Is Disney Vacation Club Worth It? An Honest Review

Are you a die-hard Disney fan who can’t get enough of the magical world of Disney? Do you dream of staying at Disney resorts year-round and experiencing the magic over and over again? If so, you may have heard of the Disney Vacation Club (or DVC), a buy-in program that offers people who can’t get enough of Disney World a golden ticket to visiting as much as they want. But is Disney Vacation Club worth the cost?

At first glance, DVC might seem like the key to Disney bliss – buy into the club and voilà, you’re set for years of adventures across Disney resorts, and beyond. However, becoming a DVC member isn’t cheap. With prices starting at $225 per Vacation Point as of 2024 and a minimum purchase of 100-points required PLUS closing costs…the membership can dig pretty deep into your pockets. But is it worth the investment?

Disney Vacation Club Kiosk in Disney World

You may be wondering whether the perks match the price tag or if it’s merely a mirage of exclusivity. Some assert it’s a budget-savvy choice for those frequenting Disney locales, while skeptics point out that the value doesn’t always pan out – especially when venturing outside the realm of DVC-specific properties. So, let’s dive into the pros and cons of the Disney Vacation Club to help you decide if this exclusive membership is the right choice for you.

What is DVC? Understanding the Basics

The Disney Vacation Club (DVC) is — at its core — a timeshare program that allows you to purchase points that can be used to book stays at Disney Vacation Club Resorts across the globe.

Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

When you become a member of the Disney Vacation Club, you are essentially buying into a points-based system. You purchase a certain number of points and then use those points to book stays at one of the Disney Vacation Club resorts. Each resort has its own point chart, which determines how many points are required for each night of your stay.

It’s important to note that you’re not locked into one location when you buy in. Rather, you have the flexibility to choose from a range of resorts each year, based on point availability and your personal preferences. This point system offers a departure from traditional timeshares, offering some additional freedom and variety to your Disney vacations.

Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

Thanks to the flexibility of being able to book any Disney Resort at any time of the year with your points, DVC can be a great option for frequent Disney visitors who want to save money on accommodations and enjoy some extra perks. However, it’s important to carefully consider the cost and commitment before deciding to join.

How much does DVC membership cost?

If you’re considering joining the Disney Vacation Club, brace yourself for a dose of reality on the financial front. Becoming a part of this timeshare program is no small feat for your wallet.

Disney’s Riviera Resort

The cost of membership varies depending on how many points you want to purchase and which resort you want to make your home resort. As of January 30th, 2024, the cost per point is $225, and members must buy at least 100 Vacation Points at enrollment. This means that the minimum cost to join the DVC is $22,500. But, that’s not all of the upfront costs — you’ll also have to pay a closing fee which starts at $380.

But the spending doesn’t stop there. Year after year, you’ll need to pay annual dues. These fees cover the maintenance of the resorts, property taxes, and other operational costs — and they tend to increase as the years roll by. Currently, these annual fees start at $74 per month (or $888 per year), but they can be much higher than this with no maximum.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge — Jambo House

With that in mind, it might be easier to think of your DVC membership as more of a prepaid vacation plan rather than a property investment that grows in value. So, while you might save on future vacations, consider this — will you be able to fully utilize your points year after year?

The good news is that you can bank your points from the current “Use Year” to the next or transfer them to another DVC member if you don’t end up using all your points in one calendar year. However, it’s important to note that transferred Vacation Points maintain their original “Use Year,” so the family you transfer the points to will have to use them within the year.

The DVC Points System

Grasping the complexities behind a DVC Vacation Point starts with understanding that the points are not static in value. They fluctuate year to year, resort to resort, and even day to day. Rather than booking a Disney hotel for a specific cost, the Vacation Points you own as part of your Disney Vacation Club membership are your currency. But here lies the big question — what is the actual value of each point?

Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa

The baseline value comes from your initial purchase, where you buy a specific number of points to become a member at whatever the cost is at the time you buy in. Now, you can choose to purchase more DVC points after you initially buy into the program, however, you’ll be paying a new rate and your new points will likely be at a different home resort.

At DVC’s inception in 1991, a point’s price tag was $51. But, fast forward to 2024 and that value is now up $225 per point with more room to grow in the future.

Disney’s Contemporary Resort

When we’re talking about the value of your points, it’s also important to talk about annual dues as these can greatly impact the long-term cost per point. As these dues increase over the years, they eat into your initial estimation of worth and contribute to a rising average cost per point well beyond the purchase price.

Disney’s Beach Club Resort

Beyond the mere cost per point, the inherent worth of DVC points is really in the vacations you take and the types of places you can stay with the points. The value of your DVC points is a lot higher when you use them for stays at highly sought-after properties, like Aulani or the Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian & Spa. So, the membership is more worth it if you stay at places that maximize your points’ potential.

Nonetheless, remember that this calculation is nuanced. DVC points aren’t a traditional commodity and their “value” can’t be boiled down just to the mere cost. Buying into DVC is ultimately a promise of more Disney vacations without having to think about the cost in dollars which, to some, is their greatest value.

About Disney Vacation Club Resorts

So, where exactly can you stay with Disney Vacation Club points? Well, pretty much anywhere in the Disney Resort Collection. However, over the years, Disney has built specific DVC properties that offer a few more perks, better room options for larger families, and more luxurious stays.

