A Short Trip to WDW - UPDATE - DVC Decision Made (May, 2012)

Discussion in 'DVC Trip Reports' started by Shazzasmd, May 24, 2012.

  1. Shazzasmd

    Shazzasmd Mouseketeer

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    Intro - DH and I are both retired and enjoy traveling. As we get older, we're less inclined to get on airplanes for long trips, and started thinking about visiting Disney World more often. This started me researching purchasing DVC, which is the reason for our recent 2 night stay at The Boardwalk (May 22 - 24).

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    We stayed in the Hotel, with a water view room (there were no Boardwalk View Villas available for our last minute trip). So, why is this in the DVC section? Because the whole purpose was to checkout DVC, and also spend some time on the Boardwalk, since we've never visited this area. We usually stay at the Yacht Club or Beach Club, since Epcot is our favorite Park, but really haven't spent any time at the BWI. We wanted to see if purchasing DVC points at BWI was a good fit for us.



    The Trip - we live in South Florida, so it's only a 2 hr drive to WDW. We left on Tuesday morning, after dropping off the dog for boarding - its the first time she's been boarded, so we'll see how this goes.

    Gratuitous Puppy Photo
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    Arrival - We arrived at the Boardwalk at 1:30 pm. Checked in, room was ready - #5265. Room was fine for a 2 night stay - we liked the decor. Good view of the Yacht Club - pics 0f the view will come later. We did check out the location of the BWI villas, and it looks like the Boardwalk Views are nice.

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    Lunch and More - We wandered around the resort, and then had a quick lunch at Big River Grill. Nothing like starting off an investigative adventure with a couple of cold ones and a burger.

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    Visiting DVC Sales Center - After lunch, we visited the DVC satellite office where they have a 1 Bedroom BWI Villa set up for display. The Villa was fine, a little smaller than some of the others we've seen, but not an issue. After some chit chat, we agreed to head to the Real DVC sales center at Saratoga Springs. The nice folks escorted us out to catch a DVC van, which was brand new, and we were on our way.

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    Our driver was very friendly and we chatted comfortably on the way to SSR. Once there, we had some refreshing iced tea and waited just a few moments for our friendly Guide to appear.

    The presentation was low key. While nothing was misleading, I was surprised at two things: 1) an almost total dismissal of the importance of Home Resort, and 2) a similar lack of consideration about Use Year. All the discussion centered around Animal Kingdom, since that's what they are selling now (our guide did say he occasionally talks to people who are interested in Aulani, but he realized that wasn't of interest to most East Coast folks). He made it seem as though it was pretty easy to book at the other resorts at the 7 month window, except for the busiest times.

    We walked over to the models and viewed the ones for Aulani and Animal Kingdom. We've stayed in Animal Kingdom Villas previously, but it was helpful to get a refresher. What caught my husband's eye? The model of a Tree House Villa at Saratoga. All of a sudden he was intrigued ... foreshadowing ....

    We do have fond memories of a previous stay in a Grand Villa at AKV Kidani.
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    Back to the Sales Center, and we're led to the Hard Sell/Closing Room. It looked like the Haunted Mansion ...

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    OK, just kidding - that's actually a photo of the first "room" they take you to. After the tour we went to a small conference room - kind of like those little rooms they take you to to Close the Deal when you buy a car.

    Now it's time to learn all about how much our DVC Dream will cost. We were presented with the Double Whammy 20th Anniversary specials - Buy 100 pts at $130/pt, get 20 pts for "free" & get a full year's worth of points to start out - with the next 120 pts coming online Dec 2012. This deal ends Saturday - which is confusing, since we were told June 14th on the phone. And, I thought they were actually obligated to give you the current points - so I'm not exactly sure when it ends.

    DH asked about buying Resale - our guide dismissed this notion since he didn't understand why anyone would want to purchase a restricted product. Maybe we'll want to go Disneyland Paris some day, or take a Cruise ... So why consider Resale? Enough said, we didn't push this button further. Overall, our Guide was very nice, and certainly didn't attempt any hard selling.

    I did think twice before taking up their time with a DVC presentation, since I'd already researched Resale. However, my husband wanted to learn more, and we did go into the presentation with an open mind.


    What? We can't use Resale Points to pay for our next Cruise? Bummer.
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    We declined the kind offer of ice cream, and were taken out to a waiting van for a trip back to BWI. That completes our visit to the DVC Sales Center. Do we sign on the bottom line before Saturday? Stay tuned for the answer...

