I have a confession to make.
I regularly use a DVP.
What's a DVP? Deadly Virtual Pig? Daring Vertical Pilot? Dangerous Volcanic Pancakes? Nope. It stands for Disney Vacation Planner.
A DVP is someone who assists in the planning of your Disney vacation. You may not even be aware that such a thing exists, or if you do, you may not know of it by that name. There are a variety of companies out there that will help you book and plan your Disney vacation, and they're approved by Disney.
The companies that excel and truly show they have the Disney spirit are "earmarked" and granted the right to call themselves Disney Vacation Planners, or DVPs for short. These are companies on whom Disney has placed their stamp of approval. Dreams Unlimited Travel, associated with the DIS, is one such company. You can scroll all the way to the bottom of the homepage and see the official Disney Vacation Planner logo. That logo is present on every "earmarked" DVP company.
Now, I said I had a confession to make. As I mentioned, I regularly use a DVP to help plan my Disney vacations. I like to think of myself as an experienced Disney vacationer. I've been to Walt Disney World more times in the last 4 years than I have been my entire life up until that point. Living in San Diego, I also hold an Annual Pass to Disneyland California and visit at least once a month. All that, and I still use a DVP for my Walt Disney World planning. Here's why: I saved $1,000 on my last Walt Disney World vacation because of my DVP.
Just how did I do that? Because my DVP religiously checked the Disney website every day for a month before finding and booking me a room with a free dining plan.
What's so amazing about this, was that I am certainly not this DVP's only client. Yet she took the time and the effort to make sure she got me the best deal available. We knew that Disney was offering the free dining plan for the time frame we were going, and we really wanted it, but there weren't any rooms when we booked in June. Our DVP informed us that that, early on, many people reserve and cancel, change rooms, or change hotels frequently, and that something was likely to become available, we just had to be patient. Well, she pulled through and we enjoyed our 6-day vacation with free food.
At the end of our trip, I tallied up all the food expenses for the week for the three of us and it came to just over $1,000. That's $1,000 we didn't have to pay. $1,000 that got to stay in our pockets. She might as well have written us a $1,000 check. The point is my DVP saved us a ton of money, and here's the kicker: It didn't cost us a dime.
It costs zero extra dollars to book with a Disney Vacation Planner. The company is paid in commissions. The actual DVP receives a percentage of the cost of your vacation as a thank you from Disney, and, to you, it costs not a dime more than if you purchased everything on your own through the Disney website.
You can use your DVP as little or as much as you'd like. As experienced as my family is, we use the DVP to keep an eye out for deals only, and we do all of the dining reservations and FastPass planning ourselves. If you're not that savvy when it comes to Disney, your DVP can do all these things for you, and more. They'll provide you with free, no obligation quotes for whatever type of package you'd like.
But please be mindful of their time. They don't get paid until after you've finished your vacation and they don't get paid hourly. So if you have them pulling quotes for you for 3 months and then never book anything, you've wasted their time. But if you've committed to going, using a DVP is the way to go.
Had we not received the free dining plan, we still would have reserved several table service restaurants, but maybe not one each day, and certainly not some of the more expensive ones. To close out my story, I'd like to leave you with a few things I got to experience on my last trip thanks to my DVP and the free dining plan:
• Buffet at Biergarten that normally costs about $40 a person
• Sparkling Volcano dessert at Rainforest Cafe that costs $16
• Various assortment of non-alcoholic specialty drinks that average $6 a person.
• Desserts at every single restaurant, including quick-service, even if they were only those extremely rich little chocolate cakes.
• A unique cultural experience at Sanaa in the Animal Kingdom Lodge (and the same could be said for the amazing experience at Biergarten in Epcot)
The Sparkling Volcano dessert at Rainforest Cafe at Disney Springs