November 9, 2016

Our Disney Vacation Club Story

Hello everyone! This post is coming to you while I’m in Walt Disney World! I thought I would talk this week about our experience booking this trip, as we tried something new! As I mentioned last week  in the announcement video, there are 9 of us on this trip! That is a lot of people, so we needed a lot of space. Today I’m sharing our Disney Vacation Club story. This post may be a little long, so feel free to skip down to the bottom to watch the video where I do a better job of explaining it! Okay, with all that said, let’s jump in.

Our DVC Story

Let’s rewind back to February (about 8 months out from out trip date). My family had been looking into Disney Vacation Club for a while, so we looked into renting points for our trip, because it’s a great way to test our Disney Vacation Club accomodations. I’ll get more into the Disney Vacation Club side of things in a bit, but we were looking into rooms that accommodated up to 9 people.

There are a few websites that act as brokers, and communicate with Disney Vacation Club members to rent out their points so you can stay at Deluxe level resorts much cheaper than going through the actual Walt Disney World Website. Technically you could find anyone on the internet and rent their points, but the websites or brokers are generally safer although they can be a little more expensive.

Anyways, long story short, we decided to go through one of the websites (I’m not going to specify who) and book 1 2-Bedroom villa (for my family, and a worker for my sister) and a studio for Ethan and I. The 2 bedroom villa has 2 different rooms, so my parents would have one room, and my sister and her worker would have the other, and Ethan and I would have a separate room. We were also requesting for the villa to be wheelchair accessible with a roll in shower.

At this point we were talking with Ethan’s parents, hoping to get confirmation if they were going with us or not, so there were only 6 of us going.  They decided to come, so we changed our request to 2 2-bedroom villas at Animal Kingdom Lodge (value level view).

The Tree of Life

When putting your reservation request in you also put in our second, third, and fourth choices, so we put in Boardwalk, Old Key West and Saratoga Springs. The only thing available was Saratoga Springs, and after talking we decided we didn’t want to stay there. So we put in different requests, this time using two different views at Animal Kingdom Lodge, and our third choice was Wilderness Lodge.

The broker came back with a great price, so we jumped at it. It turned out they misquoted us, which sucked. So we re-evaluated for the third time in about a week.

We again changed our choices to all levels of views at Animal Kingdom Lodge for the villas, and our last choice was Wilderness Lodge. They had availability for 1 savannah view 2 bedroom villa, and 1 standard view 2 bedroom accessible villa. So, we thought we were good to go. There was only one problem. Availability didn’t mean we could book yet. They didn’t have enough points at Animal Kingdom lodge to book our rooms, so we went on a wait list. It then turned out that one night wasn’t available for the accessible room, so the reservation had to be split, and my parents would potentially have to move rooms halfway through the trip. So we had to submit another form and go on another waitlist.

At this point we were on a wait list for everything, and were waiting for a few weeks. My mom decided to call Disney Vacation Club to see if there was actually hope of us getting what we wanted, and to double check about who can reserve accessible rooms. While she was talking to them, they mentioned a promotion they had going, selling points at the Polynesian Resort in Walt Disney World and Aulani in Hawaii. The promotion included a discount on points, plus getting 2015 points with the contract. So we started talking about potentially buying into Disney Vacation Club (and when I say we I mean my parents).

Because renting the points would be so expensive, and we could potentially buy into DVC after testing it out, it would make sense to put the money we would be spending to rent points towards the purchase price of DVC. This way we would be in control, and could book right away. The next day, we bought into DVC!

Wishes!

A Little About Disney Vacation Club

So I’ve talked a lot about Disney Vacation Club, but what’s the deal?

You are essentially buying real estate interest in a Disney Resort, which is called your home resort. When you buy in, you purchase a certain number of points, which you are given each year. You can bank and borrow points to use multiple years worth of points for one trip. Where you purchase, you have an advantage to book (at your home resort) if you are booking 11 months in advance. To book at that time you need to own there. At 7 months, all points become equal, and you can book at any Disney Vacation Club Resort.

