Disney Vacation Club

The Disney Vacation Club is a great way to own a piece of Disney and get to stay at some incredible resorts. DVC is Disney's version of a vacation ownership program where members buy in at a certain number of points and then have the flexibility to travel where and when they want.

While most people are probably already familiar with DVC there are probably at least few that aren't (don't worry I didn't know a whole lot either.) So I set out to learn a little more about the DVC and share it with you all!

Goofy Loves the Disney Vacation ClubGoofy Loves the Disney Vacation Club
So how does the points system work?
At the time that you buy into the Disney Vacation Club you purchase a set number of vacation points. Each year those points will be allocated to your account for you to use for your vacation accommodations. Different times of year, size of the unit, and the resort itself all affect the amount of points that are used to pay for accommodations.

If you don't use all of your points in one year you can "bank" them for the next year. DVC also allows you to "borrow" points from an upcoming year, but once points are banked or borrowed they cannot be returned to their original year. And you cannot combine more than three years of points at any one time.

Unlike the majority of timeshares, DVC ownership does expire. Now don't start to freak out just yet because you still have until 2042 (and in some cases longer) to enjoy your Disney ownership, just a heads up.

DVC's Saratoga Springs ResortDVC's Saratoga Springs Resort
So where can I stay as a DVC member?
Animal Kingdom Villas, Disney's Old Key West, Disney's Boardwalk Villas, the Villas at Wilderness Lodge, Saratoga Springs Resort Tree House Villas, Disney's Beach Club Villas, Bay Lake Tower at the Contemporary, Disney's Vero Beach Resort, Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort, and Disney's new Aulani Resort are all DVC properties.

Points can also be used for other Disney World Resorts, the Disney Cruise Line, Adventures by Disney, resorts in Disneyland in California, Disneyland Paris, and may also be traded out for use through RCI at over 500 locations.

View from DVC Villa at Animal Kingdom LodgeView from DVC Villa at Animal Kingdom Lodge
So what are the benefits to DVC?
Staying in a vacation club villa at Disney is a great because generally (unless you are in a studio) have a suite like accommodation with more than one room. Villas also have a kitchen or kitchenette that can provide useful and cost-effective (perfect for making breakfast in the morning!)

What I consider to be the best perk of owning DVC is the discounts! Members get discounts on dining, spa treatments, water sports rentals, golf memberships, merchandise, theme park tours, and theme park annual passes!

What are your thoughts on DVC? Is it worth it? DVC owners- what are the pro's and con's for you with DVC?

Debbie wrote on Tue, 10/11/2011 - 16:36:

Debbie's picture

We've been a member since 2002 and we couldn't be happier. We have used our points to go places other than Disney destinations, but find that we enjoy the variety of activities available at the World. The discounts are GREAT!! We go to Florida at least twice a year. The DVC discount for an annual passes allow us to purchase an annual pass for less than we would spend on tickets and enjoy the additional benefits of a passholder. A good example is Tables in Wonderland. A much more flexible meal solution and the cost of meals actually equal out to what you would pay for a meal plan.
I recommend this Vacation Club to anyone who enjoys taking a vacation at least every other year. It has really improved the quality of our lives by making it easier to afford to take a vacation every year.

Phil wrote on Tue, 10/11/2011 - 18:32:

Phil's picture

DVC owner here. A few things you left out:

When you buy in, you buy in at a specific DVC resort. Currently they're selling AKV-Kidani, Saratoga Springs (the treehouses opened up a bunch of points), Bay Lake Tower at the Contemporary Resort, and Aulani (the new one in Hawaii). While you can stay at any of the DVC resorts with no point penalty, the advantage to staying at your "home" resort is availability; owners can book at an 11 month window, so you are virtually guaranteed of getting what you want at your home resort at that point. If you want to book another resort, you have to wait until 6 months out, but we've found that there's still decent availability then (nice trick if you're going to WDW, your home resort is there, and you want to try something else- book your home resort at the 11 month window, then try to switch at the 6 month point... if you can't get what you want you still have something). Price per point does vary from resort to resort, but it's best to buy where you think you'd like to stay most often due to the booking window difference.

While you can change out points for visits at other non-DVC resorts and for Cruise Line trips, the price for those can be prohibitive (to stay at a moderate level resort you're spending more points than for a DVC villa, so there's not much point) and availability can be iffy (getting a Disney Cruise on DVC points is rather difficult with extremely limited availability for most cruises, and they're extraordinarily expensive in terms of points anyway). I'd not recommend buying DVC for the purpose of doing things other than DVC. Cheaper to pay cash.

