Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Grumpy Review: The Disney Vacation Club Point by Point

DVC-LogoOver the past few months, there have been quite a bit of discussion  about the Disney  Vacation Club (DVC) in the Disney Community. 

Many of these discussions have been on various Podcasts.  I know it's been a recurring topic on the Mouse Guest Weekly podcast and more specifically discussed between Jennifer and Lisa in their Those Darn Cats segments on the podcast.

I also know that a segment has recently been tested on Ricky Brigante's Inside the Magic podcast about the DVC.

What is the Disney Vacation Club

I know that Disney and many other people refer to the Disney Vacation Club as a timeshare.  But, I like to tell people that it's more like purchasing tomorrow's Disney Accommodations at today's prices.

In other words, you are pre-purchasing your resort stays for the next 48+ years (length depends on what resort you buy into).

In my mind, it's kind of like a Roth IRA. 

In a Roth IRA, you are depositing money that has already been taxed at current rates so when you take it out, at retirement, you don't owe any taxes because you paid them before depositing.  So, in that case, you are paying your taxes at today's rate instead of the rates when you retire.

As we all know, Disney isn't known for  reducing the room rates for their Deluxe Accommodations.  They typically go up from one year to the next.  So in a few years you should see a benefit in pre-paying for your accommodations

What is a DVC Guide

Every member has a DVC Guide. 

When you walk into the DVC office at Saratoga Springs Resort (or wherever it is in Anaheim), you'll be asked who referred you to the Disney Vacation Club.  If you have a friend or family member who is already a member of the Disney Vacation Club, then you can give the person who greets you their Guide's name.  This way, you'll end up with the same guide as your friend or family member.  If you don't have a guide, one will be assigned to you.

Your DVC Guide is the person who will give you the tour of the rooms and give you the sales pitch from a numbers Disney's Saratoga Springs Resortand functionality standpoint.  I didn't experience any arm twisting or coercive type salesmanship going on.  It was pretty much, "Here is what the DVC is, here is how it works, here is what it would cost you, what do you think?"

Once you are a member, your Guide is also your go-to person with any questions that you may have that cannot be resolved by calling the Customer Support Number.  They are also the person you will communicate with for the buying process. 

Your guide will also be the one who notifies you of new DVC opportunities in the future.  For example, my guide was the one who notified me, officially, of the sale of points for the units at Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas.

My DVC Guide is Brad Smith.  I must say that he was a very friendly and outgoing person [Ed. Note:  Yes, I know he's a sales person].  Trust me, I asked a ton of questions, pointed him to negative commentary that I found on the web and he answered them all with a smile and had a believable response for every thing I threw his way.  Plus, when we used our points to stay at Saratoga Springs Resort in September he made sure to call and make sure we didn't need anything.

It should be noted that if you decide to purchase into the Disney Vacation Club and you had named a friend or family member that person may be eligible for a "reward".  It just depends on what state they live in.  Many states don't let the awarding of the rewards.  If I remember correctly, the person gets a few Disney Dollars.

How much does it cost?

Well, I cannot speak from the Resale market because I purchased directly from Disney.  So, all my discussion will revolve around that.

The first thing you need to know is that the Disney Vacation Club works in points.  You purchase a set number of points that are deposited into your account on your anniversary date.  My anniversary date is December 1.  So, on December 1 of every year I get my next allotment of points.

I believe if you are making your first purchase into the Disney Vacation Club, the minimum purchase is 150 points.  The price per point, is something that your DVC Guide, will provide you and they have a great app to help you easily see the price of everything once you start playing around with point levels

Disney seems to always be offering some sort of incentive to get you to think seriously about purchasing.  In the case of my purchase, I had the option of get a few dollars per point removed (to lower my down payment) or getting double points for my first year.  We chose the double points.

Since the incentives are always changing, you need to check them out and decide accordingly.

For this blog post, I'm going to assume there are no incentives.  When I purchased into Saratoga Springs Resort, the price per point was $101 and I bought 210 points.  This came to a price of $21,210.  But, in addition to that, you also had various costs that are normal when dealing with real estate transactions (fees, fees, fees).

There is also this another little cost known as annual dues.  This is a per point dollar figure that every member pays.  The more points you own, the more annual dues you pay.  This dollar figure is typically broken out for you so you know where the money is allocated.  My annual dues for 2007 are $810 and according to my statement that I can view on the member's only web site, they went slightly down from last year (ever so slightly).   Annual dues are monies collected for the upkeep of the resort.

How many points should I get

So, I bet you are asking, "Why 210 points". 

Well, our decision was somewhat influenced by our guide who told us that he personally owned 200 points.  But we also started looking at the point chart to see how many points it would take to stay at the resorts at the times we'd like to go.

Signing the paperwork to become a DVC MemberEach DVC resort has a point chart.  These point charts tell you how many points it "costs" to stay on a particular day or the week.  Weekends cost more points than weekdays.  Points also fluctuate based on the tourist season.  High season is more costly than low season.  Your point value is also dependent on the size of the room you want and in some locations (i.e. Animal Kingdom Villas), what view you want.

