Vacation Tips

A Beginner’s Guide to Disney Vacation Club

One of the most popular Disney vacation topics is the Disney Vacation Club. DVC is advertised heavily in the parks and online but is not extremely well known outside of being Disney’s timeshare program. We’ll do this post in a Q&A format, answering the 5 most pressing questions about DVC. If you have further questions then let us know in the comments and we will add more posts or answer directly.

OKW golf course

What is the Disney Vacation Club?

Disney Vacation Club is a timeshare program that Disney owns and operates. Like most of these programs, members buy and own points that are best used at Disney Vacation Club Resorts. There are 14 of those resorts – ten at Disney World, one at Disneyland, one in Hawaii, one in Vero Beach, Florida and one at Hilton Head, South Carolina. For a full list of resorts, click here. Points can be used elsewhere but are not as good of a value.

Members have a certain amount of points that they get each year. Staying at each resort costs a certain amount of points each night. Along with the points, members have a ‘home resort’ which is a resort that you can book 11 months in advance while all the other resorts can be booked only 7 months in advance and may have limited availability. For example, our home resort is Saratoga Springs Resort in Walt Disney World and we can book that 11 months away from our trip. All other DVC Resorts we can book 7 months out from our desired date. Each resort costs a specific amount of points per night, depending on location and time of year. To see how many points each room costs per night, click here.

The cost of this program is determined by which resort you want as your home resort (the newer resorts are most expensive) and how many points you want to buy. The price for the points is a one time fee (although there is financing available) and contracts last until at least 2042, depending on the resort. Aside from the one time fee, members will pay a yearly maintenance fee.

Grand Flo water

Is DVC for me?

This answer is dependent on a couple of factors –  your financial situation, how often you visit Disney destinations, specifically Disney World, and whether or not you care about staying in Disney’s nicer hotels instead of a value resort every trip. There are other factors to consider but these are the most notable.

Speaking for Melissa and I, we decided to buy into DVC with a small contract. Our specific situation called for going with a smaller contract for now and potentially adding on in the future. We bought at Saratoga Springs Resort because we liked the longer contract they offered, as well as being one of the cheaper resorts at Disney World in terms of price per point and maintenance fees. While there are cheaper resorts outside of Disney World (Vero Beach and Hilton Head) we did not consider them because of our limited interest in staying there relative to Disney World.

There are many resources that don’t recommend buying a DVC contract at a place that you don’t want to stay at. For the most part, I agree. The lone exception is if you have a very flexible schedule. We are able to travel during non-summer months and avoid holidays, giving us plenty of options when it comes to DVC resorts being open at the 7 month window. While buying at Vero Beach or Hilton Head can be risky for those that mainly want to use DVC at Disney World, there may be some reward to it if you have a flexible travel schedule.

Before we bought, we crunched the numbers for weeks. There were spreadsheets, phone calls and a great deal of discussion. I recommend the same to you. Crunch the numbers to decide if it’s right for you. Then, if it is right for you, crunch the numbers again to figure out what kind of contract you want. I would not buy on the spot, although doing a tour with Disney can have it’s perks. Just go home and talk it over and do research before making a final decision.

As I mentioned above, if you prefer to stay in value resorts then DVC simply isn’t for you. The costs won’t average out and you are paying for something that you don’t really care about. If moderates or deluxe resorts appeal to you and you go to Disney World (or other Disney locations) about once a year then DVC is worth considering.


Who do I buy through?

The easy and obvious answer is Disney as they own the program and make the process fairly simple. Another viable option is buying a DVC contract via the resale market. This is a cheaper option, as other members are looking to unload their contract for one reason or another. While doling out your credit card number for a Craigslist ad isn’t advisable, there are a number of sites where buying resale is safe.

Buying via resale has one advantage, albeit a big one – it is cheaper. Sometimes the cost is far cheaper and tough to ignore. Buying through Disney does have advantages though. For one, some feel safer doing this and that’s understandable. While I don’t think most DVC Resale sites are dangerous, buying through Disney feels like more of a sure thing.

On top of that, buying a contract through Disney comes with perks. Annual passes are cheaper, there are a few special events, restaurant, tour and hotel discounts are offered, and there are a few exciting lounges for DVC members – 1 in Epcot and 1 in Bay Lake Tower. Your mileage on how important these perks are may vary. For us, these perks were interesting and worth buying through Disney. Having said that, Disney reserves the right to remove perks at any time and it’s probably not worth buying through Disney just on that note alone. Compare prices of what’s available and then, if you value the perks see if it is worth the extra cost to you.

Old Key West boat dock

What is ‘use year’? 

Once you become more interested in DVC, learning the lingo can be kind of tricky. A term that is used more than any other is ‘use year’. This is simply the month that your DVC points come in every year. For example, we have 70 points a year and get them placed into our account every February. If we had March as our use year instead we’d get them placed into our account every March.

I wouldn’t be too worried about Use Year when buying a contract. If you have the choice, then we like having it earlier in the year simply because the points come in faster. But if you have to settle for a month later in the year then that absolutely should not be a deal breaker.

Do points roll over?

If you aren’t going to use your DVC points in a given year you can ‘bank’ them into the next year for use. Along with that, you can also borrow the points from the following year. In essence, if you go to Disney World every 2 years then a small contract could make some sense as you can double your points for one trip essentially, although you can only borrow 50% from the following year.

AKL lobby

That’s a quick breakdown of Disney Vacation Club. If there is interest, we’d be happy to write more posts on the subject.

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