What is Disney Vacation Club (DVC)?
Disney Vacation Club is point based timeshare purchase of an Ownership Interest from Disney Vacation Development, Inc. The Ownership Interest is an annual allotment of points at a Disney Vacation Club Resort that will become your Home Resort. The points are used to book accommodations at DVC Resorts. Each Disney Vacation Club room size and view is assigned a point value for each night of the year. This allows flexibility in your membership. You are not strapped down to a specific resort, room size, or time of year for travel. One thing that should be noted with DVC is that the Ownership Interest expires at resort specific dates. The earliest memberships are set to expire in 2042, with the memberships at the newest resort, Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows, not expiring until January 31, 2066.There are currently 13 Disney Vacation Club Resorts.
How Membership Works
At the time of purchase you are assigned a month that your annual allotment of points are available for you to use. This month is the beginning of your Use Year, because this is the time period you have to use your points. Points are used to book accommodations.
A family who has purchased 150 points from the Animal Kingdom Lodge Villas with a February Use Year will receive 150 points in their membership on February 1st of each year.
With 150 points the choices could be (based upon 2015 point charts):
5 nights in a one-bedroom ocean view villa at Aulani in early December. (150 points).
8 nights in a deluxe studio at The Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge in May. (136 points).
4 nights in a two-bedroom villa at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa in September. (132 points).
If you want to take a vacation that requires more points than are currently available in your Use Year, you can borrow from the next year. Also if you are not able to use your points for a Use Year, there is the option to bank them into the next year.
The Cost of Membership
Membership costs are based upon the initial purchase price of the Ownership Interest (including closing costs) plus any financing fees (if you need a loan) plus your annual maintenance fees. The maintenance fees are specific to each resort. Here is a chart showing historical maintenance fees per resort. You can see that each year there is an increase of approximately 3.5% on average.
You do not have to buy directly from Disney. One way to keep your costs down is to purchase your ownership via the resale market.
Buying Disney Vacation Club has never been easier. There are many options from buying directly from Disney, through the resale market, or even purchasing from a friend or family member who no longer wants their membership.
Buying from Disney is the easiest method that will give you the quickest access to your points. However this is the most expensive option. You are also limited to which resorts you can purchase at. While you can purchase at any Disney Vacation Club resort, the resorts that are considered sold out will require more time as there are waiting lists. Another plus is easy financing. You can get a loan easily with a not-so-great interest rate.
Purchasing your Ownership Interest via the resale market is a great way to save money on your purchase. There are many real estate brokers that specialize in the sale of timeshares. You can easily save 30% versus buying from Disney. Many times you can get close to the 50% mark. The process is more time consuming. One reason is that Disney has the Right of First Refusal. This means each sale Disney gets to look at the offer and if they have the opportunity to purchase the contract first at the accepted offer. Disney does exercise this right. As owners it is a benefit that keeps the resale market prices higher. As purchasers, it doesn’t allow for many great bargains to be had.
The other negative of buying from the resale market is that the points in these contracts are not eligible for use in some of the Members Getaways options such as the Disney Collection and the Concierge Collection. Member Getaways are ways to use your points at non-DVC resorts. On the plus side, resale market purchased memberships are still available for use with the World Collection that includes RCI, Club Cordial, and Club Intrawest.
Your Ownership Interest is represented with a deed filed at the Orange County Florida Comptroller. You can sell this ownership at any time. Disney has the Right of First Refusal. Make certain that you are following Disney’s protocol when it comes time to sell.
Who Should Buy DVC?
This is my opinion here. Disney Vacation Club should be considered an option for any family that plans to take a vacation with a stay in a DVC resort at least once every other year for the next 30 years. Also if you would stay in a moderate or deluxe level resort or higher on Disney property you are a great candidate. If you are typically at a value resort or like staying offsite in a vacation home, this might not work out mathematically for you.
As I continue to improve the website, I will definitely be adding resources to help make this decision. Make certain to sign up for the newsletter to stay up to date.
Do not purchase if these are your motives:
– Investment. This is not a true real estate purchase. Membership expires and while many who bought early could now sell at a profit; that is not the case for the rest of us.
– You plan to trade to use other timeshares and resorts around the world in the Member Getaways. The trades to other properties are a nice perk. They are not the best use of your timeshare point. You would be better off in most cases renting your points for the year and taking the cash to book your other vacation.
– Being a Disney Vacation Club member will GUARANTEE that I have a room over New Year’s or at any time I want to travel. My caution here is that owning DVC does not promise you a room. You need to plan in advance. During busy times of the year, you can find all the DVC rooms are booked up. DVC does sell fixed week options which is like a traditional timeshare. You buy the points needed for the stay of the same week each year. This options comes at a premium of additional points required and only at the newer resorts (Aulani, Grand Floridian, and Polynesian Resort and Bungalows). With this option you could secure a specific week each year.
Member Getaways are vacation exchanges that allow even more flexibility to your Disney Vacation Club membership. Typically when booking these accommodations, there is a $95 non-refundable charge. However, there are some exceptions there as well.
Member Getaways come in one of three collections.