So it’s a timeshare, but not in a set room for a set time. Again, You purchase a number of points that you are given each year, and you can use those points how you wish for accommodations. Certain times of year cost more points per night, and certain resorts and room views require more points. The only yearly cost are maintenance fees, which also vary by resort. For more information on Disney Vacation Club, visit the website here.

Our contract is for 49 years, so it will be something that my family will enjoy now, and will be passed on for a long time! One of the main reasons my family looking into DVC is because Disney is so great at accommodating those with disabilities (my sister). This way we know that when my parents are gone she can go on a vacation she will enjoy, and that means a lot! We have the peace of mind knowing out accommodations are taken care of 🙂

Dory

Because we bought directly through DVC and not via the resale market, we can use our points for Disney Cruises, and Adventures by Disney which are guided tours at different destinations around the world. DVC has also partnered with RCI, so we don’t just have to stay at Disney Resorts, we can stay at others resorts anywhere! Will we go every year? Probably not, especially with all of the other places we can go.

Back to the rental story…

Obviously because we bought into DVC we no longer needed to rent, so we cancelled all of our waitlists. But, we learned a lot from this experience. If we had tried to book the trip closer to 11 months we may have gotten the reservation, or if we waited for the 7 month window to open up. Fortunately, we didn’t have to wait because we booked at the Polynesian as soon as the contract was signed! This trip is using all of our 2015 points, 2016 points and some from 2017. The point “cost” is high because of the room configuration, which is up to 5 people in a room (like a regular hotel room with a pull out couch).

So, we need 4 rooms. One for my parents, one for my sister and her worker, one for Ethan and I, and one for Ethan’s family. The good news is, the Polynesian studios are the biggest DVC studios! Alternatively we could have looked at another Disney Vacation Club resort when the 7 month window opened, or at the bungalows at the Polynesian but they can only sleep 8 and the point cost is SUPER high, so the studios are working for us! I’m so excited to stay at out home resort, and especially because I never thought I would be able to stay at a resort so close to Magic Kingdom! This is our first stay at a Deluxe resort, so I can’t wait!

Because this post is going up while I’m away, let me know if there’s anything you’d like to see at the Polynesian Resort! As I revealed a few weeks ago we are eating at both O’hana and Kona Café, so does it make a little more sense as to why now that we’re staying there? If you want to see something you can let me know in the comments here or in the video 🙂

Thoughts about the process

It was a rollercoaster! The process was stressful, and disappointing at times. This could have been a combination of things, but if I were to recommend renting points to anyone, be aware that it might not be simple. It could have been frustrating because of the company we were dealing with, because it was our first time, because we needed large rooms, because we needed an accessible room, because we were booking less than 11 months in advance but before 7 months… any combination of things.

If you think renting might be a good option for you, knowing when you are going well in advance will definitely help. That would be my #1 tip!

Monorail

 

If this isn’t quite making sense (I’m doing my best to explain it all in text), I’ve explained it all in the video below! I filmed it a while ago to have the freshest information possible, but it should help clear things up!

I know this post is ridiculously long, but if you made it this far thank you so much for reading! Let me know if there is anything you want to see while I’m in Walt Disney World, or if you have any questions in the comments below!

Kelsey
October 19, 2016

ADR’s For Our Next Trip

Hello everyone! As my next trip gets closer and closer, I thought I would talk about one of the things I’m most excited for… the food! I’m sharing with you all of the upcoming dining reservations we have! I’ll let you know if I’ve been there before, where the restaurant is located, and any thoughts I have on the restaurant.

Keep in mind that we made our reservations 180 days in advance of our trip (right at 6am), taking park hours into consideration. If we are eating at a resort, it’s because we will be visiting a park nearby that day. if we are eating at a restaurant in a park, guess where we will be that day! It makes it easier for me to keep track of everything, and takes a lot of travelling out of the mix. Also when I’m thinking ahead of what our schedule will be, if I can remember where we are eating, I can remember what we will be doing! Okay, with all that said let’s jump in!

