Disney Vacation Club Buying Guide


If you travel to Walt Disney World or Disneyland and are able to see or hear, you probably are familiar with Disney’s “Best” Kept Secret: Disney Vacation Club (or “DVC” as the cool kids call it). Disney Vacation Club 2014 prices are higher than ever, making many wonder whether buying into Disney Vacation Club is actually a good idea for their families.

Like a lot of frequent Disney vacationers, at one time or another, you’ve probably wondered whether Disney Vacation Club is right for you. Maybe you’ve taken a tour, maybe you’ve done some research online on one of the great resources such as MouseOwners.com or DVCNews.com. Heck, maybe you’ve even crunched the numbers yourself!

If you’ve considered purchasing Disney Vacation Club, one of the biggest considerations, no doubt, is whether it makes good economic sense. Unfortunately, as with almost everything in life there is no definitive answer to this question that fits everyone. From a purely economic perspective, Disney Vacation Club will not make sense for a lot of people. However, it’s worth reading on to see if it makes financial sense for you, or if there are other compelling reasons for you to make the purchase.

As mentioned above, if your main reason for purchasing an interest in Disney Vacation Club is to save money, whether it’s a good deal for you depends of your party size and resort tier preference. Contrary to Disney’s claim that Disney Vacation Club will save you “70% off” of future resort stays, this is not actually the case. If this were true, do you really think Disney would actually be offering the program–and that it would be wildly profitable for the company? Sure, Disney might take a bit of a hit to guarantee that you will be a loyal customer for years to come, but 70% off?! As we all learned in grade school, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Disney’s 70% savings number assumes things that aren’t realistic to reality, such as paying rack rate in the most expensive Disney hotels and no return on investment for the (unfinanced) money invested in Disney Vacation Club. Even assuming these things, I’m still not quite sure how Disney arrives at its 70% off number, especially in 2014 when DVC direct prices are substantially more than they were just a few years ago. I think it might be equal parts magic and advertising puffery, but I’m not entirely sure.

It’s also worth noting that Disney Vacation Club is a pre-paid vacation plan, which differs slightly from the traditional definition of a timeshare. In the strictest sense, Disney Vacation Club can be viewed as an asset, but not a tangible one. This is an important distinction to some people, but it doesn’t matter to a lot of people.



Is Disney Vacation Club A Good Fit?

Accommodations Preferences – This is the threshold question, because if you’re (voluntarily) a Values and Moderates type person, Disney Vacation Club may never make financial sense for you. However, it can be a difficult question to answer, because it’s tough to anticipate your vacationing habits in the future. If you only roll Deluxe, and anticipate demanding posh accommodations in the future, Disney Vacation Club might be right for you. If you presently have kids or anticipate soon having kids, and are tired of sleeping in the same small quarters with them at a Moderate Resort Disney Vacation Club, and its wonderful one-bedroom units, may be right for you as it gives you the option to separate yourself from the kids at night! Similarly, if you have to book two or more rooms at a Value or Moderate, it might be for you…

Even if you enjoy Deluxe Resorts, Disney Vacation Club still might not be right for you if you can’t stand the idea of MouseKeeping not cleaning your room daily. Conversely, if you like the idea of being able to do your laundry, prepare a meal in your in-room kitchen, utilize free in-room internet, or enjoy a whole host of other “home-away-from-home” amenities, Disney Vacation Club may be right for you. To us, this isn’t a big deal at all, as we actually prefer MouseKeeping not coming into our room.

If you are a commando park tourer who primarily books All Star Movies, find the Value Resorts acceptable, and you stay up until all hours of the night and get up for rope drop daily, Disney Vacation Club may not be a good option for you. This is for two reasons. First, because the initial cost of Disney Vacation Club plus the cost of the annual maintenance fees will be higher than the sum of the yearly cost of a room at a Value Resort over the life of the Disney Vacation Club contract, assuming reasonable price increases of those rooms and factoring for the time value of money (not factoring in a reasonable discount off of rack rate for the Value Resort, which you will presumably receive; once you factor this in, the results are even more lopsided). Second, because you simply don’t need one of the vacation-home style rooms offered by Disney Vacation Club.

That said, even if you do presently stay at Value Resorts, after one stay at a Disney Vacation Club resort, you may be hooked. For many people, it’s one of those, “I didn’t realize what I was missing until I tried it” scenarios. Our first stay at the BoardWalk Villas definitely made it tough for us to stay in Value accommodations again! If you’re not sure whether Disney Vacation Club accommodations will be a good fit, rent Disney Vacation Club points! There are a number of sites from which you can rent points, and they offer a cheap way to ‘get your feet wet’ with DVC, so to speak. You can also book Deluxe Villas from Disney directly, although this isn’t as cost-effective.

Have had a lot of questions about Disney Vacation Club recently, but can't think of any new articles to write to help answer them. What would YOU like to see me cover with regard to DVC?Needs to be something NOT covered in these two articles: www.disneytouristblog.com/disney-vacation-club-resort-rankings/http://www.disneytouristblog.com/disney-vacation-club-reviews/

Advance Planning – If you can’t regularly plan your vacations 7 months or more in advance, and Saratoga Springs Resort and Old Key West Resort, which are typically the two resorts that fill up last, aren’t acceptable resorts to you, then Disney Vacation Club may not be right for you. During various times of year, popular Disney Vacation Club resorts fill up quickly. In fact, during the Christmas season, it can be difficult to get even Saratoga and Old Key West inside of 7 months. If you can plan more than 7 months in advance, DVC is probably a good fit.

Disney Vacationing Frequency – Thanks to the banking and borrowing system, it isn’t necessary to take a Disney vacation every year. However, to make DVC a pragmatic option, you pretty much must visit WDW or DLR once every two or three years. Using DVC points for non-DVC vacations offers terrible value. Since many DVC contracts expire in 2054, you better hope the Mouse won’t break your heart anytime soon. Although if he does, selling your contract on the resale market is an option, and thanks to Disney’s Right of First Refusal, contracts retain a somewhat inflated value on the resale market.

Even this isn’t a hard rule. A lot of Disney Vacation Club owners who aren’t able to use their annual allotment of points safely rent them out through point-rental businesses, such as the DVC Rental Store. The amount owners can make through point rental is usually more than enough to pay for accommodations elsewhere!

DVC Resorts – Trading DVC points into the RCI system or using them for Disney Cruise Line or Adventures By Disney vacations is not a smart use of points. Using DVC points at non-DVC resorts is also a poor use of points. If you buy into Disney Vacation Club thinking that you might cash-in your Disney Vacation Club points for any of these options every once in a while, you are going to have a difficult time getting adequate value out of your membership. With Disney Vacation Club’s rapid growth in the past several years, with the Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort now open, and new DVC units as much as confirmed at the Polynesian Resort and one also possibly on the way at Fort Wilderness, resort choices only look to improve in the coming years. That said, it’s important to like the resort choices that already exist as Disney Vacation Club resorts, and, as will be discussed below, it’s important to like your home resort.

We have a separate article detailing the “Best Uses of Disney Vacation Points,” that elaborates on why you shouldn’t use DVC points for cruises or Adventures by Disney, how to rent them out, and when to use them to get the most bang for your membership buck!

Extraneous Benefits – Disney Vacation Club Members get discounts on Annual Passes and receive free D23 Memberships. There are several Members-Only DVC pins, events, a small magazine mailed to members, and other offerings throughout the year as well. It is important to note that none of these things are contractual rights, so Disney is free to terminate or reduce these perks at any time. A “Membership Magic” promotion for 2014 gives Disney Vacation Club members discounts on Disneyland, Walt Disney World, and the coast-to-coast Premier Annual Passes. It’s expected that Disney will offer more perks to Disney Vacation Club members to entice them to visit the Disney parks, rather than making trips to Universal Orlando to see Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Disney Vacation Club members may also purchase a Tables in Wonderland card for $100, which is another new benefit offered to Disney Vacation Club members.

It’s important to note from the outset that all of the monetary considerations below assume that you are purchasing Disney Vacation Club via the resale market. This is the ‘best case scenario’ and definitely the way to buy into DVC given the presently high prices direct from Disney. The incentives Disney offers for direct-from-Disney DVC purchases rarely make sense. If saving money is your paramount concern, you should always purchase from the resale market. Before making a purchase, you should crunch the numbers to determine what your vacation costs would be for the next 40 years if you do purchase DVC and if you don’t. Since these numbers will vary widely for everyone researching the matter (based on party size, at which type of resort you’d prefer to stay, etc.), it’s difficult for me to offer sample calculations here. Instead, I’ll offer a few important considerations to make sure you take into account when doing the math.

Before coming to any conclusion, though, make sure you read past the ‘Hard Economics’ section, as there are many compelling reasons to purchase DVC that go beyond the numbers!

Financing Disney Vacation Club – Once you get past the important threshold questions, it’s time to start crunching the numbers. Whether you have to finance Disney Vacation Club is an incredibly important question and definitely shouldn’t be glossed over. If you have to finance your Disney Vacation Club purchase, any potential savings are quickly wiped out by the interest you pay on the purchase. Interest will vary from purchaser to purchaser, but it’s a very important consideration. Unless the intangible reasons that will be discussed below strongly apply to you, I would highly advise anyone considering a purchase of Disney Vacation Club who would have to finance it not to make the purchase.

Time Value of Money – If you don’t have to finance your purchase, Disney Vacation Club should look a lot more appealing, but there still is a pitfall. Based on what I’ve read, this is the most frequently overlooked aspect of any equation when people are crunching the numbers on Disney Vacation Club. Even if you’re not financing, the time-value of money, which is the principle that money at the present time is worth more than the same amount in the future due to its earning capacity over the course of time, makes any claim by Disney that you’ll actually save 70% with Disney Vacation Club highly specious.

Disney's Contemporary Resort and Magic Kingdom as viewed from Bay Lake Tower. Here's the view of the Fantasy in the Sky (New Year's Eve) fireworks from up there: http://www.disneytouristblog.com/fantasy-in-the-sky-disney-world-fireworks-photo/

To illustrate this principle, imagine you have $1 today. If you invest that dollar today with in something with a 6% yearly rate of return, and let it sit for 20 years, at the end of that 20 year period, that dollar is worth $3.21. Since you’re paying for all of your future Disney Vacation Club vacations up front as opposed to when they occur, large portions of the initial investment in Disney Vacation Club could be invested in other ways (with a similar return on investment rate, if not better) if you were instead paying for your room each year as you vacationed. The calculations here can be pretty complex given that you can’t take that entire initial investment and perform a time value of money calculation on it to determine what it would be worth in 10, 20, or even 40 years, as you would be paying out portions of that initial investment each year for your hotel stays. That said, by even doing rough math here, you should get a pretty good idea of the “actual” cost of Disney Vacation Club. Now, if you have suitcases full of one-hundred dollar bills sitting under your bed that you wouldn’t invest anyway, maybe this is not a consideration for you.

Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa – No, this isn’t in the wrong area. If you’re interested in maximizing the economics of Disney Vacation Club, it’s almost a requirement that you be willing to purchase a contract that has Saratoga Springs as the home resort. The reasons here are three-fold. First, it frequently has the lowest per-point cost of any of the Walt Disney World-based resorts. Second, even when other resorts are lower in per-point costs, they’re higher in per-point maintenance costs, which is more important than the initial cost-difference. Saratoga Springs has the lowest per-point maintenance costs among the resorts with the cheapest initial contract per-point costs. Finally, the contract expires in 2054, which is 12 years later than many of the other cheaper contracts. Of course, if you buy at Saratoga, that means your 11-month window is at Saratoga (and not a more desirable resort), but we seldom have an issue with this (we’ve never been “stuck” at Saratoga since we’ve been DVC members). In fact, as new Disney Vacation Club properties have and will open at the Grand Floridian and Polynesian, Saratoga and Old Key West (two of the largest and least popular DVC properties) points are effectively diluted as those properties now account for a lower percentage of the total Disney Vacation Club points. In other words (if that doesn’t make sense), as more Disney Vacation Club resorts open, the less difficult it becomes to book at resorts that aren’t Saratoga Springs or Old Key West.

Locking In Your Vacation Costs – One of the huge benefits of Disney Vacation Club is locking in prices for future vacations. In other words, you know up front what your vacations will cost for the next forty years or so (depending on the expiration date of your DVC contract). This is something you can’t accurately predict without DVC, but one thing you can predict is that room prices directly from Disney will increase. Depending on how dramatically these prices increase, you could realize significant savings by purchasing Disney Vacation Club. When performing your calculations, make sure to account for this yearly increase in room rates you’d be paying if booking a room from Disney each year rather than using your DVC membership.

Non-Economic Considerations

Okay, I wrote up a lot of “stuff” above, and it’s funny to think that one sentence can wipe away all of that, but it very well might. That sentence is, “will owning Disney Vacation Club increase my quality of life?” If the answer to this question is yes, all of the economic considerations in the world may very well be meaningless. It may be a good idea to purchase DVC anyway.

If things, such as the “Welcome Home” doormats, Disney Files Magazine showing up in your mailbox, going to bed at night knowing your vacations are partially paid in advance for the next 40-some years, the “forced vacation” aspect, owning a piece of the Magic, or being able to share trips with friends and family in awesome and unique accommodations are a big deal to you or will make you happier, then you might want to disregard everything I’ve written above. As with everything in life, “happiness” is that ace-up-the-sleeve trump card that can render everything else meaningless. Quite simply, you can’t put a price tag on happiness and peace of mind.

Try Before You Buy!

We highly recommend trying Disney Vacation Club before you buy to see if it’s right for you. You can either do this by booking a Deluxe Villa directly from Disney or by renting Disney Vacation Club points. We highly recommend renting Disney Vacation Club points, as you will save considerably over booking directly from Disney (typical savings over even a discounted Deluxe Villa price are around 50%) and you will get the true “Owner” experience. We have a separate guide to renting DVC points, so check it out if you want more information about the process!

