Don’t get me wrong, I have always enjoyed vacationing with my husband and two kids, especially at Walt Disney World. It’s great to connect with each other and spend more time together than usual; however, having four family members staying in one room together can be difficult at times. Different bedtimes, eating preferences, and sleeping arrangements are just a few of the potential conflicts that can arise. So, a few years ago we purchased a Disney Vacation Club (DVC) membership and our family vacation dynamic was changed forever.
Space and Layout
The first time we vacationed with one of our children, she was just a year old, and we stayed in a standard room at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn Resort. With all of us staying in the same room, we knew that our daughter might not fall asleep easily with her parents in full view. So, we set up the portable crib as far away from our bed as we could, and hoped for the best. We pretended to fall asleep before the sun was fully set, then tried to read or use our phones for a while (and then we actually did fall asleep well before 9 pm every night).
As our kids got older, we had even more of a desire to spread out into our own space. Sibling rivalry and family tensions can quickly mount in close quarters. Our kids didn’t always want to share a bed, and my husband and I wanted some time to ourselves as well.
In November of 2014 we purchased a DVC membership at the Beach Club Villas. This resale contract came with extra points that would expire in February, so we had to use them immediately. Due to limited availability with our short notice booking, we wound up renting a two-bedroom villa at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa. That was definitely more space than our family of four needed, but wow what an experience! My husband and I stayed in the master bedroom, the kids each had their own bed in a separate bedroom, and we all shared the living room (which also had a sofa bed).
When the kids got up early in the morning, we didn’t hear a peep. We were hooked!
Now we typically book a one-bedroom villa, usually at the Beach Club Villas, which is our home resort. A one-bedroom villa has a main room with a sofa bed and a TV, and an adjoining kitchen. Importantly, it also has a master bedroom with a king-sized bed, and a door that locks for extra privacy. The bathroom is shared, but there are separate doors to enter via the master bedroom or the main room. While it’s not as spacious as that two-bedroom, the kids can still get up early, play or watch TV, and not wake us up. Similarly, we can stay up a bit later at night and the kids can go to sleep.
Everyone is just a little bit happier with this arrangement, and our family gets along better during the entire vacation. At the Beach Club Villas, our kids still have to share a bed, though some DVC resorts (like Bay Lake Tower) have an extra sleeper chair to sleep up to five people. Luckily, the Beach Club Villas’ one-bedroom spacious layout leaves lots of room for one kid to sleep on the floor if she really doesn’t want to share the bed.
Eating at Disney can be expensive. Even just buying a bottle of soda in the park now costs $4.50, and it’s not unusual to spend up to $100 per person, per day for food, especially if table service meals are part of your plan. DVC units with one or more bedrooms have a full kitchen, including an oven/stove, microwave, toaster, full-sized sink, and refrigerator. The cabinets are also stocked with dishes, glasses and silverware (plus a dishwasher to wash everything). Some families will stop by a supermarket, or have groceries delivered from GardenGrocer.com or Amazon.com so they can cook or prepare meals. This can be an amazing savings!
For our family, we mainly stock up on breakfast items like milk, cereal, and breakfast bars, so we save some money as well as time in the morning. While we don’t usually cook anything in our room, having the full kitchen (with a kitchen table) makes for a nicer in-room breakfast experience than a regular hotel room.
Another really helpful feature of DVC units are the laundry facilities. All DVC units have access to complimentary laundry facilities, and units with one or more bedrooms have their own washer and dryer. At first, I didn’t really appreciate how helpful this would be — I mean who wants to do laundry on vacation? Well, it turns out that I do!
First off, doing a little laundry on vacation helps limit what we need to pack in our suitcase. Instead of packing all the possible clothes we’ll need for a 7-night vacation, we can pack for a 3- or 4-night vacation and do laundry mid-way through. This saves valuable suitcase space at a time when more and more airlines are charging for checked luggage.
Also, it makes it easy to dry wet swimsuits or towels after some time in the pool. And if you’ve ever gone swimming the final night of your vacation like we tend to, you may also appreciate how nice it is not to have to pack those dripping wet swimsuits into the suitcase.
I know that purchasing DVC may not be for everyone. But if you want more space for your growing family, or the flexibility to make some of your own meals, you might consider renting points or booking a DVC villa for a future stay. It just may be the game changer for your family vacation.