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cbarry
08-18-2011, 01:45 PM
Hey all,

We're pretty set on our decision to finally buy a DVC membership. We have two questions.

1 - How tough is it to get rooms after the 7 month window? We're not so concerned about our home resort as we'd like to sample all of them at one time or another, but what have your experiences been getting reservations outside your home resort at 7 months out or less? We typically plan our trips later than most due to my wife owning her own business and booking 11 months out is really not possible.


2 - I'm curious if anyone out there has tried to go someplace else...perish the thought I realize..but we're wondering if anyone has had easy experiences using DVC points to go someplace else or has it been hard? We'd like to trade out every once in a while and see some other places like skiing or the caribbean or who knows.

Thanks,

CB

GusMan
08-18-2011, 02:21 PM
From my past experience, booking a non-home resort beyond the 7 month mark can be a little difficult, depending on the season and which resort. Smaller resorts are obviously harder to get into while trying to get in at the larger resorts like SSR may not be much of an issue. Its just that the closer you get to your desired travel date, the more flexible you need to be. Waitlisting is always an option, but it also has some pros and cons as well.

For example, we have been able to get BCV and BWV and AKV at 7 months without an issue. BLT, not so lucky.

Have not tried to trade for non-DVC vacations as of yet. May be a long time before we do.

Toocherie
08-18-2011, 02:43 PM
My experiences are similar to Gusman's. I own at SSR and VGC. At SSR, not surprisingly, even within seven months I have been pretty lucky making/changing reservations. ON the other hand, the couple of times I have tried to book at another resort at 7 months I have been initially ok (got Boardwalk within seven months for Food & Wine!) but then because of schedule changes couldn't later change for the same resort and ended up at SSR (which I love, so it wasn't a big deal). I've had pretty good luck at VGC too--in fact, just in the last two weeks I've had waitlist success for September. Obviously being flexible is the key; and not traveling at peak times.

I haven't traded out either so can't comment on that. I have heard seasoned DVC'ers mention, however, that you are probably better off renting your points and using the $$ to directly book if you want to go to a different destination or on a cruise, etc. Have you seen the points requirements for some of those trades? Frightening!

Which resort are you thinking of as your home resort?

GusMan
08-18-2011, 03:17 PM
I haven't traded out either so can't comment on that. I have heard seasoned DVC'ers mention, however, that you are probably better off renting your points and using the $$ to directly book if you want to go to a different destination or on a cruise, etc. Have you seen the points requirements for some of those trades? Frightening!
This is a very good point. Sure, you can use your points for some of the other vacations, but sometimes you will not get the same value like you would staying at a DVC resort. In some ways, I think this is probably more important for those of us who have smaller DVC contracts. But that is just my 2 cents.

Mermaid
08-18-2011, 07:21 PM
I am new, but I called at about 4 months for 3 nights at VGC for Oct, got none. We were planning on going later but had to switch the trip. I waitlisted and then called on the individual days a few times. I was able to get the Thurs night in a studio and the Sat night in a 1 BR. I have been waiting for the Friday night for 2 months now. So.... it seems really tough at VGC.

cbarry
08-18-2011, 07:32 PM
We were offered Saratoga @ $99 a point, Animal Kingdom @ $120, and Bay Lake @ $150. We're obviously leaning towards Saratoga, but we are a family of 5, and as far as I understand it, Saratoga's 1 Bedrooms aren't equipped for 5, so if we bought in there, we may never stay there, we'd just be buying in at that low price to become members. That's why I'm concerned about getting into the other resorts at 7 months. We're not sure what to do.

As far as trading to a non Disney resort, some of the ones I looked at actually seem fair to me. For instance, the ski resort in Vermont that we love, which is luxury slope-side with all the bells and whistles, for a week in high season is 160 points. We're going to need more points than that to fit all of us into a bed at Disney for a week, so if we decided to use points to ski one year, we would still have points left over for a quick trip to WDW. I suppose the issue would be getting into the resort in Vermont. That's why I was asking for anyone's experience in trading out.

