So this is a question that I often have tried to over simplify on Facebook or other forums when trying to describe what Disney Vacation Club (DVC) is, how it works, and why it works for us.
In the simplest form, DVC is Disney’s version of a timeshare. Instead of purchasing a certain location or week / days of the year you purchase a certain percentage at a single resort which is represented in the form of points. Points are your currency that you can use to book rooms at any time of the year at any Disney Vacation Club Resort. As of the writing of this, there are fifteen open and operational resorts with the 16th currently being under construction in Anaheim at the Disneyland hotel. Those resorts are:
At Walt Disney World in Florida:
- Old Key West Resort
- Boardwalk Villas
- Boulder Ridge Villas
- Beach Club Villas
- Saratoga Springs Resort
- Kidani Village / Animal Kingdom Villas
- Bay Lake Tower
- Villas at Grand Floridian
- Polynesian Villas and Bungalows
- Copper Creek Villas and Cabins
- Riviera Resort
- Villas at the Grand Californian
- Unnamed new resort at Disneyland Hotel
Non theme park locations
- Vero Beach Resort, Vero Beach, Florida
- Hilton Head Island Resort, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
- Aulani, Ko Olina, Oahu, Hawaii
The quantity of points needed to book a room at any of the above is based on three main factors. What resort you want to stay at, the time of year you are planning to travel and type of room you are wanting to stay in. As we referenced in Five and a Half Years Later, we initially purchased 125 points. This means that once a year we get 125 points to use on accommodations at any of the resorts listed above.
The points purchased are actually tied to a deed on file with wherever you purchase your points at so we have a deed on file with Orange County, Florida for a very small percentage of our home resort for a length of fifty years from the opening date of the resort. We actually closed on the opening date of our home resort of Copper Creek. Home resort is something very important in the world of DVC and for us ended up being one of the reasons we purchased our points directly from Disney.
We chose Copper Creek to be our home resort for two reasons, one more important to us but the other reason is almost as important. We were young enough that we wanted the full 50 years of use out of our DVC membership first and foremost. This means that we have essentially pre-paid for vacations for fifty years until January 31, 2068, or until I personally am almost 84 years old.
The other part that was a big reason we jumped into the membership when we did was the location and aesthetic of Copper Creek. It is a stunning resort that is our preferred style of resort. Having Copper Creek as our home resort also means that we can book a room at Copper Creek 11 months from today. This is a perk of your home resort as you can book at any of the other DVC resorts 7 months from today. You get a 4 month head start booking at your home resort which is huge depending on where you want to vacation to make sure you get the type of accommodation you want.
SO what kind of accommodations are there? Simply stating, most, not all although rumors are swirling to make this more universal have four different kind of rooms: Studio, one bedroom, two bedroom or three bedroom villas. Some resorts like the Polynesian Village Resort also has overwater bungalows and our home resort of Copper Creek have cabins you can use your points at.
Studios are the most similar to what you might think of for a hotel room. Most will have a queen bed, pull out sofa bed, bathroom, and a kitchenette with mini fridge, microwave, cupboard full of glasses, disposable plates, bowls, utensils. These rooms will be your most cost effective rooms going off of memory points for a studio can range anywhere from 7 points is the lowest for a value studio at Animal Kingdom Lodge in the most cost effective time of year to go up to 54 points per night for the most expensive time of year to go at the Grand Floridian.
I won’t insult your intelligence by breaking down the point ranges for each type of room, but will give a rough estimate of what I think the rooms will cost ish across most resorts during the more economical times of year…because that’s when we plan / try to schedule our trips. For example, I typically think a studio will cost us 12-16 points per night.
One Bedroom! This is the type of accommodation that we purchased our points based on…Kinda…As I stated, we with our first contract purchased 125 points, enough to use for a studio week long trip annually, or, there is a system of banking points / borrowing points where you can reserve points for a future trip or if you want to go on a “bigger / fancier” vacation sooner borrow points from the next year so you can have up to three years of points available at any time potentially. But I’ll cover than after the rooms.
Using this method with our first contract, we would be able to save points and go to a one bedroom villa every other year with our little 125 point contract. A one bedroom is just like a one bedroom apartment. Bedroom with a king sized bed, upgraded bathroom compared to the studio, full sized kitchen with oven, microwave, fridge / freezer like you have in your home, fully stocked with plates, cookware, utensils, pots, pans, dishwasher, washer, dryer, living room / area, dining table / banquette…it is amazing and completely changes your way of vacationing if you are able to. I would say a one bedroom villa costs in the range of 20-40 points per night
So after we purchased our first contract of the 125 points, we used those points to take a 10 night trip to stay in a Boulder Ridge Studio in January to visit my parents who snowbird to WDW. After that trip, the Dogfather was convinced that the quality of accommodations, service, and options of things to do were something that we could get used to. So in May of 2018, we added a 175 point contract to our existing 125 point contract which has worked out perfectly for what we want. By doing this, we essentially enabled us to take a vacation for a week every year in a one or two bedroom villa. We decided that because of our choice to not have kids, we would use this as a way to invite family to vacation with us and being not even a full five years in; it has been amazing investment for us.
