• Olivia Ujlaki

Free Food & FastPasses: Exploring the DVC as a College Student

Updated: Apr 16

We were basking in the sun outside of Starbucks in Animal Kingdom, when a Disney Vacation Club (DVC) Cast Member approached us. He asked about our trip: where we were staying, for how long, and what kind of tickets we had. Our answers were of course: Pop Century, four days, and Magic Your Way, because we’re poor college students who can barely afford a spring break trip to Disney in the first place.


As we kept talking, it became quite clear this was a sales pitch. We found his line of questioning somewhat disingenuous and were about to walk away when he mentioned Anytime FastPasses, snacks, and ice cream for just an hour of our time. Naturally, our interest was piqued.


In a group huddle, we weighed the options: we had the Villain’s After Hours Party at Magic Kingdom in the evening and had finished everything at Animal Kingdom that we wanted to do. With our basic tickets, we couldn’t go to another park that day and we had nothing else to do but nap. So, an hour-long sales pitch? For free food and FastPasses? These four college ladies were sold.


Our DVC friend escorted us backstage and reminded us we couldn’t take photos because Cast Members would not be “show ready.” Backstage Disney is such an out of body experience. The back of show buildings stick out, and you can feel yourself step out of the Disney bubble. We did, however, get to see the only Hidden Mickey in Pandora; three floating rocks that form the shape of the head cheese only visible from the right angle backstage. We decided then that this obscure behind-the-scenes moment was worth our time alone.


A van was waiting to take us to Saratoga Springs where the DVC headquarters are located. Let’s be real, getting into a van with a stranger is EXTREMELY sketchy. Ours was painted in the theme of Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway and on Disney property which did provide some comfort.


When we arrived, they opened the doors to a stunning blue and silver lobby. There were mosaics like those under Cinderella’s castle that seemed to pull us in further. While we waited, we had complimentary tea and pastries and waited in elegant, gold chairs. Megan took one look around and said “guys, we definitely don’t belong here.” We did feel royally out of place: sunburned, sweaty, and noticeably young and childless unlike the others waiting. We felt like everyone could tell we weren’t about to put down a down payment on a membership, and we almost jumped ship.


Then, an older, sharp-looking gentleman with white hair escorted us to our room for the pitch. It was just large enough for the desk and five chairs. As we adjusted to the slight claustrophobia, he got us talking about our trip which wasn’t hard to do. He quickly acknowledged that he knew none of us had the financial means to buy into DVC that day and we exhaled a sigh of relief. He reiterated that his only job today would be to pass along info to be saved for the future.


This guy was good, as I’m still thinking about what he said next. He explained that the DVC was created to reward people who are already going to Disney multiple times a year. He understood that we were not at the point of our lives where we could even consider putting down $250/point for the Beach Club Resort. But, he asked if having food and merchandise discounts, huge rooms at any resort, and the flexibility to take trips around the world were things we might want one day. To which of course we replied, “YES!”


That was the hook, but then came the sinker. We took in all the info about how the points work, and the absolutely terrifying prices of how much they cost. For four 20-somethings with thousands of dollars in college debt, we were overwhelmed and intimated, and yet somehow, (perhaps with a little bit of Disney magic) we all agreed it was something we wanted to pursue in the future.


Our friend took us to the showroom building, where we went through each size of the DVC rooms at Disney’s Riviera Resort and Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. They were all big and beautiful, and we all began to dream about renting them out with our friends and families one day. Then for the literal cherry on top, we were taken to the ice cream parlor on-site. My choice? Coffee with rainbow Mickey sprinkles.


So no, we weren’t promising leads, and our friend didn’t make a sale, but we all still stand by the decision to go. Yes, it was a sales pitch, but it did provide value for Disney fans like ourselves. The DVC is a huge investment and one we’re nowhere near ready to make. But with the info we received that day, we can better plan our finances for the future. So maybe one day, we’ll walk into that Saratoga Springs office not just looking for free food and FastPasses, and then we’ll know we’ve made it.


Some royally out-of-place twenty-somethings at DVC Headquarters


Have you done a DVC pitch? Want to know more about the DVC? Email us your thoughts! We’d love to hear from you!


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