters in their bathing suits all in the Master bedroom tub. I could hear giggles and splashing, so I started to announce my arrival as I headed down the hallway, exclaiming, “I’m going to jump in the tub!” There were surprised shreiks and laughter as I approached and it was just so much fun to share their delight and fear of “Auntie” jumping in with them.

  • NancyDVC

    We usually stay at Old Key West, our home resort. (Actually the only resort when we joined 20+ years ago.) We love the spacious rooms and the quiet atmosphere and it really is ‘home’ for us.
    If we reserve less than 7 months out we just ask what resorts are available for the time we are there. Then depending on what is available we make our choice or get on a waitlist.
    We usually have a car for at least part of our stay and use that to resort hop for meals or shop at the outlets. I don’t mind the buses and consider it part of my whole experience. Plus I have learned lots of interesting things from the bus drivers especially during a quiet midday ride.
    This past January we traveled with my Mom in a wheelchair and my best friend using an ECV. The buses made it very convenient for them to travel from place to place.
    We have stayed at Widerness Lodge, Boardwalk and Saratoga Springs which all get great marks for theming and amenities. I am looking forward to staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge for the savannahs and Beach Club for the pool. Off property Hilton Head and Vero Beach are wonderful.