It’s not possible to live at Disney World full time, but it’s possible to feel like a homeowner by buying into the Disney Vacation Club timeshare and staying on property.
The Disney Vacation Club (DVC) was first opened in 1992 with the development of the Disney Vacation Club Resort, now known as Old Key West (OKW). Several other DVC locations followed: Boardwalk Villas (BWV), Villas at Wilderness Lodge,(VWL) Beach Club Villas, (BCV)Saratoga Springs Resort (SSR), Animal Kingdom Villas (AKV) and the newest addition, Bay Lake Towers (BLT) at the Contemporary, the first DVC on the monorail.
How Disney Vacation Club Works
There’s an initial buy into the DVC of a certain number of points. Currently, the cost is $112 per point and the minimum buy from Disney is 160 points. There are often cost decreasing incentives offered. Resales are also available from timeshares sales organizations, and once you buy into the DVC, you can add a lesser number of points through Disney to your holdings.
Unlike many timeshares, DVC allows the convenience of booking for a single night or any number of days. Weekend points are higher than weekday points. The number of points to book a one-week reservation can never change, although within that one week points can be redistributed, which happened in 2009, to balance a lopsided weekday(when points are lower) to weekend demand.
DVC doesn’t last forever; OKW,BWV, BCV and VWL owners own only until 2042 unless they bought an additional years package offered several years ago. Ownership in SSR expires 2054, AKV 2057, and BLT 2060. .
Benefits of the Disney Vacation Club
Although the ubiquitous kiosks at Disney wouldn’t suggest such a thing, DVC isn’t for everyone. For those who fit the profile, and do their homework, it can be a source of great vacations and monetary savings for the 40-50 years of the DVC contract.
There are definite benefits to owning a DVC timeshare. Prepaid room costs are one. While hotel rooms continue to rise at an alarming rate, DVC costs stay the same, except for yearly dues, which can and do rise. Over the life of the contract, which varies by the resort, the savings can be considerable. Another benefit is flexibility. Unlike most timeshares, Disney works on a flexible point system. Owners can stay for less than a week at a time; they can stay indifferent sized units, depending on the number of points they have, and can stay at any time of the year.
One of the biggest benefits is that after a certain amount of time, owners reach a break-even point on costs. Although estimates vary, you break even on costs and are paying only annual dues for your hotel room after 7 or so years. There are also special perks for DVC owners, but these vary and can be taken away at any time. Presently, they include a $100 discount on an annual pass, a small discount on the Disney Dining Plan, and discounts at some shops and restaurants. Don’t buy into DVC for the perks, though—they’re not guaranteed to last the length of the contract.
Points use can be maximized by banking and borrowing points. Up to one full years’ points can be borrowed and banked. This can be a big advantage if owners can’t make a trip one year, or are planning a trip that requires more points than they own.
There are several disadvantages to DVC; booking can be complicated and require advance planning. DVC isn’t for people who decide to go to Disney at the spur of the moment. Members can book at the “home resort” 11 months before their vacation begins, and 7 months before at all other DVC resorts. At busy times, certain resorts fill up fast. Points expire if not used or banked, and keeping track of points can be complicated.
DVC owners also can’t take advantage of the special discounts offered by Disney, unless they stay on a cash reservation rather than points. Free dining, for example, can’t be added to a DVC reservation. DVC owners may feel “locked-in” to Disney. While points can be used outside Disney, currently through RCI, the points required may be higher and not as efficient use as using them at DVC resorts. It’s also possible this perk won’t last forever. And only hotel costs are covered by purchasing DVC. Getting to Disney, buying tickets, dining out, and buying souvenirs all adds to the cost. DVC isn’t a way to have a “free” vacation.
Buying DVC to Stay on Disney Property
DVC can be a wonderful way to have prepaid hotel accommodations on Disney property for a number of years, but doing your homework and your planning are essential, both before and after buying. An excellent source for more information is the Disney Vacation Club website.