So, your number of points is really dictated by what style of room you like to stay in (studio, one bedroom, two bedroom, grand villa) and when you like to travel.

So, if you are interested in the Disney Vacation Club you might want to start looking at the point chart and figuring out how many points it would cost you to take a vacation during the period you typically like to go.  That way, when you are sitting in the office, you already know how many points you think you need.

I found a great point chart applet on TagrelDVC Point Charts

What if I cannot use all my points?

One thing you need to realize is that your points aren't a use-it-or-lose it plan.

There is a process called banking and borrowing in place.  This process can be very confusing to people, so it is highly recommended to leverage the people behind the phone number they give you to help make sure you do it right.

Every member has a cutoff date to bank 100% of their points that haven't already been used to book trips for your current year. 

You pretty much need to figure out how many points you want to use during the year by that date and bank your remaining points to the next year.  If you don't do this, then any points left unused go away at the end of your year. 

Points that are banked must be used before any of your new points.  So, if you banked 100% of your points to the next year, then you need to use those points before you can tap into that year's points.

You can also borrow points from the next year.  So, in theory, you could have triple points.  You would combine this year's points, next year's points, and the previous year's points.  This is how some people get enough points to take a cruise or book one of the Grand Villa rooms (holds up to 14 people at Saratoga Springs)

So, you can see, getting the right number of points is kind of crucial.

What if I didn't Buy Enough Points?

But, if you don't buy enough points, there is the ability to buy more points and the DVC does seem to run periodic incentive periods for current members to try and get them to buy more.  This is often referred to, in the community, as addonitis. 

We almost succumbed to addonitis when the Animal Kingdom Villa DVC units were announced at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.  If we hadn't been building a house, we most assuredly have added on.

Why would I want to own points in more than one resort

When you buy your points, that resort becomes your "Home Resort".  You have the ability to book vacations at your home resort up to 11 months in advance.  You have to wait until 7 months out to book at non-Home Resorts.  You can only use points from your Home Resort when booking greater than 7 months out.

So, if I had purchased those points at the Animal Kingdom Villas, I could've only used up to the number of points I used when booking early.  But, if I needed more, I would've had to borrowed from the next year. 

Now if you book within the 7 month window, you can tap into your entire pool of points. 

Since Disney Cruise Lines aren't a DVC resort, you aren't governed by the 7 or 11 month rule so you can tap into all your points to book a cruise, or book at non-DVC Disney resort.  We actually used our points to book at Disneyland's Paradise Pier Resort.  We almost booked at the Grand Californian and wished we had afterwards [Ed. Note:  The Grand Californian will be getting DVC units during it's latest remodel].

How do I know when I have broken even

It's often heard that people say that you will break even around 5-7 trips.  The break even point is when you've stayed enough vacation nights in a DVC resort where the "rack rate" value of those nights would've met or exceeded your initial investment.

I don't know how others have determined this, but I tend to get a rough cost by using Disney's online reservation system to get a quote for staying at a resort I normally would've booked if I wasn't staying at the DVC (Polynesian, Animal Kingdom Lodge, Swan and Dolphin, etc.).  Then I plug that number into a spreadsheet which is tracking all those fictitious numbers for all my trips.

When the sum on the spreadsheet surpasses my $21,210 dollar figure, then I have broken even.Saratoga Springs Resort Statue

Some people want to know how the annual dues factor it.  I have been adding the annual dues to the original buy-in total.  So every year the total we are trying to exceed increases by a few hundred dollars. 

But, the way I see it, you can still exceed it over time.  When we stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge in 2006 (on the concierge floor), it cost us several thousand dollars for a 9 night stay.  If I remember correctly it was around $5-6K.

How Do I know that the DVC rooms are cheaper than paying rack rate

The most important question is how to determine if you are actually saving money by pre-purchasing your resort accommodations.

The first thing you need to keep in mind is that you cannot compare your "cost" to stay at a DVC resort to that of a Value Resort.  If you do that, the value resort will most likely always be cheaper.  This is more of a deluxe resort vs. DVC comparison

There is a simple calculation to determine the "value" of a point based on your what you spent.  This calculation was given to me by my guide who had received it from one of his clients who happened to be a CPA.  The math makes real good sense to me and several other people I have given it to.

First you take the initial cost per point you bought your points with.  In my case it's $101.  Then you divide it by the number of years in your contract.  In my case 48 years.

$101/point ÷ 48 Years = $2.10 per point per year

This is your base price per point.  This dollar amount will never change.

Then you need to figure out the per point cost for your annual dues. In my case, the annual dues for this year was $810. So I have to divide that $810 by 210 points.

$810 Annual Dues ÷ 210 Points = $3.86 per point

Now you take these two numbers and add them together:

$2.10 + $3.86 = $5.96 per point

This number will fluctuate based on your annual dues.  Each year you'd calculate your new cost per point for your annual dues and add it to the cost per point per year for your investment.

We will then take this figure that we've calculated and multiply it by the number of points that we used for our stay.

We used 202 points to stay at Saratoga Springs Resort in September.  Using my real-life point cost as an example, my 8 night stay in a one bedroom unit during the slow season has a cost basis of $1,203.92.

