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5 HUGE Issues with Buying into the Disney Vacation Club

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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There are 48 comments.

So does the 100 points equate to 1 week per year?

depends on resort, room size, and season. They have crazy charts to explain it all (I'm not a member yet but went to an info session on Aulani once)

I have been a DVD member since 1/96 and I can tell you that the points charts are very easy to understand. Like any place, there are "high" seasons, "low" seasons, and "shoulder" seasons, all judged based on demand. For example, it will cost more points to stay for a week during the Christmas break than January or February. It will cost more for a two bedroom reservation than a one bedroom, and so on.

When you do decide to discuss Tables In Wonderland, I would note how many restaurants have sadly been dropped from the program. My hubby and I are annual passholders (we live only 30 min from WDW) so Tables has always been a good value for us. This year however, we have discovered several locations in the themeparks (particularly Epcot) no longer participating. We are debating whether or not we will continue to purchase that discount card.

I don't understand what you mean by tables. Are you talking about the dining plan?

Tables in Wonderland is a card you can buy for $99-125 depending on who you are(DVD, annual membership, Florida residence) that gets you 20% off food and alcohol at DisneyWorld restaurants.

There was no mention of the option to trade out with other timeshare companies to travel literally all over the world!! Disney Cruise Line, Adventures by Disney, Passport Collection.... There are so many options besides just visiting the Parks, Vero or Hilton Head!!

This article was strictly about the negativity of DC ownership, not the positives. There have been several articles about the positives already. Being able to trade for other destinations would be a positive.

Thank you for these informative columns. I am looking forward to the dining ones. Tables in wonderland always confuses me. Great job!

we're seasonal passholders and drive up several times a year. We looked into DVC once, basing it on the weekends we would go, and couldn't seem to make it work financially. However, we're still going and usually stay at value or moderate resorts. We may look again.

If you usually stay at value and sometimes moderate, DVC probably doesn't make financial sense. It starts to make sense when you stay at moderate (or higher) all the time.

We are DVC owners and we use the points to also go the RCI resorts every other year. That is a plus because DVC owners get a better choice of dates and properties with RCI.

We have also used our points thru Interval International. Also, Disney Cruise Line. We have been members since 1993, and it has MORE than paid for itself. The maintenance fees we don't mind, since they help keep the Disney quality!

You have to keep in mind, also, that a large portion of your homeowner's dues are property taxes, which are tax deductible. We paid out our cost for our points and it was paid out a long time ago, so we only pay about $600 a year for our 244 points. We can get one week during the high season or several weeks during the low, all a great deal for $600.

I didn't think they were tax deductible. Under what category?

A portion of the annual fees go to property taxes. These may be able to be deducted if you itemize instead of taking the standard deduction on your federal taxes.

I know your comment is from almost a year ago, but would love to have more info. about the process of trading your DVC points for RCI destinations. My husband and I are interested in buying with DVC, but are concerned about how difficult it might be to book a non-Disney vacation. We haven't found many comments online either way (easy or problematic to do so). Our destinations would include Europe and/or Caribbean. Any help would be very appreciated, thanks!

We are also DVC owners and once you get past the upfront cost, it makes a ton of sense for anyone who stays in deluxe properties at least once every other year. One way to get around the high ticket cost is an AP. Stagger your vacations by visiting WDW in say, week 39 one year and then visit in week 38 the following year. Planning early is definitely the worst aspect of DVC.

I have really considered making a purchase but it just does not seem worth my while, especially when I can rent points for a great value! We are renting 4 nights in a studio at Beach Club Villas in November for 800 dollars total!

How do you rent points?

