Have you been wondering if the Disney Vacation Club is worth it?
If you are a regular visitor on a Disney vacation, surely you have seen the Disney Vacation Club kiosks. Perhaps you have seen information on the Disney website or even seen a vacation for the DVC Membership. Maybe you have stayed at one of the Disney Vacation Club properties in a hotel room.
If your family loves Walt Disney trips or wishes you could do it more often, a Vacation Club membership might be worth it for you. Whether you are a fan of a Walt Disney World trip or a Disneyland vacation or would like to go on family trips farther afield, the Disney Vacation Club can make these dreams come true.
Our Disney Vacation Club Story
We have belonged to the Disney Vacation Club for over 20 years. And both my parents and my sister have Memberships as well. But like you, before we joined over 20 years ago, we too wondered, “Is the Disney Vacation Club worth it?”
We love our DiVC Membership for many reasons, but one of the biggest is it is a guaranteed family vacation, almost year after year. To put it bluntly, it makes family vacations affordable both to Disney and other destinations.
There are plenty of ways to enjoy the Membership with fantastic properties to stay in, both at the Disney parks and on the beach, but you aren't just limited to Disney! You can stay at any Disney Resort Hotel using your point (provided there is availability), including at Disney theme parks around the world.
But you are wondering if the Disney Vacation Club is worth it for you. So, I'm answering all your questions about the Disney Vacation Club (DVC), so you can decide if a DVC Membership is right for you and your family's vacation goals. This Disney Vacation Club review includes everything you need to make the right decision for your family.
This post contains affiliate links which means I receive a commission at no cost to you should you make a purchase using this link. See my disclosures. Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids
Disney's Wilderness Lodge is our favorite Disney Vacation Club Resort. Photo Credit Bon Voyage With Kids
What Is The Disney Vacation Club
DVC is one of the best timeshare clubs in the world. Unlike traditional timeshares, where you buy into a single property, vacation at the same place, and have locked-in weeks each year, DVC offers so much flexibility.
It's unique because it's a points-style program that allows you to use your points each year on a variety of Disney vacations and destinations outside of Disney through an exchange through Interval International.
After years of millions of people visiting Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL, the Walt Disney Company decided it was time for families to level up their experience. They created the DVC membership back in 1991 with the first DVC property, Old Key West. My parents actually bought into it right around this time.
Today the Disney Vacation Club operates about 15 resorts that have helped thousands of families completely immerse themselves in the Disney experience and save a little money on vacations at Disney and beyond. In addition to the resorts at Walt Disney World and Disneyland, DVC included beach properties like Disney's Vero Beach Resort in Vero Beach, Florida; Disney's Hilton Head Resort in Hilton Head, South Carolina; and Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa.
Want to stay at a Disney Resort Hotel that is NOT a DVC hotel? You certainly can!
In fact, you can use your points to stay at any DisneyResorts Collection hotel, including Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disneyland, and Hong Kong Disneyland.
You can also exchange points to book Disney Cruise Line and Adventures By Disney Vacations, which become much more doable (depending on how many points you have) using your DVC Membership. And, you can exchange your points, to destinations around the world. This has enabled our family to stay in places like Austria, Colorado, and California on non-Disney vacations.
About Disney Vacation Club Resorts
One of the best things about these vacation membership resorts is that, just like any of the Disney hotels, you are immersed in Disney magic. Each one is uniquely themed to transport you to a new destination on Disney property (with the exception of the three beach properties.)
And each one at the Disney Vacation Club Resorts is centrally located with access to nearby parks – some within walking distance. Our family loves Disney's Beach Club Villas and Disney's BoardWalk Villas for their themes and proximity to Disney's Hollywood Studios and EPCOT. In fact, you can walk or ride a boat to these destinations.
We also love Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort as it is also centrally located and near Disney Springs, the exquisite dining and shopping area. Disney's Saratoga Springs is a bit more spread out and often has more rooms available.