GusMan
08-19-2011, 04:12 AM
For a family of 5, you are correct that you would have to go with AKV or BLT. I would say that given the travel lead-time limitations that you mentioned, AKV would be your better bet. I say that since AKV is less popular than BLT and it seems like we never have any issues getting a room there around the 7 month mark or so.

mom22gls
08-19-2011, 06:08 AM
From a logistical point of view, you also have to consider the additional costs of a Disney vacation. One issue is park passes. DVC owners get a significant discount on Annual Passes, but it makes the most sense to plan your trips to get at least two vacations out of the AP's, by booking twice within 12 months. For five people, even with some at the lower kid's rate, it's still a significant outlay for passes, and you may want to plan carefully to get the best use of them, and plan "other" trips with the points when you don't have active AP's, or don't want to buy passes for each trip. Our AP's just expired, and I'm now deciding how to use our points for next year, considering the cost of new passes and airfare.

cbarry
08-19-2011, 10:13 AM
For a family of 5, you are correct that you would have to go with AKV or BLT. I would say that given the travel lead-time limitations that you mentioned, AKV would be your better bet. I say that since AKV is less popular than BLT and it seems like we never have any issues getting a room there around the 7 month mark or so.

So, here's the question. Do I buy into Animal Kingdom? Or do I save $21 a point and buy into the Saratoga Springs deal? At $99 per point, I could buy more points, thus opening up my options even more, even possibly, I figured out, 2 BR units during lower seasons.

cbarry
08-19-2011, 10:17 AM
From a logistical point of view, you also have to consider the additional costs of a Disney vacation. One issue is park passes. DVC owners get a significant discount on Annual Passes, but it makes the most sense to plan your trips to get at least two vacations out of the AP's, by booking twice within 12 months. For five people, even with some at the lower kid's rate, it's still a significant outlay for passes, and you may want to plan carefully to get the best use of them, and plan "other" trips with the points when you don't have active AP's, or don't want to buy passes for each trip. Our AP's just expired, and I'm now deciding how to use our points for next year, considering the cost of new passes and airfare.

The deal on AP's if we feel we will use them is icing on the cake. I think we're pretty much sold on the whole DVC idea. The question is how many points and at which home resort. I've been told that if you don't plan well in advance, don't travel during the busiest seasons, and don't specifically care which resort you're staying in, then buy whatever resort is the best deal. That basically describes us, except for that last point. We don't specifically care which of the DVC resorts we stay at, we just need room for 5.

mom22gls
08-19-2011, 10:22 AM
So, here's the question. Do I buy into Animal Kingdom? Or do I save $21 a point and buy into the Saratoga Springs deal? At $99 per point, I could buy more points, thus opening up my options even more, even possibly, I figured out, 2 BR units during lower seasons.

Not only could you get a 2 bedroom unit, but, for essentially (if not exactly), the same points, a 3 bedroom treehouse. The treehouses are freestanding units, in a separate area of the resort, and are very cool. The bedrooms are slightly smaller, but you get a master bedroom with a very nice bathroom with jacuzzi (one queen size), another bedroom with a queen, a third bedroom with bunks and another full bath. There is a kitchen, dining room, and a big deck outside. We have stayed in treehouses twice, and loved it. That area is very quiet, which I find a nice break from the parks. There's an internal bus loop, and we usually walk to the Granstand station from the treehouse area, rather than waiting for the bus to take you to the other end of the bus loop. It's not the same "vibe" as a hotel-Saratoga Springs is a big resort, but they just opened a new, themed pool, so there are two big pools, and several quiet pools. I love Animal Kingdom Lodge, but we have had multiple great stays at Saratoga Springs.

cbarry
08-19-2011, 10:25 AM
So then you would recommend buying as many points as we can afford at the lower price point from Saratoga Springs? The Tree houses do interest me.

GusMan
08-19-2011, 10:27 AM
SSR is my home resort and I like it quite a bit. However, We stayed at AKV quite a bit as well and it is really nice as well. If you think that having more points will give you more options, such as 2 BR villas, that is something to consider. Some might think that is overkill for a family of 5, but you will surely have a lot of room. We stayed at AKV-Kidani Village in a 2BR last summer and it was awesome!!