For renting points, there are a few options. The most popular is renting points from the DVC Rental Store or David’s Vacation Club Rentals, both of which specialize in points rentals. Other reputable options are the Timeshare Store and DVC-Rental.

Alternatively, you can browse the forums on Mouseowners or the Disboards and find someone from whom you’d like to rent points. Rental companies are slightly more expensive (usually be $1-2 per point) than these forum options, which is the downside. The upside is that DVC Rental Store is an actual BBB accredited business who has a strong reputation. You won’t get ripped off by the DVC Rental Store or David’s, whereas the same isn’t necessarily true for random folks you’ll encounter on the forums. Now, I’ve only heard a couple of negative stories about forum transactions, but caveat emptor with that one. We recommend playing it safe and going with a professional rental site.

This is actually another place where you might want to stop and do the math. Not to see if renting is cheaper than booking through Disney (it unquestionably is), but to see if renting Disney Vacation Club points for all of your trips is a better option than buying Disney Vacation Club points. We know a lot of people who go this route year in and year out because it provides great savings without locking them into an actual contract. It is something to give serious thought, and you might be surprised just how attractive renting, rather than buying, can be!

The Walt Disney World Monorail whooshes past Bay Lake Tower and into Disney's Contemporary Resort in this wide angle photo.

I Think I Want To Purchase DVC, What’s Next?

Home Resort – If saving money is the impetus behind the purchase, and you’ve crunched the numbers and think it can be done, this is a no-brainer–you buy into Saratoga Springs via the resale market. If money is a concern, but you have a definite resort preference, you should buy where you want to stay. If you won’t be happy unless you are able to stay at the Beach Club Villas every trip, you should purchase points there. This is especially true with the popular and small resorts, such as the Beach Club Villas, which are difficult to book at the 7 months mark throughout much of the year. At the bare minimum, your home resort should be somewhere you wouldn’t mind staying–because you just might have to stay there during busier seasons where other resorts are booked at the 7 month mark. If you are not sure which resort might be the one you want to call “home,” read our article ranking the Disney Vacation Club resorts.

Start Watching The Resale Listings – We bought our contract through ResalesDVC.com and were incredibly satisfied with the experience. We also looked at listings on The Timeshare Store, and DVCByResale.com, and I’ve only heard positives about each. Figure out what you want, whether your contract needs to be ‘loaded’ and start making reasonable offers on contracts. There are also by-owner resale websites with Disney Vacation Club resales, like SellMyTimeshareNOW. Also, don’t forget to look on eBay and CraigsList to see what’s available.

A great resource to use for searching Disney Vacation Club resale listings is DVCFinder.com. It’s basically a search engine of active listings on the main DVC resale sites.

Research, Research, Research! – This post is aimed at whether you should buy Disney Vacation Club. Once you’ve made the decision, you need to understand various aspects of ownership. With regard to those things, this post barely scratches the surface. You might have seen passing references to the “7 month window” above. Do you know what that is? Do you understand terms such as “banking,” “borrowing,” “ROFR,” or “use year,” just to name a few terms? Disney Vacation Club practically has its own lexicon, and it’s important to fully understand the product before you buy. I spent two years reading and posting on the MouseOwners.com forums before we made our purchase. It’s worth hanging around there or the other sites mentioned above before making a purchase. The members there can impart far more wisdom on you than I ever can. Many of them are true experts.

Do you love the tranquility of Disney's Old Key West Resort or does the

Our Story

We are DVC owners, and the economics work well for us even though we don’t have a larger party or a demand for always staying in Deluxe Resorts. We save money with DVC, but more importantly, owning makes us happy, which is the paramount consideration. We reviewed these same factors when contemplating a DVC purchase. Ultimately, we decided it was right for us. After doing the math every which way, we determined that buying a small Saratoga Springs Resort contract was what we needed.

Our circumstances were a bit different than the norm, though. For our honeymoon, we wanted to stay at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn, Disney’s Polynesian Resort, or Disney’s Beach Club Resort. Unfortunately, for the busy summer season, we couldn’t get much of a discount on any of these rooms. We found that if we purchased a small contract, we could bank & borrow enough points to use for our 10-day honeymoon. In comparison to paying out of pocket for a stay at the BoardWalk for our honeymoon, buying the small DVC contract outright on the resale market provided a very short break-even number of years. With the math working out well, it was an easy decision, as the hotel stay would have no residual value, whereas the DVC contract would be useful for years. Plus, as Annual Passholders, the DVC membership would save us over $250 per year total for our Disneyland and Walt Disney World APs, which is roughly the cost of our dues. Staying in DVC accommodations also offered us the ability to purchase the Disney Dining Plan without purchasing park tickets unnecessarily.

While our touring style of staying out late and getting up early doesn’t really necessitate DVC accommodations presently, but we won’t keep up this pace forever. When we slow down and have kids, I’m sure the amenities DVC offers will be vital. In the meantime, we still enjoy the nicer room and resort once every three or four trips, and on those trips, we do slow down the pace to enjoy our resort. The math worked for us, and so too did it increase our happiness. There are few pieces of mail I look forward to more than the Disney Files magazine, and hearing “Welcome Home” from the Cast Member at the front desk of our resort gives me an ear-to-ear grin every time. It may not work for everyone, but it certainly works for us. Hopefully this guide helped you determine whether it works for you!

Looking for Disney trip planning tips? Make sure to read our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide and Disneyland Trip Planning Guide.

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Your Thoughts?

A lot of you reading this are probably either members who stumbled upon it while looking for Disney Vacation Club content, or prospective buyers weighing their purchase? What do you all think about Disney Vacation Club? Owners, are you happy with your purchase? Potential owners, how does this article impact your decision to buy? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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190 Responses to “Disney Vacation Club Buying Guide”

  1. Steve H. says:

    One of the better write-ups. Enjoyed it!! I signed a contract and later cancelled it. I have a great spreadsheet that I created with many variables (including the value of money over time). No matter how I modified the variables, there was no savings to be had. Now, we’re a family of 5 (soon to be 6!). The problem with DVC is the fold-out couch. It’s hard to pay that much money and only get one actual bed in the one bedroom. You have to jump to a two bedroom for it to make sense for my family. Just too much money. Resale is the way to go, if you don’t mine losing out on the ability to exchange points in the Disney Collection, Adventurer’s Collection, etc.

  2. Excellent write up Tom! You hit on every point that has really ever crossed my mind. I think the hardest part for me is just making the economics work, which becomes even harder when a CM discount is still in play. When the norm right now is values for around $40-$75 per night, it practically washes out with just the annual dues, no purchase price taken into consideration. I think it ultimately comes down to the sense of happiness that you had pointed out combined with being able to stay at deluxe resorts. Now if they get one at the Polynesian, it might become a pretty quick decision!

    Thanks for sharing from the experience you went through!

    • Julie says:

      Hey! They are building one at the Polynesian – it will be done in 2015!

    • Corrisa says:

      I concur with the other two gentlemen – this is a very thorough description of the Disney Vacation Club. I’m going to have to bookmark this page for future reference.

      I’m not a huge fan of timeshares, but I do understand why some people like them. The way to buy them, if you’re stuck on getting one is to buy resale like Tom stated.

      You really have to understand what you’re getting yourself into before you sign on the dotted line.

      This article will help you make up your mind one way or another.

  3. Jon Grant says:

    This is perfect. Thanks for the great post!

    I am a DVC member. I didn’t do much investigation before investing… I didn’t even know about the resale market at the time, so I purchased straight from the Mouse. And I financed as much as I could.

    That being said, I am a ‘number cruncher’ and liked what I was seeing when I did the math. I am staying in a savana view room at Animal Kingdom Lodge for seven nights later this year. Taking everything into consideration (including total lifetime interest on the loan and maintenance costs,) I am paying $850.55 for that room. That’s $121.51 a night.

    I’m waking up to giraffes and zebras and Boma and resort epicness for less than the cost of the cheapest moderate resort room.

    That is why I DVC. And I’m a ‘worst case scenario’… imagine how cheap that room would cost if I had gone through resale… or paid cash? Mind-boggling.

    • StephM says:

      This is why we did it as well. The rack rate cost we’ve had to pay occasionally was just incredible per night and we love the “nicer” accommodations and always will. GIven how fast that coast has been rising, we knew we’d be priced out of it entirely within the next 6-10 years or less. This way, we know we’ll have that vacation every other year at the least and be LOVING it in the villas. They are the best way to stay away from home. Don’t regret our decision an iota and are now going into our 5th year as owners.

  4. Chrissy says:

    Thanks for all the great info!

  5. Laura B. says:

    Great article! While we’re huge Disney geeks, my family doesn’t make it Disney often enough to justify owning DVC. But its great to have someone demystify an incredibly complex process!

  6. We also didn’t know about resale back when we bought. But, I tend to never buy used. I know it costs me more money, but I just don’t. I buy new and keep forever.

    But even if I would consider buy resale now, I wouldn’t because the inability to book stays outside of an actual DVC resort would cramp our style. We go to Disneyland far more than WDW and I’ve been informed that the point-basis for the Disneyland hotels (Grand California, Disneyland Hotel, and Paradise Pier) are more economical than points used to stay at WDW resorts because of the fact there are only a few dozen DVC units at DL. So, we will stay for “free” at the Disneyland Hotel for 5 days and still have points left over.

    We did hear the Time Value of Money argument before we purchased, but we don’t invest money in anything other than our company 401(k) and only at an amount that the company will 100% match. So, we aren’t losing money since the money wouldn’t be in anything making the kind of returns you talked about.

    BUT…..Now that we are on the Dave Ramsey plan, we will be investing once we are out of debt and have our emergency fund filled. So, sometime in 2013

    According to the calculations a CPA friend helped me derive to determine the value per point per year I broke even last year (not taking into account interest) but we are now paid off and don’t owe any money.

    We are currently looking into buying more points, but we won’t EVER finance again

    • Tiffany says:

      So funny that you mentioned taking that class. I read this and thought, “What would Dave think about this?” I would LOVE to become a DVC member, but until the house is paid off, I just can’t do it! And I certainly couldn’t finance it.

    • Leslie says:

      I understand about what would Dave Ramsey say. He would say, “no way.” But we did Dave’s steps and now are at a phase in our lives to travel. We love Disney and their accommodations. I think we will buy for the happiness value, especially now that we have grandkids. Cash of course to make Dave less unhappy with it.

  7. will says:

    great write up. Happiness is paramount, but there are also some other factors besides how one tours. I’ll use myself as an example. I am a commando tourer right now. Likewise I probably will slow down at some point. But, one must also factor in discounts- AAA, gov, etc. I am a military member and either book a discount through Disney or wait till SOG fills and then they overbook. When SOG overbooks- they place you at a WDW resort- at higher rate than SOG but less than WDW rates. So I think if you know you have a long term discount- teachers, AAA, gov- that should also play a role.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Does SOG still overbook? My dad is retired N’tl Guard, and I remember way back in the day being pushed to Dixie Landings for a couple of trips when we were bumped from SOG. I figured once they expanded, that wouldn’t be such a problem.

  8. Laura P. says:

    Thanks so much for all the valuable information. we are currently looking into DVC ownership, even though my children are grown (19 and 22). DVC seems to make even more sense now…we always were able to get good discounts at the hotels and stayed mostly in deluxes but now at these ages even a deluxe is getting too small. It would be nice to have a 2 bedroom to stay in for the price of DVC. I know its considerably more points but to pay cash for those rooms would be far more expensive over the long haul. And having a kitchen is also such an added benefit and savings. Cant wait to own a piece of the mouse!!!!

  9. Matthew says:

    Great write up Tom, I started to follow your website ever since you were on BetaMouse talking about photography!

    Another consideration with DVC is the size of family. My family size is 6 in all, and that forces us to rent 2 rooms a night in order for us to be comfortable- or try to find a suite in the WDW resort (not a cheap proposition). If you vacation to WDW regularly with a large family I could argue that DVC may present a cost value if done correctly. Great website!

  10. Doug says:

    We purchased Saratoga Springs before it opened. With incentives, our final price was 67 per point + annual member fees. When I do the math, I think we have great value.

    For our most recent trip, I thought about adding a pre-stay night at Pop, the best summer weekend price I could find was $160/night. When I consider that and the current pricing of the moderates, I feel very comfortable with our purchase and we’ve had seven great years of vacations with stays at Saratoga Springs, Boardwalk Villas, Animal Kingdom Villas and Old Key West.

    One Thanksgiving we took extended family and stayed in the Tree House Villas — the rack rate for that time was nearly $900 per night — something we would not have paid without being members!

    Would I pay $150 a point for DVC? No, but there are some great re-sale options that make a DVC vacation viable for a Walt Disney World enthusiast.

    People limited to summer travel have a great incentive for DVC because discounts are rarer. Since my wife is a teacher, we’re limited to travel times that have few if any discounts.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Excellent price all around. If you’re vacationing in a period that typically offers no discounts, DVC definitely looks a lot more appealing!

  11. Julia says:

    We are DVC – we bought Saratoga before it opened as well and it was a bit less for points as stated above. We LOVE DVC. We didn’t finance as much. Ours is paid off and we use it often. Sometimes we go 3 to 4 times a year. Honestly when they say “welcome home” we feel it. I love my condo, love the washer and dryer and I’m fine with not having someone in and out of my room daily. I’m a clean person so I can take care of my room – hang a towel to dry and/or make a bed. It just me, I make my bed in a hotel room too. (not everyone does) Our fold outs have always been very comfy. (not like most hotels). The kids LOVED the beds at Bay Lake Towers. My nieces thought they were fun. We also enjoy the discounts and we do take advantage of them!

  12. Sharlene says:

    We have owned since 2000. Have I enjoyed it, Yes. Would I buy now. No. 50 years is a long time to pay dues and they continue to rise. While we love Disney, we have gotten tired lately of going there year after year and even though with DVC you have your accommodation, just getting there and doing everything is very expensive.

