If you’re considering becoming a Disney Vacation Club member, you’re likely wondering if DVC membership is worth it. It’s a decision that shouldn’t be made lightly, as it requires a significant initial investment, and it can be difficult to predict all future costs associated with ownership.
At Perfecting the Magic, we want to help you make the most of your Disney vacations, and for those contemplating DVC, it’s essential to understand the advantages (and disadvantages) of becoming a member.
Join PTM as we unpack the ins and outs of the Disney Vacation Club to help you decide if DVC is right for you.
What is Disney Vacation Club (DVC)?
Before exploring what DVC is, we should mention that Disney Vacation Club can be purchased directly through Disney, as well as via resellers. In this article, we will only be discussing direct purchases through Disney, as resale options vary widely and are dependent on many unknown factors.
With that out of the way, let’s get back to the DVC details!
In the simplest terms, Disney Vacation Club (DVC) is a timeshare program. DVC allows its members to own ‘time’ at a pre-selected Disney “home resort” of their choosing, with the option to visit other Disney resorts and hotels as well. Selecting the right fit for your home resort is imperative, as members receive priority (advance) booking that can make (or break) the dates of their desired stay.
DVC uses a point system, with each stay requiring a particular number of points to book. At the time of publishing, DVC requires its members to purchase a minimum of 150 points, which they receive each year to make their booking(s). We will expand on how the points work in the next section.
How Does Disney Vacation Club Work?
Disney describes the Disney Vacation Club as “a flexible timeshare that’s represented by vacation points.” The phrasing is intentional, as flexibility is one of DVC’s most significant selling points beyond it being Disney property. DVC members do not need to lock in standing travel dates like more traditional timeshares. Instead, they purchase the aforementioned points, which allow them to visit Disney properties as they wish throughout the year, albeit with restrictions. As we mentioned in the previous section, members must purchase a minimum of 150 points, and must select what DVC calls a “home resort.” While this can be useful for those who know exactly where they’d like to stay, it can be a nerve-racking decision for those who aren’t so sure where they’d like to be. Selecting a home resort that’s the right fit is crucial, as members are given an extended booking window at their selected resort. This is especially helpful for snagging dates during popular times of the year.
The number of points needed to book a stay is dependent on the selected room size, view, resort of choice, and dates of your stay. For example, in September, a tower studio room at Disney’s Rivera Resort will require fewer points than a two-bedroom villa with stellar views of EPCOT’s Harmonious in November. This points chart is useful for helping to determine the number of points needed for a stay. Knowing how often you’d like to visit Disney every year will help you determine how many points you’d need to purchase. If you’d like to visit the Polynesian Village Resort three weeks a year, and enjoy staying in a spacious bungalow with gorgeous views, you’ll require far more than the minimum points needed for DVC membership.
It’s essential to consider how you like to vacation when selecting your home resort. If you’d like to visit more frequently and want your points to stretch further, you may want to choose a less in demand resort. If, however, you like to experience luxury, you may want to consider shorter stays or smaller rooms to avoid overextending yourself by buying more points than you can comfortably afford.
Disney Vacation Club home resorts include:
• Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
• Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
• Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
• Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas
• 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 & Bungalows
• Disney’s Riviera Resort
• Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
• Disney’s Vero Beach Resort
• The Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa
• The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
While one’s selected home resort cannot be changed, DVC points can be used on other Disney hotels and resorts depending on availability, and are provided as options with a 7-month advance window versus the 11 months that come with one’s home resort. This provides DVC members will options. However, the most popular dates and resorts will be more challenging to book. An exhaustive list of bookable DVC-point eligible properties can be found here—you’ll find that everything from Disneyland hotels to international Disney parks (hello Tokyo DisneySea!) are included.
How Much Does Disney Vacation Club Cost?
A Disney Vacation Club membership is unquestionably expensive. DVC requires a significant one-time initial upfront investment with ongoing annual dues. At a minimum, using WDW’s newest property, Disney’s Rivera Resort as an example, you’ll pay $207 per point to select the Rivera as your home resort. To meet the minimum 150-point requirement, you’re looking at $31,050 to buy-in. Add in closing costs, which range from $600-$800 on average, and you’re out nearly $32,000!
Annual fees and dues, which cover maintenance, property taxes, and operations, will set you back roughly $1,000 in 2022, with the expectation that these fees will increase annually by approximately 4.5%, according to Disney.
This goes without saying, but your cost will increase if you borrow money to pay any of the fees associated with your DVC purchase, especially the initial purchase price. However, if you visit Disney often and are committed to seeing your investment pay off long-term, you can save a substantial amount of money after years of ownership. While the initial investment is steep, the annual dues are relatively manageable, at least compared to what it takes to buy-in.
Do DVC Points Expire?
DVC points can be both “banked and borrowed.” Banking points extends their expiration date, rolling them over for a year. You may also borrow points from the following year should you wish to upgrade your stay and need more points to do so. However, the ability to extend (or bank) your points is limited to one year. After that time, they expire if unused. Also, if you borrow points, you must use them in your current use year, as points cannot be banked once they’ve been borrowed. You can learn more about banking and borrowing points here.
It’s important to note that your DVC contract itself will expire, typically 50 years from the construction date of your home resort. Continuing with our example of Disney’s Rivera Resort, all contracts will expire in 2070, while older resorts expire at earlier dates. Selecting the appropriate resort for your needs, interests, and desired length of contract are all essential elements to take into consideration when contemplating a DVC membership, as is ensuring that you have the time to use your DVC points before they expire.
What Are the DVC Member Perks?
Some perks go beyond the benefits associated with staying at DVC properties. While these perks are subject to change and are not guaranteed, they currently include dining and merchandise discounts, lounge access, exclusive events, and special merchandise offerings. Disney periodically extends park ticket discounts to DVC members as well.
Additional perks like resort pool hopping are currently on hold. It’s worth noting that many find an intrinsic benefit to DVC membership beyond the extras, as being a member feels exclusive to them. If that resonates with you, it’s worth taking into consideration, too.
Is DVC Right for You? Running the Numbers
Deciding if DVC is right for you is a big decision that should be thoughtfully considered. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, as everyone has different needs, wants, time, and budgets. Buying into DVC is expensive, especially at the start of one’s contract, and it becomes increasingly costly if you factor in financing, as the cost skyrockets with added interest.
It’s also important to reflect on the type of traveler you are. Are you a planner? Do you enjoy anticipatory fun and find planning your vacations nearly a year in advance to be enjoyable? If so, you would likely enjoy a DVC membership! However, if you’re someone who likes to take last-minute trips, or your schedule dictates that you do, you’d likely feel restricted by a DVC membership.
That being said, we promised to answer if DVC is ‘worth it,’ and more often than not, worth is tied to financials. So, we’ve looked at the numbers, as nothing beats the cold hard facts of numbers on paper. We determined how many years it would take for a DVC membership to become cash-positive, using Disney’s Rivera Resort, and it would take over 15 years for a DVC membership to start saving you money. That’s a huge commitment and financial investment, especially for families. In short, we don’t believe DVC membership makes economic sense for most people.
However, if you can comfortably afford to buy DVC without taking out a loan, and you know you’ll be visiting Disney annually for many years to come, we’ll be cheering you on, even if from the sidelines. Some things are more valuable than money, and ultimately, the choice is yours. We hope that we’ve helped inform your decision. There’s Disney magic to be found at every budget, and we’re grateful you’ve trusted us to be part of your planning process!
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