If you’re considering membership in the Disney Vacation Club, you should know that there are benefits beyond the “free” Disney resort stays. The Walt Disney Company tries to reward DVC members as much as possible while simultaneously enticing their most loyal customers to visit more often. As a result, there are several different ways that DVC members receive special privileges beyond what a regular Disney park guest would get. Here are seven of the best Walt Disney World-related perks of DVC membership.
1. Ticket Discounts
These discounts are a bit of a moving target, as they are never guaranteed yet there is a significant offer virtually every year. Even when there’s not, DVC members earn savings on annual and premium annual passes. How big are the discounts? The answer is sometimes a little and sometimes a lot.
For 2014, a Disney Premium Annual Pass cost only $484, a savings of $245 from its standard price at the time. Once that deal ended, DVC members still received $105 off the normal price for such a pass. Late last year, Disney provided an additional offer to their DVC clientele. They could buy a four-day ticket to visit one Disney theme park a day for $199, savings of roughly $100 from standard cost.
When no special deals exist, the standard offer for DVC members is still great. They receive what is currently a $779 Premium Annual Pass for only $649, and that total drops to $549 for renewals. Disney’s business practice here is simple. The more they can entice DVC members to visit, the more revenue they earn since the profit margin on park visits is so high. Since DVC members love the parks, it’s a win-win offer in terms of supply matching demand.
2. Pool Hopping
At Walt Disney World, there are currently nine different resorts participating in the Disney Vacation Club program. Several of them are interchangeable with regards to DVC membership. If you don’t like the pool where you’re currently staying or simply want a change of pace after a few visits, you have the option to go to one of the other deluxe pools.
Note that there are a few exclusions. Pool hopping is not allowed at Bay Lake Tower (although it is oddly okay at The Contemporary), Polynesian Villas, Beach Club Villas, and Kidani’s Uzima Pool. Since most resorts have a couple of pools, that still leaves DVC members with about a dozen extra pool options that non-DVC Disney guests cannot enjoy. The other primary exclusion is that holiday blackout dates apply due to maximum occupancy at the resorts. If you’re interested in pool hopping during a holiday period, simply ask the front desk if it’s currently allowed.
3. Room, Meal, and Shopping Discounts
The room discount aspect probably bakes your noodle. After all, the entire point of DVC is that you pay for membership in exchange for “free” annual hotel stays. The trick is that you may sometimes feel the urge to visit when you’re either out of points or the preferred resort lacks DVC availability. In these instances, Disney Vacation Club members are entitled to a 25% cash discount for their room. Once again, Disney wants to do everything possible to incentivize loyal customers to visit.
Once people arrive at the parks, they are rewarded with another discount. All Disney owned and operated merchant locations offer 10 percent savings for DVC members. This really adds up quickly if you’re like me and buy a lot of vacation mementos as well as snacks at the resort gift shops.
From a financial perspective, however, the largest savings probably comes from your meals. DVC membership includes 10-20 percent discounts at approximately 60 Disney theme park and resort restaurants. There is a skew toward table service meals, but several quick service restaurants participate as well.