DVC Owner Group in Michigan (SW Michigan Area)


NOT just an ambulance driver
Apr 25, 2006
We've been members since 2008 and our initial plan was to take a trip in early June, buy AP's and then go again the following April for spring break, and then take a year off. Using banking and borrowing, our 100-point contract could allow us to spread 300 points over two trips in three years. With airfare being so volatile (anywhere from $150-$500 R/T back then), the "base" plan was to drive. We would leave Friday afternoon and drive until around 10pm. We would then drive all day Saturday, ending the evening in northern Florida, around the Lake City area. On Sunday morning, we would sleep in and finish the drive into Orlando, arriving around 1pm, refreshed and ready to start our vacation. We'd stay 5 nights (Sunday-Thursday) and leave early Friday morning, driving all day and then driving all day again on Saturday until we arrived back home. Back in 2008, our 100 points were enough for 1BR's at our home resort of AKV for all seasons, including premiere.

From the get-go, our plans were for weeknight stays only and for only 5 park days. Since we've purchased, our plans have changed dramatically. The biggest thing that changed was the reallocation of 2010 which increased the weeknight points. That pretty much knocked us out of staying over spring break in a 1BR. We also added on in 2011 at HHI. We added a 50 point contract so that we could go to HHI every third year over spring break and stay in a 1BR for 5 nights. It works out well because we still get our spring break trip and now, we go to WDW in the fall instead of the spring or summer. We've been able to fly for almost all of our trips since airfare has been at or below $1200 for the 4 of us. The cost to drive (including hotels, gas and food) was about $1000, but now that our vehicles both have >150K miles on them, we would rent a vehicle to drive. That would add another $400-$500 so it is about the same price to drive vs fly. For the time and convenience alone, we opt to fly.

The kids, who were 3 and 5 when we bought in, are now 13 and almost 16. They have really started to lose interest in the parks. DH has no desire to ever go to WDW again and so, honestly, the cost of the tickets was really the final push we needed to re-evaluate how we "do Disney". Last year, the girls and I went to WDW for a week and stayed in a studio. We stayed 3 nights at OKW and 4 nights at AKV and we found that we didn't miss the 1BR at all. While we had park tickets, we found that we got bored rather quickly. We used our FP+ for a few favorites and we saw a few shows, but we found ourselves wandering around thinking, "Now what?" The excitement just wasn't there....everything was just "eh". What we did find enjoyable was the "extras". We saw the HDDR for the first time and had a blast. We went to the MNSSHP and really loved the entertainment and the event in general. We did a few of the rides, but it was the party environment that was really enjoyable. We went to Splitsville for the DVC Member night and they are begging to do that again. They dined at Jiko for the first time and now that has become a "must-do" restaurant. Top of the World Lounge is on their list of favorite places to visit as well. I have come to realize that there is so much more to do at WDW than just the parks and the cost of the tickets has become more than I am willing to pay for the entertainment value that I get in return. Don't get me wrong...we really like wandering through Epcot during F&W festival, but not at the cost of over $100 per day, per person...especially when we only spend a few hours there before we head out and do something else. Same with the MK...we love the nostalgic rides like Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain and BTMRR, but I'm just not willing to shell out over $2000 for my family to get 5-day park-hopper tickets, only to go and spend 1/2 days in the parks.

We aren't selling our DVC any time soon. I still see a lot of value in a WDW vacation. I just think that we will be spending more time enjoying the resorts and the amenities and activities that they have to offer instead of visiting the parks. I look forward to seeing Disney from a whole different perspective. I look forward to doing things like exploring Fort Wilderness (horseback rides, Segway tours, and haunted hayrides), pontoon boating on Bay Lake/7 Seas Lagoon, golfing or mini-golfing, a spa treatment or two, or just exploring the various resorts in general. We've never been to any of the water parks so we could always take a day to try one of those. If we want to get a park "fix", I'm sure that Disney will continue to offer the paid after-hours events, like MNSSHP or other hard-ticket events. We could always opt to attend one of those if we really want to spend a little time in the park. I also think we may try to go to HHI more often than every three years, using our AKV points.

This isn't meant to be a whining rant or complaint about the rising ticket prices. It's simply my personal response to how it is going to impact my family's vacation planning. I am in full agreement that the parks are too crowded and Disney needs to do something to alleviate it and improve the guest experience. I am not sure that raising ticket prices is the solution, but I don't have the answer either.


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