    _____________
    Sharon
     
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  3. arthur06

    arthur06 DDC #689

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    I can't wait to hear if you sign on the bottom line?

    If you bought direct, did you want AKL as your home resort? Or would you rather be at BWV's or BCV's?

    What ever you decided, I hope you are happy with your decision!
     
  4. dvc at last !

    dvc at last ! DVC Member 2006!

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    I am sure whastever you decide will be the right decision for you.
    Keep us posted.
     
  5. Shazzasmd

    Shazzasmd Mouseketeer

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    Thanks, arthur and DVC ... I'm reasonably sure we'll make the right decision, but it is confusing!



    Dinner at Epcot

    Let's step away from DVC investigations for an evening, and head over to Epcot for dinner and the Illuminations Show. But - let me say that we've not made a DVC decision yet, but there will be more about the process in tomorrow's posting.

    We waited a short time at the International Gateway to purchase tickets - Florida Resident's Weekday Annual Passes. We have a trip booked in December already, so these passes make sense for us, even if we don't purchase DVC.

    We were pleasantly surprised to still see evidence of the recent Flower & Garden Show.

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    Did I mention it was hot, very hot and humid? At least it wasn't raining the week we were there, but we were drenched from the humidity after just a short time. I'm thinking "no way DH is going to want to commit to more Disney time - he hates the humidity and we were not off to a good start."

    Dinner - Our ADR was for La Hacienda at 7:15. We arrived early and were seated at 7:00. We have only positives to say about our first visit to this restaurant. The staff was delightful, service was great, and we enjoyed the food. We ordered off the appetizer menu - starting with the Queso Fundido, the Sweet Peppers & Chorizo, and the Taquizas. Skip ahead if you're one of those who doesn't care for food photos ...


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    Waiting for Illuminations - Strolling Around World Showcase - we had no interest in going on any rides or doing any serious shopping. I had one mission - I wanted to photograph Illuminations. So we took some photos as we walked around the lagoon, and I was scoping out a spot to set up my tripod.

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    I bypassed a couple good spots (hindsight), and then we were approaching France. DH decided to head back to the Boardwalk (which I had encouraged him to do, but he was being supportive, bless his heart). I doubled back and found an empty spot for the tripod. This was not a great spot, but it would work for my purposes. I'll spare you the details, but let's just say my efforts were not successful. One might even say it was a disaster, but we did get a good laugh out of my ineptitude later on.

    My Spot
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    One that almost works ... (the only one, I might add)
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    At first, I was dejected. Realizing there was nothing left to do but learn from the experience, I took the opportunity to practice some night photography in the World Showcase. I'm still learning, but did manage to get a few shots that were ok.


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    I made it safely back to the hotel, and was totally drenched - it was that humid! Time to rest up for tomorrow's adventures. We'll be back in full DVC mode tomorrow, along with a few photos of the Boardwalk.
     
  6. fflmaster

    fflmaster DIS Veteran

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    shazzasmd, I have to ask what lens do you use for those night pictures?

    Amazing photos.
     
  7. Shazzasmd

    Shazzasmd Mouseketeer

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    Thank you, fflmaster. I used a 16-35mm f/2.8 wide angle zoom for most of the evening shots in the park. The others are either with the 24-105mm f/4 or my P&S Canon S95. The camera body is a Canon 5D Mark III.

    I'm still learning night photography. I prefer to have at least some light in the sky, but it's fun to experiment. Some of the photos above are HDR - I still have to finish the final processing, but wanted to get the TR done this week.


    Oops - realized I didn't answer your question. I'd be okay with AKV, but DH is adamant about that not being the Home Resort. We're still evaluating options, but BCV would most likely be our Epcot Resort of choice. So, no AKV = no Direct Purchase ...
     
  8. Shazzasmd

    Shazzasmd Mouseketeer

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    Time for a short update, so I'll show some Boardwalk Photos.

    Day 2 of our trip - I thought about getting up for EMH at Hollywood Studios, but instead opted for a nice cup of coffee and a few photos. I slept past sunrise by about 30 minutes :p


    The view from our room - it was slightly foggy, but you can see we had a nice view of the Boardwalk and the Yacht Club, not to mention the DVC Sales Kiosk.


