Attractions the whole family can enjoy, characters you know and love. A borderline absurd level of devotion to customer service, and creating joyful memories together. What could be better than a trip to the Magic Kingdom?
I have yet to meet anyone that has traveled to a Disney theme park that was disappointed by the experience. But there is one common complaint I hear: the cost. It gets a bit expensive once you factor in hotels, ticket fees, travel expenses, and extras.
That leaves some turning to the Disney Vacation Club to save a few bucks. But what are the true, short and long term costs of this Disney branded timeshare?
What is the Disney Vacation Club?
The Disney Vacation Club is a point-based, Disney branded timeshare program. You choose a “home base,” and invest in a number of vacation points according to your needs. You then use those points to book rooms, cruises and vacation packages to your heart’s content.
In exchange for signing the dotted line, you’ll enjoy a locked-in price throughout the length of your contract. You’ll get discounts compared to the average consumer, a separate, convenient booking system and access to the club’s dedicated customer service team.
These all sound well and good. But before you pull out any plastic let’s take a closer look at the true price of this bargain. You might want to consider both the short and long term costs, the amount of flexibility in the program and fluctuations in point costs before deciding anything.
How much do vacation points cost?
One point currently costs $193 USD when you are purchasing your membership directly through Disney. A standard contract is 50 years and the minimum investment required is 100 points.
How much is each point worth in vacation time?
The value of these points varies wildly depending on which resort and room type you choose. Theme parks and hotels in the US cost about 12-20 points per night with some as low as 6 points. International destinations are about 70-100 per week.
For a couple or small family vacation, 100 points should get you around 5-10 days of vacation time.
Example DVC Purchase
Here’s the example I’ll be using for the rest of the post.
Resort: Aulani Villas in Ko Olina, Hawaii
Cost per point: $193
Total points purchased: 100
Estimate closing costs: $586.06
Total initial cost: $19,886.06
Annual Dues cost per point: $8.33
Monthly payment: $249.21
What is the initial cost of the Disney Vacation Club?
There is no cap on how many points you can buy. But I’m going to assume (and recommend for reasons I’ll explain later) that you should stick to the 100 point minimum.
- Cost per point
- Closing costs
If you’re financing, the only thing you’ll need to worry about here is closing costs. They vary depending on two factors: which home resort you choose and how many total vacation points you’re purchasing.
With cash payment, your initial cost will be the full costs per point and the closing costs.
The more total points, the more expensive closing costs will be. And if you choose a popular, highly desirable destination that will lift the cost a bit too. But generally, the cost for 100 points will be somewhere in the realm of $600-$800 dollars.
Don’t forget, you can pay some of your costs per point in cash and still finance the rest.
How much will I have to pay per month?
There’s a lot of variances here depending on destination choice and total points purchased. The best way to figure this out is by using Disney’s handy cost calculator. But here are a few scenarios with their corresponding prices.
At 100 total vacation points, selecting the most modestly priced home resorts would cost around $250 per month. The same resorts at 150 points would come to about $370 per month. And $500 at 300 points.
As you can see, the total points purchased has the biggest effect on monthly costs. It might be wise to carefully consider how much time you’ll need and purchase points accordingly.
There are also member dues that go towards the upkeep of your property. These are around $70-$150 per month based on total vacation points purchased.
Remember that even though you can choose a 1, 5 or 10-year loan, you will continue to pay membership dues for the entire length of your contract – 50 years.
Using our example above, financing would bring your total monthly payment to $318.
If you could manage it, it would make more sense to outright buy the property deed rather than finance. If we use the above example, a one-time payment would be the listed $19,300. But financing ($249.21 x 12 months x 10 years) to a total of $29,905. That’s a significant difference.
That would reduce your payments to just membership dues over 50 years. That brings the grand total of the investment down to $61,539.
Your monthly payment using this method would reduce to just $69.42 per month.
How many vacation points should I buy?
The perks you get for being a member are uniform across all vacation point totals. You’ll enjoy the same exclusive events, discounts, and access to member services at 100 points or 1000. You can spend these points any way you’d like, whether that be a longer, economical vacation or a short luxurious stay.
Given that flexibility, it seems that 100 points are the way to go. You get the same benefits for the most freedom at the lowest investment at this price point.
The only exceptions would be if you’re certain you’d like longer stays every year, or if you have a very large family. Check out the point calculator and see what works best for you!
What are the Disney Vacation Club’s costs in the long term?
Disney’s website does a great job of displaying the total investment cost straight away. It is not hidden behind any sign-up form or hoops to jump through.
Choose how many points you’d like on the site, and you’ll get the total price plainly written.
Let’s calculate our recommendation of 100 points. At 100 x $193 per point, that comes to $19,300. Financing adds 9.99% interest which brings the total to $29,905. Next, add the minimum monthly dues of $69.42 per month x 12 months x 50 years ($41,652) plus closing costs of $587.
That brings the grand total of a minimum 10-year loan and 50-year membership contract to $72,144 dollars spread over 50 years. Keep in mind you will keep getting points each year for the length of your membership.
As mentioned above, paying for the property deed in cash would be a better choice. The total would be $61,539.
Is the Disney Vacation Club worth it?
This is a deeply personal decision with a lot of variables. So if you need help deciding, check out our full write up on this topic here.
In short, I think the two main factors to consider are your spare income and how often you’d like to visit Disney over the next 50 years.
There’s no other way to say it; this is an expensive investment. When you see that final total, it feels a bit staggering. But for Disney fanatics and frequent travelers to the Magic Kingdom, the Disney Vacation Club might be just the cost-saving measure you’re looking for.
There’s also some comfort in knowing a lot of the guesswork is taken out of your vacation planning. No matter which destination you choose, you can rest easy knowing there’s a big brand assurance of quality.
The nice perks, ease of booking and expert advice of Disney member services will certainly make any stay one worthy of dreams.