Disney Vacation Club
Villa Views

WW GOES TO WDW at Yesterland.com

 
“A Room with a View”

To readers of E. M. Forster, it’s a 1908 novel. To arthouse moviegoers, it’s the 1985 Merchant-Ivory film based on that novel. To Disney Vacation Club (DVC) members, it’s what they want—and expect—when staying at a DVC resort.

Most of these photos are from villas that I’ve occupied. While no two villas at any resort have exactly the same view, these photos are examples of what you might get if you stay at a DVC resort.

By the way, in the context of this article, a villa is not a luxurious country residence high on a hill somewhere; it’s a term that timeshare developers use because it sounds better than small apartment.

I originally published a much smaller version of this photo essay in February 2009.

Werner Weiss, Curator of Yesterland, August 16, 2013

line
Disney’s Old Key West Resort
Villa 2624
Villa 2624
2 bedrooms
August 2004
Disney’s Old Key West Resort
Views at Old Key West include water, trees, and golf fairways.
 

Disney’s Old Key West Resort is woven between the fairways of Disney’s Lake Buena Vista Golf Course. That means that most villas have open views of fairways, ponds, and trees. The photo above is typical, except that it’s unusual not to see any other buildings in the background.

Some buildings are along the Trumbo Canal, a waterway connecting the resort’s small marina to the Sassagoula River which leads to Downtown Disney. The villas in these buildings have views of the canal, boat traffic, and the natural woods on the other side.

Disney’s Old Key West Resort was originally called Disney Vacation Club when it opened in 1991. It got its current name when Disney decided to expand Disney Vacation Club from a single location to Disney’s timeshare brand. The trees have had a long time to grow. In some cases, they’ve grown so large that the views of the golf course are partially obstructed, but that’s not bad either.

In my opinion, Disney’s Old Key West Resort has the best—and most consistently good—views of any DVC resort in this photo essay. When you consider that Old Key West also has larger balconies than any other DVC resort and that the balconies have actual tables, it’s the ideal resort for guests who enjoy relaxed meals on their balcony.

line
Disney’s Old Key West Resort
Villa 1714
Villa 1714
studio
January 2012
Disney’s Old Key West Resort
Ground floor villas often have views of landscaping.
 

Not all villas at Disney’s Old Key West have wide-open views. Studios have smaller balconies, often on the sides of buildings. And those on the ground floor might have no view at all.

line
Disney’s BoardWalk Villas Resort, Standard View
Villa 3117
Villa 3117
1 bedroom
October 2008
Disney’s BoardWalk Villas  Resort, Standard View
Standard View villas face the entrance drive and parking lots.
 

Disney’s BoardWalk Villas Resort has three distinct view categories. Standard View villas require fewer points than Boardwalk View and Preferred View villas (DVC is a timeshare system based on points, not weeks). My preference is Standard View. Not only can you get more nights for the same number of points, the views can be quite nice.

The photo above is typical for Standard View villas that are far from the elevator. Although the view includes the driveway and parking lot, the main impression is one of grass, trees, and water. The parking lot is mostly hidden by trees.

When Epcot presents Illuminations: Reflections of Earth each night, the higher fireworks are visible above the BoardWalk Inn Convention Center (left side of photo). Frankly, I wouldn’t get too excited about seeing fireworks from the balcony. If you want to see Illuminations, just walk over to Epcot.

line
Disney’s BoardWalk Villas Resort, Standard View
Villa 4123
Villa 4123
1 bedroom
October 2009
Disney’s BoardWalk Villas Resort, Standard View
Villa 4123’s balcony has three direction—each facing trees and parking.
 

The Standard View villa above is a corner room with an unusual floorplan. It’s quite far from the elevator, but I would gladly stay there again. I don’t mind the longer walk down the hallway. The views are better. And the there’s less noise from guests talking and running in the hallway.

  Disney’s BoardWalk Villas Resort, Standard View
The living room and kitchen are in the section that faces three directions.
 
line
Disney’s BoardWalk Villas Resort, Standard View
Villa 3103
Villa 3103
1 bedroom
October 2011
Disney’s BoardWalk Villas Resort, Standard View
Villa 3103, closer to the elevators
 

In comparison to the first two BoardWalk Standard View villas, this villa is closer to the elevators are also closer to the porte-pochère—but there are other BoardWalk Standard View villas that are much closer. There’s no view of water from these rooms.