But you might be thinking, “I can get that at any Disney Resort Hotel, so how is Disney Vacation Club worth it?” Well, convenience aside, you are staying in Disney Deluxe resort hotels, which can cost between $500-800 per night. If you're a member of the club, your points cover that cost for DVC members.
This past year, we didn't have enough points, so we paid cash for our rooms. I can say from personal experience that our Disney Vacation Club Membership saves us thousands of dollars on our accommodations, not to mention the discounts and money saved on food from having a kitchen or kitchenette.
DVC properties and resorts include:
- Bay Lake Tower at Disney's Contemporary Resort
- Aulani, Disney Vacation Club Villas, Ko Olina, Hawaii
- Disney's Riviera Resort (the newest DVC resort)
- Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney's Wilderness Lodge
- Disney's Vero Beach Resort
- Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney's Wilderness Lodge
- Disney's Old Key West Resort
- Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House
- Disney's Beach Club Villas
- Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village
- Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort in South Carolina
- Disney's BoardWalk Villas
- Disney's Polynesian Villas and Bungalows
- Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort
- Disney's Grand Floridian Resort Villas
- Disney's Grand Californian Hotel Villas
DVC Aulani is one of our favorite Disney Vacation Club destinations, as we love Hawaii. We've taken several Disney vacations there.
Amenities at Disney Vacation Club Resorts
Most of the vacation club resorts offer wonderful amenities ideal for families. From kitchens or kitchenettes to laundry (in the unit or in the hotel), plates, cups, utensils, microwaves, and dishwashers, it makes your stay comfortable and even more affordable.
And honestly, when someone asks me, “Is the Disney Vacation Club worth it?” this is one of the FIRST things I tell them!
Being able to bring our own road trip food and snacks and do laundry saves us money, as we can dine in the room at least for breakfast. You will also find Disney movies playing in the lobby and sometimes at night on the big screen, which keeps kids entertained.
But we also bring travel games to play at the resorts or on the road.
The Vacation Club Resorts often have community rooms as well, with crafts and educational activities scheduled throughout the day, organized poolside activities, restaurants, sundry shops, and exclusive “pool hopping” access. Meaning you can visit other DVC Resort Pools (hello, the sand-bottom pool at Disney's Beach Club!)
Why the Disney Vacation Club?
One of our favorite things about DVC is the freedom and flexibility to book a variety of unique vacations, like a Disney Cruise or a trip to a Disney location that offers different experiences. Using your points at one of the vacation membership resorts will be the most “bang for your buck”, especially at certain times of the year. This can leave you room to plan more than one vacation in a year or one year after a year.
If we want to take a traditional Disney trip this year and book a Disney Cruise next year, you can, again, depending on how many points you have.
Disney Vacation Club Members also like that you determine how many points you'll need each year for your family size. You can decide how often you want to travel and where you want to stay.
You can also save money by purchasing points on the resale market. DVC points retain their value and sell quickly on the market if you can't use them for one year. And you also get exclusive member discounts, event access, and early access to buy tickets to events. You'll just want to see where resale points after a certain date can be used, as there are some resale DVC points restrictions.
Plus, you can't beat the proximity to the parks and complimentary transportation by monorail, boat, gondola, or shuttle.
A note about costs
I want to point out that this vacation ownership program's cost to purchase points can get expensive upfront, depending on the type of vacations you hope to take and the Vacation Points you initially purchase. That said, typically, it is a money saver when you think about the cost savings overall over the years, assuming you use it.
And while you can use it for non-Disney vacations, the Disney Vacation Club Resorts are the best use of your Vacation Points. So if you don't plan to vacation at Disney often, it may not be as beneficial to you. The club cost is why I wanted to write this post and help you decide if it is right for your family's needs.
How Does the Walt Disney Vacation Club Work?
It's easy to unlock the magic of a Vacation Club Membership. First, you become a member by purchasing a real estate interest right from the Disney Vacation Club.
