Advertised as Disney’s best kept secret, the Disney Vacation Club is Disney’s timeshare that allows your family to return to a Disney deluxe accommodation year after year! Maybe you have seen the stands located all over Walt Disney World property, seen an advertisement on your TV while staying in a Disney resort, or even attended a sales presentation. Some of you have even sat down and looked at the numbers to see if it would be a great fit for your family. No matter what stage of the process you are in, you may still have some questions, I know I did! In 2009, after months of number crunching and thinking, we did buy into Disney Vacation Club and have loved every moment of our magical DVC vacations. But, is it right for you? Here are 7 things to consider before you make your final decision!
7. It has to make financial sense for you.
When you buy into DVC, you will agree to purchase a certain number of points. Points are used to book your hotel; each resort has a chart to help you understand how much it “costs” to stay. DVC suggests a minimum buy in of 160 points, but most of my friends who have a family of 4 own at least 250-350 points to book the kind of accommodations they want, we even know a family that has 1650 points! Each point is currently being sold for a little under $200 with a minimum of 100 point purchase. There are always incentives offered, which varies from extra points written into your yearly contract to a free cruise to a bonus one time allotment of points. The biggest consideration, of course, is whether affording this can fit into your budget! And, points are on the rise as we have seen a hike of over $70 in the time we have been members!
6. There is a resale market.
There are several companies that actively sell DVC contracts for far less than buying directly from Disney. There are contracts available as low as around $60 per point. The catch is that you cannot use your points through the RCI exchange, or for Adventures by Disney or cruises. You can only use resale points to stay at the original 14 DVC resort properties, including the California, Hawaii, Vero Beach and Hilton Head locations. If you choose resale, I suggest you “pay for where you want to stay” as you are allowed to book your “home” resort 11 months out, as compared to the 7 month booking window on other DVC resorts.
5. You are not guaranteed a room.
One frustration that some members have experienced is that once the DVC rooms are booked, Disney will not allow you to just book another room at that property for points. Holidays and summers tend to be very busy, along with marathon weekends. You will either need to pay out of pocket if there is no availability or pay around $100 to book a non DVC room which usually comes at a heavy point expense. If you are a spur of the moment vacationer, this may prove to be a very sticky point for you. I have only had about 50% of reservations come through at 3 weeks out.
4. You will have expenses every year.
Every year, you are responsible for your maintenance fees, ranging from about $5-$8 per point depending on your home resort. They do rise each year, even if only by a few cents. There is also the cost of tickets and dining and more! Even though we did go to Disney quite a bit before we bought DVC, we went more after we had the freedom to vacation more with our investment. We went from Florida seasonal passholders to Annual. Now, I’m not saying this is a negative; in fact this made me love DVC even more because I had more opportunities to spend time in my favorite place, but I do spend more money every year on our Disney vacations. I think without the cost of the hotel to think about, we also indulge in more than we would while there!
3. You will love the perks!
DVC members are offered discounts on annual passes, Tables in Wonderland, spa services, merchandise and even Broadway plays! DVC members also are invited to enjoy the complimentary Member’s Lounge in Epcot located above the Figment attraction. They can take advantage of the Top of the World Lounge above Disney’s Bay Lake Tower Resort for a perfect Magic Kingdom fireworks viewing spot! There are also opportunities for members to experience Moonlight Magic – a free night in a park selected by Disney with other DVC Members. There are many other exclusive perks that Disney offers regularly. Perhaps one of the smaller perks, but most loved, is being ‘welcomed home’ by cast members. It just gives you the warm fuzzies knowing you are truly at home at Disney!
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2. You can rent points before you make your final decision
Disney does allow bookings for deluxe villas and there are companies that rent points for the members that will not use their yearly allotment (it will be far less money than what Disney will charge you.) Once you stay in a deluxe accommodation, you may decide that it is the only way you will ever vacation at Disney again. If you do like the value resorts, it may financially make more sense to not purchase DVC, but that will come down to your own number crunching. We have several friends that have decided to be habitual renters instead of taking the plunge, which might be an option for you, too.
1. Once you do buy, you will want more!
A joke among members is talking about their “add-on-itis.” A common discussion is how many points were added on after the original purchase. We seem to be a very rare breed, as we have not added on, but living in Orlando it’s even a bit weird that we own DVC at all! If this decision makes sense for you, you will find yourself absolutely in love with DVC and the magical family memories you will make year after year.
For more information to help you make your decision, I suggest joining an online community of DVC owners. There are many eager members willing to answer every question you have, including allowing you access to rent their points! And, if you do make the decision to become DVC members, please allow me to be the first to say, “Welcome Home!”