If you consider yourself a die-hard Mickey fan, you’re far from alone. Worldwide, Disney parks saw over 155 million visitors in 2019!
For frequent visitors, it’s hard to pass up on an annual pilgrimage to their favorite Disney properties, even with the lower park capacity in recent months. Of course, securing lodging and planning a trip for a group can be difficult year over year. If this sounds familiar, you may want to consider one way to make your vacations a little smoother: Disney Vacation Club.
If you’ve never heard of this program—or you’re not sure what it includes—you may be missing out on the opportunity for exclusive events and easier travel. Let’s take a look at the basics of Disney Vacation Club, what it includes, and whether it’s right for you.
What is the Disney Vacation Club?
As the name suggests, the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) is a vacation program operated through Disney. This popular program is Disney’s answer to the concept of timeshares—but there are a few differences between the two vacation programs.
In essence, DVC offers easy prepaid vacations for its members.
What Makes the Disney Vacation Club Different From Timeshares?
There is one major difference between timeshares and DVC resorts: ownership.
With timeshares, owners often have what is called “fractional ownership.” With their purchase, they have the right to use a unit at a specific time during the year. This time period may vary from timeshare to timeshare.
Unlike many timeshare programs, members of the program do not own or control their Disney Vacation Club rental unit. Instead, the Walt Disney company retains exclusive ownership, and members have access to a property for a specified amount of time.
How Does the DVC Point System Work?
Members pay for annual points up front—or with financing—and receive a certain number of points once a year. They can then spend these points to stay at Disney resorts, as well as other types of vacations.
Members will also select what’s known as a “home resort.” This resort is your home base, meaning that you can make a reservation up to nine months in advance, in contrast to other resorts that require six months of advance notice. That extra time means that you can jump in and secure reservations at your favorite resort before they sell out!
If you decide not to take a Disney vacation in a specific year, you can save your points and use them in a subsequent year. You can also borrow the next year’s points to put them toward a current vacation, meaning that you’ll have fewer points to spend on your next vacation.
Where Are the Disney Vacation Club Resorts?
The DVC operates fourteen total resorts. Eleven of these are in Walt Disney World:
- Animal Kingdom Villas
- Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
- Beach Club Villas
- BoardWalk Villas
- Boulder Ridge Villas at Wilderness Lodge
- Copper Creek Villas and Cabins at Wilderness Lodge
- Old Key West
- Polynesian Villas and Bungalows
- Riviera Resort
- Saratoga Springs
- Villas at Grand Floridian
In addition, there is one resort in Disneyland in California, The Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian. The three remaining resorts are located near beaches throughout the United States: Disney’s Vero Beach Resort in Vero Beach, Florida; Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort in South Carolina; and Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa in Ko Olina, Hawai’i.
It’s worth noting, however, that members can also choose to travel to both Disney-owned and Disney-partnered hotels and resorts around the world. This includes DVC Disney Cruises that sail to destinations in Europe, Alaska, and the Caribbean, as well as the hotels in Disney’s robust Destinations Around the World Collection.
Is Disney Vacation Club Worth It?
The answer to this question, of course, depends on you! For many die-hard Disney fans as well as those who love arranging their travel in advance, the DVC program is well worth the expense. Others may not want to join a program that fences them into a pre-planned vacation.
To understand if the program is right for you, let’s take a look at a few of the benefits and downsides.
Pros of the Disney Vacation Club
When you join the DVC program, you’re joining a points-based timeshare system that allows you the freedom to choose from a spectrum of Disney properties while planning your trips in advance. You’ll enjoy priority booking at your home resort, which makes it easy to decide where you want to travel months in advance.
Long-term Disney Vacation Club membership can also offer great value, as it allows members to avoid high price increases year over year.
DVC members also have access to a number of exclusive perks, like Signature Dining Experiences. Additional perks include character meet-and-greets, pool-hopping, spa treatments, tours, movie screenings, and free exclusive events.
Cons of the Disney Vacation Club
The most prominent disadvantage to the DVC program is for those who don’t take Disney trips on a regular basis. The DVC program benefits repeat visitors, not those who prefer more freedom and flexibility to take non-Disney vacations.
Upfront costs can also be a disadvantage, though Disney does offer financing for those who can’t pay in cash all at once. It’s also worth noting that points tend to depreciate, so selling on the Disney Vacation Club resale market may not earn you as much as you spent.
The intensive pre-planning can be a downside for some members as well. Members need to choose their resorts, restaurants, shows, and attractions months in advance, which leaves little room for spontaneity.
How Can You Get Started With the DVC Program?
If you’re considering joining the DVC program, there are a number of ways to get started.
First, some prospective members find it helpful to purchase an initial vacation through the resale market. This can help you understand if a DVC rental is right for you in the long term.
If you’re happy with your experience, it’s time to make your DVC purchase and select your home resort!
Make the Most of Your Disney Vacation
If you’re a frequent Disney visitor, it’s worth considering joining the Disney Vacation Club. After all, membership offers the ability to plan your trips in advance, get exclusive access to events and venues, and do more of what you love during your trips! Do your research to decide whether this opportunity is right for you.
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