Each year, Disney Vacation Club owners get to use their yearly DVC points allotment at the Walt Disney World Resort. DVC points can also be used at other Disney vacation membership resorts or for a cruise (we love Disney Cruises). You can even use your points at one of the thousands of other vacation destinations all over the world.
These vacation club resorts have amazing amenities, large and luxurious accommodations, and world-class service, no matter which DVC resort you choose.
Then, once you're a DVC member, you simply use your Vacation Points for vacations each year. Don't have enough? You can roll over leftover points from the previous year, and borrow ahead, to get more points for a vacation if you need it. It will leave you fewer points (and there are rules around this) for your next vacation. But for a big trip, say on one of the Disney Adventures, it can give you what you need for that dream vacation.
You can calculate how many points are right for your family here.
How Does Disney Vacation Club Save Me Money?
While a Disney Vacation Club purchase can be expensive up front, you can save 40 to 70 percent on hotel and resort accommodations. Overall, it will save money over the course of your Membership if you regularly take vacations, which is ideal for family travel on a budget. And these are some of the best Disney Resort Hotels, villas, and more.
And, personally, we feel that our DVC points paid for themselves in the first 2-3 years when you calculate the cost of using cash for the same vacations.
So, your DVC points allow you to lock into future vacation years down the road at today's prices. And that saves you even more money on booking a stay at the participating Disney property of your choice.
We have saved $500 to $1000 a night (or more) on a villa that would have cost us much more if we booked it outside the Disney Vacation Club (see my example above). That alone makes the DVC Membership worth it for us.
But if you're not going to take a regular family vacation, the membership resort savings may not be worth the price you pay for the club membership. So just keep that in mind. If you take vacations to a Disney property often, then this vacation membership may be perfect for you.
One final note is if you are the type of person who “forgets” or gets too busy to squeeze in a vacation, the Disney Vacation Club Membership kind of forces you to take a vacation (not bad, right?) Because you have already paid for these points, and at some point in the calendar after a period of time, they become “use or lose”. So we choose “use,” which squeezes in an extra trip.
The DVC Points System
Since Walt Disney World is one of our favorite vacation destinations, we love the Disney Vacation Club Points system. Vacation Club owners have the flexibility to book the DVC properties they want, and there are no block-out dates which is nice.
The Vacation Point system is simple. Each year, you get your yearly DVC points allotment and use them to book your Walt Disney World vacation accommodations. You can also enjoy having the flexibility to choose how often, when, and where you vacation.
There is a chart to show you the “Vacation Point Cost” for the resort, which will change depending on the time of year. Some of the most affordable places to use the points are at the Vacation Club resorts on the theme park property, as well as the Vero Beach Disney resort and Disney Hilton Head Resort in the off-season.
We went to Disney's Vero Beach Resort in January, and it was glorious (and cost us very few points.)
You can also bank unused vacation points for the next year's vacation. And if you don't have enough points this year for the special vacation you want to take, you can borrow next year's DVC Vacation Points for this year. Just note there are some dates and restrictions to be mindful of when borrowing and banking.
And I love that you can take multiple vacations each year depending on the number of points you buy and how you use them, so keep this in mind when purchasing your DVC Membership points.
A Few Tips on the DVC Point System:
- Studios are the best use of your points, but they book quickly and typically accommodate only 4 people. Some of the Resorts have “Deluxe Studios,” which can accommodate 5 people. We have done this and booked a one-bedroom in the past to accommodate our family of 5.
- You don't have to use all of your points on a reservation. If you go during a less expensive time of year, you can have points left over to roll over or book another trip. See the next point.
- If you have leftover points or don't use all your points that year, can “bank” them and use them the next year. But, once you bank them, they become “use or lose” in your next Membership year (the date from which you purchased to the date a year later.)
- You can borrow points ahead from the next year if you need additional points. If you have a really big trip, you can both take rollover points and the current year's points and borrow ahead to get enough for a bigger trip that might be more expensive (like a Disney cruise vacation or a Disney Adventure vacation.)
