Hello and welcome to 2019! Sorry I’ve been away for so long. My mom got sick last summer, and our priority has been getting her better for much of 2018. I also went back to work part time after a few months away. But we also found time to get away to our favorite place! We recently got back from our first ever trip to Disneyland in California and had such a wonderful time. The months of planning were worth it and the whole trip was magical. I’ll be posting some photos and a trip report very soon!
While out at Disneyland, we went to a Disney Vacation Club open house. You may have seen DVC kiosks around the parks and hotels with cast members with big smiles handing out stickers to kids. They are there to try to get visitors to check out DVC and maybe go to a short sales pitch in exchange for a gift card and some fast passes. Disney Vacation Club is Disney’s version of a timeshare. I have never had any interest in purchasing a timeshare, but when I learned about DVC, I started to do some research.
Disney’s timeshare program runs on a point system. You purchase a certain number of points instead of a certain week of the year at a specific property. Your points arrive once a year and how you use them is up to you. The purchased points can be used at any Disney DVC property, but you do choose a “home resort.” You can book a stay at your home resort as early as 11 months, and all other Disney DVC properties at 7 months from when you’ll be vacationing. Most people say to buy points at a home resort that you will love staying at, because if there are no available rooms at other resorts at 7 months, that’s where you’ll be staying. Each room is a certain number of points for each night of your stay, which can go up or down depending on the season, weekend or weekday, or holiday time (Spring Break will cost many more points than a weekday in September.) Also a 2 bedroom at Bay Lake Tower will “cost” more points than a studio.
The DVC resorts are attached to Disney’s deluxe resorts, either in a separate building or wing of the hotel. Old Key West was the original Disney timeshare resort, then Saratoga Springs was added. Both of these are standalone resorts. Now there are 14 properties total with locations in Florida, South Carolina, California and Hawaii. When we met with a salesperson in Disneyland, we had already talked about buying into DVC. We plan to vacation at Disney at least every other year and fell in love with Animal Kingdom Lodge on our trip there in August. This resort is unique because it has “value” studios, which cost fewer points per night as well as well as being the only resort to offer club level accommodations to DVC owners staying on points. I also liked the flexibility of being able to stay in the larger Jambo House or more intimate Kidani VIllage. Both are available to us as Animal Kingdom Villas owners!
Although the only properties Disney is offering currently are Aulani in Hawaii and Copper Creek Villas in Florida (DVC part of Wilderness Lodge) if you are firm about it, you can get put on a waitlist for an older property. We were only interested in Animal Kingdom Villas and our “guide” was able to get us a 75 point contract with a December use year (the month when you get your new points each year.) 75 points is the minimum purchase you can make and still receive the “perks.” Ah, the perks. Disney offers some extras to its members, such as discounts on annual passes, dining, and merchandise, the opportunity to use points on cruises and other non-Disney vacations, and after hours parties at the parks. These perks were formerly offered to all DVC members regardless of if you bought direct or through a 3rd party resale company (more about that later.) But that’s changed in the last couple of years. Now members must have a 75 point direct contract to get the extras.
A popular option for many people is to buy a DVC contract from a current member looking to sell their points. There are several reputable online companies that specialize in brokering these transactions so you don’t have to do all the legwork yourself. Most resale contracts are offered at a considerable savings over purchasing direct (for example, a savings of about $60 per point at some resorts.) The negatives of buying resale are the uncertainty, wait time, and not being eligible for the official DVC member perks. Once an offer is accepted by the owner, the contract goes to Disney for “right of first refusal” meaning that they have the option at that time to buy the contract, leaving you back at square one. If Disney passes on the contract, it still may be 1-2 months before the contract is closed. Those who buy resale say the savings on the initial purchase price outweigh the loss of perks and make the wait and uncertainty worthwhile.
When asking if DVC is right for you, ask yourself a couple of questions: Do you plan on vacationing at Walt Disney World or Disneyland (or Hawaii) every year or every other year? Is a hotel a place to sleep between long days at the parks or do you like to take advantage of the offerings and activities of a moderate or deluxe resort? Are you able to plan vacations 11-7 months out or are you more spontaneous? DVC is absolutely not right for everyone, but if you enjoy staying deluxe and paying moderate rates, then it’s worth looking into.
For us personally, DVC will allow us to stay in the Disney resorts we’d only dreamed of vacationing at. We are planning 2 amazing stays this year: in May at the Polynesian Villas, and in July a split stay at Boulder Ridge Villas at Wilderness Lodge and Bay Lake Tower at the Contemporary. Neither of these trips would be financially possible booking cash through Disney. To me, knowing that we want Disney to be a place where we come back year after year, DVC was an easy decision once we got past the initial expense. It is a lot of money to drop at one time, and with the high interest rates, we highly recommend not financing a purchase like this if at all possible. It is a luxury that not everyone will be able to rationalize. But it could be a great option for families who want to own a tiny part of the “Happiest Place on Earth.”
This post just scratches the surface of all that is DVC. I’ll be writing a follow-up with some more details, like the buying process, maintenance dues, and how to bank and borrow your points. Do you own DVC? I’d love to hear your experiences with it in the comment section!