You’ve seen pictures of Disney’s Riviera Resort. You may have even taken the hotel tour. You’ve decided that you want to stay here. There’s just one problem. You really don’t want to own here. You know that the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) has changed the program’s rules, arbitrarily punishing owners of this resort. What’s the best course of action to spend time at Riviera without buying one of these contracts? We have a few thoughts on how to approach the Riviera Resales conundrum. Read on to get some ideas.
Buying Directly from Disney
The option that Disney prefers you to choose is to buy directly from them. You’ll gain a few benefits from such a purchase, primarily that your Riviera contract will allow you to stay at the other DVC resorts, the Original 14.
How much will you pay for this privilege? Let’s be honest. It’s a lot. Disney requires a purchase of at least 175 points. The current cost per point is $188, and that price is subject to increase without warning. Currently, you must spend at least $32,900 to buy directly from DVC. That’s the high cost of purchasing a contract at Disney’s Riviera Resort. To many people, that’s a deal breaker.
Clever DVC members may take different approaches to the same goal. You aim to stay at the Riviera sometimes, right? While DVC has altered the rules to lessen your chances, you’re the enterprising type. You won’t be deterred from getting what you want. And you’re not going to do it at Disney’s ridiculous prices. Here are a few ways to beat the system.
Buy a Small Direct Contract
Current DVC owners don’t have the same rules as new members. Disney requires non-owners to make a sizable investment in the program. When you are already part of DVC, however, you don’t need to buy as many points.
The current rules require a minimum purchase of 50 points. It’s a much more manageable $9,400 out of pocket. Plus, 100 points is more than enough for a one-week stay in a Tower Studio during Adventure Season every other year. That would cost 81 points, and all you’d need to do is bank points every other year to do it. So, there’s a way to stay at Disney’s Riviera Resort for more than half off of DVC’s current pricing.
Buy Two Contracts for Less Than the Price of One
How does this help if you’re not already a member? That’s a fair question. The answer is that it technically doesn’t, at least not yet. What you could do, however, is buy a resale contract first. Then, you may add a direct contract of 50 points later.
While inventory fluctuates daily, the listings page at ResalesDVC usually has a handful of contracts available that are $15,000 or less. You could grab one of these contracts and then add 50 points at Riviera directly through Disney later.
Because resales are so much cheaper, you would still save a few thousand dollars. From your perspective, the more important aspect is that you’d own more points that way, too.
Let’s say that you get a 150-point contract via resales, which is sometimes possible, plus 50 points directly from Disney. Your financial outlay would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $24,400. That’s 200 points in total for $8,500 less than what 175 points costs for a direct DVC contract at Riviera!
Since so many factors impact your contract decisions, you might approach the situation from a different angle. You could seek out the smallest or cheapest contract that you can get. Once you are a member of DVC, you can buy the minimum number of points for the Riviera.
You could feasibly own only 125 points yet have 75 of those points exclusively for your Riviera stays. And again, 81 points is all you’d need to stay for a week at certain times of the year. Disney sells one-time use points, too. You could feasibly spend a week at the Riviera Resort every year as long as you’re willing to pay $114 for half-a-dozen points at $19 each.
If you purchased only 50 points for Riviera, you could still spend a week at the resort every other year simply by banking your 50 points. How much would that scenario cost?
Stripped 50-point contracts, ones without immediate DVC points available, sell for as little as $5,000 at times. You won’t care about the stripped contract aspect, as Disney usually will give you double points the first year that you own a direct contract. You’ll still have 100 points during your first year, but you’ll spend roughly $15,000 for your two contracts. That’s less than half of what Disney would want you to spend on a Riviera contract. Of course, you’ll have fewer points as well, but that’s totally fine. You’ll pay only what you want rather than what Disney dictates.
- 100 points total: 50 points resale (roughly $5,000) + 50 points direct at $188 pp ($9,400) = $14,400
- 125 points total: 50 points resale (roughly $5,000) + 75 points direct at $188 pp ($14,100) = $19,100
Thinking outside the Box
Your DVC contract entitles you to exchange your points at a DVC hotel for a stay of one or more nights. While you receive legal real estate documents, the underlying concept involves a somewhat intangible service. What you do with your points is entirely up to you.
For example, you could rent your points through a reliable third-party service like David’s Vacation Club Rentals or DVC Rental Store. These sites will pay you anywhere between $13.50 and $15 per point. You can sell them for even more points if you perform the transaction yourself, although that strategy comes with its own hurdles.
Let’s say that you have a 150-point DVC contract. Should you rent your points for $14 each, you’d have $2,100. Then, you could turn around and use that money to rent Riviera points for a hotel stay.
The concept is exactly the same. You’re exchanging DVC points for a hotel stay at the Disney resort of your choice. The difference is that you’ll use a middleman for this particular transaction.
Playing the Long Game
Disney’s content to change the rules for DVC because sales are robust right now. We’re a decade past the last major recession, and theme park attendance is at all-time highs. With the arrival of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and the upcoming 50th-anniversary celebration at Walt Disney World, DVC officials are confident that the market is strong.
What would happen if the economy took a turn, though? Nobody wants to think about such unpleasant circumstances, but it’s a fair question. DVC is the one timeshare program that has historically increased in price consistently. Even it has the occasional pricing hiccup, though. During turbulent economic periods, people don’t spend as much on recreational real estate.
You could take advantage of this by saving for a rainy day. Add a bit of money to a savings account each month in the hope that you see the perfect contract at a spectacular price.
This strategy should be especially effective with the Riviera Resort, as questions persist about its market value. You may stumble into a bargain courtesy of a frustrated buyer, someone who did what you didn’t: They bought a questionable direct contract at the Riviera.
Alternately, you could play the long game a different way. While buying a resale contract now, you could wait to see what happens with the Riviera. While Disney has changed the rules for now, the situation is fluid. There’s always a chance that they rescind the change later.
The most likely scenario would involve disappointing sales at the Riviera. As DVCNews recently suggested, its early results weren’t impressive, although that’s not unusual for new properties. Should sluggish sales continue, however, DVC executives could decide that they’ve made a mistake in limiting the resort stay rules at the Riviera.
At this point, a rules change is improbable, but the situation bears monitoring. There’s no need for you to rush into a direct purchase unless you’re absolutely certain. You could just as easily wait a couple of years to see what happens next.
Finally, those of you who are dead set on staying at the Riviera have another option. As DVC members, you always have the right to pay cash for a room. Some program participants get discounts to stay at the hotel. It’s a great way to spend a weekend trying out the Riviera to decide whether you want to buy a contract here.