- It is not difficult to borrow, bank, use, or exchange. Some people have asked, “Is the Disney Vacation Club worth it if it is complex or confusing to manage?” But Disney makes it really easy to navigate, and they have a call center of really helpful Cast Members who can help you maximize your membership to the Disney Vacation Club.
The price per point depends on the DVC resort you buy points for, and this is considered your home resort. Your home resort is the one you own a real estate interest in, and that interest is represented by your vacation points.
How many annual points you need to stay at Disney's Riviera Resort will differ from Bay Lake Tower, which will differ from Old Key West Resort. That's because each resort, like Bay Lake Tower, Disney's Grand Floridian Resort, Old Key West Resort, Disney's Grand Californian Hotel, and Disney's Riviera Resort, is very different.
One of the other perks you get with your DVC Membership is DVC Members get priority booking at their home resort. So, if you love the resort you sign up with, you won't have issues getting time there. I would suggest you choose a Disney property that you love for your home resort.
My parents have purchased numerous additional points over the years. So they are lucky enough to have three home resorts to choose from!
Your booking window is different for your home resort and other resorts. The booking window for your home resort is 11 months prior to your check-in date and 7 months for other DVC Resorts.
And the booking window is 11 months before your check-in date at the following Disney Resort Hotel Exchange locations:
- Disneyland Resort
- Walt Disney World Resort
- Disneyland Paris
- Tokyo Disney
- Hong Kong Disneyland
One downside to the DVC Membership is it can be more difficult to book stays at other resorts. So, just keep that in mind if you want to stay someplace new each year. The Club may not be the right fit in this case.
Though with careful planning, DVC Members can likely book accommodations at any Disney World Resort they want to.
Is Walt Disney the Only Place to Use Your Points?
No, there are several Vacation Club Resorts, Disney Resort Hotels, and other Disney Destinations where you can use your Vacation Club points. And there are thousands of other resorts around the world through the exchange program Interval International. Our family has used our points to exchange for a European adventure in Vienna, Austria; ski trips in Breckenridge, Colorado; and a Hollywood sun, surf, and stars vacation in Santa Monica, California.
We have also used the exchange to go on Disney Cruise Line, stays at Disneyland Paris, and my parents have used theirs to go on Adventures by Disney excursions to Peru.
Here's a sampling of vacations for which you could exchange your Disney Vacation Club Points:
- Brighton Tokyo Bay
- Nine Zero Hotel Boston, MA
- Thompson Central Park, New York, BY
- Hyatt Regency Maui Resort
- Alaska Disney Cruise Line
- Bermuda Disney Cruise
- Canada and New England Coast Disney cruises
- Arctic Expedition Cruise by Adventures by Disney
- Amazon Escape By Adventures by Disney
- Egypt Private Adventures by Adventures by Disney
- Ireland by Adventures by Disney
- Alaska: Denali to Kenai Fjords Expedition by Nat Geo Expeditions
- Danube Christmas Markets River Cruise by Nat Geo Expeditions
- Peru Private Expedition by Nat Geo Expeditions
Just to name a few!
What Are Other Perks To Owning Disney Vacation Club Membership
The perks don't end with affordable accommodations; you get other incredible benefits too.
Perks for the Walt Disney World Vacation Club – Special Invitations
You get early access to events and experiences and get discount tickets for them. There are also DVC-only events after hours for DVC Members visiting Walt Disney World.
One of our favorites is Moonlight Magic, which means you get special access to the parks AFTER HOURS. Not only do you get access to a special celebration, you'll also have shorter wait times for attractions, Disney character sightings, and entertainment.
You'll also get free snacks and drinks during these events. And there are special Member Lounges for Disney timeshare owners when you visit Walt Disney World.
DVC Members will also get freebies sent to their homes throughout the year or trips to the parks.
As a DVC member, you receive discounts on dining and shopping at select Disney restaurants and shops. And you receive discounts on tickets for rentals and activities, including (my personal favorite) Disney Waterparks tickets! These Member Exclusives and benefits can change, but typically there are so many that it really ensures your vacation has that extra dose of pixie dust!
