Disney Vacation Club and How It Works
In 1991 Disney created a time share property known as the Disney Vacation Club Resort. It opened on December 20, 1991 at Walt Disney World. It was renamed Disney’s Old Key West Resort in January, 1996.
On March 30, 1993 Disney Vacation Development Corp unveiled plans for a 440-unit time-share resort 95 miles south-east of Walt Disney World in Florida. It broke ground on July 28, 1994 with
Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, opening on October 1, 1995. After the Vacation Club Resort at Vero Beach, Florida, Disney would then open Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort five months later on March 1, 1996. Disney added Aulani in Hawaii that opened to guests on August 29, 2011 making it the third stand-alone DVC resort.
DVC had a major impact on how “time share resorts” operated. A number of the major corporate operators changed their rules to be more in line with DVC and often laws were adopted in many states governing time shares. Often a time share was sold as an open ended contract where buyers could be locked into ownership forever. There were often little limits on the growth of management fees and assessments.
From 1996 on the character of the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) changed and the addition of resort properties exploded. Today the DVC is based on a point system and a “home resort” that includes the following resorts:
- The Villas at Disneyland
- Bay Lake Tower
- Animal Kingdom Villas
- Beach Club Villas
- BoardWalk Villas
Polynesian Villas & Bungalows
- The Villas at Grand Floridian
- The Villas Reflections – Lakeside Lodge
- Boulder Ridge Villas
- Copper Creek Villas and Cabins
Exclusively DVC Resorts
- Old Key West Resort
Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
- Riviera Resort (opening soon)
- Vero Beach Resort Florida
- Hilton Head Island Resort, South Carolina
- Aulani, Hawaii
HOW THE CLUB WORKS
The DVC is based on buying points and not a specific date of use. Once you buy the points you are free to use them to make reservations at any of the resorts and can make bookings seven months in advance or eleven months for your “home resort”. The number of points for a night
vary by resort and by season but range from a low around 20 points. The membership in the DVC is not open ended and has an expiration date that varies by the home resort (usually 40 to 50 years). When you buy a membership you select your “home resort”. Each year there is an assessment against the membership based on your home resort to cover operating costs, maintenance and taxes and varies on the home resort selected (on average the fee seems to be about $5 per point).
You can also use your points for Disney cruises and can convert points to book hotels through outside companies (not a very good value we’ve found).
Unlike a lot of time share resorts there is an active resale market in DVC points that allows you to recover a sizable percentage of the original cost should you want out. It also seems as if you can find a buyer rather quickly too. Disney retains a right of first refusal on all resales and they have been known to use it in order to protect the value of the systems points.
Most of the resorts have a selection of accommodations from a studio (similar to a standard hotel room) to two and three bedroom apartments. Point costs represent the size, location (view) and season with summer tending to be high as well as Christmas while January is often the lowest.
Being a DVC member does come with some additional benefits. Members usually get a 10% discount at restaurants and shops inside Disney World and there are discount offers at times on park tickets and special events. Starting a couple of years ago (its 25th Anniversary) Disney began to offer free member parties after the parks close that included the water parks*. Last year there were five parties and they included entertainment, food and select rides. You need to book quickly as there is limited availability.
WHAT ABOUT THE COST?
The strongest argument against timeshares is they just don’t make financial sense and I always believed that to be the case. I still broke down and bought DVC points a number of years ago, although at the time we bought them at resale and payed way below average market (because of when we bought we still get full benefits). We have often compared what we paid out against what value we received and it
seems we are saving money. It is true we often stay in DVC deluxe resorts where if we were paying as we go we would normally stay in more modest accommodations. Still that makes it a worthwhile benefit for us. Here is how a sample “investment” works out:
160 points for $20,000 with a resale value after fifteen years of $15,000 for an estimated membership cost of $5,000 (assuming use for 15 years). With the points you can get 5.5 nights a year at higher end properties that have an average selling price of $360 per night. Annual membership fees would average $800. That works out to $1,980 worth of cash value per year for for an average cost of $1,150. That doesn’t account for the value of discounts and parties. While we’re sure Disney is making money on the memberships they also get more visits with the accompanying restaurant visits, shopping and park tickets. Just maybe it’s a win/win.