How DVC Cured the ‘Commando’ in Me

When our family first started traveling to Walt Disney World, I truly felt like every trip would be the last one for a long time. The budget was always an issue, and every year when we sat down and crunched the numbers, we decided that yes, a trip would work this year, but we’d probably skip going the next year to save money. (In reality, we had this conversation every single year and we never missed a year of going.)

We went into every trip not knowing when we’d be back and feeling like we had to make the most out of every minute there. I am a diehard Disney Parks fan. I read all the guidebooks back when print books were the norm, bookmarked dozens of Disney websites devoted to every aspect of park touring and spent hours on internet message boards looking for the best tips and tricks to make every vacation as magical as it could possibly be. And of course, I had a spreadsheet. I had multiple spreadsheets if I’m being honest. Each day was planned out to maximize park time and pack as many rides and shows and character greetings and parades and fireworks as possible.

I thrived on this planning, but my husband? Yeah, not so much. His eyes would glaze over and he would say, “Are you sure you want to do this trip again? It seems like a lot of work.” Months of planning would lead us to that magical week, our precious time inside our happy place. But that didn’t mean it was time to relax. Oh, no. That’s when I went into full ‘commando-mode’. Any diehard fan knows the number one tip to getting the most out of your trip is to be there at park opening. You can often get more done in those first few hours than you can for the rest of the day. With travel time, and factoring in time for everyone to get ready and eat breakfast, that usually meant a 6 am wakeup time. No one in my family was very happy about that. It was nothing but grumbles and grumpy faces as we were often up before the sun.

Looking back, I’m not proud of some of my behavior in those early years. When the kids were younger, of course, they wanted to swim in the hotel pool. I didn’t plan time for that into the spreadsheet. “You can swim in the pool at the Y at home anytime. You can only ride Splash Mountain once a year.” I didn’t feel like the trip was a success unless we could say we checked as much off the list (aka the park map) as possible. When we got off a ride and one of the kids immediately asked if we could go on it again, it was usually answered with, “Well, the line is really long right now and we already used our fastpass. We need to move on and do a different ride now.” I was the general in this traveling army and the family foot soldiers had to fall in line!

Kid slowing you down? Throw them over your shoulder and keep marching. We’ve got places to go!

Of course, we had wonderful trips and made many wonderful memories. As we got older, however, life got harder and jobs got more demanding. These vacations started to feel like a chore for my husband. “Why can’t we have a relaxing vacation for once? Disney is so much work. Maybe we need a break for awhile.” Faced with the prospect of losing my favorite travel destination, I truly tried to tame my inner ‘commando’.

I eased up on the spreadsheets. We splurged on some deluxe resorts and scheduled some resort-only days. My husband requested at least one day where he could sleep in and not set an alarm. I tried, oh, I tried so hard to let that happen. But when 9 am rolled around and he was still asleep I jumped on the bed, “The parks are open! How can you still be sleeping?” Again, I’m not proud of myself. Around that time the idea of buying into DVC was something I started to entertain. Primarily, it started to make sense for us financially (see Polynesian Tastes on a Pop Century Budget), but it turned out to have a huge unintended benefit. It cured the ‘commando’ in me. We bought enough points for me to travel for two weeks a year. I gave my husband a break and I travel one week with my Dad and we do a Father-Daughter Food and Wine trip each fall. The other week I travel with my husband and daughter. I always have another trip already on the calendar when I’m being welcomed home at check-in, which means I no longer feel the need to pack every minute of every day full of activity. I know that I’ll be back. Missed out on a certain ride? Too tired to stay for the fireworks? No problem, we’ll catch them next time. Skip an entire park and stay at the resort all day instead? Why not? Hollywood Studios will always be there but right now spending the afternoon on Bay Lake on a pontoon boat is exactly what my family needs to unwind and relax.

A relaxing boat ride? The Commando doesn’t have time for that, but the DVC owner does!

We’ve been DVC owners since 2013 and it truly was the best travel decision we ever made. Our frenzied over-scheduled trips have given way to relaxing and rejuvenating vacations. We still schedule dining reservations and fast passes, but not as many as we used to and we’re more flexible with changing them. I used to pride myself on never waiting in lines because I was such a planner. Now, if a ride is important to us, and it has a 45-minute wait, we wait for it. It’s not the end of the world and it’s better than crisscrossing the park umpteen times and making everyone exhausted. Everyone in the family appreciates the new pace of our trips and the ‘commando’ has hung up her marching boots for good!

10 thoughts on “How DVC Cured the ‘Commando’ in Me

  • October 25, 2019 at 10:26 am

    We just bought DVC and this article makes me feel so much better about it. Thank you!

  • October 25, 2019 at 10:54 am

    I have to agree. I always say uf you are a DVC member you no longer have to “Do Disney in a day or die trying”!

  • October 25, 2019 at 11:11 am

    I’ve said the same so many times about our DVC membership! No more hectic trips for us!

  • October 26, 2019 at 10:54 am

    You hit the nail on the spot! We used to do the same thing, hustle to keep plans on schedule, then wither late in the day. We finally decided to do the DVC thing a few years ago, wishing we would have done it when they first started. Hindsight! If anyone travels there as much as we do (4 trips a year from WI), the DVC is the only way to go. We bought used, upgraded to the blue card for 25 points direct from Disney, and never looked back. Nicer rooms and accommodations, better restaurants, and always
    less than $100 per night. Our DVC payback is less than 4 years. I’m not a salesman, but the DVC was the best thing we did!

  • October 27, 2019 at 8:59 am

    We definitely also slowed our Disney pace down since joining DVC in 2006.
    However, before joining we still had always stayed on Disney property, so the desire to “rush” to the Parks wasn’t as strong as if we had been off-property.
    I’ve always felt just as much Magic at the Disney Resorts & other areas around Walt Disney World as in the Parks.
    Some people don’t get that “on-property” Magic. But myself, I’d take any room at the All-Stars over a mansion off-property any day of the week.

  • October 31, 2019 at 10:21 am

    This blog post is so relatable (and so well-written!). Thanks for sharing. I’m a brand-new DVC member and after 7 years of uber-planning our annual Disney trip, I’m so excited about slowing down the pace of our vacations.

  • November 14, 2019 at 8:19 am

    I was suggested this website via my cousin. I am now not certain whether
    or not this post is written by him as no one else realize
    such precise approximately my problem. You’re amazing!

  • December 8, 2019 at 2:46 pm

    It’s so hard not to be in the parks! We did swim two days this past trip and didn’t get to the parks until the afternoon, but you better believe we shut those babies down 4 nights in a row, lol! I need my park time!

  • January 15, 2020 at 10:51 am

    This post brought a tear to my eye, because SAME! I’m sad to say I turned my brother off on our first ever Disney trip by being commando. I don’t know if he will ever go again. 🙁 But each trip I’ve calmed down, and in May we purchased DVC and now I am a completely different person. It is SO AWESOME and I look forward to lots of trips with no plans and last-minute changes!

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