Personally, I think $99pp at SSR is a great deal. I know that for the most part be it 11 months or 6 months out I can pretty much get a room there. However, if you end up thinking that you would like to stretch points out and not have to get a 2BR villa, choose AKV.

At the same time, you might have to think about how you plan vacations as well. Granted, you may not be able to think as far out as 11 months out, but to help with room/resort choices, you might think of ways where you can plan out a little further. If you think that is do-able, that may help you with your home resort choice and # of points needed as well.

mom22gls
08-19-2011, 11:18 AM
If you will always require a two bedroom, because of your family size, I think you will, effectively be bound to your home resort. We have stayed at other resorts, but always in a studio, which is OK for my family of four. On several occasions, we stayed in a bigger unit on "low point" days (Sunday-Thurs), then, if we wanted to add a weekend, would move to a hotel based studio for a couple of days. In that way, we had plenty of room for most of the vacation, and would be able to stay at a place like the Beach Club to enjoy the location and amenities, for the weekend. Very likely, at the 7 month mark you may not be able to get a 2 BR unit at a different resort, unless it's at a slow travel period. Whatever resort you choose, make sure it's one you will enjoy, because you will, likely be staying there, almost all the time. For us, Saratoga Springs is just fine.

fairestoneofall
08-19-2011, 01:31 PM
I would have to lean towards go with the place you can get the most points. We originally purchased 160 points at AKV in October of 2010 and have already added on (100 more at BLT). We originally purchased with the plan to go every other year and that would be enough points for a 1BR. We are only four, but were able to stay in a 2BR at VGC in February and got space envy. We eat in the room every day but one on vacations so a kitchen is helpful. Plus, I have two growing (and growing) boys that we will want to give a little more space as time goes on. I'm glad we added on the points, we've already used almost all of our bonus points and this year's points. It's TOO easy to plan vacations when you have the room taken care of.
As far as waitlisting goes, I'm 50/50. I got one I wait listed at VGC and didn't get the other. I'm currently wait listing a 2BR for part of our AKV stay in January. I booked less than 11 months, but more than 7 months out, then DH said he wanted to join us for the half marathon and our room was full. I was able to change three of the nights, but I'm wait listing the other two. I'm not really hopeful since it's marathon weekend.

stan2u
08-19-2011, 03:19 PM
IF you are not able to book more than 7 months out - and take advantage of the home resort - then it wouldn't make any difference what you own. The only home resort preference you get is that extra four months. The more flexible you are about reservation dates, the easier it is to book ob short notice. We booked a non-home resort twice with no problems.

All that being said, if it were me I'd buy the resort I'd be most likely to stay at, and book far in advance.

I'd also strongly advise you to look at the resale market, as there ALL the resorts are for sale.

Mermaid
08-19-2011, 03:49 PM
I am new, but I called at about 4 months for 3 nights at VGC for Oct, got none. We were planning on going later but had to switch the trip. I waitlisted and then called on the individual days a few times. I was able to get the Thurs night in a studio and the Sat night in a 1 BR. I have been waiting for the Friday night for 2 months now. So.... it seems really tough at VGC.

They heard me!! I just got the conformation for a 1BR for Friday night!! Yippee!!!!!!!!!! I am calling in the morning to now wait for a 1BR instead of a studio for the Thursday night, but if we have to switch rooms, we'll live!

cbarry
08-19-2011, 03:54 PM
I'd also strongly advise you to look at the resale market, as there ALL the resorts are for sale.

True, but they have taken away the right to book other Disney hotels, the Disney Cruise Line, and several other level non-Disney resorts from resale purchasers, unless I'm mistaken. That may effect us, if we choose to trade out to a non-Disney hotel. That said, I think I'd rather buy from Disney and not lose any possible perks.

cbarry
08-19-2011, 03:57 PM
If you will always require a two bedroom, because of your family size, I think you will, effectively be bound to your home resort. We have stayed at other resorts, but always in a studio, which is OK for my family of four. On several occasions, we stayed in a bigger unit on "low point" days (Sunday-Thurs), then, if we wanted to add a weekend, would move to a hotel based studio for a couple of days. In that way, we had plenty of room for most of the vacation, and would be able to stay at a place like the Beach Club to enjoy the location and amenities, for the weekend. Very likely, at the 7 month mark you may not be able to get a 2 BR unit at a different resort, unless it's at a slow travel period. Whatever resort you choose, make sure it's one you will enjoy, because you will, likely be staying there, almost all the time. For us, Saratoga Springs is just fine.

