What to know before buying into the Disney Vacation Club 13

What do you wish you’d known before buying into the Disney Vacation Club? That was the question asked recently by kellensmom in the Owning The Magic forum, the place to ask questions about the Disney Vacation Club on the PassPorter message boards. It set me thinking about what I wish I’d known before we bought in back in 2002. My goodness, it’s tough turning the clock back that far to think about that, let me tell you!

The laid back atmosphere of Old Key West

It may sound flippant, but I wish I’d known what a great deal it would be to be a DVC Member, and how that would impact on future vacations. We originally planned to visit Disney once every other year, but suddenly with our points, and our accommodation (more or less!) paid for, it opened up new avenues. Our plans went from travelling once every other year to annually, and sometimes twice a year! Not something I expected to happen… but trust me, once you become a Disney Vacation Club Member, it’s like eating chocolate. It’s so good, you have to get some more, but many members adding on points more than once, and yes we fall into that category as well!

I also wish I’d known how much money it would save us. I think, in truth, I did know that, but it’s very hard to offset that against such a huge original investment, and that’s what put us off buying in for three years. We first looked into the Disney Vacation Club in 1999 on our honeymoon, and knew it was for us, but we just didn’t have the money to hand to purchase at that time. Three years on, and having moved house, and set some money away purely for the purposes of becoming DVC Members, as part of our mortgage, we were finally able to join.

Our beloved Beach Club Villas

Perhaps something else that we didn’t grasp at the time is how much of a world of vacations really would open up to us. We figured that we’d be coming back to Walt Disney World regularly, which we do, staying in our beloved Beach Club Villas on every visit, but we’ve also sampled every other Disney Vacation Club property at Walt Disney World during the last 10 years. In addition to that, it’s allowed us to experience Disney cruising, something we’d never thought of doing when we originally bought in. However, when we started looking at how to use our points, we decided that would be a great thing to sample-and since then we’ve sailed three more times, with our fourth sailing on the Fantasy planned for later this year.

Our wonderful stay at the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego

In addition to that, we’ve been able to enjoy stays at Disneyland in California, and Disneyland Paris on our points, along with nights at the Fairmont in San Francisco, Hotel del Coronado in San Diego, and the Royal Garden Hotel on our doorstep in London. Never in a million years did I think we’d be using our points for such a variety of vacations.

Look at the size of the one bedroom villa!

Something else I wish I’d known is how snobby we’d become about room sizes.  When we first bought in, we were more than happy to stay in a studio every time we vacationed. Not any longer! Having enjoyed staying in a one-bedroom villa, now we want to do that every time, but of course that’s not always possible, not without extra points! It is such a luxury, with so many additional treats, such as the Jacuzzi hot tub, separate living area, full sized kitchen (not that we ever use it outside of making tea!), washer/dryer (now that does get used), oh and did I mention that Jacuzzi hot tub?! In truth, it’s an indulgence for us, as two people can easily stay in a studio, but heck, it’s a treat to stay in such luxury. Just be wary of getting used to it, as it can be hard to go back to a studio….

You may have noticed that I’ve said absolutely nothing negative in this about being a Disney Vacation Club Member, and there’s a good reason for that. I can’t find one negative reason. I probably sound like a salesperson, but I’m not alone. Talk to any DVC Member, and you’ll probably struggle to get them to come up with any problems they’ve had with their membership. It really is as good as it sounds. This is Disney after all…

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What Do You Think?

13 thoughts on “What to know before buying into the Disney Vacation Club

  • Erica Barthel

    I love being a DVC member. With that being said DVC is not perfect. It took my husband and I meeting with a DVC Guide before we decided it was perfect for us. Things I wish I new before joining the club:
    1. I would want more and more points but won’t be able to afford more 🙁
    2. Bay Lake Tower was going to open. I would have waited and bought into it.
    3. Maintenance fees increase every year.
    4. Being a DVC member would make me into a hotel snob. I no longer think moderate resorts are amazing and I all but refuse to stay at a value resort when I am traveling to the world without using points.
    5. Going every year to WDW will make me a Disney Addict. Unfortunately any “support groups” I find on facebook only help to add fuel to my addiction 😉
    6. I would no longer be able to get free dining if I am using points to book my reservation.

    No, DVC is not perfect but it is still a great value and a decision I have not regretted making, EVER!

    • Cheryl Pendry

      You’ve made some great points there Erica, especially about the maintenance fees increasing every year. That’s an important thing for people to be aware of before they buy in. On many of the other points, it sounds like we’ve had some very similar experiences! 😉

  • Amber Niese

    1. I wish I would have known that DC points are addictive and that I would always be wanting to buy more.
    2. I should have researched buying resale, but bought direct instead.
    3. I had to stop looking at promos that Disney was offering.

    I love our DVC, the only thing that worked out for a family of 5. Plus having laundry and a kitchen right there makes everything so much less hassle!

  • carol

    I have been on the “fence” for several years about buying into DVC. One of the things I find perplexing is the number of people who have their DVC points for sale in the secondary market (real estate places like Timeshare Store and a number of others). I know the economy is still trying to make a comeback, but can you attribute the numbers of people trying to sell their points only to that. Just curious.

