Wednesday, February 22, 2012

DVC at the Grand Floridian

The Proposed DVC at the Grand Floridian

Disney is currently building a new Disney Vacation Club (DVC) at the Grand Floridian. It is scheduled to open in late 2013.  The new area, adjacent to the Wedding Pavilion, will be for the exclusive use of DVC guests.  The new buildings will add nearly 150 rooms/suites to the property. 

While the overall value of buying a DVC, or even what you think of the DVC concept in general, is certainly a debate worth having, I have some real issues with the fact that the Grand Floridian in particular is the newest addition to the DVC lineup.  Before I start here are a  few points I will concede:

1.  DVC is a VERY profitable business unit for Disney.  Between the consistent cash flow from monthly payments, the high purchase prices of the units and the financing charges, it would be hard to convince Disney, or any aggressive business executive, to halt the building of more DVCs across Disney World property.  The demand is there; the supply is not; and people are willing to spend big for their slice of "owning" Disney.   

2.  I have no doubts that the DVC will look and feel as if it has "always been there."  Disney has become quite apt at making these new buildings blend in with the rest of the resort.  In my opinion, the Bay Lake Towers at the Contemporary is a notable exception to the rule, but I believe Disney will be able to pull it off with their Grand Floridian construction. 

3.  The concept of adding an "ownership component" to a high end hotel is not new.  It is executed in some fashion in every major cities across the U.S. 

Still, there is something disheartening about the message adding the DVC sends to fans of the Grand Floridian.  Despite being  Walt Disney World's flagship resort, charging $440 average per night rack rates, and seemingly never hurting for guests, the Grand Floridian still will fall victim to the tradition-be-dammed profit maximization mentality.  I believe the Grand Floridian is a thriving business by itself, perfect the way it is.

Sometimes when the imagineers are locked in, they get it right the first time. The parks are unfortunately scattered with examples of "tinkering" gone wrong.  People lament attractions lost, original shows performances changed beyond recognition and delicious food items that were seemingly loved by all are simply discarded.  Why? Because sometimes change is bad.

Why is it so hard to believe that when they built the Grand Floridian, they got it right the first time? Disney should spend some money in upgrading existing facilities and returning Disney's resort to its original glory. 

Sure the service has slipped in the past ten years, but adding 150 DVC units won't help in any way.  MMOM founder Dutch has noted on numerous occasions how disappointed he was at the quality of a DVC room vs. a regular room at the Beach Club.  DVC buildings get ignored because they are already sold, and people will still come because they feel like they have to.  Sorry, this blatant disregard for prior standards works at some resorts, but not at one often lauded as a "once in a lifetime experience." 

Finally, if you have listened to any of our shows, theming is clearly a big thing with me. You want to feel transformed back 100 years and take in the Victorian splendor and style that the Grand Floridian exudes.  The staff, the grounds, the music...everything.. is themed to take a guest on a journey.  So I ask, where is the Victorian splendor in timeshares?  Blending in to the background architecturally speaking is one thing, but being a constant reminder that you are in fact in the real world, where time shares mean money and money is what Disney World is about is quite another. 

I guess I just have to be thankful that there isn't enough room to build a DVC at the Yacht Club.  What are your thoughts on the DVC at Grand Floridian? Let me know in the comments below. 

1 comment:

  1. I would have preferred one at the Poly. Even further, I would rather them just build more varied types of rooms. It's ridiculous that there are only TWO junior suites at the Yacht Club. Why not build more 1-2 bedroom units that aren't DVC?

    Answer: Money. Whatever.

    Here's a fun exercise. Google "Wilderness Lodge Suite" and look at the images. Drab. Same thing with the Boardwalk. The new ones at the Contemporary are the only ones that look great, but the paint is still drying on those. Time will tell with that one and the Poly. In the meantime, caveat emptor.