A lot of people have been asking us how I managed to score extra VIP fastpasses for the whole family. Well, the answer is both simple and complicated.
On the first day of our Disneyworld vacation, The Boobook and I were engaged in vigorous pin trading and we noticed that the best pins were available at the Disney Vacation Club booths that were liberally sprinkled throughout the park.
Since the Disney Vacation Club is essentially Disney’s timeshare program, it was not surprising that the booths were often avoided by other guests. Thus, the cast members at said booths were almost always free, super-friendly and readily available for directions and information.
Eventually, during a break between one ride and the next attraction, we ended up talking to one of them about the Disney Vacation Club and what it was about. We were informed that the booths were set up for the purposes of enticing guests to go to the Disney Vacation Club timeshare presentation. Before we had the chance to turn them down (with rolling of eyes), the cast member promised us three things:
- The talk would take no more than 30 minutes because “Mickey did not want to waste our time”.
- We would get free breakfast and unlimited ice cream sundaes.
- We would get 3 VIP Fastpasses each.
The VIP Fastpasses, the Cast Member explained, were special fastpasses that allowed people to join the Fastpass lane for most Disneyworld Attractions without prior bookings. We would, he assured us, get the VIP Fastpasses and all the other extras whether or not we signed up for the timeshare.
The Boobook and I mulled things over and eventually decided to sign up for the presentation, partially for the 3 VIP Fastpasses, which would no doubt have made our vacation smoother, but mostly for the free unlimited ice cream sundaes. Because, ice cream. We agreed to go to the presentation on the very next day, as that would allow us to maximise the usage of the Fastpasses. The Cast Member had us signed up in a trice, for the first presentation of the next day.
The next morning, a big blue van arrived to collect us from our hotel. Now, this wasn’t any ordinary van, of course. The blue van was emblazoned with the Disney Vacation Club logo. When it stopped in front of the hotel, the door opened automatically and a stepladder folded out from the side of the van, just like in a cartoon. The van’s driver, a Cast Member himself, got out of the van to help us get into it. Once we were seated, he took us to Disneyworld’s most beautiful and most luxurious hotel, the Grand Floridian Resort. While he drove, he spoke at length about the parks and gave us a lot of interesting factoids about them. I must admit to being so awed at the gorgeous Victorian surroundings that I completely forgot to take pictures.
We did learn this on the drive, however: You know that you’re on Disney territory when the overhead power cables inexplicably disappear. The reason being that Walt Disney felt that power cables were an unsightly blight on an otherwise unspoiled landscape and so arranged for his electricity to be delivered through underground cabling.
The van delivered us to our destination, a large white building and we were quickly ushered inside and given nametags by waiting Cast Members.
Inside, we were taken through the lobby straight to a sumptuous breakfast feast of various pastries fresh from the oven and freshly squeezed juice. Instead of being taken to sit with a big group of other guests, we were ushered into a very quiet and private seating area with extremely comfortable chairs where we were generally unbothered by the Cast Members until we had eaten our fill.
Once our appetites were sated, it was time for the timeshare presentation to begin. But this wasn’t just any ordinary timeshare presentation, oh no. This was a Disney timeshare presentation. This meant that rather than being ushered into a big room and given a generic presentation tailored to the lowest common denominator, we were ushered into a very small, very intimate booth by a very friendly elderly gentleman who looked and behaved rather like a kindly American grandfather.
After that, we sat through what was possibly the hardest hard sell that I had ever experienced in my life. The presentation started off with an introduction of Disney’s various resorts and hotels, of which there are a staggering number dotted about throughout the USA. Our guide then explained that the Vacation Club was valid not only for hotel stays, but also for Adventures by Disney, a travel service that offers guided tours all over the world. He took us through a whirlwind explanation of the “point buy” system for the Vacation Club (which got very confusing so I won’t repeat it here). Then, he left us alone for a few minutes to go get us drinks of water. While we sat and awaited his return, the Boobook and I started chatting about the Vacation Club. Being the accountant that I am, I mentioned that I’d like to see hard financial data before deciding on anything. The Boobook wanted an idea of what (if any) services were available outside of the USA.
When our guide returned, he had a stack of financial papers in a neat folder for me to look at and a video about International services provided by Disney Vacation Club. It was then that the Boobook and I noticed that the entire room was rigged with cameras and microphones.
Disney knows all.
After the timeshare talk, we were taken to look at the kind of rooms available for the timeshare. Once again, Disney doesn’t do things by halves. The rooms were spacious and crammed chock full of the latest luxuries, including a television in the shower, and one embedded within a bathroom mirror. In case, you know, you’d like to watch TV while showering or brushing your teeth.
Finally, after a good 45 minutes at the Disney Vacation Club presentation, we were taken to the ice cream parlour, where we were given not only the 3 VIP fastpasses, but also the unlimited ice cream that I had been waiting for. While the Boobook and I enjoyed our treats, which were well worth the marathon of sitting through all those talks, I decided to double check on our VIP Fastpasses. A bit of quick talking on my part cinched us 3 VIP fastpasses for each member of the family, including those who did not attend the talks. Score! The van even took us right up to the very door of the Epcot Theme Park and we could walk straight in without any fuss or mess. It was great!
In conclusion, we learned the following things:
- Disneyworld electricity is all underground.
- Disney ice cream sundaes are seriously delicious.
- Disney sees and knows ALL.
- Timeshare presentations, even Disney ones, are not for the fainthearted, but the perks can be great.
- A little social engineering goes a long way.
- Adventures by Disney is totally a thing. The tours and activities they run are pretty legit and well worth the price.
At the end of the day, Disney customer service is the best in the world. They really treat you very well. Heck, I felt a little bit guilty for not signing up for the Vacation Club, but the Boobook and I agreed that it was far beyond our financial capacity at this point in our lives. The club is worth it, but only if you live and work in the USA, where you can get the most benefit out of it.