Disney!

So, I know that many of you out there are parents and where do children love to go more than most other places on earth? Disney World! Our family goes about every 18 – 24 months for about a week at a time and we have a blast and enjoy new experiences with each visit. I, by no means, am a Disney expert. But my sister is. In fact, I think she’s a fanatic. So, I’ve asked her to write a guest post on the best way to use Disney Vacation Club points to your advantage to maximize your experience but to minimize your cost. Enjoy!

Our family’s love of Disney began when we were children, but became an important part of our lives almost 12 years ago when we went to Disney World for our honeymoon.  Ever since, we have been going to Disney World at least once a year.  Over time, we have worked hard to make these vacations affordable for our family.  We have stayed off-site, rented a car, stayed at value/moderate/deluxe resorts, flown from cheaper airports, used Disney package deals such as Free Dining, etc.  We have even worked on saving money on food by packing snacks and drinks in our luggage and figuring out where to get the most bang for our buck at the table and counter service restaurants.  But the best decision we made for our family knowing we wanted to visit Disney every year, was becoming a Disney Vacation Club member.

Disney Vacation Club (DVC) is Disney’s version of a timeshare. Unlike other timeshares where you purchase a week to use every year, with DVC, you purchase a set number of points to receive each year.  The DVC resorts at Disney World are considered Deluxe resorts and are:  Animal Kingdom Lodge, Beach Club, Boardwalk, Contemporary, Old Key West, Saratoga Springs and Wilderness Lodge.  They also have DVC resorts at Disneyland, Hawaii, Vero Beach, and Hilton Head. When you buy into DVC, you purchase a set number of points at one of the DVC resorts which gives you the ability to book rooms up to 11 months out at your home resort.  You can also use your points at any DVC resort at 7 months out.

We purchased 125 points at the Boardwalk because we LOVE the location and resort, but more importantly, the Boardwalk point chart has what are considered “Standard” rooms which will allow your points to go further.  The Boardwalk also has “Preferred” rooms which are Boardwalk View or Pool/Garden View.

As an example, we are using 91 points for a studio room over Thanksgiving this year.  A week in early December will cost just 76 points in a standard view studio.   See the point chart below.  You will see that the number of points required vary based on the time of year you want to go and type of room you want to stay in.  We used to stay in 1-bedrooms when the kids were younger.  It had a separate bedroom which allowed them to nap while were able to be in the living room and kitchen without disturbing them.  The one and two-bedroom units also have a washer/dryer which is always wonderful when on vacation!

Garden View at the Boardwalk!

The cost of purchasing DVC points is very reasonable now.  To purchase points through Disney, you will pay at least twice as much as you will through a resale broker.  Below is an example of a listing currently available.

This listing is for Saratoga Springs and if the seller gets what they would like, you’d purchase 125 points/year (deposited into your account in September) for $7500.  I would say that paying somewhere between $50 and $55/points is more in line with where the market is currently.  The resale company also will charge a closing fee which is right around $500.  So for under $7000, you could purchase this contract and receive 125 points per year until 2054 when the contract expires.  As with most timeshares, there is a yearly maintenance fee for each DVC resort.  The 2012 fee for Saratoga Springs is $4.74/point.  So that cost is almost $600 for the year.  Disney allows this fee to be automatically deducted (no interest) each month, so it would be $50/month.

To see if this may be a good value for your family, consider your vacation styles.  If you stay at a value resort every 2 or 3 years and are content with that, DVC would not be for you.  But for someone who enjoys staying on-site and plans to visit every year or every other year, you will likely save money in the end by pre-paying for your vacations.

Let’s do a comparison.  Let’s say you want to stay for a week at the Boardwalk in early November.  That would cost 108 points and $512 for maintenance fees for a standard view studio.  And you would have 17 points remaining which can be used for another stay or banked into next year for use at a later date.  As a realistic comparison, let’s say in early November, Disney was offering 30% off Deluxe resorts.  The price through Disney for that same room would be $2122 with the 30% discount.

For anyone considering this, I would recommend renting points from a DVC member who has extra points they are trying to get rid of for that year.  You can do this by going to Disboards.com.  Scroll down to the Disney Vacation Club boards and create a login account.  Once you create a login, you can see the board where people are renting their points on the Rent/Trade board.  Generally people rent their points for $10-$12/point.  So in the example above, you would pay $1296 (at $12/point) for 108 points as opposed to Disney’s discounted price of $2122.  There is a slight risk in renting points from someone you don’t know.  Most sellers have a contract that you sign and they provide you your confirmation number quickly to allow you to confirm your reservation.  I have rented points numerous times and have never had a problem.

Another option is to go through dvcrequest.com.  He charges $13/point for making reservations and is basically a middle man between the seller and renter so both parties don’t have to put in the leg work.  I have heard good things about his service, so this may be for you as well.

There is a lot of value to be had by buying into DVC if you are willing to prepay for your Disney vacation accommodations.  After being a member for over 5 years, I can say that we are thrilled we made this purchase and look forward to visiting Disney into our retirement years!

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