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Is the Disney Vacation Club worth it?
The answer is: it depends. (“Gee, thanks.”) Yes, I know that doesn’t seem helpful but follow along with me for a moment.
In this article, I will walk through the Disney Vacation Club calculator of costs in a manner that will make it as black and white as possible.
We’ll look at:
- The pros and cons of DVC membership
- When the Disney Vacation Club membership does not make sense to buy
- A comparison of cost of booking with membership AND without
By the end of this article, you’ll have a better idea of knowing whether pursuing DVC membership makes sense for your family.
Table of Contents
- Cost of Membership
- Savings with Disney Vacation Club
- Biggest Money Savers with Disney Vacation Club
- When Does Disney Vacation Club Not Make Sense?
- What are the Disney Vacation Club Biggest Value Items?
- Does Disney Vacation Club Members Save on Disney Cruise?
- Financial Pros and Cons of Disney Vacation Club
- Non-Financial Pros and Cons of Disney Vacation Club
- Aulani & Disney Vacation Club
- Is Disney Vacation Club Right for You?
YouTube Videos on Disney Vacation Club
Cost of Membership
Disney Vacation Club runs much like a traditional timeshare.
Timeshares grant you a stake in a property, which you can then visit on a semi-regular basis.
These stakes are deed-able and transferable. Timeshares require a simpler closing than a regular house.
Disney Vacation Club timeshare grants you access to Disney properties around the world. Additionally, DVC timeshare offers some benefits a more traditional timeshare may not.
THE LIST OF COSTS
Here are your costs associated with being a DVC member:
- You buy “Vacation Points” as a member of the Disney Vacation Club. Vacation Points are currently $188.00 each.
- There is a yearly maintenance fee currently just over $5.50 per point accessed yearly. These are like HOA or condo association fees.
- If you take out a loan to pay for this membership, you’ll accrue interest.
BREAKING IT DOWN…AN EXAMPLE
Let’s assume you will finance your DVC purchase.
A standard base membership starts at 100 points: $18,800 ($188 x 100)
A 10-year loan on these 100 points would equate to $243 a month currently with fees, maintenance, and interest over the course of the loan. That’s another $29,160 in interest.
This $18,800 value would include 100 points per year for 50 years on a new DVC property. Additionally, the maintenance fees can increase yearly and will cause this number to fluctuate.
Not all Disney vacation destinations book for the same vacation point value. You should visit the Disney Vacation Club official website and explore destinations.
This gives exact vacation points needed for vacation destinations, during your vacation window. And yes, just like normal hotels more points could be needed for peak seasons.
You will pick a primary “home resort” spot you plan to visit most often. The location, time you travel, and vacation points needed for a seven-day visit to your “home resort” is the best way to calculate the points you need to start the membership.
You will not have to always stay at the same place, but this allows a good starting place for calculations. You will further be able to figure out your best point value needed.
It does not have to be exact, as you are able to borrow from future years. Additionally, there is the ability to carry over points. Due to these facts, an average based on your favorite locale to visit is the best choice when planning your vacation point purchase.
Savings with Disney Vacation Club
Those are big numbers when just figuring out the cost. We must take those costs and look at what it would total without membership for a vacation.
This calculation helps us figure out if there are savings worth buying this membership.
The first year you buy your membership, closing costs and initial fees get paid. Taking the cost of the membership year one is going to show a loss. Like all timeshare opportunities, it is how long you stay with the program that determines the savings.
With Disney Vacation Club years 6-12 is when savings start to accumulate over buying similar vacations through standard booking options.
Vacation options and other incidental benefits of the Disney Vacation Club are not reflected in these savings. These added benefits open only to members add soft savings to which a monetary value is not able to be calculated.
Sure, you are seeing one of the big arguments for this membership. If you take regular vacations, either as a couple or family this is a choice to consider.
If you wish to budget in vacations over periods of time this may be an excellent choice.
Another cost savings that could add up is when you travel. The Disney Vacation Club offers no blackout dates. Experiences that may not be open to other travelers due to high traffic times, is still accessible with this membership.
Also, discounts for dining, shopping, and park admissions are part of the membership package.
Depending on how many of these activities you partake in can change your cost savings over time.
Biggest Money Savers with Disney Vacation Club
By far the biggest money saver with Disney Vacation Club is that the Disney Vacation Club vacation points do not increase the value you pay after your purchase date.
Additionally, the points needed for a stay don’t increase.