$5.96 per point * 202 points = $1,203.92

Which came out to $150.49 per night.

$1,203.92 ÷ 8 nights = $150.49/night

Jetted Garden Tub at Saratoga Springs ResortTo me, that is a pretty low rate for staying at a deluxe resort.  The special rate for MouseFest guest at the Swan & the Dolphin was $159/night and the rate for Registered Nurses at the Swan & Dolphin is $169/night in December [Ed Note:  Yes you can get special rates at the Swan & Dolphin for select professions such as Police Officer, Nurse, Teacher...It's a Starwood Resorts thing].  There is a good chance the per night rate would've been cheaper in September since it is "hurricane season". 

But, you cannot do a true apples-to-apples comparison because I also got a full kitchen, a washer and dryer and a one bedroom unit.  Plus, the bathroom was significantly larger and we got a jetted garden tub. 

If we had stayed in a studio unit, which is the closest approximation to a regular resort room (in size, not amenities), the total number of points would've been 106.  This would've given me a total point value of $631.76 which translated to a $78.97/night point value.  That is definitely between Value and Moderate resort prices.

$5.96 per point * 106 points = $631.76

$631.76 point value ÷ 8 nights = $78.97/night

Now, as Disney keeps increasing the cost of staying at the resorts, it could very well be possible that the cost per night of a value resort will eventually become more expensive than the cost per night of your stay at a DVC resort.


Unknown said...

Thanks for the article, Ray.

Although it was Foxxfur lenght, it was still very easy to understand the DVC process.

The points vs cash formula made a lot of sense, as well.

Ryan P. Wilson said...

I appreciate the down to earth information on DVC points that we can all understand! Bravo.

FoxxFur said...

In case anyone wants my suspect testimonial, my parents and I bought into DVC when they built Wilderness Lodge Villas (was that '97 or '98 or something?). Regardless, the system so far has helped us pay for two trips to Disneyland which otherwise would've probably been financially unfeasible, and my parents used the DVC points to take repeated trips to Florida for a week at at a time and look for a house when they decided to follow me South. So that's two important things in my life that DVC has facilitated.

It'll also probably get me to Europe in a few years to see Disneyland Paris and Europe itself of course, so there's another.

So even though we're now locals, my family and I still use the DVC system. We even bought points at Saratoga Springs (Toga Town) when they built that and were offering points at an insanely reduced rate.

Anonymous said...

Great post Ray. I was hoping you would break it down.

Any idea what the financing rates are like through Disney?

AKA Disneynorth

Unknown said...

James aka Disneynorth,

When you said, "I was hoping you would break it down.", was there something that I didn't break down that you were hoping that I would.

Or were you just stating that you liked how I broke it down?

I apologize for my denseness on this.

I don't have the finance rate at my finger-tips, but later today (when I have more time), I'll look up the rate I got for financing through Disney

sambycat said...

i think he means he likes your point-by-point analysis - you've got to ge thop to the way the young people speak today!

it sounds realllly good... still, "dvc guide" - don't they have that in scientology??!! it's a cult!


of course if you need to get rid of some points, or convince non-believers, jennifer and i are available for any grand villa stays...

sambycat said...

ummmm ya. that would be "get hip" to the way the youngsters spin it, not the freaky non-language i wrote there...

Anonymous said...

LOL!!! Ok, I really enjoyed the details you have provided for the DVC. You answered a lot of my questions.

AKA Disneynorth

Jessica said...

We've been very pleased with our 2 years as DVC members. In fact - being with DVC has allowed us to get a Grand Villa at Saratoga Springs for a week when my family comes down to visit. This is the second time we've done this, and there is no way we would have been able to afford it otherwise - and the place is HUGE! Two floors, full kitchen, dining room, living room, 3 bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms. It's almost like having a house at Disney.

I only have good things to say about DVC, and would recommend it to anyone.

Anonymous said...

Very helpful analysis - especially the line about how you need to compare DVC points to Deluxe resorts, not Value resorts.

Unknown said...


I'm glad you found some usefulness in my post.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for creating this review. I found it by running a Google search for Disney Vacation Club reviews, and the information you put out was exceptional. My wife and I are considering buying into DVC (we're already Worldmark members), so it was great to see an owner's view of the club.

Brett B said...

The problem I have with every DVC analysis I've ever seen is that they leave out important considerations (both pluses and minuses):

1) Many travelers plan their trips around discounted offers.
2) To divide the initial investment by 48 years and the number of points per year does not allow for the "cost of money."
3) Increases in the annual maintenance fees
4) DVC discounts on products/services/tickets unavailable to Disney Visa Cardholders, Annual Passholders, AAA members.
5) Future value of the membership if you decide to sell

It's *not* simple. And in many ways, downright unpredictable (inflation, investment returns either on money you didn't tie up in DVC, or the value of the DVC membership itself.)

I'm just not smart enough to do a thorough analysis. If I had to guess, I'd bet that the outcome would not be conclusive and dependent on future conditions.

Unknown said...


There is now way to do a thorough analysis and I never intend to do that. It's a ball park estimation and using my formula you do get a cost per point value of your expenditure. I'm not even caring about the cost of interest because it would be just too hard considering I get to use the interest as a reduction of my tax liability.

