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Grand Floridian . _Disney Vacation Club Resorts _ disney fanatic

Disney Vacation Club Resorts and What You’ll Love About Them

Disney Vacation Club, or DVC, is Disney’s equivalent to a timeshare.  Members have contracts worth a certain amount of points that can be used to reserve deluxe accommodations.  For travelers who want to visit Disney properties year after year, membership affords them the ability to save money on those accommodations over time. Many of the deluxe resorts at Walt Disney World have DVC accommodations, and we’ll talk about 9 (and a few extra) here!

Want to travel outside the “world”?  DVC also has resorts in Hawaii (Aulani), Vero Beach, Hilton Head Island, and at Disneyland (Disney’s Grand Californian Resort & Spa). As a new DVC member, I’m always daydreaming about my next trip “home” to a DVC resort.  Although every DVC contract is based at a “home” resort, and DVC members can book reservations at the home resort at 11-months prior to travel and at other DVC resorts at 7-months prior to travel. Let’s take a look at the DVC resorts based on location, starting with the ones located near Disney Springs!


1. Disney’s Old Key West Resort

The first DVC resort opened in 1991, and was aptly named “Disney Vacation Club resort.”  It was later renamed Old Key West. Old Key West’s claim to fame is it’s laid-back theming.  You’ll love the vibe here, along with boat access to Disney Springs. Olivia’s Cafe also has a fantastic reputation for great food.

Old Key West Resort


2. Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa

Also located near Disney Springs is Saratoga Springs Resort.  In 2004, it became the largest DVC resort. Built on the former site of the Disney Institute, Saratoga Springs is themed in the style of 1800’s era Saratoga Springs, New York, which is famous for its horse racing.  One unique room style at Saratoga Springs that you won’t find anywhere else is the Treehouse Villas, and there’s room for your entire family to relax in the treetops! The resort has a full-service spa, and if you’re looking for some stellar shopping and dining, Disney Springs is just a short walk away.  Now let’s head to the Epcot area resorts…

3. Disney’s Boardwalk Villas Resort

The Boardwalk Villas was the second DVC resort to open at Walt Disney World.   A particularly popular choice during Epcot’s festivals (like Food & Wine), the Boardwalk VIllas boast a primo location-  just steps from Epcot’s International Gateway entrance and a short walk along the canal from Hollywood Studios. You’ll love having dinner and drinks in the World Showcase and then strolling “home” to the Boardwalk, along with the seaside atmosphere and access to snacks and performers on the boardwalk.  Disney’s Hollywood Studios is also a short boat ride or walk away.

Boardwalk


4. Disney’s Beach Club Villas

In 2002, the Beach Club added a DVC building.  This resort is most popular for it’s outrageous pool complex, Stormalong Bay.  Almost a mini water park in itself, Stormalong Bay is shared by both Beach and Yacht Club resorts.   In addition to being huge, Stormalong Bay has a swimming area, a shallow sand pool where kiddos can build sandcastles and adults can lounge, a small lazy river, and a ship with both small and tall water slides.  Kids always seem to want to swim at the resort pool more than they want to actually go to the parks, so this resort is a great choice for water-loving kiddos. In addition to Stormalong Bay, you’ll love the character meal at Cape May Cafe (it turns into a non-character seafood buffet at night!) and the outrageous sundaes at Beaches and Cream!  You can walk to both Epcot and Hollywood Studios (or take the Friendship Boats) from the Beach Club.

5. Animal Kingdom Lodge Villas- Jambo House & Kidani Village

This DVC offering is not as convenient to the parks as some others, offering only bus transportation, but the lack of proximity is overshadowed by the resort’s most obvious feature- the animals!  Seeing animals all around the resort, in many cases right from your room’s balcony, is an unforgettable experience. Animal Kingdom Lodge also offers unique dining experiences in their 3 sit-down restaurants: Jiko (signature dining), Sanaa (try the bread service!), and Boma (a delectable buffet).

