You've heard of this thing called Disney Vacation Club. Supposedly it helps owners save money, or at least visit Disney resorts more frequently for less cost. So how does it work?
Disney Vacation Club is a timeshare. Period.
But wait...don't let that scare you away!
Most people are familiar with the traditional timeshare model; owners buy a specific week at a specific cabin / hotel / villa and return to that destination year-after-year. Over the years timeshares have earned a reputation for sleazy sales tactics, lackluster property management and the dramatic loss in value after the initial purchase.
DVC is a little different.
First, DVC is a point-based timeshare. Owners purchase a specific number of points which represent their ownership in the Club. Each date / resort / room class combination then has a published number of points required for a single night's stay. There are virtually no limitations placed on when, where and one uses his or her points. For instance, a DVC member could spend 10 nights in a Studio villa at the BoardWalk Villas one year, and 5 nights in a Three Bedroom Grand Villa at Old Key West the next year. The only requirements are that the member have enough points to book the accommodations desired, and that the resort has enough capacity for the member.
A DVC purchase of 200 points means that the member will receive 200 points to use every single year until the contract with Disney ends. Program guidelines even allow members to "bank" their points one year into the future and "borrow" from the next year. These features add another layer of flexibility in that members who need more than their 200-point ownership for a particularly expensive trip have options available...other than buying more points, of course.
Disney Vacation Club members actually own a portion of a Disney resort hotel. That owned resort is called a Home resort.
There are three aspects to consider when choosing a Home resort:
1. Booking window - Owners can begin booking a Home resort ELEVEN (11) months from the desired arrival date. However, reservations at non-Home resorts cannot be made until SEVEN (7) months from the arrival date. What this effectively does is give the owner a four month head start booking the resort at which he/she owns.
In periods where demand is particularly high or certain room classes are in short supply, having that four month booking advantage is critical.
2. Annual Dues - Dues paid by each member are based upon one's Home resort. It doesn't matter where that member chooses to use his points. A Saratoga Springs owner can elect to book most or all of his trips at other resorts, but he will continue to pay the published dues amount for owners at Saratoga Springs.
3. Contract end date - Ownership at each resort has a stated ending date. After this date the DVC ownership is effectively over and points will no longer be issued. The ending dates vary greatly from one resort to another and can (should) impact purchase prices.
Ownership at the first wave of DVC resort--which includes Disney's Beach Club Villas and Disney's BoardWalk Villas ends on January 31, 2042. On the other end of the spectrum, ownership at Disney's Riviera Resort runs through January 31, 2070.
Most agree that the key aspect of picking a Home resort is #1 above--the Home resort booking advantage. Those who have a strong preference for a single DVC property would be well-advised to buy into their favorite resort. On the other hand, Home resort would not be of great importance to those who do not have a strong resort preference or who plan to take full advantage of the program's ability to visit multiple properties.
The Use Year is simply the 12-month period over which an owner can USE his/her points.
Every DVC contract has an assigned Use Year. An owner with a February Use Year will receive 2023 points on February 1, 2023. They are valid for stays from 2/1/2023 through 1/31/2024.
An owner with a June Use Year can use the 2023 points for stays between 6/1/2023 and 5/31/2024.
No one Use Year is inherenly better than another. However common wisdom states that the best Use Year for an individual is one which immediately precedes dates on which they typically travel. An owner who frequently visits during summer months may want to buy a June Use Year. An owner who takes frequent fall trips should consider September or October.
Selecting a Use Year which precedes frequent travel dates allows for maximum flexibility in the event of a cancellation. The points would not be in danger of expiring, thus allowing for a reschedule or banking of the points.
Potential owners who travel during many different times of the year will probably not see a benefit in one Use Year over another.
The number of points needed is unique to every owner. Nightly costs vary by resort, room size, date and even room view. A potential owner who hopes to spend 5 nights per year in a Deluxe Studio at Disney's Old Key West Resort will need far less points than someone who hopes to spend two weeks per year in a Bay Lake Tower Two Bedroom around Easter.
Review the points charts and try to project the intended use of Disney Vacation Club points.
Owners on a budget will often make a minimum purchase of 150 points direct or less via resale and then add to their ownership as finances permit.
Yes! The point values can and do change in a number of ways.
