Sunday, May 6, 2012

Cheapskates at Disney - Lodgings, Part 4

Our home resort: Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge (Kidani Village 1 Bedroom Villa shown)

In just about 4 weeks, we will be checking in for 5 nights at Kidani Village at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge.  Our villa will be very much like the one pictured.  The entrance door/hallway is just out of sight on the right of the picture.  There will be a full bathroom located off that hallway.  The kitchen has full-sized appliances and comes equipped to create many standard meals. (I'll be bringing my crockpot along, and that's about all I need to add to this kitchen.)  The bedroom has a king-sized bed, storage, a nice big wall-mounted TV, a balcony, and a full bathroom.  The living room has a sofa-bed couch (I've slept on one of these couches, and it was the most comfortable sofa-bed ever.), a chair that is a twin-sized pullout bed, storage, and another flat-screen TV, as well as a sliding glass door to the balcony shared with the master bedroom.   The size of this villa is really quite significant; the one-bedroom we have reserved is 807 square feet, so about half the size of our house.  We have reserved a standard view, which, to be honest, may not be spectacular at all.  Last time we had a standard view, we could see a bit of the parking area, the bus queu area, and a field.  It was not fabulous, but it was fine.  Of course, the savannah view rooms do offer those spectacular views.  Several years ago, we had a savannah view where 3 giraffes tended to hang out, as well as ostrich and zebra.  Each morning the wild red hogs would zoom by on their way to their morning destination.   

Doesn't this kid's water park area look like fun? Not only does Kidani Village have its own highly-themed pool area, it also has a super-fun water park area that I just know my kids will adore.  I can't wait for them to try it.  Maybe after half an hour at the water park, they will sit quietly on the bench while the grown ups enjoy the hot tub for 10 minutes? (Yeah, maybe if we add the privilege of playing Angry Birds on our phones while they sit!)

So, with a sticker price of $580 per night, how can I call this my way to do Disney the Cheapskate way? Five years ago, we joined the Disney Vacation Club.  As Disney vacationers, it was the best vacation-related decision we could ever have made.  It does require a hefty initial investment, about $17,000.  After that, there is a yearly dues payment which amounts to several hundred dollars.  We financed our membership, and our monthly payments for the year for both the membership and the dues is a bit more than the published price of this one vacation.  Our membership is valid through 2057.  That means that, once we pay off our membership, we'll have years and years and years and years of vacations that will only cost us the annual dues.  We could never have afforded to stay in such beautiful, spacious, luxurious accomodations without DVC.  If you think you might want to visit Disney World annually with your family, the DVC is a cost-efficient accomodation choice you should look into.  Even if you think you might only vacation at Disney once every 3 years, you might want to think about how much you could save on a really top-notch vacation by joining DVC.  You could easily stay for a week in a 2-bedroom villa or even in a 3-bedroom Grand Villa with a three-year-bundle of points, depending on the season you travel. 
Being DVC members saves us money in another way, too.  Because we have a full kitchen, we will cook most of our meals ourselves instead of paying the premium Disney prices.  We are planning to eat our lunches in the parks, but I'll make breakfast and dinner (hooray, crockpot!) each day.  I figure that, even with purchasing groceries, we can save at least $100 over the course of the 5 days.  I made my menu and shopping list weeks ago and I've been stocking up on the shelf-stable items when they go on sale.  I've knocked several dollars off my grocery budget this way. (I'm on track to save at least $18 out of the budget I set for vacation grocery shopping. Yes! I'm getting a Dole Whip!)
DVC makes our vacation what it is.  We enjoy our room; we enjoy the resort.  If you have interest in DVC, stop by one of the many DVC kiosks throughout the parks or resorts and request an open house.  Disney provides the transportation, and you might even get to see some of the behind-the-scenes areas. (We got to see the backside of several of the country pavilions in Epcot. Our driver was very knowledgeable about how the city-unto-itself that is Disney World functions.) You'll get to tour some amazing model rooms and get a walk-through of the Club's point system and pricing.  There really is absolutely no pressure at all to purchase. (The salesmen don't have to rely on pressure to sell; the product will sell itself to you if you're willing!)  Once you're done, you and your kiddos can enjoy a free ice cream sundae before Disney provides your transportation back to where ever you want to go.  Let your sales rep know that Talani and Barbie Tupua of Pensacola, Florida, referred you.  We do get a kickback if you join and name us as your referral.

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