This thread is designed to help answer some of the frequently asked questions about the Disney Vacation Club - hopefully it'll be of use to you.
What is the Disney Vacation Club?
The Disney Vacation Club (DVC) allows you to purchase an ownership interest in a Disney resort. It’s their version of a timeshare, but that’s where the similarities end, as it’s not like a traditional timeshare. Instead, the DVC operates a points system, where you decide how many points you want to purchase and then you decide how and when to use them, rather than you being committed to going to a certain place at a certain time of the year, every year.
First let’s look at where you can stay with your DVC membership, before we move on to discuss how the points system works:
What resorts does the DVC have?
The DVC has 13 resorts of its own – four aren’t even at Walt Disney World.
Non Walt Disney World resorts:
Vero Beach Resort, Florida
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Villas at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel and Spa (Disneyland, California)
Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa (Ko Olina, Hawaii)
Walt Disney World resorts:
Old Key West Resort
The Villas at Wilderness Lodge
Beach Club Villas
Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa
Animal Kingdom Lodge Villas
Bay Lake Tower at Disney's Contemporary Resort
The Villas at the Grand Floridian
Polynesian Villas and Bungalows
Can you still book stays at other Walt Disney World resort hotels using DVC points?
You can, but other Disney hotels, which are not DVC resorts, will cost you a lot more points. For example, a week in a studio at the Beach Club Villas in early October 2016 will cost 107 points. By comparison, a week in a standard room at the Yacht Club at the same time will cost 350 points.
It's also worth noting that the number of points you need to use at DVC resorts during the year rarely fluctuates, whereas for non-DVC resorts, it will increase.
DVC points can only be used to book Cars or Lion King family suites at the Art of Animation. You can't use your points at any of the other value resorts.
What about other Disney destinations?
You can use your points to pay for hotels at Disney resorts around the world - Disneyland in California, Disneyland Resort Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland Resort and the Toyko Disney Resort. Again, you will end up using a lot more points this way. Taking the above example, a week long stay in a standard view room at the Disneyland Hotel in California in October 2015 would cost you 256 points and a week long stay in the Newport Bay Club at Disneyland Resort Paris (very similar in theming to the Beach Club, although not as luxurious) in mid October 2015 would cost you 246 points.
You can also use your points to pay for Disney Cruises. Remember that the cruises are priced in points per person, rather than per night. The number of points per person may seem expensive, but don’t forget that the price does include meals and onboard entertainment, which of course isn’t the case in any other Disney hotel.
Another possibility is using your points for Adventures by Disney, specially arranged guided tours to different parts of America and the world, although once again, this will take a lot of points.
Can I use my points for vacations other than Disney?
Yes! There are two other collections offered by DVC, where your vacations can be paid using your DVC points.
1) World Collection
This allows you to travel to destinations all over the world. There are literally hundreds of destinations across the States in the World Passport Collection and other worldwide destinations include the Caribbean, Canada, Mexico, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and even Australia and New Zealand.
2) The Concierge Collection
Hotels included in this collection aim to provide an unparalleled vacation experience. Most of the hotels are in the States, although this collection also includes the Royal Garden Hotel in London, England. The Fairmont in San Francisco, the Whitehall in Chicago, the Mandarin Oriental in Washington DC, and the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego (which the Grand Floridian was modeled on) are amongst the American hotels featured in this collection.
So there are a lot of places to use my DVC points – how does this points system work then?
The minimum points purchase for anyone buying into DVC through Disney for the first time is 100 points. These points are then available to use each year of your membership of the DVC. You will be allocated a use year when you join, by which time you must have either used, borrowed or banked (explained later) your points, otherwise you will lose them.
Currently, the DVC is only selling ownership interests to new members in Aulani, the Grand Floridian Villas and Polynesian Villas and Bungalows, although if you purchase your points through re-sale, you will have a wider range of DVC resorts to pick from.
Let’s talk about buying through the DVC first. Points at all three resorts cost $165 a point, although special offers or incentives may be available. DVC offers financing or you can choose your own method of financing or pay in cash.