The concerns you outline are all valid but take things to a very anal retentive level which leads me to believe that you must be someone that works with money or numbers for a living. Typically, people in those lines of work care about those kind of factors more than others I talk to.

My wife and I are not one to plan vacations around "deals". We go when we want to go or when something is going on that we are interested in (Fan gathers, Food and Wine, etc).

I have no idea what the cost of money is, but when I went through school for accounting in the 1990's taking the initial investment and dividing it out over 48 years and by point is exactly how we were taught to valuate the investment. So, to me the logic is sound.

Even in the current economic climate, using that formula I'm still saving money over paying cash even when there are deals.

For example, I'm currently going to Disneyland for my wife's 30th birthday and spending over $1500 on hotel accommodations. If there was an open DVC there (will be soon) I could've stayed there for just the code of the points which would be less than $1500

I factor in the cost of maintenance fees into each years valuation of the points. That was outlined in my post.

You do not buy the DVC with the intent to sell. The guides (or at least mine did) make it very clear that a purchase into the Disney Vacation Club IS NOT an investment. You are to expect to get back exactly what you put into it. Some people actually losing money in this economy because they are having to sell at a lower cost per point than they originally paid.

The DVC is not for everyone. We are a family that goes to Disney every year multiple times a year. We are also a family that 99% of the time stays in deluxe accommodations because where we stay is just as important as the parks.

I understand there are people who only care about the bottom line and those that do can easily travel to WDW multiple times a year and spend less money over a 48 year period than I will. But I would be in hell if I stayed in a value resort.

Unknown said...

I just got back from WDW in a value resort and I will NEVER DO IT AGAIN! To make matters worse, the value hotel lost my DVC papers that were delivered there. Grrr... just another reason not to go back there!

DVC - here i Come :)

Anonymous said...

We are considering buying into DVC and the one factor we are stuck on is that we will not be able to pay in cash. Is it a wise idea to take a loan out on your vacations? Would appreciate your input. I love the idea of going on vacation with my family every year!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi... just happen to cross your site...

Im planning to go to Tokyo or Hong Kong Disney this Christmas. Hoho and I found some stuffs from Hong Kong Disneyland here as well:

I will definitely take tones of photos there!!!

Kenny said...

We just got back from a stay at the Boardwalk on a relatives DVS points. We liked it so much we joined ourselves. We always stayed at Carribean Beach in the past and the 1 Bedroom Villa at the Boardwalk blow that away. One thing I did notice is that the point chart for next year is online and the weekday points went up and weekend went down. I am disappointed because I don't ever plan on staying on the weekend.

cellv aldragen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cellv aldragen said...

hi Ray,

i think that the DVC is great product as it does offer great value if you compare with any current hotel rates.

but i think there are other vacation clubs which can offer something even better, especially those with no annual fess,

I have created a page here called Disney Vacation Club Reviews to compare DVC with other Vacation Club.

Since i don't own DVC myself, hope you can help me to check the accuracies.


Anonymous said...

I have trying to get my family to invest in DVC for a while and personnally this should do the trick. Thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi there - great post, thank you. My one concern about the DVC is how the "Vacation Points per night" fluctuate from year to year for the same accommodations. If they have increased significantly over the years for the same amenities, then that's the same as inflation, and it reduces the value of joining DVC as an upfront investment. Any thoughts / history here would be helpful...

Unknown said...


First, one shouldn't enter into the DVC viewing it as an investment where you can get your money back out of it and hopefully make a profit when it comes time to sell.

The DVC is intended for people who expect to be staying for the entire 50 year contract period.

You are really pre-purchasing future stays at the resorts at today's dollars.

Every year we, as DVC members, get a statement telling us what the next year's maintenance fees around going to be. I've never seen them go down and they creep up a little bit each year. This is what I'd call is inflation.

As far as point allocations, when a resort is built a certain amount of points are allotted to that resort. They cannot add more point values but can shift them anyway they see fit. Just recently they reallocated the points so that some days were worth less points and others were more, but the entire week point value remained the same.

Anonymous said...

Can the ownership be transferred? For example, at 41 years old I don't expect to be trekking to Disney at age 80. Could I transfer the points to my children?

Unknown said...

We were told that you put your contract in your will. You can also do a one transfer of points each use year. You can also book trips for family members with your points. So, there are ways to make sure you don't end up with points that get unused.

But, I'd definitely double check with your guide before making any commitments. If you don't have a guide and want a really good one, let me know and I'll give you the name and number of mine

Anonymous said...

Assuming that you are able to earn 5% on your money or have debt that you could otherwise pay off your failing to include ~$1,000 of annual interest cost to your calculation. FYI Disney's current borowwing cost for 20 year money is 5.3%

Anonymous said...

Actually, to compute the true dollar savings of a DVC membership you must perform two sets of calculations: The first set determines your actual cost per point, including all loan interest, fees, sales tax, maintenance fees, and of course the initial purchase price. As you mentioned, this will change annually with the maintenance fees.