I had a hard time convincing myself to buy in because renting points is such a good deal. Then I realized the value proposition for the owner renting out their points and bought in so I could rent out my points, it covers your dues and anything you get above that is gravy. Now I have a hard time convincing myself to use the points rather just renting them out. I can take the money, buy park tickets and stay at a value or moderate resort... all paid for by renting my DVC points!>)

We are DVC owners and I completely agree if you do not frequent Disney, DVC is not for you. But, if you go at least 2 times a year, it pays for itself many times over. We go 4 or 5 times each year to various Disney properties, cruises and have even used the exchange element to stay at properties that are not Disney owned. Also, for most DVC owners the ticket issue is a "non-issue" because they are typically annual pass holders and the cost of annual passes is not much more than the $300 you would pay for one visit and when you divide the cost over even 2 trips it's still a good deal. Each time we go we usually only have food to be concerned with and often we purchase the dining plan which is about $60 a day per person. Also, there are various discounts that are only for DVC owners. We think it is a great investment into our family....Our DVC has been paid off and we just pay the annual maintenance which is about what we spend dining out a couple times a month. After the inital investment, i thik the cost is nominal. And there are some tax advantages as well.

I just returned from WDW & signed up for DVC. I stated I wanted to get in at the lowest cost. They gave me an offer of 50 points at Vero Beach for around $5200. I have 10 days to decide. Opinions please! Thanks!!

The last I checked, it was over $100 per point, so 50 points for $5200 is not bad. However, I looked at the points chart for Vero Beach and you couldn't get an entire week, even in a simple room accommodation for 50 points, in any season. It is always possible to "borrow" the following years' points to combine with the current year, so you would then have 100 points to "spend", but then you could only vacation using your points every other year. You could always use your points for a weekend getaway, but I would ask to see the points charts for places where you would like to travel to see how much of a vacation you could get for 50 points and where. I think Vero Beach is one of DVC's less expensive resorts, so you would get more for your 50 points there than anywhere else, but I haven't looked at all the points charts, nor RCI's, where you may get more for those points than at the bigger DVC resorts. You can always add points as you can afford. Also, by buying at Vero Beach, you have a priority booking window there, but no where else. Hope this is helpful!

We own Verot beach and Hilton head, bought direct from disney. Never had any regret. Mf are not in my opinion high. We haven't had issues getting rooms on disney property 7 mo out. I'd go for it, only issue is the 50 points, you need 100 to stay a week on property. So the 50 is only worth it if you do short trips once a year or go every other year.

I was just wondering if we could have an article with the pros and cons of DVC ownership for cast members.

We have been DVC members sine 2010. We live in S Florida and get up to Orlando at least twice a yr. We would never be able to go that much and stay in the resorts we do. We were at Animal Kingdom on the Savannah and Bay Lake in a two bedroom villa each time (we usually go with my daughter and husband and 3 grandchildren). We have also stayed in a 3 bedroom grand villa with 12 people and had a great time . Good investment for our family.

We purchased into DVC four years ago, but within our 14 day window, opted out. We enjoy staying moderate or deluxe and RENT points from DVC members. We enjoy the dining plan deals that are extended to them, and we are not locked into any contracts or increasing HOA fees. We travel to WDW at least twice a year and this has proven to be very economical.

As someone looking into DVC for the first time right now, these columns are really useful. I'm actually a little bit pleasantly surprised, I thought the upfront costs would be bare minimum 50% higher than that price quoted for the WDW property and you wouldn't get much in the way of points for it. It's still a lot of money and something I'd have to spend a lot of time planning and muddling out financially of course, but it's better than I thought. They're sending me an information pack and DVD soon so I'll continue my research. Looking forward to the article about direct purchase vs. resale

I must say I enjoy there articles very
much. They are quite informative, but please ditch the "in regards" and replace it with either: regarding or with regard to. "In regards" does not exist. Thank you

Sorry, these not there

Thank you for these articles! Very helpful. Looking forward to learning more about using points towards Disney cruises and also more about the dining plans.

Actually, you only need to use your DVC points once every three years. You can bank one year's points into the next year, and then if you take your trip in that year, you can borrow points from the following year to complete your reservation. I only own 100 points - if I only go every three years, I can bank and borrow points to get 300 points into the same year to plan an awesome trip. We do lots of other things besides Disney (and often get great deals on other properties) - knowing that if I only use my DVC points at least once every three years works for me! Plus, if you don't use them, you can rent them to someone else, and recoup your costs that way. It's a good program, and I'm glad we own DVC points. Been part of this for 6.5 years now!

we have been DVC members for many many years. There is one issue not mentioned here, Boardwalk Villas is a dump. The lack of maintainence in the rooms is an embarrassment.
While my family have enjoyed our membership greatly, this IS a huge drawback.

