The introduction of Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort into the Disney Vacation Club family creates a problem for potential new members. While you can stay at all DVC properties over the course of your various vacations, determining your home property is still a crucial decision for a member.
Your home resort will be the place you have the easiest time getting a reservation. You can book up to 11 months in advance at your own DVC property, while you must wait until seven months in advance for the various other resorts. In short, you don’t want to make the wrong choice of home resorts, especially not given the sizable financial investment required to join DVC. Here are six key considerations potential customers should make while evaluating the choice of home resorts.
1. Purchase Cost
As Theme Park Tourist recounted a few weeks ago, the price of all DVC properties is on the rise. In fact, Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa and the recently added Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows just experienced price increases of $5 per point for DVC members on February 9th as the latter resort became available for new member purchase. As of now, every onsite DVC property costs a minimum of $135 per point.
Even the off-site facilities at Hilton Head and Vero Beach have a price tag of $110 per point, and you will lose any potential savings at those properties via annual maintenance fees, which are exorbitantly more expensive at these beachfront locales. The explanation for this is that they are more susceptible to hurricanes, so more money must be directed toward safety issues and post-weather event clean-up. Plus, if you are buying into DVC in order to stay at a theme park, it’s risky to buy off-site anyway. For this reason, the focus of this article will be the DVC resorts located at theme parks. Well, theme park. If you are joining DVC for frequent Disneyland access, you (currently) only have the one choice, Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. So, DVC at Walt Disney World is the presumptive topic.
Understand that if you are a prospective new member of DVC buying directly through Disney, you are required to buy at least 100 points. In other words, if you plan to join, the cheapest onsite purchase you can make is $13,500 ($135 per point multiplied by 100 points.) If you choose to own membership at Bay Lake Tower or the Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, those locales have the highest price tag at $170 per point. As such, your initial financial outlay increases to at least $17,000 ($170 per point multiplied by 100 points.) Obviously, where you choose to own will be at least somewhat impacted by how much you are willing to pay per point. Is Old Key West or Saratoga Springs satisfactory enough for your needs that you can save the $35 per point? Read on before choosing.
2. Points Cost
If you have ever researched DVC points charts for a given year, you already understand what this means. Staying at one of the 10 onsite resorts will require an entirely different points cost from another. Let’s examine this through a scenario. I’ll be staying at Walt Disney World the week of May 10th (feel free to say hello if you’re there as well!), and I have the points chart for that week memorized.
Since my wife and I are childless and will be eating out every meal, a studio is fine for our needs. A week at a DVC studio at Walt Disney World in mid-May costs as little as 76 points at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas. At the opposite end of the spectrum, a room with a view at either Grand Floridian or Polynesian would cost 183 points for the same seven days. The median across the nine resorts at Walt Disney World is 120 points.
As you can see, Disney’s finest properties cost a full 50 percent more than the rest at DVC. Keep this in mind when you evaluate purchasing there. You will pay an upcharge twice: once with the membership payment and a second time when you expend more points for a visit. If you travel with a family and need a one-bedroom, please remember to adjust this model to your own needs. Those cost quite a bit more in terms of points; however, they offer the benefit of potentially saving you money on cooking since the in-room kitchens are exceptional. Again, all of your calculations should be predicated upon your personal needs. You may discover that paying more in one way saves you in a different capacity. At the end of the day, the amount of points you own with your DVC membership determines everything else, though. They should be the focus of your decision making.
3. Theme Park Access
Now we can move away from the boring math and economics and get to the fun stuff. If you are visiting Walt Disney World, you will want to visit one of the four theme parks. And let’s be honest about the fact that everybody has a favorite. You know which one yours is, and you should choose your DVC home resort at least partially based on the one you love. If you like Animal Kingdom, pick Animal Kingdom Villas. Boom! You’re done.
The other three parks require a bit more scrutiny. The easiest of them is Hollywood Studios. Boardwalk Villas is ostensibly within walking distance, although it’s a long walk during a vacation where you will do a lot of walking. So, Boardwalk seems like the sensible choice, but it’s not the sole solution. Beach Club Villas is right across the water from Boardwalk, meaning that it is only a few hundred additional steps away from Hollywood Studios. These two resorts are your best bets if it’s your favorite park.
Epcot seems like the answer should be similar. After all, Beach Club provides that glorious back entrance to the theme park. And since Boardwalk is only those same steps away from Beach Club, it too is a viable option. The catch, however, is that a monorail ride will transport you to Epcot, which places all of the Magic Kingdom resorts within easy (albeit sometimes smelly) access of the park.
That brings us to the crux of the issue, which is that The Villas at Disney's Wilderness Lodge used to be the only game in town for DVC members who wanted to own at a property close to Disney. Then, Bay Lake Tower was added, followed by Grand Floridian and now Polynesian. These days, there are a plethora of options for a person who wants to be centrally located near Magic Kingdom and a monorail ride away from Epcot.
Note that the Magic Kingdom properties are a better solution for Epcot guests than the reverse, because Beach Club and Boardwalk require a person to traverse the length of Epcot to reach the monorail to Magic Kingdom. If you want to be the closest possible to Magic Kingdom, however, Bay Lake Tower is the best choice. It is a quick walk across the street from the most popular theme park in the world.