With the announcement that the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) would be building a set of Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, interest is already high in the latest addition to the DVC family.
At this early stage in construction, there aren’t any definite answers, simply because we don’t know that much.
So what do we know?
In late 2011, the Disney Vacation Club announced what a lot of people had suspected for a long time, that a stretch of land near the spa and wedding pavilion was going to be used for a new DVC development. It would contain “an estimated 147 villas” and would open at the end of 2013. One thing we know straight away from that is that it’s the smallest Disney Vacation Club development at Walt Disney World. Currently, the smallest is the Villas at Wilderness Lodge, with just 181 villas, while the Beach Club Villas are the next smallest with 282 villas.
So does that mean it’s going to be hard to get reservations when the Grand Floridian development opens?
Again, like so much else, at this stage no-one knows for sure. Of course, it’s going to be tough if there aren’t many available, but having said that, we’ve been able to get into the Villas at Wilderness Lodge before at the seven month mark.
In case you’re not familiar with the DVC and are wondering why I’m talking about the seven month mark, a quick explanation… Whenever you buy into the Disney Vacation Club, you buy into what’s called a “home resort”. Ours are the Beach Club Villas and Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa. That gives you the ability to make bookings at your home resort 11 months before your vacation. You can then transfer that reservation, if there’s still availability to any resort that you don’t have an ownership interest in at the seven month mark.
With the introduction of the wonderful online booking through the Disney Vacation Club website (add in link), it’s now even easier to see how easy it is to make bookings at your non-home resorts. A quick look through at the Villas at Wilderness Lodge availability shows some interesting results. Booking for mid February, I could get two nights out of seven for a studio, or a one-bedroom villa, or one night for a two-bedroom villa. Move into April, and I can secure five nights out of seven for a studio, all seven nights for a one-bedroom villa, and six out of the seven for a two-bedroom villa. It’s even better when you pick a random week in June, with full availability for a week for both a studio, and a one-bedroom villa, while four out of the seven nights are available at a two-bedroom villa. Move into August, and there’s full availability for the whole week at all the different types of accommodation at the Villas at Wilderness Lodge.
That tells us two things. Firstly, unsurprisingly, the further ahead you book, the more chance you’ve got of getting what you want. Secondly, it may not be as hard as you think to get into the Grand Floridian Villas when they open. Some of you may, by now, be screaming “but it’ll be new – it’ll be popular”, and yes, you’ve got a point there. However, bear in mind that we were able to secure reservations with no issue at both Bay Lake Tower, and the Animal Kingdom Lodge Villas a few months after they both opened, and we don’t own points at either resort.
One question already being asked by PassPorter members is whether people will either buy into the Grand Floridian Villas and join the Disney Vacation Club or add on points there, if you’re an existing member. A lot of people are already saying that they won’t, but they’d like to stay there, so the above exercise may give people like them-and I have to say I’m in that group too!-some heart.
For those interested in buying in, how much are the points going to be? Again, it’s another great unknown. We don’t even know for sure when they’ll start selling them, although if it’s due to open in late 2013, we can fairly safely assume, based on previous developments, they’ll start selling a year before, so maybe fall 2012? The best guess is that’s when the model rooms will open at the DVC sales center as well.
As of writing this, Bay Lake Tower points are now $155, and it’s a safe bet that points for the Grand Floridian Villas will be at least that much. Given that there’s a good few months before they go on sale, they could even cost more. There was a certain amount of sticker shock when the price of the Bay Lake Tower points were announced, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the same thing again with the Grand Floridian Villas. After all, you’d pay more cash to stay at the Grand Floridian than the Contemporary…
Who is going to buy into the Grand Floridian Villas?
Given all the above, you might be forgiven for wondering who’d buy into the Grand Floridian Villas, when the price is likely to be pretty high, and there’s a chance you could stay there, even if you don’t own there. I think there’s probably a fairly straightforward answer to this one. In the same way that we bought points at the Beach Club Villas, because we loved everything about the Beach Club, I don’t doubt there’ll be a range of people feeling the same about the Grand Floridian.
That’s the great bonus of adding on to an existing resort. You already have people who love the theme, and location of these resorts, who will want to own a piece of the magic. It’s much easier, in marketing terms, to sell a product that people are already familiar with, and that some will like or love, than to market a brand new product, so I don’t doubt there will be plenty of people lining up to become Grand Floridian Villas owners whenever the points first go on sale.