In Part 2 of my DVC informational series, I attempt to shed some light on some of the bonuses that come with DVC membership and share some basic information on the financing options that were available when I became a member in 2017.
Let me reiterate 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 is Part 2 of a 3-part series into the basics of DVC.
- Part 1 – What is DVC (click here!)
- Part 2 – The Bonuses and Financing
- Part 3 – Is DVC right for me? and Those Pesky Details (click here!)
Everybody loves a good bonus, and the best bonuses are FREE!!! With the price tag to join DVC, I think we all know that these bonuses aren’t “free,” but you’re not paying anything more out of pocket than the cost of your points, so let’s just call them free…ok?
Because this is an honest space, I want to note that these bonuses aren’t guaranteed and Disney can basically change, remove, or add to these whenever they’d like. Here’s to hoping the bonuses grow rather than shrink!
DVC members have a couple of exclusive spaces they can enjoy, which I affectionately call “Clubhouses”! The first is the DVC Lounge in Future World of Epcot, located on top of Journey into Imagination with Figment. The second is the Top of the World Lounge, located on the 16th floor of Bay Lake Tower at the Contemporary. Each year, DVC must renew its contract with these spaces to maintain the relationship. Currently, both of these spaces are available for DVC members in 2019. The Epcot lounge is explicitly listed as available “through 2019” on Disney’s website, while the Top of the World Lounge is available “into 2019,” which I’m hoping at least means “for all of 2019” (and forever).
The DVC Lounge is a great space in Epcot to unwind, relax, and recharge (and recharge your electronics as there are outlets and USB outlets everywhere). DVC Members and their guests (up to 5 guests per membership card) can access the lounge through the merchandise location at the end of the Figment attraction. After checking in, they go up, up, up for a panoramic view over Epcot. I personally highly recommend this hideout during those Florida afternoon rain showers. It’s got an incredible view, free beverages (coffee and whatever you can get from a Coke Freestyle machine), and snacks! So long as you keep your shoes on and don’t move the furniture (two rules of the lounge), visitors can have a fabulous time.
Top of the World Lounge is a very different space, open from 6pm to midnight most nights (note there are some blackout dates around the 4th of July and New Years). This intimate (decent-sized, but not enormous) space is available for members and their guests who are staying on the members’ reservation (Ben and I haven’t tried to bring guests, so I’m not sure how, or even if, they confirm guests are on a reservation). Seating is limited and available on a first-come-first served basis, but those who can snag a seat get to enjoy small bites, drinks, an desserts, including the infamous Seven Layer Cake. (Here, you should picture me with hearts in my eyes.)
Arguably, the best part of the Top of the World Lounge isn’t the cake, but the incredible view you can get of the fireworks at Magic Kingdom. When I visited last November, I got to enjoy the Very Merry Christmas Party show from a balcony that gave me a bird’s eye view. While this isn’t an ideal spot for projections, it’s a stunning view of the fireworks. They play the fireworks soundtrack in the Lounge, so you still have a great experience, though different from one you’d have front and center before the castle.
Ooooh discounts! Depending on what other Disney perks you have, these discounts will have a varying impact on you. DVC membership offers a ton of discounts on various Disney experiences from dining (usually 10% at participating locations), merchandise (usually 20%, also valid on the Shop Parks App), tours (varies), and more! You can check out the current discounts here.
There’s one huge discount that I want to single out — DVC members have access to a special discounted Annual Pass. While discounts on Disneyland annual passes are minimal ($20….are you kidding me??) the discount offered on a WDW Annual Pass is much more substantial (and apply on top of a renewal discount if you’re renewing). Plus, DVC members are able to buy the Gold Pass, an annual pass only otherwise available to Florida residents. With very limited blackout dates (around Easter/spring break and the couple of weeks around Christmas through New Years), this pass is glorious (and the pass I currently enjoy). You can see the WDW annual pass discounts available to DVC members here.
Special Events and Opportunities
DVC members are also invited by Disney to partake in a number of DVC member exclusive events. The biggest of these offerings has to be the Moonlight Magic events at Disney parks. Moonlight Magic is a special, free after-hours event just for DVC members that is free of charge. On select nights, it’s offered at Disneyland, Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, and Typhoon Lagoon. Members (who may bring guests) who register can enjoy significantly reduced crowds and wait times, and a few free snacks for a few hours!
It wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t mention the downside of Moonlight Magic — the dates are limited and I have yet to match up a vacation to one of these events. I definitely feel like Florida local DVC members get much more out of this offering than those of us who have to fly in after extensive planning for months on months.
DVC members can also attend DVC member cruises (for the price of the cruise…no free cruises here) and enjoy random things like pool hopping (though this seems to be extremely limited as of late…so uncertain the value of this “perk”).
At this point, you must be asking, “Ok, but what’s it going to cost me?” DVC is a hefty investment, and can have an astronomical cost depending on how many points you’d need to make your vacation dreams come true. For this part of my post, I’m going to only be discussing the options when you purchase directly from Disney.
Currently, Disney is offering points at Aulani and Copper Creek (though, as we discussed in Part 1, two more DVC resorts are on the horizon: Riviera (Fall 2019) and Reflections (2022)). The current cost per-point at each of Aulani and Copper Creek is $188. When Ben and I bought into Copper Creek, there was a minimum purchase, and additional points were purchased in 25-point increments. Now, if you’ve done some quick math in your head, you’ll realize that the total cost for the points you want has a few zeroes on the end. It’s a very daunting number.
Disney offers financing.
When Ben and I bought into DVC, Disney offered (and still seems to offer) 10-year financing with equal monthly payments. Disney offered what I will call a low, a medium, and a high interest rate financing plan. These financing plans are quite literally mortgages since a timeshare is the purchase of property. Which interest rate you qualify for (just like with a mortgage) depends on your credit history. When Ben and I bought into DVC, Disney only used the better credit score between the two of us, so if one of us was in the low rate tier and one of us was in the medium rate tier, we got the low rate on the whole mortgage.
When we bought into DVC, we were able to choose our initial down payment, and because we made that payment on a Disney Visa, we were also granted 6 months of interest-free financing on that amount. When things are going well, we can also pay extra (on top of our required monthly payment) to reduce the future interest we’d owe, without penalty.
Once you’ve paid off your mortgage over 10 years (or sooner), all you owe are annual dues and taxes on your property for the remainder of the life of your contract, which can also be broken out into monthly payments each year.
While financing doesn’t reduce the total cost of a DVC membership (including tax, it actually increases the cost), it does spread out the thwack to your bank account over time and allows you to see if this monthly cost can work into your budget — a much more manageable number than that total.
Here’s one place where I will not give advice — whether you can afford DVC is a decision for you (or your family) to make. You must be responsible here because DVC is a sizable investment. Take some time to crunch the numbers and make sure it’s really a good choice for you. In Part 3, I’ll discuss some factors that went into that decision for me and Ben!
I hope this has been helpful! As always, please feel free to reach out with questions or if you’d like to chat, and keep an eye out for Part 3!