Let’s take an easy example of a room requiring 10 points for 3 night stay the year you buy your membership. That would currently be $1,880 base before maintenance fees.
Based on this scenario, let’s just assume hotel rates increase 5% per year. At year five you are paying $1,880 for a room that is now $2,285 a savings of $405.
At the ten-year mark, you are paying $1,880 for a room that now costs $2,916.50 and save $1,035 that year. Over ten, twenty, or thirty years of vacations this can add up for a family or individual.
Please be aware that the maintenance fees and dues can increase, but never the base rate of vacation points. In the interest of transparency, we needed to give that little disclaimer.
When Does Disney Vacation Club Not Make Sense?
Disney Vacation Club with all its benefits and luxury accommodations makes sense for a lot of families. There are those exceptions though when this is not the best choice.
- Bargain Hunters: Do you like to scour the internet looking for cheap hotels. You maximize every dollar for basic hotels and pour funds more into experiences. This membership is not for you. This is for those looking for upgraded accommodations, and willing to make a serious time and money commitment.
- Last Minute Planners: Do you like to just wing your vacations? Jet off at a moment’s notice for last-minute getaways. This membership isn’t for you. To optimize this membership, planning your vacation ahead of time is best. Remember, this is a timeshare which means others use the same property throughout the year. Ensuring you get the property, room and amenities you wish should be planned for the best outcome.
- Adventure Seekers: Do you like to switch up your vacations? Disney may be on the list of options, but then maybe camping? Next vacation, an excursion down a river. This might not be the membership for you. Yes, you can switch locations, destinations, etc. using your membership but it is still for Disney resorts and other accommodations for your vacation.
- Life Changes Looming: Are you expecting? Maybe getting married? Possibly making a major location change soon for your career. Maybe wait for a more settled moment to decide on this membership. This is a large commitment of time and money. Those facing major life changes that could affect their financial abilities may want to evaluate if buying this membership should be on the back burner until things settle.
What are the Disney Vacation Club Biggest Value Items?
The upgraded size of the rooms that Disney Vacation Club supplies is a major bonus. The home away features in many of the options allow full kitchens and other upgrades that may be limited or not available through standard booking options.
Also, you are locking in these upgraded vacation rentals for years to come.
The accommodations allow for family and friends to vacation also, without added expense.
One of the biggest values of the Disney Vacation Club is the ability to use points at resorts around the world, not just Disney.
Finally, park ticket discounts and member lounge options at some parks range in the value items members name when asked about their membership.
Do Disney Vacation Club Members Save on Disney Cruises?
Your Disney Club Membership is an investment in years of vacations to come.
The obvious questions of changing up those vacations must be asked.
Not only did we already discuss the ability to pick varied resorts year over year, but Disney Cruise is also a benefit.
Booking Disney Cruises with points allow members up to a 30% savings over other booking methods. These discounts range by the ship and destination chosen.
Financial Pros and Cons of Disney Vacation Club
You must be prepared for the fiscal impact of this membership.
You will need to consider this prepaid vacation planning for years into the future.
This is a deed, and transfer piece of investment and should not be entered into lightly. If you like to vacation at Disney and stay in nice places this is a good financial decision.
If you are a last-minute or bargain vacation planner then this level of commitment may not make sense.
If you are not in a financial place or personal situation to make this commitment for no less than ten years, this is not a good financial choice.
Also, you can rent out points with some limitations to others if not using. This may make the financial aspect easier to make work for you.
Finally take a solid look at the other discounts for food, shopping, parks and only you can make a list of the ones you would use. Based on this it may sway the financial pros and cons for you personally.
Non-Financial Pros and Cons of Disney Vacation Club
If you enjoy nice accommodations and love Disney vacations this membership can add to the experience.
Enhancements such as member publications and insider investigate coming attractions and events are a positive.
Being able to plan for new exciting adventures before the public is aware of them might be a draw for you.
There is an ever-changing list of other benefits given only to those with membership. For instance, the Magical Express in Orlando. Extra park extended hours also are available for members.
Aulani & Disney Vacation Club
For savings comparison we are going to look at Aulani, which is a premier Disney resort in Hawaii.
We are going to look at two scenarios: (1) booking online without any membership; (2) booking this same resort with a Disney Vacation Club membership.
When trying to book for April 1, 2020 through April 8, 2020 on a web-based booking site rooms were between $513 and $560 a night for Deluxe Studio rooms.
This means that for a seven-night stay total cost would be around $3,500 to $4,000 before taxes and fees.
