Disney Vacation Club, or “DVC,” is a Disney-specific timeshare program that is often seen as an enigma. The points system, financing options, and the contract can all be very overwhelming and seem daunting in their own right, let alone combined. I hope, through this article, to be able to shed some light on something that I think can be a great investment — something I’ve invested in personally.
Let me start by saying that I do not work for Disney or DVC and that I am not at all being paid for or given perks for writing this post. This is a safe space where you’ll get only my personal opinion and experiences. Questions are welcomed and encouraged, but if you’re looking to actually buy into DVC, you should speak with somebody who is qualified (licensed?) to help you with that process. This was getting a bit cumbersome, so I’ve broken the post up into parts to keep things digestible. You can expect Parts 2 and 3 over the next few days. I’ll link the posts once they’re up!
- Part 1 – What is DVC?
- Part 2 – The Bonuses and Financing (click here!)
- Part 3 – Is DVC right for me? and Those Pesky Details (click here!)
What is DVC?
Like I mentioned above, DVC is a timeshare for Disney. When you buy into DVC, you’re purchasing a (very small) fraction of a percent of a room block in a DVC resort somewhere on Disney property. This does not mean you can stake a claim to a square inch of carpet and post a flag somewhere. That’s because with a timeSHARE, you’re SHARING the space with the other property owners.
A timeshare is an investment. It’s not the same as investing in stocks or in long-term bank investments because you’re not about to earn dividends or interest from this investment. Instead, you are investing in Disney and investing in your own future vacations. You’re giving Disney a lot of money early on in your contract (theoretically so they can use that up-front money to improve properties and expand parks) for the benefit of much less expensive vacations later on.
From a more practical perspective, explaining what actually happens when you pay for “DVC,” you buy points from Disney that can be cashed in for stays at DVC rooms on Disney property (or other vacations…but that’s a little more complicated and something to be covered in more detail in Part 3). If you buy, say, 100 DVC points at Copper Creek, you will be given 100 points to “spend” each year of your DVC contract, which can last up to around 50 years.
There is also a process for “banking” and “borrowing” points. To explain this, let’s look at a 3-year period for the above purchase of 100 points at Copper Creek. In each of the years 1, 2, and 3 you have 100 points to use. Let’s say you want to take a REALLY big vacation during year 2 that will cost 300 points. During year 1, you can “bank” your 100 points — basically say “I’m not going to use points in year 1. I want to save these for later.” Banked points must be used the year following their original year or they’re lost. So, year 1 points must be used by the end of year 2.
Now, for year 2, you have the original 100 points allocated to year 2 and the 100 points you banked from year 1. During year 2, you can also borrow year 3’s 100 points. This allows you to use 300 points in year 2, but you would have zero points left over for a vacation in years 1 or 3. When banking or borrowing, you don’t need to bank or borrow ALL of your points for a given year. If you only need to borrow some, only borrow those you need.
Each night in a DVC room costs a different number of points depending on the size of the room, the resort you want to stay at, and the time of year (for example, Christmas week and Spring Break show some of the heftiest points-per-night prices). Just because you bought your points “at” Copper Creek, it does not mean you can only stay at Copper Creek.
In this example, Copper Creek is what you would call your “home resort.” There is one distinct benefit for your home resort — you can book a vacation at your home resort 11 months before your day of check-in. Using DVC points, you can only book your vacation at another resort 7 months out. You can always book your home resort 11 months out, with the intention of switching to another resort 7 months out, based on availability. Then, you at least have your home resort vacation booked as a back-up if the other resort you want isn’t available.
Not all Disney resorts are Disney Vacation Club Resorts, or “DVC resorts.” Currently, there are a number of resorts with DVC rooms at WDW (Animal Kingdom Lodge Jambo House and Kidani Village, Bay Lake Tower at the Contemporary, Beach Club, Boardwalk, the Grand Floridian, Old Key West, the Polynesian, Saratoga Springs, and both Boulder Ridge and Copper Creek at the Wilderness Lodge). Disney’s Grand Californian, Hilton Head Island Resort, Vero Beach Resort, and Aulani are also DVC resorts where DVC members can book rooms using points. Disney’s Riviera Resort, which is expected to open Fall 2019 in the Epcot area, and Reflections, which is expected to open in 2022 on the site of the old River Country Site near Magic Kingdom, will also have DVC rooms.
The room types offered vary depending on the resort, and sometimes the same room type has different specs from resort to resort. For example, a studio at Copper Creek accommodates 4 guests, while the studio at the Polynesian can hold 5 because it has a bonus pull-down bed. DVC also offers one-bedroom rooms, two-bedroom rooms, and villas or cabins for larger parties. Some of the larger rooms can literally function as homes with full kitchens and washers and dryers at your fingertips. Make sure to check out all the room types (and their point costs) to see the option that would be most suitable for your family as part of your DVC research!
Disney Vacation Club: I know I’ve already thrown a lot at you, but hopefully something here was helpful! If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out and I’d be happy to share any experiences I have on the topic. Official, technical answers should come from Disney to make sure things haven’t changed, but I’d love to chat! Leave a comment below or DM me on Instagram at @CastleBoundKim