Monday, August 21, 2017

Are Club Level Accommodations "Worth It?" - A Closer Look

by: guide4wdw - Collin

Sometimes when you're booking a Disney vacation, things just really start to lineup and that was exactly the case when we had the opportunity to experience Club Level at the Wilderness Lodge recently. When you mention that particular option of a Disney vacation to most guests the first question they ask is, "Was it worth it?" Well, here's our answer to that question. 

First and foremost, there is no straightforward answer to that question because it really varies depending on how you like to travel and the plans you have for your vacation. For us, it was an incredible experience with a lot of incredible perks, but it's not something we would (or could) do on every trip. 

In our particular circumstance we were looking for a place that would accommodate 4 guests while having a divided partition between rooms (one person in our group snores so it's great to have that extra rollout to create some space to get some sleep in "peace"). Originally, we had plans to spend the week at one of our favorite resorts, Saratoga Springs. Fortunately, as we searched the Disney site day after day we stumbled into a deluxe room at Wilderness Lodge with Club Level accommodations. Notice the phrasing as "with club level accommodations," because we'll explain that later. In most cases at Walt Disney World, deluxe is actually a resort tier category rather than a room type, but at the Wilderness Lodge this is essentially Disney phrasing for "junior suite." 

The room itself was great, but the club level access simply came as a perk to our overall experience. To be completely honest, it was one of the best experiences we've had at a Walt Disney World resort. 

We had in fact stayed at Wilderness Lodge a few times before and it is certainly one of our top favorite deluxe tier resorts. Fortunately, this time was a bit different than all of the other great experiences. 

So, let's take a look at Club Level. On a typical rate structure, the concierge or "club level" floor is around $100-$150 more than a standard room per night. Many guests hear that figure and shy away fro the accommodation option altogether. Yes, it is certainly expensive, but at the same time the charge varies and oftentimes these rooms are included in discounted rate offers. Also, as in our case, they do (in a few select cases) come with additional space in the room itself. 

(view from club level dining area during a tornado watch: notice how the Magic Kingdom ferry boat was briefly relocated to Bay Lake!)

A typical club level room is no different than a standard room found throughout the rest of the resort. However, as mentioned, there are a select few deluxe rooms that accommodate larger party sizes. Personally, if I were to book club level again, this is what I would reserve. The accommodations can cover 6 guests in the deluxe rooms and as a result is much more price conscious. When booking a room for that many guests comfortably, you typically have to book two rooms or reserve a villa. Sadly, the one bedroom villas only accommodate 4 guests  (in most cases), so a two bedroom is required. When you take these things into consideration, the club level option is much more reasonable in price, plus you receive these added bonuses:

Specially Prepared Snacks 
While the offerings do vary from resort to resort based on the theming of the particular location, at the Wilderness Lodge you get access to what is called the Old Faithful Club. The concierge exclusive seating and dining area is located on the 7th floor overlooking the main lobby of the Wilderness Lodge below. The seating is incredibly comfortable, the snacks (which are prepared at select times throughout the day starting at breakfast and debuting all the way through late night desserts) are quite tasty and exclusive to the club, and the views are second to none. Including both picturesque angles of the property and the Magic Kingdom. 

The snack "menu" for each day and each window of dining varies each and every timeframe. To partake in the dining aspect of the experience, simply head into the club dining set up area (when it is open) and select what you would like to eat from a spread of a small variety of themed and tasty treats. Along with the food, an assortment of alcoholic and non alcoholic beverages are available in an unlimited capacity (drinks are also available by request when the dining area is not open). After picking up your snack meal, head to the seating area overlooking the resort's lobby from high above, watch some TV on one of the large screen tv options (one for adults and one for kids), or head out to the club balcony for a glance over at the Magic Kingdom in the distance. 

Incredible Views 
Beyond the food, Club Level offers some of the very best views out of the entire resort. A majority of the views are from the 7th floor, but the deluxe category suite style rooms are uniquely placed near the corners of the club level wing stacked in the corner of the resorts layout simply due to the space required for the larger accommodations (hence the wording above "with club level accommodations," not guaranteed on club level for deluxe rooms). Either way, you're guaranteed one of the best views of the property. In our own personal case, we secured a room on the corner of the second floor overlooking the boat dock. It was a unique treat to wake up each morning and head out on the balcony to see the sun shining off the lake and the boats preparing for the day. 

Beyond the in-room views, the club where the food and drinks are located has it's own private balcony for fireworks viewing over the Magic Kingdom. Personally, this was a highlight of my Club Level experience. At night you simply grabbed a dessert headed to the balcony and stood there with possibly 2 or 3 other people max and enjoyed a semi-private viewing of Happily Ever After. The music is piped in, the balcony is shielded a bit from inclement weather, and the experience is truly hard to put into words. 

Excellent Cast
At Disney you always expect the best cast member experiences, but Club Level takes that a step further. The staff working this level are the best of the best Disney has to offer, quite literally. They essentially volunteer for the position, but must be considered and qualified in order to be transferred. It's amazing what these cast are willing to do to make your experience perfect or as near perfect as it can be. Upon check in you are given a number to text if you have any requests and they will bring it to the door or find a way to fix the issue at hand. One night we missed the dessert timeframe and simply asked (expecting it wouldn't happen) if they could send something small to our room. When we arrived later that night, we walked in to a custom made box of treats. The box featured one of everything offered that night for each guest in our party and truly blew away our expectations. 

Private Concierge 
As you would expect, the concierge floor offers guests the option to use a concierge during their trip. In our experience, we were called by the resort about a month before our stay and asked if we had any special requests or if they could help us with dining reservations or anything else. Being the over-planners that we are we didn't use the service, but it was great that it was offered. While at the resort, the concierge staff greets you and checks you in at a private location on the club floor while bringing you any variety of drinks or snacks available at that time. Throughout your stay, if you ever had any questions someone is nearly always at the desk and ready to help. We used the service once to secure a reservation for a last minute dining reservation at Epcot on the Fourth of July. They were quite helpful and incredibly knowledgable of menus and gave truly honest reviews of their past experiences at the dining locations. 

While these offerings simply touch on the perks of Club Level (also including: special bath products, ultra plush bath robes, turn down service, chocolates delivered to the room each night, and much more), the reality of if it is truly worth it is something that has to be considered on a case by case basis.

For example, on our trip we intentionally planned a resort day to relax at the pool and just explore the resort/neighboring resorts. On that particular day, the Club Level dining options were an outstanding perk. Each time the doors to the food area were open we grabbed something then headed back to the pool! It was great and we really got a lot out of the additional cost. Sadly, on our main park days, we spent so much time out of the room, we didn't really take as much advantage of the perks of Club Level.

(view from the fireworks viewing balcony: also during/right after the tornado watch)

Would I do it again? Absolutely! Is it the best option for everyone? Certainly not. The perks were truly incredible considering we were going to stay in a similarly priced option elsewhere in our unique circumstance, but that doesn't always work for everyone. Take your situation into account, don't expect these "snacks" to be full meal replacers, and Club Level could very well be a highlight of your next Walt Disney World experience.To answer our first question, "Is it worth it?" I truly believe it was worth it in our scenario! We created memories as a family that will go down as one of our very best vacations we've ever been on, and you really can't put a price on that. 

Considering club level but don't want to filter through the cost analysis yourself in your particular scenario? Let our friends over at Destination to Travel do it for you free of charge! Simply fill out the quote request form below and they'll get back to you soon! 

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