Ah, the Disney Vacation Club, or DVC as members call it. According to Disney, the Disney Vacation Club is Disney's best-kept secret. Well, it's not much of a secret anymore. As a Matter of fact, it's overtaking many of the resorts at Walt Disney World. But what is the Disney Vacation Club?
Well I am going to try and clear up the confusion.
Is the Disney Vacation Club a scam?
It is not a scam. It is a legitimate Disney property that is very popular!
Is The Disney Vacation Club a time share?
I know, I do that a lot. But the Disney Vacation Club is a time share. However, it is a different kind of a timeshare.
Instead of buying a specific week at a resort, you are buying points that you can use to reserve rooms at resorts.
You can then use your DVC points at any DVC resort at any time of year. So it is very flexible, and that is what attracts a lot of people to it.
You have what they call a "home" resort, and that is the resort that you buy your points for. So for example, I have points at Bay Lake Tower, which is the Contemporary DVC Resort. But I can use those points for any DVC resort. So if I want to stay at Old Key West, I can do that, as long as there is an opening for when I want to stay.
What does "Home Resort" mean?
Well, like I said, it's the resort that you bought your points at.
Here is what that means. Let's take the above example of my points at Bay Lake Tower.
If I want to reserve a room at Bay Lake Tower, I can make that reservation 11 months in advance. So almost a year out, I can reserve a room to stay at Bay Lake Tower. Remember when I talked about making your plans early? (If you don't remember that you can read it here). I can make reservations at Bay Lake Tower before anyone else that doesn't have Bay Lake Tower Points.
But what if I don't want to stay at Bay Lake Tower? I want to stay at Kidani Village at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Well, I can use my points at Kidani Village. BUT I can't make my reservation 11 months out because it is NOT my home resort. I can my reservation 7 months out. That is a big difference! It gives the people whose home resort is Kidani Village a chance at those reservations BEFORE any other DVC owner. As a DVC owner, I can still make a reservation as long as there is room, but not before that 7-month mark.
Is this starting to make a little bit of sense. I know it's a little confusing.
Explain the point system, that is confusing!
The points system does seem a little confusing until you see it in action.
So when you buy points at a resort (doesn't matter which resort) you buy them for a "Use Year". That means that if you buy 100 points for a use year of June, you get 100 points on June 1 to use within the next 365 days. So with a June use year, you have until May 31st of the following year to use your points, or you could lose them. Use 'em or Lose 'em.
Now, I know I said use 'em or lose 'em. But let's say you know you are not going to take a Disney vacation or use your points this year. Disney offers the chance to "Bank" your points. What does that mean? That means that you can put those points in the bank and use them the next year. So if in 2019 you have 100 points and you are not going to use them, you can bank them for 2020. That means in 2020, you have the 2019 points AND the 2020 points. So you have 200 points to use in 2020! That is an amazing feature to DVC!
And I'm am going to make it even better. Let's say you want to make a reservation that takes 150 points, but you only have 100 points in 2019. You can BORROW the points from 2020 to get to 150 points! Now that does mean that you only have 50 points left in 2020, but it is a great option if you need more points for a longer stay or bigger place to stay.
If we look at the example where you banked your 2019 points, and you combine them with your 2020 points, you have 200 points to use. Now let's say that still isn't enough. You can borrow from 2021 and have as many as 300 points to use in 2020! That is a lot of points!
So the point system is very flexible, and that is a BIG selling point for Disney.
Can I use my points for anyplace other than DVC resorts?
That is a great question, and yes you can! You can trade your points for an RCI resort. Disney resorts around the world are available to you with your points. Adventures By Disney (which is an amazing experience) allow you to use your points. You can also use them for the Beyond Disney collection, which is exactly what it sounds like, resorts that are not Disney. Trade your points to make a reservation at a Disney Hotel (but not the best use of points. You also have to pay a fee for that convenience.) You can also use them for the Disney Cruise Line (which is REALLY not a good use of points).
So as you can see, there is a lot of flexibility in what you can use your points for. You don't always have to go to Walt Disney World, or another Disney Resort to use them.
How much does it cost?
Now we are down to brass tacks! How much is it to join the Disney Vacation Club?
Let's talk about that. Let's go back to our example of 100 points (makes the math easy). Depending on where you buy points, let's just say that a point is $175.00. So at 100 points, your contract would cost $17,500 plus closing cost. So about $18,000.
You will also have to pay a maintenance fee. That fee varies based on where your points are. but let's say it costs an additional $60/month in maintenance fees. So an additional $720 per year. Now the bad thing about this is that these fees will change a little each year, and not in the direction you want.
Yes, you can pay the contract off over time. You can finance the contract amount for as much as 10 years. They usually ask that you put 10 percent down. Also, it is a mortgage.
Your contract allows you to keep the points for 40 years. That means that the points are yours for 40 years. At the end of the contract, Disney gets to decide what happens next. I will be very interested to see what that means.
The big question, is the Disney Vacation Club worth it?
Hmm...Is the Disney Vacation Club worth it.
In my opinion, if you are going to be going to Walt Disney World a lot, that answer is definitely YES!
To get a room like the DVC rooms in a resort you are going to pay A LOT per night. The deluxe villas are going for about $500/night. If you are staying for 7 nights, that's $3500 + tax and fees! That is A LOT of money for a place to stay. If your contract is $300/month and then $60/month in resort maintenance, you are gonna pay $4320 over 12 months to stay at that villa for 7 days.
Yes, that is more money, but look at this. If your mortgage is for 7 years, after you pay it off, you are only paying $720 for the year. That is 7 nights at a deluxe villa for $720 TOTAL! So yes you are paying more in the beginning, but if your contract is for 40 years, for 33 of those years you are paying A LOT less! That also doesn't include all of the discounts you get by being a member. You can check all of those out on their website here.
That's where the rubber meets the road. If you are going to use the points year after year, then it makes sense to join the Disney Vacation Club. If you are only going to go to Disney once or twice in your life, then it does not make any sense to join!
Final thoughts on the Disney Vacation Club
So as you can see, there is a lot to consider with the Disney Vacation Club. Personally, I love the Disney Vacation Club. It was one of the smartest decisions I have ever made, and I have used the benefits a lot! I have more than made my money back on what I spent.
But if you are not going to be doing a lot of Disney travel, then it does not make sense to join. Once again, it comes down to knowing how you and your family vacation.
If you are thinking about it, then I would suggest stopping in when you are in Walt Disney World. They are a no pressure sales team (and I mean no pressure. You can walk out and they will not try and stop you.) You can learn a lot and make an educated decision. And besides, it's super fun to visit the visitor center. And it is not the 3-hour sales pitch that traditional timeshares do with the hard sell at the end. You know what I'm talking about.
Now go forth and vacation...club!
So what do you think? Leave a comment about what you think. Or leave a question.
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