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    I went down to the Boardwalk for coffee and a few more photos:


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    Here are a couple of other shots taken the next day - played around with the processing on these.


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    After my morning interlude, I went back to the room, and we made plans for the day. Stay tuned for more DVC investigating action.
     
  9. Missyrose

    Missyrose DIS Veteran

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    Beautiful Epcot photos! I'm no good at nighttime photos either, that's why I let DBF take them! :rotfl2:

    I saw your update on the other thread, so I'm curious to hear you elaborate on the BWV vs. BCV decision. :surfweb:
     
  10. Shazzasmd

    Shazzasmd Mouseketeer

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    I've seen your DBF's photos - they are wonderful. We should be getting to a decision soon ... Here's some more about the process.



    Traipsing All Over the World

    DH asked what the plans were for the day. I said I had no agenda. His comment was "We're here to look at DVC, so let's visit the properties."

    I was surprised - because I still wasn't sure he was all that interested. He definitely wanted to see the Tree House Villas, and furthermore, he wanted to use Disney Transport to get around ...:confused3 This is the man who can't stand lines, and hates Florida humidity.


    We set off on our adventure. Here's the short version:

    1. Bus from The Boardwalk to Downtown Disney Market Place
    2. Boat One to Paradise Island (west side of Downtown Disney)
    3. Boat Two to Saratoga Springs Resort – decided to skip the main part of the resort and continued on to the Tree House Villas
    4. Exited the boat in the boonies and walked around the Tree House Villa Section.
    5. Got Lost
    6. It was hot
    7. Finally found the bus stop and rode back to the resort main lobby
    8. Bus to Magic Kingdom
    9. Bus to Wilderness Lodge Resort
    10. Had a great lunch at Whispering Canyon Restaurant
    11. Boat to Contemporary Resort
    12. Monorail to transportation center
    13. Monorail to Epcot
    14. Walked through Epcot
    15. Boat to Boardwalk
    16. Passed Out …


    We concentrated on SSR and WL since we've stayed at the other resorts. Here are some snapshots, along with the highlights of our tour.


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    The bus to DD was easy, and it wasn't crowded at all. Would have liked some time to shop, but DH was on a mision:lmao:




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    We enjoyed the boat rides, and liked the looks of SSR and the TH Villas - this resort is huge! We agreed the THVs were cool, but probably somewhere we would only want to stay at once or twice - too dependent on the car? SSR is lovely - would be happy to stay there but it didn't appeal as a Home Resort.




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    We had to wait a bit for a bus at the MK to the WL, probably could have taken a boat, but weren't sure if the docks near the bus stop went to the WL. DH immediately liked the feel of the resort - we've been here before, but only at night.




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    We had no problem getting into lunch at Whispering Canyon. Food was great (burger and pulled pork spring rolls), service excellent, and it was noisy - but fun :thumbsup2




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    We walked around, looked at the Villa area, the pool, and hiked to the boat dock. The boat was ready, so we took the short hop to the Contemporary - it was a refreshing ride.




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    this was our first close up of BLT - I'd like to stay there once, but it's not our style. We waited a while for the Avenger Monorail, did the circle of the resorts, then exited at the Transportation Center to catch the monorail to Epcot. We saw construction activity at the GF - the Avenger has mesh on the windows:


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    We were tired by now, so just walked through Epcot back to the Boardwalk. We did see Mary Poppins and a green Mickey...

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  11. bdoleary

    bdoleary Mouseketeer

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    Great trip report and beautiful pictures - especially the night pics and the two above - these two look almost like watercolor paintings - I had to do a double take. Enjoy your visit!
     
  12. Shazzasmd

    Shazzasmd Mouseketeer

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    Thank you. I enjoy playing around with post processing - some turn out better than others ;)



    OK - Let's try to get the longest 2 day trip in history finished up. After returning from our trek, we took a shower and a nap, then headed to Belle Vue Lounge to recap our day.


    Nothing like a nice glass of chardonnay to help a DVC decision along the way...
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    We discussed the pros and cons of what we'd seen earlier in the day. DH liked SSR and the TH Villas, but decided that wouldn't be his choice for a Home Resort - note, he is very intense about the Home Resort issue. It turns out he really liked VWL. This surprised me, because when I had rented points for a two night stay in December, his question was, "Why There?" Turns out it felt the least like Florida to him (did I mention he doesn't really care for Florida :rotfl2:). I like VWL as well, but was really partial to an Epcot Resort. So, with no firm decision made, but much more interest from DH than I anticipated, we went down for dinner at The Flying Fish.