Advantages of DVC:
- You know there's always another trip to Disney right around the corner! You don't feel stressed to do EVERYTHING to "get your money's worth" since you'll be back before too long.
- The rooms are great. The studio villas are rather spacious with a small kitchenette and the one and two bedroom villas have full kitchens and a washer/dryer unit... very much like staying in a nicely appointed apartment. There's nothing like being able to do laundry in your room- you can pack lighter and return home with clean clothes.
- It "hides" the cost of a Disney trip. While you have to pay yearly maintenance fees (like other timeshares), a DVC studio villa is comparable to (if not nicer than) a room at one of the Deluxe resorts, which run over $300/night. A small contract (the minimum to buy in is 160 points) will cover you for about two weeks in a studio (during off-peak times)... even though you're paying maintenance fees, those fees are rather less than even three nights in a deluxe resort (the fees vary depending on your resort and are assessed on a per-point basis... the more points, the more fees).
- Since you're going more often, longer term passes (like the annual pass) make more financial sense. Plan things properly and you can REALLY get your money's worth. Between late May 2011 and early May 2012, we'll have been to WDW for a total of not quite four full weeks. If we did this on a MYW ticket, we'd be out a couple hundred bucks every trip. With annual passes, pay once and enjoy it all- we're only out food and transportation costs. And with the AP, yeah, more discounts.
- The discounts are nice, but as Disney says, don't buy in for those reasons alone. They are just tossed in as a goodwill gesture and aren't guaranteed (but Disney would be foolish to do away with them). And oh yeah... the DVC price on an annual pass saves about $100 each. There's a wide variety of other discounts too.
- You can send others. If you can't or don't want to go, you can send family or friends on your points. While Disney doesn't allow you to "rent" points for money, there is indeed a bit of an underground economy of that going on. We've not rented points, but we have sent my parents for a few nights at one point. It's a nice touch if you want to be generous to family and friends.

- Cost. DVC is not one of the cheaper timeshares. As said, your interest does expire (our AKV Kidani is good for 50 years... we're good until I'm in my 80s).
- The DVC resorts are a bit different from the deluxe and moderate ones. The food options tend to be less abundant (if you're used to a moderate resort food court, the one at Saratoga Springs will be disappointing). Ditto the gift shops. Of course, there are several DVC "additions" to regular deluxe resorts, so this applies mainly to the DVC-only resorts (Saratoga Springs, Old Key West, Hilton Head, etc.) and not to the ones that had DVC added on (Animal Kingdom Lodge, Contemporary, Boardwalk, etc.), but it can be a concern.
- It does lock you in a bit to Disney... you're already spending the money for Disney lodging, so you end up going to Disney more than other locations. It's only really worthwhile if you want to return to Disney with regularity (at least once/year). If you consider Disney to be a once every 2-3 year vacation, then you're better off just giving DVC a miss.

We enjoy our DVC membership, and the cast members really do make it feel like that much more of a family than at regular resorts (all that "welcome home" stuff isn't just to draw in new owners... they really do try to make you feel like you've come home after being away for a long time).

Sorry for the wall o' text, but thought I'd pitch in my two cents (even though it seems to have grown to a buck fifty).

jbarkee wrote on Wed, 10/12/2011 - 17:58:

jbarkee's picture

Great informative post by Phil.

1 small correction though.
The non-home resort booking availability begins at 7 months, not 6.

Kristen K. wrote on Wed, 10/12/2011 - 19:44:

Kristen K.'s picture

I love our DVC, it totally changed our life and improved the quality by leaps and bounds. It may be one of the best things we've ever bought. I haven't had luck yet trying to get a room at my non-home resort 7 moths out. On this last trip to WDW I used our California points, and tried to get someplace exciting, but still wound up at our WDW "Home" Resort! LoL...

Phil wrote on Wed, 10/12/2011 - 21:06:

Phil's picture


I never can quite keep it straight. 6 months, 7 months... I end up going by the date on the DVC member website. : )

Some resorts seem to be much more popular than others; it may also be the result of available rooms vs. time of year. For example, if you don't own at Boardwalk or Beach Club, it's almost impossible to get one of those two during the fall Food & Wine festival. It seems like AKV-Kidani and Saratoga Springs tend to have the most availability (probably because they're fairly good sized resorts and are not yet fully sold out).

Brent wrote on Wed, 06/27/2012 - 11:15:

Brent's picture

Change that 5 people to 6 and opintos become much more limited. For instance, nov 26-dec 22 ASMu family suite is 215/weekday and 235/weekend. Next closest is ft. wilderness cabin at 305/315 (weekday/weekend). Moving into any of the villas to fit 6 is $630 at the same time. 2 rooms at a port orleans (moderate) is $328. After crunching the numbers on just about every option to fit 6 people, an ASMu family suite worked out the cheapest and for us where we are at the parks from open to close, it is worth staying an extra couple of days than staying at a more expensive hotel.

Tina McNeil wrote on Sat, 01/04/2014 - 18:14:

Tina McNeil's picture

Thank You Phil! That trick of booking @ your 'Home Resort' (HR) was a nice idea. Our HR is also AKL, and as a matter of fact we're planning our First DVC trip. Can't wait! While this will be our first official DVC trip, I can already say that I'm so glad we did it! We are bringing friends with us. They kind'a got us into WDW in the first place, so we want'a share.
Your post may have been long but it was well worth the read!

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