6. Boulder Ridge & Copper Creek Villas and Cabins at Wilderness Lodge

In 2000, the Boulder Ridge Villas were added to the Wilderness Lodge.  Most recently in 2017, waterside cabins were added, and a section of rooms in the main lodge building were also converted to DVC rooms- the Copper Creek Villas.  Though not located on the monorail loop, this Magic Kingdom area resort is truly idyllic and convenient. You’ll love having boat access to the Magic Kingdom. Be sure to take time to dine at Geiser Point- an open-air bar and grille where you can dine casually on comfy chairs positioned around the patio.  

Copper Creek

7. Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

In 2009, Bay Lake Tower opened its doors to guests.  Located just beyond Disney’s Contemporary Resort, this DVC resort has arguably some of the best views, with vantage points overlooking both the waterways around the Magic Kingdom and the park itself.  Guests of Bay Lake Tower love it’s modern design aesthetic, but the biggest draw of Bay Lake Tower is it’s location; you’ll love walking “home” from the Magic Kingdom when everyone else is waiting for a bus!   Monorail access is also a plus; it’s just one stop away from the Ticket and Transportation Center where you can transfer to an Epcot-bound monorail.

8. Polynesian Villas & Bungalows

Continuing along the resort monorail loop, the next stop from the Contemporary and Bay Lake Tower is the Polynesian.  One of Walt Disney World’s original resorts, the Polynesian is a sentimental favorite of many. Despite its age, the resort is still in extremely high demand for so many reasons.  Guests love being on the monorail loop, with easy access to the Magic Kingdom. The Polynesian is also just steps away from the Ticket and Transportation Center, where you can hop a monorail directly to Epcot.  Beyond convenience, there is so much to fall in love with at the Polynesian. The Poly is home to Ohana, where you can have breakfast with Lilo, Stitch, and friends. Also, Kona Cafe, home of the famous Tonga Toast.  You can also watch the Magic Kingdom’s fireworks from the beach, enjoy Dole Whips on site, and relax in the fabulous Lava Pool complex. The super-deluxe Bungalows cost a LOT of points per night. They are set out over the Seven Seas Lagoon and offer fabulous views- and even private hot tubs!

Polynesian Bungalows

Photo Credit: Disney

9.  The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

Considered the flagship resort of Walt Disney World, the Grand Floridian is located just a stone’s throw from the Magic Kingdom. It is accessible by monorail and boat.  You’ll love the overall charm of the Grand Floridian. Don’t miss the music in the lobby provided by both a pianist and the Grand Floridian Society Orchestra. Haven’t been convinced yet?  The Grand Floridian offers many fabulous dining options, including various character dining experiences at 1900 Park Fare. You’ll also find 3 signature dining locations at the Grand: Citricos, Narcoossee’s, and Victoria and Albert’s, as well as some fantastic quick-service locations:  the Grand Floridian Cafe and Gasparilla Island Grill.



Non- Disney World Resorts

Grand Californian:  Themed after the Pacific Northwest, the Grand Californian is practically located IN Disney’s California Adventure (DCA) park.  You’ll love having early access to DCA through the resort’s dedicated entrance!

Aulani: Disney’s Hawaiian Resort, Aulani, opened in 2011.  Though not as Disney-fied as Walt Disney World resort locations, you’ll love the touch of Disney magic in paradise- and the lazy river!  

Hilton Head:  Located in picturesque Hilton Head, South Carolina, this resort features a huge heated pool with water slide and access to historic Hilton Head- complete with beaches, golf, and great dining!

Vero Beach: Vacationing in Florida but not headed to the parks?  Head to Vero Beach, just 2 hours southeast of Walt Disney World, to enjoy some time in the sand and surf or beside a campfire.

BONUS TIP: Consider planning and booking your next Disney trip with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner you can trust like Mickey Travels.  They’ll help you get the best Walt Disney World deal, share expert advice and their services are totally FREE!  It’s genius!

About Meredith Smisek

Meredith Smisek is a kid at heart and works as an elementary school guidance counselor. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, dog, and parrot. Meredith's hobbies include cooking, playing ukulele, and "talking Disney" with anyone she knows who is planning a trip to Disney or has just returned.