Wait, this Party is Free? What's the Catch?by Donna Fesel, contributing writer
I have been a member of Disney's Vacation Club (Disney's timeshare program) since right around the time my son was born, for 10 years now. We bought our DVC membership as a gift for ourselves. My family really enjoys Disney destinations, and we have used our DVC points to travel to lots of great places. For us, the ability to use our DVC membership to take annual vacations was the draw; we never even considered that there would be greater perks in addition to that wonderful fact.
The longer we have been DVC members, the more we continue to explore membership (hello DVC Member Magic at Splitsville and insanely adorable gratis DVC bowling socks). Often, we are notified about different special events DVC members are eligible for at Disney locations. Sadly though, these events don't typically jibe with our planned Disney visit.
A few weeks ago, however, my luck finally changed; I got an e-mail from the folks at Disney. During our August visit to Walt Disney World (on the very last night), Disney's Typhoon Lagoon Water Park was hosting an evening Disney Vacation Club Neighborhood Beach Bash. The e-mail was an invitation to this really cool-sounding event, and provided a window when I could call for more information and reservations. The Beach Bash was repeated several times over the summer on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
We have been to Typhoon Lagoon and my son loves it. Sadly, our visit to WDW this year was a bit shorter than usual, so it seemed like visiting a WDW water park was not in the cards for us. On our last day at WDW, we were scheduled to drive the hour-plus to Disney's Vero Beach Resort for the remainder of our vacation. Without letting my son in on the surprise until we had full information, my husband and I agreed that I would call DVC Member Services (the all-purpose DVC help desk) on the appointed day to get more information.
Ever the organized WDW visitor, I called Member Services bright and early during my appointed time slot. The normal automatic Member Services greeting was changed to, "If you are calling about Disney Vacation Club Neighborhood Beach Bash, press… " That was me! My Member Services representative gave me the skinny on this nighttime event. From 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Typhoon Lagoon was closed to everyone but DVC members and guests on their reservations. We could show up as early as 7 p.m. and gain entry to Typhoon Lagoon, but if we wanted to wait until 8 p.m. we could be shuttled from our resort directly to the Beach Bash.
The Member Services representative also let me know that all attractions, with the exception of Shark Reef (the park's snorkeling adventure) and Crush 'n' Gusher (a very tall, but very dimly lit water attraction) would all be open just for DVC members.
Next, I asked the million-dollar question for WDW visitors: how much? "Brace yourselves," she said. "Free"!
Shocked, I pressed on. Did we have to pay regular Typhoon Lagoon entry? The answer was no. I even said, "Just to be clear, this event is free?" She laughed and said, "I know, it is awesome." A quick call to my husband later, with my son jumping for joy in the background, and we were headed to Typhoon Lagoon, and a much later arrival at Disney's Vero Beach Resort.
We got to Typhoon Lagoon around 7:30 p.m., right after dinner (my Member Services representative told me that complimentary snacks would be served, but not anything substantial enough to make a meal out of). We got a great parking spot at the park since so many folks were leaving after a long day. When we approached the front entrance, a balloon was present announcing our event. Stationed at a welcome table, cast members asked for our DVC identification card and signed us in. We got our event bracelets and entered.
Typhoon Lagoon was already emptying out of regular visitors. We found some terrific spots near the Surf Pool (huge man made waves that nearly knock you over… so fun) and settled in. My son and I headed off to ride Crush 'n' Gusher (an awesome tube ride) before it closed. We all met back up and hopped into some tubes to ride in Castaway Creek (the 2000 foot lazy river that circles the park). We bobbed around for a while, enjoying our evening, and then went back to the Surf Pool and hung out enjoying the waves for a bit. 1960s style beach music reminiscent of Disney's Teen Beach Movie and Teen Beach 2 was being piped into the park, enhancing the beach party theme. My guys rode a whole slew of additional water rides including Mayday Falls and Humunga Kowabunga, with barely a wait, and then rejoined me soaked and thrilled.
There were cast members dressed as bikers and surfers livening up the event (in keeping with the beach party theme), as well as a cocktail bar, prize giveaways, and character meet-and-greets (we skipped this, but I asked another party-goer, and heard that Mickey, Minnie, Lilo & Stitch were in on the fun).
Lastly, and as a cherry on the top of our already fantastic evening, cast members put out complimentary drinks (ice cold water and lemonade) and snacks (chips, cookies and fruit bars), and… Mickey ice cream bars!
While I am not a huge ice cream girl, I love, love, love Mickey ice cream bars! I swear, the dark chocolate covering is addictive. I eat one or share one every day of my Disney vacation. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I sat with my guys munching our Disney deliciousness and enjoyed one more minute of WDW magic. We dragged ourselves away from the party, and arrived close to one in the morning at Disney's Vero Beach Resort, totally exhausted but reveling in the awesome evening we had just had.
Was anyone else at one of the Disney Vacation Club Neighborhood Beach Bash events? Did you love it? Info please. Also, if you've been to any other cool DVC stuff you want to comment on, please do.