On our last trip we stayed at Port Orleans French Quarter and had a flyer in the room advertising the Disney Vacation Club Open House, offering a $50 Disney gift card for going along. I’d heard of the Open House on previous trips, but wasn’t quite sure what it entailed, apart from there being free ice cream involved. Hmmm…$50 gift card AND free ice cream, that sounded very tempting!
I went online and asked a few Disney friends back home what it involved, and also friends we met up with on the trip. They said it lasted 1-2 hours and there was indeed free ice cream offered. One friend who was staying at a deluxe Resort said she had a flyer for a $100 gift card in their room, so it must differ depending on Resort category.
Strolling along the BoardWalk one afternoon we came across the DVC model room set-up and went inside to investigate and take a few photos. I got talking to the Cast Member in there about the Open House and she said she could arrange for us to do it that afternoon.
In less than an hour we were at Saratoga Springs ready to do the Open House tour! If we hadn’t have had our own transport they would have taken us there in the DVC minivan.
The Open House is located inside the DVC building within Saratoga Springs Resort.
After checking in and getting our name stickers we were directed to the Kids’ Clubhouse where we could leave our 3 year old daughter to play. On entering she got to choose a juice box and snack (goldfish crackers), then went off to play happily. There was lots for her to do, crafts, computers and a selection of toys, plus we were given a pager in case we needed to be contacted. Our 18-month old wasn’t old enough to be left, but they kindly put together a box of toys for us to take for her.
While we waited for someone to come and speak with us we sat in a central room where we could help ourselves to complimentary cookies and drinks.
Around the top of the room were murals depicting Disney locations around the world.
After a short time, our DVC rep Kevin came and introduced himself and took us into one of the side rooms were he gave a brief introduction to Disney Vacation Club.
Before long we were being taken on a tour of the model rooms. On our way we saw this mini replica of a treehouse villa.
The model rooms were identical to the real thing, right down to the last detail, even the hallway outside and doors were replicated.
First off was the Animal Kingdom Villas model room. There was a studio and 1-bedroom, which linked together to form a 2-bedroom villa.
Next was Bay Lake Tower, again with a studio and 1-bedroom villa. This was the first time we had seen a Bay Lake Tower room and we were very impressed!
After the tour Kevin took us into one of the many office rooms to explain things in more detail. On the way there we were offered more refreshments in the form of cookies, bottled water, soda and juice boxes.
Kevin went through everything we needed to know about buying into DVC, explaining the points system, financing and how to book stays at the Resorts. At this point, what had initially started off as a way to get a $50 gift card and ice cream was quickly turning into a “this actually looks quite feasible, let’s buy DVC” afternoon! Although we knew the basics of how DVC worked, we hadn’t realised how affordable it was with the financing options available, and how much sense it made for people, like us, who visit Disney year after year. It’s kind of like paying for your vacation month by month, rather than in one lump sum. And after the 10 year finance agreement is up, the only thing left to pay are the relatively small annual dues. I kept looking over at DH and he kept looking at me, and we both knew the other was thinking that this was actually do-able. Kevin explained that they were expecting BLT to sell out within a few months, and although Animal Kingdom Villas was also available, it was BLT that they were promoting. They had a special offer on which was only to last a few more days where new members would get points backdated to the previous April, meaning we’d start with a very healthy points balance, enough to use for our next trip.
At no point during the tour or talk did we feel pressured at all. We said we’d have a talk about it and he gave us his contact details and said he’d be at BLT later that week if we wanted to have a look at the Resort itself.
We picked up DD from the Kids’ Clubhouse where she’d had a blast, and both kids were given a DVC coloring book and crayons. We also got a DVC tote bag and our $50 gift card.
Final stop on the way out was the ice cream parlor for our complimentary ice creams. There were several flavors to choose from and seats provided, but it was getting late so we just got one scoop each, so as not to spoil dinner.
We were at the center for about 2 hours all in all.
This is the miniature train that runs around the top of the ice cream parlor.
After a couple of days of talking and doing the math, we stopped by a DVC desk to arrange to meet Kevin at BLT. He met us there and along with showing us around the rooms there (exactly the same as the model rooms) he took us up to the viewing platform and Top of the World Lounge. Only DVC members staying at BLT get access to the platform and lounge, where the view was amazing, you can see right across the Magic Kingdom and Seven Seas Lagoon.
After going through the figures again we decided to go ahead and sign up. Sadly it was too late to get the necessary paperwork done, so we had to return to the DVC building the following day.
A few forms to fill in, ID to show, and a short time later we were DVC Members! We got our membership cards there and then, plus a DVC cool bag, and 3 Fastpasses each to use on any attraction we chose (with a few exceptions). There was even more ice cream on offer but we had to decline as we were off to dinner (still can’t believe I turned down free ice cream!)
We booked our first stay the following day, and are very much looking forward to staying at our home Resort, Bay Lake Tower, and the BoardWalk Villas next week. Watch this space for a full report!
Please note: I’m not sure if the free gift card offer is still on or whether it was a limited time offer.