Should you join the Club?

If you’re a regular in WDW Circles, you’ve likely heard about Disney Vacation Club (DVC). It’s a points-based timeshare that allows you to book accommodations at Disney Vacation Club resorts with a booking advantage at your ‘home’ resort. Without getting into the legal/technical aspects of membership, many people wonder if it would make sense for them and seek tools to help them decide. When we decided to join, it was after a lot of analysis and research–and I suggest anyone interested in joining do the same.

Way back then, I made a list of open ended questions that might help determine whether DVC would make sense for a particular family or individual, and I’ve got those below. If you are looking for a yes/no verdict, I can’t offer that. There are too many variables and no one but you can weigh the various factors involved. But I’ll share the questions we asked ourselves, so you can too. You can also have your partner (if you’ve got one) answer these questions to see if you are on the same page before taking the plunge. It’s also a good way to sort out your feelings more ‘rationally’… because  many of us know when the mouse is in the house, we get a little excited…

A tip we employed before purchasing was ‘renting’ points–owners who aren’t going to use their annual point allotment in it’s entirety may rent their points (make you a reservation). It often results in a savings for the non-member in accomodation costs. It’s a good way to experience DVC as though you were a member and see if you like it, although you will not qualify for DVC Member-only benefits like Top of the World or retail discounts. If you have any questions for me about our experiences, feel free to post them in the comments.

THE QUESTIONS:

  1. Do you anticipate visiting Disneyworld, Disneyland, Hilton Head, the Florida Coast, or Hawaii at least once every third year for the next 7-10 years (at least 3-5 trips total)?
  2. How often do you anticipate going to at least one but any one of the following for the foreseeable future: Disneyworld, Disneyland, Hilton Head, the Florida Coast, or Hawaii?
  3. Do you anticipate staying at the same resort each time or would you prefer variety?
  4. Do most of the following destinations appeal to you? Hilton Head Island, SC, Vero Beach, FL Coast, Oahu, HI, Walt Disney World Parks, Disney Springs, Disneyland?
  5. How many months in advance are you willing to commit for family vacations? DVC members usually find that to snag their preferred resort, room, and dates they must book as early as 11 months out for popular times.
  6. Think about your vacation scheduling. Do you schedule your travel around price? Do you take last minute trips? Do you travel at peak times? How often do you cancel scheduled vacation plans?
  7. Are you comfortable giving up daily housekeeping?
  8. Do you need or prefer a full kitchen, or do a coffee maker and a mini fridge do the trick?
  9. How much room do you want when traveling? How many people do you generally bring? Be sure to look at the room capacity and sizes at the DVC resorts.
  10. What are your dining habits on vacation? Do you like to be able to cook when desired or do you eat most meals at restaurants?
  11. Which properties appeal to you?Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa, Old Key West Resort, Bay Lake Tower (MK), Animal Kingdom Lodge Villas, BoardWalk Villas (Epcot),Villas at Wilderness Lodge (MK), Beach Club Villas (Epcot), Grand Californian Hotel, Disneyland (CA), Aulani, Hawaii, Vero Beach, Florida, Hilton Head Island, SC, Villas at the Grand Floridian (MK)
  12. How long do you like to vacation? How many times a year?
  13. When do you like to vacation? Points required to book are scaled to popularity of the dates. Major Holidays (Easter, 4th of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas), Holiday Weekends (Presidents Day, MLK Jr Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day), School Holidays (Spring Break, Fall Break, Winter Break), Summer (June-August), Winter (Nov-February), Fall (September-early November), Spring (March-May), No set time/season
  14. Would you purchase directly through Disney, or through a resale broker? With resale, the transaction is less expensive, but it may takes several months to close.
  15. Would you prefer a longer or shorter contract? The various resorts may be less expensive but have a shorter contract length–which may be good or bad depending on whether you are hoping to travel for the next 18 years or the next 50 years.
  16. Do you like the ‘hotel’ experience–daily housekeeping, turndown service and the like, or do you prefer a condo experience where generally no one enters your unit but you and your party?
  17. Which resort are you considering purchasing–and why? Many will recommend buying where you want to stay so you can preserve the home booking advantage, but others who don’t care as much about which resort they stay at may prefer the least expensive maintenance fees.
  18. Do you plan to visit the same resort each time, or rotate your stays?
  19. Do you plan to vacation on Disney Cruise Lines, at Disneyland Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland, Tokyo Disney, or Adventures by Disney Guided Global Vacations? In order to use your points for those trips you must purchase the points through Disney directly. Many resale owners rent their points and use the cash to pay for cruises or ABD.
  20. How would you pay for DVC? Can you pay in a lump sum, or will you need to finance? Can you secure private financing like a home equity line or would you go through Disney’s Financing?
  21. How much would you prefer to spend or borrow?
  22. Why are you considering joining?
  • I believe I will save money.
  • The DVC properties are better accomodations.
  • I want to have a ‘home base’ on property.
  • I like the resorts more than others.
  • I go to Walt Disney World regularly.
  • I want bigger, vacation home style rooms for a growing family.
  • I want global flexibility.
  • I want to be able to will the membership to my children
  • I want to be able to vacation at WDW for up to 50 years in the future without paying the full rates.
  • I want to rent the points out and make money
  • I want to ‘flip’ my contract if/when prices go up.
  • I want to be able to exchange points for other vacation clubs/destinations.
  • I want to experience perks like discounts at the parks and special privileges/events.
  • I want to be sure I will take regular family vacations.
  • I want to be sure cashflow fluctuations do not prevent me from vacationing.
  • I believe it will increase my quality of life.
  • I want to own a piece of the ‘magic’
  1. About which DVC concepts do you feel you need a greater understanding?
  • Home Resort Choice
  • Maintenance fees/Dues
  • Tax implications/Purchase logistics
  • Direct v. Resale
  • Use Year
  • Banking/Borrowing Policies
  • 7/11 month booking windows
  • Cancellation Policies
  • Renting/Reselling points

 

Disclaimer… We’re DVC’ers and we love it so far!

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