Beyond the potential money saving benefit Disney Vacation Club offers, there are other member perks at Walt Disney World. DVC calls these its “Membership Extras,” which are usually discounts or special events. When looking at Disney’s site, it’s difficult to tell which of these benefits are truly…beneficial, and which are thinly-veiled marketing. In this post, we’ll share the 10 best Membership Extras offered by Disney Vacation Club, and how they might save you even more money, or otherwise benefit your value.
First up, we should offer a caveat. If you’re thinking of becoming a Disney Vacation Club member, there is a new-ish restriction that took effect last spring. Now, Members who do not purchase their ownership interest directly from Disney will not have access to Membership Extras. While existing owners (us included) were upset about this change, Disney spins it as a way for Members who purchase directly to “receive a premium advantage – in addition to all the magic that Disney has to offer.”
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the best Disney Vacation Club Membership Extras, so you can better understand whether buying into ‘da club’ is right for you!
1. Annual Pass Discounts
The key Membership Extra is the Annual Pass discount at Walt Disney World. Normally, Disney Vacation Club members save $100 per person on the Platinum and Platinum Plus Annual Passes. Additionally, they are able to purchase Annual Passes normally only offered to Florida residents, such as the Gold Pass.
This discount is available for everyone in the same household. For a family of 4, that’s a savings of $400 per year just on Annual Passes. That’s a pretty significant discount–for some families, that’s close to the cost of annual membership dues!
On occasion, there are even better temporary discounts on Annual Passes. Last year, we took advantage of a deal on the Platinum Plus Annual Pass, making it $595 after tax. A couple of years before that, there was an even better discount, both both of these have expired.
Basically, Disney offers them as ways to increase park attendance, which the parks probably don’t need in the next year or so with Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opening in just over a year, in late 2019. After that, there are plenty of new attractions on the way between 2019 and Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary in 2021, so the deep discounts on APs might be a thing of the past.
2. Ticket Discounts
Discounts on standard park tickets are less common with DVC, but they are offered from time to time, usually as a way of spiking park attendance. A few years ago, there were some really good offers; then nothing for a couple years.
Currently, there are discount tickets on hard ticket parties and special events, but nothing on standard day-tickets for DVC members. Additionally, Disney Vacation Club members will be able to enter Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at 2 p.m. instead of 4 p.m. with the general public, so that’s a small victory.
3. Moonlight Magic Special Events
At one point, these were infrequent events held a couple of times per year at Walt Disney World. Not ‘big’ enough to justify a trip down for them, and not regular enough that they’d coincide with already-planned trips. Unless you were a local or happened to get lucky, the special events were not a selling point of Disney Vacation Club.
That changed last year with Disney Vacation Club’s 25th Anniversary. We attended the Typhoon Lagoon Beach Bash, Safari Spectacular at Animal Kingdom, and 25th Anniversary Bash at Disney California Adventure. This year, there are even more events, with a few dates for every Disney park in the United States.
We expect DVC to keep these events going for the foreseeable future. These Moonlight Magic events are not just a nice perk–they’re a potential selling point for those who are leaning towards saving significant money on the resale market. Events aside, the only perk that really matters is the Annual Pass discounts, and that doesn’t matter if you’re not buying an Annual Pass.
4. Free Laundry
Every Disney Vacation Club resort has a dedicated laundry facility, and the use of the washers and dryers is no charge for Members. In my experience, these laundry rooms are fairly nice and have sufficient capacity (I’ve never had to wait to wash or dry my stuff). Even better, 1-bedroom villas and larger-sized rooms have washers and dryers inside the rooms.
I’m not a fan of cooking or cleaning while on vacation, but I’ve taken advantage of the free laundry a few times. My socks are basically a biohazard after a long day in the parks, and having access to the laundry facilities means I was everything on our last morning before heading home so I don’t have to quarantine my suitcase or throw the socks in a hazmat bag. It’s also nice for longer trips, as it means packing less.
5. Pool Hopping
One perk that Disney Vacation Club members can enjoy regardless of how they purchased is pool hopping. This concept has long been a point of contention among all Walt Disney World guests, but it’s officially sanctioned for members per Disney Vacation Club rules.
