Disney Vacation Club (DVC) can be an amazing purchase for your family. It offers a lot of flexibility, access to Deluxe resorts for much smaller costs, perks and discounts that are extremely useful for frequent Disney travelers and a sense of being a member of a group of Disney fans. Before you purchase membership into the Disney Vacation Club, you will want to make sure that you fully understand what the membership entails and that DVC will be a valuable purchase to meet your family’s need. Here are 7 things that I think you really need to know before you take the plunge and join DVC:
1. Point Structure & Cost:
DVC is a timeshare that works off of a point system. You are purchasing a block of points that you will be able to use to apply to your desired stay. You will be deeded at a particular DVC resort, but have the ability to stay at any DVC resort. The frequency and length of your stays will be dependent on how many points you purchase (and the number of people in your party). Stay during the lowest point seasons (usually late January, all of September and early December) and you would find a DVC Resort requires less points versus peak season.
If you need a 1 bedroom villa, you can expect to double most point values for the stay. There are also different view options which impact the total number of points with the more desirable room accommodations having the highest point values. You will want to make sure that you purchase the right amount of points to meet your family’s travel needs, the size of your family, the time of year that you travel, etc. The cost for the points will be determined by how many points you purchase, and in most cases you will get use of these points for 50 years.
2. Booking Time Frames:
You will be able to book at your home resort (the one you are deeded at) 11 months in advance. You will be able to book at any other DVC resort (including Disney World, Hawaii, Vero Beach, Cruise Line, Disneyland, etc.) 7 months in advance. Due to this fact and the popularity of the resorts, especially during busy seasons, you may find that you aren’t able to find the room type and resort that you want to stay in. This is especially true for last minute trips. After the 7 month booking window has passed, Disney will also open rooms up for rent on the website by any guest. You will also want to be mindful of when your points expire. You have to “bank” your points before they expire so that you can use them in the next booking year. You can also “borrow” points from the next year to book your vacation as well. The years are based on “use year” and don’t follow a normal calendar year, so you will want to pay very careful attention to these dates so that you don’t lose any of your points.
3. Annual Dues:
You must pay annual dues every year of your ownership. It will be a variable price per point. It could be $6.50 per point one year, and then go up to $6.75 the next year. (These are just examples.) The amount of the dues varies for each resort depending on the amount of maintenance and upkeep required at that resort. These dues can be paid via monthly payments or you can pay your entire yearly dues all at once each year. Since this is an expense that you will incur each year of your membership, it will need to be factored into the full costs to help determine if DVC is right for you.
This is handled differently at DVC resorts than in all other Disney resorts. If you have stayed at a Disney resort, you are likely used to daily housekeeping, your bed made for you every day, fresh towels and supplies every day, etc. With DVC, your amount of housekeeping is dependent on your day. If your stay is 7 days or less, you will receive trash and towel service on day 4 of your stay and that is it. They will replenish the kitchen and bathroom supplies during this service as well. If you are staying 8 or more nights, you will receive a full cleaning service on day 4, trash and towel service on day 8, full cleaning again on day 12, and the cycle continues. This could be a surprise for most guests and different than what they are used to, so it is important to understand how this works.
As a DVC member, you would experience many discounts. These discounts are very comparable to the discounts that Annual Passholders receive. You would receive 10% off of many merchandise locations as well as dining locations. You would also be eligible to purchase the Tables in Wonderland membership, which gets you 20% off at even more dining locations, including alcohol. If you are frequent visitor, this could be a membership that you want to look into and weigh out the savings/benefits. These benefits and savings can also greatly impact the decision to join DVC since these savings can add up! PLUS – at times Disney offers special discounts on ticketed events as well as increasing the 10% discount to 20% during certain times of the year and at specific dining and merchandise locations.
There are many extra perks and services that come along with being a DVC member. Each week there is a DVC social where you can meet other DVC members, have free snacks, etc. Sometimes there are even characters at these events for meet and greets. If you stay in a 1, 2 or 3-bedroom villa you will find that there is a washer and dryer in the room with detergent and supplies so you can do laundry. This can be very helpful on long stays or minimize the amount of laundry that you bring with you. Studio accommodations have access to free washer and dryers in the resort as well. You can borrow DVDs for no added cost for a little extra in-room entertainment. You can also add on the Disney Dining plan of your choice to your reservation. The difference here is to note that when you add the dining plan, you must pay in full at the time you add it (you can add up to 48 hours before your trip) and can’t pay for it in payments like you may be used to from booking a Disney vacation package. Other perks include Moonlight Magic options and even DVC Member only lounges at Epcot and on top of the Bay Lake Tower Resort.
7. Resale/Renting Options:
Another important thing that you need to know is that you do have a couple of other options to complete your research on DVC. There are many DVC resellers/brokers out there where you can purchase points from other DVC members. This is usually a good option to get a little bit cheaper purchase, or get your resort of choice that doesn’t have any openings left with Disney. If you pursue this option, you will likely need to be able to fully pay for the purchase up front and not be in need of financing options. You can also rent points through agents who help DVC members rent out points that they aren’t using. This ends up being a very affordable option, but you don’t have the same control over your reservation and you don’t receive the discounts and perks that you must show a DVC membership card to receive. You can still add on the dining plan and will receive the same onsite service, so you could use this option to try out a DVC resort before you decide if you want to make the investment. Some find that renting points works better for them than the obligation of the membership investment, since you only purchase what you know will be using. The downside is that once you book a trip, you can’t cancel it like you can with Disney Vacation packages.
I am sure you probably still have a lot of questions, which I highly recommend that you discuss with your DVC sales agent to make sure that you fully understand the membership, obligations and benefits. DVC is a wonderful vacation investment, but it has to make sense for your family and meet the expectations of what you envision your vacations at Disney, or other locations to be.