    I would recommend for anyone buying that you start small until you see how it fits. As to resale, with the recent limitations I am leery of going that route, as I feel more limitations will be forth coming.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      All of the new limitations applied to new purchases (so they didn’t apply retroactively) and prevented people from using their points in a terrible way, anyway. Resale prices are often HALF what you pay direct from Disney, too.

      Plus, Disney can only do so much. Most of the “rights” of DVC owners are contractual, and Disney can’t take those away without breaching the contract. I have little concern about new limitations being imposed for this very reason.

      As for dues, yes, they do continue to increase. I figure that if we ever get sick of Disney, we’ll just sell our contract. I don’t anticipate that happening since we’re still young, but it’s not as if there’s no way out. I do agree with your “start small” sentiment, though.

      • C McMullin says:

        Just found your blog and thought I would add my $.02.

        We have been members since 2004, Saratoga is home base. Our two kids were post college age at the time and we all love Disney going back to the ’80s when we were in so. CA.

        We made a conscious decision to buy 200 points based upon the desire of all of us (now 6 adults + one grandchild) to go to WDW every year. We go the last week in January when we can get three rooms Sun-Thurs nights for low points and the lines are short. We arrive mid day Sunday and don’t leave until late Friday, six solid days of fun.

        There have been a few glitches, yes, but for the most part I don’t regret it for a minute. As you know they played around with the points charts but have them back to a livable level for those of us who go Sun-Thurs. Perhaps my ‘words of encouragement’ had something to do with their rethinking that whole idea.

        We bot from Disney (didn’t know about resale in 2004). Their prices rose several times over the years. I follow the resale market by emails so I am aware of the current pricing. Right now I would say that Saratoga and OKW with the extension to 2057 offer the best price per years remaining. My original price is was $1.48 per point per year for the 50 years. In today’s resale market you get about that same price per point per remaining years for the two resorts I mentioned.

        Is it for everyone? No. Should one consider any stay other than Disney with the points? I think not. I can’t see it working at all. But if you love Disney you can make something work for you. The kids will inherit some day and hopefully go on forever.

  13. Great article Tom, and your images are , of course, stunning. I just love that Bay Lake Tower image.

    As you mentioned, renting DVC points is a perfect way to “try before you buy”. I thought I’d throw in a personal plug for David’s Vacation Club Rentals (dvcRequest.com). He’s been renting points since 2005 and has an exemplary reputation. I highly recommend using his service, whether you are a renter looking to stay at a DVC resort or an owner who wants to rent out some extra points.

  14. Cory says:

    Tom, an update to this … Free In-room internet is now available to all WDW guests. Also, Renting DVC points for $10 (from a group of trusted DVC owners I have built up) comes with some risks, but it is a great way to experience DVC at our pace without any of the obligation of a timeshare.

  15. Al says:

    Great article and write up, Tom! I’ve been contemplating becoming a DVC member for years, and your blog made some very salient and interesting points. It was nice to read it all in one place. Unfortunately, I have a non-Disney fan wife, so it is difficult to convince her (don’t suppose you have advice for that!). Anyway, thanks for a great informative article.

  16. megan says:

    Really great write up. We’ve been looking into getting a disney vacation club membership as we love some of the places they offer.

  17. Frank says:

    Terrible experience with them. We have a DVC (disney vacation club) account with them and we banked points. Problem is they expire in one year.

    Ok so I tried to book a cruise, home resort and other disney properties for my vacation week for the past 3 months and nothing is available.

    Although there is availability at the resorts and on the cruise ship there is no more vacation transfers during the time period ( first week of november) available.

    SO at the end of the day I lose about $1000 in points which will expire and they will not let me use them in 2013 EVEN if I book a vacation for 2013 now.

    Spoke with supervisors but no help.

    I’m pretty disgusted with the whole experience. Bottom line is be careful or you will lose if your vacation gets messed up.

    Not the Disney I grew up with

    • C McMullin says:

      “Although there is availability at the resorts and on the cruise ship there is no more vacation transfers during the time period ( first week of november) available.”

      What the heck does “vacation transfers” mean? Been a member since 2004 and have never had a problem with borrowed and/or banked points.

      • Tom Bricker says:

        I’ve never heard that term either. I’m betting he just means no room availability.

        There are certainly a lot of potential traps for the unwary in Disney Vacation Club, but I think all of the rules are by necessity. It’s a complicated program, and as such, has a lot of rules to follow. No different than a FF program where the miles expire if you don’t pay close attention.

    • Family Guy says:

      After owning for 10 years, I have only allowed 29 points to expire (mostly due to my laziness) and used and/or rented over 1500 points successfully. Not knowing all the ins and outs of the DVC contract and points is the member’s fault, not that of Disney.

  18. Steve says:

    Great pictures! For us, it made sense to purchase. We have pretty much always gone deluxe. We also know that we will be going for some time to come, our youngest is 8.

  19. Walt says:

    Would love to know more about any downside of buying used and about what I should pay

    • Neil says:

      curious to know if you ever ended up buying resale or not…if you did what downfalls have you come across…if you didn’t, what stopped you? we are looking into the resale market now but trying to gather enough info to make a sound decision…

  20. Nancy Martin says:

    Very informative article. We were just on a cruise and decided to buy into the DVC. I have been doing a little research now that we are home, and am questioning if we made the right decision. The maintenance fees seem high for the next 45 years, And I think we may have purchased too many points. We bought 330 points, but now that I am looking at the points charts, it seems like a lot. We are a family of 5 and take atleast 1 week vacation per year. I don’t think we would stay at Disney for more than a week per year. We also like to cruise with Disney, but it doesn’t seem like this is a good value for the points used. We have 7 days to cancel if we decide that we didnt make the right decision. Also, is it better to just rent points if you want to stay at Disney? And what are your thoughts on the buying points in the resale market? Any advise you could give would be great!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      1) You don’t need 330 points. Way too many.
      2) Using points for cruises is terrible value.
      3) I would not buy directly from Disney. The resale market is the only way to go if you’re concerned with value.
      4) I would cancel, take some time to do some research, and go from there.

      Hope that helps! Best of luck with your decision!

      • Jen says:

        Hi Tom,

        I was wondering your reasoning for 330 points being too many? We are researching buying into DVC and love Hawaii and would like to go there some and in order to get a one bedroom with ocean during prime season I think it was at least 400. (I think pool view is even in the 300s) We’d also like to take advantage of 2 bedroom villas at Disney World/Land at times as well and those are pretty costly too.

        We are considering resale as well, one of the main reasons is of course cost. We figure we can buy more points on the resale market and it would be comparable to 160 direct from Disney. But also, we’re disappointed with the lack of resort choices that you get when you buy direct.

        We are also wondering how difficult it is to get into some of the more popular resorts (at the parks) if they are not your home resort? Is it next to impossible? We were considering buying into Aulani but are worried we’d never be able to get into the popular resorts at the parks if we did.

        Would love to hear your reasoning to help us make our decision!

        Thanks,

        Jen

  21. mitch says:

    Tom- you read my mind !! My favorite disney site has now just posted a comprehensive guide on the prime disney related topic in my life right now. Excellent!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Mitch, hope you enjoy it! We didn’t “just” post it…it’s actually from 2011. I just went back and refreshed it for 2013. I’m in the process of doing this with all of our “big” posts that people continue to read. Keeps them relevant and prevents me from giving stale advice that might negatively impact trips, and also brings them to the attention of newer readers of the blog who might not have seen them when they were originally posted. Win-win-win!

  22. Ray says:

    Great post Tom. We have been DVC members since 1995. Our home resort is Old Key West…which we love. The larger villas and parking near your door are wonderful. Having the ability to do laundry when we want…not having to bring clothes for the entire stay is great. We bought in when we were a family of 3 and now are a family of 5. It’s great having us all in one villa and having multiple bathrooms (2 if we have a 2 BR villa). So much better than having us all share a bathroom or splitting up the family between 2 rooms. Frankly, not having “mousekeeping” everyday is relaxing…it’s like being “at home”

    DVC is also great for when we go to Disneyland….I don’t have to worry about paying for a hotel….the 3 Disney hotels are available as are the villas at the Grand Californian…if you can get in.

  23. Ray says:

    One additional comment about “running the numbers”….we only did a quick crunching of the numbers…more of whether we could afford it, no so much if we’d save money. Its something we wanted to do and figured it was a “value” to us.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      If it’s something you want to do, more power to you! I know I don’t crunch the numbers every time I buy something. There are some things that you simply KNOW you want, and you buy them!

  24. Zach says:

    If you look at any timeshare simply from a financial POV, you can never justify it UNLESS you get it very cheap via resale. Even then, in my experience (DVC, Marriott Vacation Club), you typically can rent someone else’s for an amount equal to its annual maintenance fee.

    Don’t forget the maintenance fee when calculating savings!

    Also note that Disney has first right of refusal for resales. Marriott has started buying up cheap resales to keep them off the market, indirectly coercing potential buyers to buy from them at full retail. I still can’t believe Iger & Co. haven’t started doing this yet.

    Orlando is the worst place on the planet to own a timeshare. I realize DVC isn’t just Orlando, but it should be noted. For example, we once traded a Marriott Vacation Club 1 week 1BR in Maui (their top destination based on demand) for a 3-BR suite in Orlando. Another thing to note is that Marriott (and most other major timeshare players) timeshares are perpetual, meaning they last FOREVER and can be passed on for generations. DVC is not perpetual, and you’ll likely exhaust it before being able to pass it down.

    The single best reason to buy a timeshare is if it guarantees you your preferred accommodations, at your preferred resort, when you prefer it. For some this is worth the money, for others it isn’t. While we use timeshares at other locations, we will never buy DVC.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Interesting stuff. A couple of notes:

      Per point rental prices for DVC are typically 2-3 times annual maintenance fees.

      Disney does exercise ROFR, but it’s increasingly uncommon. I think it all is dependent upon inventory now…the Company doesn’t want to end up buying back hundreds of SSR contracts that it can’t sell for full price.

  25. Scott says:

    I’d be curious to know if you have any insight as to how easy it is to get reservations without planning far in advance. We live in Tampa, so a lot of our resort stays are planned weeks or sometimes even just a few days in advance – is it still possible to book DVC rooms that close, vs. the regular 7- and 11-month reservation windows?

    If not, I could still see us possibly buying and just using DVC for longer vacations every couple of years, but it would be more appealing if there was actually a chance of booking a weekend stay if we decide on the Tuesday or Wednesday before that we need a little break!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      It’s possible, but you’re likely to be stuck with Saratoga Springs or Old Key West 95% of the time…that’s assuming anything is available.

      If you do buy, I’d plan on using it for longer vacations, not impromptu weekend trips.

    • Sharon C says:

      Tom’s right it is possible and we have done it. It’s best at your home resort. They try really hard to make it happen, depending on how busy they are. They will even put together an itinerary if you are willing to move during the stay.

  26. Kristen K says:

    Nice write up! I have no illusions that DVC has actually saved us money, because if we hadn’t bought in we probably wouldn’t be going. However since we did become owners, and financed through Disney at that. I can say without a doubt that being members has GREATLY improved the quality of our lives. We’ve spent more time together as a family, I’ve gone places I would have never tried without it, DH and I have done some childless getaway trips, and being able to get down to WDW more often has even given me an edge professionally. I owe that all to joining DVC. DVC isn’t for everyone, for all the reasons that you stated above, but for us the lifestyle benefits outweigh any money.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      “for us the lifestyle benefits outweigh any money.”

      That, right there, is reason enough for you to purchase, and the rest of my article should be irrelevant. For many people, those “x factors” of happiness and quality of like that DVC brings are more justification than anything else!

  27. Holly says:

    We’re AKV members since Feb 2008 & LOVE it! The best advice I read was to buy where you want to stay–I saw so many people on various Disney boards who would buy SSR because it was cheaper, & then complain when they couldn’t get into the resort they really wanted at the 7 month mark. We bought from Disney and got the smallest number of points possible to get in, & it’s worked well for us so far. I would add that people should be careful about buying the # of points they need for specific stays (i.e. 5 nights Sun-Fri first week of Feb), for the simple reason that your touring plans will probably change. When we bought, both our sons were in elementary school & we could take them out for a week at any time without problems. Once our oldest started middle school that changed & we now have to travel during the summer–had we bought only enough points to cover our preferred travel time we would have been out of luck. I also remember the uproar when Disney re-adjusted the points charts–many people who had bought with very specific vacations in mind found themselves SOL.

    I don’t know if we’ll ever add more points–the boys are getting older & I’m not sure how many more regular family trips there are in our future. But we are very happy with our purchase and foresee getting a lot more use out of it for the life of the contract :)

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Glad to hear that you’re happy members!

      I don’t necessarily agree with either of these points. With the first point, you’re right that people who love one resort–and only one resort–should buy there. However, people who prefer a certain resort but don’t necessarily NEED to stay there should be fine buying into SSR. Since we became owners, we’ve NEVER stayed at SSR. Even when we haven’t gotten our first choice, we’ve always been able to get a great resort at the 7 month mark…and that includes traveling during popular times of the year for DVC. You just have to have reasonable expectations and be willing to go with the flow. You may not get Beach Club Villas during Food & Wine at the 7 month mark, but you won’t be stuck with OKW, either. Of course people on the forums are going to complain, though…that’s what they do! ;)

      As for the second point, I wouldn’t say that anyone is “SOL” if they buy for specific vacations in mind…you can always add-on points. You can’t, however, sell a portion of your contract if you buy too many points and finding that you have more than you need. Buying more points than you need is a good way to “future-proof,” but if you’re approaching this from an economic perspective, it’s wasteful.