At the Disney Vacation Club resorts, the point values are subject to a number of seasonal adjustments each year. For instance, the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday around Thanksgiving (US) are adjusted annually regardless of the exact calendar date of the holidy. The same is true for the weeks surrounding Easter.
Additionally, as the timeshare manager DVC also retains the legal right to reallocate the points to better reflect member demand. Reallocation is the process of raising the point requirements for a specific resort / room size / season / day of the week while lowering the points elsewhere. The key to reallocation is that the total points for the year in a single resort cannot change. But DVC does have the right to increase points in one period due to excess demand while lowering points elsewhere due to lower demand.
Major reallocations have occurred back in 2010 and 2011. Generally speaking the 2010 and 2011 reallocations lowered point costs for weekend nights while moderately increasing all weekday point costs. Other smaller-scale adjustments have occurred in more recent years, including the expansion from 5 to 7 distinct seasons for Walt Disney World resorts.
When viewing our resort Point Charts, be sure to look carefully at the appropriate year when pricing a reservation.
Buyers should assume that reallocations will occur every few years, and buy with the understanding that a trip which costs exactly 185 points in 2023 may cost a little more or less in a future year.
As for the non-DVC resorts and other uses of DVC points including stays at the Yacht Club, Disneyland Hotel, Disney Cruise Line, etc., these point values are subject to annual adjustments. Using points outside of the DVC resorts is technically a "trade" which is facilitated by the Disney Vacation Club. As such, they have the right to evaluate the finances of the trade program on an annual basis and adjust the costs accordingly.
There were periods when the point values for DCL and non-DVC destinations declined from one year to the next. There were also years when no increase occurred. But generally speaking the expectation should be that costs will only increase over time for these point uses.
Disney Vacation Club allows owners to "bank" points one year forward, thus extending their useful life another 12 months.
An owner with a February Use Year will receive 2023 points which are valid for stays between 2/1/2023 and 1/31/2024. If some or all of the points cannot be used, they can be Banked into the 2024 Use Year. That would effectively change the usage period of those 2023 points to 2/1/2024 - 1/31/2025.
Points can only be banked forward one year. If those banked points which originated with February 2023 are not used by 1/31/2025, they would be forfeit.
Points must be banked by the eighth month of the Use Year. In the case of the February example above, the owner would have to bank the 2023 points by September 30, 2023--the end of the eighth month of the Use Year. If the points were not banked by 9/30/2023, unused points would expire on 1/31/24.
DVC points can also be "borrowed" or moved up a year.
An owner has 200 points with a February Use Year. In October 2022 the owner wishes to book a trip which requires 220 points. The first 200 will come from the 2022 Use Year. The remaining 20 points can be "borrowed" from the 2023 Use Year.
With 20 points borrowed, the owner would then have 180 points remaining to use in the 2023 Use Year.
Disney Vacation Club also allows members to purchase up to 24 "one time use" points per year. Rather than borrowing points in the example above, the owner could purchase 20 points from DVC which are valid for that single reservation. The current price is $22 per point. (Effective February 2023)
One time use points can only be purchased and used for reservations made 7 months prior to arrival. The points are non-refundable, non-transferrable and are not bankable.
Members who find themselves consistenly lacking adequate points may wish to consider purchasing additional points.
In addition to the resorts being actively marketed, DVC does occasionally re-acquire points at the older resorts and will gladly sell those points to existing and even new members. Current members can add any number of points 25 and up, subject to availability. The add-on must be 50 points or more in order to finance through DVC. Additionally, there are usually minimum purchase thresholds before any promotional discounts will apply.
Add-on points will take the form of a stand-alone contract, meaning that the member could later sell any add-on or master contract while retaining others.
Prices are typically higher for "sold out" resorts when purchased direct from DVC, and promotional incentives are frequently unavailble. Also, all members are subject to the contractual ending dates for each contract. Contract durations vary so be sure you make the ending date a factor in any purchase decision.
Visit our Pricing & Promotions page for details on sale prices and discounts for all DVC properties.
Resale add-ons are also an option. Bear in mind that for maximum flexibility the add-on contract should have the same Use Year and same owners as any existing contracts.
