For us, buying Disney Vacation Club (DVC) ownership was a no brainer, although it required a few years of saving up! We became members in 2009, though we had originally gone on the DVC tour 5 years earlier on our Honeymoon. We decided that when we vacation, we like going to Disney destinations and we like deluxe accommodations, so it made sense for us. Does it make sense for you? Let’s look at some of the most frequently asked questions to see if DVC is right for you!
1. What is DVC?
Essentially, DVC is a timeshare that is owned and operated by Disney Vacation Development, Inc., a subsidiary of Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts. It allows people to buy a real estate interest in a DVC resort. The resorts that are currently “for sale” vary depending on what the newest DVC resort is or what Disney decides to sell at the present time. DVC Resorts include:
- Aulani, DVC Villas in Ko Olina Hawaii
- Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
- Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Cooper Creek Villas and Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village
- Disney’s Beach Club Villas
- Disney’s BoardWalk Villas
- Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort
- Disney’s Old Key West Resort
- Disney’s Polynesian Villas and Bungalows
- Disney’s Riviera Resort
- Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa
- Disney’s Vero Beach Resort
- The Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa
- The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
You may book a room using your points (discussed soon!) at any of these resorts. You may also book a room at other Disney resorts using points plus a fee, book a cruise, go on an Adventure by Disney vacation and trade points into the RCI system using points and a fee for all. A lot of that can be pretty complicated and is best left to a DVC guide to get into the nitty gritty, just know that you have many options on how to use your points.
2. What are points?
Points will earn you stays in the resort of your choice. So, say you purchase 160 points. You will receive a “Use Year” which is the month that you will receive your points. Every year, my “new” points are transferred into my account in September, allowing me to make new reservations with my refreshed balance. Points are used by selecting dates and room size, which varies. The good news is that once you buy in, the number of points it takes to spend at a resort will not go up, so you will not have to reinvest in order to get your vacations year after year. However, the amount of points it will cost you during the time of year you like to visit can change. In other words, it may cost more to stay in December one year, but the point value will decrease in another month to make up for it. It may change back the next year, we have seen that!
3. How many points do I need?
I guess that depends on what you want and how often you vacation. My investment gave me 160 points, which allows about 3 long weekend vacations for us in a studio and a single night once to twice per year depending on the time of stay. I will discuss accommodations, soon! If you have a family of 3 or more, you may need a larger room, though I do know families of 4 that use studio accommodations frequently. So how do you know? First, I suggest downloading a DVC point application to your smart phone or looking for one of the many point calculators online. A DVC guide can also help you with this decision.
4. What size accommodations are there?
A studio is usually less than 400 square feet with a Queen size bed with a pull out of some kind. Suggested 1-4 guests. One bedroom rooms are usually between 700-850 square feet with a separate bedroom. A pull out of some kind will be available, some resorts offer 2 bathrooms. Suggested for 1-5 people. 2 bedroom rooms will usually be between 1000-1200 square feet and have 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. Suggested for up to 8 guests. Grand Villas (only in select resorts) have between 2000-2400 square feet and have up to 4 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms. Suggested for up to 12 guests. Obviously, you will need more points if you tend to vacation with many!
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5. How much will this cost me?
Again, it really depends on how many points you need. If you wanted to purchase 160 points, you could be looking at a roughly ballpark number of $25,600 with about another $425 in closing costs. You would also be responsible for maintenance every year on your points. If you purchase now, you are looking at $1,030 per year for the length of your ownership, which could increase slightly yearly. Look for current incentives such as 15 extra points for free per every 100 purchased at Aulani. These incentives are constantly changing! After your initial balance is paid, according to Disney math, you will begin only paying maintenance to stay year after year within the first 10 years. So, my buy in expires in 2054 (Saratoga Springs) and I should experience 37 years of vacations where my only fee is in maintenance…and of course, what I spend in the parks!
6. What happens if I buy DVC and then something happens and I no longer can afford it?
You can sell your DVC interest as you would any piece of real estate investment. You can also rent out your points to other families to recover some of the cost. Just keep in mind that the ownership is in your name, so you want to cover yourself in case they are not careful in their room. I suggest finding a rental agency that specializes in DVC rentals. I suggest the guy wearing sorcerer Mickey’s hat, you’ll understand if you do a quick search.
7. Do I have to buy from Disney?
No, there are timeshare companies that do sell contracts from people who no longer wish to own DVC. Please make sure that you research a reputable company and do not pay any company for anything except the contract and associated fees. You do not have to pay to access their listings! There are a lot of contracts available for far less than the $165 per point charge through Disney. BUT…and this is big…if you buy a contract off the resale market you are only allowed to use your points in select Disney Vacation Club Resorts. You may not use them toward RCI, cruises or adventures, and some of the newer DVC Resorts will not be allowing resale market points. Resale also tends to be a very tedious process, as Disney has the right to refuse the sale. So, you may have to bid on several contracts and then wait for each right of refusal through Disney. Also, if you don’t have the cash, the interest fees are usually really, really high. I have seen up to 26%! You may also have to wait for up to a year to use your points if you buy an “empty” contract with its years points already used.
8. How easy is it to get a reservation?
You can book 11 months out from your vacation date in your home resort (the one you bought the points from) and 7 months in all other resorts. Keep in mind that you are never guaranteed a reservation. Some members have expressed frustration that they cannot get reservations when they want them. In my 6 years, I have only been told once that the weekend I wanted was fully booked and could not get a waitlist to go through. But, I have also called on the day of and scored the exact room and location I wanted.
9. Anything else awesome?
Yes! DVC members are given discounts on dining, merchandise, recreation and tours. There is a discount on annual and premium passes (Florida resident deals still beat DVC discounts). There are special DVC events, such as Moonlight Magic, Epcot Member Lounge, Copper Creek Lounge, and Top of The World Lounge access. There are even discounts on Disney related items, like special discounts to the Disney Broadway shows and recently, DVC has been offering even more discounts and benefits for their members. Plus, every time you check in and a cast member knows you are a DVC member (often by wearing exclusive DVC merchandise), you are offered a “Welcome Home” and that makes you feel like you own a piece of the magic…and you do!
10. So, is DVC right for me?
Only you can decide that, but there are DVC guides that are happy to help with your decision. From experience, I can tell you that they are not super overwhelming. They want the sale, but will not harass you. Once you tell them to back off, they will. They will also work with you to answer all of your questions however many times you need it repeated. Better yet, take the DVC tour next time you are on property…you’ll score 3 fast passes and ice cream just for listening to the pitch! I CAN tell you this…I bought DVC several years ago and I have thoroughly loved being a member and I have not had a single moment of regret! Good Luck!