The second set calculates whether you would come out ahead or behind if you had just taken the exact same money that you are spending in the first calculation, and instead stick it in a reliable interest-bearing account (such as money-market or CD) and used the proceeds to go on comparable Disney vacations at whatever the publicly available discount/package "price point du jour" happens to be. This second part can not be done until you have specific vacations in mind.

Note that I do *not* agree it is fair to compare to the "rack rate", because let's face it, nobody pays the rack rate.

Lately as a DVC member I have started to wonder why it's worthwhile, when I see Disney bending over backwards to entice "regular people" into its parks. Makes me feel like sort of a sap for pre-paying and making a sizeable financial commitment, when blokes off the street are getting roughly the same deal as us, with no commitment required.

Also, with the DVC you are *not* getting today's prices tomorrow. The maintenance fees will go up over time. The only reason we've seen a stagnation in maintenance fees lately is the horrible economy. If we exit this recession, I'm sure the fees will go up in step with the economy as a whole. Yes, right now it's around $4-$5 per point. But with nominal inflation, in 20 years it could easily be double that. (It will still be cheaper than the rack rate. Right Ray?)

Historically the maintenance fees have increased 3-5% every year, depending on the project. Saratoga Springs (which you used as a reference in your anecdotal example) has had the historically lowest annual fee hikes of any of the resorts constructed to date.

I'm not saying I regret buying my DVC membership. It's just not as sweet a deal right now as it would be if the economy were going gangbusters and Disney weren't already offering essentially DVC-esque pricing to the general public just to fill up empty rooms.

Linda said...

Thanks for this post. We are debating whether or not to buy into the DVC. Personal experience reviews are so helpful. It's been a few years since you originally posted. Are you still happy with DVC?

flmom said...

We have been members 11 years. We have been very happy with the accomodations, cast members at the resorts, and fexibility. However, in that time frame, 3 mistakes have been made by the resort or DVC customer service:
1. We checked into a beach cottage at the Vero resort only to find the floors and carpets sloshing with water, and the air conditioning not working. (Not fun in July!) We immediately notified the resort about the problem and asked to be moved to another cottage. Well, the place was full. They asked what else they could do to rectify the problem, and we asked if having some vacation points returned would be reasonable. They agreed, and we put up with a hot, smelly cottage, and maintenance men in and out like we had a revolving door for the better part of a week.

2. I cancelled a reservation, and had a cancellation number. Once our vacation to be passed, I noticed that they had withdrawn the points as if we had used them. When we called, they said they had to research, did and returned the points.

3. I called to check on how many days I had to cancel a particular reservation, and they said I had through the next day. I called the next day, and they said I was a day late.

Okay, all of this is fine. HOWEVER, when I called to try and fix each of these problems, they have notations on my account that we are a "problem" and we try to get things for nothing. When asked if they had a notation that our cottage had water damage and air conditioning that was not working, they said "NO". When asked if there was a notation that we had a cancellation number for our cancelled reservation, they said "NO." When asked if they had record of my call the day before being told that I had another day in which to cancel, they said "NO".

I have a real problem with them making 1-sided notations on OUR account that benefits their company, and doesn't tell the truth--THAT ALL OF THESE ISSUES WERE THEIR MISTAKES!!! Instead, they throw the owners under the bus that pay their salaries, and their technically working for.

I don't care about the points--I don't want to be lied about, lied to, or to be told that "I see you've been a problem in the past." Not nice, and not a way to run a business that I have paid a lot of money to be a part of. Yup, I am paying to be lied about.

Kerri Meyer said...

I guess my fear is that they will just inflate the amount of points needed for each trip as the years go on. Everything I have read so far is assuming that the points will stay the same. I am skeptical... they will get us in the end :) They always do--

Unknown said...


When a DVC resort is built, a total number of points available for that resort is defined they cannot add points or take away points from the total amount.

In other words, they can add points to the "cost" of staying in a 1-bedroom room, but they'll have to take points away from the cost of staying in a different style of room. They cannot just decide that it'll now be 100 points more to stay a week in a specific style of room but all other point costs for that resort stay the same.

They did recently revalue all the point costs per room to make it cost more points to stay on Sundays and Mondays (I think) because their research showed that points were being utilized differently than they thought. So, while a Mon-Sunday stay didn't change in value, it did greatly alter how many point it would take for some people to stay at a DVC resort if they had purchased just enough points for the cheapest stay (which I think would've been a Sun-Thur stay. So, there was a lot of uproar in the online community.

I personally didn't understand it because my DVC Guide spent a lot of time explaining how points values could be reallocated at any time but the total allocation of points cannot change. So, we purchased enough points to allow us to still get a decent vacation.

Could they one day, suddenly decide that their research shows that 1-bedroom DVC resorts are highly popular so to discourage rental of them and encourage, let say Studio reservations they drop the value of studio and greatly increase price of 1-bedroom, yes they could. But, that is something I was aware of going into this arrangement

Kerri Meyer said...

Thanks, I appreciate the quick response. PS.. Just looked at the resale community. Points are going between $60-80 /point. One smart thing Disney has done... They have the first option to buy back. SO- if they don't like the deal you are getting, they can block the sale and buy it themsleves. Very clever. It keeps the values fair-- no steals :)

Kate said...

