Disney Vacation Club (DVC) used to be what Disney called “the best kept Disney secret”. The cat is, and has been, out of the bag for some time now, especially since the addition of Bay Lake Tower at Walt Disney World’s Contemporary Resort and The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian. DVC is a timeshare, but it’s not your typical timeshare. It is like any other timeshare with the exception of two huge differences; the use of a points system, and the ability to vacation at ANY time of the year with the use of those points. How in the world is it possible that I can vacation during Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s you ask? There are no set “weeks” with this timeshare, and with the points systems, as long as an accommodation is available and you have the points, you can book your vacation for the weeks YOU choose, and not week’s that have been chosen for you like other timeshares do. I am going to cover the basics in this article, things you would want to know from a consumer’s perspective.
(Photo courtesy of Darlin’ Diva)
How Do You Purchase Points?
There are two ways to purchases points: pay for them outright or finance them for 10 years. My family opted for financing. The way financing works is like any other loan, interest is accrued and payments are made monthly. A down payment is required, usually 10%, and then the monthly payment begins a couple of months after that. On top of the monthly payment, there are annual dues. These last the life of the points (exceeding the life of the loan) and are applied in either purchase situation. I will do a breakdown in the next section to make it a little easier to understand. These points can be purchased at any Disney location, including the Disney Cruise Line.
How Many Points should I purchase?
This is the toughest decision that I know of. When we purchased eight years ago, the value of the points were a little lower than what they are today. In today’s world, I would suggest to start at 200 points. This should get you around a week’s stay, during most “seasons” in a deluxe studio (usually sleeps up to 4) and sometimes a one-bedroom villa (usually sleeps up to five). This allows you to go to WDW at least once a year and stay in a moderate or deluxe resort!! Grand Floridian and Animal Kingdom are not as out of reach as you thought they were!!! So here’s a breakdown (estimated) of buying 200 points. Again, this is just an estimate, because points vary at the different resorts. Let’s say one point is worth $150, so for 200 points would be $30,000 (don’t get sticker shock!!). You would have to put down about $3000, which can be split among several debit/credit cards (I know this from experience). Monthly, the loan would run you anywhere from $250-$275 with interest. Your annual dues usually run about $30-40 per point, per year and they increase each year, but not by much. Both can be broken down into monthly payments, or you can pay for the loan amount up front and the dues can be paid yearly. There are several options to meet everyone’s needs. Once, you purchase points, you are assigned a use year (ours is August) and every August you are given your allotment of points, so if you buy 200, you receive 200 each August. I have three sample point charts for this year on our favorite resort, Old Key West and the two top deluxe resorts that everyone wants to stay at!!
What is my home resort?
Your home resort is where you have purchased points. The only benefit to the home resort is the 11 month booking window, which is quite useful for the resorts that are hard to get a reservation at. Animal Kingdom Lodge and The Villas at the Grand Floridian are the top two most booked resorts at this time. If you know you want to stay at either one of those resorts, then buy your points from that resort, if there are any available. If you want to stay at any other resort other than your home resort, you have a 7 month booking window. It’s a great perk, but my family honestly stays outside our home resorts more often than not.
Where should I stay with my points?
We love to stay where we can get the most bang for our buck, but we also like to stay at different resorts that we haven’t stayed at before. Old Key West is my family’s favorite resort. The rooms are bigger and the points are lower! I have attached some pictures of Old Key West and Animal Kingdom so you can compare. Animal Kingdom and Grand Floridian are comparable in the size of the rooms. (Pictures are not to scale)
What if I don’t have enough points to stay somewhere or don’t use all of my points?
This is where the bank/borrow features come into play. Say you want to take a cruise one year. You most definitely can book a cruise with points, but it’s a little more expensive, so you can borrow points from the next year and go cruising. Or if you want to go to WDW twice in one year, the same rules apply. Borrow the points from the next year and enjoy!! Now, you will not get your allotment of points when the next use year rolls around, because you borrowed and used them in the current use year. Let’s say you couldn’t make a trip this year, but you definitely don’t want to lose your points. You bank your points by the allotted cutoff date, and you have more points to use in the next use year! You can book the next use year in advance and use those points. Let me explain. I have an August use year, but I’m not planning on going to Disney until after August though. I can bank my points for the current year that I’m in, call and make a reservation for next year (as long as I’m in my 7 or 11 month booking window based on my home resort). It’s that simple!
What are member perks?
The amount of perks that you get is phenomenal. The biggest perk is discounted food and it can be up to 20% off of a meal!! Merchandise discounts are up to 15% off in select places. Right now, there is a ticket special for 4-day, 4-park promotional pass for only $199 (must be purchased before December 31, 2014). You also save $149 on an annual pass and premium pass, and $76-$96 on pass renewals. These perks, in my opinion, are completely worth it. Plus, we have the ability to go to Disney World each year as a family vacation. I would not be able to afford Disney World or Disney Cruises without DVC. My parents were able to take me every year to Disney and I wanted to be able to do that for our kids. We bought DVC on our honeymoon cruise and have had magical vacations every year since!!
(DVC Logo courtesy of Meg the Clever Diva)
Cruisin’ Diva – Proud DVC member since 2006