We are staying at the Grand California Resort at Disneyland and it is great! Disneyland is hectic, but the hotel is great. So is Disneyland by the way. I just wanted to share some pics. Elaine
I am going to start a multi-part article on the Disney Vacation Club (DVC). This is completely operated by the Walt Disney Company. I hope to help you figure out the whole, complicated system. Today I am just going over the most basic information.
1)The DVC is a Disney timeshare. You purchase points at a particular resort for a certain dollar figure per point. There are many variables which I will explain later, but these points are used to stay at one of the Disney DVC resorts. Not every resort on the Disney property is one of the DVC resorts; only the Deluxe Villas are part of the DVC.
2)When you purchase points at a particular resort, there are very specific rules governing when you may book a room at either your home resort or another DVC property. (I’ll explain more about this later).
3)You can buy a DVC timeshare directly from the Walt Disney Company or from one of several of the resale companies.
4)You can pay cash or finance your purchase.
5)There are advantages and disadvantages for buying DVC directly from Disney.
6)The purchase price for each DVC property varies widely and so do the points required for staying in the various properties.
7)There are 4 sizes of rooms in the DVC.
8)There are perks associated with owning at the DVC.
9)There are rules governing use and manipulation of the points in your DVC contract.
10)The points required to book a room at a particular resort varies with time of year which Disney states as high season, low season, and two moderate seasons.
11)You can rent your points out if you don’t use them, but Disney doesn’t sanction this. You must do this through a resale company.
This is just a basic outline of all the facets of buying and owning DVC. I have learned the hard way about a lot of the minutiae of owning a DVC property. I want to spare you from making the same mistakes we made and hopefully provide helpful tips if you are entertaining the idea of buying into the DVC. For us it has been a great experience and enabled us to go much more frequently than we otherwise could have. Tell me if you are more interested in one facet than another. I plan to do articles on each of the above points. Hope you enjoy!
***Second Star to the Right Disney Blog will be undergoing fairly major changes this weekend. We are changing our name and we are changing our theme to more of a magazine based format. Our articles, the News Roundup, and Weekly poll will all remain the same, but hopefully in a more attractive, user friendly format. We hope that you follow us through this transition***
* Disney and the NBA are developing a new attraction for Disney Springs at WDW to be called the “NBA Experience at Walt Disney World.” It will offer hands on interactive experiences to help bring the game to life.
* WDW is testing new pricing on Rapid Refill Mugs at Pop Century, the All Star Resorts, and Port Orleans-Riverside. There will no longer be 1,2, or 3 day options, only the length of stay option. The price of the length of stay option has been decreased from $17.99 to 16.49 (plus tax). It is anticipated that this will be employed at all WDW resorts later this year.
* The 2015 Epcot Food and Wine Festival will have a new experience for this fall: Remy’s Ratatouille Hide & Squeak Scavenger Hunt. Special maps will be given to lead you through the World Showcase in search of hidden Remy statues.
* Epcot is now showing sneak peaks of Disney/Pixar‘s ‘Inside Out’ at the Imagination pavilion, former home of Captain Eo.
* New DVC member merchandise can be purchased at DisneyStore.com.
* The Emotions from the upcoming Disney/Pixar movie ‘Inside Out’ will precede the Pixar Play Parade at Disney California Adventure beginning on June 19.
* Harambe Market in the Africa area of Animal Kingdom is now open.
* The annual attendance report from the Themed Entertainment Association shows that Disney parks are the 6 busiest parks in the U.S.: 1. Magic Kingdom 2. Disneyland 3. Epcot 4. Animal Kingdom 5. Hollywood Studios 6. California Adventure. Attendance rose from 2%(Animal Kingdom) up to 4% (Magic Kingdom). Universal Studios Orlando followed at #8, but had an attendance increase of 17%.
* The D23 Expo 2015, at the Anaheim Convention Center, will feature a new concert, Silly Symphony Celebration, on Sunday August 23 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. It will feature a 32 piece band playing songs from the Silly Symphonies while showing clips from the shorts.
* Disney Channel has announced that a new series based on “Tangled” and with the voice talents from the movie (including Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi) will premiere in 2017.
* Disney will be making a live-action film based on the ‘Night on Bald Mountain’ scene from “Fantasia.”
* Tron 3 has been canceled.
* In October, Disney will release a new high-tech toy, Playmation, that is somewhat different in that it hopes to get kids away from the computer and out moving about.
First, the results to last week’s question, “Which is Your Favorite Disney Park?” We would like thank everyone who voted.
