Psst. I want to let you in on a secret. Disney’s Best Kept Secret, actually. What, you’ve heard of it?! I thought those giant billboards, bus advertisements, numerous in-resort and in-park kiosks, dedicated tv station, pins and buttons, stickers, etc., were only directed at me. Apparently the marketing line is a bit of a misnomer.
Given that you probably have heard of Disney’s (Supposed) Best Kept Secret, Disney Vacation Club, I’ll cut right to the chase: is Disney Vacation Club right for you? By asking yourself the questions below, you can get a pretty good idea of whether DVC is right for you.
“Will I have to finance the DVC contract purchase?”
If the answer to that question is yes, and one of the reasons for purchasing DVC is to save money, it’s likely a bad idea to buy into DVC. I could easily write two full articles on the actual economics of Disney Vacation Club, but I’ll keep this brief. Unlike Disney’s claim that DVC will save you 70% off of future resort stays, this is not the case. If it were, do you really think Disney would actually be offering the program–and that it would be wildly profitable for the company? If you have to finance, any potential savings are quickly dissipated by the interest you pay on the purchase. Even if you’re not financing, the time-value of money, which is the principle that money at the present time is worth more than the same amount in the future due to its earning capacity, makes any claim by Disney that you’ll actually save 70% with DVC highly specious. Now, if you have plenty of cash sitting under your bed that you would only “invest” in lottery tickets, then there certainly are potential savings in DVC. For most people, however, DVC will only offer limited savings, at best.
“In what kind of accommodations would I like to stay?”
This is a tough question to answer, because you need to be able to anticipate your vacationing habits in the future. If you only roll Deluxe, and anticipate demanding posh accommodations in the future, DVC sounds right for you. If you have kids, and are tired of sleeping in the same small quarters with them at a Moderate Resort, DVC is also probably right for you. If you’re an Ultimate Touring Plan-driven bachelor who travels alone, primarily stays at Values now, and stays out until all hours of the night and gets up for rope drop, DVC may not be a good option for you. If you can’t stand the idea of MouseKeeping not coming into your room and fixing up after Hurricane Your Kids, DVC may not be right for you. If you like the idea of being able to do your laundry, prepare a meal in your in-room kitchen, utilize free in-room internet, or enjoy a whole host of other “at-home” amenities, DVC may be right.
“Can I plan my vacations in advance?”
If you can’t regularly plan your vacations 7 months or more in advance, and you’re not wild about Saratoga Springs Resort or Old Key West Resort (the two resorts that are the last to fill up), then DVC may not be right for you. During various times of year, popular DVC resorts fill up quickly. In fact, during the Christmas season, it can be difficult to get even Saratoga and Old Key West inside of 7 months.
“Will I vacation at Walt Disney World or Disneyland at least once every three years for the next 40 years?”
Thanks to the banking and borrowing system, it isn’t necessary to take a Disney vacation every year. However, to make DVC a pragmatic option, you pretty much must visit WDW or DLR once every three years. Using DVC points for non-DVC vacations offers terrible value. Since many DVC contracts expire in 2054, you better hope the Mouse won’t break your heart anytime soon. Although if he does, selling your contract on the resale market is an option, and thanks to Disney’s Right of First Refusal, contracts retain a somewhat inflated value on the resale market.
“Do I like the DVC resorts?”
Much like using DVC points for non-DVC vacations is a bad idea, using DVC points at non-DVC resorts is a bad idea. Do you like the DVC resort choices? With DVC’s explosive growth in the past several years, and new DVC units strongly rumored at the Grand Floridian Resort and Fort Wilderness, resort choices only look to improve in the coming years.
“Are there any other benefits that DVC will offer me?”
DVC members get discounts on Annual Passes and D23 Memberships. There are several Members-Only DVC pins, events, and other offerings throughout the year as well.
“Will DVC increase my quality of life?”
Much like TouringPlans.com, it seems one of DVC’s main goals is to increase world happiness. Well, maybe that’s a bit over-zealous. Perhaps increasing Disney-fans’ happiness is more apt. Will the little things, such as the “Welcome Home” doormats, Disney Files Magazine showing up in your mailbox, and going to bed at night knowing your vacations are partially paid in advance for the next 40-some years make you happier? If so, that might trump everything else here, and you may want to purchase DVC. As they say, you can’t put a price on peace of mind.
These are the questions we asked ourselves when contemplating a DVC purchase. Ultimately, we decided it was right for us. After doing the math every which way, we determined that buying a small Saratoga Springs Resort contract (one of the most economically-efficient options because of the lower per-point prices for contracts on the resale market, low annual dues, and 2054 expiration date) and banking & borrowing points to use for our 10-day honeymoon would be a good option for us. In comparison to paying out of pocket for a stay at the BoardWalk for our honeymoon, buying the small DVC contract outright provided a reasonable break even time. Plus, as new Annual Passholders, the DVC membership would save us over $200 per year total for our APs. Staying in DVC accommodations also offered us the ability to purchase the Disney Dining Plan without purchasing park tickets unnecessarily. Granted, our touring style of only staying out late and getting up early doesn’t really necessitate DVC accommodations presently, but we probably won’t keep up this pace forever. When we slow down and have kids, I’m sure the amenities DVC offers will be vital. In the meantime, we still enjoy the nicer room and resort once every three or four trips. The math worked for us, and so too did it increase our happiness. There are few pieces of mail I look forward to more than the Disney Files magazine, and hearing “Welcome Home” from the Cast Member at the front desk of our resort gives me an ear-to-ear grin every time. It may not work for everyone, but it certainly works for us.
What about for you? If you’re a member, has it been a good or bad experience? If you’re not a member, why not?