by Clever Diva
The Disney Vacation Club (known as DVC) is a timeshare started by Disney. Originally, the resort known as Old Key West was built as the Disney Vacation Club. Today, there are 8 DVC resorts in Walt Disney World, plus one on the Florida coast, one in Hilton Head, one in Disneyland, and one in Hawaii. Currently, construction is ongoing at the Polynesian resort, near the Magic Kingdom.
Disney pioneered the use of the point system for timeshares. A point system is very flexible, allowing a member to book individual nights at any resort available. It may take a little while to understand the nuances of booking a stay, but the basics are pretty straightforward. A buyer needs to decide how many points to purchase, and choose a home resort and Use Year (UY).
A person purchases a certain amount of points for a dollar amount, and the person becomes a DVC member. Then, the member pays annual dues on those points, until the timeshare contract ends. During the term of the contract, the member can use the points himself, give reservations to his family, etc, or rent the points out. Also, the member can sell the contract, and get his initial costs back, possibly losing some of the money, or even making a profit on it. A timeshare is basically a little piece of real estate, and Disney timeshares retain their value better than most other timeshares, so resale is a real possibility. Dues do go up every year, just as all costs in life seem to go up. I consider the initial costs to buy my DVC contracts to be a deposit on the possibility of saving money on future vacations. And I consider the annual dues to be the costs of those vacations. I’m sure that if I sell these contracts, I’ll get some of my deposit back, and maybe all of it. It is real estate, and real estate is all about timing. Please understand that DVC ownership is not an inexpensive proposition. Most believe that you should only purchase a DVC contract if you are in the position to do it without any financing. If you don’t have the necessary funds, consider renting DVC until you can save enough to complete a purchase.
To start, a member purchases a contract for a set number of points, at a home resort of his choosing, with a particular Use Year (UY). Every year, on the first day of the UY, the points are available for a reservation. Points can be used for the 12 months following the first day of the use year, or they can be banked for use the next UY (banking must occur four months before the last day of the UY). In addition, points from the next future Use Year, can be borrowed to be used this year. So, point use is rather fluid, allowing the member much variation in the reservations. A member can choose to stay less often in larger accommodations, or stay more frequently in small accommodations. Traditional timeshares lock an owner into staying in a certain size unit, a fixed week of each year. Points allow for flexibility in timing, length and type of accommodations.
Points are assigned to every resort, for every calendar day, for every accommodation size and view. Friday and Saturday nights “cost” more in points than weekend nights, and different times of the year cost different points. Google “DVC calculator”, and explore the calculator to get an idea of how many points you may require for a typical vacation. Go every other year, and you only need half the points. More vacations a year require more points.
Choosing a Home Resort – Within DVC, a member can stay at any DVC resort, if there is availability. Availability is the key word in that sentence. Owners at a particular resort can book their vacation 11 months before the first day of the vacation start. (Use Year has nothing to do with the ability to book a particular vacation start date – this is a key point.) Members can book at any resort, 7 months before the first day of the vacation start. There may or may not be availability. So, the best advice is to buy where you would be happy staying.
Choosing a Use Year – Use Year determines when your points are available for a reservation. The day a vacation starts, the points must be available in the account. UY becomes important if a reservation must be canceled. Reservations can always be cancelled up to 30 days before the reservation starts. But, if you can’t reschedule, and you want to bank those points, it must be four months before the end of your UY. In other words, it’s preferable not to schedule reservations for the last 4 the end of your UY. That’s doesn’t mean you can’t have a DVC vacation the last 4 months of your UY. It’s just a little riskier. Example, if you regularly travel in August, it’s best not to buy a September UY. June UY would be a better choice. Cancelling a reservation less than 30 days before the start is even more problematic. Those points become Holding Points, and can only be used to book a reservation that falls in the next 60 days from the day you book. Not only is it more difficult to find available reservations on short notice, but if the UY ends before your can use the points, you lose them.
Here’s an example of using points for a reservation:
Preferred reservation – a one bedroom unit with a Theme Park view at Bay Lake Tower for 5 nights in October, starting on a Friday night, October 10th. This accommodation will sleep 5.
The cost of this reservation is 209 points. Annual dues on those points $999 for a BLT owner. (This reservation could typically be rented for about $2900 from an owner, via a rental broker. Or directly from Disney for typically even more). The savings for an owner are substantial.
An owner of a Bay Lake Tower (BLT) contract can book starting 11 months before – approx. November 10th
A DVC owner who doesn’t own at BLT can book this reservation starting at 7 months before – approx. March 10th.
Assume the member’s UY is June. If the member has to cancel the October reservation, he can re-book the points to use before June 1st, or bank the points before February 1st.
Another example– how can about 250 points be used that same time frame in October?
Grand Floridian 2 Bedroom villa for 5 nights – 261 points
Animal Kingdom Lodge 3 Bedroom Grand Villa for 3 nights – 257 points
Sarasota Springs 2 Bedroom villa for 7 nights – 262 points
Boardwalk 1 Bedroom villa for 9 nights – 222 points
Beach Club Villa Studio (like a hotel room) 16 nights! – 246 points
There are a lot of choices, and you can change your resort, size of room, number of nights, and time of year for every trip. Nights are individually priced, so you can even do a “split-stay” and get to enjoy more than one resort in a single visit.
I’ve tried to present the basics to consider when considering a DVC purchase. There are many more details that I have not covered, but this is enough to start to thinking about how DVC may work for you. Purchasing any timeshare is a big decision; an expenditure that you will likely have to live with for a long time, and the bill will come every January, whether you want it to or not. Make sure that it’s the right decision for you, before you sign on the dotted line. And if it is, I wish you many magical moments!