Basically, this means DVC members can use whatever pool they want, regardless of the resort at which they’re staying. There are a few exemptions, though: Bay Cove Pool at Bay Lake Tower, Uzima Pool and Samawati Springs Pool at Animal Kingdom Lodge, Stormalong Bay at Yacht & Beach Club, the leisure pool at Disney’s Beach Club Villas, Lava pool and the leisure pool at Polynesian Village, Copper Creek Springs Pool at Wilderness Lodge, and all pools at Art of Animation. Other than those, capacity restrictions still apply, and blockouts will be implemented during busier times.
6. Restaurant & Shopping Discounts
Disney Vacation Club members save 10% to 20% off dining and shopping throughout the Walt Disney World theme parks, resorts, and Disney Springs. AllEars has a good PDF comparing the current discounts (these seem to be constantly changing and are difficult to keep track of).
While these discounts are always offered, sometimes they are bumped to as much as 30% off when dining is slow. We would not be shocked to see these higher discounts return. As Disney Springs has opened in a ton of new, exceptional restaurants and prices have gone up across the board, deals have been more plentiful recently.
This might seem counter-intuitive since the whole point of Disney Vacation Club is using your points on rooms to save money. However, if you’re particularly Disney-obsessed and burn through all of your points for the next two use years in the first three months of having them (not that we know anyone who has ever done that…), this is an option.
DVC Members receive a 25% discount off the regular rack rate at Disney Vacation Club resorts only. Now, if you are in a position to need this discount, there’s a good chance you’re eligible for a better deal as an Annual Passholder. We have used our allotment of points well before we were “done” visiting for a given year, and have always found the AP or general public room-only discounts to be better for us.
In fairness, we are flexible with regard to where we stay and usually favor the resorts with the best (usually 30% or more off) deal. If you are dead-set on a particular resort, this may amount to a savings of 25% when the AP or standard room-only discount is 15% off…or nothing at all.
8. Tour & Event Discounts
This is a pretty broad category, but Disney Vacation Club members receive a 15% discount on theme park tours (like the Keys to the Kingdom tour at Magic Kingdom or the exceptional Behind the Seeds at Epcot tour). Members also received flat-rate discounts on some shows (like Cirque du Soleil).
Then there are discounts on special events. This mainly applies to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. At least, that’s how we use our member ‘tour/event’ discount most frequently.
This also extends to a bunch of other stuff, including events during the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, among other things. It’s best to check the DVC website before booking anything, as this changes.
Most importantly (yes, even more important than cake!), Top of the World also offers sweeping views of Walt Disney World comparable to those of California Grill. This means great views of the fireworks, including those shows during special events and seasonal shows. We once watched the fireworks from Top of the World Lounge on New Year’s Eve. Avoiding those crowds? Now that was pure Disney magic!
Additionally, unlike the Imagination Lounge at Epcot, this is available to all members, regardless of how they purchased their ownership interest.
10. Imagination Lounge at Epcot
One of the newer Disney Vacation Club perks is the Imagination Member Lounge in Epcot. It’s located in the Imagination pavilion, and accessible via the gift shop at the end of the attraction (you can enter through a separate door on the left side of the building…you don’t have to ride the attraction).
Almost immediately inside the door, there’s a podium with a kiosk where a Disney Vacation Club rep will ask to see your membership card and photo ID, and then allow the member (plus up to 5 guests) upstairs. The lounge is open daily from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m., and offers free Coke Freestyle, coffee, and snacks. There are also charging stations.
We love the Imagination Lounge, and visit (at least) once per day while in Epcot. First of all, free soda and gummy bears. That’s a nice plus. Second and more importantly, I have fond memories of the upstairs ImageWorks from when I was a kid, and revisiting that is always nice. The atmosphere is wonderful up there, and it’s a nice respite from the crowds and humidity.
Overall, there are a lot of Membership Extras for Disney Vacation Club members that actually will save you money or enhance your vacation experience–and we’d file all of these under one of those categories or the other. In adding up the money we save or the value we receive from special events, we find that the “benefits” of membership outside of savings on accommodations regularly amount to over $1,000 per year for us. That’s significantly more than we pay for dues each year. Obviously, this savings is going to differ for everyone–for some people, it might not be much at all. It’s just another variable worth considering when debating whether or not Disney Vacation Club is right for you.
What are your thoughts about the Membership Extras that DVC offers? If you’re a member, which benefits are your favorites, and which do you take advantage of regularly? Which are not worth it for you? Any questions about DVC perks and discounts? Hearing your feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts or questions below in the comments!