Magic Kingdom 39%
Disneyland CA 17%
California Adventure 11%
Hollywood Studios 5%
All others 0%
***Magic Kingdom is the Winner! **** I expected this, but I am surprised how close Epcot was. Epcot held the lead for much of the week.
The question for this week is designed to help us choose topics on which to write. We hope to be able to inform, entertain, and be a resource for you. We recently had a request for more information on the DVC. Your feedback will help us be a better resource. If I have set the poll up correctly (certainly not a given), then you should be able to choose as many options as you like, and, you should be able to add your own. More specific comments and suggestions in the comments secton will be greatly appreciated.
* Duke Energy is going to build a solar farm in Orlando, Florida, near WDW, in the shape of a Mickey head.
* Magic Kingdom‘s Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party will feature a new show in front of Cinderella Castle this fall called the “Hocus Pocus Villain Spectacular,” hosted by the Sanderson sisters from Disney’s “Hocus Pocus.”
* Disneyland has released new Made With Magic merchandise for it’s Diamond Celebration including a new Mickey ears hat with the Diamond Celebration pattern on it and a paintbrush with light up functions.
* Epcot will soon be offering a new tour called ‘World Showcase Destinations Discovered.” It will be a 5 hour walking tour through and backstage at the World Showcase pavilions. It will include a lunch and a cultural demonstration. The cost will be $109 dollars per person. (Ouch!!)
* The Harambe Marketplace at Disney’s Animal Kingdom has now opened.
* Guests to Animal Kingdom can now see several new baby animals including sable antelope and white rhinos.
* This fall, to help celebrate it’s 10th anniversary, Raglan Road restaurant in Disney Springs at WDW will host a Raglan Road Master Chef Contest.
* Disney is working on building robots that walk and move like cartoon characters for the parks.
* The Walt Disney Company announced this week that it will be expanding the use of the MagicBands technology in WDW. What this means was not announced.
* DVC resorts will soon be updating their laundry rooms with new “high tech” laundry equipment as well a mobile website to check on washer/dryer availability.
* The Drew Brees Passing Academy is returning to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at WDW this summer featuring other NFL stars and 20 or more prep football teams from around the country.
* For a “nominal fee” ($35 per adult to be exact), DVC members can view the Magic Kingdom‘s Independence Day eve fireworks display from the convention center Port Cochere of Disney’s Contemporary Resort. The “DVC Independence Day Dessert Party” will include an delectable array of desserts, a cash bar and performances by the Dapper Dans and the Dixieland Band.
* The Disney Vacation Club Member Cruise will sailing to Alaska this year. Check members services for details.
* “Teen Beach 2” is to be released on DVD on June 26.
* “Tomorrowland” brings in a lackluster $40 million on it’s opening weekend.
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Fort Wilderness, and the surrounding area transport you away from Florida to the mountain west. It is home of my second favorite running/walking trail of the WDW resorts. The lodge is themed after Yellowstone National Park and is absolutely stunning. The area surrounding Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness fits into the theme with a forest of towering pines all around. The path winds through the “forest” from Wilderness Lodge through and around Fort Wilderness and back.
This is a wonderful place to run. It also makes a great walk for the whole family. The tall pines provide ample shade. Most of the path is paved, but pine needles soften your stride. You are surrounded by the fresh pine scent. Deer, squirrels, and the occasional rabbit can be encountered as well as the horses at Fort Wilderness. The Spanish moss, palmettos, flatness, and humidty let you know you are still in Florida, but with a little imagination, you can picture yourself out west. I haven’t been to Yellowstone, but it takes me to the Ponderosa Pine forests of two of my favorite places to run: Flagstaff, Arizona and the Black Forest, just north of Colorado Springs.
Maps of the exercise trail are available at the Guest Service desk. Starting from the dock behind Wilderness Lodge, running along the path to Fort Wilderness, and then circling though campground is 2.5 miles. Running straight back to Wilderness Lodge comes to about 3.7 miles. The out and back is a 5 mile jaunt. There is a small hill coming up from the docks at Wilderness Lodge. The trail is otherwise flat. If you want, you can wind further through the camp ground and make it an even longer run. The trail is mostly shaded and is rarely crowded. This enables you to enjoy the trail at any time during the day. You do have to cross roads a couple of times and part of the run is along roads in Fort Wilderness. So you will need to pay attention during these portions.
Pros: Pine trees. Shade. Critters, All day access. Rarely busy.
Cons: Road Crossing and potential traffic at Fort Wilderness.
