From the time my sister and her husband became a Disney Vacation Club member, I knew that I would one day buy into the vacation club myself! At that time I was still in college and was certainly not in the financial position to take on this membership, but it was my goal and fortunately I have a husband that fell in love with Disney almost as much as me and we had the same plan! Every time we visited Disney World we would pass by the DVC pavilions and say “in a few years!”
Well, when we took a spur of the moment trip for our second anniversary, “in a few years” became NOW! We had walked past the DVC cast members many times in the past, but on this particular day while walking from Frontierland to Liberty Square, the DCV cast member stopped us to talk (you see, they stopped us, so we felt it was meant to be! 🙂 ) and take a DVC tour (ours happened to be to Saratoga Springs). We were picked up from Magic Kingdom, met with a DVC sales rep (who was fantastic!), had some free ice cream, got free fastpasses and now have 50 years of memories to make!
So how does it work? You may be wondering. I know for me, I knew the basics before we became members, but not until actually using our membership does it all make sense and become second nature to you.
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Buying Points and Becoming a Disney Vacation Club Member
When buying into the Disney Vacation Club you will first be offered to choose your “home” resort. This is basically buying a second property or time share, but not being tied down to one location or resort. Our choices were Copper Creek at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge or Aulani. Aulani was slightly more money per point.
We chose to buy into Copper Creek as this is on Disney World property and is our most common destination. Although we are not tied to only staying at Copper Creek, it is the only resort we can book 11 months out… all other resorts are 7 months out. So if we would have chose Aulani, we would not have had any Disney World resorts to book early.
So once we decided on Copper Creek, we needed to decide how many points to purchase. Our sales rep worked with us to figure out how many points we would use on average per year based on the resorts we enjoyd staying at, what times of year we travel and the length of our trips. We were debating between 150 and 200 points for roughly 1 trip per year in a deluxe studio room. We chose to go on the lesser side because you are not just tied to using points from the current year, and since we became members in August and knew we weren’t going to Disney again that year we would already have points banked…more on that later!
So overall our monthly payment was based on the price per point at the resort we chose as our 2nd home! This is based on a 10 year monthly payoff and a down payment is required..basically like taking out a mortgage mixed with financing a car. In 10 years our vacation points will be paid off, but there is an additional yearly annual due required yearly for the entire 50 years.
Is it worth it?
We debated many times on whether becoming a Disney Vacation Club member would be worth it for us because, let’s face it, it’s a lot of money and an extra bill each month isn’t always the best option to “save” for vacations.
You can figure this out by determining how much money you spend per year on your hotel reservations and multiply that by 50 years. Then compare to the cost of DVC membership for 50 years (don’t forget to include that pesky interest rate!) You can figure out the amount of points you would need and how much membership costs at Disney Vacation Club cost calculator.
How do points work towards bookings?
Points are basically the money you have to use each year towards your trips. So the more points you have the more/longer vacations you can take or bigger rooms you can stay in. This is a key part in purchasing the vacation club as your total price is based on the number of points you want per year multiplied by the price per point. Knowing how often, time of year and room size that you will need will help you to determine how many points you need per year. (but don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be exact because you can borrow from previous or future years).
Just like paying for a Disney resort with cash, certain resorts cost more. A 1-bedroom villa at the Grand Floridian will certainly require more points than the same room at Saratoga Springs.
Banking and Borrowing
You will have a set amount of points per year, but what if you do not take a trip one year or you need a larger room another year? This is where banking and borrowing comes in handy.
Banking points means that you did not use all of your points for the year and would like to save them for the next year. Once you do so, you will have the banked points in addition to your yearly points the following year. For example, Jesse and I banked 137 points from the 2019 use year into 2020. So for 2020 we had a total of 287 points (137 + 150). The banked points will automatically be used first when booking a trip, and keep in mind you can only bank each years points once!
Borrowing points means that you need extra points in addition to your current use year that you can borrow from the next use year and use them early. You could, if needed, use 3 years worth of points at one time. For example due to the coronavirus we will be banking this years points so we will already have 300 points in 2021 but if we needed more for 2021 we could borrow from the 2022 use year and have a total of 450 points!
When to Book
As I mentioned before, choosing your favorite resort or most visited destination (Disney World, Disneyland, Aulani) as your home resort (the resort you own property in) is important because it is the resort you can book the earliest.
Your home resort is the only resort you can book 11 months in advance from your travel dates. Aside from that, all other resorts can be booked 7 months out. So choose wisely as lots of resorts book up quickly so don’t buy into Aulani if you typically travel to Disney World because you may not be able to find the rooms that you really want when the 7 month mark comes around.
Cruise Line/Adventures By Disney
When booking a Disney resort, your points will only pay for the room, so with this being said, the amount of points required is pretty reasonable. However, you can use DVC points to book a Disney cruise or Adventures by Disney trip BUT keep in mind, these are all inclusive type trips that include room, food and even transportation for ABD trips. Due to this, a cruise or ABD trip requires a number of points per person meaning they will require many more points and again will depend on time or the year, destination, length of trip and type of room you book.
For example, a Savanna view deluxe studio room at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge may cost us 140 points in April/May, while a 3 night 4 day cruise to the Bahamas in April/May with a veranda stateroom may cost us near 300 points per person.
It is absolutely an option to book a cruise or ABD trip with vacation points (you can also pay part with cash and part with points) but they certainly require more points than a resort! (this may be where banking and borrowing comes in handy!)
If you are concerned about traveling to the same places each year, don’t you worry because Disney always has a solution. With your membership, you are also able to use your points to stay in more than 3,400 hotels around the world with Disney Destinations, the World collection (RCI) and Concierge collection.
Perks of DVC
So now that you know allllll about how DVC membership works, lets get into the REALLY important stuff! The perks!
Some obvious perks are that you technically own a piece of Disney property, and like how cool is that!?! It may be a veryyyyy small percentage of your home resort, but hey, that small percent is yours and you get a 1098 form each year to prove it!
Next, you have an excuse to visit Disney destinations as much as you want!
In addition to these, there are lots of members only events and discounts available too.
- A 10 to 20 % discount on merchandise, dining, tours and more!
- Discounted annual pass prices! And the option to purchase the Florida resident annual pass even if you do not live in Florida.
- Celebrations, parties and park access for members only (moonlight magic and holiday dinners/celebrations)
- Members cruises
- Members lounges (Epcot and Bay Lake Tower)
Overall, becoming a Disney Vacation Club member was worth it for my family, but I know it is not for everyone! I hope I helped you make your decision!
Do you love being a Disney Vacation Club member? Are you trying to decide if membership is right for you?
If you are not quite ready to dive into DVC membership just yet, that’s okay! You can still save money by renting Disney Vacation Club points, check out how here!