      • Holly says:

        Right, there are options if they buy for specific vacations, but a lot of people don’t want to add on points ;). I suppose I should say that back when we bought, the advice from Disney (and some others around the internet) was to figure out when you wanted to vacation, what your room preference would be, & to buy enough points to do that vacation. People who followed that advice quite often found themselves lacking points when they discovered they had to change their touring plans. When I told people we just bought enough points to get our foot in the door (didn’t know about resale at the time)they quite often told me that I’d under-bought. As you say, I’d rather under-buy than over-buy–you can add more salt to the soup, but you can’t take it out ;)

        Love your photos, btw–my husband has been doing photography for a couple of years now. He had just started when we took our last Disney trip a year & a half ago & said there really wasn’t anything “new” to take pictures of–I quite often post your pictures for him so he can see just how wrong he is ;)

  28. Eric Tauch says:

    I saw where you stated 330 points for a family of 5 was too many.

    I know a lot of variables come into play, but generally speaking, how many points would you recommend for a family of 4? After doing some research, my preference would be to routinely stay in one bedroom villas.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Depends on your length of stay, time of visit, and preferred resort. For a week, you’re looking at about 200-300 points, depending upon the other factors.

      Check out the point charts: http://dvcnews.com/index.php/dvc-program/points-charts/dvc-resorts

      Note that while daily point amounts CAN change, weekly amounts cannot. That means that if weekend ‘rates’ go up, weekday ‘rates’ must go down (or vice-a-versa).

      • Robin says:

        Do you mean that DVC has a policy that states that weekly amount of points can never change? I’ve been considering buying DVC but am concerned that they will increase the points needed to go on vacation. If I have a guarantee that the total amount of points needed for a week will never change it makes me much more comfortable to buy and gives me a better idea of how many points I should buy to start with.

      • Tom Bricker says:

        Seasons can adjust slightly, but total yearly allocation can never change (pursuant to the contract). Weekly allocations can change, but to my knowledge, never have. The only thing I’ve *ever* seen change is weekend v. weeknight point rates.

        In other words, while a single week might shift from one season to another causing a slight increase (or decrease) in points that week costs, another week MUST shift the other direction to offset that week. The more common change is weekend v. weeknight points, and even that isn’t common.

        Your membership cannot be devalued by point changes.

  29. Andrew says:

    I think your assessment is spot on. We are a family of four who purchased awhile (10 years?) ago when BCV was just being sold. I think we got in at the right time. That said, I don’t think we have gotten a huge financial benefit out of our purchase, but there has been some. It has been more about the happiness factor for us. When paying cash for a room at Disney, we would choose a moderate resort. DVC offers us an automatic upgrade.

    We also have not ever had a problem with being in another resort. We just book for our home resort and go on a wait list right at the 7 month mark. I’m sure that there may be a time in the future when when we get denied, but that just puts us at our home resort, which is just fine with us (and would be fine with us if our home resort were ANY of the DVC properties).

    As to how much to purchase, here was what we asked ourselves when we made our decision: What’s the smallest room our family can possibly handle (Studio for us)? What’s the minimum time we would be able to handle going to Disney every year (a week for us)? How many points would it cost for that small room at our home resort for that amount of days during the busiest time of year (at the time, 220)? That’s what we settled on. It has offered us a great amount of flexibility without feeling like we had overdone. We’ve rarely stayed during the “premiere” times, so each time we visit, we stay longer and in a bigger room. We also don’t go every year, so we’ve banked points and been able to bring friends and family along. THAT has been the greatest benefit for us: The ability to say to our guests “we’ll cover your room,” and to have them appreciate the quality of their accommodations. It’s worked out well for us, but more for the “Magic” factor than the economic. I can definitely say that we have gotten our money’s worth, and for that, not the savings, it’s a good value.

  30. Tom in Cal says:

    We purchased the minimum 150 points at BWV in 2000. The only financial considerations were that we could afford it, and that it wasn’t a huge rip off. Our reasoning was that after many years of working with minimal vacations, buying in to DVC would force us to take a nice vacation at least every three years.

    Over the past 13 years, we’ve used the points at WDW, Disneyland Resort, and Aulani. We’ve been able to take friends and family along with us. These are now our two daughter’s favorite destinations, and even though they are now 16 and 21, they both look forward to many more years of visits to these wonderful resorts.

    We’ve bought additional points at VGC and Aulani and now do take vacations regularly. The main benefits of DVC have been an improvement in the quality of our lives, and unforgetable times together as a family.

  31. Sharon C says:

    So many different reasons to buy at DVC. We thought about it for many years and the reason we finally purchased hasn’t been mentioned here so I thought I’d add it. Before purchasing, for the last 10 years or so we stayed at Yacht Club, 2 rooms on the Concierge floor Christmas week. We wanted the convenience. We’ve been coming to Disney since the early 80′s when my daughter was young and then it was March school vacation week. Both periods don’t discount much but we got the discounts we could. Then we retired and had grandkids and the cost of Disney Deluxe vacations for all of us during prime time was very high. We started renting a one bedroom at Boardwalk for my daughter’s family and continued at our room at Yacht Club, as the kitchen became very useful for babies and young kids. We started thinking of DVC again as we had the cash to pay for the purchase and didn’t think we could continue to go as often with the high room rates. Now here is where we differ from the other thinking. We factored in the cost of getting a second home in a place like Celebration, but my husband didn’t want to be bothered with the upkeep. We like to travel but we travel all over and Disney (and Maui) are the only places that we return regularly. So we looked at the principal cost of DVC and compared it to the cost of a second home. We decided that we liked BoardWalk better. It is in the middle of everything and it’s where we want to be when in Florida. We bought a lot of points on the resale market at BoardWalk and Beach Club (for the pool when the grandkids are with us). As we go school holidays with the family we book at 11 months then but we also take spur of the moment trips by ourselves. This only may make sense in the current real estate market and lack of interest rates on savings but it works for us now. We’re enjoying it now but have a strategy of renting out the points if we ever tire of it or reselling.

  32. Russell says:

    Looking for assistance with one thing – what is the precise advantage of booking at one’s home resort? I can’t seem to find this spelled out anywhere.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      The advantage of buying at a home resort you like is that you are able to make a booking 11 months in advance, whereas you can only book 7 months in advance at a non-home resort. In some cases, 7 months out, there is no availability at certain resorts.

  33. Rory says:

    Tom I really liked all that you had to say. My wife and I have a timeshare with same other place and are looking to get out and come over to DVC. Do you know if Disney would help us out of the other place so that we could become DVC owners?

  34. Kayla says:

    Really like this article. And you’re definitely right about the happiness thing being the trump card. My boyfriend and I recently went to WDW this month and met with a DVC salesman. He broke it down well and while we aren’t ready to buy yet – I’m still in college – we’re really working on crunching numbers and hoping to manage it by next year.

    I just have a question though. I read somewhere about resale policies changing. Something about if you buy resale at, say OKW as your home resort, you’re locked in there and can’t stay anywhere else. I know you’re much more of a Disney detective than I am, and you’re also a member, so maybe you’d know if that’s just a rumor? I certainly hope so, as buying resale had been looking like a fantastic option prior to that rumor.

    • It IS possible that Disney could, in the future restrict resale members (or really any members) to their home resort. In our contract it’s explicitly stated what is guaranteed and very few things are guaranteed. As I understand it, we are actually only guaranteed that we can book at our home resort, and that if it is open to others, we will have a booking advantage there. As far as I know, Disney could theoretically ban members from ANY trading, and restrict us to booking our home resorts at any time. They seem to be pulling back benefits on resales. You can argue that the trading for cruises and Disney Collection aren’t a good use of points anyway, but it’s possible they could take more off the table for re-sales.

      If you’re still in college I would really wait and think about buying DVC. It’s a HUGE commitment, not just to the initial investment but to paying dues every single year and then either taking vacations you may or may not be able to afford or having to rent points out. DVC becomes a responsibility. Also, a LOT can change in a short time. We’re VERY happy DVC members (we bought direct at the most expensive resort, and financed..essentially breaking all the “rules” but it was what we wanted), but things do change. Since I joined DVC I became a travel agent and now I’m eligible for special rates that approach my DVC savings. You could god forbid lose a job or have a medical condition. Like i said, DH and I are very happy. We’ve been able to stay in resorts and take trips we only dreamed of before DVC, but I still always advise everyone to examine it all VERY carefully, take two steps back, sleep on it, examine it all again, crunch and re-crunch the numbers because it’s a 40+ year commitment. Hope that helped!

      • Tom Bricker says:

        Totally agree with your second paragraph. That’s sound advice.

        Disagree with the first paragraph. This is something I see discussed a lot on message boards, but the likelihood of Disney ever implementing any such meaningful restrictions on existing members is slim to nil. The express terms of a contract aren’t the only terms of a contract (despite boilerplate language possibly suggesting otherwise). Disney’s agents make representations to potential customers about the resorts at which they’ll be able to use their points. Limiting usage after these representations–which induced execution of the contract–would expose Disney to litigation for fraud, among other things. This is why the changes are made prospectively, rather than retroactively.

        In addition to writing this blog, I’m an attorney with a decent amount of contract law practice (not specifically in timeshares), and litigation like this is fairly common, and plaintiffs quite often prevail.

        BTW, the above should not be construed as legal advice…it’s just my opinion of what changes Disney is unlikely to make with regard to Disney Vacation Club. Use this advice at your own risk.

      • Robin says:

        When Disney made the change to DVC resales that said that you couldn’t use resales for cruses, etc. it only applied to resales after a future date. I think that if they do make changes in the future they won’t apply to current resale owners (i.e. they will only apply to the person you sell it to if you sell after the change date)

      • Tom Bricker says:

        Exactly.

  35. Brett says:

    Excellent post! My wife and I have been considering buying into DVC for quite sometime, but with my parents already members (Saratoga, surprise) we’ll most like add to their points. One thing I haven’t seen in responses is people taking multiple trips throughout the year with their points. I know my parents bought 160 points and they use these to take 3-4 trips per year at 4 nights each, but at Disneyland and the Grand Californian. Hopefully people keep that in mind, you don’t have to use all of your points up in one week. It’s great to have the use of the DVC program and access to more Deluxe resorts, for less.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Absolutely! This is one of the great things about the point system. We’ve done single nights with our DVC points several times when we couldn’t get cheap rooms elsewhere.

  36. Michele Hendriks says:

    What a great read! I needed this. My husband and I just started looking into this. We found the resale market extremely enticing, but we’re afraid we’ll be missing out on a lot. I keep hearing different things regarding booking non Disney Resorts…how it does not make sense to use points for anything other than DVC resorts…so of course it brings us back to thinking the resale is a better value. I’m one of those types that’s afraid to not buy from the source and thinks she’ll miss out on goodies and specials or something. Of course I would love to save a ton of money though…Other than the locations you can book at, are there really any other differences in how you would be treated? Would you still receive a dvcmember.com account and be able to do everything else? Just curious….THANKS!!!

  37. Jeff in Ga. says:

    Tom, definitely the best article on the web on DVC! We are currently in process of purchasing. We are the type who is buying from Disney instead of resale mainly due to the concerns on the limits Disney could impose on resales. Again, not sure what they could do but better to be safe than sorry I guess. My hesitation now as I’ve read things here is the comment on Disney restructuring the point system and folks being hurt due to the structure change. If they can keep changing the system then it potentially affects your investment negatively. Ex: you buy 271 for a weeklong yearly vacation and their structure change would thn require 293 for the same timeframe, requiring you to buy even more points at more cost etc.

    How often do they redo the point structure?
    Also, any one know the average resort price increases over the last 10 years or so for folks who rent and not DVC? Has it been on avg, 3%, 5% etc. I’m asking this cause their fees have gone up 2-3% each year and for comparison I just wanted to compare costs. Etc.

    Thanks again for your work on this blog. For us, a consistent Deluxe resort user every year since 2002, our purchase will largely be the happiness factor. Probably would’ve joined sooner but couldn’t financially. We are now a family of 6 and the DVC guy said that we fit their profile for sure! Ha! He did peg us cause we are definitely Disney people.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Their structure cannot change in the way you’re describing. If a week costs 271 now, it costs 271 forever. Specific DAYS within a week can change, but those are offset by other days. This has affected people who only traveled on weekdays (as weekend rates were once waaaaaay more expensive).

      As for supposed “limits” on resale, I wouldn’t be too concerned. Most of those concerns are fostered by Disney’s sales reps, who have a vested interest in you buying through them. Right now, the only limitation is not being able to use DVC points at non-DVC Disney hotels or cruises (you can still exchange in the RCI system). Using your points in the prohibited way is a TERRIBLE idea anyway, so most resale buyers don’t care. I know it wouldn’t give me any hesitation. As for what might happen in the future…so long as you’ve already made your resale purchase, you’re grandfathered in.

  38. Jennifer B. says:

    Thank you for the wonderful article. We are in the process of buying 220 points at the BWV. One of the advantages we like is the option to use our DVC pints at non-Disney resorts. We’d like to travel to Europe, Mexico, etc. The idea of not being locked in to Disney-only properties is enticing. WE love Disney, but we would love the opportunity to show our kids the world as well. Question: Have you heard of anyone having trouble trading their DVC points to RCI and booking rooms at the non-disney properties in Europe and the other various other locations? That would be a deal breaker for us. We’ve been told by our DVC sales rep that RCI offers a 1 bedroom suite at their properties for a week for flat rate of 160 points. That sounds too good to be true; which worries me. I would appreciate any thoughts you have on this. Thanks!

    • Jennifer B. says:

      I should explain – our boys are 6 & 8 and we are all about Disney. We have annual
      passes, etc. My husband and I just think that over time our travel needs and interests will continue to evolve and change as our kids get older. That is why we like the idea of traveling to other properties. AS much as we love Disney – we’d like to travel to other locations as well.

      • Tom Bricker says:

        I have never heard of any troubles, but I’ve never tried this personally. From what I understand, DVC points are heavily sought-after in the RCI system, so I doubt there would be any issue. But again, I don’t have personal knowledge or experience on this.

  39. Janet says:

    Wonderful article! We just returned from a 4 night cruise on the Dream, as well as 3 nights at the Polynesian. For our family of 4, it was quite expensive, and we ended our trip by signing up for the DVC. Just received the paperwork in the mail and haven’t gone over all of it yet with a fine tooth comb, but I do have a question I hope you can answer.

