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Cinderella's Castle at Magic Kingdom

Now that we have discussed the many positives of becoming a member of the Disney Vacation Club, it is time to consider the negatives.

This is a “pink elephant in the living room” situation, as the primary negative is unmistakable. That financial boogeyman is only one of several viable reasons to pass on membership, though. Let’s evaluate each one.

1. Joining Disney Vacation Club costs thousands of dollars

Hilton Head, a DVC Property

The exact amount for membership is determined by how many points you want as well as your choice of resort homes. People who purchase directly through Disney are required to spend a minimum of $11,500 right now. I realize that some of you are about to stop reading. To this I say, please continue to read these columns if you possess a lingering interest in becoming a member. The reality is that you can join for a lot less if you choose resale rather than direct purchase. In fact, I joined for less than half of that amount. That is a discussion for a different day, though. Today is all about the negatives, and spending that much money is a negative for 99% of the population.

For now, the statement is accurate. Disney requires new owners to buy at least 100 points to join DVC. The absolute cheapest resorts are currently priced at $115, and those two properties are Vero Beach, Florida, and Hilton Head, South Carolina. While you can use the points from those facilities to stay at Walt Disney World and Disneyland properties, they are not DVC timeshare purchases I would recommend. Due to tropical weather causing damage and increasing insurance costs, those two locations have the highest maintenance fees among DVC resorts. So, you will spend less immediately, saving $1,500, but you will pay more in the long term.

If you prefer to stay at a Walt Disney World property, the cheapest timeshare you can buy right now would cost $13,000, the aforementioned $1,500 increase. And if you are a fan of Disneyland, the entrance fee for DVC ownership at Villas at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel is $16,500 for 100 points. That is the price of a decent car, which means a lot of people simply will not pay that much for a vacation timeshare. DVC ownership purchased directly through Disney is not cheap. As such, the investment should be considered carefully.

2. Annual maintenance fees are not cheap and constantly increasing

Grand Californian

Rates increase based upon maintenance expenses at a given resort for the prior year. Using 100 points as the baseline, a DVC owner for a Walt Disney World property should expect to pay somewhere between $478 and $601 annually. Effectively, an owner pays between $4.78 and $6.01 per point in maintenance expenses. This fee is paid whether you intend to visit Disney during the year or not. Effectively, DVC membership costs between $40 and $50 per month for every 100 points owned.

The other aspect of maintenance fees that can be problematic is that fees increase each year. Generally, they are raised between 3% and 6%, depending upon exactly the makeovers needed at the various facilities during the calendar year. I would note that this maintenance fee is also a hidden positive. Members pay this money and Disney rewards their clientele by performing consistent refurbishing to guarantee that their resorts never lose their impeccable quality. So, members are charged maintenance fees, but they get what they pay for in that their money goes directly toward the upkeep of the properties in question.

3. Infrequent guests should pass

Saratoga Springs, the unofficial golf capital of Orlando

The underlying premise behind the Disney Vacation Club is a marketing ploy. The idea is to entice potential loyal customers into visiting Walt Disney theme parks as often as possible. The points that translate to “free” visits to the company’s best hotel resorts onsite are the loss leader. The company recognizes that the profit margin on the rest of the theme park visit is so high that they do not need the revenue stream from the hotel room.

For you as the customer, the “free” visit is integral to your maximizing your investment. If you do not visit a participating DVC property during the year, you have paid membership dues and maintenance fees for no reason. Yes, you can bank your points if you anticipate staying the following year, but they cannot be pushed back indefinitely. Each set of points may only be banked once, which means that you must go Disney at least every other year for this purchase to be viable. Otherwise, you are quite literally paying something for nothing.

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In reply to by Mikew2009 (not verified)

Hey Mike,

I just did the tour yesterday for DVC. I can't answer your question about the cost of annual dues. But what I can answer about it is, you can claim your annual dues because it's consider a house and not a timeshare.

As for selling back, I would contact your account rep you had set up your account. After 10 years your contract would be paid off. Not to mention if you have kids and they are older you can pass it down to them. Your DVC is good for up to 50 years.

As for the points, you can purchase 25+ points. The price depends on what time of year and if there's a price increase. Usually the Account Reps will call you 90 days out before a price hike in point price.

Hope my info has helped you out.

Seriously thinking about buying into DVC. We stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge Jambo House at WDW and also at Aulani. We stayed in a 1 bedroom villa with savanna view at AKL and 1 bedroom villa with an ocean view at Aulani...we paid rack prices both times at these resorts since we love the home away from home feel. We loved both resorts but it was very expensive...$600 to $840 bucks a night x 7 days. If we bought into DVC the money we've spent on these two vacations alone could have paid for half of the membership fees already. We are also thinking of going on a Disney cruise and we checked out rack prices and it can easily cost $10k plus for a family of five. I definitely think that it's a great deal to buy into DVC but my husband still can't pass the idea of planning out our vacation at least a year in advance to get the resort that we would like to stay at for our next vacation. Money wise it makes sense but you can kiss spontaneous vacation goodbye. Hopefully I can convince my husband.

This article is obviously one person's opinion. We own at 2 DVC resorts and wouldn't have it any other way. I'd be happy to tell you about all of the positives of owning DVC property.

In reply to by John (not verified)

Hi, I have a question. I am thinking of purchasing a membership. Hoping to buy one that is cheaper but use the points to stay at Bay Lake whenever possible. Is there a chance considering it wouldn't be my "Home" resort? or do you think it would be fully booked by the time non home resort owners can book? I hope I explained it right, still trying to understand all the DVC terminology but soo excited!

we just came back froom disney and stayed at the boardwalk villas they have been redone and now are beautiful. been a member since 1992 and are very happy A LOT OF PERKS 100 DOLLARS OFF ANNUAL PASS discounts on meals (without any dining plans)also my daughter was in a dance recital in nyc and was able to get plaza hotel for 2 days with points. thank you for the great info you come up with and i hope disney checks out your site and improves with your info

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