This collection is all your fun Disney Resorts (including International locations like Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Paris), Disney Cruise Line, and Adventures by Disney.
Here you will find a small selection of superior resorts. These resorts were selected to provide members with high-end choices in popular destinations around the World. Royal Garden Hotel in London, Mandarin Oriental in Washington DC, and The Fairmont in San Francisco.
Thousands of choices are available in the collection. Through RCI there are weekly and nightly exchanges available. Also there are resorts available through Club Cordial and Club Intrawest.
As owners of Disney Vacation Club, you have several discounts and fun experiences available to you. These range in the 10-20% on dining, merchandise, and recreation. The last couple of years DVC has started offering member exclusive events such as : Beach Bash over at Typhoon Lagoon, Fireworks Cruises, Disney Cruise Line Member Cruises, and member nights at Splittsville.
Here is a link to all the great perks currently being offered.
A great perk offered at the moment is Tables In Wonderland card. This allows for 20% savings at a large number of Walt Disney World owned restaurants including alcoholic beverages. It does cost $100 to purchase for an annual card. That means you would need to purchase more than $500 to get a value from this card. $500 is easy for my family to accumulate on vacation, so this card should really be considered for all DVC owners.
Also keep in my mind that DVC Members can book DVC resorts with a 25% discount from rack rates. Members call this booking with cash. It is a nice way to extend your vacation or include family and friends if there is no other promotions from central reservations available.
There is a vibrant Disney Vacation Club rental market. Owners who are not going to be using their points can rent points to a 3rd party. The contract at the time of purchase for Disney Vacation Club only stipulates that the purchase of the Ownership Interest cannot be for commercial purposes. Many owners are concerned that Disney will frown upon them renting their points. However an owner who is only renting points when they are not able to vacation is not doing so for commercial purposes. In my opinion, this merely recouping the maintenance fees and capital expense of the points used.
People chose to rent DVC points for the savings. It is easy to save 30-50% off of rack rate by renting points. The DVC villas are often a part of promotional discounts offered by Disney’s Central Reservations, but availability is small. By renting the points, it allows greater options and booking further in advance.
Renting points does have some cons. As an owner, you have to find the renter, collect payment, and handle adding dining and magical express for them. Disney Vacation Club will not speak with the renter since they are not owners. The owners must do all the communications with Disney. However, once the reservation is made, the renter can setup their own My Disney Experience account and add the reservation.
The big issue with renting points is TRUST. The owner has to trust that the person they are renting to will not destroy the room, or check-out of the resort and not pay any in-room charges. The owner is responsible if anything happens. The renter has to trust that the reservation will be there. That the owner will not cancel the reservation without them knowing; leaving the renter without a place to stay.
As an owner looking to rent your points, there are several options to find a renter.
– Ask Friends and family. There’s usually someone in your circle wanting to take that Disney vacation.
– Use a rental broker. These services help match owners up to renters and handle the financial transactions between the parties. They usually charge a fee of $2-3 per point taken from the owner’s amount received.
– Message boards. There are several message boards that have places where owners can offer up their points to rent. Mouseowners.com and the DISboards.com are 2 common places to look. Read the instructions on the boards carefully as there is typically a process that needs to be followed.
One last thing I want to cover in this section is transferring points. A member can transfer points to another member. This transaction requires both members to be on the phone or available to talk with member services at the time of the transfer. One transfer (either in or out) can take place on an Owner’s account per year. Transferred points retain their original status and do not take on the characteristics of the new owner’s contract.
For example: An owner at Aulani transfers 100 points with a December Use Year to an owner at Bay Lake Tower. The Bay Lake Tower owner must treat these points exactly as the Aulani owner would. The Aulani points can be booked at Aulani at the 11 month mark, but at any other resort at the 7 month mark. The points can be banked into the next Use Year by Jul 31(the 8 month mark of the Use Year).
You can add one of the three Disney Dining Plans to your Disney Vacation Club Resort Stay. The dining plan must be added to your reservation at least 48 hours prior to your arrival at the resort.
Adults are $41.99 per night
Kids ages 3-9 are $16.03 per night
This plan includes per night stay: 2 quick-service meals, 1 snack, and 1 refillable mug per person for the length of stay.
Adults are $60.64 per night
Kids ages 3-9 are $19.23 per night
This plan includes per night stay: 1 quick-service meal, 1 table-service meal, 1 snack, and 1 refillable mug per person for the length of stay.
Adults are $109.53 per night
Kids ages 3-9 are $29.86 per night
This plan includes per night stay: 3 meals and 2 snacks, and 1 refillable mug per person for the length of stay. There is no distinction between quick-service and table-service on this plan. You can feel free to eat at either. For the price, you would get more value for your money eating at table-service locations as much as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the importance of a Home Resort?
The home resort is where your Ownership Interest is deeded. The importance comes in the accommodation booking window. You can book at your home resort at the 11 month mark from your check-in date. To book at your non-home resort, you must wait until the 7 month mark from your check-in date.
Does it matter which resort I purchase my ownership interest?