    We bought 250 points (effective September 2013), and as an incentive were given 250 additional points, effective as of September 2012. The Disney rep did not explain this, but I get the feeling that our 250 incentive points better be used pretty quickly? Can we bank these for next year? When do we need to either bank or use these points so we don’t lose them?

    Thanks for all the useful information–I still think we made the right decision for our family, but I’m just scared we’re going to lose points by not paying close enough attention.

    Thanks!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Sorry, I’m not familiar with the exact terms of the incentive. Have you logged into the member site to view them? Do you have any paperwork relating to the points? I would start by checking there.

    • Brandy says:

      We recently went through a presentation and were offered the same incentive and from my understanding the pionts being effective in 2012 means they have to be used by 2013. Since you can only use the previous year’s in the current year, but I would definitely clarify that.

  40. Brandy says:

    Thanks for all the info. One thing you didn’t touch on was the pros/cons to “sharing” a membership. My husband and I were considering investing with his mother and father in points and was wondering if you have heard anything from others who have done this. Also, could you please clarify what “non-DVC Disney hotels” are? Part of the allure for me was that we wouldn’t have to use our points at DLR or WDW for every vacation and the fact that they had “partners” all over the world sounded good. Are you saying that staying in one of those places using your points is not a good value?

  41. Jennifer says:

    I too am still kind of confused on the restrictions on resale. We are very close to signing with DVC directly, but obviously the price difference for resale is worth considering. What exactly is the restriction – something to do with non-DVC Disney hotels? What does that mean. This article and all of the comments have been extremely helpful and this is by far the best article on this subject, but hoping for a little more clarification. We definitely will visit Disney, but likely not every year as we too would like to travel to other places (internationally mostly as our kids are getting of a better age for long plane flights). Can we still do that? Is the experience better if we buy direct? Am I correct that you cannot use DVC points from resale purchase for cruises? Can I use them for their new Hawaii resort? So many questions that obviously by DVC sales person didn’t want to answer about resale properties. Thanks in advance for answering all of my questions – I know there are a lot!

    • Dan says:

      If you go to one of the resale sites like the timeshare store they will tell you the differences.I too have talked with Disney and decided to go with resale. The savings vs. what you’re losing might make the difference.

  42. carom says:

    Great story, thank you for mentioning the rental option. We are annual renters, we usually rent a studio for an average of $139-$189 a night. We love it. We go once a year, but really don’t want the big commitment of buying. Next year we’ll be in a 2 bedroom from a friend for $240 a night. Well under rack rates.

  43. Sandy says:

    Have enjoyed reading all the posts. I am thinking about the DVC thing but I don’t know if it is too late in the game as I am 62 and have 2 daughters- 30 and 33yrs. One is married with two children (6 & 9) and we have stayed at the deluxe resorts for 2 trips in the past 3 years. I would be interested in a two bedroom. Love the boardwalk location as home because I have stayed there but haven’t been to OKW or SAratoga Springs area. I could see us visiting DW every year or two and as the boys get older having to go during some higher peak times . Any suggestions would be helpful :)

    • Susan says:

      The most important point of this article is how DVC improves your quality of life. We were guilty of getting caught up in life and often postponing or skipping vacations. We purchased a DVC resale in 2011 with the guidance of our DVC owner son. Our first vacation with him, his wife, our granddaughter,our daughter and her husband was a dream come true. We feel that after our upcoming 2013 vacation with our other son and his family, the purchase will almost have paid for itself economically, and more than paid for itself in quality of life. Disney is a carefree vacation from the time you check your bags at the airport till you pick them up again on return. It gives us opportunity to spend quality time with our children and grandchildren. No regrets at all.

  44. Troy says:

    I am looking into buying property right now. I’ve looked at going through Disney directly, but have found much better deals through resale. What benefits would I be losing if I went resale rather than going through Disney directly? I did bring up resale when speaking with Disney’s rep, but the answers were obviously vague.

    • Neil says:

      been wondering the same thing, did you get any answers to your question?

      I pulled this quote from http://disneydvcresale.com/Why-Purchase-Disney-DVC but couldn’t find any more details

      “However, you also need to know that buying a Disney DVC through a reseller will disqualify you from joining the incentive program of Disney. Also, there are certain privileges that you and your family may not be eligible to receive if you opt to buy DVC through Disney time share resale.”

  45. John says:

    So it seems to me that buying at Vero Beach via resale would be more economical than buying Saratoga Springs. I’m considering buying in the next year and those are always the cheapest points and considering the author’s point about “never being stuck with Saratoga” when he books, I’m not worried about not being able to make a reservation 6 months out and getting something good, or at least Saratoga Springs. Am I missing something about buying Vero Beach points? Does booking at the parks work differently with Vero Beach points than if I was an “on property” owner?

    • Tom Bricker says:

      You’re missing maintenance fees. Vero Beach maintenance fees are $2+ more per point than Saratoga Springs. You’re also overlooking expiration. Vero Beach expires in 2042, whereas Saratoga Springs expires in 2054.

      Vero Beach is appealing because of front end low prices, but you’re worse off buying there in the long run.

      • John says:

        Ah…the big picture. Thanks for the answer I’ve been pondering this for some time and I just couldn’t figure out what the detail was.

  46. Erik says:

    We are considering going through the resale market. We live in Orlando and like to spend about 2-3 long weekends a year at the resorts. We like to stay in nicer resorts when we go. We are also annual pass holders. We don’t “need” to stay at any one particular place, but we would probably not “want” to stay at Saratoga or OKW, at least not often. We also like the idea of going to Hawaii at some point in the next 3-5 years. I am wondering how difficult it is to get a room at the Hawaii resort and others without the 11 month window. I hear and see both, “never had a problem” and “it is very difficult” from my investigations.

    I also wonder about the trade off between higher/lower up front costs and the yearly maint. fees. For example, it seems as if Bay Lakes has fairly low annual fees. that would eventually even out the overall costs over the years vs. a resort like Animal Kingdom. Am I correct?

    Thanks for the help and info.

    • Neil says:

      Just starting my research on DVC so excuse my ignorance but was wondering what is wrong with staying at Saratoga or OKW?

      • Erik says:

        We just want to be able to get the parks easier with the kids. Want a place with easy access.

      • Neil says:

        ahh, I see, I haven’t looked at a map yet to see where all the properties are located in relation to the parks…Thanks!

  47. Neil says:

    Just came back from our 3rd trip to WDW in 3 years (our 6th overall in the last 10 years) it was our first time staying onsite and think this is now the only way to stay going forward …so we are now considering DVC…we have 2 younger children and can definitely see us coming back for many more years…we are looking into the resale market but have one question, if points are trade-able to use at different resorts, what does it matter where your home base is? I am a little confused.

  48. Neil says:

    OK, after my initial post (above) I went back and read all the previous comments and did a little more research on buying resale on other sites (and still researching)…so it looks like there was some concern back in Dec 2012 that Disney sales reps were starting to tell people that DVC resales were going to start being restricted to their “home base” only…so buying DVC resale points in Vero Beach wouldn’t help you get a room at SSR…many posts/pages and months later, nothing ever materialized but there was still an overall concern that it still would be possible that it could happen, so people were pretty much recommending to buy were you would like to stay…

    A few more questions that I have that hopefully someone can chime in on, is it just me or is the general consensus here that given the choice, most people would rather not stay at SSR or OKW? Why is that?

    Also, how hard is it to get a room in the 7 month time period vs the 11 month (if you are booking where you own)?

    Has anyone heard of or had any experience/trouble booking a room in less than 7 months advance?

    Lastly, if there is a forum that I should be going to for these questions, please point me in the right direction. Thanks in advance.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      MouseOwners is a great forum to try, but you’re basically going to get the same answer there as the one here on the 7 month window–it depends. If you’re trying to get an Epcot resort for Food & Wine, you’re not going to have much luck. Same goes with popular resorts at Christmas.

      As for people not liking SSR and OKW, SSR is unpopular because of size, location, and theme. It’s rather bland. OKW is a mixed bag. Some people love it (I do) for the large rooms, lush vegetation, and relaxed themes. Others (like my wife) think it’s “just like the rest of Florida,” and too spread out.

      As for rumors from DVC reps…well, they have a vested interest in selling units. I highly doubt anything will ever change with booking at non-home resorts. There would be an incredible backlash. The only thing they’ve ever restricted have been pretty pointless perks (and terrible uses of points) for sales after a certain point.

      • Neil says:

        Thanks for the followup, my continued research has turned up the same conclusions about SSR and OKW…location

        and as far as resale restrictions the only stuff I have found so far was not being able to trade for a cruise or to trade for non-DVC stays, which from my understanding was/is a bad use of points anyway, so it wouldn’t concern us…

        so the resale market looks like the way we will be going…now where to call “home” is the next question…

    • Minnesota Claudia says:

      We stayed 2 weeks in Saratoga Springs in April 2013 — with several sets of our grandchildren and children each week. Since this was our very first time at WDW, we didn’t know that SSR was “not as desirable”. We haven’t bought a DVC….yet — so we paid rack rate, and it was a lot. But we thought SSR was just fine! we had a 2-bedroom unit, and a 1-bedroom unit, both very nice although somewhat dated. The pools were great! Restaurants were so-so.

  49. Bill says:

    Great post! I know its been there for awhile but just found it. We have been proud DVC owners since 2005, would do it again in a heartbeat! Own at SSR (never stayed there once…)and VGC in California which is very special. We have had only one issue booking at 7 months, using our Saratoga points but staying somewhere more fun for the kids…(AKV,BLT, etc.), and that was trying to book Alumni this past winter for this June. Hoping it was just the newness of the resort and we’ll get another opportunity next summer. You have brought up so many good points concerning ownership and its cost effectiveness, but we like others who have posted feel its worth every cent for the excitement, happiness and quality it brings for every vacation. Being able to return to your room for naps, prepare meals in your full kitchen, shower all three of our kids at once in the evenings (3 full bathrooms in the 2 bedroom unit…!) not to mention bringing friends and other family members with us on vacation and putting them up in first class accommodations is priceless!! Thanks again for the info and allowing us to share!

  50. Stacy says:

    My husband, two children and I are scheduled to go on our 2nd Disney cruise in October 2014. The cost for the four of us will me about $3,600 (October, 7 day Carribean). If we add the cost of this cruise with our prior cruise, we will have spent almost $7,000 on Disney cruises. However, after experiencing a Disney cruise, we can’t imagine going back to another cruise line.

    So here’s my question…we assume this won’t be our last Disney cruise. We’re thinking since we’re spending the money anyway, why not buy a timeshare interest from DVC and every few years use our points for cruises. I know they’re not the best use of points, by our thoughts are, if we’re going to be spending the money on the cruises anyway, why not do it this way and have the residual benefit of added points for stays on the off years when we do not cruise…any thoughts?

    • Tom Bricker says:

      This could work, but you’d be better off renting out your points to others in years you’re going to cruise and then paying for the cruise out of pocket. DCL is *that bad* of a use of points.

      To illustrate the point, you’d be WORSE off buying a DVC membership and only using it for DCL than you would if you paid rack rate on all of your cruises.

  51. Lauren says:

    My grandparents bought the Disney Vacation Club membership in 1992. I assume they probably got a better deal upfront because the program was so new. They used to be frequent visitors at WDW because we have family down there, and they would (and still) share their points with the rest of the family. Between our DVC member benefits and having family members who are Disney employee’s and AP holders we’ve been able to save quite a bit of money. The real downside to the DVC package is of course that it does work like a time share and it’s very hard to understand. My dad and I went to one of the sales things they give out at Saratoga Springs to get the free ice cream at the end – and after they told us all about how the point system works we STILL came out confused.

    I think DVC is a good deal if you have a lot of people in your family who like to go to Disney frequently, that way you can share points and never feel like your having your points go to waste.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      If they bought in back in 1992, they got a GREAT deal. No doubt about that. Prices had close to tripled since then.

  52. Debbie says:

    We just did the DVC tour and I am wondering if what we are being offered is a good deal. We are getting 200 points at the Animal Kingdom for the price of 100 points. I have read most of the comments and have read your guide, but the initial purchase is still scary. We do like to try and vacation at Disney every other year and my husband does the prefer the plush resorts over the value resorts. You also have the cost of the park hoppers and food.

    What is a girl to do???

    • Tom Bricker says:

      What’s the price per point? Compare the per point price to the current per point prices on the resale market.

      • Debbie says:

        the 100 points are at 145.00. But I also am wondering will we be charged the annual fee on the 200 or 100. I have a feeling it’s on 200 so the extra 100 isn’t exactly free.

      • Tom Bricker says:

        Is this just for a year, or for the duration of your ownership? I haven’t heard of any promotions that essentially give you 50% off the points.

      • Debbie says:

        after further review of my packet that just came, the free points are from 2012 so I will only have to pay the fee on 100 every year.

      • Debbie says:

        So how long would I have to carry over the 100 points from 2012. I guess I am still confused on the carryover part of the point system.

    • Carletta says:

      Hi Debbie,
      We are considering the DVC timeshare as well. I’m shocked to read you were offered 200 points for the price of 100. Were you at a Disney property? We weren’t offered anything that good. I think we are paying $150 a point for Grand Floridian – we were not told about the Animal Kingdom offer. Can you please elaborate.
      Carletta

      • Paula says:

        They very likely aren’t getting 200 for the price of 100. They are simply getting what dvc must give them. For a use year month later than the current purchase month, it is still the 2012 use year. I.e. a September use year runs from September 1 to August 31. So this is still the 2012 use year for a September use year, and thus dvc must give the purchaser 2012 points. I dont know what use year the OP bought, but it was very likely for a month after the purchase month. If you bought an April use year in June (if dvc would let you), they would not have to give you 2012 points. 2012 use year points must be used by the end of their use year or banked into the next year by four months prior to the end of the use year. However when buying direct and already past the banking deadline, dvc will normally let you bank right at purchase time.

