DVC

The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! January 2016 Photo Report of the Disney Outlet Store

by on January 31, 2016

MMM positiveWelcome to the latest edition of The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! the longest running monthly look at the Disney Outlet Stores in Orlando. The new year has started off exactly where the old one left us: with Walt Disney World closing attractions. It has been a pretty cool month though, including a cool Star Wars runDisney race out in California (and Star Wars fans owe it to themselves to watch a great parody of Undercover Boss featuring Kylo Ren). Erin Foster took us inside Vanellope’s on the Disney Dream, and for those who don’t know, this is a complete Wreck-It-Ralph themed sweet shop (pinch us, we’re dreaming). And Guy Selga introduced us to Four Glorious New Ways to Kill Time at Disneyland, including the am I dreaming this, or is this real Jungle Cruise Skipper School. 2016 is shaping up to be an incredible year.

Now while all of you were off taking your kids to see Donald Trump, Outlet Intern Julia Mascardo and I were hard at work to bring you the quality Outlet coverage you expect deserve!

Enough jibber jabber! Who is ready to hit the Outlets? Remember that clicking on any picture will open a full size version of it (don’t say we didn’t warn you).

The first item this month made my heart grow three sizes (after double checking, that enlargement of the heart was actually due to eating the Pop-Tart Sandwich at Pop Century). Behold the Luigi’s Flying Tires hat! Anyone who has visited the Disney Dump has seen the remnants of this attraction, which opened with the debut of Cars Land in the summer of 2012 and was already closed by the ending of February 2015. Believe it or not, despite only being open for only 976 days, Luigi’s doesn’t even rank in the Top Five of Short Lived Disney Attractions. Originally $24.95, this baby could be sitting on your head for just $6.99. VIVA LA DISNEY OUTLETS!

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After seeing this, I know how Indiana Jones felt seeing the Fertility Idol.  (photo by Julia Mascardo)

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Tsum Tsums returned this month! However it was mostly the ones we have seen in the past (including all seven of the dwarfs), but one that was new was this crying duck. I had literally no idea who this was, but found out it was the Ugly Duckling from a quick scene in Lilo & Stitch. That’s what we call a deep dive, and I love it. I actually dropped Loot Crate this month and started up the Disney Tsum Tsum Monthly Subscription Program, so starting in February I too will annoy you with unboxing videos (although my last one didn’t go so well).

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Ugly Duckling Tsum.

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Ugly Duckling sequence from Lilo & Stitch.

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Rating Disney Vacation Club’s 25th anniversary offers

by on January 26, 2016

As a fairly new owner of Disney Vacation Club, I’ve heard the trope that nothing is promised to owners except access to resort rooms that would otherwise cost far more on a cash basis. At its core, DVC is a timeshare program, though one that has its own cachet and has, so far, retained a good bit of value on the resale market.

DVC members will be able to relax upstairs in Epcot's Imagination Pavilion.

DVC members will be able to relax upstairs in Epcot’s Imagination Pavilion.

But as DVC owners will tell you, it can be much more thanks to the extras that are provided. There are small bonuses, like the Disney Files magazine that comes in the mail every three months or the DVC magnets for the back of your car. Then there are larger bonuses, like the dining and merchandise discounts and special offers on annual passes or park tickets.

With 2016 being the 25th year of DVC’s existence (yes, those original purchasers at Old Key West will be halfway through their contracts at the end of this year), DVC is rolling out a host of special offers to celebrate. We’ll run through and classify the offers.

Yes, that’s what I’m talking about

One of my favorite perks of membership is access to The Top Of The World Lounge at Disney’s Bay Lake Tower. It’s a great place for drinks and snacks, and the exclusive access means you don’t have to fight the crowds for this great viewing spot of the Wishes fireworks show. So I’m really happy that another exclusive member area will be created within a theme park. The upper floor of Epcot’s Imagination Pavilion (the old ImageWorks) is being taken out of mothballs to be transformed into a DVC member lounge with seating, complimentary soft drinks, wi-fi, charging stations, computers with printers and member services advisors. In the heat of the summer, sounds like a great way to get some rest and refreshment before trekking into World Showcase. Plus, it’s something that every DVC member can take advantage of, unlike our next offering.

Amazing if you can make it

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Disney Vacation Club Members Can Celebrate 25 Years of DVC With 25 and Beyond Bash

by on January 14, 2016

DVC 25 Bash

©Disney

Disney Vacation Club is celebrating 25 years and DVC members will get to enjoy quite a few exciting events to commemorate the occasion. The fun will kick off with the Disney Vacation Club 25 and Beyond Bash at the Magic Kingdom on two nights – February 25 and March 3. The party will kick off at 9:30 p.m. and last until midnight.

Event highlights will include access to select attractions in Tomorrowland and Fantasyland, as well as The Haunted Mansion in Liberty Square. There will also be a DJ dance party for Guests to groove to in Tomorrowland and complimentary refreshments available. Other items will be available for purchase.

