If you’re here it’s because you somehow have found out about Disney’s best-kept secret, Disney Vacation Club, or DVC for short. And as good of a secret it is, it’s also complex and sort of difficult to understand.
Here’s where I will tell you exactly what the Disney Vacation Club is, along with a full Disney Vacation Club 101 comprehensive guide.
Disney vacations can be a hassle to plan. Between coordinating flights, booking rooms months ahead of time, and keeping up with ticket prices, you might just need a vacation from your vacation! But if you’re eager to return to Disney multiple times, the hassle may outweigh the benefits, and the Disney Vacation Club might be the right tool to alleviate some of that stress.
Although the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) may not be for every family or every wallet, it just might save you quite a bit of money, and a great deal of hassle, in the long-term.
No really, what is the Disney Vacation Club?
So what is the Disney Vacation Club? Although the Disney Vacation Club is a timeshare system, it doesn’t operate like your average “per-week” system. Instead, you have to buy points at any of the many resorts under the Vacation Club’s umbrella, which then becomes your “home resort”.
You can also rent, trade, or swap points with other members for stays at other resorts, cruise lines, and the like.
Disney Vacation Club opened back in 1991, so you know it’s well-established, and has stood the test of time.
When it opened, there was only one resort on the property, which is now known as Old Key West. Disney as a whole is prone to changes over time since they are always looking to implement new programs that will generate attention from people who keep coming back for this very reason. So the fact that Disney Vacation Club has lasted this long – and has thrived and grown to such an enormous scope – says a lot about its worth, its longevity, and how hard they work to ensure that people will keep coming back.
Disney Vacation Club Points
When you purchase into the Disney Vacation Club you’re purchasing a specific number of points.
Points can be borrowed, traded, bought, and sold, and can be used at a variety of other Disney vacation destinations. It’s almost like a game, in which you buy and “stock” points, and trade them in for hotel stays, cruise tickets, and the like.
This gives you the power and flexibility to enjoy a Disney vacation as often as you want, whenever you want, and however, you want.
However, this system is not for everyone. Though the price can vary by home resort, the price per point (the minimum you can buy or rent when first enrolling is 160, and the maximum is 2000) combined with the annual dues, rental rates, interest rates, and exchange fees can be a little overwhelming.
With that being said, frequent trips to the parks and to the resort hotels can be incredibly expensive if paid out of pocket every time; this is why systems like the Disney Vacation Club are viable, practical options for families who frequent the parks more often.
However, if you or your family only visit the resorts every few years, the hefty payments made to obtain Disney Vacation Club points can outweigh the benefit of having them. In addition, the investment in DVC does not include admission to the parks, though it can be useful in enhancing your family’s experience within the park and there are occasional significant discounts. DVC is an investment, through and through; it’s just a question of whether or not it’s one that is really right for your family.
How Much Does the Disney Vacation Club Cost?
For example, if a single-family were to buy or rent 250 points, the investment would cost them about $40K.
If this family only went to Disney once a year, their unused points would disappear, and the money spent on them would be wasted.
However, if that family went to Disney at least once a year and used all of their points on resort stays, cruises, and the like, the price they would have paid out-of-pocket almost certainly would have been more than what they invested in their Disney Vacation Club membership. This family would have special access to bigger rooms, villas, and member services at their “home resort”, at which they bought their points.
See the chart for a breakdown of point prices, per night, for the upcoming year for the Riviera Resort, as an example of common prices. Remember, though – prices vary from resort to resort, and room to room.
To see if this is a financial possibility for you and your family, you might have to do quite a bit of mathematical gymnastics, given interest, annual fees, and varied cost per points. The payments are an up-front investment, which is valuable to people who are willing to spend long periods of time at the resorts, multiple times a year. You can use this Time Value of Money (TVM) Calculator to see how an investment in a membership might age over time, and how it might be worth it for your family to invest — or how it might not be.
Disney Vacation Club Resorts & Disney Experiences
So where can you use your Disney Vacation Club points? They can be cashed in through a lot more than just hotel room rentals. Although the program began at the resort level, it has since expanded to Adventure by Disney and Disney Cruise Line.
The resorts included in the program, all of which can be made your preferred home resort, including Animal Kingdom Villas, Disney’s Old Key West, Disney’s Boardwalk Villas, Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa, Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Disney’s Beach Club Villas, Bay Lake Tower at the Contemporary, and the Polynesian Villas and Bungalows.
Other DVC properties are Disney’s Vero Beach Resort in Florida, Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort in South Carolina, and Aulani in Hawaii, the points for which can be bought directly through the Disney Vacation Club website. Members are given an eleven-month booking period at their home resort, during which they get preferred booking dates, and have access to larger rooms with more benefits.