We are going to an event for the new disney hawaii DVC resort. Looks like you are still happy with your choice to join DVC, but wondering if that is still the case or whether any of the bloom is off the rose.

THANKS. Very helpful article and posts.

Kate said...

Also, we are most interested because this is Hawaii and there are some other places we'd like to go that are non-Disney (Europe mostly since my husband's family lives in Ireland & Spain). Wondering if you or others have had or have heard of experiences with the non-Disney use of points.

Anonymous said...

Great article, a thorough explanation - kudos to you.

One thing I would add to your value comparison is that you came up with $150-ish/night as a cost for DVC and $159/night as a rack rate. However, the rack rate wouldn't include all of the local hotel taxes (which can be quite a bit) and any "resort fees". So that $159 rack rate easily becomes more like $175+ which only adds to the value of the DVC membership.

MJ said...

I read this post with interest to view your perspective as an "insider". I am contemplating purchasing a DVC interest but wish to use it towards non-US accommodations & am concerned that it won't work very well for non-US circumstances (ie: Europe, Disney Adventures & Cruise). I foresee a trip to Disney World with the kids at least once so I'll need more variety over the next 40+ years.

Unknown said...

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Thank you for sharing knowledge.
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Unknown said...

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Thank you for sharing knowledge.
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Anonymous said...

This is not an investment. Never shell out money or prepay for things that could end. I know its hard to believe but if Disney went bankrupt a year after your purchase. By By money. Always go with your gut instinct.

Anonymous said...

Through the severe economic downturn Disney has been going strong.... do you really think that there is much of a possibility of Disney going under? Really!!!

Russell said...

New DVC member, and since I still see active comments, I thought I'd share my thought process.

I'm really bad at taking vacations. When you talk about an American who is working himself into an early grave by working too many hours and not giving himself enough time to relax... that's me.

So I signed up for DVC so that I'd have some skin in the game, which would "force" me to take vacation time. Some of us DO need that financial encouragement to take time off. That's what it's there for (for me).

Anonymous said...

Biggest question... Do people that have it like it overall? There will always be people that are unhappy but, for the most part, does anyone regret buying it? Feel like they want their money back?

We are looking to buy as a couple pre kids and pre kid-expenses while we have plenty of extra cash. We don't plan to finance it and it is an attempt to continue to vacation the way we like to now. We love Disney, we know there are fees but in general we are comfortable with Disney prices on a regular basis, dvc is not an attempt to totally cheap out.... So, are we making a sound financial decision that we will be happy with? Do you like it? Does anyone feel cheated? Is it safe to assume it will be up to Disney standards?

Anonymous said...

As a reply to the post from "Anonymous" regarding whether they should buy into DVC, I have to say something. We’ve been DVC members since the year 2000. We have loved the Disney company for the quality of its many industries/products, including the theme parks. We have traveled to Disney World every year since 1997, often going twice a year, and once going three times. What we have found to be the most frustrating aspect of each trip is the DVC timeshare system.
We, unfortunately, cannot book vacations more than six months in advance due to our jobs, and having two kids in two separate school systems. When we purchased our points in DVC, they never did mention to us that we needed to be able to book well in advance, and if we weren’t able to, we’d be railroaded into the same resorts time and time again due to lack of availability at the newer and more popular resorts. To this day, after owning and visiting since the year 2000, we have not stayed at Wilderness Lodge, Beach Club, Bay Lake Towers or either of the Animal Kingdoms – but not because we didn’t try…. always because of lack of availability. In the beginning it was a challenge -- calling constantly, getting on waitlists that never came through, etc., etc. The fun has now fallen by the wayside and frankly we wish we had bought into a different timeshare.
Also, when we bought into DVC, among the timeshares you could exchange with was Marriott and Hyatt – who had some really beautiful resorts in fabulous places. DVC has lost their relationships with those reputable companies, and replaced them with RCI, a timeshare system of much lesser quality.
A lot of people are very happy with DVC, and it is definitely a personal choice in where you decide to buy. I wanted to share our point of view, and just two of the issues about DVC that we find so frustrating -- to the point that we feels as though we made a mistake. Good luck in whatever decision you make!

Anonymous said...

My wife and I are considering the DVC membership. We have no kids. We go to WDW about every other year. Recently every year. We usually stay in the Deluxe resorts. Every 4 or 5 years we take a number of my family members (sisters, nieces, nephews). We are in our 50's. Does this purchase make sense? The finance rates are pretty high (11.75%). I'm a little concerned with the description of the "banking points." We would like to go on a Disney Cruise and stay at WDW, but it looks like the Cruise portion is pretty high on a per night points basis than a stay at one of the resorts. I also have not seen anything about it being a 48 year contract. I assume that will come in the packet they send me. Also, it looks like the minimum point purchase is now 100 points. Which means you can get into the Saratoga Springs for $9,900 + the fees. Just looking for some thoughts if our situation (no kids, going everyother year) fits the DVC idea.

Anonymous said...

