If you’re not familiar with DVC, it’s Disney’s own version of a timeshare, called the Disney Vacation Club. As someone who goes to Disney World on a regular basis, buying into DVC seems like it could make a lot of sense. However, it’s a pretty big expense so it’s something that I’ve been doing a lot of research and analysis on. Since I’ve found the topic to be a little overwhelming, I thought some of my findings could be helpful to others that are also considering DVC!
To begin with, there are several options for purchasing. You can buy directly through Disney – this is an expensive option and you can generally only buy into the newest resorts. However, when you buy through Disney you get some added benefits – the main one being the ability to use your DVC points for other Disney experiences, including non-DVC Disney resorts, Adventures by Disney, and Disney Cruises. People who purchase through Disney also get some extra perks like discounts on tickets and dining or invites to special events. The other option is buying resale: in other words, buying a contract from someone that previously owned DVC but doesn’t wish to do so any longer. This is generally a lot cheaper and you can find contracts at any of the resorts, but you don’t get the official Disney perks – and you won’t be able to use your points other places, like on the cruise ships.
When you decide to buy DVC, you choose a home resort. The DVC resorts include Old Key West, Saratoga Springs, Animal Kingdom Lodge, Wilderness Lodge, Boardwalk, Beach Club, Bay Lake Towers at the Contemporary, Grand Floridian, and Polynesian at Disney World. There’s also the Grand Californian in Disneyland, Aulani in Hawaii, Vero Beach, and Hilton Head. Each resort has a different price for yearly dues and a different expiration year. The perk of having a home resort is that you can book that resort 11 months in advance. If you want to use your points for one of the other resorts you still can, but you have to wait until 7 months out.
Phew, now all that stuff is out of the way! If you still have questions there are a lot of great, very detailed blog posts out there about buying DVC – I just wanted to share the basics. So I’ve decided that I would definitely buy re-sale to save money… but would it really save me money? That’s what I wanted to look at today.
Adding it Up
One major thing to keep in mind is that these contracts do have an expiration date, but we don’t really know yet what will happen when that time comes. Disney could extend it, or they could not. Since we don’t know, I’m looking at this from the perspective of assuming that the contract will only be good until the deadline. I priced out four resorts using a resale website, based on what they have available. I chose these four because they would be the most affordable options for me personally. Prices will of course change based on who is selling what, demand, etc. I then calculated the cost of the resale (including closing costs) plus the yearly dues times the number of years that the contract is good for. That gave me a “per year” cost. While this number is definitely subject to change, it at least gives me a very vague idea for comparison.
Old Key West – 125 points, expires 2042
Current dues: $730
$1081 per year for 27 years
Saratoga Springs – 125 points, expires 2054
Current dues: $646
$872 per year for 39 years
Animal Kingdom Lodge – 125 points, expires 2057
Current dues: $983
$1,197 per year for 42 years
Boardwalk – 125 points, expires 2042
Current dues: $751
$1,158 per year for 27 years
Comparing to non-DVC
Some prices for reserving a regular hotel room:
Let’s say I generally go to Disney 2 times a year, for maybe 5 or 6 days at a time. The prices will vary widely based on the time of year and the type of resort. I’m not even including deluxe here because if you regularly stay at a deluxe hotel, I can guarantee you that DVC will be an incredible deal for you. I’m going to take a look at a value and a moderate during February and September – they’re off times, but times I usually travel because of Princess Half marathon weekend and our anniversary.
February 18th-22nd (4 nights)
56 points at Animal Kingdom Lodge
$155 per night at Pop Century – $620 total before taxes
September 1st-6th (5 nights)
74 points at Bay Lake Tower
$198 per night at Port Orleans – $990 total before taxes
Without DVC, I’ve spent $1,610 on two Disney stays in one year – one at a value resort, and one at a moderate resort. For the same amount of points, I would spend about $1,200 to stay in a deluxe resort like Animal Kingdom Lodge.
If I continue to go to Disney at the rate that I do (and I certainly hope that’s the case!) I would save over $400 in this example by being able to purchase DVC, and I would have nicer accommodations. I think that’s pretty cool, and a very good incentive to join.
Things to keep in mind:
Dues will go up
Dues have gone up, usually a little bit each year, but when you’re talking about a long term cost such as this you have to realize that the price is going to increase overall. However, at the same time:
Room rates will go up
If you’re directly comparing DVC to the cost of a room for a week or two, room rates will go up as well. There’s no way to know what the price of a room is going to be 10 years from now, and there’s no way to know what DVC dues are going to be 10 years from now. Because of this, I’ve decided to kind of ignore these factors in my calculations and assume that they will increase in a somewhat comparable rate.
You have to make that deposit
When you reserve a room for a week in Disney World, perhaps you’re paying $1,000 for it. It’s generally paid either when you check out or 45 days ahead of time, depending on if you booked a package or not. However, when you buy DVC you have to make that initial payment all at once. For many people, having an extra $10,000 just to make the DVC purchase might not be possible – even if it did save them money in the long run.
Now, I will note that Disney directly offers payment plans. And if you buy resale, then taking out a loan is a possibility. However, for my husband and myself we’ve decided that having debt for vacation is not something we’re comfortable with, so we won’t make a purchase til we actually have the money.
Quality of Room
For the most part, this comparison is to see how good a deal DVC is, moneywise. But as I stated earlier, if you want to stay deluxe all the time DVC is basically a no-brainer. So while you might compare and say, “Oh, if I stay at the cheapest value resort every trip it will be a better deal than DVC.” And if you’re cool with a value all the time, then that’s great. But DVC resorts generally do have nicer accommodations, table service restaurants, better pools, etc., so it’s something to keep in mind.
What have I decided?
Should I buy DVC? We’ve started putting way some money that will probably go toward DVC, and we’ll reevaluate in a year. I’m leaning towards buying in at Animal Kingdom Lodge. The dues are highest there, but in terms of themeing it’s my absolute favorite, plus its expiration date is one of the ones that’s further away. I’ve never stayed at Saratoga Springs, and while the themeing doesn’t really interest me it certain seems to be the best value, so that’s something to look into as well. I’m hoping to be able to someday say I’m a DVC member!