Additionally, fees we could find right off the top was $37 a day for parking, rental fees and the other fees possible were noted.
When trying to book for the same period, April 1, 2020 through April 8, 2020 on Disney Vacation Club we found that it would be around 164 points for which you will have to use your 100 point allotment for 2020, and either rollover points from previous years if available or borrow from 2021 to book this resort.
We are going to use the $18,800 for 100 points a year scenario from earlier which basically works out to $3.76 ($18,800/5,000 points) a point for the 50 year commitment.
For this trip, it would be $616.64 for the points portion of the booking.
Again, please be aware long-standing members of Disney Vacation Club will have reduced rates, based on when they joined the club dictating their point rates.
This also does not include yearly annual dues, which vary across properties. This would be a scenario if you bought points at today’s rate.
As you recall earlier, year one through six is the investment period where there really isn’t good cost savings on this program. Beyond that time period, and when your points are paid off, you are only paying for your annual dues per year.
Now, if you only intend to visit this resort one time, the benefits of just booking the hotel are obvious.
Those that are Disney Vacation Club members though have a host of intangible and tangible benefits that might not make this an equal apple to apple comparison.
Also, based on when you buy your membership can dictate the actual cost of booking.
Secondly, remember taking a single vacation at the rates is not in line with the long relationship that Disney Vacation Club recommends getting the most out of your membership.
Is Disney Vacation Club Right for You?
In looking at blogs and other information from actual members who vacation year after year with Disney, the benefits of the program are worth it.
We have given a realistic rundown of all the pros and cons.
Now it is up to you to look out over the next ten years.
- What do you see for your vacation prospects?
- What do you think the Disney Vacation Club would make easier in those plans?
- What do you think this membership could take away from those plans?
With those answers firmly in hand, you are better equipped to make the best possible choice for you.
Is DVC Worth It?
So, what do YOU think?
It is definitely
Worth it. We bought it 14 hrs ago when my 4 kids were pre
Teens and teens. Now we have 7 grandchildren and could never afford to bring them all to disney 1-2 x/ year as we do now. This is their preferred vacation and the prices to rent 2 bedroom villas are way beyond our budget. We get 2. 2 bedroom villas and we all come and have a ball.
Thanks Janet. Sounds like it was a good investment for you.
We bought into DVC 10 years ago and haven’t regretted the purchase for a single minute. Our membership has enabled our family ( 4 children/spouses plus 5 grandchildren) to enjoy the Disney experience several times a year with predictable costs. We live in coastal South Carolina making WDW just a day’s drive down I 95.so no expensive airfares to concern us..
Thanks Skip – love this perspective.
While we bought right before Covid shut down. However we have used it several times and yes we feel it is worth it
Think you would have got a lot more use before Covid?
Yes – if you visit Disney often and like bigger rooms, it is definitely worth it. Buying in with today’s prices to use for 40+ years.
Thanks Nancy! How long ago did you buy in?
YES!! But then again, I’m biased because I’m, a DVC member. We’ve been members since 2005, and we have used our points many times . Our home park is DLR, and there were no villas at the time, so our home resort is Saratoga Springs. When we first joined, we were still able to make reservations for rooms at the Grand CA, Disneyland Hotel, and Paradise Pier. Now, of course, we stay in the villas at the Grand!
Thanks Lina – I’ll take your perspective, regardless of your “bias” 🙂
Seriously, this is truly helpful. Have you looked at the financial math of how it all played out since 2005?
Yes!! But we bought and paid in full 20 years ago when the price was dramatically cheaper! Best purchase ever!!!
So it’s been a nice hedge against inflation?
Absolutely, positively! Owner since 1994 and it is worth it every year!!
Wow…I bet locking in those prices back then has paid off?
Absolutely. But to triple in price in 15 years you have to ask has Disney priced its product to high with little to no future upside saving potential. I was lucky and have a great value but in 15 years do we see $600 a point and $2,000 a night hotel rooms ( which is the rate Disney has increased its prices the past 15 years. Time will tell. But it has held its value well for me
Great insight – thanks
I purchased at Saratoga Springs back in 2006 at $60 a point. Well worth the money. BUT, currently in my opinion the prices are out of control and will only become a good deal if hotel prices approach the $900-$1,000 a night price. Prices were around $225-$250 a night when I bought in. Current prices can be around $450-650 for a one bedroom. Disney has risen so much faster then inflation and when factoring taxes and fees it is NOT a good value proposition.
