If you’ve been to a Disney Resort or Park, you’ve probably heard the acronym DVC thrown around. Perhaps you’ve walked past one of the many DVC kiosks throughout the parks and resorts. Or maybe you’ve driven behind someone with a DVC bumper sticker? Or better yet, maybe you know someone who seems to go to Disney more times than should be financially possible.
That last point there is the kicker. Disney World/Disneyland/Aulani- you name it, it’s an expensive vacation. For many people, a once-in-a-lifetime-type expense. Heavens knows, I had never been to Disney before adulthood. Who can afford it and afford it on a regular basis? That’s the question we asked ourselves before we bought a Disney Vacation Club contract.
Jon and I had been on a handful of vacations before we took the plunge. My husband is a numbers guy and he was quickly realizing that with the cost of the trips we were taking, it only made sense to look into a DVC membership.
Don’t get me wrong- I was skeptical, at best. A timeshare? With Disney? Yeah, good luck selling me a timeshare. I’m not a timeshare person. I’m that person that constantly feels like someone is going to scam you, lie to your face, you know- like a sleazy used car salesperson. That’s what I was envisioning. Now that you know where my head was at… we set up an appointment and tour to learn more about the whole shebang.
I will say this, even if you aren’t going to buy into the Disney Vacation Club, it’s worth going on a tour because they do it right and they take care of you. We were staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge and DVC set up a special van to pick us up. It had a carseat for Meryl and they drove us directly to the Polynesian Resort. My angel of a MIL whisked Meryl off to Magic Kingdom and we started our tour.
They showed us around the property, we were able to see inside the rooms and it’s just so beautiful, it really is. I’ve said it multiple times and I’ll say it again, we could not afford to pay the regular room rate to stay somewhere like the Polynesian. It’s just too exorbitant and would remain a pipe dream- until we became Members.
After we said yes, filled out the paperwork and just stared around smiling, a private van brought us over to the entrance to Magic Kingdom and we were informed that we had 3 VIP Fast Passes loaded onto our accounts, for everyone on our reservation! Not. Too. Shabby. We also received a $100 Disney Gift Card!
How does it work?
You purchase an allotment of points. In order to get the benefits that come along with being a DVC Member, you must purchase a minimum of 50 points. The points cost a certain dollar amount per point. For example, if the cost was $100/point and you purchased 50 points, you’d sign for a contract of $5,000. Financing is available through Disney for contracts of 50 points+. This makes it really manageable if you can’t pay the total upfront. Is the interest rate good? No. Can you refinance and get a much more reasonable rate? Yes.
Now, you have your points. It’s time to book a vacation. Like I mentioned, not a huge timeshare fan, but it’s my understanding with most timeshares, you get an assigned week to vacation every year. I knew I didn’t want that, and that’s why Disney is awesome. You can use your points to stay on Disney property any night of the year. There are no assigned weeks/days/etc. The calendar is split into seasons- I know you’re like “umm..yeah, Sarah. We know. This isn’t preschool.” No, no, no! Disney seasons are wayyyy different than the normal seasons. We have Adventure Season, Choice Season, Dream Season, Magic Season, and Premier Season. Each season the point values differ per room/night- with weekdays being less points than weekend days. So you can pick any day of the year to stay, it might just cost you more points per night depending on when you’re going. For example, you’re going to use a lot more points to stay during Christmas than in September.
Where/when can I book?
There is a Disney Vacation Club website, where you use your Disney/ESPN login and you can book your stays right there. When you purchase your contract, you’re purchasing at a specific resort, which will be your Home Resort. Our Home Resort is the Polynesian Villas and Bungalows. Because that is our Home, we get an earlier booking window there. You are allowed to book at your Home Resort 11 months in advance. Once you hit the 7-month window to your trip date, then reservations are opened up to any DVC member.
Here’s an example: If we know we want to stay at the Polynesian, we will book our vacation at the 11 month window. If we want to go in December, we will book that trip in January of the same year. However, if we want to stay at a different DVC resort, such as the Contemporary or Grand Floridian, then we can’t book until 7 months prior. For a December trip, we would look to book our stay in May.
How do the points work exactly?
Gee, I’m glad you asked. One of the cool things about the points system is that you can borrow and bank your points so you don’t lose them. When you sign your contract, you are assigned a use year. Our use year is October, so every October, we get a new allotment of points to use for that next 12 months.