Members can save on annual passes too. And, you get invitations and savings for exclusive events like Member Cruises and Adventures by Disney select offerings.
One of the best perks is you have a guaranteed vacation to Disney Parks each year. And they offer planning services which can be very helpful.
Also, DVC members can take a private DVC Member Cruise with exclusive access to Disney Imagineers, Artists, and Voice Over Artists.
Just beware, there are some blockout dates for Membership Extras and benefits.
What Are The Costs Involved?
Costs are some of the most significant factors to actually answer, “Is Disney Vacation Club Worth It?” Disney requires a 10 percent down payment for the DVC Membership. It's just like purchasing a car or home – this is your vacation home.
Then you will have a certain amount of time to pay the remainder. You can finance the rest of your cost, but Disney recommends paying for your membership upfront or using a credit card.
Disney Vacation Club Cost Calculator Example
|Points Purchased||Cost Per Point||Closing Costs||Annual Dues||Total Cost|
|150 Points||$207 Per Point x No. of Points Purchased||Starts at $629||Starts at $88 Per Year||$31, 679 + annual dues|
The website says financial payments start a $434 a month for a 10-year loan at the time I'm writing this in July 2022. Disney Vacation Club members will also pay annual dues and closing costs.
DVC Members will still also need to consider the cost of food and shopping, park tickets, and travel when planning their vacations. Plus, there may be some resort fees if you want to stay at a property other than DVC hotels and resorts.
That said, the savings is in the OVERALL COSTS over the length of your Membership. And in our experience, our DVC Membership paid for itself within the first two to three years.
How Many Points Do You Need?
This will depend on your vacation goals. To put it in perspective, we have 220 Vacation Points. That gets us one one-week stay a year at Walt Disney World Resort or one of the DVC Hotels, and depending on the time of year, can sometimes be a week + leftover points.
With the chart above, at 150 points, you could stay in a Deluxe Studio at Disney's Riveria Resort at different times of the year. Whether you have the best view or not will depend on the time of year, you want to go. Off-season, you could easily get a great view and have points left over. In the high season, you may have to use rolled-over points or borrow ahead to get the room you want.
To summarize, when you go and where you stay, plus the type of room you want impacts how many points you might need. My parents can easily stay in a Studio, while we need a Deluxe Resort Studio or a one-bedroom.
Keep in mind that with the discounts that come with your Disney Vacation Club Membership, as well as savings on your own vacation food you can enjoy in your room with the kitchenettes in the DVC Villas, you could save money on your vacation, even if the initial outlaying of money seems like a lot. You are essentially paying for vacations in advance but at a significant discount.
Who Should NOT Buy Into Disney Vacation Club?
A DVC Membership might not be worth it for the following people.
- Value Resort Guests likely won't save as much money with this timeshare program as the people who like to stay at more luxurious accommodations at Disney Resorts. But you will get to stay at some of the best lodgings Disney has to offer.
- Also, if you only plan to visit Walt Disney World once or twice in your lifetime, or don't like to vacation annually, then the DVC cost might not be worth it.
- If you don't plan on owning a Membership for more than a few years, a DVC purchase probably won't be worth it for you.
- Disney Cruise lovers may not get the most out of one of these memberships if they don't like a vacation to Walt Disney World, Disneyland Resort, or any of the DVC membership resorts as much.
Who Should Buy Into The Disney Vacation Club
Regular Walt Disney visitors should definitely consider buying a DVC contract, as you can save money on some incredible resorts.
Large families that like to visit Hawaii or Disney can save with a Vacation Club Membership. The club offers a variety of hotel room sizes that are more affordable than renting several rooms at traditional hotels.
If you're someone who loves a great deal, especially when it comes to Disney, then you'll love how much you can save with this Disney membership club. The nice thing is that even if you don't go every year, you can rent out your club points and make money.
