Fast reaction to new Wilderness Lodge DVC

Today Disney Vacation Club issued a press release confirming plans to build its 14th property at Disney's Wilderness Lodge.  While few concrete details are available, we can now draw a few conclustions based upon information provided within the release.  

Since word emerged that Disney Vacation Club was planning to build more units at Disney's Wilderness Lodge, many have questioned the legal structure of the new units.  Specifically, will Disney add to the existing Wilderness Lodge condominium association or create an entirely new entity?

The description of the new development as the 14th DVC property and second location at the Wilderness Lodge seemingly confirms the latter--the new units will be placed into a completely separate condominium association.  So what does this mean?

The new condo association--let's call it VWL II--will have a separate ending date.  Ownership in the original Villas at Disney's Wilderness Lodge (VWL I) is slated to end on January 31, 2042.  If Disney had attempted to roll these new cabins and villas into VWL I, common thinking was that the 2042 ending date would have been extended, allowing them to sell 50 years of ownership to new buyers.  

While DVC may someday offer contract extensions to Wilderness Lodge owners--as they did with Disney's Old Key West Resort several years ago--the separate end date for VWL II will not create any pressure or obligation to extend.  DVC could simply enforce the 2042 end date and look toward re-selling those units when current ownership expires in about 26 years.  

VWL II will have its own Points Chart.  The original Villas at Disney's Wilderness Lodge is now one of the more cost-effective properties following a decade of point inflation at resorts like Bay Lake Tower at Disney's Contemporary Resort, Villas atDisney's Grand Californian Hotel and Disney's Polnesian Villas and Bungalows.  As a separate condo association, DVC is under absolutely no obligation to price rooms in VWL II to match VWL I.  

However, from a practical standpoint, it is unlikely that any tremendous inflation will be exhibited in VWL II.  VWL II is likely to be a combination of hotel rooms converted to DVC Studios plus the waterfront cabins.  The hotel rooms may prove to be even smaller than current VWL I Deluxe Studio villas.  DVC could merely attempt to hold the line on Studio point costs for a smaller room.  Meanwhile there is no precedent for cabin pricing.  

Annual dues will be calculated separately for VWL II.  Dues are a function of both resort operating costs and the Points Charts--spreading the total costs over the number of points in circulation.  It should not be difficult to spread the costs over two condo associations.  Disney already shares costs between one condo association plus its hotel business at most locations.  But the presenence of those cabins adds some uncertainty to the level of the dues.  Cabins will cost a high number of points per night, but likely also have higher operational and maintenance costs than other villas.  How will this play out?  Will VWL II cost significantly more or less than VWL I?  Stay tuned.

VWL II owners will almost certainly not have 11-month booking rights within VWL I, and vice-versa.  A cornerstone of the Disney Vacation Club program is the ability of owners to make reservations at their Home resort eleven months prior to arrival and all other resorts just seven months before arrival.  For all intents and purposes, VWL I and VWL II will be separate resorts.  

This will be particularly noteworthy if the villa makeup plays-out as anticipated.  VWL I is a mixture of Deluxe Studio, One Bedroom and Two Bedroom villas.  VWL II is expected to consist of Studios--some with internal connecting doors--plus the waterfront cabins.  When marketing VWL II to prospective buyers, Disney will not be able to offer them the ability to book One and Two Bedroom villas 11 months out.  Similarly, VWL I owners will not have priority booking rights to the new cabins.  

Bear in mind that many aspects of this project are subject to changes and clarifications in the coming years.  The addition of a second condominium association at a single property represents uncharted waters for Disney Vacation Club.  The opinions above represent little more than eductated guesses based upon scant information provided in Disney's press release, a vibrant DVC rumor mill and a familliarity with DVC contracts and timeshare law.  

However the situation bears watching by all DVC owners, partciularly given the likelihood that other properties will be revisited.  The immensely popular Disney's Beach Club Resort is already being eyed as subject of a similar expansion in its DVC presence.  

Wholesale construction at Disney's Wilderness Lodge is scheduled to begin in October 2015.  Work permits suggest the project could run into the year 2018.