        However maintenance fees are paid on a calendar year basis. So dvc may charge the buyer maintenance fees for the portion of the calendar year remaining.

        So to summarize, a purchase in June of a september use year contract will give the buyer the full complement of 2012 points but likely require six months worth of maintenance fees. This is all relative to buying direct. (And by the way, you can buy any resort direct from dvc. You have to go on a wait list for resorts not currently being sold, though, and wait until dvc acquires some points back for the old resort.).

        Having said all that, I agree with Tom that resale is the only way to go for dvc unless you absolutely must own at a resort that is not yet available via resale (GFV) or are adding on a small number of points that are difficult to find via resale. AKV is available via resale for half the price Disney is selling it for direct.

  53. Patricia says:

    Can anyone tell me how comfortable the queen sleeper sofa is for tall teenagers? I have two teenage daughters who are taller than me and hate sharing a bed. Spending so much money for them to share a pull out couch or a sleeper chair is counter-intuitive. It looks like to make this work for us, I would have to get 300 or more points so I can get two-bedroom villas and insure they have a comfortable bed. Comments?

    • Jen says:

      Hi Patricia.

      I actually just returned from a trip to Aulani with my parents one week ago. We stayed in DVC studio accomodations for 7 nights there. My bed there was the queen sleeper sofa.

      For me, it was one of the more comfortable sleeper sofas I’ve ever seen. It has a decent amount of give, but is firm enough that you don’t feel the frame.

      I’m about 5’5″ and 135 lbs, so I fit head to toe on the sleeper with a little room to spare. (I really wouldn’t recommend it for anyone much taller, as their feet would hang off.) That being said, it isn’t very wide, so sleeping two people on it would be tight. While it is listed as a queen, I would say it’s more akin to a good size full bed.

      Whether your two teens can share the sofa bed would really depend on their size and whether they would be upset with sleeping so closely together.

  54. Kevin says:

    I am new to the idea of DVC ownership and don’t understand the details yet but I have a question…
    How bad of an idea is it to buy a small amount of points (like 150) with the thought being that our family will take a Disney vacation once every 2-3 years? Therefore, allowing your points to add up before you use them.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      That’s not at all a bad idea. In fact, I think that’s a great idea, as it prevents you from being “stuck” with too many or “forced” to take Disney trips when you otherwise wouldn’t. I’d probably do less than 150 points if that’s your plan, but that depends on what type of room you’ll want.

  55. Jeff says:

    Just wanted to say thank you so much for posting this. My wife and I were considering DVC but after reading this will move more cautiously. I was mostly thinking of researching the partner properties and your email addressed a lot of what I was wondering. Thank you so much for taking the time to write and post this.

  56. Heather says:

    We bought an extended OKW contract in 2010 for 300 points. we had saved up enough money for a 7 night Disney Cruise in June along with 5 days at Animal Kingdom for our family of 4 – due to health reasons we had to cancel the trip – except now we had saved up $15,000 that was meant for a one time vacation which we then applied to DVC. Sure if cost a few thousand over the $15,000 but the way we see if that was our cost to “get into DVC” and now our cost is our yearly dues – quite a bargain from our point of view!

    • Heather says:

      we bought resale through Kinn Tuta’s site and they were wonderful and spent lots of time explaining and answering all of our questions many of which were the same as listed by others

      • Tom Bricker says:

        As noted in the article (not by his name), that’s who we used when buying our contract, too. Agree on the GREAT service!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Yep, it works out well when you have money to allocate for an expensive vacation and can put that into buying DVC instead. Certainly helps the purchase make more sense.

  57. Tom says:

    Tom, any special considerations re: points to purchase and value of DVC, for a family of 10 that required 2-bedroom suite?

  58. Justin says:

    Thank you Tom for the words of wisdom! My wife and I are seriously considering buying into DVC but wondered this… We would really like to get into the Grand Floridian’s new estate that opens in October, the price point is $150 and we can buy in as little as 100 points.

    I was considering purchasing the 100 points to give us access to as our home resort than buying additional points for Saratoga Springs in resale to make up minimal points needed for our vacations. Something like 50 to 75 points would work.

    What are your views on this? Maybe renting would be a better way of going about it for additional points?

    I know we wouldn’t be able to make the initial booking of our vacations with the additional points we buy resale but if we book 3 out of the 5 nights we want to stay @ our home resort 11 months in advance, what are the chances that we wouldn’t be able to get the additional 2 nights @ 7 months out? This has been bugging me for quite some time and one of the main reasons I haven’t pulled the trigger… PLEASE HELP!

    Thank you

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Personally, I don’t see the advantage in that. It requires you to bank on two nights being available at 7 months out and being able to predict which two nights will be available. How are you going to know which 2 nights are most likely to be available later when you book the other 3 nights at the 11 month window? You’re not. If those two nights ARE available at 7 months, it’s almost as likely that all 5 nights will be available.

      My advice would be doing it all directly from Disney or doing it all via the resale market. Since I do not recommend buying anything from Disney, I won’t recommend buying the Grand Floridian points from Disney, either. You’re basically paying DOUBLE the price you would for a resale property. To me, that makes very little sense, but I suppose if you really (and I mean REALLY!!!) love the Grand Floridian, it might make sense.

      There are times of year when every DVC resort is available at the 7 month window. Personally, I’d bank on that rather than paying the excessive direct-from-Disney cost. But that’s just me.

  59. Steve Boutet says:

    My wife and I purchased our first contract back in 2000. Up until that point, we’d been staying at Deluxe Resorts for periods of 10 to 14 days per year. Our last trip to the Poly in 2000 ran us $389 per night (before tax), so when we did the math, DVC was a no-brainer. We purchased our original 300 points at VWL for just $62 per point. When we were offered an add-on at Beach Club for the same price a year or so after, we purchased another 100 points there. Both contracts had been direct through DVC….hadn’t heard about resale at that point. Two years ago, my 3 shares of Disney stock (which I’d purchased as a teenager in ’76 for roughly $45 total) was worth more than a 200 point resale at VWL. As my daughters are now in their early 20′s, I found that “investing” these stock $’s (which I was probably never going to sell) would actually make more sense put into DVC, since within a few years, they’ll probably both have families, and we’ll all be able to vacation together in VERY comfortable surroundings. So with 500 at VWL and 100 at BCV, we’ve got a lot of points to play with. The only trouble we’ve ever had was with the 100 points at BCV, as it really didn’t “work” when booking 11 months out, as we prefer a 2 bedroom unit when we travel together. Luckily, I’ve been doing a couple 5 or 6 day solo trips each year, and I’d use those 100 points for studio stays at Kidani or Saratoga, or whatever was available, but they are still the “odd points out”. Call me crazy, but for the past year, I’ve been looking for those perfect BCV points (Dec use year, and more than 150 points). BCV resales go fast, as they don’t seem to come up very often, and when they do, they’re not in my use year. Well, I finally got my wish (actually 252 points), and for just a couple dollars more per point than those original BCV points in 2001. In my opinion, resale is the only way to purchase now, considering that the small restriction is really no restriction at all when you plan on using them at DVC resorts. Obviously, we’re huge fans of DVC as we will always stay on property and always want the Deluxe Resort amenities. Since every point we’ve purchased has been less than $70, no matter how we look at it, we’ve saved dollars, but once we were in, it wasn’t so much about saving $’s, but about getting the most out of those $’s. We’re definitely getting Deluxe accommodations as a very, reasonable price. Is $150 per point worth it? Not to me, but for the price I’ve paid, DVC has more than met our expectations. Of course, having both Wilderness Lodge and Beach Club as our homes couldn’t be better, but then there’s nothing like a boat ride home from the Magic Kingdom, or a stroll around The Boardwalk to finish a day at Walt Disney World.

  60. Me gusta tu blog, acabo de descubrilo y a partir de ahora soy Fun. Saludos

  61. Amanda says:

    So, these “incentives” that you’re no longer eligible for. Is that currently just the non DVC vacationing? I’ve not been able to find ANY other loss of incentive when purchasing a resale.

  62. Dave Barkley says:

    My wife goes to disney once a year, sometimes twice a year. A friend, who is a DVC member, said it would probably be beneficial if we became members. I have contacted Disney and got all their information, I have researched online and found the resale market. The pricing in the resale market seemed really too good to be true, compared pricewise. My wife really wanted bay lake, Disney doesnt offer it but it is available on the resale side. At the animal kingdom, 200 points at resale is basically 10,000 cheaper than disney. they always say if it looks too good to be true it usally is. What are the pitfalls with going with resale? Does it work the same as if you purchased through Disney, besides not beain able to do the additional stuff, the adventure packages and such? This website has been very informative and it is nice to know that people do by resale, I am just a little nervous about it.

  63. Chris says:

    We have 220 points at Saratoga Springs and want to sell them. My wife read on DVC website that after 2011 anyone who buys points on the resale market won’t be able to use the points for any Disney resorts!! Is this true?

  64. John says:

    I am SOOO GLAD I found this blog and all the great responses! My wife and I recently did the DVC tour in Disneyland and were looking at buying into the Aulani. We were going to go with the “cheapest” plan (100 points) just to get in and were going to finance it. We sat at our dining room table for hours and discussed the pros, cons, and economics of it all. There were a few arguments and moments of stress whether or not “to pull the trigger.”

    Then I decided to do some online research and found this blog…what a lifesaver! I had no idea about resale and/or renting points. This site was extremely helpful! In the end, we decided it was best for us to not purchase at this time, but instead seriously consider renting points or buying resale.
    Thanks so much for a thorough, detailed blog!

  65. Shawn says:

    We purchased our points at Animal Kingdom Lodge on a cruise in 2011. I really wish we had purchased sooner. We plan on using our points every 2 years or so and will stay in villas that are better than any WDW room we could afford.

  66. Jen says:

    Hey Tom. My boyfriend and I have been reading all your DVC reviews and tips since we’re considering purchasing into Saratoga Springs via the resale market. We definitely want the opportunity to try some of the other DVC locations once we buy in as well. We always like to hit WDW for Food and Wine Fest and from what I’ve read, that’s super popular among DVC members.

    It seems as though you and Sarah have had a lot of luck booking outside your home resort of Saratoga Springs. Do you find that it’s difficult to book at the 7 month mark? Do you have any tips on getting into other resorts?

    Thanks for all your helpful info! :)

  67. All of this information was really great and is important if you are trying to make an informed decision.
    I agree about the Mousekeeping thing. I always feel pressured to clean up my room before I leave each day for the housekeeping.

  68. Jared says:

    Thank you for the great write up

  69. teresa says:

    Thanks for a very informative blog. Have learned a great deal. I have a few more points I learned during this purchase process -(saratoga still under contract). I originally signed during our recent trip to DW for 100 points at $150 / point at Grand Floridean. Wow what a beautiful place & location location, location. But after my recent multiple phone calls to quality assurance people! More research, extensive spreadsheet, more questions from contract answered,I revised my contract for saratoga. Most points for dollar & lowest maintenance. We bought from DVC direct? I was relieved to see that is what you recommended & got 20 more points. For the sam e amount of money as originally signed with GF. Price per point cheaper. 150 vs 125. We had looked at outside disney and it concerned me long term care of property & economic stability of some of the companies managing property?. Disney owns & manages its own timeshare. Maintenance is a given Stability is essentially guaranteed. Being a commercial property manager by profession, disney has a slam dunk on proprty maintenance & upkeep. I do have questions on restrictions for buying resale still,but for my initial purchase felt it made sense to buy direct.
    Is there a cutoff date for restrictions of resale?
    Still not exactly clear what those restrictions are? So far the question remains 1 not able to use resale points for cruise. 2 not able to use resale for adventures by disney? 3 not able to get specials offered to other members? These are some things that I came across in conversations with disney staff. What specifics still remain clouded. Overall, I am very excited to be a member. Have lots to learn.

  70. Chris Terry says:

    Great article. It hit a lot of the points why we bought, but also illuminated some things that we didn’t even consider. We have enjoyed using the concierge collection, booking five days at the Grand Wailea on Maui, and thoroughly enjoyed the stay. We have used the crap out of our DVC and have not minded paying for the annual maintenance fees. Tom was correct when he said, “If you are happy with owning a piece of the magic, then nothing else matters”, definitely sums up why we purchased. I also agree that it isn’t for everyone for all the same reasons. You need to look at what you want and what you feel you will get out of the purchase. Personally, I love the “Welcome Home” mat. It makes me feel like my family are more than tourists. That we are actually part of the Disney family.

  71. Bill says:

    Amen Chris Terry!!!

  72. Renee says:

    Enjoyed your article! However I see that you are looking at this purchase as strictly a monetary thing. My husband and I have owned Disney points since 1996 (Old Key West, and bty I love this resort) and we bank and borrow every three years. We once rented a three bedroom villa for 7 days are were able to treat my sister and her family (4) and my parents to stay free, when my brother married in Florida. We live in Nova Scotia and it is not all that easy to make the trip to Disneyworld. I must also say that I disagree with your assessment of using your look at the Cruise Line. We took our last Cruise in August 2012 (#3). If you consider that the cruise is all inclusive and the amenities available and put a monetary price on this it is pretty fantastic. The first cruise we took we were able to put our kids in the Oceanear club, they insisted on staying all day everyday…free babysitter …well that freed my husband and to a fantastic kid-free vacation…without the guilt. We also were able to do some site seeing in the Bahamas…without the whining and complaining and some quiet beach time. The meals are fantastic and with two growing and hungry boys a dinner bill can add up. How about a seven day trip to DisneyWorld x all the meals x 5 = $$$ On the Cruise all breakfast and lunches are buffet style. Now that my kids are older, they are able to explore the ship without supervision and the clubs offered for the tween is incredible. Every night the cruise offers a theatre play and a show somewhere. I understand that this article was mostly about cost, but an almost perfect vacation…with kids…is sometimes worth paying extra for. I have 222 points and have no problem using them up. If we drive we will plan our routes to take in the various RCI’s located around our destination. Our next Cruise is already in the planning stage for 2015. I look at this purchase like I look at my car. It cost a lot of money, but I still I have one, even though I might not need it and it has some upkeep…But I would not go without.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      The article doesn’t look at DVC strictly as a monetary thing (there’s a whole non-economic section of the article), but you’re right, that is the dominant concern here. If it weren’t objective, it could basically just be a couple of paragraphs paraphrased as, “do what makes you happy!”