Our Upcoming ADR's

Beaches & Cream at Beach Club Resort– I’ve never eaten here before but am really excited to try it! I’ve heard the food is really good, but the ice cream is even better! They serve the Kitchen Sink here which sounds interesting, but like a lot of ice cream. There will be a few of us on the trip so we may be able to conquer it, but we’ll see! I might stick with the No Way Jose instead. I’ve also never been to the Boardwalk/ Beach Club resort area so I am excited to see that in person. I feel like I have been there because I’ve seen it in so many videos, but I never have! I can’t wait to check it off my list.

O’hana at the Polynesian Resort– I am really excited to eat dinner here! I ate breakfast here in 2007 and don’t really remember much other than Stitch trying to eat our table. Like I said I don’t remember much about the Polynesian resort so it will be fun to see it again. I’m looking forward to dinner and hopefully trying one of those drinks that come in a pineapple!

Be Our Guest at Magic Kingdom– While I couldn’t snag a dinner reservation (probably the hardest dining reservation to get in Walt Disney World), I did a get a lunch reservation! I’ve never eaten there for lunch, so I’m excited to try something new and explore the restaurant more! If you have a lunch reservation, you can actually place your order 30 days in advance, which means you won’t have to wait in line to order at the restaurant! I will be trying this for our trip, so I’ll let you know my thoughts on it!

Teppan Edo at Epcot– I’ve seen this restaurant in a few vlogs I’ve watched, so I’m excited to eat there! This one was Ethan’s idea, and since there are a few of us going, we will most likely have a table to ourselves!

Kona Café at the Polynesian Resort– I’ve never eaten here before, and I’m excited to give it a try for lunch the day we are going to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party! We are thinking about visiting all of the monorail resorts on this day as well. Hopefully there will be some Christmas decorations up at the resorts 🙂

Tusker House at Animal Kingdom– I’ve never eaten here but I’ve heard good things about it! I like that it has some “different” options than the standard buffet, while still offering familiar foods. Plus, it’s a character meal, so that’s always fun!

Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom– I haven’t eaten here since 2011 (I can’t remember what meal either), so I’m excited to head back! The food is fairly good (from what I remember), and I like to see Winnie the Pooh and friends 🙂

To hear a little more about the restaurants watch the video below:

If you’re making ADR’s for an upcoming trip, make sure to check out this post that goes through EVERYTHING about Advance Dining Reservations! Strategy can sometimes come into play, so make sure to check out some of the tips I share in that post!

If you have eaten at any of these restaurants I would love to hear your thoughts! Let me know if there’s anything I should try, or avoid in the comments! I’ve also linked to the Walt Disney World website for all restaurants, so you can check out the menus to see where I’m eating!

 

Thank you so much for reading!

Kelsey
September 28, 2016

Your Guide to Making Fastpass+ Reservations

Hello everyone! To expand on last week’s post, I’m showing you just how easy it is to make FastPass+ reservations! I made some fake ones and took screenshots to walk you through every step, just like I did in Your Guide to Making ADR’s. This post is a long one, so let’s get started!

Your Guide to Fastpass+

As a quick refresher, you can make Fastpass+ reservations 60 days out (from your first day in the parks, so you can make reservations on the same day for your whole trip) if you are staying at a Disney Resort Hotel, or 30 days in advance if you are staying elsewhere. The window for making Fastpass+ reservations opens at 7AM EST.

To make your Fastpass+ resevations your tickets need to be linked to your My Disney Experience account. If you buy them as a part of a Disney Vacation package you won’t have to do anything special, they should already show up in your account. If you buy them elsewhere (we bought ours from ParkSavers for our upcoming trip) you will need to link them manually. All of the instructions for how to link them will be sent by email.

If you are travelling with other people that aren’t in your room that you want to make Fastpass+ reservations for, make sure they are linked in you Family and Friends list. A few days before you make your reservations, just double check that everything is good to go!

Making a FastPass+ Reservation

When it comes time to make your reservations, from the Walt Disney World Website, hover over My Disney Experience in the top right corner, and click FastPass+. This page will come up, so click Get Started next:

Get Started

Keep in mind that you must be logged in to take advantage of the 60/30 day window. Otherwise you will not be allowed to click the dates! The window opens at 7AM EST, so if you are logged in a few minutes early you will actually see the window open up when refreshing your screen. After clicking “Get Started” you will see the picture below.

