Dreaming of DVC: A Comparison of Disney Vacation Club Properties
If you’re not a DVC member, this article is STILL for you! Did you know that you can rent vacation club points from members who are not using all of their points for the year? It’s easy to do, and it allows you to stay at some of Disney’s best resorts- often times for less than Disney rack rates.
Comparing the DVC resorts is a tall order. There are some things that you’ll find to be true across the board. First, all of the DVC properties are considered deluxe level accommodations. They vary, however, in their locations on property, the transportation options available to each, and the room types available. You will want to make the choice about where to stay based on your location and room occupancy needs, as well as the amenities and themes you prefer. Also keep in mind that point costs vary based on resort, room type, and travel dates.
Location is a huge factor in selecting a DVC resort, and those located in the Magic Kingdom area are highly sought after. Each resort has unique benefits and theming. The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, and the Polynesian Villas & Bungalowsare all located on the monorail loop, making access to the Magic Kingdom super simple. Bay Lake Tower’s claim to fame is its theme park view rooms (note- this is a room category you will pay more for) and the ability to walk from the resort to the Magic Kingdom! The Polynesian is located besides the Ticket & Transportation Center (TTC), making access to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot via monorail especially simple. Nothing beats watching the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom from the beach at the Poly! Boulder Ridge and Copper Creek, both located at the Wilderness Lodge, also offer nice proximity to the Magic Kingdom, but your travel to the park will be via boat (or bus, if you prefer). The Grand Floridian, perhaps the fanciest of Disney’s resorts, offers beautiful views of the Seven Seas Lagoon and will have a walking path to the Magic Kingdom in the future. Currently, access is via monorail and boat.
While many young families prefer to stay near the Magic Kingdom, there’s a large populous of DVC members who clamour for reservations in Epcot area resorts. This is especially true during festivals, like the ever-popular the Food and Wine Festival. Both Disney’s Beach Club Villas and Boardwalk Villas are a quick walk to Epcot’s International Gateway entrance, allowing guests to arrive in the World Showcase in just minutes. The Epcot area resorts also offer boat and walking access to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Moving over to the Disney Springs area, you’ll find two sprawling DVC resorts that offer boat and/or walking access to all the shopping and dining you could imagine. Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa is located around a championship golf course. It is themed after Saratoga Springs, New York, which is famous for horse racing. Disney’s Old Key West Resort, the original DVC resort, is not close enough to walk to Disney Springs, but it does offer boat access which is a novel alternative to the typical bus. It offers some of the largest studios on property!
One more DVC resort remains at Walt Disney World: Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. All park access is by bus, which many guests do consider a drawback. What the resort lacks in convenience, it makes up for in the unique experiences you’ll have there. Seeing animals all around you, whether from a Savannah view villa, or from the many lookouts near the pool, hallways, and lobby, is something that cannot be reasonably compared with the ability to walk to a theme park. While some prefer convenience, others will prefer the seclusion of Animal Kingdom Lodge and the uniquely immersive experience it offers guests.
Though we will not cover them in depth in this article, Disney Vacation Club also has properties in Vero Beach, FLorida, Hilton Head, South Carolina, as well as Aulani in Hawaii and Disney’s Grand Californian at Disneyland. Disney’s Riviera Resort, opening in December 2019, will be located between Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot, and will have Skyliner access to both parks.
2. Room Types
DVC resorts offer studios, 1- and 2-bedroom villas, and some even have 3-bedroom grand villas. You’ll want to investigate each resort more thoroughly based on your occupancy needs, but it’s important to know that the same room type does not necessarily sleep the same number of guests across the resorts. For instance, most studio units currently accommodate 4 guests, in some combination of a queen-size bed and a double or queen-size sleeper sofa. On the other hand, some studios can accommodate a 5th guest, but note that the pull-down bed for that guest is a bit smaller than a twin (it’s considered “bunk size”). My son gets a kick out of these beds, which pull out from beneath the TV to reveal a Disney-themed background. Even though we are a family of 3, we prefer the studios that sleep 5 because we like to keep the couch intact as a couch and allow our son to use the pull down, which is super easy to close up when we need more space. Old Key West, Disney’s original Vacation Club property, is unique in that it offers 2 queen beds in their slightly larger studios.
If you’re looking for “speciality” accommodations, consider the Cabins at Copper Creek (Wilderness Lodge), the Bungalows at the Polynesian, or the Treehouse Villas at Saratoga Springs. These cost extraordinary amounts of points, but they’re very unique and luxurious accommodations!
3. Overall Resort Feel & Amenities
It’s hard to say which resort has the overall “best” location. If you’re not sure that you need to prioritize a specific location, and you’re able to find the room type that will suit your family at multiple resorts, then the decision may come down to the overall “feel” or “vibe” of a resort and the amenities it offers.
Feeling fancy? The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and the anticipated Disney’s Riviera Resort are perhaps the two resorts with the most luxurious feel. Don’t worry, you can still walk through the lobby in your flip flops if you’re headed to the pool!
Need a little extra space in your room? If you’re booking a studio, but want the most room to spread out, consider the Polynesian (which also has 2 bathrooms- but only 1 toilet) or Old Key West for sheer square footage.
Looking for an easy and appealing stay for the little ones? Consider the Beach Club, with it’s massive pool complex (Stormalong Bay). It even has a real sand bottom, so feel free to dig in and build a sand castle! Another strong choice would be Bay Lake Tower, for the simple ease of getting to and from the Magic Kingdom. The Polynesian pool and splash pad are also big hits with the little ones, and the Animal Kingdom Lodge would be a dream stay for a young animal lover.
If you’re looking to just relax and unwind, there’s something extra serene about Copper Creek and Boulder Ridge at the Wilderness Lodge. Nothing beats the peaceful, woodsy vibe- and if you have yet to dine at the open-air Geyser Point Bar & Grill, you must! Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa has a full-service spa, golf, and several pools to enjoy, so it’s also a solid choice for a more laid-back vacation. Old Key West is another great resort for channeling your inner calm!
All of the Disney Vacation Club properties are sure to please, but knowing the special advantages that each offers will hopefully help your family select the ideal resort for your next magical vacation!
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.