      From an objective perspective, using DVC points on Disney Cruise Line is a bad idea. You’re much better off renting out your DVC points to someone else, and paying out of pocket for the cruise. That’s strictly in terms of numbers, as it should be.

      The analogy to the car doesn’t quite work for me. That is, unless you are willing to pay any amount for a car because you simply “have to have one.” To the contrary, most people I know comparison shop when buying cars and try to haggle down the price. They do have to have a car, but they also try to be savvy consumers and get good value for their money. Same idea here.

      • John Scott says:

        Tom, got an offer to buy 150 pts (private resale) at Boardwalk. If we buy from secondary market may we use those points in Disneyland Or the hotel in Hawaii?
        Great site with practical, usable information, thanks.

  73. OMB says:

    There is no doubt that if we did the numbers, and believed in those numbers back in 1995, we may have not bought in. BUT … after crunching the numbers with the type of accommodations available, the joy it’s brought us being there with our kids, sharing it with our family members, etc … it has become a great investment for us.

    Being able to book a Tree House villa, the Grand Villa at OKW, the Beach Cottage at VB, or just a studio for a quick getaway continues to allow us to afford a vacation in a nice setting, with nice amenities, and to enjoy the food and watching people.

    We have yet to use our points to venture out to DisneyLand or on a cruise, but that time is coming. A trip out to DL, then up to Portland OR to visit the food scene up there is in the cards. Not to mention a cruise to Alaska.

    Having points available to us allows us to dream, and then make those dreams come true.

  74. Lauren says:

    Tom – thank you so much for this write up!! I have 2 children and am very excited about buying a DVC resale for future vacations. Is there a way to demystify the whole idea of points? How do you have a good amount??

  75. Whats up are using WordPress for your site platform?
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  76. Sharlene says:

    I would be very leery of buying anywhere and expecting to book Grand Floridian Villas or Polynesian at 7 month. More times that not you will be disappointed in not being able to. Sure you could get the random day here and there but if you really want to stay there for a week at prime DVC time such as early December, you will need to own there.

    Also as to buying resale, also know that DVC does have the option to restrict owners to their own resort. If that would not bother you in the least, then definitely buy resale and save money.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      For prime times, I think you’re right, but that’s true pretty much everywhere. For most of the year, I don’t think a “random day here and there” is going to be the case at the Grand Floridian Villas or the Polynesian Village Villas for most of the year. We haven’t found that to be the case at other DVC resorts–even the smaller Beach Club Villas. The higher point charts will take care of some of the demand.

      As for DVC restricting owners in the future per the contract, that language is in the contract, but statements made by agents regarding bookings that purchasers reasonably relied upon when making their purchase makes that very, very unlikely. I can’t fathom that Disney Legal would EVER let a restriction like that come to pass. It would almost have to apply to prospective purchasers only (or prospective resale purchasers if Disney wanted to create another incentive for buying direct), rather than those who have already purchased.

  77. Carissa says:

    Really curious about the vacation club…isn’t the hotel the cheapest part of a Disney world vacation?? There are no discounts for park hoppers, right? What about the many times of the year where they offer free meal plans. Not an option for Disney vacation club members? We go at least once a year, sometimes more but we almost always get the free meal plan. Going to Disney for the next 50 year sounds great but having to pay for park hoppers and food every time sounds very expensive. Am I totally wrong?

  78. I’ve the worst memory! I have had a notebook/planner for years…I really never understand what I would do without the need of it!

  79. Laurie says:

    Hi, I’m thinking about purchasing a DVC timeshare, can anyone give
    a recommendation on how many points a family of 6 needs for December the week before Christmas?

  80. Brad Y. says:

    Thanks for this write up. I do have a question about cruises/adventures by Disney. I love numbers, I calculate this stuff out for fun! You have said that the cruises and adventures by disney are not good uses of points. When I calculated the numbers over the course of the 50 year plan, the average $8,000 adventures by disney trip comes in at only $2,000 if you are part of dvc and using points wisely and to your advantage.

    So I was just wondering why you say this is a bad use of points? After all, this is close to 70% cheaper!

    Thank you!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Did you factor the time value of money into your calculations? I’m not sure what your math was, but I can’t imagine a 70% savings on Adventures by Disney with DVC.

      For this, the math you should do is $10 times the number of points needed for your Adventures by Disney trip or Disney Cruise Line cruise. The reason for the $10/point number is because you could easily rent out your DVC points to someone else for that much, and then pay for the other trip out of pocket. In the past, the $10 x “Points Needed” cost has always been higher than the out of pocket cost of those trips whenever I’ve done the math.

      If you’ve found otherwise, I’d be interested in hearing your results (and math)! :)

  81. Brad Y. says:

    One more question too! Sorry! haha.

    My wife and I are both teachers, so we can only travel during the more premium seasons. In previous comments it was mentioned that if traveling during these premium seasons then the DVC becomes much more valuable. Why is this? If this is the case, it would definitely seem to make sense for us!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Although it “costs” more points during these seasons, they’re also the times Disney is least likely to offer deep discounts on rooms, making the comparative cost between DVC and booking via Disney better. Plus, since you know when those breaks are relatively far in advance, it’s easier for you to plan your bookings at the relative booking windows.

      Hope that helps!

  82. Aman says:

    Great information here, thanks for sharing. We have 2 little ones, a two year old and a newborn. We just went to Disneyland and DCA during the second week of December before the big Xmas crowds hit, and we absolutely loved it! We got a 1 bdrm suite at the DL hotel and it was crazy expensive, $600/night. I can definitely see us doing an annual trip to Disney and an occasional Orlando trip, and we would most certainly stay at a Disney resort evert time. My 2 big questions are:

    1). Will my boys quickly outgrow Disney? What have been people’s experiences with this.

    2). We are committed to going during off peak times. We check the calendars on various websites and literally look for the slowest times of the year to go because I hate waiting in line and the room rates tend to be lower. We will be willing to pull the boys out of school when we have to and we are self employed so we can leave whenever we wish. Is there substantial value during off-peak times?

    I’ll keep doing my own research too, before I make a decision. We’ll likely try renting points for the villas at the Grand Californian on our next trip. Thanks again for all the helpful info!

    Cheers!

  83. Betty says:

    Tom, your post is very informative and well written. I just met with a DVC rep last week before leaving the GF and I was waffling on making the purchase. He offered 150/pt at the GF (LOVED the new villas) for 2014 with addition of 2013 pts if I commit by the 6th.

    My son and I take at least one to two vacations per year and typically one is a cruise. We started doing WDW before/after the cruise (been doing DCL for 10 years) but as of yet have not done a stand-alone Orlando trip. Since my son is 14, I want to start changing how we vacation by trying new things…so I’m thinking about DVC.

    I was originally considering DVC since I thought you could also use points easily for non-WDW, ABD and DCL…I now know that’s not true. But I still like the option if I wanted to use up points fast or offset the out of pocket price of those trips…BUT I’d likely just use them for disney hotels and non-WDW. So I believe the latter would push me into direct purchasing (and yes, I recognize the price difference).

    Since my son is in school, we can only travel at peak times–value in DVC.

    I prefer to book my vacations well in advance and get the room I want–also value in DVC direct.

    I am spoiled and I like concierge and larger rooms…at properties with good service. While I could live without concierge…I would like to stick with one that we’ve been to so far: Grand, Contemporary (not my fav), AK and Yacht.

    I like the idea of being able to get another room for family or my son’s friend–which would be new for us…and I think this might be the best reason for me to get DVC–as I can’t see ever paying rack rates for a 2nd room at those resorts.

    I was thinking 200 pts and if I banked from one year to the next, it seems I could get a 1BR or 2 rms once a year at one of the listed hotels (at peak times) and maybe try for smaller trips as well.

    So (my question finally), if I want one of the listed hotels (GF, Con, AK) for studio or 1BR during peak times, is 200 going to work and which property would be better as my home? Would it be the cheapest one or is there something else to consider? And given the way I travel, is this a good choice?

  84. Mike says:

    Excellent write up, however I have to take issue with you recommending someone not finance their membership. When at all possible it is advisable to use someone else’s money to finance capital expenditures. Doing so transfers the risk from the buyer to the financer. While some savings are lost, these are early savings. During the life of the contract you will still save considerably even with financing. By comparing interest rates, room rates, and contract prices a financing customer will probably do slightly better than break even for the first ten years. After that the only cost will be annual dues which probably represent 25-30% of the actual room rate if being paid out of pocket. Hence the 70% savings advertised. What Disney does not account for is the promotions that you are not entitled to such as free dining plans. While interest rates are in the neighborhood of 10% on a loan, this is a fixed term loan generally at a small principal amount, thus making the higher interest rate somewhat negligible. The difference between say 4% and 10% for most contracts would most likely be no more than tens of dollars a month.
    What I will agree on is that if you are someone who does not plan on spending the majority of the next 4 decades at Disney, then don’t buy it. If you are, and you have outgrown the two beds and a mini fridge hotel room, it’s a no brainer.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I understand the risk-transfer proposition, but that’s typically applied when the purchase is viewed as a necessity (or close to it). With timeshares, not only is there no necessity, but there is also an alternative: booking a hotel room. I wouldn’t consider a $15,000-20,000 loan to be negligible, and the amount of interest on that will be substantial. (This can be easily checked with an online financial calculator.) Add to that maintenance fees, and you have an amount that is pretty substantial. That still doesn’t factor in the time value of money–as even if financed, you’re paying more of your own money at the front end than you otherwise would pay for a hotel room over time.

  85. Alex says:

    Dear Tom,

    This is a great write-up. I really wish I had read it before I bought my points. At this point, I have to say that I am not happy with the DVC. For those of you looking into purchasing points please do NOT underestimate the necessity for being able to plan in advance. I am not in a position to plan more than a month or two ahead for a Disney vacation and there is never any availability. I have owned points for a few years and while originally we were able to get rooms at Old Key West or Saratoga within the last year even those resorts are usually sold out and the new Grand Floridian didn’t seem to make a dent in availability. I can only imagine that DVC has been overselling memberships and not building enough rooms to make up for all the new members they are signing up.

  86. John says:

    Tom,
    I am a little confused and am looking for your analysis. I understand partially why you would only buy resale. I however just added on 200pts at GFV at $150 a point. My reasoning:
    I felt if I ever wanted to stay at GFV in October (Food and Wine Festival) early December, Christmas, New Years, or February through April that it would have to be my home resort, especially if you wanted to book the less expensive standard view studio. After reading your great post I questioned how tough it would be to reserve a standard view studio for the property within the 7 month window. I have been tracking the bookings at GFV and it seems that my thoughts were correct…at least for now.
    If you’re not a member at GFV, though you may be able to stay there, you will not be able to get a standard view studio most of the year, thus paying about 20% more points for a lake view room( most of standard views at the GFV are great). The lake view studios are mostly sold out at the 7 month mark for those highly desired time frames also, so I feel it will be risky to count on staying in a studio (standard or lake) a lot of the year if it’s not your home resort. Remember there are other high demand time periods that are not premier season.
    As far as the financial analysis, I paid cash to avoid the finance charges, used the money I kept in very conservative investment to lessen the time value of money calculations. I feel once the GFV are finished raising their prices and they hit the resale market in any type of quantity, they will be going for about $170 a point direct and selling on the secondary market for about $130 a point (obviously just estimates). So a $20 a point difference for the added benefits (no restrictions on point usage), picking up an additional 200 points for a 2013 August use year (already banked to 2014) seemed reasonable.
    As far as buying SS as the cheapest way in you are correct. But do you think someone with SS as a home resort would be able to stay at BLT, BWV, BCV or GFV not only in the “Peak Season” but also the high demand season such as early December, October, or most of the spring? I think it would be very tough unless you are on the computer at 8am right at the 7 month booking window. Right now, most of October 2014 in studios (standard and lake) are gone at GFV and that’s 9 months away; and October is not considered peak!!
    Another calculation I used was the 2064 ending date. This is 10 years more time than SS with 2054 expiration. So the GFV has an expiration date of 25% longer. So you saying you are buying in at 50% less is a little misleading because you are not buying the same thing.
    Lastly I do feel that the GFV are something special and even with the point chart high will be very high in demand. It is and always will be Disney’s flagship resort and it being the smallest DVC property in the Disney area, some of the old assumptions of availability at the 7 month window may not be as accurate.
    I would be interested in hearing your thoughts.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I need to update this article to account for Grand Floridian’s expiration date, but given your considerations, I think you largely hit the nail on the head. I suspect the Villas at Grand Floridian will be a tough-to-book Christmas resort, especially.

      • Lisa says:

        Wow! Thanks for all the info from Tom and other contributors.
        Just returned from a visit to WDW and purchased 100 units at GFV. My concern is that we won’t have enough points to get accommodations for my family of 5. At $150/point we can’t buy anymore. Can still cancel the purchase and I’m wondering if we should buy resale to get in instead. GFV are beautiful but we also think they other resorts look great. Our preference would be for a one bedroom every 2nd year. It would be nice to be able to take along friends/family too. Also would love to go on a cruise but reading this isn’t the greatest use of points. At the current resale prices at AKV are these sellers taking a loss? Trying to do some math but not sure what was paid/point. Yes, we will have 50 years at GFV but is this a good option? Lastly, what happens at the end of the contract? Left with nothing? Does Disney plan on offering extensions? This is an important question we didn’t think to ask :(
        Any insight would be appreciated in the next 5 days to help with our decision.