People who like to budget for vacation will also love being a member of the Disney Vacation Club because the Membership does that for you. Are you someone that has to be forced to take time off? The DVC Membership does that as well, as your points become “use or lose” at some point, so it definitely helps you make room for that vacation.
Where To Purchase Disney Vacation Club (and How You Can Save Money)
There are two main ways to buy into the DVC. You can either purchase directly through the DVC site or buy resale points from someone selling theirs.
Now the best way to save vacation money is to purchase from a DVC reseller. You can save thousands, yes, thousands of dollars on points.
But one thing to note is that if you buy DVC points from a reseller, you won't have access to some of the Membership Extras and benefits, and you don't get your official DVC Member Card. You will essentially get just the Vacation Points to book at the DVC membership resorts.
So, you should price out how that would work for your budget and if, in the end, buying directly from Disney Vacation Development is worth it to get your official Membership Card.
For instance, you could spend $207 a point at the Riviera Resort for a total of 175 points needed for a vacation for a small family. Even if you could get it a little cheaper for $170-180 a point, you would save $4,725 to $6,475. But you may lose the annual pass discount and other Member Exclusives and benefits, discounts, and perks, but you could save a lot of money if you don't plan to use them.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it worth it to be a DVC Member?
Yes, it is worth being a DVC Member if you plan on visiting Disney often, are trying to do vacations on a budget, or love a good deal. It’s also worth it if you have a large family and like visiting Hawaii or Disney.
Our family has taken so many vacations that otherwise wouldn't have been affordable had it not been for the DVC Membership. My parents have taken cruises to the Panama Canal, the Caribbean, and Alaska using their membership points.
They have taken Adventures by Disney vacations to Peru using their Vacation Club points. And that doesn't include numerous multigenerational family vacations we have enjoyed together using points. It truly does help your vacation dreams come true, year after year.
When I am asked, “Is a DVC Membership worth it?” My answer is it makes family vacations affordable to Disney and beyond. If you like to travel at least once a year to Disney or other locations, it is worth it and one you should consider as a way to guarantee affordable vacations, year after year.
Can I rent points?
If you are flexible on resort choices and vacation dates, renting DVC Points may be the perfect option for you.
Is Disney Vacation Club like a timeshare?
The DVC is essentially a timeshare that works on a point system, so you can stay in more locations. While a traditional timeshare is one property that you visit each year.
DVC is a timeshare program where you own an interest in a specific DVC Resort like Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort. But, you don't have to only stay there. You do, however, get to book your “home resort” 11 months in advance, while you can only book other DVC membership Resorts 7 months in advance. So availability may be tricky, but other than that, you can stay where you like if you have enough vacation points for it.
With a traditional timeshare, you pay annual maintenance fees and can visit at preset times for one or two weeks each year. While with a vacation club, you pay a membership fee upfront to join, plus closing costs and then annual dues each year thereafter.
You can always add more points later if you discover you can use more.
What are the benefits of being a Disney Vacation Club Member?
You get many Member Exclusives and benefits, like discounts on events, experiences, dining, tours, special event tickets, activities, shopping, and DVC-only Events. Also included are vacation and Member perks like free drinks, snacks, and Member Lounges at certain Disney properties.
Does DVC make sense financially? Is Disney Vacation Club a good investment?
Yes, purchasing one of these memberships is a rational option that is a good investment for some people who plan to stay at more upscale Disney properties regularly.
Final Thoughts on Is Disney Vacation Club Worth It?
I hope this Disney Vacation Club review helped you decide if joining the DVC is worth it. Since we visit Disney often, it made sense for us to purchase a DVC contract to get a discount on accommodations.
We also love that we can stay at different properties each year or even go on a Disney Cruise instead of a traditional Disney trip. For us, joining Disney Vacation Club was one of the smartest vacation decisions we've ever made.
As long as you carefully weigh your options and make a decision based on your family's needs, choosing to invest in future Disney trips is a good investment. It’s also financially sound.