Disney Vacation Club 101
Disney Vacation Club 101
Disney Vacation Club, often referred to as DVC, is Disney’s version of a timeshare. Since we are not members of DVC, we recruited the amazing Brendan and Katherine from Detour To Neverland to be guest writers for this post!
Brendan and Katherine will cover the basics of what is DVC, how it works, and their recommendations for DVC. We met Brendan and Katherine through their awesome Disney podcast, Detour To Neverland. We love listening to their podcast and have be fortunate enough to be guests on it twice. Please see the bottom of this post to learn more about Detour to Neverland. Thank you Brendan and Katherine for writing this post and sharing your insight! All photos in this post were provided by Brendan and Katherine.
What Is Disney Vacation Club?
Disney Vacation Club is a timeshare program that allows you to exchange ‘DVC points’ for Disney hotel, cruise, or Adventures By Disney accommodations. However, DVC members will typically use their points for Disney hotel accommodations, as this is the best value for points. A distinction worth mentioning, is that DVC is neither owned nor operated by The Disney Parks Company. This aspect is important in order to understand how get the maximum value from your DVC points.
Basics of How it Works
DVC members purchase contracts with a set number of points per year for a particular resort. The resort on your contract is referred to as your home resort, but you can use your points at any of the DVC resorts. Every ‘use-year’, which is just a fancy way of saying your renewal month, your yearly points are deposited into your account. These are the points you use to book your Disney hotels.
Banking and Borrowing Points
Without getting too far in the weeds, it is worth mentioning it is possible to both borrow and bank points between use years. For example, if you have a 100 point contract but want to take a trip requiring 200 points, you can borrow 100 points from the next year to complete a total of 200. Similarly, if you do not use all of your points in a given year, these points will bank (roll over) in your account, for use the following year. More details about banking and borrowing can be found here.
Booking with DVC
The booking process for DVC is something you must be aware of and comfortable with before making the investment. DVC allows you to book 11-month in advance for your home resort and 7-month in advance for any non-home resorts. This booking process has taught us two key points: 1) DVC is not ideal for last-minute trips. You need to plan at least 7 months, if not 11 months, in advance to get the accommodations you prefer at the moment your booking window opens. 2) Your home resort needs to be somewhere you are comfortable staying. For example, you would probably find a contract much cheaper with a home resort of Aulani Resort in Hawaii than Disney’s Boardwalk Resort. However, if you are a frequent Walt Disney World visitor, you will always be waiting for the 7-month window to book any of the WDW resorts. This puts you at a disadvantage during high-demand times and peak seasons.
Booking non-DVC Disney Hotels
One last question we receive regularly is can you use DVC points at any Disney hotel? The answer is yes. However, it is not typically a good use of points compared to DVC Resorts because the value is lower and you are subject to a $95 transfer fee to exchange the DVC points to Disney Resort accommodations.
Benefits Of Disney Vacation Club
Remember how we mentioned that DVC and Disney Parks are separate companies? This comes in handy when considering the benefits offered to DVC members. One of the only Parks guaranteed perks built into DVC contracts is that you receive free parking when staying at any DVC Resort (either on points or paying cash) or when staying at any Disney hotel on points. None of the other perks offered to DVC members are guaranteed. The perks are negotiated between DVC and Disney Parks on an ongoing basis.
Discounts and Tickets
As a DVC member you typically receive discounts at Disney restaurants and merchandise locations. The amount of these discounts vary over time based on the negotiated deal between DVC and Disney Parks. Currently, DVC members get 10% off of table service restaurants and 20% off most Disney merchandise locations.
The only Disney park ticket benefit offered to DVC members right now is the opportunity to purchase the Gold Annual Pass. This pass is usually designated exclusively to Florida Residents. However, DVC members have been given the opportunity to purchase for a price of $609.00 (as of 3/18/19), which includes blackout dates in part of April and December/January.
Now let’s chat about Moonlight Magic. These are FREE events hosted by DVC at the different Disney Parks. In 2019, Moonlight Magic events are taking place at Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Typhoon Lagoon, Disneyland, & California Adventure. The tickets to the events are limited, but members with hotel reservations at the time of the event have first priority. The events offer free ice cream and quick-service meal vouchers. But, one of the main perks of the event is the rare characters. For example, the Magic Kingdom parties in January allowed you to meet Megara, Pain, & Panic from Hercules, Clara Cluck, Clarabelle Cow, Horace Horsecollar, and Louis from Princess and the Frog, among others.
How Much Does Disney Vacation Club Cost?
Cost is probably the hardest thing to nail down when it comes to DVC. Because contracts can have different point values and home resorts, the cost can vary greatly. At the time of this blog, a direct contract through DVC at Copper Creek or Aulani are running at $188/point. For simplicity, a 100 point contract would cost $18,800 for the purchase price, around $500 for closing (since it is a real estate transaction), and around $65/month for maintenance fees.
I know this seems daunting. However, if you are a family who plans to travel to Disney at least once every two years and prefers to stay at higher quality resorts, DVC pays for itself in a matter of years. Each family’s financial situation is unique, so we suggest really crunching the numbers and seeing if it makes sense for your family.
Is Disney Vacation Club Worth It?
We answer with a resounding yes! DVC has afforded us the opportunity to visit places and resorts we never would have experienced otherwise. Our family never would have been able to visit Aulani or stay in the Polynesian if we were paying cash. Before DVC, we almost always stayed at Pop Century or one of the All-Star Resorts. With DVC, we are able to visit more often and with higher quality accommodations.
What Are The Next Steps If I Am Interested In Joining DVC?
Research, Research, Research. You need to research whether you would rather buy a contract directly through DVC or through the resale market. Next, I would target a few resorts that you think would be a good fit for your family. For us, we spend the most time in Magic Kingdom so we purchased contracts at Disney’s Polynesian Resort & Copper Creek. Make sure you have your priorities in order and then contact either DVC or a resale agent to start the process!
Brendan And Katherine’s Overall Recommendation
Simply put, if you plan to visit the Disney Parks at least once every other year and you prefer higher quality accommodations then DVC is most likely a good fit for your family to explore. We have really enjoyed our experience with DVC.
About Detour To Neverland
Detour To Neverland is a Disney podcast that interviews Disney content and product creators to share experiences, knowledge, and inspiration. You can listen to all episodes of Detour To Neverland on your favorite podcast app or by visiting detourtoneverland.com. Additionally, Detour To Neverland is on Instagram (@detourtoneverland_podcast) and Twitter (@DTNPodcast).
Thank you again to Brendan and Katherine for all of the amazing information! Please be sure to check out the Detour to Neverland podcast episodes and also give them a follow on Instagram and Twitter. Also, if you have any experience with DVC, we would love to hear about it in the comments below!
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