You see the signs everywhere when you visit Walt Disney World: on busses, in the hotels, even at the parks: “Have you heard about Disney’s best kept secret”? That secret, of course, is the Disney Vacation Club, and as Disney continues their plans to expand their timeshare option with the construction of more DVC properties….well, I don’t know that it is much of a *secret* any more.
But maybe in a way it still is. I think most people are somewhat familiar with Disney Vacation Club, and may even have a pretty good idea of how it works. But the secret, in my opinion, may just be how affordable DVC membership can make your Disney vacations, under the right circumstances. You just have to determine if it makes sense for your situation.
Let me explain how DVC worked out for our family.
We became DVC owners in 2005. We had talked to a number of folks about it before this, both the salespeople at Walt Disney World, as well as various people that we met at the parks, or our resort hotel. Interestingly, it was these families, the DVC members that truly sold us on the idea of buying into Disney Vacation Club. There was one constant refrain shared by every single owner we talked to: “Best thing we ever did, and we so wish we had done it sooner”.
That’s some pretty powerful words there. So we began to do some research, and on our New Year’s trip that year, we decided to start the New Year off right with a tour of the (then) new DVC resort, Saratoga Springs.
I have to say that we thoroughly enjoyed the tour, and if you ever decide to take the DVC tour, know that Disney, being Disney, does this very well indeed. Tugging at heartstrings, bringing a tear to your eye, the whole nine yards….they are very persuasive, let me tell ya.
We were pretty much sold on DVC at that point, but I am not one to commit large sums of money to something just because I picture taking my grandchildren on It’s a Small World someday. I’m a practical sort, so after talking it over, my husband and I decided to take a few days to think it over.
(Know that DVC is in the business of selling timeshares, and they *will* do whatever it takes to make it worth your while to buy right then and there…including some attractive discounts that expire in a week or so. So be prepared for that. However, I will say that they did not pressure us in any way, and completely honored our request to think it over, which I personally appreciated.)
The thing that was truly holding us back from buying at that moment was that we weren’t really in love with Saratoga Springs. We were in love with the idea of DVC however….and fortunately I always do my research, so I knew that it was possible to become a Disney Vacation Club owner at other, previously “sold out” resorts, by purchasing them on the resale market.
In other words, buying from a private individual, rather than directly from Disney.
When you do this, there are some pretty decent benefits, which can often make this a more affordable way to buy DVC than directly through Disney:
- You have your choice of buying any of the DVC resort properties
- You will pay less per point than buying the current DVC offering
- (And this may be the biggest one of all): There is no minimum amount of points you have to buy. Fewer points means fewer dollars to spend upfront.
Now there are some things to consider if you are interested in buying DVC this way. It’s a bit too involved for this article, but just know that there is a process that needs to be followed, and Disney must approve the sale. And yes, in some instances they do refuse to approve the sale. So probably the best piece of advice I can give you is to go through a timeshare resale company, as they will make sure all goes well. The one we used was The Timeshare Store, but there are other very good ones as well.
So when is it worth your while…and wallet…to buy into DVC?
While there are a number of things to consider, I think the main issues driving whether this would be beneficial to you are these:
- How often do you currently visit Disney World….or do you plan to visit Disney World in the future? A visit once every couple of years may not make it worth it, but a visit at least once per year just might…
- Would the cost of the yearly DVC maintenance fee be less than you would typically pay for your accommodations for your Disney trips each year? Many people forget about this part: every DVC resort has a yearly maintenance fee that must be paid….basically homeowner’s association dues. Depending on the resort and number of points you have, it can get pricey, so you should figure out what you would pay for accommodations each year if you didn’t have DVC membership, and see which is cheaper.
- Do you have the ability to plan your Disney vacations far in advance? DVC is best utilized by those who can plan a vacation 6 months to a year in advance. While there is short-term availability, the best selection will be well before your trip…so if you typically plan your vacations a month or so before you leave, Disney Vacation Club may not work out as well for you as it would if you could book farther in advance.
Considering all of these things, and looking into the options available on the resale market, I will say that if you have the funds initially, DVC can be a great way to vacation at Disney World affordably for many years to come.
For those of you who are DVC owners, what are your thoughts about membership? And for those of you who are not, have you considered it? Why or why not? Please let me know your thoughts or questions in the comments below, or by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will try to address your questions in a future article!
Nancy, her husband and college-age daughter live in the Baltimore MD area, but consider Walt Disney World their second “home”. She started her site, The Affordable Mouse, as a way to share ideas about how to plan affordable Disney vacations. Her favorite things at Disney World (in no particular order) are Soarin’, most of the food in World Showcase, Illuminations…and watching children’s faces light up when they see their favorite characters in person.
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