DVC contracts cannot be sub-divided by an owner (member) after purchase. A single contract of 400 points (or any other denomination) must always remain intact.
For maximum flexibility, purchasing a large volume of points in smaller increments is advisable. An owner with 400 points spread over two 200-pt contracts would have the ability to bequeath their ownership to two heirs upon their death. Alternatively the owner could choose to sell one contract and keep the other if needs change later in life.
The owner of the single 400-pt contract is required to either keep the single contract or sell the entire ownership interest. Multiple heirs could be named on a single contract, but they would remain joint owners of the one contract.
There are two cost components to DVC ownership: the initial purchase price and Annual Dues.
The initial purchase price is money paid either directly to Disney or to a current owner selling his / her points (a.k.a. "resale" purchase.) This is a one-time expense, although financing options are available for those wishing to pay the initial purchase in monthly installments.
The other cost component of DVC ownership is Annual Dues. A "member" in the Disney Vacation Club is actually a deeded part-owner of a Disney resort hotel. One of the obligations of being an owner is to help pay the operating costs and upkeep of the resort. It's similar to buying a home--you pay a large sum up-front (or take out a mortgage) to acquire the property, and then you still have to pay utility bills, property taxes, lawn care, replace the roof, etc.
DVC dues cover similar expenses at the resorts--items ranging from the salaries and benefits of front desk and housekeeping cast members to theme park transportation (bus, boat) to property taxes.
Dues vary by resort and are expressed in terms of a set dollar amount per point. For 2022, dues at Disney's Riviera Resort are $8.38 per point. An owner with 150 Riviera points would then be responsible for $1,257 in dues for the year. The dues can be paid in one lump sum or debited to a US checking or savings account each month.
First let's do an apples-to-apples comparison. The following illustration compares the approximate costs of a Disney Vacation Club member who purchased points in 2012 vs. a guest who made regular cash visits over the same time period.
An owner with 160 DVC points can spend 9 consecutive nights in a Deluxe Studio Villa with a Savanna View at Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas during Dream Season. (Note there are actually two cheaper seasons than Dream and cheaper room classes than the Savanna View.)
In 2012, the Rack Rate for one night in a Savanna View Deluxe Studio during Dream season was $485 plus 12.5% resort tax or $512 per night. But since discounts are commonly available today, let's discount that rate 25% and take it down to $384 including tax per night.
Let's assume that as a cash guest one would make identical 9-night stays each year. Below is a table which shows the total out-of-pocket costs for DVC members vs. cash guests:
|DVC Owner||Cash Guest|
In the illustration above, by the year 2019--just 8 years into the DVC purchase--the total amount spent as a cash guest has already exceeded the amount spent as a DVC member for the same accommodations. By the 11th year of ownership, the DVC member has already saved over $12,000 compared to the cash guest. Since ownership at Animal Kingdom Villas runs into 2057, those savings will continue to accumulate for another 25 years.
Here are some assumptions made in this analysis:
It is very, very important to note that the results will vary depending upon the resort, room size, view / room class, season and even days of week of the stay. Consult the DVC Points Charts for complete details.
So, DVC really CAN save money--a LOT of money. However, there are still a number of issues any sensible individual should consider before taking the plunge, for example:
If you will be visiting Walt Disney World or Disneyland, you can schedule a tour with a DVC salesperson (aka "Guide.") The tours at Walt Disney World are currently conducted out of a sales center at Saratoga Springs Resort. Disney has model rooms on display for Disney's Riviera Resort and Aulani, Disney Vacation Club Villas. Most resorts also have a model room available for walk in tours; speak to the DVC sales rep in the resort lobby for details.
Disneyland currently has a small sales office near the fitness center at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel, along with kiosks spread throughout the parks and resorts.
If you won't be visiting one of these locations in the near future, consider contacting DVC to request information be sent to your home. Visit www.disneyvacationclub.com and click on the link to be contacted by a DVC Guide or access a series of promotional videos.
Making contact with DVC is a painless step which will NOT lead to an endless string of harassing salesperson phone calls. DVC knows that the product largely sells itself and, while experiences with individual salespeople will vary, DVC does not encourage a hard-sell approach in any way, shape or form.
If you prefer to bypass DVC altogether and pursue a resale purchase, we recommend contacting The Timeshare Store, Inc.