Disney Vacation Club is implementing new restrictions on resale purchases made after January 18, 2019. From then on, DVC resale contracts purchased for the original 14 resorts at Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and 3 stand-alone locations will only be able to use their points at those 14 existing resorts.
Perhaps more significantly, buyers who purchase a resale of Disney’s Riviera Resort or Reflections – A Disney Lakeside Lodge will only be able to stay at the DVC resort they purchased. While we’ve seen resale restrictions in the past, this is the harshest to date, and could have significant ramifications. Fortunately, there is some good news…
Any contracts submitted to Disney for right of first refusal prior to January 19, 2019 will be grandfathered in, and not subject to these restrictions. In other words, if you bought at Saratoga Springs Resort next week and submitted that to Disney for ROFR, you’d be able to use your points at all original 14 resorts plus Riviera, Reflections, and whatever is built next.
As such, if you’re thinking about buying into Disney Vacation Club via the resale market, do not hesitate. Contact one of the resellers (we recommend DVC Resale Market, one of this site’s sponsors) as soon as possible, and make an offer. We are expecting sellers to be inundated with offers over the course of the next couple weeks (possibly causing a near-term spike in prices), so you don’t want to wait until the last minute on this.
If you can’t buy until on or after January 19, 2019, we would recommend sticking with the 14 ‘classic’ Disney Vacation Club resorts. We’d also recommend waiting at least a few weeks for the resale market to settle. This is not a significant restriction for the classic resorts, but it could potentially impact resale prices to a slight degree (it’s unlikely to have a major impact on prices at the ‘classic’ DVC resorts), and you don’t want to buy high.
Our rationale for recommending the existing DVC resorts is simple: they’re in all the best locations at Walt Disney World. Disney Vacation Club has been added to every single monorail resort, and has nearly full coverage at the resorts near Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom.
Unless Walt Disney World gets a fifth gate (I doubt I’ll see that in my lifetime), there’s currently a DVC resort everywhere that matters. The parcels being developed at this point are ‘consolation prizes’ of sorts. “Where will they build the next DVC?!” is such an open-ended question because there are no obvious locations.
The most appealing attribute of the Riviera is the gondola, and we’d argue this ‘amenity’ is bested by BoardWalk and Beach Club, which are within walking distance of DHS and Epcot. ‘Reflections’ is likely to be a redux of the Wilderness Lodge properties…and that’s the best case scenario.
About the only future DVC resort that could be hotly sought-after would be the Epcot entrance resorts…and those hotels are only rumored at this point. (No, the Star Wars “Starship” Hotel won’t have a DVC component.)
Given how much of a boondoggle Aulani has been (with Hilton Head and Vero Beach doing only marginally better), don’t expect future stand-alone DVC development. Disneyland is another story entirely, and the now-canceled hotel there did have an unannounced DVC wing.
However, the Grand Californian is already so difficult to book that you pretty much need to own there in order to get it, and the same will undoubtedly be true of whatever DVC properties are built there in the future. So, even those resale owners who aren’t technically subject to the restriction will be shut out from a practical perspective, anyway.
Disney probably has several rationales for implementing this restriction, but my suspicion is they believe that it will make direct sales easier. Right now, when a potential buyer brings up resale, the agent’s retort revolves around perks, ancillary benefits, and using DVC points on things that are a bad use of points, anyway.
Going forward, the argument is much more clear cut: if you buy resale, you won’t have full access to the Disney Vacation Club resort portfolio. As a scare tactic, there’s certainly value in that.
DVC guides are masterful salespeople. They will certainly be able to paint a rosy picture of the new resorts, talking up the Riviera and how cool it’ll be to take a gondola from the resort to see Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. There will be an emotional appeal in this to some potential buyers.
I’d argue that there’s also tremendous potential for that to backfire. If someone is asking about resale in the first place (most potential buyers don’t even know there’s a resale market, much less the advantages of it), they are at least semi-informed.
Moreover, if someone knows the upsides to buying via resale, they are likely also going to be aware of the new big downside of buying direct at the Riviera: a handcuffed resale market for that resort. This may not be a big deal for some people who plan on owning DVC forever, but savvy buyers will certainly balk at the prospect of their ‘investment’ dropping significantly the moment they ‘drive it off the lot,’ so to speak.
The best DVC sales pitch simply revolves around the emotional value of ‘owning a piece of the magic’ for your kids and their future kids, and being close to Cinderella Castle. If I’m a buyer likely to be persuaded by that pitch, I don’t really care that I won’t have access to a bland, Moderate-adjacent hotel.
Admittedly, I was never in the market to buy at Disney’s Riviera Resort in the first place, as it doesn’t really appeal to me, but I certainly wouldn’t be now. There’s no price-point, no purchase incentive, etc., that could convince me Riviera is a smart buy when it first goes on sale. Without having any reasonable insight into its future resale value, Riviera is simply too risky.
With a thriving point rental market and demand for both Walt Disney World hotels and Disney Vacation Club being higher than ever, I doubt these restrictions will have much of an impact on Disney’s Riviera Resort’s value in the short term. However, DVC is a long-term purchase and it’ll certainly be the most vulnerable property when the economy isn’t as strong or if Disney’s popularity wanes.
Fear of missing out is a powerful motivator, and many potential buyers might be very reticent to purchase via resale if they don’t have the ability to use their points at Riviera, Reflections, and whatever future resorts are in the pipeline. I think this very well could be a miscalculation by Disney–my ‘fear of missing out’ lies more with dollars on the resale market if I ever wanted to liquidate my points. I’m less concerned about using points at future resorts when I already have 14 options, including every single ideal theme park-adjacent location at Walt Disney World.
What are your thoughts about the new restriction taking affect for Riviera, Reflections, and beyond? Do you think this will have a negative impact on resale values, or is it too early to tell? Will this cause you to not purchase Riviera or Reflections? Any questions about the restrictions? Hearing from you is half the fun, so please share your thoughts in the comments below!