Ranging from the shores of Aulani to the rustic grandeur of Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge to the newest addition at the Disneyland Hotel, DVC Resorts are located all around the globe. And, with your DVC membership, you unlock the door to a huge variety of deluxe accommodations and vacations, each with the unmistakable value of Disney’s world-class service and attention to detail.

Disney’s Boardwalk Inn

Here are all of the current Disney Vacation Club Resorts that you can book with a membership:

It’s important to note that each Disney Vacation Club Resort costs a different number of points (which can be found on Disney’s website). And, don’t forget that you’re not locked into staying at your home resort — you can choose to stay at any of these locations throughout the year with your points.

Exclusive DVC Resort Stays vs. Non-DVC Property Reservations

The unique thing about your DVC points is that they can be used almost anywhere — both DVC Resorts and non-DVC Resorts. So, for example, you could choose to use your points to stay at Disney’s Riviera Resort (which only has DVC rooms and suites), or you can use your points to stay at Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort (which doesn’t have any DVC rooms or suites).

The Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

Now, that sort of flexibility can be alluring, but we would encourage you to really think about how you’re using those points — the price point and perks can be wildly different depending on where you use your points!

For instance, one of the biggest draws to DVC Resorts is that the buildings tend to be quieter, there are more room types available, and most of the rooms come with a full kitchen. If you are traveling with a larger family and need more space or want to save some money on Disney dining by preparing some of your food in your room, you don’t want to make the mistake of booking a non-DVC Resort.

Disney Vacation Club Membership merchandise

So, consider what you’ll need during your vacation and why you bought into the Disney Vacation Club when you’re choosing where to stay!

Who Should Buy Into The Disney Vacation Club?

So, you’ve crunched the numbers and you’re still thinking about buying into the Disney Vacation Club. It certainly might be the right move for you!

You’re a prime candidate for DVC if Disney trips top your must-do vacation list nearly every year. With the flexibility of DVC points, you’ll be able to make a Disney vacation (or two…or three…or more!) happen every year. Because, after all, you’ve got the points and you need to use them! You’ll also get access to an extra Disney World Annual Passholder option which can save you money on park tickets too.

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

A DVC membership is also great if you have a large family that likes to travel to Disney together every year! There are so many different room types available at DVC Resorts including one-bedroom, two-bedroom, three-bedroom, and even massive suites that can sleep up to 9 people. So, if your family reunion heads to Disney World or Disneyland every year, you’ll likely enjoy the variety of accommodations you have access to.

The Villas at Disneyland Hotel ©Disney

And, what it all really boils down to…can you afford it? The Disney Vacation Club is a costly one, so be sure that you can swing the up-front cost and monthly maintenance fees without destroying your budget.

Who should NOT buy into Disney Vacation Club?

Notably, if you’re thinking about buying into the Disney Vacation Club just to use your points beyond the DVC Resorts, tread carefully. It may sound enticing to pay into the membership and use your points to stay at a hotel in Disneyland Paris or set sail on the Disney Cruise Line, but your points can lose a lot of their worth this way.

Walkway to The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian

When you compare the cash price of these Disney vacations to the cost per point, you don’t necessarily come out ahead with DVC. So, before you click buy on DVC, consider the true value of your points and evaluate whether a cash payment would work in your favor for your non-traditional Disney vacation choices. 

Maximizing Your DVC Membership

Once you buy your DVC membership it’s time to get planning! You need to play it smart to get the most out of your membership, so we’re bringing you our TOP FOUR ways to maximize your DVC membership!

  • Plan Ahead: You call the shots well in advance. For choice accommodations, book 7 to 11 months ahead. (Pro tip: put reminders in your calendar so these dates don’t slip by.)
  • Annual Dues: Tackle your budget head-on. Factor in those dues, because they’re part of the deal. Staying on top of them ensures no surprises down the road.
  • Use, Bank, or Borrow Points: Treasure your points like rare gems. Not traveling this year? Bank them. Dreaming big next year? Borrow points from the future. Just remember: once borrowed, they can’t return to their original year.
  • Diversify Your Disney Experience: Leverage your points for more than just room nights. Disney’s diverse portfolio means your points unlock vacations galore, from Alaskan cruises to euro-centric Adventures by Disney.

Is DVC worth it?

If you’re someone who sees Disney trips in your future as annual events, then the savings on staying at top-tier properties could be substantial. Your love for the magic of Disney, coupled with a stable financial situation to cover upfront and recurring costs, might make DVC a great option. You’ll also have the flexibility to use your points for other Disney-related vacations, although the value in doing so isn’t always the best.

But tread carefully if your Disney vacations are sporadic or if long-term financial commitments are daunting. If the stress of making the most out of an expensive timeshare overshadows the joy of vacation planning, it might not be the right time to buy into DVC. The high costs and potential for underutilization can turn what should be a dreamy escape into a nagging concern.

In essence, DVC is for those who can comfortably afford it and who will actively enjoy its benefits year after year. For everyone else, it may be wiser to visit the Disney Parks on a pay-as-you-go basis. Remember, DVC is not a property investment like you’re house, rather it’s a prepaid luxury — splendid for some, but impractical for others. Weigh your options, consider your habits, and make the decision that’s right for you!

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