DVC, Opinions and Commentary, Walt Disney World

Disney Vacation Club | The Truth

Yep, We Own a Timeshare. Yep, it’s with Disney.

My husband and I had a (rescheduled) quick getaway at Walt Disney World. Like most people around the globe, we’ve had more than a couple of things cancelled or changed around without our consent. By no means was this little trip the most exciting of those cancelled experiences; my husband was supposed to dive the Great Barrier Reef in January, take one of our sons deep sea fishing and then to see his hero hockey player play from a few rows up. Plus, take another son on a Scout diving trip for a week…the list is long, guys. But we all have our health and we’ve had plenty of quality time at home with our 5 kids. So, did I mention that we had a getaway planned? We were supposed to go experience resorts via our new-to-us Disney Vacation Club membership in May, and we’ve since rescheduled for fall. Thrice.

So, a timeshare. I absolutely understand that the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) is a timeshare. I truly don’t understand how other people can think it is not, but they’re out there, in denial; some are even owners. The amount of research I did prior to even truly considering this endeavor is staggering. I’d heard about DVC for years, and asked questions from the sales reps in the parks, and even took a couple of tours. Those were essentially gigantic shit shows.

Trying to Sell Us on the Idea

While staying at Paradise Pier Hotel at Disneyland Resort, I worked with a sales rep to schedule a tour, even though it was a MO5KC trip, so no husbands. Probably the most absurd result was that my guide physically could not be convinced that I had 5 children, who would eventually grow up and need to actually have a bed. My tour consisted of a studio space, and the explanation that “the other rooms could be bigger, and look, here’s a murphy bed!”. It was easy to walk away. Luckily, I was armed with another piece of the puzzle each time I talked with someone.

As a family, we took a tour of the Copper Creek Villas on a trip to Walt Disney World. While it was nice to directly ask a few more questions, not all of them were answered, and that was a turn off for my husband. That was frustrating since my research led us to have very specific questions, mainly about costs over time. The upside was that we were able to explore a 2 bedroom villa in person. I explicitly said this was the only way we’d take the tour, if they show us a 2 bedroom. I literally didn’t care about the smaller rooms.

Why Change?

Let me be clear, we were 100% a Pop Century family who branched out the one time we splurged on AoA because it was HUGE to us, and had “so much space.” Purchasing DVC means our family can use the points to book a deluxe villa for our trips, and have a much more spacious area to come back to after the crazy parks. As I’ve mentioned, the best space for our family size is a 2 bedroom villa. They can sleep 8-9 people with 2 or 3 full bathrooms, depending on what resort we choose for that trip. This size villa has a full kitchen, dining area, and even a laundry room–IN THE UNIT. I swear that’s what sold my husband. We always make our own food to bring into the parks, and we always do laundry on trips. This way we can bring like 2 suitcases (not 15), for 7 people, for a week. We can throw laundry in when we go to the parks, or dry it overnight, or whatever; no more waiting up for communal washers and dryers after a long hot park day.

We purchased enough DVC points to go for a week each year in a 2 bedroom villa, but our plan was actually to rent out the points on the years we don’t vacation at Disney (as a family, that is. We all know I’ll still be going without the rest of them). This will actually allow us to cover 2 years’ worth of maintenance fees that are due annually, and cover the tax implications of renting the points. In the first year that we owned these points, we rented them out, because we had already taken a different family trip for 2020 and didn’t plan to hit the parks with the kids until January 2021.

Buying a DVC Contract

DVC contracts can be purchased directly through Disney, or through a resale broker. Sometimes, a direct purchase can seem like it comes with enough “membership benefits” to make this worthwhile. These can include purchasing a Gold Annual Pass (without being a FL resident), or access to an exclusive lounge in EPCOT, or discounts on certain things on property, etc. This entire process is numbers, guys. The “perks” from a direct purchase are never guaranteed/can change any time, and 2020 has definitely made sure to screw over anything it possibly can. I’ve seen some of those benefits go the hell away really fast. Please, never never buy for those benefits alone. This is so true that even the DVC sales reps will tell you this! I’m sure there are people out there who can squeeze enough out of the perks to offset some of the cost of a direct purchase. There is no chance in hell that we would have fit that bill.

