What is the DVC? Why, it’s the Disney Vacation Club, of course!
by Shontell Crawford, Owner/Broker, DVC By Resale
Disney’s version of what has been knows for years as a “timeshare” is not only a smarter, more flexible version of vacation ownership, but it also has a friendlier name: The Disney Vacation Club. (Can you hear the “ta da!” that goes with it?!)
Not sold by the name alone?
Let’s talk about how it works. When you buy into the Disney Vacation Club, you’re given an annual allocation of points -- let’s assume you have 200 points per year for our discussion. Those points may then be “spent” on your vacation accommodations until they are all used. Each resort has a points chart associated with it that helps you determine how much each room or unit size will “cost” in points as correlated with the time of year you are traveling. Weekends and holidays always require more points per night, while weekdays and the slow season cost sometimes half as many points. Obviously, three bedroom grand villas (between 24-196 points) require significantly more points each day than a studio (6-44 points) or a one bedroom (11-80 points). Some of the premium location resorts, such as Disney’s Beach Club, require more points than the flagship resort Old Key West, which has larger rooms, but isn’t within walking distance to Epcot.
Here’s an example: Given 200 points - A family of four, sleeping in a one bedroom unit could spend a week at Disney’s Old Key West in early December, using 160 points. They would have 40 points remaining, which they could use for 4 weeknights at Disney’s Vero Beach in a Deluxe Garden Inn room in July. The beautiful part is they get to look at the charts and decide where, when, and how often they can go based on their annual allocation of points.
A point to ponder: Unlike a traditional timeshare, owners may stay at their DVC homes for as little as one day at a time instead of being locked into a whole week – a feature that has bothered traditional timeshare owners for years.
Need more details? OK, let’s look at two different scenarios, frequently asked about by potential DVC buyers: 1) “What if I’m not traveling one year?” or 2) “What if I need more points than my annual allocation allows?” This is where banking and borrowing come into play. Disney will allow an owner to bank up to one full year’s allocation of points into the next year (you do have some rules to remember) and you may borrow up to 100% of the upcoming year’s allocation as well (again, there are rules and restrictions). Therefore, the most you will ever have available to travel with is three times your annual allocation. That seems pretty easy to remember!
What else can you do besides go to Disney? Boy, is that a loaded question! I’ll break things down as Disney does, by title:
The World Passport Collection: This is your traditional timeshare exchange program and it primarily offers resorts with the RCI (Resort Condominiums International) system. You can call Member Services and trade a week’s worth of points (one or two bedroom) for a week in a resort somewhere else in the world, such as the Kona Coast in Hawaii, or maybe a ski lodge in Colorado (which I have traded into myself). It is worth mentioning that Disney had a team hand-pick these locations to meet certain criteria and not all of the RCI resorts are available. At the time of this writing, Disney charges an additional $95 fee for this exchange.
DVC Resorts: Back in 1991, Disney introduced its new timeshare concept with one resort, known simply as The Disney Vacation Club. The idea was so popular that the DVC quickly expanded, and the original DVC resort is now known as Old Key West. Its sister resorts in Orlando currently include the Boardwalk Villas, Villas at Wilderness Lodge, Beach Club Villas, Saratoga Springs Spa and Resort, Animal Kingdom Lodge Villas, the Bay Lake Tower and soon enough, the Grand Floridian addition. About an hour and a half east overlooking the Atlantic Ocean is Disney’s Vero Beach resort; about six hours north in South Carolina is Disney’s Hilton Head Island resort and over on the west coast you'll find the Grand Californian along with Aulani in beautiful Hawaii.
OK, so assuming you are convinced this is the next best thing since sliced bread you’ll probably want to know which resort you should buy points for and why. Once you decide to become a “Member” – Disney’s coveted term for a DVC Owner – you’ll have to choose which will be your home resort. Money, ownership and reservation privileges are all factors to consider:
Length of ownership – At the time of this writing most DVC resorts have a lease term expiration of 2042, Saratoga Springs expires in 2054, Animal Kingdom expires in 2057, Bay Lake Tower and Grand Californian expire in 2060. Some Old Key West owners opted to pay an additional fee to extend their lease thanks to a past DVC promotion. (Sorry, unlike a traditional timeshare no one gets to own a piece of the magic forever.) Only Disney knows what will happen after these terms expire. (Personally, I think they will be marketing them to our kids a few years before expiration so the tradition will live on.)
Reservation ability – Once you decide how many points your family needs, you’ll want to choose which resort you want to buy, or your “home” resort. Disney allows members to make reservations at their home resort up to 11 months in advance, but at all the other “non-home” DVC resorts reservations can only be made up to 7 months in advance. Points are points are points, but the home resort is a much-debated topic so your families travel habits should be considered.
Purchase price or initial investment – While Disney is charging a whopping $150 per point as I write, resales from DVCbyResale.com can be found for as little as $43 per point at Vero Beach to $93 per point at Bay Lake Tower, with prices for all other resorts somewhere in between.
Annual dues a.k.a. Maintenance Fees and taxes – Each resort charges fees that go toward maintaining the property. The fees vary from resort to resort, but currently average $5 per point. Your home resort determines how much you will pay and how much Disney charges on a per point basis. Dues can vary as much as $2.50 per point between some resorts. If you own 200 points, that's a $500 difference per year. Wow!
Well, what about perks? DVC Members not only get a big “Welcome Home!” anytime they arrive at one of their resorts, but they can also take advantage of a few dollar-saving benefits that aren’t available to the ordinary family traveling to Disney. Disney’s Members Only website (www.dvcmember.com) lists and updates these benefits regularly. The best perk added recently is a significant discount on annual passes to Walt Disney World for anyone living in a member’s household.
So now you’re thinking: I’m convinced! Where do I find these points? My first recommendation is to call Disney directly at 1-800-800-9800 for the information packet -- feel free to give my name as a referral! Then visit our website, www.DVCbyresale.com, for the current DVC Resort point charts and all our resale listings. If you send me an email I will be happy to forward the charts for the other properties and add you to our update list: firstname.lastname@example.org. Better yet, just give me a call 1-800-844-4099 and I’ll answer any of your questions about becoming a member. I’ve been one for more than twelve years!