Members and their Guests will be able to enter the park as early as 7:00 p.m., however to enter the park at 7:00 p.m., Guests must have valid theme park admission. Guests will be able to check in for the event at either the Magic Kingdom or at the lobbies of the Disney Vacation Club Resorts. Membership Card and a photo ID will be required at check-in. Attendees will be given a wristband to wear during the event.

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Disney’s Vero Beach Resort Tips and Full Review

by on January 13, 2016

Before being known for theme parks and other attractions, Florida was a vacation destination for enjoying warm weather, sandy beaches, and other beautiful scenery. Although Walt Disney World is the undisputed champion of having changed Florida’s tourism scene forever, Disney is responsible for a resort that honors and celebrates Florida; the Florida before Disney. Whenever I visit Disney’s Vero Beach Resort I am filled with Florida pride and become instantly relaxed. After five visits I have my own list of favorite activities and features of this resort, and I’d like to share my Disney’s Vero Beach Resort tips with you.

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You do not have to be a DVC Member to stay here

Disney’s Vero Beach Resort is primarily a Disney Vacation Club property. It is one of the very first DVC Resorts, offering villa style accommodations (studios all the way to three bedroom villas) as well as regular hotel rooms. As a DVC member you can use your vacation points to stay in any available accommodations, including hotel rooms. Non members can also book any available accommodations, based on availability.

All accommodations have Florida and nautical themed decor. All rooms are pretty well sized, offering a pleasing amount of space. All units, even the hotel rooms, have DVD players. As with all DVC resorts, DVDs are offered for rent from a fairly decent sized DVD library.

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Celebrate 25 Years of DVC with a New Disney Vacation Club Member Lounge and More

by on January 4, 2016

©Disney

©Disney

This year is the 25th anniversary of Disney Vacation Club and to celebrate Disney is introducing many new perks for its members.

First, to celebrate the 25th Anniversary, Disney Vacation Club is creating a brand new, exclusive Member Lounge at Epcot, which is slated to open on the second floor of the Imagination Pavilion in late spring of 2016. This new lounge will be included with admission to Epcot and will give members and their guests a place to relax, access device charging stations, enjoy complimentary refreshments and other offerings, WiFi, Member Service Advisors, and mingle with other members.

Other anniversary perks will allow members to be offered additional complimentary theme park and water park events throughout the year such as the 25 and Beyond Bash and the Disney Vacation Club Safari Spectacular; discounts on multi-day theme park tickets at Walt Disney World Resort; a silver anniversary sweepstakes; fun surprises throughout the year and new memorable experiences at not only Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts, but also at Aulani and onboard Disney Cruise Line.

DVC members will also receive a new personalized Disney Vacation Club Membership Card that will make it possible for members to enjoy all these new benefits, and other recognition programs, such as special anniversary buttons, photos opportunities, unique merchandise and more.

For more information about the 25th‘s festivities, check out the DVC website.

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The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! December 2015 Photo Report of the Disney Outlet Store

by on December 31, 2015

MMM positiveWelcome to the latest edition of The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! the longest running monthly look at the Disney Outlet Stores in Orlando. In fact, with this edition of MMM Your Humble Author is completing the greatest month in the history of theme park blogging. In December we had the 25 Drinks of Christmas countdown (featuring the Nautilus at Grog Grotto, Deathly Hallows at WWOHP, Candy Apple Cotton-Tini at T-Rex Cafe and more), SATURDAY SIXES on the best souvenir cups at WDW along with Indiana Jones references in Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar, our annual IN MEMORIAM – Six Things We Lost From the Theme Park World, and the inaugural 12 Days of a Theme Park Christmas. Of course readers of this fine column will enjoy Six Gifts Santa Can Bring BACK to the North Pole (AKA The Best of the Disney Outlet Stores 2015)

Now while all of you were out buying the wrong gift for your loved ones, Outlet Intern Julia Mascardo and I were hard at work to bring you the Outlet coverage you expect deserve!

Enough jibber jabber! Who is ready to hit the Outlets? Remember that clicking on any picture will open a full size version of it (don’t say we didn’t warn you)

We are going to start off this month’s report with a story so uplifting that, if it was made into a movie, it could only star Kirk Cameron. When the Disney Outlet Store off of International Drive was shut down in June for a “refurbishment,” we were told it would be closed for three months and reopen in September. Well, September came and went and it still wasn’t open. October came and went and it still wasn’t open. November came and went and it still wasn’t open

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I made many trips past this closed Outlet Store during the Summer and Fall, not unlike Ralphie Parker hoping to find his Little Orphan Annie Decoder Ring in the mail.

A funny thing happened in early December. I had bought tickets to go to a private event in Diagon Alley at the Universal Orlando Resort, which is close to the International Drive Outlets. I walked by the Disney Outlet, and found it still closed, but this time there was a sign on the door…

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Wait, is that a sign on the door?!

