When planning your Disney World trip, you may come across mentions of the Disney Vacation Club, often referred to as DVC. The club is most simply summarized as a timeshare directly with Disney, though there are tons of small details that make it more difficult to comprehend. If you might be interested in the Disney Vacation Club, below is all of the baseline information you need to determine if the club may be a good deal for you and your family.
Is it worth it?
Before getting into the nitty gritty of the DVC details, you need to consider that the Vacation Club is for people who are truly devoted to Disney. Most DVC timeshare agreements last for decades, meaning you will need to be planning many, many trips to Disney in order for the contract to make sense for you. Though the booking options stay relatively flexible compared to other similar timeshare programs, the DVC is a huge commitment to make. If your family is new to the Disney theme parks, you should definitely make a few trips to the resort to confirm your interest before thinking about joining the DVC.
How Does it Work?
Effectively, as a member of the Vacation Club, you are buying what Disney calls “points” which can be used to stay at the Walt Disney Resort (or other Disney locations across the world). Disney offers their resort hotels for a specific number of points depending on the time of year and location, and members can snag a room at whichever resort they choose. These points, however, only apply to resort accommodations – not for tickets to the parks themselves. Though Disney Vacation Club Members get discounted prices on tickets, annual passes, food, and merchandise, there’s still a major cost involved in enjoying the theme parks beyond the DVC prices.
How do the “Points” Work? How Much Do Points Cost?
When signing up for the Disney Vacation Club, you will be buying a specific number of points which can be used any way you see fit. Currently, the Vacation Club is offering packages starting at $32,550 for 150 vacation points (a total of $217 per point) per year. Prices and point totals go up from there, all the way to a total of 325 points. Disney will then also charge a “closing cost” of a few hundred dollars and require payment of dues (just short of $100) every month. Financing options are available depending on credit factors.
Points can carry over year to year if unused, or DVC members are allowed to “borrow” points from their next year in order to add a few extra on when they need them. There are large groups dedicated to buying/selling unused vacation club points outside of Disney’s purview which can be an excellent source of getting the most from a membership.
The exchange rate for points and nightly resort stays vary depending on the resort a DVC member would like to stay at. Nicer rooms cost more points, as you might imagine, and resorts each have their own exchange rates. For example, a Savanna View Club Level room at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge during a weekend at Christmastime costs 112 points per night, while a Standard View room during a weeknight during the less-busy end of January at Disney’s less-impressive (but still very nice!) Caribbean Beach Resort costs only 23 points per night. If you do the math, that means your minimum of 150 points per year could get you a single night every year at a “fancier” resort, or 5 nights at a moderate resort.
These costs are obviously large but can represent huge savings, up to about 50%, for frequent Disney visitors. Though it’s not for everyone, the DVC can guarantee excellent rooms at deluxe resort hotels.
When setting up a Vacation Club membership, you will be asked to select a “Home Resort.” This selection can make a big difference for a variety of reasons. To start, DVC members can book rooms 11 months in advance of their trip for their home resort, while only 7 months in advance at other resorts. This makes a big difference if you plan on using your points during busy times of the year, where room options may become limited when booking more closely to a planned vacation.
Secondly, the home resort is what annual dues are based on. This means you could be paying more or less yearly simply because of the choice. Only certain resorts are available for selection at certain times, so options can fluctuate based on when you are looking to buy in.
Third, the contract for each DVC member can vary depending on their home resort of choice. If you want to be locked into the timeshare for a shorter or longer period, selecting the appropriate home resort is a must.
Lastly, it is important to know that the rates for points are not connected to your home resort choice. You do not get a discount at your home resort. As a result, you should strongly consider the impact of each of the listed points above in determining which resort should be your home base. Regardless of your choice, you can still stay at any Vacation Club resort you want to.
Vacation Club Locations – Disney World and Beyond
Though the DVC is primarily used as a means to visit Disney World often, the membership includes access to many other Disney experiences across the country and the world. This can include a stay at Disney’s resorts at Hilton Head on the beach in South Carolina, Disney’s Aulani resort in Hawaii, Disney Cruises, Disneyland, or Disney travel experiences at their parks in Hong Kong, Tokyo, or Paris. There are also partnered locations in Alaska, Utah, Arizona, the Amazon, Costa Rica, China, and plenty of other destinations you can think of. As you can imagine, the more exotic the destination or experience, the more points it costs per person.
Disney World Resort Accommodations
As a DVC member, the rooms you can get at the Disney World Resort grant you better amenities which can make your stay feel more like home. Room options include villas which can add full kitchens, closed off/private rooms, special views, and other perks.
Getting More Information
Disney has Vacation Club Representatives throughout its properties, including all around Disney World. These representatives can help you get a better sense of what your membership will get you and how to best use your points in a way that makes sense for your family. In stark contrast to other timeshare salesmen, Disney’s Vacation Club sales are extremely helpful and not at all pushy. They encourage you to take time to think about the investment, and don’t put any pressure on you to make decisions. It’s truly a breath of fresh air in the timeshare space.
The Bottom Line – Is It Worth It?
If you have read through the details of Disney’s Vacation Club Membership and still aren’t sure if it’s worth it for you, here is an argument for and against getting membership that can help make the determination for yourself.
Why You Should Invest In DVC
The Vacation Club is an amazing way to lock in discounted stays at all sorts of Disney Vacation destinations. If you’re a massive Disney fan and will be going to Disney’s parks every year, you might as well take the leap and invest the money to get the perks. Even if you’re not personally using all of the points yourself, you can easily book rooms for your family to enjoy a stay. You can use your points for an annual family trip at Disney World, or save them up to have a huge get-together at the beach in Hilton Head every other year. The DVC is an amazing way for families to come together. I have seen many families get tons out of their DVC membership by buying up lots of points and distributing them to their large family, who simply pay them back for access to all of the discounted bookings.
Why You Should NOT Invest In DVC
Despite the price discounts, Disney’s resorts are still very overpriced. You could stay at other spots just outside of Disney Property and have all of the same amenities you’d get from them. Plus, you won’t be locked down into the long-term investment. At the same time, trying to manage Disney’s point system in a favorable way can be a headache. Sometimes it’s easier to just plan a vacation when you want to plan one, without having to worry about keeping track of points and jumping through hoops to secure reservations. Even if you have a scheduled trip annually, you’ll still have to plan flights. Overall, the membership is just a bit too restrictive and keeps you in the hands of Disney when you might want to venture out and away from the company.