Basics of the Disney Vacation Club

You’ll see the kiosks and signs spread across the Walt Disney World Property.  Disney Vacation Club, Disney’s “Best Kept Secret.”  But what is the Vacation Club?  And is it worth your time to stop and find out more information?

The Disney Vacation Club (DVC) is Disney’s version of a timeshare, only instead of purchasing a specific condo and specific week of time, you purchase what are called points.  By organizing it’s membership in points, Disney revolutionized the time share industry by offering it’s members flexibility in when, where and how they travel.  Members of the Disney Vacation Club have bought a real estate interest at any of twelve Disney Vacation Club Resort Properties across the US in Orlando, FL; Vero Beach, FL; Hilton Head Island, SC; Anaheim, CA; and Ko Olina, HI.   The resort that you purchase your interest at is considered your “home” resort.

All DVC resorts fall into Disney’s “Deluxe” resort category, meaning they offer the biggest rooms, most amenities, best pools, several dining options at each resort location.  DVC resort rooms come in several sizes and are comprised of Studios (sleeps 4), 1 Bedroom (sleeps 4) , 2 Bedroom (sleeps 8/9) and 3 Bedroom Villas (sleeps 12).  The “cost” for those rooms changes depending on the size of room, day of the week and the time of year, just like a regular hotel room would.

DVC Members purchase a specific number of points to receive each year.  Once a year, Disney drops that number of points into the member account.  The member then gets to chose how they spend those points, and what budget best fits their vacation plans.  It’s similar to budgeting for a room using cash,  there are high seasons, low seasons and weekend rates that all cost different amounts of points.

Here are a couple of examples:

  • If I want a Studio in the low season Mon-Tue-Wed, it may cost 8 points per night during the Sun-Thur, costing a total of 24 points (8×3).
  • Weekend stays usually cost more points on Fri & Sat.  If the weekend cost was 12 points per night and the member stayed Th-F-Sat in low season, that studio would cost 32 points ((12×2)+8).
  • If a member wanted that Studio over Christmas on the weekend, one night may very well cost 30 points a night.

The flexibility of having points however means that members don’t have to stick with a studio room.  If you want a 2 Bedroom, you can stay in one of those as well.  Just remember, the bigger the room the more points per night base rates are, plus the seasonal fluctuation.  If members want a studio for one trip and a 2 bedroom later in the year that’s fine too, as long as they stay within the allotted point per year budget.

But wait! If a member doesn’t want to spend those points one year say in 2013, they can bank the allotted points forward to the next use year 2014.  More points to spend, means bigger rooms and longer lengths of stays are possible, or maybe several shorter trips.  In addition to banking your points forward one year, you can also borrow points from your next year. So, if a member knew that they didn’t want to travel in 2013 or 2015, I could use three years worth of points in 2014.

In addition to flexibility in rooms and time of year you travel, DVC also allows you to use your DVC points at any DVC Resort you choose. You are allowed to book a room at your “home” resort 11 months prior to travel. However, at 7 months prior to travel you can book at ANY of the DVC Resorts. DVC Resorts are currently located in Orlando FL, Anaheim CA, Hilton Head Island SC, Vero Beach FL and Ko Olina HI. The 11 Month booking window is a way to give guests that own at one property priority booking where they own.

The best monetary value per point always comes from staying at a DVC resort. However if you are in it for the experience (not pinching pennies), there’s so much more you can do. DVC Members who have bought their points through Disney, can also use their points at Non-DVC, Disney owned properties as well. You can use your DVC points to pay for a Disney Cruise, and travel with Adventures by Disney. If you’ve purchased through Disney you also have the ability to use over 500 time share properties world wide through exchanges with RCI (a big timeshare company) and a small collection of 5 star hotels.

Disney says, that by joining the Disney Vacation Club, members can save up to 75% on future room rates.  Honestly though, the Disney Vacation Club isn’t for everyone.  The best way to find out if membership could benefit your family is to visit a DVC Kiosk and set up a tour of one of  the beautiful properties offered.

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