“A Vacation I’ll Never Outgrow!”
It’s been a dream of mine for some time to attend the D23 Expo. It took a 40th birthday coincidentally overlapping this year’s show to give me the excuse to finally pull the trigger. Most folks, when they finally make it inside after baking in the LA sun for a few hour security line, make a bee-line for The Disney Dream Store or Mickey’s of Glendale. Me? I head straight for home. Well, my home a few weeks out of the year at least.
It’s true that DVC’s presence here on the show floor isn’t as grand as say the Marvel or Star Wars showcases. There are no blue tape lines on the floor or Cast Members holding “End of Queue” signs (incidentally, I feel like I want to buy that sign for the bathroom in my house but I digress). What it lacks in stature is made up for with that Welcome Home feeling we all love about DVC.
The booth itself is nicely designed in the style of the newly opened Copper Creek Villas in a layout that leaves the booth largely open and comfortable, not that unlike a DVC Villa. Cast Members are plentiful ensuring that as the Expo heats up there would be no need for that blue floor tape. DVC branded swag is out for the taking and if you show your DVC card to a cast member you’ll get a neat “Member Since” button ensuring the signature “Welcome Home” from folks on the show floor.
The real attraction of the booth though is the DVC virtual reality experience. Cast Member Chang helped me get setup and walked me through how to operate the experience and CM Darby helped me shoot some photos of my journey through the Copper Creek Grand Villa. If you’ve never done this VR experience before let me just say it’s quite remarkable. The visual experience is clean and seamless without any visual warping. You have full 360 degrees of freedom although don’t expect to see your feet standing on the Grand Villa’s mahogany wood floor. Perhaps the only weirdness with the experience is in moving around the Villa. They don’t want you walking around the Expo essentially blind after-all. You have to hover over circles painted onto places in the visual in order to move. Bigger circles moved you close, smaller circles moved you farther. This is the only part that didn’t feel fully integrated with the experience but after a few moments you get the hang of it. I was able to even catch a glimpse of a hidden Mickey in the wall artwork!
But the biggest news to come out of the Expo is the announcement of the DVC Riviera Resort at the Parks and Resorts panel. This new resort experience, estimated to open in fall 2019, will be the 15th Disney Vacation Club property with approximately 300 units spread across a variety of accommodation types.
This new resort will be unique for a few distinct reasons. First, it is located on the grounds of a moderate resort, Disney’s Caribbean Beach. Will that mean moderate level point blocks? A long shot; but still possible. Second, it will be a hub for the new Sky Line Gondola system that will connect the new Disney Vacation Club property with Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the International Gateway at Epcot. Third, it is situated for a Bay Lake Tower-esque view of the Epcot fireworks. This is going to be yet another jewel in the DVC crown.
So while the DVC booth doesn’t necessarily rise to the level of a “must do” at this event, it certainly is a lovely respite from the bustle of the show floor. This stands in Tony Stark contrast – see what I did there? – to the intensity flowing from Hall 23 at this year’s D23 Expo. If this is a benchmark, 2019’s Expo is going to be even bigger.