Okay now, two bedroom villas…There are two different kinds of 2 bedroom villas. There is what is called a lock off which is literally a studio with a connecting door to a one bedroom. Then there is a dedicated 2 bedroom. This means you have the 1 bedroom villa, and a dedicated attached second bedroom with two queen beds and another typically nicer than a studio, but not as nice as the “master” bathroom. This was really important to us as once you get up to the two bedroom villas, these rooms can host eight to nine people and this meant that we can host our siblings families and children with room to spare in the room.
Finally there are some of the most deluxe rooms that we will never stay in, the three bedroom villas, treehouse villas, bungalows and cabins. These deluxe accommodations are the best of the best designed to accommodate those people who will have a lot more points per year than us as these 100-250 points per night, these rooms are designed differently than the other villas and offer extra lush experiences that can and are likely bigger than a lot of people’s homes. I can only dream of staying in somewhere like the videos that you can look up on YouTube. It’s not even fair for me to try and explain something I have not experienced so I would encourage you to look it up.
Above we touched on the concept that you can use more points than what you get in any year. In order to break things up, not every DVC owner gets their points at the same time, there is what is called use years. There are eight and they are February, March, April, June, August, September, October and December. These use years indicate when we get our points every year. We have a use year of December, which is weird and does make you think as this means we will get our 2022 allotment of points for use on December 1, 2022. So we are as of publishing date in the middle of our 2021 use year which extends from December 1, 2021 through November 30, 2022.
If you are not planning on taking a vacation within your use year you have eight months to decide and you can roll forward your points to use for a vacation in your next use year. For example, thanks to the COVID pandemic, we did not use our points in the 2020 use year, so we banked them forward to use in our 2021 use year. Therefore, instead of 300 points to use from December 1, 2021-November 30, 2022, we have 600 points that we can use.
But let’s say we wanted to get crazy and we wanted to book a three bedroom villa for a week, we can borrow points from the next use year, remember our use year is weird where we are “behind” so we have our 2020 points banked forward, we have current use year of 2021 we got in December and we can borrow our points from December 1, 2022 for a total of 900 points.
Going back to touching on a major aspect of if DVC would be a good fit for you though is the booking of your rooms / touching back on your home resort. As you can possibly imagine, the ability to stay at a Disney resort for a lower price that what you would be able to get elsewhere and in my opinion a better room is popular. Why else would people continue to buy into this program? You really have to talk and plan your trips almost a year in advance. It might be April 2022, but I am already thinking will we want to go somewhere maybe in January 2023 and even Christmas time 2023. After all, if I want to stay at my home resort of Copper Creek over spring break next year, I would need to book my room now, after all, 11 months from now is March 2023. If I wanted to stay somewhere other than my home resort for Christmas 2022, I would need to get those details worked out ASAP as we are coming up on only 7 months until Christmas. Therefore, DVC is probably not a good investment if you are not a planner…Fortunately for us, I might be slightly OCD and a type A planner.
And of course, the big question, cost? It’s ever increasing. Back in 2017 when we bought direct from Disney, the initial cost per point was $167 per point. Depending on how many points you buy you typically will get a reduced rate. The current base rate / cost per point for going direct through Disney is $207 per point. Therefore multiple that times how many points you would want will likely give you a high result. Additionally there are annual dues which can / will increase a little bit every year and is based on the number of points you have. Looking at my statement, we are paying $7.60 per point in 2022 for an amount of $2,280 for maintenance, parking, etc.
But for us, here is our break down. Since we purchased our first contract including our upcoming vacation I have tracked where we have gone, what we would have paid for a rack rate and what we would have paid as you can typically work out / find a room for 30% off.
We will have taken 7 vacations, if we were paying rack rate we would have spent $81,135.50, 30% off would have been $56,794.85. Our initial investment and dues paid so far is roughly the 30% off rate. Therefore for us, we essentially now solely for the cost of our annual dues which will increase every year, but I think that for us it’s a good investment.
I’m going to close out though on a negative as this whole post is why DVC was awesome for US-It might not be a good choice for you….
DVC is not a good choice for you if you don’t plan well / far in advance or cannot commit to something 7-11 months in the future, if you don’t have the ability to pay for the bulk of it upfront, Disney does offer financing but the interest rates are high even if you have good credit. Ironic statement but if you don’t use your points, you can rent them, but even then, if you don’t use your points and let them go to waste its not a good choice for you.
If DVC is something that interests you, our point of view and this entire article is our own thoughts, opinions, and experiences. I would encourage you to become an expert on the topic yourself, look into resale, especially if you are looking for a “shorter” contract or a specific home resort as that can save you thousands easily.
That being said, we absolutely love the investment we made to commit to taking vacations and creating memorable experiences with our families.