Overall: This is a great running trail that blends in with the wonderful theming of the resorts. It makes a nice place to take a walk with your family, too.
I hope you give it a try.
Perdita (mom) here-
I am the money-manager in the house so I do the investigative work when it comes to saving money for Disney World. Some of the 5 tips for saving money are so long I will have to elaborate in a separate article, but some are not
1)Eat Cheaply-I have covered this in a previous article, but it bears repeating. This one tip alone can save hundreds easily. Some people don’t think about how much a meal can cost (easily $30-40/person). If you have a family of 4 that is about $160. If you factor in 3 meals/day that could easily add up to $500/ day plus any snacks and drinks you may buy at the park. Let’s just say you do spend this much and you are staying 7 days. You can easily see how the meals can add up to thousand alone. I know Disney isn’t cheap for even the “cheap” meals I have advocated, but it makes a real difference.
2) Buy Disney Vacation Club (to save even more, buy on the re-sale market)-
I am writing a couple of articles about this because there is so much about this topic. This one move has enabled us to go to the parks much more frequently than we otherwise would have been able to.
3)Use Miles Cards and sign-up bonuses for your travel–
Again I will elaborate more later, but if you have a favorite airline or have one airline (for us it is Southwest Airlines) that is convenient for travel, get their credit card.
4)If you don’t have Disney Vacation Club consider Value and Moderate Resorts–
When we called in to Disney in 2009 to make a reservation we didn’t even know there were value resorts. (There are value, moderate, deluxe, and deluxe villa resorts.) They booked us in a deluxe resort. When I thought back to the time I called several years before and they priced the vacation (the one we couldn’t afford) they also had booked us into a deluxe resort. Ask about all options and check the website.
5)Don’t fall for the “Dining-Plan-Package”–
They will tell you that you are saving money when in fact they have that built into the package. If you price the vacation for room only I have found you save money. (a caveat is that is only if you don’t care about eating at the fine dining restaurants). I have found that on room-only reservations you can get about 30% off on the rooms most of the time anyway and they put the dining plan in the package and keep the room at full price. There are exceptions to this but I have found this to be the case when we have called.
More tips later!
* Happy Birthday Disneyland!! Disneyland’s 60th anniversary Diamond Celebration begins today.
* Disneyland’s new ‘ Disneyland Forever’ fireworks show begins tonight.
* The new ‘World of Color – Celebrate!’ premiers today at Disney California Adventure.
* Magic Kingdom in Orlando and Disneyland in Anaheim are open 24 hours today.
* Disneyland California will begin testing of FastPass+ system this summer. Hong Kong Disneyland will follow in 2016.
* Disney has posted “No Selfie Sticks” signs outside Big Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain at both WDW and Disneyland because people were not obeying the rules.
* Grizzly Peak Airfield opened this week at Disney’s California Adventure.
* Peter Pan’s Flight in Disneyland will not re-open until July 1.
* Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary Resort begins serving brunch May31. Reservations can begin being made on May 22.
* The new Boathouse restaurant at Disney Springs has joined the Disney Dining Plan.
* New Restaurants are coming soon to WDW Disney Springs: The Edison (American food and cocktails), Sprinkles (cupcakes, ice cream, and cookies), Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza (artisanal pizza), Vivoli Gelateria (gelato), Tea Traders Cafe’ by Joffreys (loose leaf teas), STK Orlando (steaks), Morimoto Asia (Pan Asian), and Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar (Indiana Jones inspired lounge).
* A drunken 27 year Ohio man had to be rescued from the Bay Lake after running a golf cart off the Wilderness Lodge Bay Lake pier and trying to swim away from shore per the Orlando Sentinel.
* Disney will be adding 26 new DVC lodge cabins at the Wilderness Lodge per a construction work plan released this week.
* DVC member services will closed all day on Memorial Day, Monday, May 25, 2015. DVCMember.com can still be used that day.
* Tokyo DisneySea is building a new Pixar, Nemo themed attraction set to open in the Spring of 2017.
* Disney Cruise Line will be sailing out of New York City to both Canada and the Bahamas in 2016.
* The largest Disney Store in the world has opened in Shanghai, China.
* Disney’s ‘Tomorrowland’ opens today with a mediocre 53% fresh rating from Rotten Tomatoes.
* Disney/Pixar’s upcoming ‘Inside Out’ is a huge hit at the Cannes Film Festival.
* ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” is already $70 million dollars over budget with 3 months of filming still left to go.
* Star Wars Weekends at Hollywood Studios begins this weekend.
