by Ron Thompson
Are you thinking about spending the Christmas Holidays at Walt Disney World? Great! Do you have your reservation at a Disney Vacation Club (DVC) resort? No? As the little White Rabbit Christmas Ornament suggests, “Oh my fur and whiskers! You are late, you are late, you are late!!!”
Wait–what IS the Disney Vacation Club? DVC (as it is known to members) is Disney’s version of a time-share program. Rather than purchasing specific use weeks (like many time-share programs), within Disney’s program, members purchase “points” that can be traded in to stay in different resorts at different times of the year. The December holidays are among the most popular to stay in a DVC resort. DVC members can make reservations as early as eleven months in advance of their travels, so planning is always the key!
Yes, I know that it is only July, but the week of Christmas is a very busy one at the Walt Disney World resort. Crowds are usually the heaviest at this time, and as a result, rooms at the DVC resorts are at a premium (and premium price as well). But don’t worry, I have some suggestions for you that may help.
Let’s assume that you are planning on staying from Dec 23, Sunday through Saturday Dec 29, departing on 30 Dec Sunday, a total of 7 nights. Let’s assume also that your family is composed of Mom, Dad and two kids.
Alright, you ask, when should I have made my reservations? In general, you should always make them as soon as your reservation window opens up. For your “home resort” that would be 11 months in advance; in our example you could have made the reservation on Jan 23. At that time, you are only competing with other members with that home resort. For a non-home resort, the window opens up 7 months prior or on May 23. At that time however, you are competing with all DVC members who are planning a stay at that time.
Making a reservation at your home resort will ensure that you have accommodations at WDW for the Christmas season. You can always try to change them in the event you wish to stay at another DVC resort other than your home resort, but at least you will be assured of a place to stay.
Let’s take the example of staying in a Studio at the Saratoga Springs Resort; the cost would be 152 vacation points. For the Wilderness Lodge, the studio cost would be 167 vacation points.
What to do if all the studio rooms are no longer available? There are several alternatives. First, you could choose to stay in a larger 1 or 2 bedroom villa instead, assuming one is available. The cost is much higher and you may not need the space nor perhaps want to spend the extra points.
The second alternative is to transfer some of your vacation points to reservation points at a non-DVC Disney resort. At Disney’s Port Orleans resort for example, you could stay in a standard view room for 183 reservation points. Although the cost is slightly higher since you are staying in a hotel serviced room rather than a resort villa, it opens up a wider range of possible places to stay. There are some caveats to choosing this option however.
There is a fee of $95 associated with moving “Vacation Points” to “Reservation Points”–the distinction being between DVC and non-DVC resorts. Also, once moved, the points cannot be moved back in the event you change your vacation plans. You can still make changes to your reservation though. There are a lot of considerations so check with DVC Member Services for details. There is one additional benefit for booking one of these resorts: they can be booked 11 months in advance–the same as a home resort.
If you have studied the DVC Vacation Points Charts you have probably noticed that staying over Christmas week is much more expensive than at any other time. But, you say, “I really want to experience Christmas at WDW.” I have another suggestion for you.
Disney starts decorating for the Christmas season literally the day after Halloween. If you plan your vacation during the period starting after Thanksgiving until just before Christmas, you will find a lot of benefits. All the Christmas decorations will be up, you can still attend Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and parade, see the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at the Studios, see Christmas Wishes fireworks display, attend the Candlelight Processional at EPCOT, the crowds will be much lower and you’ll save Vacation Points.
If we take the same three examples as before, for a 7 night stay from Sunday 2 Dec through Saturday 8 Dec, the costs would be as follows: for Saratoga Springs, 95 points; for Wilderness Lodge, 107 points; and for Port Orleans, 146 points. Quite a savings of those precious Vacation Points.
The Christmas season seems to make Walt Disney World even more Magical than at other times. So, make your plans, get your reservations in place and make your ADRs (advanced dining reservations) and expect a wonderful, fun-filled Christmas experience at the place “Where (Christmas ) Dreams come True.” After all, you’re late, you’re late, you’re late !!!
Have you ever spent the holidays in a DVC resort? Which do you think offers the best holiday experience? Post your thoughts in the comments below!
Also known as DisneyDragons, Ron Thompson is a passionate Disney fan. He is a D23 Charter Member and a DVC member since 1998. He has enjoyed 35 vacations to Walt Disney World, 26 to Disneyland, once to Tokyo Disneyland!