Disney Vacation Club

disney-vacation-clubSeveral 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.

Boardwalk Inn by Silent Wind of Doom at the English language Wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons
Boardwalk Inn by Silent Wind of Doom is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

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?

Disney's Grand Floridian by Scdis32 is licensed under CC BY 3.0
Disney’s Grand Floridian by Scdis32 is licensed under CC BY 3.0

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:

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.

Disney Wonder at Port Canaveral by Rennett Stow is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Disney Wonder at Port Canaveral by Rennett Stow is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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.


11 Replies to “Disney Vacation Club”

  1. Personally I have not been to Disney with my family as yet, but it is definitely something that I will do in the near future. I did not know that they also have a property in Hawaii, that is fantastic!

    I have worked on the cruise ship before but it was for the Royal Caribbean cruise lines. I have friends that are employed on the Disney cruise lines and they really like the quality of the lifestyle while working there.

    Overall, I think that the DVC is a top of the line company with great value in the industry.

    Thanks for posting.


    1. Thanks, Jason. Disney properties are top notch. Their standards for their resorts are very high. We have not been disappointed in a single place we have stayed. I hope you can make it there soon. I’m certain you’ll have fun.

  2. This whole system sounds awesome. I’m a newly wed and we are “working on” having children in the near future and Its awesome that I can have something like this to plan for and look forward to. I totally wouldn’t know where to start and I know that I would want to go A LOT and so would my husband. Thanks for this info, it’s really helpful.

    1. Veronica, there is no need to wait for kids to go to Disney World! In fact, it’s hard for my wife and I to go without the kids because they get so upset when we do, but we still do anyway. 🙂 Some of our best trips are when it’s just my wife and me. We are going for our 20th anniversary alone this June and I can’t wait.

  3. This looks and sounds like so much fun. My kids will definitely love vacationing in Disney! I wish there’s one in Singapore where we live. The theme park that we have over here is Universal Studios which has hotels too.

  4. hi Christian
    I have to say that I had never heard of the Disney Vacation Club and I am still trying to understand how it works. Let me get this straight. So you buy an allotment of points that allows you to go stay in the Disney hotels? If the price is 165$/point and the average stay is 100 points, isn’t it very expensive? I mean where is the deal? And do you just buy points or can you accumulate or earn them in a different way? Like with reward points? Don’t get me wrong I love Disney and what they have to offer. I am just not sure if I see the value in DVC.

    1. You sort of have it. Let’s take your 100 point example and see if I can give you more detail.

      So if you buy 100 points you will spend $16,500. If you were to stay one time, that would absolutely be a rip off. But you don’t do that. You get your allotment of points every year. Your points are deeded to you and you can leave them to someone in your will as well. They do not last forever, though. The points for Animal Kingdom (which you currently cannot purchase through Disney anymore) expire in 2057.

      Let’s say we want to stay at Animal Kingdom lodge and you need a one bedroom suite from 12/6/2015 (check-in) – 12/11/2015 (check-out). The points spent per night would be 22, so you would need your 100 points from this year plus you would need to borrow 10 points from next year.

      If you were to book that same stay with cash, for the same club level room you would pay $967 per night. So total expense (excluding tax and fees) would be $4,835. At that rate your purchase of points would pay for itself in 3.5 years, assuming that the cash lodging rate does not increase.

      But here’s the kicker: the cost to stay at a Disney Resort goes up every single year. By purchasing a Disney Vacation Club membership, you have locked in your rate at today’s price and the membership will pay for itself over your first stays. For us it worked out that we actually covered the cost in 2 stays.

      This is a very simple explanation and there are other associated costs such as interest and annual dues but those are marginal. You really need to sit down and crunch the numbers for yourself and decide if it is worth it for you.

  5. Thank you for a break down about ownership at DVC…I have always wanted to know! My parents are timeshare owners at a resort 5 minutes from Disney through RCI and of course we have never been able to exchange for a Disney property. My question is…do you have to pay yearly maintenance fees for your property? I know my parents do for upkeep etc.
    thanks for the info!

    1. Hi Melissa, yes there are annual dues associated with DVC. Currently the dues are $6.51 per point. So if you bought 100 points your annual dues would be $651 per year.

      The annual dues will adjust with inflation. They are there to take care of upkeep of the property. Think of it this way, you have purchased a deed so you own a sliver of a piece of property but you never have to worry about painting, cleaning gutters, taking out the trash, vacuuming or cleaning toilets.

      They also keep the properties updated. The Beach Club Resort just recently went through a major renovation to bring its appliances and decor to a modern finish. The Old Key West Resort did a few years ago. Your annual dues cover all of that.

  6. I have always wanted to go to Disney World. Sadly, the funding nor the time is available at the moment. However, I am glad that I have discovered this idea. You just never know what the future holds. Perhaps we will be able to take a Disney Vacation someday, better yet make a yearly treat. Thanks for sharing this great Club. I had no idea that this type of program even existed. I bet your family has had a ton of fun.

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