Ranking Resorts by Inventory – Part 1

All potential Disney Vacation Club (DVC) members have their own criteria in evaluating contracts. One of the most critical aspects is availability. After all, the power of the 11-month booking window is wasted when you can easily get a reservation for a resort within seven months of your hotel stay. When all other things are equal, you should purchase a membership contract at the places with the smallest number of available rooms. Here’s a ranking of DVC exclusivity based on hotel inventory.

14) Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa (1,320)

To some readers, this list may seem backward. When you want to own at a place where you’re most likely to have availability, you should read it in reverse. I’ve displayed the entries this way so that you can identify the places where you’re least likely to stay unless you own there.

As you’ll see, some of the inventories at DVC resorts are extremely small. You’re fighting a lot of other members to book these rooms at the seven-month window. The safest way to guarantee that you’ll have the room that you want is to purchase a contract at the resort(s) with the scarcest availability.

The reverse of this thought process explains why you’re likely to find availability at Saratoga Springs when everything else is booked. As you’re about to see, its total of maximum available rooms is almost as large as the next two properties combined – those two resorts have the second and third-largest inventories in the DVC lineup!

Saratoga Springs functions as a kind of safety net for DVC members. Your odds of booking here are substantial due to the sheer volume of hotel rooms available. It books a maximum of 1,320 rooms per day. To put that number into perspective, consider that the world-famous Four Seasons Hotel in New York City only has a total of 368 hotel rooms.

For a better local comparison, the Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Resort Orlando books 650 hotel rooms. Saratoga Springs claims more DVC rooms in its inventory than those properties combined. It’s a monolithic resort.

13) Disney’s Old Key West Resort (761)

One of the confusing parts of DVC inventory discussions involves the terminology. You’ll read a pair of terms that seem similar. One is “total units” while the other is “maximum available rooms,” the latter of which I mentioned for Saratoga Springs. The quirk of these terms is that “total units” is always smaller than “maximum available rooms.” We’re discussing the latter because it’s the direct determinant for DVC room availability.

At Old Key West, the total units number is 531 while the maximum available room total is 761. The units in the hotel inventory are confusing because DVC offers Lockoff rooms. These suites are a combination of two distinct rooms that can be booked separately. When booked as a unit, they lock off as a joint entity.

This resort sells 230 Lockoffs, rooms that can list as either a two-bedroom suite or a one-bedroom suite and a studio. It also has 274 dedicated two-bedroom suites and 27 Grand Villas. You can do the math to see that this adds up to 531 as a baseline, but the theoretical maximum is 761.

This point is essential in that it shows how you compete against other DVC members for the same rooms. Even though you may not want a two-bedroom suite that locks off, it can impact your options. When someone else books one, you have one less one-bedroom suite AND one less studio available for you. Remember this as you evaluate the properties with the lowest total inventory.

12) Aulani, A DVC Resort & Spa (712)

Four of the DVC properties listed here aren’t at Walt Disney World. Their availability works a bit differently in that their popular seasons aren’t the same. Also, the competition for these rooms isn’t the same. Some DVC members will never stay at any of them, while others will make these places an annual tradition.

Aulani has easily the most extensive inventory of these non-Orlando options. With 712 rooms in the inventory, this resort is designed as a destination vacation location. It sells almost 200 dedicated two-bedrooms plus roughly 250 of those lockoff units that are either one large suite or a one-bedroom suite and a studio. When you own at Aulani, you’re choosing to visit Hawaii a lot. Enjoy paradise! Also please understand that you’ll be left at the mercy of the seven-month window for all theme park visits.

11) Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas (216/492/708)

Yes, Animal Kingdom Villas has more numbers listed than the other resorts. The explanation is simple, though. It has two locations, Jambo House and Kidani Village. Since Jambo House was there first, it’s a DVC expansion of an existing resort and thereby has less inventory.

Jambo House’s 216-room inventory would be one of the smallest on this list if not for the later introduction of Kidani Village, which has 492 possible rooms in the inventory. Since the bookings are blended together, Animal Kingdom Villas provides the third-largest inventory of the current DVC resorts at Walt Disney World. You can clearly see that you’re much more likely to stay at Kidani Village when you book here, though.

10) Disney’s BoardWalk Villas (532)

One of the trends that you’ll notice on this list is that DVC inventory is more substantial at older Walt Disney World properties. Disney’s expansions at popular resorts had logistics concerns that prevented the creation of large volumes of hotel rooms. In the early days of DVC, however, program planners wanted guests to have a wealth of inventory options. Only one other Orlando resort has at least 400 rooms in the inventory. So, the properties mentioned thus far are the places where you’re most likely to find last-minute availability.

Check back Friday, May 24th 2019 for the conclusion of our Inventory Countdown!