No it is not. We all have been locked down for so long and have lost so much money we can’t afford to pay extra for another Disney App. I was all set to sign up for DVC until I found you had to pay for it.
send me a disneyland book
For my family, DVC is absolutely worth it!! We get to go to Disney at least once a year and most years we go two to three times a year. And I’m talking my WHOLE family – my husband, my children, my grandchildren and me. Sometimes we all stay in one resort together and sometimes we do split resorts. Plus once it is paid off (10 years from our purchase date) we can deed it to our children or grandchildren to have for the next 40 years as a DVC membership is good for a total of 50 years.
Thank you for the input!
Not for us … Bay Lake Towers, our “home resort” has only had an available room when we have tried to book one single time in more than 15 years. We always end up someplace else that is much older and further from the parks, which requires taking the busses or driving ourselves to the various destinations.
Ahh…interesting. Thank you for sharing your experience!
Yes, usually but is becoming questionable!
Really? What makes you say that?
Thanks for your feedback. What makes you say that?
Yes but its disheartening not get all the extras we used to get and them going up on annual passes and tickets too. We love Disney so much thats the only reason we havent sold all 3 of our dvcs
Thank you for the insight!
We love our DVC membership
Thank you for sharing! Why do you love it?
Not if Disney keeps putting back services like Disney’s Magical Express service and other areas that’s driving the pricing up for a Disney Vacation. Annual Maintenance increases are out pacing inflation.
Thanks for commenting; what makes you feel that way?
At my age, and considering other restrictions, no, but when I first heard about it I was really keen but didn’t have the money then.
Thank you Bob!
Been a member since 2009. With sadness I have seen a major decline in the experience. Not withstanding the lodging and facilities which are top notch in my opinion.
My painful opinion is how the association’s management has declined in every way over the years. While I find it quite satisfactory and less costly for lodging of a quality experience, I find the cost and nickel and dime attitude by management to be quite off putting.
Many of the benefits are being slowly removed form the DVC member which made it more than worth the experience. We are a Disney family and have felt like we’ve been handed a traitorous future by current management who have lost site of the people who have made this amazing experience all about the bottom line. Walt would be ashamed I’m sure.
Last trip I purchased a package of pretzels at my wife’s request and grabbed a 25 cent small envelope in the gift shop. Certainly not expecting a $2.99 charge for a 1 ounce package of pretzels.
It’s not so much fun going there anymore so we will probably sell our share in the near future. Just 1 more grandchild to wait for to reach the age to enjoy the parks.
Oh and by the way – the food is terrible now in just about every eatery in the parks. So sad – So very sad.
Thanks Peter – I appreciate you taking the time to share your experience.
Yes! The DVC has empowered us to have some amazing experiences. Prior to joining the DVC we stayed at the pop century and a few years later we splurged by staying at the French Quarter. During our stay at the French Quarter we took the boat on the river and saw the Treehouse Villas and from that moment we wanted to stay there, but knew we probably never would because of the cost for one vacation would be difficult. At the time it was about 1000/night. We could either spend that money one time or put that money into a lifetime of vacations. Since then we have stayed at Animal Kingdom, The Treehouse Villas!, Polynesian, Vero Beach, Old Key West, went on a Disney Cruise, and even stayed at some nice RCI properties, none of which we would have seriously considered, let alone budgeted for. The cruise which would have cost about 5,000 cost 95 dollars to book. We have also enjoyed several moonlight magic parties, enjoyed the DVC lounge and have enjoyed the discounts at the shops. Saving up for the DVC was hard, but has opened up a whole new world to us, and now in a way forces us to get out and stay in really nice places with little to no out of pocket expense outside of the dues which are pretty reasonable.
Wow – what a fantastic detailed response. Your experience is certainly going to provide some nice perspective to someone who is considering DVC. Thanks again.
Yes, it is. I love it. It has allowed me to have so many memorable experiences with my family while we were on vacation. So, to me DVC is priceless.
Thanks Paige – I’m glad it’s been a delightful experience for you!
Thank you for sharing – would you elaborate on why you feel this way?
Yes we feel it is worth it.
Living outside the US. It certainly is worth the while of being involved for us. Some of the DVC member benefits are really an advantage for us, with early booking access, ahead of our countrymen. So, for us living at the the bottom of the planet, Yes, it is worth it. Thanks
We bought at Old Key West back in 1992 when it was first put on the market, best investment I have ever made. Can’t put a price tag on the memories we have shared over 30 years of use.