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April 22nd, 2024

DVC Again

Disney Vacation Club welcome tote bag…then…

…and now.

The tote bags are the welcome package you get whenever you buy points in the Disney Vacation Club. There are goodies inside, but mostly it was that first tote bag that really told me I’d bought into something special when I bought my first set of points a decade ago.

This time around…not so much.

When I retired I sold my DVC points because I thought the entire Disney World experience was going downhill and I probably wouldn’t go back. Bob Chapek, the previous CEO of Disney seemed to just want to trash everything people loved about the parks. The Disney message boards were full of heartbroken complaints about his disrespect for park theming and guest experience. All the little perks of staying in a park hotel were going away and the annual pass system was being changed out from under us. I never got a notice to renew my old annual pass and assumed they just didn’t want us having them because it was costing them money. For a while nobody could buy a new one.

And then there was the new park reservation system. They’d implemented that during COVID, but then it became a permanent fixture. So even if you had an annual pass, you still had to make park reservations and if you might not be able to if they’d all been taken for the days you wanted. So to my mind that made the annual pass worthless, and staying at Boardwalk pointless.

Then it began to look like single diners could not make dining reservations at the nicer sit down restaurants.

So I sold my DVC points and let the annual pass lapse. But then they fired Chapek and brought back Iger and it seemed things were turning around. Some of the perks came back (I’m still waiting for the bar stools and food menus to come back to the Tune-In Lounge…). I went back a few times and renewed my love of the parks, especially after the Florida republicans went on a warpath against Disney for treating its LGBT guests and employees decently. I bought tickets for the first time in over a decade (because no annual pass) and navigated the park reservation system. I still hate it, but with the new “go-to” days looks like Disney World is trying to move away from it.

With some difficulty I got the Disney World annual pass back. Then I visited Disneyland for the first time and lucked out on getting a Disneyland annual pass before my second visit. While at Disneyland I was approached by a DVC saleslady.

What happened was I was checking out the guest laundry at one of the hotel towers, which as it turned out was their DVC tower. My next trip to Disneyland I’m going to try to arrange a ride on the California Zephyr…a trip I’ve fantasied about since childhood. The plan would be to take the Zephyr to California, and pick up the Coast Starlight from Emeryville to San Luis Obispo where my brother could pick me up. I’d stay with him for a few weeks, then take the train to Anaheim again and Disneyland, spend five or six days there at the Disneyland Hotel, then take the train back to LA Union Station and pick up the Southwest Chief, which I’d taken before, back to Chicago and a train from there to Baltimore.

If I do it that way I will need to be able to do a laundry before the train ride back home because I won’t be able to carry a lot of luggage with me. Just enough stuff for the train. I’ll need to do a laundry before heading back. So I asked a security guard where the guest laundry was. He offered to lead me to it because it was down an odd hallway. Afterward we talked about our mutual love of the Disney Parks (I told him about the classmate, that Certain Someone who coaxed me into coming to Disney in the first place, showed him a picture of the guy, and he said he actually remembered him(!)) 

When we parted ways, a DVC sales lady came over to talk to me. She said she’d heard me talking about selling my DVC points and she asked me why. I told here basically what I wrote at the beginning of this post and she suggested (of course) that I might want to look into becoming a DVC member again. There were specials going on and she could get me back in for not so much money.

I thought it over, and later via email asked her about Saratoga Springs, which I used to use my Grand Floridian points for to have a nice warm weather vacation in February, at a DVC hotel that gives me walking access to Disney Springs. Saratoga Springs was the original DVC hotel, and it’s the least expensive one point wise. Walking access is super important to me. The reason I had points at Boardwalk, besides liking the theming of it, was it gave me walking access to my two favorite parks, Epcot and Hollywood Studios. But with the park reservation system that isn’t nearly as convenient as before. You don’t need reservations to walk over to Disney Springs.

Over the next couple days we talked it over…I had budgetary considerations…and I eventually agreed to buy in again. I got 100 points in Saratoga Springs.

What you see at the top up there is one of the two tote bags I got when I first joined DVC, first for 75 points at Grand Floridian, and then for 100 at Boardwalk. The tote bag below that is what I got after rejoining.

This came inside the new tote…

That’s one of the little goodies in the tote you get joining now. I’m sure the saleslady saw the look on my face when she handed that new tote bag to me. All I can think is Disney is still sweating blood over all the money they lost during the COVID lock downs and now they’re cutting corners everywhere they can that doesn’t piss off the guests.

But I’m fine being back in. Not as many points as before, but for now anyway I’m splitting my time between Disney World and Disneyland, so I don’t need as many points. There is a DVC section of the Disneyland Hotel, but even if I got points in that one it is so high in demand that I’d still have trouble getting in, so I’ll just pay the money for a stay there. My annual pass gets me a discount on a room there anyway.

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