Disney Vacation Club Explained Part 1

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View of Bay Lake Tower Disney Vacation Club

While your on a Walt Disney World or Disneyland Vacation you might notice Disney Vacation Club Kiosks at every turn. Sometimes the cast members will actively try to get you to come in and speak to them. Mostly they are just standing there, saying hello to everyone who passes, or handing out stickers. Hoping that you will come over to speak to them.

What is Disney Vacation Club?

Disney Vacation Club is a timeshare where you buy a stake in a specific Disney Resort. The points purchased determine how large of a stake you have in the resort. The contract will be good for x amount of years and you will receive points once a year to book your vacations.

For example we have a 200 point contract. We will continue to receive 200 points per year to book our vacations for the next 40 years.

In total there are fourteen DVC locations. All of which are located within The United States. They can be found at Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Florida, Hawaii and South Carolina. The resorts are:

Old Key West- Walt Disney World

Disney Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa- Walt Disney World

Bay Lake Tower at the Contemporary Resort-Walt Disney World

The Polynesian Villas and Bungalows- Walt Disney World

The Villas at the Grand Floridian- Walt Disney World

Boulder Ridge Villas at the Wilderness Lodge Resort- Walt Disney World

Copper Creeks Villas and Cabins at the Wilderness Lodge Resort- Walt Disney World

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas- Walt Disney World

Disney’s Beach Club Villas- Walt Disney World

Disney’s BoardWalk Villas- Walt Disney World

Disney Hiton Head Island Resort- South Carolina

Aulani, Disney Vacation Club Villas- Ko Olina, Hawaii

Disney Vero Beach Resort- Florida

The Villas at the Disney Grand Californian- Disneyland

A new DVC resort is currently under construction near the Caribbean Beach Resort at Walt Disney World and will be known as The Riviera.

What perks do you get being a Disney Vacation Club Member?Beach Club Villa's Disney Vacation Club

It depends on whether you bought your contract directly through Disney or Resale (through a broker).  In the past all members received the same benefits. Recently, fewer and fewer perks have been given to resale buyers.

We ourselves are resale buyers and we have access to the Top of the World Lounge at the Contemporary Resort. That’s pretty much it.  Don’t get me wrong. Top of the World Lounge is awesome,  you get a spectacular view of the Magic Kingdom Fireworks from there.

Contracts bought directly through Disney have access to Moonlight Magic After Hours events, Top of the World Lounge at the Contemporary, and the DVC lounge at Epcot. They also have discounts for merchandise and dining.  I cant give you a set percentage for the discounts because they are subject to change but they are generally the same as the Annual Pass discounts.

Who should consider becoming a Disney Vacation Club Member?Fireworks View from Moorea Lake view Room 3rd floor

I’m going to be completely honest here, becoming a Disney Vacation Club Member is pricey. There’s really no other way to put it. You are willingly investing in vacations that will be taking place 24+ years into the future.

DVC is geared towards families or couples who vacation regularly at Disney. It can make financial sense if you know you will be vacationing at Disney every year or every other year for the foreseeable future. Something along the lines of the next 20+ years or so.

Staying at the deluxe resorts also has to be high on your priority list. As you can tell by the list provided above. All the Disney Vacation Club resorts are associated with either Deluxe Resorts or they are their own property.

Being someone who likes to plan their vacations far in advance will also be a benefit if you decided to become a Disney Vacation Club member. We will explain why in the What Do I Need To Know About DVC section.

Disney Vacation Club can also be great for larger families. Though contracts are expensive you get access to one bedroom or two bedroom villas (or larger). For example,  you have a set of parents with four kids. Feeding a family that large in the parks can get costly. If you rent a one or two bedroom you can now cook all of your meals in your villa.

Having six people or more in your group also leaves you kind of between a rock and a hard place. Most rooms only accommodate four or five guests max. This would leave you where you either need to rent two rooms or a suite. The two bedrooms suite at the Wilderness Lodge is $949 a night plus tax in mid July.

The Disney Vacation Club point redemption is much cheaper than that.It’s roughly 48 points for a one night stay. With our contract that would be the equivalent of us paying about $450 a night (you are not subject to tax as a DVC member) depending on how you calculate your point cost.

Who shouldn’t become a Disney Vacation Club Member?

The numbers need to make sense financially. If you were to stay at a moderate or value resort yearly or biyearly you wouldn’t really be saving all that much money in the long run.  Buying into DVC is very costly and you only have  three options. To buy the contract out right, which is difficult for most families since most of us do not have a spare $18000 lying around. The second and third options are to take out a loan through Disney or a third party lender and make monthly payments. Again this is not a small monthly sum as the interest on the loans can be quite high.

If the interest on the loan is high it can also effectively wipe out all of the savings you would have made by buying into Disney Vacation Club in the first place.

On top that there are annual maintenance dues on top of the initial purchase price. This will continue to increase annually with inflation.

If you were to buy direct through Disney today you must buy a minimum of 100 points. Right now the going rate is roughly 180 per point with Disney. That’s $18,000 for the contract. This does not include closing costs or yearly maintenance dues.

If you aren’t a person who likes to plan vacations in advance Disney Vacation Club might not be a good fit for you. See more in the following section.

What do I need to know about staying at a Disney Vacation Club Property?GFV Lobby Fountain Disney Vacation Club

When purchasing Disney Vacation Club through Disney they will ask you what season and what month you would like your use year to begin in. There is a very specific reason behind this. It’s important to understand that Disney Vacation Club is designed to always have a 99% occupancy rate. This means that you need to be willing to book your vacations far in advance to make sure you get the month and days that you want to be on vacation.

To help keep things fair between Disney Vacation Club owners Disney does what is called a Home Resort Advantage. This allows you to book vacations 8 to 11 months in advance of any other DVC members at the resort that holds your contract (home resort). The resort will become available to all members at the seven months mark.

Certain resorts are very difficult to get reservations seven months in advance, this includes the Grand Floridian, Beach Club and Polynesian. It is extremely important to book within your Home Advantage window as soon as you can.

If you want to go on vacation last minute (about three months in advance for DVC) certain resorts will probably always be available including Old Key West and Saratoga Springs. There is a great tool available online that we use to keep track of booking trends. Especially if we are thinking of going on vacation after the seven month mark. Click here to be directed to it.

Disney Vacation Club, again, is a time share, and like most time shares you don’t receive certain amenities that you would at a hotel. Daily room cleaning doesn’t happen. You will receive a Towel service every fourth day if you are staying seven days or less. This includes

  • Fresh bath linens
  • Replace facial tissues, paper towels and toilette paper.
  • Restock coffee, sugar, cream and sweeteners.
  • Replace dish liquid soap, sponges, and laundry detergent.

A full room cleaning will take place on the fourth day. You must be staying for a minimum of 8 days. These include

  • All of the services included in a Towel Service
  • Changing of bed linens
  • Vacuuming of the vacation home
  • Dusting of the vacation home
  • Clean the bathrooms
  • Clean the kitchen and wash dishes.

Recently Disney has began doing daily trash service which is a nice perk. You no longer have to trek out to the elevator bays or outside of the building to throw out trash.

Another cost associated with Disney Vacation Club is yearly maintenance dues. The amount due will change annually, usually within the 3% range. You can see the increase trend here.

The dues are used to maintain the Disney Vacation Club buildings, Parking,  Top of the World Lounge and all of the the amenities that come with DVC.

Check back on Monday for an explanation on how the points work, what a use year is, and how to book using your points.

Be sure to check out our reviews on these two Disney Vacation Club Properties, The Villas at the Grand Floridian and the Polynesian Villas and Bungalows.

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