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Your Disney Vacation Specialist
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Ask Mel Wednesday: What is the Disney Vacation Club?

Question:What is the DVC and how does it work?

DVC resorts

Here are two of the DVC resorts: Bay Lake Tower and Animal Kingdom Villas

Answer: Disney Vacation Club, or DVC, is a program that allows you to purchase a real estate interest in a DVC resort. (It’s like a timeshare, sort of…) The ins and outs of the DVC, the pros and cons, the details could fill books, in fact – they do! What I am going to do here is give you a very high-level overview of what the DVC is and how it works. From there, it may be a recurring topic for a while if new questions arise, I will do my best to tackle them.

Let me be very up front about a couple of things – yes, my family belongs to the DVC. It is a great fit for some families and a very bad fit for others. There are many aspects to consider – financially does it make sense in the short term, in the long term, how will your family grow, how do you vacation, and for us, it was an emotional decision. It felt right to be able to call part of Disney “home”. I am not advocating nor panning the DVC; I am just trying to inform!

Technically this is a timeshare. Now that that is out of the way, forget everything you think you know about timeshares because Disney’s works differently. I have tried several times to wrap my head around the rules of timeshares – I inevitably give up because they give me a headache. Here is the easiest way for me to describe the DVC – it works like Monopoly money. Except in this case the “money” is points. You buy a set of points (this is your real estate interest) at your home resort. For your initial buy-in Disney requires a minimum of 160 points. How many points you purchase (as long as it is 160 or more) is entirely up to you. To figure out how many points you should purchase, you should determine how you like to vacation; do you like several short trips or one long trip per year (or once every other year)? How big is your family, or how many people do you think you will travel with? This will help you determine what size accommodations you need for your vacation. (A studio can hold 4, a one-bedroom will sleep 5, a two-bedroom can accommodate up to 9 and there are a few grand villas that can house up to 12 people!) Once you know these pieces of information you can start to look at how many points you will need to fulfill your traveling desires. When you purcahse your points they will be at your “home” resort. The reason your “home” resort matters is that you can book your reservations at your home resort 11 months prior to travel. You can stay at non-home resorts, but those you have to wait until 7 months before travel to book. That four month extra window gives you more options and availability (especially if you plan on traveling during peak times).

Each DVC resort has a points chart. These tell you how many points each type of accommodation is for any particular season. So, if you are interested in a 1 bedroom theme park view villa at Bay Lake Tower for the first week of December 2013 – you would look it up and discover it is 273 points. And each resort, size accommodation, and season have their own points value. (Disney publishes these points every year and you can find points charts online.)

Then, you get an allotment of points every year. You can use these points how you wish – a long vacation, several shorter ones, May or November – as long as you have enough points it’s up to you. You make your reservations and “pay” for your room from your points. The “point price” for the room is simply deducted from your yearly available balance. Now it gets a little confusing, you can bank and borrow your points. So, let’s say you get your annual allotment of 200 vacation points.

For an illustration, you get 200 vacation points in 2012 but you want to plan a July 2013 vacation for your whole family in a grand villa. You research and discover that will be 477 vacation points! You can bank your 2012 vacation points (basically save them for use in 2013). So no vacation in 2012 but when you get your 2013 points you now have 400 points to use. You are still 77 points shy of your vacation points needed for the grand villa. What do you do? You can borrow those 77 points from your 2014 point allotment giving you a total of 477 points to use in 2013 for your grand villa. And then when you get your 2014 points you will have 123 points to use (200 allotment – 77 used).

I hope that gives you an overview of the Disney Vacation Club. I am sure more questions will arise from this – and I will be happy to answer them, just send them in and Ask Mel!

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