Select Your Party

First you will select who you want the Fastpasses for. For families, this is where you want to consider things that only certain people might want to do, or if it’s something everyone will enjoy. To make things easy, you can click select all at the top. Click “next”.

Next

Next you are going to select your date. Just like with ADR’s, you can make reservations for the whole trip, so people who are travelling to WDW before you have already made reservations for the first few days you are there. When making your reservations, you can go day by day in order, or go backwards for “first serve” of the later days in your trip.

Pick Your Date

Next you are going to select the park you are visiting that day. When I make dining reservations, I think about where I will want to be each day, so since I already have dining reservations (made 180 days in advance), these selections will follow that pattern. The park hours are shown as well, and if Extra Magic Hours are offered they are listed here as well.

Choose Your Park

Once you have selected a park, all of the options will show below, with the different time slots available. At the bottom of the picture, you can see you can filter by time.

Magic Kingdom

Now you will see time slots. Depending on the ride, the party you are travelling with and a couple other things, you may want certain Fastpasses for certain times (last week I mentioned that I like to ride water-based attractions in the afternoon when it’s warmest). As mentioned above you can sort by times of day.

Select Attraction and Time

Above is an example of an attraction with the three time slots. You can click “View Details” to try and get some different times to come up, but with each window being an hour from the time showing, you are seeing 3 hours of the day as an option, which I think is plenty. You can now click on the time you like.

Confirm Selection

Now you will be asked to confirm your selection.

Confirm

Click “Confirm”.

 

Want Another

You do have do go through the same process for each reservation, but it will select the park you already have reservations that day for, making it a little quicker. Above is an example of what you see once you have confirmed your selection. You would complete this process until you have all of your FastPass+ selected.

Cancelling a Fastpass+

To cancel a Fastpass+, you first need to view your current FastPass+ Reservations (Selections). Below is the completed one I made following the steps above.

Fastpass Selections

You will click “View Details” in blue. When you click that, you will see the picture below.

Modify Selection

To delete the Fastpass+, click “Cancel”. Clicking “Modify” will allow you to change the number of people, or see if another time is available, or choose another Fastpass+ altogether.

Remove Selection

Click “Yes, Remove” to cancel your reservation. This will complete that process.

Final Thoughts

FastPass+ tiers. At Epcot and Hollywood Studios there are tiers of Fastpasses. You can select one from Tier 1 and two from Tier 2. All of the tiers are listed beside each item in the post from last week. When you are making selections at a park with tiers, it is made very clear that you are selecting 1 for Tier 1 and two from Tier 2. If you try to select another Tier 1, you will have to get rid of the current selection.

You can only make Fastpasses for 1 park each day. The only way to get around this is to make three for 1 park, and once those have been used up, make a fourth for another park.

After you have used up your original 3 Fastpasses, you can make a 4th using the kiosks around the park, or the My Disney Experience App. After you use the 4th, you can select a 5th, and so on and so forth.

Any rides that are currently under refurbishment will show as unavailable. This is also where any “sold out” fast passes will show. Typically Frozen Ever After and Seven Dwarf Mine Train “sell out”.

Time slots cannot overlap. Each time you are selecting is actually an hour time period, where you can arrive at any time in the hour. Keep this in mind when you are making your selections.

If a ride happens to be down during your time window, you will get and email to the account associated with your My Disney Experience, with the rides you can use the FastPass+ replacement for. The FastPass+ will not expire 🙂

To make the most of your Fastpasses, use them on attractions that might have a longer wait time, or rides you know for sure you want to experience with minimal wait.

I hope you have enjoyed a look at the process of making FastPass+ reservations, the technology has definitely made quite a change in the last few years! While I do miss the paper Fastpasses, it’s much easier now to not have to run back and forth around the park, and you are “guaranteed” 60 days in advance that you will get a chance to experience certain attractions on your trip. I know this post has been very long, so thank you if you’ve made it this far!

What’s your must have FastPass+? Let me know in the comments!

 

Thank you so much for reading!

Kelsey