      • Marie says:

        I booked a week for a one bedroom villa the Grand for Christmas to celebrate my University graduation, but it helps that this is my home resort so I get to book 11 months prior to everyone. But booking it for my son’s birthday this coming April was impossible there is NOTHING available…but either way we chose the Animal Kingdom which to me it seems more adventurous for a turning 2 year old, lol, and for us too… :)

  87. Lisa says:

    I should add, we live in Ontario, Canada so going for a few days is not an option due to the distance. Our trips would be a minimum of a week, probably 10 days.
    Also someone stated earlier that since cruises were all inclusive the points used were worth the value.
    Have heard that cruise specials are offered to DVC members, how often does that happen?
    Why are Vero Beach points only $50? Would it be smart to buy these?
    Should we keep our 100 GFV points and pickup another 100 resale somewhere? This would give up 200 points. Could we use all the points at GFV?
    Is it hard to rent out points? Is it harder to rent out the points at older resorts?
    Lisa

  88. Lindsey says:

    All of this is great info, but I am confused to pieces on all the acronyms people are using on this comment board!! Is there a guide?? I can’t figure out half of the stuff people are referring to.

    I’m considering DVC (ha, figured that one) and am trying to make sense of it all. Thank you!!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I don’t know of any guide, but here are a few that come to mind:

      ROFR – right of first refusal
      VGF – Villas at Grand Floridian
      BVC – Beach Club Villas
      VWL – Villas at Wilderness Lodge
      BWV – BoardWalk Villas
      BLT – Bay Lake Tower
      SSR – Saratoga Springs Resort
      OKW – Old Key West
      AKV – Animal Kingdom Villas
      AKL – Animal Kingdom Lodge

      I’m sure I’m missing some, but those ones jump to mind. If you have any others, let me know what they are and I’ll try to help!

  89. Erin says:

    Hi Tom,
    Just a question for you, or anyone else. We just bought into the dvc in Hawaii and are now wondering if it was a good decision. My two kids will be in school soon so we will likely be travelling on holidays. How do you feel about having to book the hotels so far in advance, and then you can’t pick your days to fly too easily and you may have to fly on a pricey day. Typically now we travel close to our date and try to get cheap hotels and airfare, but with dvc you are pretty much locked into the hotel date. I know that you can try to book the hotel with less notice, but it seems like things fill up quickly. Thanks for the advice in advance! Erin

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I agree with your thinking. Fluctuations in airfare prices to Orlando aren’t as big of a deal, because “cheap” v. “expensive” might be a difference of $100/ticket. It all adds up, but still, not huge. However, cheap airfare to Hawaii for us is $500, and expensive is $1,000+. That’s a huge swing, and for that reason alone, I wouldn’t want to be locked into booking there far in advance, unless I could also score an advance deal on airfare.

      Aulani looks great, but I wouldn’t own points there–as an entirely personal matter based on the above. When looked at by itself, buying Aulani DVC points might save you money (I’ve never done the math on it), but there are big variables outside of the points themselves when buying at Aulani. Namely, airfare.

  90. Chet says:

    Tom – Great information. I have enjoyed reading everyone’s comments too. We became DVC members in 2010 and should have done it in 2000 when were first started going to WDW. For those of you who are not pre-planners, this is not the program for you. Our entire 2014 vacation schedule was planned by September 2013. We have 3 WDW vacations (two are just for a few days prior to a cruise) and we have 2 cruises (one being a member cruise) already booked. The DVC system REQUIRES you to pre-plan, especially if you want the popular resorts. I bought points at 6 resorts, so I would have home preference at those resorts. I bought Grand Floridian when it was first offered and will buy Polynesian when it becomes available. We buy several hundred points at each resort because of our room preferences. We stay 2 bedroom villa and higher when we stay at the resorts and on the cruise we stay one bedroom concierge level only. DVC has forced us to vacation more and that is a good thing for us. We used to take one week a year and then work our butt’s off the rest of the year. With DVC, we are vacationing more, enjoying time with one another more and focus more on family. So, my advice to anyone looking at buying DVC – do it, and buy as many points as you can. Believe me, you don’t want to leave points behind and risk losing them. For me, I make sure all of our points are accounted for and we are a happier family for it. Tom hit the nail on the head when he said “you can not put a price on happiness”. So true. By the way, economically speaking, it works, regardless of how many points you own. Just make sure you buy enough points to stay nice. You won’t regret your purchase.

    As for Aulani – we own points and have been there once. Our goal here was to use these points toward our cruises and maybe travel to Aulani every 3 years. Same for the points we bought at Grand Californian. Remember, DVC is a vacationing system that you must learn, to accomplish your vacationing goals. Do not approach DVC as a deeded real estate transaction, although it is. DVC is a vacation system, that once you learn the process, can be very fulfilling.

  91. Annette Rawlings says:

    We looked at buying into DVC on our first trip to WDW back in 2009 but after doing the math decided against it HOWEVER with the gift of hindsight wish we had have. We made a return trip to WDW in 2011 and stayed for 5 weeks including 2 DLC cruises (Bahamas & Caribbean). If we had bought into DVC on the first trip we could have saved ourselves a small fortune. We bought into DVC while on one of the cruises with Aulani as our “home” because being from Australia we felt Hawaii is a lot closer to home than Florida. Since buying into DVC we haven’t personally used any points ourself but have sold our points through David’s Vacation Club Rentals and can’t speak highly enough of their service. The money earned from selling the points more than covered the annual dues, so we were happy and any extra stays in PayPal in $US waiting to be used. Wish Disney would accept PayPal, then we wouldn’t have to convert to $AU and then back to $US to pay them. Maybe one day they will get with the times and offer PayPal. In the meantime we look forward to using some points personally later this year in Florida (fingers crossed). And in the future we plan on splitting our points evenly between our 2 kids (now 19&18)as part of their inheritance LOL

  92. Timeshares can be an ok option for many travelers, as they can also bring many problems.

  93. Marie says:

    Loved the article and you are very right, it does not fit everyone and everyone will have different reasons and views for joining or not.

    We recently signed up for DVC, at first I was adamant at the whole thing and to be honest did the tour to find out and see the resort villas (and of course the $100 in gift cards, lol). But the main reason that I decided to take the tour was after our stay at the All-Star Sports Resort. We arrived at our hotel a little over 11pm, it was freezing cold and we had our infant boy with us. I checked us in while my husband and son waited in the car. As you can imagine I had luggage worth for a one week stay plus all the gadgets I need for my son. When I asked the front desk lady for a luggage handler, she replied that the hotel was not the grand and that I should accommodate to what I had paid for… Mind you my stay at the All Star Sports was over $1000.00 for 4 nights including the dining plan, plus 300 some dollars for a Disney Floral surprise for my son. I was livid when she said this. I had chosen to stay there, because when I found out I was pregnant I was at the Sports and we had said that if it was a boy we would take him to the Football field they had I thought it would be awesome for him…not because we did not have the money to stay at the Grand. We have a 20 month old son that would have nothing to do at the Grand and the Animation was sold out as well as the Movies.

    As some of you, I am a number cruncher and I have crunched the numbers and it does make great sense to me, more than that I know the service at those resorts and believe me when I say its not at all like the service at the All Star Resorts. Being a mom, I need a little bit more space than the regular moderate resort room, and unfortunately for me, the Animation is almost always booked specially the Nemo and Cars Suites. We booked the Animal Kingdom lodge (although not our home resort) for my son’s 2nd birthday on April that will be our first stay with the Disney Vacation Club.

  94. Bernadette says:

    Tom, what are your thoughts on SSR versus an OKW extended contract (both resale)? We are a family of five, and it appears that 1 bedrooms at SSR officially only sleep four (OKW lists five), which obviously isn’t ideal for us. TIA!

  95. Chet says:

    Tom – I have bought all of my points directly from Disney. If I remember correctly, those who buy resale from anyone else but Disney do not get the full “perks” offered to those who bought directly from Disney. I know I saw an email from DVC about 1-2 years ago discussing this and outlining those perks and services that will not be available to anyone who bought outside of Disney. Do you remember seeing something like this? If so, what are the advantages of buying from anyone but Disney? I bring this up because DVC launched the new “Member Magic” program and I bet there is language in the purchase agreements that prohibit resale members from taking advantage of these special perks (which I am told will continue to grow over the next year). Your thoughts?

    Chet

  96. LD says:

    Good information! My husband and I have been members since 1996!! The year Vero Beach opened up, we bought 150 points at Vero. We are a family of 4 now and our 2 children have reached the glorious college years (and tuitions!). That said, we have thoroughly enjoyed the Disney vacations through the years and it was with much trepidation that we have just sold our points. We have found the maintenance fees increase faster than our salaries have and simply cannot justify $1300/year wasted on fees. We live in Ohio and to use our points at our beloved Vero means airfare and rental car, which all adds up to a very stressful vacation to pay for. Instead, we will take that money and actually be free to book a vacation anywhere! Plus, we still have the freedom to rent points if we ever want to return to Disney resorts.
    Personally, I loved the vacation club when it first began but through the years Disney just didn’t STOP with the additions of new resorts thus decreasing the value of existing ownerships. Can’t blame them, they are a business but wish they would have kept it limited. BTW, anyone told that their points retain value or increase in value is just not telling the truth in today’s economy.

  97. Julia says:

    Hello Tom, I have been reading the blog looking for some advice. I hope you can help me. Im a DVC member since 1998-1999 ( Old Key West), 150 points. My kids are now in college, using the points is not a priority anymore, and the membership has become very expensive. I would like to sale the property but there are a couple of websites out there and I have no idear which one to choose. Any advice would be very welcome :)

  98. Lesley White says:

    We are seriously considering the purchase of a DVC membership. For us, we have loved the convenience of purchasing the Disney Dining plan with our previous stays. I am a bit confused. Are we still able to buy the dining plan? Having all of the meals pre-paid before our trip is very important. Thanks for the help!

  99. Jeff says:

    Great article Tom! With your next update, I wish you would address a section specifically towards the possibilities of restrictions by Disney, etc. and why that could but most likely won’t happen to any real extent. Reading through the comments to find folks addressing it w your responses gets a little time consuming. I’m considering a resale purchase after buying through DVC the first time. Currently on a wait list w Disney (the restriction thing spooked me alttle) but I’m tired of waiting… After doing research, while still nervous about it, I’m probably going resale now. Any additional thoughts on it, outside what other forums have said would be helpful… Not legal advice you understand but just more legal insight. ;) thanks in advance!

  100. Jasmin says:

    Awesome! overview about the Disney vacation club definitely all the visitors would love to read this article it was just amazing while reading it…

  101. Brian S says:

    Just left the DVC tour. What they told me is if you sell your DVC contract. The purchaser does NOT receive the same benefits. I.E. you can not book the Disney Cruise or some of the other other Disney resorts. Just the Disney World or land resorts.

    The CM said you lose most of your benefits buying a resale.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Of course they did, they are trying to make the sale. They will paint resale in the worst light possible.

      The benefits you “lose” when purchasing via resale aren’t benefits in the first place. Those are awful uses of points, and it’s actually a bad idea to purchase Disney Vacation Club if you won’t use it at Disney Vacation Club resorts.

  102. Steve says:

    We just returned from a Disney Cruise and purchased 400 points, anticipating that we would be using it frequently on cruises and some non-Disney resorts. We have already discovered that DCL is indeed a poor use of points, especially since we are now spoiled by having been in a 1 bdrm suite, but it still seemed like the non-Disney resorts were a decent value. We live in San Diego, and signed up for Aulani as our home resort, which I’m sure we will use every 2-3 years. We may go to Florida occasionally, but not too often, and we will do probably 1 or 2 weekends a year at DLR. We anticipate traveling to a variety of places, and are really second guessing whether we are going to get tired of Disney if we feel obligated to use points on a Disney resort hotel every time we want to use points. We have a week to decide if we want to cancel it. Is it really a very bad use of points at all of the non-Disney resorts, and do you think we’d be better off not limiting ourselves with these preferences?

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Based on everything you wrote, our recommendation would be to cancel. If you want to travel to a variety of places and just some Disney, you’re far better off buying a (significantly cheaper) timeshare via one of the other timeshare companies. If you go with an RCI timeshare, you can always try to trade into Disney (it’s tough, but not impossible).

      Another good idea might be to look at how many points you’d need for Aulani on that once every 2-3 years trip, and buy half that many points, and use the banking and borrowing mechanisms to space out trips better.

      Sorry to be the bearer of bad news–Disney Vacation Club works really well for a lot of people, but I just see 400 points being very excessive for people in your circumstances. Hope that helps! :)

  103. Adam says:

    I have a quick question. When reserving a room in advance do you have to have points at the time of the reservation or at the time of the stay? For example if I have used my 2014 points and get points on 3/1/2015. Can a reserve a room for 4/1/2015 now? Or do I have to wait until I get my point on 3/1/2015 to reserve that room?

  104. Jessica says:

    Hi Tom, my husband and I are seriously considering DVC. I actually was really close to buying new when I read this article and researched to confirm that using points outside of the DVC resorts is a horrible use of money. At your recommendation we’ve been looking at the resale market and found a couple of great contracts at the Hilton Head Resort in South Carolina. We live in SC and love Hilton Head although I doubt we would ever stay at this Disney property. We would be buying to use the points at Disney World Resorts and a Disneyland. My question is- is it smart to buy at a resort you have no intention of going to just to use the points at other resorts? We typically will visit WDW at the moderate to busy seasons and my concern is if we wanted to go to WDW at Christmas would we have a difficult time finding a room because we will not have a home resort to fall back on?

    • Tom Bricker says:

      No, it is not, at least in the case of Hilton Head. I assume what’s tempting about that contract is the low per point cost. However, take a look at the maintenance fees, and you’ll see why it will actually cost you much more over the lifetime of the contract.

      If you are more concerned with the up-front cost, I guess consider it, but I would look at one of the Walt Disney World DVC resorts instead.

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