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    Dinner was excellent - I had the Snapper, DH had the steak. Only downside is, they weren't very busy, yet we were still seated 30 minutes after our 7:35pm ADR. At 8:45pm, DH told me to go ahead and leave, and he'd hook up with me at the bridge to Epcot.


    My mission was another attempt at shooting Illuminations. Oh my, I am just not destined to be a fireworks shooter. Another user-induced camera malfunction, caused mostly by the late setup, and I don't have much to show for my efforts. Took a few pics on the way back, and we headed back to the room after a stop at The Bakery for ice cream.


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    Breakfast and More Decisions on our Last Morning


    We packed up and headed to Kouzzina's for breakfast.


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    Free Wi-Fi in the resort extended to the restaurant, so what better to do than search for some answers on the DIS board and look at some resale listings.

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    Did we make a decision? Much to my surprise, DH made the following suggestion: "Let's buy at Wilderness Lodge and at Beach Club." :cool1: I was laughing to myself, since before the trip he wasn't really interested - and now he wants to buy two contracts :confused3


    So, that pretty much concludes our trip, as we checked out shortly after finishing breakfast and headed home.


    I wasn't in a rush to buy, but now that I had his interest peaked, I didn't want to let any good opportunities pass by. We arrived home on Thursday afternoon. Friday evening I saw a contract for VWL that fit our needs - after a short discussion, he said, "Just buy it." I tried to discuss potential offers to start the negotiation process. He said ... "Just buy it - it's what we want, just offer full price." Ummmm, okay. So, I did. Once we have confirmation of signed contracts and it's gone to ROFR, I'll put the details up in the Purchasing DVC section.


    I'll be keeping my eye out for a good BCV contract, but there's no need to rush into anything. And, on that one, I'm going to do the negotiating before telling him about it. He's far too impatient to go through the process ;)

    That's it. Thanks for following along on our DVC Adventure.
     
  13. Missyrose

    Missyrose DIS Veteran

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    Sounds like you made an excellent decision! I can't wait to try VWL someday, the resort looks incredible! Beach Club is on my to-do list too.

    Good luck with the buying process! :goodvibes
     
  14. nutz2notz

    nutz2notz Mouseketeer

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    Thank you so much for sharing your trip report and your travels in purchasing DVC. :thumbsup2

    I love, love, love your pictures. They are so beautiful and bring back such wonderful memories. :goodvibes
     
  15. MarlaSingersLaundry

    MarlaSingersLaundry Mouseketeer

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    Beautiful photos! Thank you for sharing. Congrats on your accepted offer! We are right with you, also waiting on ROFR. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you on this deal and that the perfect BCV contract comes along.
     
  16. bdoleary

    bdoleary Mouseketeer

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    Congratulations on your decision to purchase at VWL. Your trip report was great and your pictures are amazing! What tools do you use for the post processing??
     
  17. Shazzasmd

    Shazzasmd Mouseketeer

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    Thank you for the kind comments.

    Regarding photo processing, I use Lightroom 4 for photos taken with my Canon 5D. The more heavily processed ones I run through Photomatix, then go back and play with layers and masks in Photoshop (still work to do on some of these). Snapshots with my Point & Shoot camera and iPhone are processed in iPhoto on my iPad.
     
  18. nickspace

    nickspace DIS Veteran

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    Thanks for the excellent report. I really enjoyed reading it and feel that you made the correct choice.

    The pictures were wonderful!
     
  19. ccigliano

    ccigliano DVC Member WLV

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    Good Luck on the VWL contract and from one VWL owner to a soon to be other - you made the right choice. Home resort advantage for the smaller resorts is a must because there will be a time when you want to travel at popular times like early December for the holiday festivites.
     
  20. Leitadala

    Leitadala Mouseketeer

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    I was on the edge of my seat to find out if you bought! I'm glad you both fell in love with DVC and I hope you get lots of great DVC vacations!

    I loved your pictures. Your firework ones are so nice! All of your pictures were fun to look at - some of them look like oil paintings!
     
  21. DizBub

    DizBub Totally Addicted

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    Again, congrats on your decision. Great choices. Thanks for sharing your process.

    Your photos are truly spectacular!!!!
     

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