If you aren’t a family/person that envisions taking a Disney trip once a year or multiple times a year, but instead could see yourself going every 2 or 3 years, this is where being able to bank your points comes in handy. You can bank the points you aren’t going to use into the next use year, effectively doubling your points. This way, you could take a bigger vacation the next year because you now have double the points to use.
To take it a step further, if you wanted to take a trip every 3 years, you could bank your points from the current year for the following year and then when you book your trip, you can borrow your total or some of your allotment from the future year and you’d have 3x your point total to work with.
What I’m saying is that you really have the flexibility to use your points in many ways so that it fits your families needs.
Can I only use my points in Disney World?
Nope! Isn’t that awesome? You can use your points to stay at the Grand Californian at Disneyland, at Aulani Resort and Spa in Hawaii, or any of the DVC resorts on Walt Disney World property. You can also convert your points to stay at the hotels at the various other Disneyland properties around the world or the non-DVC resorts at WDW.
In addition to the Disney properties, you can use your points to stay at a variety of RCI resorts around the world, so you’re not just stuck taking a Disney vacation every year!
What are the benefits that come with being a DVC Member?
There really are so many benefits, so I’m just going to highlight a few!
I think the best benefit that we’ve taken advantage of is discounted Annual Passes. If you’ve been to Disney World, you know that the park tickets and park hopper passes add up very quickly. As a Member, we are eligible to purchase the Gold Pass, which is usually just available to Florida Residents. An Annual Pass comes with another slew of benefits, so it’s been great to have!
Another perk we constantly take advantage of is a discount on merchandise and food. For the most part, we can get 20% off all Disney merch across the parks and resorts and there are other discounts at select Disney Springs locations. There is also a list of restaurants across property where we get a discount on dining, anywhere from 10-20%, which is always great to be able to use.
One benefit that we need to use more is discounts on select tours and parties. We have used the discount for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and you can also get discounts on various tours in the parks and activities during the many festivals that take place in Epcot. DVC also puts on free Moonlight Magic events throughout the year at all of the parks that you can RSVP for and attend at no cost. At these events, the parks are closed to outside guests and there are exclusive character meet and greets, exclusive merchandise, and you get to ride your favorite rides with minimal wait times and get free snacks and drinks! Jon and I will be checking out one of these events in May, so look for a future post on how it went!
A perk my mother has taken advantage many times now, as a Member, you get access to free laundry on site at each of the DVC resorts. When you’re traveling with 2 sticky kids, who fall asleep with lollipops stuck to their face and shirt, access to a washer and dryer is awesome! And you can pack less clothing- hahahahahaha yeah, right. I overpack like it’s my job.
Lastly, DVC Members have access to lounges at Bay Lake Tower (Top of the World Lounge) and Imagination Lounge (Epcot). Top of the World Lounge is a great bar with amazing food and drinks and it has an amazing view of Magic Kingdom, making it the perfect place to watch the fireworks! And Imagination Lounge is a must-stop for us every single time we visit Epcot. It’s a great place to cool off and kick up your feet. Located in the Imagination Pavilion, it’s spacious and has places to charge your phone, grab a free drink from the Coke Freestyle machines, make some coffee or tea, and a Cast Member even comes around with a complimentary snack cart!
Is DVC right for me?
Well that’s up to you to decide, right? If you’re a Disney nut, or love Disney enough that you want to visit every few years then I’d strongly consider it. If you’re a “do it once and I’m good” type person, then perhaps not. My advice is if you find yourself on a trip to Disney World, take a tour. Take the hour, and make the appointment, hear the spiel, ask your questions and then make the decision. There are almost always perks that come along with booking the tour, so I think it’s worth it for the gift card or fast passes alone!
In a nutshell…
- Yes, it’s a timeshare, but you can stay any day of the year, no set weeks or days.
- You purchase an annual allotment of points and financing is available.
- You can book your vacations online. 11 months in advance at your Home Resort and 7 months in advance at all other DVC resorts.
- Banking and borrowing points is an option which allows you to take a larger vacation less frequently.
- You can use your points at RCI resorts around the world.
- So many member perks!
- Book a tour!
Still have questions? Send me a message or comment below! You know what? Comment anyways and let me know what you thought! 🙂