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The Complete Newbie's Guide to DVC

A DVC hotel stay

Image: DisneyYou’re probably wondering what’s different about a DVC hotel stay as opposed to a regular one. The honest answer is, “not much.” I’ll start with the one oddity of a DVC reservation. You won’t get trash service or room cleaning each day. Why? While Disney is unwilling to describe DVC as a timeshare service, it’s modeled after that style of vacation. We’re talking about a business model predicated on extended stays. Timeshare companies don’t want to pay extra cleaning fees, so they limit such services.

Disney’s quite generous compared to major timeshares. They provide room cleaning and trash pickup every fourth day. The only inconvenience involves towels. Large families may run low and be forced to re-use towels. Anyone who does that at home anyway won’t care. For some, it is a trifle annoying, and I fall into this camp.  You do have the right to pay for an extra room cleaning and/or trash pickup for a modest fee.

Image: DisneyBeyond the towel and trash situation, your hotel stay is identical to one that you booked as a regular Disney guest. You’ll get your Magic Bands in the mail, you’ll have access to Magical Express, and you can skip the hotel lobby if so inclined. Your Magic Bands will unlock your room and already have your payment method tethered to them.

In fact, the positives of a DVC stay outweigh the negatives around the cleaning service. DVC rooms are significantly larger than standard hotel rooms. Even the “smallest” DVC studios are 339 square feet. The most generous design of Moderate Tier resorts, Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter, is 314 square feet. A studio at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort maxes out at 465 square feet. It’s 48 percent larger than the most expansive Moderate hotel room. That space gives you a chance to stretch out and relax a lot more.

DVC studios also come standard with kitchenette features. They have microwaves, coffeemakers, toasters, dishwashers, kitchen sinks, glasses, and plate ware. DVC one-bedroom villas come standard with a full kitchen. An oven, refrigerator, and stove are all available. When you book one of these rooms, you can theoretically save money by cooking meals yourself…although I suspect this is more of an urban legend rather than something a lot of people do.

Image: DisneyAll other parts of your DVC hotel stay are similar but superior to a regular Disney visit. You’ll get all of the phenomenal amenities, but they’ll be a bit better. Disney has crafted its Deluxe Tier resort features to justify charging significantly more to stay there. You’ll get all of the benefits without the extravagant nightly costs.

The cheapest Deluxe Tier rooms start at $375, with most costing $500 or more nightly. For a six-night stay, you’re looking at a cost of $2,000 (plus tax) or higher, usually north of $3,000. A DVC room has no sales tax since you’re paying with points. The only cost is your contract purchase plus your annual maintenance fees. Don’t get me wrong. It’s still a lot of money, but the value is certainly there as well.

Image: DisneyYou can research the three phases mentioned here – getting points, booking rooms, and DVC hotel stays – to decide whether it’s right for you. On a personal level, what I regularly recommend to friends is that they rent points the first trip. It’s a kind of trial run to see whether the DVC lifestyle works for them. If/when they love it, I then explain the pros and cons of direct/resales purchase and let them decide for themselves. The one thing that I can say with confidence about a DVC hotel stay is that it’s a marvelous home base during a vacation. 

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