We've been members since 2005 . if you fly with virgin from the UK and stay at my home resort which is SSR for a fortnight then that cost is around £6000 for four of you .so I go to Disney every other year and all I need is the flights because we've already got a DVC now flights normally cost us about £1500 which is a saving of £4500 each time we go .

The article failed to mention the depreciating value of the DVC membership. Once the agreement is over in x years, there is no value left on your investment. DVC is essentially a long term rental plus fees.

I am not a DVC owner yet im still doing my research, but my question is if i purchase thru RCI will it be the same as if i purchase thru DVC? If anyone knows the difference please help me with this...

If you purchase a timeshare with another company say Hilton can you use your those timeshare points at a Disney resort? I know that when you buy into DVC you can pay $75 to convert your points and use them at other hotels around the world does this work the opposite way with other timeshare companies such as Marriott, Fairfield, Hilton, etc? The one drawback of DVC is not being able to pass it on to your children to enjoy. It's a lease that eventually runs out whereas another timeshare I could leave to my children to continue to enjoy.

My understanding is that DVC is transferrable to my children and so on until the lease ends. DVC is great for the long term. Even if I am paying $1500 annually in dues (worst case scenario in 10 years), I get a room that normally goes for $1100/night (2015) and my points gives me that room for 5 nights. Just think what that same room will cost per night in the year 2025? And I'm still paying $1500. And that room I get (1-Bedroom at Grand Californian) has a full kitchen (Stove, Dishwasher, Washer/Dryer and Microwave) whereas the "Cash Retail" 1-Bedroom does not. Also, DVC has no resort tax and you can park 2 of your cars for free (Cash Residents pay a daily resort parking fee).

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

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.

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.

Hi all.

Great forum. So I just bought into the Disney vacation club today Polynesian resorts. 16500 for 100 pts! At first I thought I was but and began having second thoughts. I did some research and then felt better. Now I'm reading some more information and getting third thoughts! I have ten days to decide and was hoping to get some advice.

what I'm stressing over is this annual maintenance fee. Our current fee would be 600 a year. Fast forward 20 years won't that be an exorbitant amount?

Secondly. How does one sell back the contract? The salesman made it seem that Disney would easily buy it back most likely for the price I paid. Hence if I decide dvc is no longer feasible for my family in ten years, I'll most likely get close to my 16500 back?

Lastly. If I decide to stay with it. I was told I can get on a waiting list through Disney to purchase older points. We decided not to do resale since we enjoy staying at the higher level hotels. So if we can purchase more points from Disney from a more moderate category, we can add those to our home base of Polynesian? Thank you all so much!!!

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.

Well the food and alcoholic drinks are not a factor in my opinion because no matter what vacation I take in the world I will be buying food and hopefully having a nice drink or two. Also, we pay maintenance but we also don't pay taxes on the resort as one would pay when staying at hotels. As as owners have a certain tax ride off. I understand you discussing the negatives except not all the negatives you post are accurate.

i just attended the presentation..im huge disney fan to sell disney to me not hard..but im am debating availability ..im very last minute, spear moment person. i got quoted 200 pionts plus additonal 200 bonus for 25000- on 5 or 10 yr..with 2% down.. im was already inplans trying to go either auliani or florida.. soo week with out been member would cost me at least 1250 just hotel.. plus admission, plus aire fare..im really thinking of putting down payment.. or does anyone know how to buuy someone else time share or contract?

We purchased 50 points and got an extra 50 points...our is to vacation 5 nights...Im truly glad we did it....we can travel international through RCI which us one of, if not the highest ranking time share...would not change a thing plus I put down 20 percent and our annual dues is $25/mo

Are you able to buy, for example, 250 points at a "home" resort, and then later purchase more points at a different resort to potentially have two "home" resorts? And if so, i'm assuming you can book 11 months out using ALL of your collectively purchased points? And can you mix/match the points you buy directly from DVC vs resale? Thanks in advance :)

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