There are DVC members who like the convenience of being near the elevator and don’t mind the view of cars, taxis, and Magical Express coaches.

line
Disney’s BoardWalk Villas Resort, Standard View
Villa 3135
Villa 3135
1 bedroom
November 2012
Disney’s BoardWalk Villas Resort, Standard View
Tree view
 

The trees around Disney’s BoardWalk Villa have grown considerably since the resort opened July 1, 1996. Even on the third floor, a large tree can block most of the view.

line
Disney’s BoardWalk Villas Resort, Preferred View
Villa 3094
Villa 3094
1 bedroom
May 2007
Disney’s BoardWalk Villas  Resort, Preferred View
Preferred Views are supposed to include pools and waterways.
 

The Preferred View villas are those that don’t look onto the actual wooden boardwalk along Crescent Lake and that aren’t categorized as Standard View.

The photo above is what my wife and I called our “butt view” room—based on what we saw as guests headed up to the top of Keister Coaster water slide in their swim suits.

The photo also shows that landscapers planted trees close to the building. The resort opened in 1996, and the trees are quite large by now. When a large tree is directly in front of a small balcony, there can no view at all—and that can be the case for both Standard View and Preferred View villas.

line
Disney’s BoardWalk Villas Resort, Preferred View
Villa 4089
Villa 4089
1 bedroom
January 2007
Disney’s BoardWalk Villas Resort, Preferred View
The Tower of Terror rises in the distance.
 

As the photo above shows, there are Preferred View villas at the BoardWalk Resort with better views than the “butt view.” This villa faced the smaller pool, the Community Hall, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

line
Disney’s BoardWalk Villas Resort, Preferred View
Villa 4089
Villa 4068
1 bedroom
January 2007
Disney’s BoardWalk Villas Resort, Preferred View
The “carousel” in the foreground is the Leaping Horse Libations pool bar.
 

Another common view in the Preferred View category is the Walt Disney World Swan hotel.

I wish I could show you the view from a Boardwalk View villa, but I’ve never stayed in one. The view of the wooden boardwalk, Crescent Lake, and the Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts across the lake should be great. The downside is that it can be loud down on the boardwalk, so a Boardwalk View would not be a good option for someone who likes quiet. Although it requires the same number of points as Preferred View, the Boardwalk View category is preferred over Preferred (if that make sense), so such reservations are booked up quickly. If I were booking early enough to get a Boardwalk View, I would also be booking early enough to get a Standard View (and that’s what I like to book).

line
Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Away from Bay Lake
2 bedrooms
December 2004
Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Befitting its wilderness theme, there are plenty of trees around The Villas.
 

I wish I could tell you the exact room number where I took the photo above, but I no longer have it. It was near the end of the hall on a high floor on the side that’s away from Bay Lake.

Except for the villas above the pool, most villas at the Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge have a view of natural evergreen trees. Even the villas on the lake side of the building look onto a cluster of trees between the building and Bay Lake.

line
Disney’s Beach Club Villas Resort
Villa 419
Villa 419
1 bedroom
October 2004
Disney’s Beach Club Villas Resort
The porte-cochère—a pleasant but not exceptional view
 

Unlike the BoardWalk Villas Resort on the other side of Crescent Lake, Disney’s Beach Club Villas Resort does not have bookable view categories.

Views include the resort’s pool (with the parking lot beyond it), Disney’s Beach Club Resort, and Epcot Resorts Boulevard with natural trees and backstage parts of Epcot on the other side of it. There are no views of Crescent Lake because the DVC resort is separated from the lake by the original Beach Club Resort.

Disney’s Beach Club Villas Resort derives its popularity from it close proximity to Epcot and its access to the wonderful Strormalong Bay swimming pool—which is more of a mini-water park than a typical hotel pool.

line
Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
Congress Park
Congress Park
sales model
October 2004
 
Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
Some villas in the Congress Park section face Downtown Disney.
 

This is the first of three photos from Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa. The huge complex has 18 large residential buildings, several lakes, a shoreline facing Downtown Disney, some of the fairways of Disney’s Lake Buena Vista Golf Course, and a large “downtown” inherited from the old Disney Institute. Despite a multitude of different views, there are no bookable view categories.

