Well, it’s a good question, and one that was asked recently in Owning the Magic, the Disney Vacation Club forum on the PassPorter message boards.
The question was specifically about whether the Disney Vacation Club would be any good for a family of five, but it’s something that every single person who’s become a DVC member has had to ask themselves before becoming members. It’s also something that no doubt a lot of people thinking of joining the Disney Vacation Club are probably also asking themselves. And, let’s be honest, with an initial investment of five figures, it’s a really important question that you should answer before you become a Member.
The first thing that is probably going to be a winner is if you’re a family that likes to vacation regularly with Disney. Sure, there are other things that you can do with your membership, but predominantly, it’s Disney. If you’ve only been to Disney a couple of times, and have no strong desire to return, this isn’t going to be the investment for you.
Provided you’ve got past that first question, then the second question to answer is how often do you to go to Disney? When we bought in, we were told that you really needed to at least once every two or three years, and that’s good advice. If you know that actually, your vacations are only going to be once every four or five years, then maybe becoming a Disney Vacation Club member isn’t for you. Why? Because you get points to use each year. You can bank forward one year’s worth of points, and borrow back one year’s worth of points, meaning you can combine up to three years’ worth of points for one vacation. Any longer than that and those points are just going to expire.
Perhaps now’s a good time to think about the future as well. We can’t predict it obviously, but Disney Vacation Club points are good until at least 2042, and a lot later for some of the newer accommodations. That’s definitely what you call a long-term investment. It may well be that you know that you’ll be happy to visit Disney for five or ten years, but what about after that? It’s something worth thinking about, particularly if you have kids. Much as we hate to admit it, some children do go through a phase (shock, horror!) of not wanting to visit Disney theme parks any longer….
The next thing you need to ask yourself is what type of accommodation you like to stay at when you visit Walt Disney World. I’m sure a lot of you are screaming “well, given the chance, deluxe resorts”, but I know that there are people that are very happy with staying at value, or moderate resorts. If you fall into that category, then perhaps the Disney Vacation Club may not save that much money for your family over the years, as it’s essentially deluxe level accommodations. I know how much we paid for 19 nights at the Beach Club (I’ll give you a clue-a lot of money!), so for us, buying into the DVC was an absolute no-brainer. I think we recouped our initial investment within our first three vacations, but that may not be the case for you.
Something else to keep in mind on this subject is that, if you’re going to buy into the Disney Vacation Club, and stay on your points, you won’t be able to take advantage of any promotions, like discounts, or free dining any longer. If you make good savings on those, that’s worth building into your budget calculations. Of course, there’s no guarantee on those savings in future years….
Once you’ve made all those calculations, then you need to think about how you’re going to finance buying in, if you’re still committed to the idea. Most of us don’t have five figures of cash just hanging around, and the chances are you may need to finance your down payment. We thought long, and hard about this before we first bought in. We were lucky enough to be moving house, and the house we bought was under budget, so we had a little left over for a Disney Vacation Club investment.
The answer about whether the Disney Vacation Club makes sense for you is going to vary from one family to the next, and there’s no right or wrong answer to the question. The important thing is making sure you make the right decision for your family, and the way you vacation.
So, for those of you who are Disney Vacation Club members, how did you make the decision to buy in, and if you’re thinking of buying in, what’s on your mind as you grapple with that decision?