Wednesday, July 9, 2014

So whats my favorite DVC resort?

A coworker recently caught me wearing my famous lightweight DVC jacket around the office. I say famous, because yes it is that cold in my office, and yes I am always wearing it. Even if the weather outside says its 100. Giving me a funny look he asked.

"Oh, you’re a DVC person as well. We just bought into it, or rather my wife did. I just got sucked into saying OK."

This sparked a conversation between the two of us. As a new member, he was looking for some "inside information" on resorts. The first question: Which is your favorite one to stay at?

Such a simple question, yet not an easy answer. Because choosing a favorite resort is hard, which is why we love the DVC so much. It allows us the flexibility to stay at any of the deluxe resorts DVC is connected to and never get tired of them. But since he asked, and since I try to please, I have narrowed it down to a few of my favorites.

Image is not my own.
Wilderness Lodge Villas:

This is for sentimental value alone. Back in 2000 my best friend invited me to head down to Disney with her and her mom, who was a DVC owner. It was my first chance of seeing what DVC had to offer. I fell in love with it right then. And it is pretty safe to say from that moment on I was hooked.

The first thing I look for in a DVC resort is the feeling of home and no other resort offers it quite like Wilderness Lodge for me. The moment I walk through those doors, and hear Welcome Home from the various cast members, home is exactly where I am. The resort is cozy, it's inviting and the fireplace that surrounds the lobby makes me want to curl up with a good book and skip the parks all together. Even without the fireplace in the DVC section, unlike some of the other DVC resorts Wilderness’ DVC side is small enough in which heading to the main lodge doesn't feel like a mile hike instead is just a short walk away.

Of course this cannot be the only reason to love a resort. I love the fact that Wilderness is a boat ride away from Magic Kingdom. Sure Bay Lake Towers at the Contemporary and the DVC wing of Grand Floridian have the Monorail (please note, Poly too offers the monorail, but as of yet has no DVC wing). But there is something magical about spending a beautiful morning on the lake, as the sun rises and catching the first glimpse of the Castle. An added bonus if you’re looking for a simple inexpensive romantic evening, catch the boat on the way home. If you plan it just right you get an amazing view of the fireworks, without the crowd.

Along the same lines, Wilderness offers a view of the electrical water parade at night. It always seems to be a great way to end the night on the quiet beach watching the parade of lights go right on by after what is usually a whirlwind of a day.

Boardwalk Villas:

I cannot say enough about this resort. It has the feel of an Atlantic beach scene, including street performers and all, without being at the beach exactly. We first stayed there with little expectation, but everyone raved about it. After staying there, I can honestly say this was one of those resorts that actually lived up to the hype and then some.
Image is not my own

I love the fact that this resort has so much to offer. Like the previous one it offers a small beach, along the boardwalk guests of the hotel–and even just admirers of–can enjoy the traditional offerings of a boardwalk.

Entertainers line the place. Face painting for the kids. Hair braiders and refreshment stands make anyone feel as though they aren’t at the happiest place on Earth, but an actual beach. Another bonus, there are plenty of food options for even the pickiest of eaters. As if that wasn’t enough, the shopping options are unlike any of the resorts around.

Ask my son, he would say he loves the pool slide, which resembles an old wooden roller coaster you may find on the beaches of the Atlantic. He could live in the pool and be perfectly happy, which is one of his favorite things about the resort. Honestly I couldn’t blame him.

And talk about location, location, location. While Wilderness may have a boat ride to Magic Kingdom, Boardwalk offers a boat to both Epcot and Hollywood Studios. But we prefer the walk over to EPCOT in the morning, which dumps us right into the back of the park and World Showcase. Being so close to the park is one of our favorite things about the resort and definitely makes the resort a must do on our list.

Animal Kingdom Villas:

Finally on my list would be Animal Kingdom Lodge Villas. When we first stayed here, I admit I never thought I was going to fall in love with the place. And we didn’t. But the second time around we had a two bedroom savannah view and the view alone sold us. Sure maybe it’s a little further out than the rest of the resorts, but step out on the balcony early in the morning, greet those animals and how could you complain? In order to wake up the giraffes you do have to get the savannah view, but even if you don’t you have plenty of opportunities to check them out throughout the resort.

Again, this is a little further away than most of the resorts on property. But we don’t mind. In fact we enjoy being able to unwind and chill for awhile away from the hub and hustle of it all. Staying at this resort makes me feel like I am on vacation at my favorite place one moment and in the next I am in some exotic land exploring and being away from reality the next. We tend to think of Disney World as every moment filled with Mickey Mouse, and its true to a point but sometimes I simply enjoy just being away from him for a few seconds as well.

If Wilderness felt like home, Boardwalk had the location then perhaps you are thinking what does AKV have? How about an amazing pool. Honestly who needs a water park ticket with the pool that this resort offers. My son is getting a bit older now but back when he was a toddler, he loved the kids play area, which is a lot like its own theme park in itself. So yes, the pool tops the list helping it make it one of our favorite resorts.

Another reason this makes our list is the activities that they offer. A couple years back we took my entire family to Disney World and wanted to show them everything, my mom however pulled out a guide the front desk provided and looked at the daily activities. "The resort offers pottery painting sessions, and jewelry making days." Wait you mean you don’t actually have to go to the parks if you don’t want to? Nope, and we didn’t. We spent a couple of mornings doing just that, enjoying the activities that the Cub Den offered–which you can check out and do yourself just ask a cast member for times. It may seem extremely simple but it turned out to be some of the best memories. 

So there you have it. My top three picks of favorite DVC resorts. Sure they change depending on year, my needs change and so I will stay at different places. But it is the tree above that have me coming back and returning to them year after year.

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