I have concerns about the booking availability. Booking of Disney cruises or the newer resorts are not available during the time we can take vacation.
Time share is not a good idea for us.
Not flexible enough for our needs.

Anonymous said...

im confused....when you purchase your points you are given a points chart which tells you the "cost" of stay. Does the chart stay the same for 49 years or can they change it so it costs more points each year?

Unknown said...


From my understanding, when a DVC unit is built a set number of points are locked in for how much it "costs" to rent a particular room for a particular season. If they want to make a Saturday stay more "expensive" then they'll have to make another night less "expensive"

We recently saw this take affect when they had to lower some nights so they could raise others when they found people were not staying on weekends as much as they used to

Ogawa said...

To "Anonymous" re: DCL points, banking, and contract length,

The point costs listed in the charts for the Disney Cruise Line are for the length of your cruise. For instance, a 7-night Western Caribbean cruise on the Fantasy sailing October 20th with a reservation for a deluxe family stateroom (with veranda) will cost 239-255 points per person. That is for the full 7-night/8-day cruise and includes all meals and drinks, minus alcohol and certain soft drink packages, and pretty much all on-board activities. Again, that is the per-person point cost, and it goes down when you add a third/fourth/etc. passenger.

So this same stateroom booked for a family of four (two adults, two kids) would run from approximately 611-754 points total, where the 3rd/4th adult would be 128 points and the 3rd/4th child would be 122 points.

What are your concerns regarding banking points? It's actually a great system. Say you have 160 points for this use year but can't find the time to take a vacation. If you contact DVC by a certain date (dependent on when you buy into the program), you can bank those points for next year. Effectively, you would then have 320 points to use next use year. Even better, if you decide to take a big vacation next year and need more than two years' worth of points, you can borrow from the following year, so you would have triple points next year - 480 in this case. There is no penalty or fee for doing this, only a deadline.

The contract length depends on which resort you buy into. The way I understand it is kind of like this: each resort has 50 years' worth of time-share. If a new or existing member buys points the year a DVC resort is created, then their contract covers the full 50 years. If he or she buys into an existing resort, then their available time might be reduced, depending on how long ago the contract was drawn up (i.e. the points became available for that resort).

I hope this helps. DVC is really a program for people who love vacationing frequently and don't mind planning well in advance.

Ray, your article is very informative. I once did a similar point value calculation to determine the cost of a spring break vacation I took with a friend of mine and both our mothers. I was probably way off, but I figured out that the point cost of our stay at the Animal Kingdom Villas ended up being 20% of a similar non-points reservation. Excepting the cost of transportation (which can get pricey when you live in the Midwest), I'm confident DVC will have paid for itself within 50 years, assuming the apocalypse passes us by.

Unknown said...

Thank you - this is very helpful information. We are considering buying into the Aulani Resort. I was wondering what your feedback in on booking. How far in advance do you have to book at your home and non home resort in order to still have great room options?

Anonymous said...

This is really old so I don't expect this to be read. But the biggest miss here in the analysis is that the entire net present value of the initial purchase is zero. That is the money you put down to buy the points is worth zero at the end and thus also zero today.

Disney is also making the points less valuable overtime while still increasing fees, note the changes that do not allow resold points in private party transactions to be used at any DVC resort. This causes the market price to fall and allows Disney to resell them at a higher price, since magically anything from Disney can be used anywhere. It is really brilliant for Disney but a really bad deal for anyone else.

Billy said...

Thanks Mr Grumpwurst, This sight really spelled everything out in black and white for me. I have a small family, and we've been members since my little girl was 3 yrs old, now she is 7, and she's been enjoying them every year since. We only bought 200pts. in the Bay Lake Tower, and I can't remember exactly what we paid for them, but it was close to 20 grand, just shy of 100 dollars a point, and we still got to have double the amount of points our first year. Let me just say, it was the best investment I've ever made. I've lived in Brooklyn my whole life, and not in the greatest section of the borough. When I was a kid, me and my sister were the only kids on the block to have ever gone to DsnyWld, and that was only bc my old man took a loan against his pension bc my mother had passed. My point is, even though I had only been to disney once as a small child, it had a big impact on my life. When I bought my points in 09', I did it bc I wanted my little girl to be able to have more than one trip in her childhood. We are not poor, I make an average income, but if I hadn't bought those points, Disney would probably have been a one time event for our family. This summer, we banked some, and borrowed enough to book and 8night cruise to the Bahamas, leaving out of NY, on the Disney Magic. We've been to Disney every year, sometimes more than once, every year since my girl was 3, staying in accomodations we would've never been able to afford each year, because I surely would've blew that 20 grand on something else, or paid some bills. We've even used our pts to go skiing in Maine through RCI, and felt we got a really good exchange rate for our pts. We have had nothing but good experiences so far, my only complaint is that everytime they send out a new point chart it does seem like they add more points than they take away. Now I've never taken out the caculator and added all the points from one previous yrs chart, and compared them to all the points of a recent years chart, but to me it looks like they wouldn't quite equal each other because there seems to be more higher increases than there are fewer smaller decreases.
Now please don't misinterpet what I'm saying here. The shine in my little girls eyes; when we are at DWrld; is priceless, but I'm just worried that if they are sneaking in a couple of points this yr, and a couple of pts next, when I'm dead and buried, and Godwilling, my little girl has her own family. If this continues her 200 pts will be lucky to get her one Wedensday night only in the adventure season. Now I called up DVC because my origanal guide has moved on, and they give me the same speile, that points weren't added, just re-arranged. Comparing the the two seasons, it doesn't seem that way. You've been a member for longer than me and some members who posted, even longer. What is your take, did anyone actually ever check the pts totals? Are we getting a fair shake? I hope so.