* The Coolest Summer Ever at Walt Disney World kicks off with Magic Kingdom staying open for 24 hours from 6 a.m. Friday May 22, through 6 a.m. Saturday May 23.
* Disneyland’s Diamond Celebration opens on May 22 by staying open 24 hours and will debut the “Paint the Night” parade, “World of Color – Celebrate! The Wonderful World of Walt Disney” and “Disneyland Forever” fireworks.
* Grizzly Peak Airfield at Disney’s California Adventure opens today.
* The Hatbox Ghost has returned to Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion.
* New oil can themed souvenir cups are coming to Cars Land in Disney’s California Adventure for the Diamond Celebration.
* Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar, an ‘Indiana Jones’-themed restaurant is scheduled to open this fall at Disney Springs in Orlando.
* Online advanced reservations can now be made for “Rebel Hangar – A Star Wars Lounge Experience” at Hollywood Studios.
* Disneyland Paris Half Marathon, to be ran on September 25, 2016, has released a promotional video for the inaugural event. Registration dates have not yet been announced.
* A new DVC Preview Center has opened in Downtown Disney at Disneyland in Anaheim.
* ABC will air a live Disneyland Diamond Anniversary special.
* Johnny Depp tried to sneak his Yorkshire terriers into Australia while filming the fifth ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ movie. He was caught, and now, they must either return to the US or be euthanized.
* The Muppets are coming to ABC during prime-time this fall!!
Review of The Polynesian Villas (new DVC property)-
Perdita (mom) here-
We recently returned from a stay at the newly opened (opened April 1, 2015) Polynesian Villas (a new Disney Vacation Club property). We stayed in the Moorea Building with a lake view. This will be, without something changes, our last stay in the villas at the Polynesian.
Our stay was not a very pleasant one, which I am sad to report. Our stays at the other Disney Vacation Club properties have been more pleasant. I will give the good, and the bad in this review.
I will start with the good. The villas are beautiful and large with a split bathroom plan. The refurbishment done in the Polynesian lobby enhanced the appearance of that area. The main pool was refurbished as well and is now called the lava pool. It is visually appealing. The lake view we had in our villa was nice. The resort is a Magic Kingdom area resort. It is on the monorail system; therefore a short monorail ride to the Magic Kingdom and a longer ride to Epcot. A bus must be taken to Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom.
Now the bad. ( Let me begin this section with stating I really hate giving a bad review to any Disney property or experience. I am writing this to be informative not to bash.) The experience at the Polynesian started badly with check-in. The young man was very abrupt and uninformative. I told him we had never been to the Polynesian and asked where we could get quick-service dining and I asked about the gift shops. He said all the restaurants were upstairs and seemed to indicate all of the gift shops were on the first floor. He was wrong on both counts. The quick-service restaurant was on the first floor. The expensive restaurants were on the second floor and I didn’t find out until we were leaving that there were two more shops on the second floor.
The first (and only) night we stayed was a disaster. We came back from Magic Kingdom by boat. We were leaving Magic Kingdom after 1:00 a.m. and found out the monorail transportation had ended for the night and the boat was the only way to get back to our hotel. This mode of transportation is slow; taking us almost 30 minutes to get back to our hotel. The hotel was only properly lit to take us back to the main building (known as The Great Ceremonial House). When we tried to make it back to the Moorea Building where our DVC villa was, the path wasn’t lit at all. My son thankfully thought of the flashlight on the phone to guide us back to our building. When we finally arrived it was around 2:00 a.m. There was a large boat that docked close to our room and it sounded the whistle almost constantly from 3:30 (or at least I finally fell asleep then) and awoke me again at 7:30 a.m. I am not a light sleeper, but this whistle was very, very loud and incessant. When I found I couldn’t get back to sleep, I went to the front desk to complain about the noise.
The worst part of our experience was really the response to our awful night. The manager was cavalier about the lack of sleep, and said he had heard that complaint a lot. He offered to move us but offered no compensation for the awful experience or inconvenience. He also said he couldn’t say the noise wouldn’t be an issue in the next room and the lighting would be addressed when the remodeling of the resort was finished. The lack of sleep (when that is what you pay for at a hotel after all) seemed inconsequential to him and his attitude didn’t reflect the “Disney” attitude at all. We moved to a different resort (with much difficulty I might add.)
So, in summary, I can’t muster up much good to say about the Polynesian villas.
Also, as a footnote, a website called Mouseowners (a message board for DVC owners) had 7 pages of complaints about the noise at the Polynesian villas last night entitled ” Poly boat horn thread”, so ours isn’t an isolated case.