We don't neccessarily need a two bedroom, if we can get into Bay Lake or Animal Kingdom 1BR's. I guess the question really is, if we buy at Saratoga to save money on points, how easy will it be to get a 1 BR at either Animal Kingdom or Bay Lake at the 7 month mark.

If I'm reading correctly, it sounds like Animal Kingdom, not such a problem. Bay Lake possibly a problem.

GusMan
08-19-2011, 04:02 PM
We don't neccessarily need a two bedroom, if we can get into Bay Lake or Animal Kingdom 1BR's. I guess the question really is, if we buy at Saratoga to save money on points, how easy will it be to get a 1 BR at either Animal Kingdom or Bay Lake at the 7 month mark.

If I'm reading correctly, it sounds like Animal Kingdom, not such a problem. Bay Lake possibly a problem.

I think thats the thing. You have a family of 5. You should buy into a resort where you can accommodate a family of 5 without having to go into a 2br. Otherwise, you will be using points just to get that 2nd br to accommodate the 5th person.

Between the two resorts, AKV and BLT, you are going to have better luck getting a room at the 7 month mark at AKV. (This is me speaking from experience.)

currence
08-19-2011, 05:38 PM
Other things to consider in deciding where to buy is the length of the contract and the yearly dues. The cheaper contracts also expire earlier. Does that matter to you? Will it matter to you in the future?

stan2u
08-23-2011, 10:56 AM
True, but they have taken away the right to book other Disney hotels, the Disney Cruise Line, and several other level non-Disney resorts from resale purchasers, unless I'm mistaken. That may effect us, if we choose to trade out to a non-Disney hotel. That said, I think I'd rather buy from Disney and not lose any possible perks.

this is a "perk" that is very different for different people. We used it only once -to trade for 3 nites at the Grand Californian hotel. Now, of course, there is a DVC there, so we wouldn't need that trade. However, losing that perk would be meaningless to us. Purchase price for the DVC room would be far more significant.

However, that being the case, I have one more suggestion: Disney also re-sells DVC units from other, older resorts. They get them as a right of first refusal purchase, then re-sell them. Availability is obviously variable. However, you could check with them on that as well. If you were to buy a re-sale through Disney you wouldn't lose your perk.

cbarry
08-23-2011, 01:34 PM
That's a good suggestion. Thanks.

I still can't seem to get a sense how difficult booking another DVC resort other than your home is at 7 months.

currence
08-23-2011, 01:48 PM
That's because the answer is "it depends." What does it depend on - the size of the room that you are requesting, the duration of your trip, the time of year, and the hotel you want. At the seven month mark, I requested a value 2-bedroom at AKL for May '11 and was able to get all but one day. I had no problem getting a more expensive 2-bedroom at AKL for that day and waitlisted my preferred room. Fortunately, it became available from the waiting list and we did not have to change rooms. I expect that my success may have varied had my request been in a busier season.

Right now, I understand that BLT is one of the most popular resorts and hard to get into at the 7 month mark, especially during the busy periods. I haven't tried but that seems logical. In contrast, Saratoga Springs is huge and thus more likely to be available (except perhaps the tree-houses which again are newer). The Beach Club villas give you access to their amazing water area and are also popular/harder to get into.

If you were willing to go for a single night and did not care if you stayed anywhere from a studio to the grand-villa at any resort, I expect that you could find a single room available for almost every night of the year, with far less than 7 months notice. The less flexible you become with your type of room, the more days in a row you want to stay at the same place, and the pickier you are with specific hotels or specific times of years, the harder it will be to accommodate you.

cbarry
08-23-2011, 02:51 PM
That's because the answer is "it depends."


Well stated.