The photo above shows a view toward Downtown Disney. A relatively small percentage of villas have such a view, and there’s no way to guarantee it.

line
Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
Villa 3425
Villa 3425
1 bedroom
October 2006
Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
A fairly common view at Saratoga Springs—one the resort’s lakes
 

Each residential building at Saratoga Springs has villas facing three directions. For a building next to a lake, more than half the villas face the lake, while the rest, at either end of the building, are along hallways that a perpendicular to the shoreline. In some cases, such villas face roads and parking lots.

line
Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
Villa 4334
Villa 4334
1 bedroom
February 2009
Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
Sometimes the location is more important than the view.
 

Looking at the photo above, you’d never guess that we were in a building adjacent to a lake. Our balcony faced the old Disney Institute Performance Hall, the road through the resort, and parked cars. I loved our villa! I’m serious. We were right next to a bus stop. The Carriage House and restaurants were a short walk away. It was too cold to go to the High Rock Spring Pool (although that didn’t stop some people), but it would have been very close.

line
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas, Jambo House, Savannah View
Villa 5209
Villa 5209
Studio
October 2009
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas, Jambo House, Savannah View
Do any other hotels in the United States have a view like this?
 

I stayed in a studio at a Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas soon after the hotel-to-timeshare conversion opened. I was too busy enjoying the antics of the critters to remember to take any photos.

I didn’t make the same mistake when we returned in October 2009.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas Resort consists of two distinct sections. The first section was Jambo House, a conversion of part of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge from a deluxe resort hotel to a timeshare resort. Then Disney built a dedicated timeshare section, Kidani Village, with its own lobby and restaurant. Both sections have villas that have views of animals (Savannah View) and those that do not (Standard View). Jambo house has a third category (Value) for smaller rooms; with these, you might get a view of animals—or you might not.

line
Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Villa 7105
Villa 7105
2 bedrooms
October 2009
Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Even a tower has to have a ground floor.
 

Bay Lake Tower is the first DVC resort at a Monorail Resort and the first DVC resort with views of the Magic Kingdom. I’ve never stayed there, but I visited the model in 2009. Surprisingly, the model was on the ground floor.

Overall, I’m very impressed with the villas at Bay Lake Tower. The interiors are sleek and contemporary, yet comfortable.

Now let’s look at the kind of view that makes DVC owners want to pay premium points.

line
Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Bak Lake Tower
Elevator lobby
High floor
October 2009
Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
If your room doesn’t have a view, try an elevator lobby on a high floor.
 

I wanted to see what a Magic Kingdom view might be like, so I took an elevator ride. With a view like this, there’s no doubt that you’re vacationing at Walt Disney World. And I can imagine how spectacular the fireworks are at night.

However, a Magic Kingdom view is also a parking lot view. At BoardWalk Villas, being able to see cars parked on an asphalt lot means a villa is in the lowly Standard View category, requiring fewer points. Apparently, at Bay Lake Tower, the view of the Magic Kingdom is so desirable that people glady exhaust their DVC point balances and look right past the parking lot.

line
The Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa
Villa 3508
Villa 3508
1 bedroom
April 2010
The Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa
You’re practically in Disney California Adventure.
 

In my opinion, the Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is the best DVC resort on the Mainland. It starts with the quality of the room. The California Craftsman style is clean and simple, yet warm and inviting. Being a short walk from Downtown Disney and both theme parks is great. And being part of Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel means having the renowned Napa Rose restaurant, the ever-so-pleasant Hearthstone Lounge, the big fireplace in the lobby, and delightful art throughout.

The photo above was our south-facing view into the Paradise Pier section of Disney’s California Adventure (as the park was still named in April 2010). We were on the third floor. In addition to seeing into the park, the view included a tall wall and the backsides of Corn Dog Castle and the defunct Souvenir 66 (now Seaside Souvenirs). The view would have been slightly better from the 4th floor, not quite as good from the 2nd floor, and probably pretty sad from the ground floor.

  The Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa
A somewhat zoomed-in view of World of Color testing.
 