Simon said...

One problem with the disney system is that you need to factor in the investment returns you are foregoing by investing $20,000 in this 48 year product.

In a moderately returning fund, you will outstrip inflation by a couple of a percent - which works out at $400 per year.

Therefore the first $400 that you think you're saving each year on your holiday purchase is actually not a saving at all.

This means that if your real points cost of a vacation came to $2,000, and the comparable price for booking the holiday separately is $2,400 then you have broken even - as the $400 price premium for being outside the system would be offset by your investment returns on your pile of cash.

Of course the significance of this factor will vary depending on how lucratively investments perform over the next 50 years.

Anonymous said...

You also should figure how the value of the DVC has grown. When I bought in 1993 we paid $52 per point. Now many of the resorts are getting $120 per point. That is a significant increase in the value.

Anonymous said...

I'm still skeptical after reading all the posts...what gets me each time is the annual maintenance fees that will go up every year and frustrations on booking your vacation...everyone wants to go on same vacation times as thousands of other people so you really have to plan your vacations ahead of time! I've bought timeshares before based on points system and I always end up canceling before the 3 day grace period ends! These companies will always make money out of you no matter how good it sounds like...they do it for their own benefit not innocent vacationers benefit...there's always a catch! SO PLEASE BEWARE....WHEN IT SOUNDS TO GOOD TO BE TRUE IT'S REALLY NOT!

Frank Scott said...

Terrible experience with them. We have a DVC (disney vacation club) account with them and we banked points. Problem is they expire in one year.

Ok so I tried to book a cruise, home resort and other disney properties for my vacation week for the past 3 months and nothing is available.

Although there is availability at the resorts and on the cruise ship there is no more vacation transfers during the time period ( first week of november) available.

SO at the end of the day I lose about $1000 in points which will expire and they will not let me use them in 2013 EVEN if I book a vacation for 2013 now.

Spoke with supervisors but no help.

I'm pretty disgusted with the whole experience. Bottom line is be careful or you will lose if your vacation gets messed up.

Not the Disney I grew up with

Frank Scott said...

Just an update that disney did the right thing and took care of my account. Should have never happened but in the end they did the right thing

Anonymous said...

If I ever won the lottery, I would spend 1 milllion dollars and get enough points to live in DVD resorts year round until I died! But for now I just dream about it, and wish and hope and wish and hope. Like --DVC for quality of the buildngs and furnishings, etc. Dislike-- trying to book when there's no openings.

Unknown said...

During the past month, vacation club members and staff have been treated to festivities as RCI has bestowed the official recognition to highly touted properties in the OVC group.
vacation club

Sophia Johnson said...

Getting into a timeshare can be very easy, getting out, not so much. Many vacationers purchase timeshares with the intention to travel around the world, some others pretend to buy the vacation property as a financial investment (which is actually unwise move), while some of them were practically pushed into it. Whichever the reason is, the truth is that loads of timeshare owners regret their purchases.

Unknown said...


While the DVC Guides do mention the ability to use your DVC points to "travel around the world" it isn't the primary sales point of the program.

The Disney Vacation Club isn't a traditional time share. People who buy into the DVC are intending to take Disney vacations.

In our case, our DVC guide made it clear that using your points to trade out with the partner Time Share group was a waste of points

I also have talked to many DVC members and I'd say less than 1% of them regret the decision. While I have met many people with traditional time shares that do.

The DVC was never marketed to me as an investment or a way to see the world. It was marketed to me as a way to pre-pay for future vacations to WDW and Disneyland at a fixed price. Considering the rate at which Disney has been increasing room prices, the odds were that there won't come a time, anytime soon, that the price per night would go below what I pre-paid for.

In my case, we have already used our DVC enough to get our return on capital expense

Unknown said...

There are lots of misunderstandings regarding timeshares. The basic idea about them is simple enough- you own the right to use a luxury suite in paradise every year- but it seems almost too good to be true. Even though many people love them, timeshares have been categorized several times as one of the worst purchases you could ever make by many financial magazines. You can find good information:

bennett said...

couple of hillbillies from maine who enjoy Disney's magic each's been 10 years in a row the time 60 and 64...doing the math..the points...the fees...the wife is a shopper for sure and always get the best deal possible...we most likely will hobble through the theme parks/food/rides for maybe ten more DVC worth it for us...port Orleans...saratoga...boardwalk...swan...dolphin...our stays..

bennett said...

p.s......two trips ago talked to DVC and did the tour...the annual fees is what bothers me...that's the cost of the flight to get there...

Unknown said...

Brilliantly explained, thank you .

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