Maybe. If your family has very specific vacation needs at a specific resort and can plan 8-11 months before your check-in date, then yes. It matters where you purchase. The advice of “Buy where you want to stay” is great advice. If your family is not picky about a resort, and typically plan 2-3 months before vacation, then no. Make your purchase decision based upon a balance of location and cost of ownership. I use the phrase cost of ownership specifically because you need to factor in the annual maintenance fees. Over the course of your membership, your maintenance fees are larger financial contributor than the purchase price.
What are the penalties for cancelling a reservation?
If cancelling a reservation 31+ days from check-in there is no penalty. If cancelling a reservation 1 – 30 days from check-in, the points are put into a holding account. The holding account points can only be used for reservation with a check-in date less than 60 days in advance.
What if I don’t have enough points to book the reservation I want?
You can borrow from your next Use Year. Reminder this is an irreversible transaction so make certain it is the route you want to go. The other option is to use One Time Use Points. By calling Member Services to book your reservation, you can add up to 24 points to your account for the reservation. Disney charges $15 per point ($13.33 for the point and $1.67 in tax). If for some reason you need to cancel your reservation, the One Time Use Points retain the Use Year of the reservation and are not able to be banked. The limit is 24 One Time Use Points per Use Year.
What are the banking and borrowing rules?
Banking (saving points for the next year) and borrowing (using points early) are irreversible transactions. Unused points must be banked into the next Use Year by the end of the eighth month of the Use Year. If you borrow points to book a reservation, those points then are permanently apart of the Use Year of that reservation. If the reservation is cancelled those points still remain in the Use Year they were moved to and cannot be banked into the next Use Year if unused. On a positive note, when a new reservation is made, the banked and borrowed points are always used first by the reservation system to help minimize wasted points
What are my options if my points are about to expire and I don’t want to use them for a vacation?
If you have points that are not going to be used, then try to bank them to the next Use Year if possible. If you have missed the banking window, your next option would be to look into renting or transferring the points. You can also deposit your points into the RCI exchange for use at a later date. Once points are deposited into RCI, you have 24 months then to use them. Adding points to RCI is an irreversible transaction, but it is a nice way to extend the life of points that may otherwise be lost.
Why are the Member Getaways not a good value?
Member Getaways are typically not a good value because the points Disney requests is pretty extravagant. Let’s look at Disney Cruise Line for an example.
I will pick the lowest point value in the category for the example and this is based upon the 2015 point guide.
2 adults on the 7-night Easter Caribbean sailing on the Disney Fantasy for the date November 7, 2015 in a deluxe stateroom with verandah is 422 points. As of 8/1/2015 on Disney Cruise Lines website the cost of this cruise is $3,782.
Instead of using your points, you rent them. At the moment an owner can easily rent their points and receive $13 per point. 422 points multiplied by $13 per point would give you $5,486. By booking your cruise with cash, you will have $1,704 left over. This looks like shore excursion money to me.
If there is a Member Getaway you are thinking about using, do this analysis and you will probably see that renting your points is the better option.
Does it matter which Use Year I have?
In my opinion yes. You are not allowed to bank points in the last 4 months of your Use Year. With this in mind you do not want a Use Year where the last 4 months would be in the timeframe you typically expect to travel. This is important if you would need to cancel a vacation and couldn’t rebook before the end of your Use Year. Your points would be stuck because you wouldn’t be able to bank them.
If you are the type that never cancels reservations, then your Use Year wouldn’t matter as much.
If I purchase an additional membership, can I change my Use Year?
When purchasing directly from Disney, they will keep the same Use Year of your original membership. If purchasing from the resale market you can purchase a membership with a different Use Year.
Is Disney Vacation Club a good fit for my family?
You should check out the Who Should Buy DVC section. If you plan to vacation at a Disney Vacation Club Resort at least every other year for the next 30 years, I think you should start doing the math.
How many points should I buy?
Estimate where you want to stay, the number of nights and time of year. Find the points you will need. Now consider if this is a vacation for every year, every other year, etc? This will give you a rough estimate of what you may need. One word of caution is, at least for my family, the larger accommodations are addicting. Having a one bedroom with the full kitchen and whirlpool bath are amazing. You might want to add a little extra points to your estimate just to be on the safe side.
Can I use Magical Express and My Disney Experience work with DVC?
Both My Disney Experience and Magical Express are available to members. Once you book and have your reservation number, you can manually add your reservation to My Disney Experience.
You can also add Magical Express by filling out this form at least 10 days prior to travel. https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/airport-transportation-reservation/
Can I leave my Ownership Interest to a loved one in my will?
Yes. This is a deed real estate interest and is treated as other property for your will.
Can I report the part of maintenance fees that goes to property taxes on my tax return?
Consult your tax advisor first, but generally the answer is yes.
How can I look up a deed at the Orange County Comptroller’s website?
How many points can a family own?
Disney Vacation Development limits the number of points of ownership to 2,000 per resort or to 5,000 aggregate over several resorts. The need for the restriction is due to residency laws. You can legally live a Disney Vacation Club resort as your primary residence. (Although that sounds pretty awesome to me.)