Our stay was before World of Color premiered. We were treated to testing almost every night. Yes, I enjoyed watching some of the tests. Now that the show is running every night, I’m sure some guests sit on their balconies during the show. However, as I watched the tests, it was clear that the resort balconies provide a limited view at best.

line
The Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa
Villa 5514
Villa 5514
1 bedroom
May 2013
The Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa
The view from the balcony was dominated by trees.
 

There are no view categories on the DVC point chart for the Villas at the Grand Californian, but there are two distinct views—theme park and pool.

Villa 5514 provides another example of a view into Disney California Adventure. This time, we faced east and were on the fifth floor—the top floor of this part of the resort. The trees of the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail filled most of the view, with a particularly tall tree directly in front of the balcony. The view went well with the theme of the resort.

  The Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa
The view from the living room was better.
 

The living room was not directly behind the tall trees, so we had a panoramic view that included Grizzly Peak, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, the lift hill of Grizzly River Run, and even the desert mountains of Cars Land.

As all the evergreen trees continue to grow taller, it’s likely that the villas on this side of the resort will eventually all have views of a dense forest, regardless of the floor. That’s probably already the case on the lower floors.

line
The Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa
Villa 4513
Villa 4513
Grand Villa
April 2010
The Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa
The swimming pool courtyard might be a better view than the theme park.
 

This view is from a Grand Villa—a magnificent two-story villa with three bedrooms and even its own pool table. No, we didn’t stay there. I was able to see the Grand Villa as part of a tour.

I was surprised how nice the view of the swimming pool courtyard is. In some ways, it’s better than a Disney California Adventure view.

line
Aulani, Disney Vacation Club Villas, Ko Olina, Hawai‘i, Ocean View
Villa 1052
Villa 1052
1 bedroom
July 2013
Aulani, Disney Vacation Club Villas, Ko Olina, Hawai‘i
Looking straight ahead from the villa
 

DVC villas at Aulani fall into four categories:

  • Standard View includes either a view of the conference center, parking lot or parking garage from the room or balcony.
  • Island Gardens View includes at least a partial view of the mountains, spa or landscaping from the room balcony.
  • Poolside Gardens View includes at least a partial view of the pool, courtyards, water features, or landscaping from the room or balcony.
  • Ocean View includes at least a partial view of the ocean from the room or balcony.

For our July 2013 stay at Aulani, I reserved an ocean view villa. Having breakfast on a private lanai with a view of the ocean is the perfect way to start a day in Hawai‘i.

  Aulani, Disney Vacation Club Villas, Ko Olina, Hawai‘i
Looking slightly to the left from the villa
 

I was very happy with our villa. We were on the 10th floor of the 16-floor Ewa Tower, close to the Maka‘ala lobby. That gave us a great view of the resort’s Waikolohe Valley and the ocean beyond it.

line
Aulani, Disney Vacation Club Villas, Ko Olina, Hawai‘i, Ocean View
Villa 1001
Villa 1001
Grand Villa
July 2013
Aulani, Disney Vacation Club Villas, Ko Olina, Hawai‘i
Construction below, lagoon and ocean beyond
 

The final view is from a Grand Villa at Aulani—a three-bedroom villa on the 10th floor of the Waianae tower. No, we didn’t spend 159 DVC points per night to stay in the Grand Villa; we just took a tour for current DVC members.

A lanai stretches across the entire villa, which is around six time the width of a studio villa. Although Aulani categorizes it as an Ocean View, most resorts would use the even more desirable Ocean Front label because it faces directly toward the coastline and is near it.

At the time of my visit, a construction project was underway below the Grand Villa lanai to transform the original wedding lawn ay Aulani into new pools, a water play area, spa, decks with more room for chaise lounges, and a dining patio.

Aulani, Disney Vacation Club Villas, Ko Olina, Hawai‘i
A perfect view of lagoon 1 at Ko Olina
 

The Grand Villa provides a great view of Lagoon 1 at the Ko Olina Resort. And this just might be the most perfect view at any Disney Vacation Club, anywhere.

 

Click here to post comments at MiceChat about this article.


Disney at National Harbor
Aulani and “Disney Presence”
Home


© 2009-2014 Werner Weiss — Disclaimers, Copyright, and Trademarks

Updated June 13, 2014.

Photographs of views from Disney Vacation Club villas: 2004, 2005, 2007, and 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 by Werner Weiss.