DVC rooms versus non-DVC

I’m curious HOW different the rooms are for DVC versus non-DVC in the same resort.

Originally, I had considered getting a Bay Tower room at the Contemporary by buying through someone with DVC, This would definitely save money. But the more I looked into it, the more I saw it was a bit of a gamble.

First, at least with the Contemporary, the DVC rooms are purportedly smaller. Second, there is definitely a much larger walk factor when staying at DVC rooms. Third, I read that when they renovate the rooms, the DVC rooms are the last to be renovated, so the decor you see for the rooms at the Contemporary might not match the actual decor in the DVC rooms.

I’m wondering what the differences are, exactly…not necessarily at just the Contemporary, although I’m most interested in that.

I am renting DVC at AKL Jambo for the first time in Jan. I did some research and this is what I have found out (keeping in mind I have not actually gone yet).

  1. Instead of 2 Queen beds there is 1 Queen and 1 pullout.
  2. There is no housekeeping unless you are 7+ days
  3. At AKL the DVC rooms are distributed throughout. So you have the same chance of being close/far as a regular room

I am a bit nervous about my first time renting, but for the savings I figure it’s worth a shot!

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Following. We stay DVC bc of the rates and kitchen.

The DVC rooms will be different decor from the rest of the resort. They aren’t intended to be the same.

Your big, big difference though is that if you rent DVC points, you have no cancellation options. If you have to cancel, and don’t have insurance, you’ll lose your money.


We are DVC owners and have stayed at both Bay Lake Tower and Animal Kingdom Jambo House. We were very happy with the condition of the rooms at both properties. We stayed at Bay Lake last month and Jambo in February. I would not be concerned with them being worn. Also, you would receive Mousekeeping on the 4th day of your stay even if your stay is under 7 days. They will empty trash, replenish paper and bath products as well as fresh towels. I remember being concerned the firsts time we stayed DVC prior to owning. It was no big deal. Make your bed and pick up after yourself as you hopefully would at home and it’s no issue. One last comment, all of the DVC units are located on the 5th floor of Jambo House. Have a great trip!

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Oh, and yes, DVC studios are a pull out couch. (full size, not queen).

Except at OKW, which have two proper beds.

Bay Lake Tower is a separate building next door to the Contemporary; while connected by a skybridge, they are not the same building.

I’m not sure I understand the “larger walk factor” statement. Bay Lake Tower is slightly closer to the Magic Kingdom, so the walk factor is less. That being said, if you plan to dine at the Contemporary or use Disney Transportation, you do have to walk 2 minutes to go next door to the Contemporary.

Also, only the “studio” rooms at Bay Lake Tower are smaller. The 1 bedroom and 2 bedroom units at Bay Lake Tower are bigger than the rooms at the Contemporary.


I wasn’t really worried about the condition, but the decor. Part of what makes it the Contemporary is the contemporary decor. But when looking into the DVC rental option about two years ago, some of the pictures I saw of the DVC rooms in Bay Lake Tower looked NOTHING like the rooms in the main building and garden wing. We didn’t like the styling at all. But I don’t know if those were older pictures or not, or if the DVC rooms have been updated since then.

Walk to Magic Kingdom wasn’t my concern. But to get to the main building for food, or to the monorail, etc., you always have to walk the skybridge. Again, part of the allure of the Contemporary is the experience, so the added walk rather than the Monorail being just outside your door, so to speak, is something in the negative column. It isn’t a deal breaker…just a difference.

Yes, it was the studio rooms I was referring to. I’m not sure if it would end up being worth it to get a 1 bedroom, since the point of doing it would simply be cost savings. But perhaps even with a 1 bedroom it would be cheaper? I’ll have to re-investigate. I just want to understand all the implications.

For example, something I wasn’t sure about was if the DVC rentals made any different regarding the 30 versus 60 day FP+ window, etc.

A DVC room gives you all the benefits of any other onsite stay.

The walk along the Sky bridge is way shorter than a walk from the garden wing. And time it right and you can be walking alongside two monorail trains. Plus has an amazing view of the fireworks and the electrical water pageant. Adds to BLT, imo.

