We have owned points in Disney Vacation Club for several years now. I get asked about it A LOT so I thought I’d do a quick post reviewing our experience, sharing a couple things we’ve learned, and what we would do differently if we had it to do over!
We purchased our contract from a resale broker (if you call Jason at The Timeshare Store tell him I said hi. Great experience with them). It was MUCH cheaper then purchasing directly from Disney but this was before the most recent restrictions, so be aware of what you don’t get if you purchase from anyone other than Disney. To us, it still would have been worth it to go resale, but you may have different objectives so just be aware of the restrictions.
Here’s what we’ve learned:
If you think you can buy at one resort and stay wherever you want, you may be in for a surprise. There is an 11 month and a 7 month booking window. At your “home” resort, you can reserve at 11 months. If you want to stay somewhere else, you can only book 7 months in advance. And if you try to book too close to travel, there may be ZERO availability. That’s right – it’s perfectly normal for there to be nothing available. In my opinion, DVC isn’t for you if you are a last minute type vacationer.
Having said that, even though our home resort is Vero Beach, so far we have stayed at Beach Club, Saratoga Springs, Boardwalk, Old Key West, and Animal Kingdom Kidani Villas. But we are planners, so right at that 7 month mark I’m always jennifer on the spot (if we’re trying to stay at WDW – obviously for our Vero trips we are all set as that is our “home”).
There’s no housekeeping if you stay less than 8 nights. This actually does not bother me – they do “trash and towel” service every 4 days, there’s a communal trash can to dump your junk when you need to, and we’ve never had any trouble asking housekeeping for additional towels when we really needed them (or I just wash them in our washer and dryer!) even though you’re supposed to be charged for that. There’s also a vacuum cleaner and a broom and dustpan should your family get messy, and if you REALLY want it, you can pay $30 and they’ll come do a full cleaning. But for us, housekeeping always seemed to come right when we wanted to be in the room for a break during the day, so not having to worry about that is kind of nice.
It’s kind of a hassle to keep up with your points. If you don’t use them, you loose them. So you do have to do a bit of “admin” work to be sure they don’t go to waste. Disney will send you reminders when your banking deadline is coming near (the date by which you must have banked any points you won’t be using for the next use year), but truly, you do have to be sure you use them all.
There are RULES. Lots of RULES. For example, you can transfer points in from another member but only once a year, you can buy 24 additional points for cash if you don’t have enough points but only if you call member services and only once a year, if you cancel too close to your reservation your points have to be used within a very short window . . .etc, etc, etc. You have to do your homework and know what you’re doing, especially if you want to get the full benefit out of your points (I like doing Disney homework so this doesn’t bother me).
Dues aren’t nothing. In fact, for many people, if you’re happy staying in a moderate hotel room you won’t save any money on your lodging by buying DVC. But if you’re a larger family and need the extra space, or if you just LIKE the deluxe resorts, it really does make sense. Just remember that even after you own your points, you have to pay those dues EVERY year. Also, if you need to use financing, your savings can quickly get eaten up with interest. So just do your math.
Now onto some of the GREAT things:
- You have the points, so you’re going to use them. At least we do. So that means we ARE taking vacations. Even the years where money has been tight, we’ve known that our Disney vacation is something we can fit into the budget. I love knowing that family time is protected.
- There’s a great sense of community among members. I love being on Magical Express and seeing a member pin or bag or shirt and chatting about home resorts and where you’ve stayed and don’t you love it . . . you get the picture.
- You can change how you use your points as your family grows and then shrinks and then grows again. Right now, while all 5 of us are still going on vacation, we are typically using all of our available points and borrowing from the following year. But once the boys have flown the coop, Scott and I may find ourselves going more frequently but staying in a studio instead of a 2 bedroom. Once the grandkids come, we may have to bank and borrow so we can use 3 years of points and pay for a grand villa at Vero for EVERYONE (this is my dream, btw).
- You have a kitchen and a washer and dryer. With a larger family I just cannot emphasize how vital this is. We save a fortune by having breakfast in the villa each day and if you’ve ever been to Orlando you know that sweaty and stinky are sort of part of the deal – especially with 3 boys – so that washer and dryer are a life (and nose) saver.
- I also love having a landing spot that feels like home. When we are at Vero, it’s a great place to hang out after the end of a great beach day, and when we’re at Disney, it’s wonderful to have a place to hang out and get away from the crowds for awhile! And when we’ve just had enough, ordering pizza and watching a movie fits the bill perfectly (wouldn’t really work if we were all crowded in one hotel room).
- And, as sappy as it sounds, I like owning part of the magic. I know, I know, I don’t REALLY own it, but I kinda do and it makes me feel like part of the Disney family, which has been a dream since childhood. And how can you really put a price on that? (husband is screaming in the background WE ARE NOT ADDING ON ANYMORE POINTS!)
Happy to answer any questions you may have!! Let me know in the comments below.