Nestled away at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa, around the corner from Senses Spa, you can find a very important (and not often discussed) part of the DVC life — the Disney Vacation Club Preview Center.
Even when I began working at David’s Vacation Club Rentals, I did not hear much about the DVC Preview Center. So, when I had the chance to visit in 2018, I was very intrigued but went in with little advance knowledge of what the Preview Center was and what we would experience there. Given the growing popularity of DVC, I thought this would be a great opportunity to highlight the perks of a Preview Center visit.
I will be completely transparent; our visit was more of an informal drop-by, as one member of our party was already a DVC Owner. So, what we experienced was not the full-service visit that you would get if you booked an appointment. When you book an appointment, you get to sit down with a DVC Cast Member to discuss the ins and outs of DVC as well as brass tacks of ownership. From there you will dive into the room tours, which is what we were really there for. It wasn’t busy when we arrived, so since we were with someone who already owned a DVC contract, the Cast Members were able to get us in for a quick look around.
At the time of our visit, there were model rooms set up for three resorts: the Polynesian, Copper Creek, and Aulani. Generally speaking, the Preview Center keeps model villas of the more recently built resorts as they are usually the ones where DVC is still selling contracts. In fact, Disney’s Riviera Resort has now been added as an option to see at the Preview Center.
Beyond the entrance there is a waiting area where you can grab refreshments. It was hard to focus on the muffin I’d chosen, though, when I took a look upwards. Overhead you can see beautiful, stained glass renderings of the various Disney castles around the globe: Magic Kingdom, Disneyland (US), Tokyo Disneyland, Shanghai Disneyland, Hong Kong Disneyland, and Disneyland Paris.
While I’ve yet to visit any of the international parks, I am a big lover of stained glass, so this was a real treat. Best of all, if you visit you will notice that panes are left deliberately blank, representing any castles still to come!
After getting a healthy dose of time to admire the decor, our group was greeted by the DVC Cast Member who was to be our tour guide. This is where things really got fun. Our Cast Member was very friendly and charismatic, so he set the tone of the visit early on.
The tour itself was very interesting from the moment we stepped through the door. The walls are covered with photos of the growing ranks of Disney Vacation Club Resorts, and near the middle of the room there was a miniaturized recreation of the entire Aulani resort.
To be honest, calling it a miniaturized recreation sells it a bit short. Not only did I get a sense of the size and scope of the resort, but there were tiny guests swimming and surfing in the ocean, sunbathing, and even using the lazy river.
With Disney’s Riviera Resort set to open its doors on December 16th 2019, the Aulani model has now been swapped out for a Riviera miniature model. This gives guests the chance for a bird’s eye view of what this new resort has in store.
Our first stop was the Polynesian Studio. I was familiar with the look of the room from the photos and virtual tours on our website, but stepping into it was a very different experience. In particular, it was great to see the pull-down bunk-size bed in action.
Our guide was quick to point out the great detailing throughout the room, and would punctuate his statements with a smile and a cheeky ‘Welcome Home’. This is something that would continue throughout our tour of all three rooms and was honestly, while it was pretty funny, it was also very effective. If I were in a position to purchase a contract that day, hearing ‘Welcome Home’ like that would have swayed my opinion pretty easily.
Next up on the docket was Copper Creek. I will be transparent and let you know that Copper Creek is currently my favorite DVC resort, and I love the whole Wilderness Lodge area. So, of course I am a bit biased, but this room was stunning! We toured the Two Bedroom, which features an extremely enviable headboard if you, like me, enjoy a rustic touch!
Our guide made sure to point out all of the beautiful carved wood, not just on the headboard, but throughout the entire villa (each time with a ‘Welcome Home’). He also made sure to show us all of the dishware that comes in the Two Bedroom Villas, letting our group of three women know that it came with everything we’d need for a great girl’s night.
Last stop on our tour was probably the most exciting, Aulani. Given that Oahu is quite far away from us here in Canada, no one in our party had been to Aulani before so we were all seeing it with fresh eyes (‘Welcome Home!’)
The first thing that I need to get out of the way is that no photo does these rooms justice. Aulani’s villas are spacious and feature a lot of woods (all from trees native to the Hawaiian Islands) that contrast with the tropical pops of color. Even at the Preview Center, when you look out the window, they have placed a blown-up photo of blue skies and sandy beaches. (‘Welcome Home!’)
Our guide revealed that he and his wife had planned their own trip to Aulani just a few months away, and by the end of that branch of the tour I have to admit I was quite jealous.
At the end of it all, I have nothing but good things to say about my experience at the DVC Preview Center. Our lovely guide gave us each a copy of his card, and I left really wishing I could buy my own contract. While we did not get the bona fide tour, everyone we spoke with was very well informed, friendly, and eager to share all of their DVC knowledge. (Hmm, sounds a bit like a few coworkers I know!)
If you are a current DVC Owner looking to add on or looking into buying your first contract, I think making time to stop by the Preview Center is a great step in the right direction, whether you’re looking to purchase directly through Disney, or looking at the resale market. You never know, you might luck out and get the same Cast Member as we had, and get to hear a lot of, ‘Welcome Home!’