In 1991, the Walt Disney Company launched their own version of a timeshare, called Disney Vacation Club (DVC). Their membership is based on a points system that can be used for a variety of Disney properties and entities, and the number of points for stay at a Disney hotel (or on a Disney Cruise ship, or an Adventures by Disney vacation) is based on, among other things, time of year, and size and popularity of location. DVC points can also be used at non-Disney properties thanks to their relationship with RCI (a division of Wyndham Worldwide). Joe and his parents were huge Disney fans and vacationers throughout the 1970s and 1980s and when DVC became available, they were among the first to buy in (it’s a running joke that I married Joe for his DVC points).
The price of DVC membership has increased significantly over the years – in 1991, when the first DVC resort (Old Key West Resort) opened at Walt Disney World, the price per point was $51 (with a 230-point minimum) and it now costs between $140 and $165 per point (based on the resort) with a 100-point minimum. Since over 25 years have passed since DVC began, lives change and sometimes people need to sell their points. It’s possible to buy points directly from a member (and often at a lower price than what DVC charges), but, of course, these sales are in competition with buying directly from DVC. To help counteract that, over the past few years DVC has added some perks, benefits and signature events under the name Membership Magic that are only available to members who have bought directly from them, and not via aftermarket sales. One of these are seasonal after-hour parties, dubbed Disney Vacation Club Moonlight Magic, at select Disney parks.
On Friday, February 24, 2017, Joe and I went to the Moonlight Magic event at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. We were allowed to bring up to 4 guests, which we did in the form of our friends Mary Lee, Ed, Jessica and Madison. The official event time was 10:00pm to 1:00am but Disney said they would allow DVC members into the park as early as 8:00pm. The park officially closed to regular guests (Disneyspeak for “customers”) at 10:00pm, at which time the park went from “crowded” to “It’s not wall-to-wall people! Oh, this is nice!”
Special events at Disney usually have some event-only highlights, and Moonlight Magic was no exception:
…Nearly all attractions were open, and with less people in the park came shorter lines for more popular attractions – the wait for Peter Pan was 30 minutes for most of the night, and for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train it was just 40 minutes (people familiar with that attraction know that a 90-minute wait is not unusual for a walk-on)! Other attractions, such as It’s A Small World and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad only had 10 minute waits and a few, such as Haunted Mansion, were practically walk-ons.
…They had meet and greets with Disney characters you usually don’t see walking around the parks, such as Dr. Facilier, Chicken Little, Bowler Hat Guy, Max, Ludwig Von Drake, Darkwing Duck, etc. (Joe and I are generally not “character people” but some of our friends were!).
…There was a special Try Everything Dance Party in Tomorrowland if you wanted to get your groove on. At one point we saw Mr. and Mrs. Incredible dancing with the crowd!
…You could meet DVC executives, who were available to shake hands, take photos and answer questions.
…They had complementary snacks and beverage stations. During past events (this wasn’t the first one we had attended), the free food varied from cookies to potato chips to lemonade to Mickey bar ice cream pops – all snack foods. This time they had “real” theme park food – hot dogs and chicken nuggets – as well as chips, cookies, carrots, apple slices and fountain beverages. OMG, let me tell you that the lines for the free food were just crazy when the 7 food stations opened throughout the park at 10pm! As an example, if you are familiar with WDW’s MK, the food line at Columbia Harbour House snaked outside and went under the overpass that divides Liberty Square and Fantasyland! For real! All that craziness for a hot dog?!?!? Unbelievable. SPECIAL NOTE: an hour later the lines were practically non-existent. So if you ever go to one of these special events that offers free food, have fun for an hour and THEN get your food. You’ll waste much less time waiting in lines!
…Special Moonlight Magic Fireworks at midnight (which actually turned into 12:15am), that featured a nice mixture of modern and classic Disney tunes.
At 1:00am, the event was done and we left the park before we turned back into pumpkins. We had a really nice time with our friends. Although Magic Kingdom is my favorite park, we rarely go because it’s always too crowded. Although the crowds for this event appeared to be larger than when they had their last DVC event at MK last February, it was still not nearly as packed as a typical day at the park. The Moonlight Magic events will continue throughout 2017 (it’s bi-coastal this year – they’re going to have an event in Disneyland in November!) and Joe and I will most likely go to a couple more of them. Overall, it was a very nice way to spend an evening (and YAY, I got over 20,000 steps in!).
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