First, What is Disney Vacation Club?
Disney Vacation Club (DVC) is a vacation ownership program (timeshare).
You “own” a real estate interest at the “Home Resort” you select. DVC is on a point system so that makes it more flexible than the old school timeshare programs based on set durations and timing. (ie First week of May in Reno every year…) Although, I think most timeshare companies are moving away from “weeks” and over to points.
How Does it Work?
You buy points. The minimum amount of points you can purchase through Disney is 100. You use those points to book your room/villa, whenever and wherever you want. The main contingencies are based on how many points you purchase.
The amount of points you own determines the duration of your vacation, the size of your accommodations, your view and the frequency of your trips in a given year. Points per night, fluctuates between resorts and season.
Example (these are estimations and not real rates, purely illustrative to show how points work):
You have 125 points. You can:
- Spend 120 points at Aulani in January for 7 nights in a deluxe studio with a view of the parking lot. Bank 5 points towards next year’s trip.
- Spend 100 points at Animal Kingdom Lodge in January for 7 nights in a deluxe studio with a view of the animals galavanting through the savannah. Bank 20 points towards next year’s trip.
- Spend 100 points at the Grand Floridian in January for 2 nights in a 2 bedroom villa, that sleeps up to 9.
- Spend 120 points at Grand Californian in January for 1 night in a 3 bedroom Grand Villa, that sleeps up to 12.
Or you can skip a year and bank your points for next year or borrow from next year to go on a bigger trip. (2 weeks in Hawaii, 1 week in one of the Grand resorts or get a two bedroom at Animal kingdom and invite friends…)
Villas can book up fast especially around peak seasons, member events and openings of new attractions. This is where your Home Resort comes into play. You can book up to 11 months in advance at your Home Resort. For all other resorts, you have 7 months in advance to book.
There is a ton more to know about DVC but this covers the general concept.
Do you Save Money?
Short answer, not really if you normally stay at value accommodations, off resort grounds. You do potentially save money if you are already doing a Disney trip (Disneyland, Disney World or Aulani) and staying at Disney hotels or above average accommodations, every other year or so.
So then, Why Did I Do it?
It was absolutely a splurge. A timeshare is rarely a good financial investment. But there is more to it than that.
Here are the 5 reasons I chose to become a Disney Vacation Club Member:
1. It is a pre-paid commitment to family vacations on a regular basis through a company specializing in creating magical moments.
As hokey as it sounds, I was for it because it is an investment into my family’s future memories. I could eat out for lunch from a drive-thru or order chai tea lattes from the coffee shop everyday for the next 50 years or I could “ear” mark that money towards staying in really cool resort villas every year through Disney: a company specializing in creating memories and orchestrating magic. So for me… the splurge is totally worth it. I like the idea of pre-paying for family vacations. I am really big on planning ahead and so this is right in my wheelhouse.
2. I like Disney’s high standards.
Hotel cleanliness and customer service are a big deal to me and Disney is well-known for its higher standards.
3. They really are vacations you never outgrow.
My son is currently two years old, so this was a great time for us to do it because we will have it for all of the years that he will enjoy it most. Aulani is our home resort. It’s on Oahu in Hawaii. So when he’s older and too cool for Disney, our Disney timeshare is still a timeshare at a top resort in Hawaii. I’m not sure if Hawaiian vacations ever get old.
4. There’s a pretty good market for renting out your Disney points.
But in the off-chance we do go through a spell of Disney or Hawaii burnout, there are a few good websites that link members and renters together. Imagine an AirBnB for DVC. So we can always rent out our points if there is ever a year we are not feeling in the Disney mood. We can then use the money to vacation elsewhere. I hear some people use the money towards Disney cruises because booking cruises with points is way to expensive since it is points per person.
5. Because daydreams do come true.
The other cool thing about joining the club is that each time I’ve ever been to Disneyland and walked by the gorgeous Grand Californian in Downtown Disney after schlepping across the street and through the parking lot from Best Western, I have always day-dreamt and said to myself… “One day. One day, Tameeko….”. That day is today, young lady! Had we never become members, I probably never would have stayed at a Disney Hotel or if I did it would have been a once in a life time event that I would have needed to save up for a while. But because we are members the new internal dialogue is, “which one next?”. That’s pretty cool to me.
There are other smaller perks here and there but those things aren’t (and Disney discourages against basing your decision on them) the reasons we decided to go for it. They are nice to haves but not game changers, for the most part. Honestly, I wish there were more member perks. You get 10% off dining and retail at Disney. You get a pitiful $20 off annual passes at Disneyland. The real worthwhile discount is for Walt Disney World annual passes, you can save a few hundred dollars. You get invited to special member events, many of which you have to purchase tickets for but the Moonlight Magic party is free for members. I’m looking forward to that and Epcot has a cool lounge for members only. We plan on checking that out on our first trip to Walt Disney World this fall. That pretty much sums up what I’ve found most notable of the member perks. We just became members so there may be more, we shall see. Disney Vacation Club is a big financial commitment and it is not right for everyone, but it was the right decision for our family. I am still happy we did it when we did.