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Apologies to those who couldn’t care less about Disney related topics, but we are at Disney right now so I kind of have Disney on the brain, and on my shoes, and in my stomach, and pretty much everywhere else. Before our trip I knew a bit about the opportunity to take a Disney Vacation Club (timeshare) tour in exchange for a $50 Disney gift card and three additional “anytime use” FastPasses for each member of our party. I didn’t know if I would actually get a chance to take the tour since we had a tight schedule given that we have a toddler in our crew, but I kept the idea on the back burner in case the opportunity presented itself.
We ended up having a few free hours before heading to the parks on our first full day here, so I wandered over to the DVC representative in the lobby of the Polynesian and chatted about the possibility of taking the tour and the available time slots. There weren’t any appointments open immediately at the Polynesian, but there was one about an hour from then at The Boardwalk, so we signed up. They provide transportation via van (complete with car seats) to the tour, and then from there to anywhere on Disney property. In our case, they were going to drop us off right at the front of EPCOT after the 60 – 90 minute tour and presentation.
When we were signing up, we were initially told about three additional FastPasses as an incentive to take the tour, but the $50 Disney gift card wasn’t confirmed until later in the process, so I’m not sure if there are any restrictions with who can get that. Since my mom is technically a different household, she was also eligible for her own $50 gift card for going to the DVC tour.
I knew I wasn’t going to be buying a timeshare today, but I wasn’t going just for the FastPasses and gift cards (though that was obviously the primary motivator). We are actually staying at Disney for a few of our nights on rented DVC points, so I am very open to learning more about the program…I’m just not going to be writing a five figure check for a Disney timeshare right this second. You can decide for yourself the ethics of going on one of these tours if you know you aren’t going to be buying at this time.
We were picked up by a very nice driver in a van in front of the Polynesian at the appointed time and driven the 10 – 15 minutes over to The Boardwalk. We headed straight into a small but comfortable office area where we were shown to a room that had a coloring table set-up for the kids, and even Disney loaded iPads for them to borrow! There were juices, waters, and sodas available. If you do your tour at Saratoga Springs there is also ice cream available after the tour, but the time slots for that tour didn’t work with our schedule.
Our presentation started with the rep chatting with my mom and me about our current Disney trip and our typical travel styles and patterns. As I usually am on these sort of tours, I was very up-front that my traveling patterns are a little unique because while we travel a lot, our lodging costs are much lower than it would seem because of miles and points. This makes the usual ‘numbers portion’ of the presentation not all that relevant to us. However, we are enjoying the heck out of our first Polynesian stay, so the applicability of DVC ownership is higher than some non-Disney timeshares due to the uniqueness of Disney.
We chatted for a while about how their points-based system works, looked at the numbers, and within 45 minutes or so we were done and on our way to EPCOT with our promised gift cards and the FastPasses were loaded to our accounts. We had a great conversation and learned a lot (like that we should use DVC points the first full week of January when points prices are really low!), but it was clear we weren’t buying today, so the presentation didn’t run as long as it otherwise might have. We actually were never shown any rooms, which surprised me a little. I don’t know if that was because it was clear we weren’t buyers or because we were already staying in a DVC room at the Polynesian. There was no second person we had to talk to, or alternate offer presented at the last minute, or any other sort of higher pressure situation. It was exactly what you would expect from Disney…friendly, informative, and efficient. Nothing more, nothing less.
While we were aren’t DVC buyers at the moment, I can understand why others would be. If you typically pay anywhere close to retail for Disney Deluxe rooms, and like to do something Disney related at least every other year or so, then being a DVC owner can make financial sense. They say it saves roughly 50% off the retail price of the Deluxe resorts, and I think that is probably accurate. Not only that, but you get other discounts on tickets, meals, etc. and special access to events and more than non-owners miss out on. However, it is still a bunch of money to spend on Disney, and the initial purchase price still doesn’t cover your annual dues. Of course it also doesn’t include all the other costs you will incur when you actually come to Disney to use your points/nights.
With the availability of renting DVC points from others, periodic sales on rooms directly from Disney, etc. I think we do okay not being DVC owners at the moment, but it is still something to be aware of in case our travel patterns shift or we decide we want to go all-in on Disney at some point. Of course if you are actively interested in being a DVC owner, also remember the resale market for Disney timeshares, though there are some perks you get only if you buy directly from Disney so you will want to factor everything into the equation.
All in all I’m really glad we did the DVC tour as we learned some things we didn’t know, each got three FastPasses to use on most attractions (other than the really new ones and a handful of others), and we netted a total of $100 in Disney gift cards for our roughly hour of committed time. If I had to do it again I would have made an appointment a bit further in advance so we wouldn’t have had to leave the Polynesian at all, but otherwise I would 100% do this again if the variables stayed the same.
Have your, or would you, do a Disney Vacation Club tour in exchange for learning about the program and getting some Disney goodies?
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.