e-Baying my way to Disney
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e-Baying My Way to Disney
By Tom Ryan

Disney. The very word, to me, conjures up memories of carefree childhood vacations to Florida. Back then, the most pressing task at hand consisted of trying to make the cut-off height for “Space Mountain,” which I accomplished with a pair of trusty, orange, platform-soled flip flops (which somehow seemed perfectly normal for a boy to wear circa 1979).

Today, things are a little more complicated. Instead of coming up with ingenious ways to bypass safety protocols and sneak on thrill rides, each year I’m desperately trying to figure out new ways to pay for the family vacation to the Sunshine State, and not be left screaming like a little girl on a rollercoaster of the financial variety.

On a crisp day in November, while checking eBay to see if I was the high bidder on a string of vintage Easter Island Tiki patio lights (I was), it occurred to me; I wonder if I could eBay my way to Disney? Heck, I had been buying and selling on eBay since it premiered in 1997, but it never occurred to me to scour the site for Disney vacation bargains. Was I up for the task? Could I brave the pitfalls of reserve auctions and “outbid” notices? Could I plan and purchase a Disney vacation for five (me, wife, my kid, and my parents) solely by using the Internet auction site? Madness or brilliance – you decide.

I love “the Bay,” and the Bay loves me; enough to bestow me with the coveted title of “Power Seller.” I never really looked into what it means to be a Power Seller, as I don’t want the truth to interfere with any delusion of grandeur I may happen to be clinging to.  My sales for the past ten years look like some strange amalgam of “Antiques Road Show” and the worst garage sale you’ve ever seen, with auctions listed including rare Heisey glass to empty beer bottles. Such a track record instills a sense of supreme self-reliance in one’s own abilities at Internet auctioning, but perhaps not travel planning.

Photo above - author Tom Ryan and his daughter

To begin my venture, the first thing I had to do was tell my wife Lara that this year we wouldn’t be making our annual pilgrimage to the travel agent at AAA. Her response – laughter. But to be fair, my track record at vacation preparation didn’t spark much confidence (Does a trip to Hershey Park sound fun? How about if one of the members of your party has severe, practically debilitating chocolate allergies?). I then proceeded to let my 2-year-old in on the plan. She laughed too, but with slight vindication I quickly realized “The Wiggles” were on behind me.

With the unwavering support of my family firmly in mind, I logged on to eBay to begin planning our perfect Disney Vacation. I typed “Disney Vacation” into the search field. Within a nanosecond, the results were in: 499 listings matched my query. There were auctions for 4 night stays at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort, and 5 night stays at Disney’s All Star Music Resort. Most of the listings were for resorts just outside of the Disney World complex, but a good number were for Disney’s timeshares units, which they call “Disney Vacation Club,” or, simply, DVC. Billed as Disney’s “best kept secret,” DVC members purchase vacation points at a cost of just over $100 a point with a minimum purchase of 160 points, and then pay annual dues of roughly $5 per point. With these points, members reserve rooms in one of Disney’s DVC resorts, which include the Animal Kingdom Villas, Saratoga Springs, the Boardwalk Villas, and the Wilderness Lodge Resort.

Occasions arise when people can’t use their amassed DVC points for a particular year and want to sell their allotted time. This can be a windfall for the lucky and savvy vacationer, as DVC resort rooms are typically larger than standard Disney hotel rooms, and include kitchen conveniences. Having a kitchen to make some of your own meals is both economical and a reprieve for the palate, as restaurant food can get tedious. When browsing through the listings, I kept by my side a small list I had written: I wanted something on the Disney grounds, in early January, with at least two bedrooms, and for any length of time between five nights and five years, although the latter would only be if I miraculously won the lottery prior to departure.

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