The beauty of DVC is that you can book at any resort at the 7 month window.
There are over three thousand destinations under the umbrella of the Disney Vacation Club, from single-night stays at resorts in Orlando to fully booked trips to preferred Disney locations all across the world. From ten days in South Africa with Adventure by Disney, to a single night at any of the above resorts.
Most recently, Disney opened the doors to the Riviera Resort in Orlando, Florida, which is the newest of many recent additions to the Disney Vacation Club resort roster. The resort is themed around the French and Italian Riviera and is said to be inspired by Walt and Lillian Disney’s travels along the Mediterranean coastline. There is a new character dining experience for breakfast at the resort’s signature dining restaurant, Topolino’s Terrace. The new resort is at a great location and has its own stop on the new Disney Skyliner.
Members of DVC are able to access the rooms and amenities at Disney’s Riviera Resort due to the features and benefits of their private membership websites and personal scheduling platforms. When it opened on the 16th of December, members were given full access to all of the resort’s benefits and amenities, while others have to wait for months — if not years — to find an available room at the new resort.
Early access and easy booking are two advantages to membership, in addition to spending points — and not opening-month prices — in order to take full advantage of its opening.
Other recent additions to the Disney Vacation Club resorts are the Copper Creek Villas and Cabins at the Wilderness Lodge, as well as the Polynesian Villas and Bungalows. The latter sit over the water, with great privacy, a beautiful design, and even a small personal pool with speakers connected to Magic Kingdom’s fireworks shows! There are sure to be many plans already in the works to create more additions to already existing resorts, as well as completely new resorts like Disney’s Riviera Resort.
The next Walt Disney World hotel and Disney Vacation Club resort will be Reflections — A Disney Lakeside Lodge. It is scheduled to open in 2022 and is being built on the former site of Disney’s River Country water park.
It will include 900 rooms and club villas. It will be themed around nature and Disney stories, all to be incorporated into the design. There will be A-frame houses, treehouse suites, and even a sit-down restaurant themed around The Princess and the Frog. The same benefits of early access and easy booking will be available for members when the Reflections resort opens in a few years.
Disney Vacation Club Benefits
DVC is not exclusive to hotel stays and trips, but also gives members yearly benefits within the resorts and parks that they would not have access to otherwise. Members get discounts on park tickets, merchandise, dining, and other services at almost any Disney location.
Other benefits include an all-in-one “Member Services” team, which can help with flights, rental cars, and meal reservations. This service, which is located at all Disney Vacation Club resorts, is exclusive to members. They can even have groceries delivered to your room — talk about lessening hassle! A huge plus for people who live close to any of the Disney parks is the discount that you get on the Annual Pass. Of course, this is only good for people who can take advantage of this. For people intending to travel to Walt Disney World or other locations once a year or every other year, this discount is no use for them. These are all things to think about when considering becoming a Disney Vacation Club member.
The purpose of these amenities and benefits is to make the “timeshare” rooms, villas, and properties feel like a home-away-from-home. Some travelers and families only view their hotel stays as places to sleep and shower, and wish to put all their time into the parks and other attractions. But those who value the all-around feeling of a comfortable, slow-paced, private vacation will see the timeshare-like format of DVC’s villa and room rental system.
The Disney Vacation Club’s benefits don’t stop at the resorts. With your membership, you get access to special member events at the parks, such as the Disney Vacation Club Moonlight Magic event happening on special days throughout 2020. There are specific dates for each park, and even include Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon.
While there are other after-hours events for the public, these are specifically for DVC members and special guests. This means less wait times, complimentary drinks and snacks, and special character meet-and-greets. These events are a chance to experience the parks in a new and unique way that’s guaranteed to be a good time for everyone.
There are many other positives to a Disney Vacation Club membership, like DVC-only cruises, discounts on Adventures by Disney, and special member celebrations at the resorts, including Aulani. There’s a Member Lounge at Epcot, which is a great place to take a break, with plenty of chargers for devices and entertainment for kids.
The Top of the World Lounge atop Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort is another wonderful member’s only area. It’s a perfect place to catch the fireworks show at Magic Kingdom without having to deal with the big crowds in the park. Just show your membership card, and you’re in!
As intended by Disney, the Disney Vacation Club becomes a key part of family vacations and traditions and can be passed on to other family members. Through DVC, Disney proves its commitment to the people who love visiting Disney and being a part of the magic, and that creates loyalty in Disney Vacation Club members.