Aulani points expire in 2062 and Grand Floridian Villas points good until 2064, while Polynesian Villas and Bungalows expire in 2064. Of the other resorts, Saratoga Springs memberships last until 2054, while at Animal Kingdom Lodge Villas the finish date is 2057 and Bay Lake Tower and the Villas at the Grand Californian end in 2060. At all other DVC resorts, your ownership interest expires in 2042, although owners at Old Key West were given the option to extend their contracts until 2057.
This is part of the reason why you’ll find other DVC resorts, available through re-sale, are usually available at a cheaper price.
Whichever method of purchasing you choose, the resort where you purchase your ownership interest will become your “home resort” – this is a useful term to know, as it makes a difference when it comes to actually making your reservation!
How many points will I need?
The number of points you will use to book your vacation depend principally on three things:
1) Whether you’re booking a DVC resort or a non-DVC Disney resort.
See the earlier examples for the difference between paying for DVC resorts and other Disney resorts.
2) What days of the week you’re planning to stay.
Friday and Saturday nights are always more expensive than Sunday through to Thursday night stays at DVC resorts. A weekly price is offered for all DVC resorts.
3) What time of the year you want to travel.
Generally, the busier the time of the year, the more points your vacation will cost. For DVC resorts at Walt Disney World, there are five seasons of the year:
is the cheapest and generally covers January, September and the first two weeks of December.
is the second cheapest and generally covers October, most of November (except Thanksgiving weekend) and the third week of December.
is the next season and generally covers the first two weeks in February, all of May and early June, along with the last two weeks in August.
is the second most expensive season and covers the final two weeks in February, March and April (excluding the two weeks around Easter), mid June to mid August and Thanksgiving weekend.
is the most expensive season and covers the two weeks around Easter and from Christmas Eve through until New Year’s Eve.
Seasons at the DVC resorts outside of Walt Disney World do differ slightly from these.
If you’re not sure how many points you’d use each year, then you can post your question in this forum with details of your usual vacations and we should be able to tell you how many points you’d need.
Can the points change in the future?
The beauty of the DVC is that points are pretty much set in stone for future years. If one week of the year goes up by ten points, then another week of the year has to be reduced by ten points, so during the course of a year, the number of points will always remain the same. Generally any fluctuations from one time of the year to the following year will be minimal. This does help with vacation planning.
An example is the re-alignment of points for 2010, when Friday and Saturday night stays were reduced in point value, with the points required for stays from Sundays through to Thursdays increasing correspondingly.
Remember though that this only
applies to the DVC resorts and not to any other Disney resort, park, cruises, Adventures by Disney or the Concierge or the World Collections.
What happens if I don’t have enough points in one year or I want to store them up for a big vacation?
This is where you can bank or borrow your points. If you plan far enough ahead, you can decide to bank your whole year’s points for the following year and the same applies to borrowing points from the following year - meaning you could have three year's worth of points to spend on just one vacation!
The key to banking and borrowing is planning. The closer you get to the end of your use year, the lower the percentage of points you’ll be able to bank, with no points available to bank in the last four months of any Use Year. Remember also that you need to be sure before you bank or borrow points, as once they’ve been moved to another use year, they cannot be returned to where they came from! You can only bank and borrow points if you’re up to date with your annual dues and monthly loan payments, if you’re being financed through DVC.
How do I make reservations?
You can make reservations for your home resort 11 months ahead of your check-out date, whereas for all other DVC resorts, you can only book 7 months before your check-out date.
Disney hotels at Walt Disney World, Disneyland or Disneyland Resort Paris or reservations for the Disney Cruise Line, the Adventurer Collection and the Concierge Collection can be booked 11 months ahead. Hotels at the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort or Tokyo Disney Resort can be booked six months in advance.
Some of the World Collection can be booked two years in advance, while other parts can be booked 10 months in advance. Contact the DVC for more details.
You can make your bookings through the DVC Member website or by calling Member Services on 800-800-9800 or 407-566-3800 from 9 a.m. – 7.30 p.m. Eastern time, Monday to Friday and on Saturdays 9.30 am - 5.00 p.m. Eastern time. You will need your Member number (on your DVC membership card) to make any bookings.
