Before the pandemic, approximately 20.8 million people visited Walt Disney World annually. If you’ve been, you know that it is impossible to see everything while you are there, which is part of how they encourage you to come back in the future.
However, a trip to Disney isn’t cheap, and if you visit the parks regularly, you’ll start to see the numbers add up quickly. One way to lower the cost of your vacations is to become a part of the Disney Vacation Club (DVC).
Perhaps you’ve heard this name in passing but aren’t sure what having a membership entails. That’s why we’ve put together a pros and cons list of purchasing a DVC membership.
Keep reading to learn if it’s worth joining.
What Is the Disney Vacation Club?
The DVC is a timeshare program that allows members to have partial ownership over a property for a certain amount of time. When you buy into the program, you purchase a certain amount of points.
The minimum amount you can buy is 125. Every year, Disney gives you those points, and you get to use them on a DMV resort, cruises, and at other locations around the world.
Furthermore, when you become a member, you have to choose a home resort. Doing so does not mean that you only stay at this location when you visit. However, you do get the extra benefit of being allowed to book a stay at your home resort eleven months in advance, whereas you can only book seven months in advance when you stay at the other DMV resorts.
The Walt Disney World options include:
- Bay Lake Tower at the Contemporary Resort
- Old Key West Resort
- Riviera Resort
- Saratoga Springs Resort
- Boulder Ridge Villas at Wilderness Lodge
- Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Wilderness Lodge
- Animal Kingdom Villas
- Beach Club Villas
- Polynesian Villas & Bungalows
- Grand Floridian Resort Villas
Walt Disney World resorts aren’t the only options you can book. The other resorts you can spend your points on are:
- Grand Californian Hotel Villas
- Vero Beach Resort
- Hilton Head Island Resort
- Aulani Resort in Ko Olina, Hawai’i
Disney Vacation Club Cost
The cost to become a member of the DVC varies depending on when you join, how many points you want, and when you tend to visit the parks. To give you a general sense of how much it would cost to join the DVC, here’s an example:
Say you have a large family (5 to 6 people), you like to take week-long trips, and you’re flexible about the times of the year you can visit. According to Disney’s calculator, they recommend that you purchase 275 points. In 2021, the cost per point is $201.
Multiply 275 by 201, and your total comes out to $55,275. Most people walk away from the offer when they hear the cost, but there are a couple of things to remember before ruling the membership out.
The first is that your membership usually lasts around fifty years. Over that time, you’ll likely end up spending less on your vacations (if you spend all your points) than you would if you paid in cash. You bank on this being the case because the point price tends to increase every year.
Additionally, if you join and find that the experience isn’t what you expected or that you aren’t getting your money’s worth, you can sell your DVC through the resale program.
Benefits of the Disney Vacation Club
On top of all the money you save at resorts by investing in the DVC, there are a handful of extra perks you’ll receive too. Members can purchase the park and annual passes at a discounted price, including the gold pass that is only available to Florida residents.
Additionally, when you eat at a restaurant on WDW property, you’ll get 10% of your bill, and most merchandise is 10-20% off on Disney-owned properties. Sometimes you can get a discount at select non-Disney-owned locations that sell their merchandise.
One of the biggest perks that you get when you are a DVC member is getting to attend the Moonlight Magic Events, which is when a park is open after hours only for people who are part of the club.
Every park has Moonlight Magic Events four times out of the year. Disney provides complimentary foods, keeps some of their most popular rides open, and hosts character meet-and-greets. It’s an exclusive party where you get to experience the parks without the crowds and lines.
There are a couple of lounges, one in Epcot and the other in Bay Lake Tower, where you can cool off and hang out. Plus, resort laundry and parking are free. If you want to go hang out at other resort pools, you can do so as a DVC member.
The number of benefits the Disney Vacation Club has is endless, and this list is just the beginning. These perks are what makes the cost of joining worth it, so if you find that you could use many of them to your advantage, the DVC might be for you.
The Cons of the Disney Vacation Club
Unfortunately, there are some downfalls when you become a member of Disney’s most exclusive club. The first one being, you have to visit regularly to get your money’s worth.
Disney does allow you to bank, borrow, and gift a certain amount of vacation points, but they do have expiration dates. If you don’t spend your points every year or every other year, though, there’s no point in buying into the vacation club.
Some people are Disney fanatics and want to go on vacations that incorporate Mickey and Minnie into everything. But if there are places you want to travel that Disney doesn’t go to or just want a “Disney free” vacation, you probably don’t want to spend the thousands of dollars it would cost to join the DVC.
Additionally, you’ll have annual fees (they call them “Membership Fees”) to pay even after you pay off that initial cost. The cost of yours depends on your home resort and how many points you buy. In 2021, if you have 125 points and your home resort is the Riviera, you’ll owe $1,048.25 in membership fees every year.
You can buy a resale membership. However, when you do so, you won’t get as many perks as you would if you purchased it directly from Disney. The trade-off is that it costs less to buy at resale.
Consider Purchasing a Disney Vacation Membership
Joining the Disney Vacation Club is a serious financial commitment. Therefore, it’s best to have as much information as possible before deciding whether the membership is the best route for you and your family. Hopefully, this article has given you a well-rounded sense of what it is like to be part of it.
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