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A look into the future: Walt Disney World 2025 – part 2

by on December 13, 2015

A lot can change in 10 years. In part one of our peer into the future of the Walt Disney World resort, we looked at changes in the theme parks and ticketing (hint: ticket prices will rise). In part two, we look at the resort hotels, Disney Springs, and Disney transportation, which has a more exciting future than you might imagine. We know that the Disney company is planning to develop more land on property, due to this report on a request to increase the amount of land it will restore on its preserve to offset wetlands development. Ultimately, any additions will be focused on accommodating ever-increasing crowds and growing revenue.

Photo Courtesy Brian McNichols

Expect more well-themed value and moderate resorts in the image of Art of Animation. (Photo Courtesy Brian McNichols)

New resort hotels: Rising attendance and demand will continue to drive the development of new resort hotels in Disney’s never-ending quest to keep as many travelers in the Disney bubble as possible. Recently, high-end additions such as the Polynesian bungalows have stirred talk that Disney is catering to the “1 percent,” and neglecting middle-class travelers. To counter that notion, future development will include well-themed value or moderate resorts along the lines of Disney’s Art of Animation. The new resorts will offer more variety in room sizes, responding to a demand for larger family suites. As more “Star Wars” sequels are released, a Star Wars-themed resort will  capitalize on the success of Star Wars Land and become an attraction that draws visitors beyond the parks. The success of Pandora-The World of Avatar expands attendance at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, creating demand for additional rooms near that park. Perhaps an Asian theme would complement the African-themed Animal Kingdom Lodge, though likely without the live animals of that resort. Alternately, if next year’s animated feature “Zootopia” is a big hit, Disney may opt for a more cartoony version of an animal-themed resort.

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Maximizing the value of Disney Vacation Club

by on October 20, 2015

Previously, I wrote about various uses of Disney Vacation Club points in order to demonstrate the great variety of location and length of stays available at similar point levels. Along those lines, we’re going to take a look at the best way to maximize the value of a Disney Vacation Club membership. Whether you’re already a member, or just thinking about becoming a member, here are ways to leverage Disney Vacation Club for maximum touring enjoyment.dvc-logo

  • Lower your initial point investment: No matter how many points you own, the perks are the same. So don’t be afraid to scrimp on that initial purchase of Disney Vacation Club points. Currently, the minimum buy-in from Disney is 100 points. You can also start with even fewer points by looking to the resale market, where points go for much less. One caveat to buying a DVC contract from a resale broker: The points cannot be used destinations in The Concierge Collection, The Adventurer Collection and The Disney Collection. But in general, these uses –which include cruises, Adventures By Disney and non-DVC Disney resorts — are not the most economical use of points. If your primary concern is value, you’re going to be using your points for DVC resorts only. A lower number of points also means a lower amount of maintenance fees you’re paying out each year. Of course, as many DVC members can tell you, “add-on-itus” is a real thing. It may not be long before you’re in the market for additional DVC points. On the other side of the coin, if you decide that DVC doesn’t work for you, a smaller contract is easier to sell on the resale market than a larger contract.

Now, more tips:

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Would You Rather: Disney Vacation Club edition

by on October 9, 2015

Len Testa does an occasional segment for the WDW Today podcast that he calls “Would You Rather.” In it, he and his cohosts compare Walt Disney World vacations of similar pricing.

dvc-logoIt’s a revealing exercise that forces you to prioritize what you really value in your traveling. Perhaps staying off property doesn’t matter if it means you can use the savings for food and souvenirs. Or maybe you refuse to stay anywhere but a Disney deluxe resort, even if it means scrimping elsewhere.

This concept also works well with Disney Vacation Club, thanks to the vacation point system. Whether you own or rent points, everyone is using the same point charts to determine the cost of their stay, so it’s easy to compare apples to apples.

In this exercise, we will compare five different Disney Vacation Club itineraries at Walt Disney World using around 160 points — a fairly standard annual allotment. We’ll compare units with room to sleep at least eight guests visiting WDW in the summer (Magic Season). Join me below to get a sense of varying options DVC presents. 

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There will be math – the Tables In Wonderland debate

by on September 20, 2015

I’ve often heard a simple formula to determine whether it’s worth the cost to purchase a Tables In Wonderland dining membership.

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Tables In Wonderland provides a 20 percent discount at most Walt Disney World table service restaurants, along with counter service restaurants at resorts that don’t have a table service restaurant (those would be the value resorts, along with Port Orleans French Quarter). The year-long membership is available to Florida residents for $125 or to Annual/Seasonal Passholders or Disney Vacation Club members for $100.

The back-of-the-napkin calculation I’ve heard is that if you spend more than $500 in dining, then the 20 percent discount has recouped the $100 cost of the membership. It’s simple enough for even the math-impaired to figure out in their head, but for someone considering Tables In Wonderland, it’s not the whole picture.

If you are an Annual Passholder or DVC member, you are already entitled to discounts at many of the same restaurants. For example, DVC members get a 15 percent discount at Via Napoli in Epcot, while Annual Passholders get a 10 percent weekday lunch discount there. If you want to compare all the dining discounts, the folks at AllEars.net have put together this handy guide that shows the three discount programs side by side, along with Disney Visa discounts.

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