What happens if I can’t get the booking I wanted?
Then you can go on the DVC wait list. Your name and request will be kept on the wait list until 31 days or seven days before your arrival (you can choose which) and a lot of people have been very successful with getting the resort they originally wanted through being wait listed. You can only have two wait lists active at any time.
What are the penalties and restrictions on cancellations and changes?
If you need to change a DVC reservation more than 31 days prior to your arrival and you are using fewer points, then the points will be restored to your existing use year. Changes made between 1 – 30 days prior to your arrival, which result in you using fewer points, will lead to those other points being put into a “holding account”. The points then have restrictions on how they can be used, for example, they cannot be banked or borrowed and will expire at the end of the use year, if you don’t use them. If you change your booking on the day you arrive and you’re using less points, then you will forfeit those points.
It’s a pretty similar system for cancellations. If you need to cancel a DVC reservation more than 31 days prior to your arrival, all your points will be restored to your account in your existing use year. Cancellations made 1 – 30 days prior to your arrival will go into the “holding account” and cancellations made on your arrival date mean all your points will be forfeited.
Are there any other benefits to being a DVC member?
Lots – once you’re a DVC member, you get what’s called member perks - a range of Disney related discounts, although the DVC makes it clear that these offers aren’t a part of the ownership interest you’ve purchased. Click here
for details of some of the current offers.
Members staying at a DVC resort are permitted to use pools at other Disney resorts on property. It’s called “pool-hopping” and you can use other resorts’ pools, provided they are not full. Certain blackout dates apply at the busiest times of the year (Members are kept advised of these) and Members are not allowed to pool-hop to the pools at the Yacht and Beach Club, Animal Kingdom Lodge, Bay Cove Pool at Bay Lake Tower, the Nanea Volcano Pool at the Polynesian Village Resort or the pool at Art of Animation at any time of the year, unless they are staying at one of those resorts.
Are there any other costs to being a DVC member?
The only other annual cost is your annual dues, which are payable each year by 14 February. Annual dues are usually around $5.10 - $8.10 per point, depending on your home resort.
The dues per point for 2015 are as follows:
Animal Kingdom Lodge Villas - $6.30
Aulani - $6.51
Bay Lake Tower - $5.05
Beach Club Villas - $5.97
Boardwalk Villas - $6.07
Hilton Head - $6.52
Old Key West - $5.84
Polynesian Villas and Bungalows - $6.02
Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa - $5.18
Vero Beach - $8.06
Villas at Grand Californian - $5.15
Villas at Grand Floridian - $5.52
Villas at Wilderness Lodge - $6.03
If you book hotels from the World Collection, Disney Collection or Concierge Collection, you will be charged a one-off booking payment of $95.
What if I want to add on more DVC points?
You can add on a minimum of 25 points for cash purchases and a minimum of 50 points if you need financing through the DVC. Again, you can buy new points at Aulani, the Grand Floridian or the Polynesian Villas and Bungalows or you can apply to go on a wait list through the DVC for your existing home resort (or another DVC resort), but it may take some time for your points to become available and if the price of points goes up in the meantime, you will end up paying the increased price.
How do I find out more about the Disney Vacation Club?
You can check out the official website: Disney Vacation Club
or call 1-800-500-3990 for a free video.
If you’re heading to Walt Disney World any time in the near future, then check out the DVC kiosks – they’re at every resort, all the parks and at Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney). They can offer more advice and arrange a tour for you. The tours aren’t high pressure and are well worth taking, if you really want to find out more before making your mind up.
There's also an entire guidebook dedicated to the DVC - PassPorter's Disney Vacation Club Guide for Members and Members To Be
, which will answer all your questions about the program.
If you’ve got any other questions, then please post away in this forum – it’s the place to chat about all aspects of Owning the Magic : The Disney Vacation Club!
(disneymom9092) and Kelly
(OhToodles!) - your co-guides of Owning the Magic : The Disney Vacation Club forum