    • JULIE

      Points often end up on the resale market as a result of divorces and deaths. As long as membership years remain on the contract, it is considered an asset and divorce lawyers and estate executors often prefer to see this particular asset sold when the value needs to be divided as a result of one of these life events. (Yes, the deed can be left directly to one heir, but if it isn’t then it becomes part of the estate.) Owners also decide to sell when they fall into ill health and are unable to travel and have no children who want to own the contract.

  • Michelle

    Wish i had known that Disney perks are a joke. Discounts are few and far in between and having to pay for a tables in wonderland card in order to get discounts is crazy for the yearly traveler. Used to staying at pop century with free dining and even they are getting free refrigerators which are not much bigger than a studio at dvc and the room isnt much bigger either. It will allow me to go to CA and Hawaii but as a new member i do have some buyers regret.

    • Maureen

      I do agree the free dinning is a bummer. However I calculated the price of my DVC membership and by doing so and making an adjustment for the increase in maintance fees and staying at peak times I have calculated that I will on average pay $89 a night for the lifetime of my contract. If youtake the value of that against an increase in room costs and the cost of dinning you will still be ahead even with staying at a value resort with dinning….I also find that I eat out way less which overall keeps the cost of food down.

  • William

    Everyone has made some great points. My wife and I are avid Disney Fans and make our way to WDW about every other year. We have looked into DVC twice already (the last being January 2012). Although my wife and I decided on both occasions that financially we couldn’t afford it we believe that one day we will be owners.

  • Max S

    I agree with most of what previous posters wrote:
    1. DVC points are addictive but it’s not always financially do-able to add more.
    2. No free dining plan offers – EVER. Kinda sucks. Therefore, we should be allowed to “pay” for the dining plan with points. Just my opinion. OTOH, Idk if I’d want to use up points to pay for food. OTOH, on the cruise, the points cover food & accommodations …
    3. We recently used points to cruise – my first cruise ever which I loved. We loved it so much, that we wanted to book our next one – immediately – BUT it seems that DVC’ers get penalized. While cash-pay cruisers not only CAN book another cruise while online, they are ENCOURAGED to, with the lure of on-board-credits and discounts. DVC’ers are offered a “slight” discount, but on OBC, PLUS we have to wait to book until we disembark.
    4. Why doesn’t the Disney Store Online offer DVC merchandise or Annual Passholder merchandise (such as the D23 products)?

    • Vanessa

      Max, the best thing to do is to book your next cruise with cash while on the ship. This secures the 10% down, on-board credits and the lower rate; if you need to change the dates, you have the flexibility to do that. You have 72 hours after you disembark to call DVC and convert that cruise to DVC points or points/cash. Talk to your DVC guides on the ship, they can help you with this. Cruises are expensive using points, but so worth it–the DVC crew and Disney Cruise Line Crew members on board TOTALLY spoil you as a DVC member.

  • LuAnn

    I love my DVC but you cannot get other resorts on the 7 month time frame or if you decide after that 7 month window you are out of luck. You can wait list but no promises to get in. And if you are waitlisted with other family you take your chances with one family getting the wait listed room the other won’t. DVC should have made more studios so they are not so hard to get. Getting a little disgusted with the 7 month process. I still go twice a year and do love my Disney vacation and would not be able to go twice a year and stay at the delux resorts otherwise.

  • sally

    Listened to DVC speil at disney 3 times including once early at old key west when we got a very discounted stay in the process. Love the talk, they are very professional and not pushy but still too pricey. took the free snacks, fastpasses, ice cream, and family photo from 1st visit but ended up buying a resale. the price was just sooo much more affordable and i only cared about staying at vacation club places. Doing the Fantasy memorial day week by paying cash but last night in florida.. points for bay lake tower… looking forward to wishes viewing area for dvc only.

  • Eric Erickson

    I’ve looked into the DVC plan a few times over the years & decided that, since I am 62 years old & I don’t have any family to speak of, the initial cost & maintenance fees just weren’t cost effective for me. I’m currently an annual passholder, so last October 2011 I spent ten nights at the Port Orleans French Quarter (POFQ) — that cost me $1200 for the room + $530 for the annual pass. Since then, I’ve visited WDW 3 more times for 6 nights each time for an average cost of $850/trip while staying at POFQ. There’s no way I could even begin to afford to buy enought points to allow me to stay on the WDW property for an equivalent length of time! At just over $20K for 160 points, which covers less than a week at most of the WDW resorts, I would have to make 20 trips before I even begin to approach the break-even-point, & that’s not even considering the roughly $1000/yr maintence fee (which would cover a full week at a moderate resort with the annual passholder discount). I can see the benefits of the club if you always want to stay at a Deluxe Resort & have a family (as an annual passholder, I can stay at the Animal Kingdom Lodge for about $250/night during the spring & fall, which is my preferred vacation time). If you’re a family of one, I don’t see where there would be any benefit whatsoever.