Several years ago April and I became Disney Vacation Club (DVC) members and we have not regretted it a single day. If you have read our About Us page, you know that I was not enthralled about going to Disney World at all, but when we got down there something magical happened to me.
Every little stress of life seemed to melt away on our very first park visit. I did not think about work the entire week, which is rare for me. It was then that we really got into all things Disney World and we have not looked back. I would say it’s probably a topic of conversation for us at least a few times per week. We are even in the process of planning three vacations to Disney World in Orlando right now.
What is the Disney Vacation Club?
In simple terms, it’s a timeshare, but it is a very unique one. No Disney Cast Member will ever refer to it as such, but let’s face it, that’s exactly what it is.
Disney Vacation Club is a points based system, so you can vacation whenever you want. You’re not buying a specific week like you used to with the old timeshare programs.
The amount of points it costs to stay at a resort varies greatly both by resort and by the time of year. Obviously, the more desirable the resort and the busier the time of year, the more points it will cost you. Weeknights are also always less expensive than weekends.
You get your allotment of points for the year in a month that is called your “use year”. For example, our use year for both sets of points we have purchased is in June. So every June we get our full allotment of points.
Your points must be used or banked for the following year within your use year or borrowed from a previous year. In our example, we received our last allotment in June of 2014. We must use those points between June 2014 and June 2015 or bank them for use in the following year. Unused, banked points expire. You cannot bank points for more than one year.
You can also borrow points from next year. Say we have 100 points but we want to take a vacation that will cost us 280 points. We did not go last year and banked all of our points to this year. So we currently have 200 points, 100 from this year and 100 banked from last year. We can then borrow 80 points from next year to use for this year.
You can only borrow points from the following use year. You cannot borrow 2017 use year points in your 2015 use year. You can only borrow from the 2016 use year.
With all of that said, it is still a very flexible system. And if you ever have questions, the Cast Members are extremely helpful.
What resorts are included?
The quality of the resorts is outstanding. You can stay at any of the Disney Deluxe resorts. The vast majority of them are on the Disney World property in Orlando, FL, but there is also Aulani in Hawaii, Vero Beach in Vero Beach, FL, the Grand Californian on the Disneyland property and the Hilton Head Island resort in Hilton Head, SC. Here is the full list:
- Aulani, Disney Vacation Club Villas, Ko Olina, Hawai`i
- Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village
- 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 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
- The Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
You can also use your points to go on a Disney Cruise. I, personally, do not advocate this. I don’t think using points for a cruise is a good value because it costs so many to use them this way. I think the better value is to pay cash for a cruise and bank your points if you cannot also make it to another DVC resort that year.
Can I exchange points and vacation somewhere else?
Yes, there is an exchange program through an RCI exchange program. RCI is the leading exchange program and offers over 500 locations to choose from. There is a non-refundable $95 transaction fee associated with an exchange.
This gives you the option to leverage your DVC membership anywhere in the world.
What if I can’t use my points?
If you have banked points and know that you are not going to be able to use them you can rent them out. There are a few folks who provide that service and we have actually taken advantage of it. The absolute best place to rent is from David’s Vacation Club Rentals. That is the only place we use or recommend.
Is it worth it?
You really have to do the math on this for yourself. For us it has worked out extremely well. So well that we bought a second allotment of points and are actually talking about getting a third allotment as well.
The payments on our “mortgage” were easy to make and the interest on the load is a tax write off since you are technically buying a deed. I would not make a purchase for this reason, though. But here is why we think it is worth it. If we had booked our room without using our DVC membership for our first two stays, we would have paid more than we did for our entire membership. It more than paid for itself in two stays.
Are there other benefits?
There are a few other benefits. You can read in-depth about them here. A few of the highlights are discounts on lockers, free parking at the parks, occasional offers for discounted annual passes and exclusive offerings.
How do you become a member of Disney Vacation Club?
There are a couple of different ways to join DVC. One is directly through Disney who is currently selling at the Aulani and Polynesian resorts. When you purchase your points you have to select a home resort. You can still use your points at any of the Disney resorts but you get the added benefit of being able to book a few months earlier than anyone else at your home resort. Our home resort is Animal Kingdom for all of our points but we may buy at a different resort for our next allotment because that is a great benefit.
Right now the points are selling for $165/point for both Aulani and the Polynesian. They have gone up in price nearly every year since we became members.
There are also a few places to by “used” points as well. Because we have not gone down that road yet, I don’t feel qualified to talk about it yet. Like I mentioned earlier, we will likely be purchasing more points soon and we are really considering going the used route.
I hope you have enjoyed this article. If you have any questions or feedback I’d love to hear them. Just leave me a comment below.