We all have a favorite Disney memory. It might be your favorite childhood movie, a toy you used to love, or maybe even your first family vacation.
There is something magical about these memories. It brings you back to something simple and sweet. For some, visiting Disney’s theme parks is a way to relive that magic. While you’re there, surrounded by characters and set pieces from worlds you grew up with, for just a moment, you really can feel like a kid again.
But it’s no secret that that moment comes at a price, usually a steep one. But a Disney vacation doesn’t have to be impossible. One potential solution could be the Disney Vacation Club. It’s Disney’s style of a timeshare which could be a cost-saving measure for fans everywhere.
But it is really worth it?
What is the Disney Vacation Club?
For all intents and purposes, the Disney Vacation Club is a flexible, Disney branded timeshare. The very simplified version of how it works is this: you purchase an interest loan of a property, then you get a discount on your stays in return for being locked into a 10-year contract.
But don’t worry, you can find an in-depth post here.
For as long as I can remember, timeshares have been considered a bad investment. I’m still not entirely convinced they’re not as a whole, but I am a DVC owner and it was one of the best investments I’ve made. Not to mention, Disney’s plan does have some nice perks and redeeming qualities that might make it a good choice for you.
A typical timeshare locks you into a set date to enjoy your share of the property. The dates often can’t be changed. If you can, you may need to pay a fee or sign a new contract to do so.
But Disney Vacation Club uses a point system rather than a set date system. You purchase the points that represent your investment when you sign up. From there, you can look around their booking site at the various Vacation Club resorts, resort hotels, international hotels, and cruise lines.
You can spend your points however you like between all the options available with total flexibility.
How much does the Disney Vacation Club Cost?
It’s tough to calculate the cost precisely since there are a few variables at play here. They are: how many points you’d like, where you’d like to stay and when.
When you start your membership, you get to choose how many points you’d like per year. These are priced at $188 USD per point plus a couple of additional sign-up fees.
From Disney’s site:
As you can see, the minimum purchase is 100 points per year. This total cost is spread out in monthly payments starting at roughly $243 per month.
So… How many Disney Vacation Club points do I need?
The simple answer is: it depends. But personally, I think buying the minimum amount of points is the smartest option.
The point cost of your stays depends on the factors I mentioned above (location, time, accommodation type). But generally, you can have a cushy 3-5 day vacation, or an economical 6-8 day vacation with 100 points per year. Here’s an estimation from Disney’s cost calculator.
The biggest variance in cost seems to be in accommodation type. The club resorts average around 10-15 points per night, while the hotel resorts or international locations are in the 30s.
Even if you DID want a more luxurious stay, Disney Vacation Club has a point rollover and borrow system. A rollover means you can save your unused points until the following year and have more to spend. Or you can borrow from next year’s points to use immediately.
So it seems that a 100 point contract is the best choice if you plan to visit once per year. It’s the lowest level of commitment and still has the flexibility to be an economical or luxurious stay.
What are the benefits of being a member?
You’ll have access to all Disney hotels and affiliates at a discounted rate. You book separately from non-club members and get to enjoy their excellent member services. They can help schedule your trip, give travel advice or set up your room just how you’d like it.
You’ll also get discounts on annual passes, shopping, and golf in the parks.
The Disney Vacation Club rooms are really nice. They can feel like a home away from home, complete with full kitchens, nice views, pools, and spas.
And again, compared to a normal timeshare, Disney’s contracts come with a ton of flexibility.
So, Is the Disney Vacation Club Worth It?
Well… This is a very personal decision. I believe your income and how often you’d really like to visit Disney are at the heart of it.
This is a heavy investment, to say the least. You’re essentially planning the next 10 years of vacation expenses, or at least a big part of them. While the point system is great for its flexibility and stops all loss of your money because of a schedule conflict, you’re still committing to Disney vacations.
However, Disney does offer a pretty good mix of international locations now. So if you’re not so picky about exact location or its proximity to local life. This might be the way to go. You’ll be getting a resort feel with a big brand assurance of quality no matter where you stay.
I hope this article has brought a bit of clarity as to how it all works.
In short, check out the Disney Vacation Club’s cost calculator before you decide anything. Do consider just going with the lowest point total possible since it offers the same exact perks as higher point plans.
Whatever you decide, I hope your future travels to the Magic Kingdom spark that childhood joy in you and your family.