David’s site has photos of the decor in the rooms. Again, BLT is really a separate resort, attached to the Contemporary. I wouldn’t expect the rooms to be the same. Just like the BCV decor is different to the BC rooms.

I never really looked very hard at the rooms at the Contemporary; we needed more beds than were typically available in most Disney hotels. Our comparison was between a one bedroom unit at Bay Lake Tower and a suite at Art of Animation or All-Star Music. It turned out that a DVC 1BR rental was under $100 a night more than a value suite, and that got us a kitchen and washer/dryer. Both of which, in turned, saved money elsewhere on our trip. (And left us more time for fun activities - even before we looked at walking to the Magic Kingdom.)

A DVC rental really complicates getting a dining plan, because the member has to have your credit card information to pay for it. But with a kitchen, a dining plan becomes even less of a convenience and even more an unnecessary expense. Other than that, the DVC rental is just like any other stay…

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We don’t plan to get a dining plan anyhow, so that’s no biggie. We already calculated exactly what we plan to eat and where, and the Dining Plan would end up costing us hundreds of dollars more.

I just checked David’s and it appears that the 1 bedroom, Magic Kingdom view at Bay Lake Tower for 6 nights is cheaper than a non-Magic Kingdom view in the main building for 5 nights. Plus, the 1 bedroom doesn’t have the size issue that studio does. The decor of the 1 bedroom is better than the studio as well. So, I’m going to see what my wife thinks. We really wanted a Magic Kingdom view, but it was going to put it out of price range, so this could put it back on the table. Plus, having the washer/dryer and kitchen could be nice.

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I just did a quick update to my budget spreadsheet, making a version that considers a 1 bedroom Bay Lake Tower room instead. It appears that it will ultimately save right around $1000 for a similar view room. Although, some of that savings might be offset due to the possible need of travel insurance.

Thanks for the input, folks. To paraphrase the Uruk-hai from Lord of the Rings, “It looks like DVC is back on the table, boys!”

Oh. One more question, which ties to the other thread I have on tipping…
since in the DVC rental, there would only be mousekeeping once, how exactly would one tip? Do you know ahead of time which day that service would be? Do you just keep an envelope with a tip there all week? Or is it ALWAYS the fourth day?

I saw something on the FAQ on David’s website:

The “My Disney Experience” and “Magic Bands” programs are outside of our rental agreement and any inconsistencies must be dealt with directly with Disney.

Does this mean that we will have to purchase Magic Bands ourselves?

No once your reservation is linked to MDE you will get magic bands automatically shipped to you.

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It will always be the 4th day. Then day 8 for the next one if you’re staying that long. Check-in day is day one, just to clarify!

Like a ordinary resort room, best to put it in an envelope or at least with a note, so they know it’s for them. I usually put it in the hallway on the shelf under the mirror.

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If your reason for wanting a MK view is the fireworks, we had a Lake View studio at BLT and we could watch the fireworks from our balcony. Check the room finder pictures to see which rooms have that view. Also, if you do go with a studio, there is a laundry room you can use on the ground floor near the door out to the pool. The machines are free.

Also, the DVC studios have a kitchenette (microwave, fridge, coffee maker, glasses, sink, etc.) in them, which the regular Contemporary rooms would not have.

Thanks for the additional info

Good to know. Although, I suspect when renting a DVC, I woudn’t think you’d have as much say as to what room you get, specifically.

The bigger issue is the bed. The Studio only as a queen (we’re used to King beds, so prefer them), and overall square footage of the room is smaller. I don’t know if it FEELS small, but from the pictures, it LOOKS small.

Correct about room requests.

  • For a start, room requests should ideally be noted with Member Services, which means asking the owner to add a request.
  • And although some people get their requests met, DVC operates with around 95% occupancy year round. There is very little room for changing rooms.
  • More importantly, if you asked to move, the CMs might upgrade you, which would use extra points. The owner might have been relying on having those points for their next stay. You should never ask for an upgrade or even a change of room if renting points.