A Disney Vacation Club purchase is a major financial committment for most poeple. As such, it requires a fair amount of research. Some people recommend touring some or all of the various resorts before buying. Some suggest renting points to experience a resort first hand. Others claim that being an experienced Disney resort guest is sufficient to gain an adequate understanding of the DVC lifestyle.
Topic: How thoroughly should buyers research a resort before committing themselves to a specific "Home"?
We had rented points three times at two other resorts (VWL twice, BWV once), and had had the DVC sales pitch for BCV 10+ years earlier. But we hadn't set foot there, really.
I think in our case, we knew the DVC system well enough that we knew what we were getting into. The exact theming may vary, but a DVC room is more or less a known quantity to us wherever it is. We could focus on the things outside the room - location, amenities, etc. I've got a couple large Google docs where my wife and I went through the pros and cons of all the resorts, and then narrowed it down to VWL vs. BCV and went over the pros and cons in detail. Restaurants, pools, transportation, price per point, dues, etc.
There were two factors that finally pushed us to BCV. My younger son loves swimming, so Stormalong Bay was a huge factor. And my daughter loves Reflections of Earth, so being that close to Epcot meant she could go see it any night we got back to the room early.
When we bought in, they were selling BLT and AKL. BLT wasn't open yet and AKL only had Jambo House (which we'd never been to). We bought AKL solely on the difference of the model rooms... we preferred the decor at AKL.
Now, one might think we'd regret this. We don't. We still love AKL. We've added on elsewhere since then so we will get some variety in our options, but AKL will always be "home" for us.
I like the advice that says "Don't buy where you don't want to stay." It's not that you have to buy in where you want to be (although that's obviously a good idea), but don't buy in at a resort where you doubt you'll be staying all that much. Go to WDW a lot? Aulani's a bad choice. Don't like the spread out nature of SSR and prefer to be in the middle of the action? Yeah, don't buy SSR and AKL may not be for you either. Then you're going to be one of those complaining all the time about how you can't book other resorts at 7 months out, and that's no way to be.
We first learned about DVC from our honeymoon cruise. After the cruise, we did lots of research on-line to check out comments from DVC members about the membership, and ensured we are financially ready to commit. We didn't rent points nor take an official tour prior to our commitment as we live in Canada. We chose AKV as our first home resort based on the following.
1. Location - AKV is in Florida, less than 3-hour flight to visit;
2. Resort Theme - Living in a big city, we are not outdoor persons, and do not think we will visit the true Africa in person. AKV gives us the chance to get a taste of it, and it is clean. We love Giraffe and animals. Watching them from balcony and savanna is one of a kind experience. Loving it!
We have stayed in other DVC resorts since we joined. We love them all, but AKV is still our favorite.