{An alternative to purchasing a DVC contract is to use a reputable rental company and rent someone’s points. The owner books the stay for the renters and it will save a considerable amount of cash! We need more flexibility in our trip planning, and renting can be committal, thus we looked at purchasing.}

So to us, the total cost of our contract (while not forgetting we’ll have annual fees), was still a decent deal, and we’d be staying at resorts we would NEVER go to otherwise. The retail rate for one of the least expensive 2 bedroom villas on property is over $1000 per NIGHT (before tax). This is literally just the cost for the room. That’s making a family trip for a week (even without doing parks daily) over $10K. Nooope! When we did our “fancy” AoA room, it was probably a third of this cost, and that was using the biggest discount possible, with my annual pass. If we paid this crazy high room rate, we’d never be taking more than one trip, ever. But since my family obviously loves to go more often, the cost simply makes sense. The easiest way to explain it for us was that we just prepaid for our accommodations for the next 40 years, if that’s how long we want to own this timeshare.

I researched on message boards, in social media groups, and asked everyone I knew who knew anything about DVC. I had a billion questions *Editor’s Note – it was closer to a trillion*. I researched the resale brokers, and the rental companies. I wanted to know how “worth it” it would be if we rented out our points, and how that structure works. (Essentially, the cost to rent the points as the ones traveling is MUCH lower than paying cash at Disney, while the amount paid to an owner to rent the points out is also a really solid deal.) Utilizing the resale shops is 100% the way to go if you are like us and the “added perks” make no monetary sense. Again, a numbers game.

I’m going to do a name drop or two, and a huge shout out, with links. I think anyone who knows me and/or reads my articles knows I’m not mincing words, so know that me recommending a person or company is huge and truly how I feel. My family used the DVC Resale Market when we bought our contract. I worked with Derek DeBoer (and occasionally Marissa Vallotton) for a long time. Like, I bugged the crap out of him for years – plural. I asked rookie questions, I asked stupid shit he’s probably answered a thousand times. I asked smartass questions, and he kept up with every single thing. I’m sure you’re thinking, “well, obviously, he’s trying to sell you something so of course he’d be on top of the situation.” But in all seriousness, my husband and I would throw such random crap at him and he’d be witty and informational right back, but never once was he pushy.

Everyone at DVC Resale Market is a prior cast member with Disney Vacation Club experience, as well, so I liked getting the real-deal information when I had questions. I promise I’m not getting any kind of kickback, or even like a hat or a pin to compliment this company. I’ve often told people, I sound like a damn commercial for Disney anyway, and now sometimes for DVC. But, I absolutely sound like a commercial for Derek because I’m gonna recommend the hell out of someone who makes my life easier.

In our case, buying a contract through DVC Resale Market instead of directly through Disney, saved something stupid like 40%THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS LESS. We found a few contracts that seemed like they were right for us and we’d start digging in, then realize, nope! Finally we found the perfect alignment for the Disney Rubik’s Cube that is DVC, and pulled the trigger. The resale process is a lengthy one, but the couple of months of waiting was absolutely worth the money.

Buy Where You Want to Stay

If you’re wondering how to choose which DVC resort is right for you to purchase, the resounding advice is to “buy where you want to stay.” I feel like I understand why this is the battle cry of resale but nothing applies to everyone equally. If you like proximity to Disney Springs, for example, then Saratoga Springs Resort might be your very best bet. But if you want to walk to the Magic Kingdom, then Bay Lake Tower or the Grand Floridian *Editor’s Note – she clearly meant to type Polynesian here* would be more ideal. The thing is, with a few exceptions, DVC owners can book and stay at any of the deluxe villas at Walt Disney World using their vacation points. Also available are Disney resorts at Hilton Head Island (SC), Vero Beach (FL), Aulani (HI), and the Grand Californian at Disneyland (CA). The resort where you own does give you a bit of a leg up on others looking to book there. For example, eleven months prior to your trip, you can book rooms at your “home resort.” Others who want to stay there with their points but own at another resort will have to wait until the seven-month mark to book. So there is a little bit of priority time to help ensure you will get the room you’re hoping for. Since we’re not necessarily picky about where we stay at Walt Disney World, it was almost more difficult to choose which location we wanted to purchase as our home resort. Trying to get the most out of our money, some of what we took into account was annual maintenance fees (that will surely rise), length of contract, price per point, and how many points we’d be using on a typical trip for all seven of us. Luckily, we usually travel in a “lower points” period of the year, so that was to our benefit. We were able to purchase enough points to cover a week-long trip in a 2 bedroom villa at Animal Kingdom Lodge each year, and have points to spare. Once we take our first whole-family trip in a few months, we’ll be damn picky about where we stay going forward.

So yeah, my family owns a timeshare, a Disney timeshare.

UPDATE: In the Latest NotClub33 Podcast we discussed my DVC ownership and more check it out below.

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