One of the most important aspects of the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) is that its pricing is elastic. No matter your budget, you can find a resales contract that will suit your family’s needs. As you plan your purchase, however, you might wonder exactly what you’ll get for your money. It’s an understandable concern. Over a series of articles, we’ll take a look at three different entry levels for DVC ownership, examining how much you’ll spend and what kind of vacations you should expect from each investment. We’ll start with a modest contract purchase today.
The Basics of DVC
Before we discuss specifics, let’s talk about the basics of a DVC contract, as this information will impact all of our later discussions. The crucial aspect of a contract is location. You will buy an ownership interest in a certain resort. Here, you’ll have a longer booking window of 11 months as opposed to seven months at all other DVC resorts.
Some resorts cost more than others. As examples, Disney’s Vero Beach Resort and Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort are generally the cheapest properties. They’re also ones that aren’t located near a Disney theme park.
At Walt Disney World, Disney’s Old Key West Resort and Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa tend to sell for the lowest price per point. Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa sometimes has contracts available for less than $100 a point, too, at least at the time of publication in 2018. All DVC prices are trending up at an accelerated rate, which is another good reason to buy now rather than wait.
Generally, the most expensive resorts in the DVC lineup are three monorail resorts at Walt Disney World. Those are Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. Since Disney’s Grand Californian Resort & Spa is the only option at Disneyland Resort, it’s usually the most expensive contract overall. Also, Copper Creek Villas & Cabins is in this grouping since it’s the newest property.
As we talk about various contract and points options and vacation scenarios, you should keep the above in mind. You can get more points at the places that have cheaper prices, but you receive better amenities (primarily logistics) at the more expensive ones.
Since DVC has exploded in popularity over the last few years, the primary issue with a cheaper resort is the booking window. You may struggle to get reservations at resorts where you don’t own a contract, especially if you’re a last-minute shopper rather than a planner. With DVC, you can manipulate any booking scenario into a dream trip. I simply want you to understand the potential selling points and weaknesses of each scenario. Keeping that in mind, here are three different ways to approach a modest DVC ownership contract.
The Budget Membership
I have a soft spot in my heart for budget DVC membership, as that’s how my family joined. We targeted a 50-point contract while we debated how much we’d like the idea of DVC. It was a comfortable starter investment that entitled us to a couple of wonderful vacations at affordable prices. With the (giant) hotel room paid for, we could spend our money on admission tickets, food, and (especially) merchandise.
For the purpose of this discussion, I’ll define budget membership as $10,000 or less. For that price, you should be able to get 50-75 points at a cheaper Walt Disney World resort in the DVC program. You could even get 100 points at Vero Beach or Hilton Head. The downside with these two resorts is that you’ll pay more for maintenance fees at these properties, and you also can’t fully guarantee a room at Walt Disney World prior to the seven-month window.
Keeping these pros and cons in mind, let’s presume that you’ve purchased 60 points at Old Key West. You may worry that you don’t have enough points, but I can alleviate these concerns. Here’s a reasonable expectation for your vacation pattern as a DVC member.
The Annual Vacation
With 60 points annually, you may take one of three different approaches to your vacation strategy. One is to visit annually. Another is to visit every other year, and the final choice is to go to a DVC resort every three years. Let’s examine each one.
You may worry that 60 points isn’t enough for a lengthy Walt Disney World vacation. I have some good news on this front. According to CBS News, the average vacation is four nights. With clever manipulation of the DVC Points Chart, you can definitely do that!
Assuming that you like staying at your home resort, Old Key West (OKW), you can take advantage of their generous off-season points system. On weekdays (i.e. not Friday and Saturday) during several months, OKW charges only 10 points per night for a studio room. That’s a steal for any DVC member!
During January, September, October, and key parts of November and December, a DVC member could stay from Sunday through Thursday for 50 points! That’s one night longer than the average vacation! This is a good time to mention that you can also buy “extra” one-time use points from DVC. For a cost of only $17 per point, you can add up to 24 more points to your account for the year.
I include this point because the points chart shows that a Friday or Saturday stay at OKW during Adventure Season is 13 points. Choice Season is 14 points. For $51-$68 more, you could use your 60 points and then buy 3-4 more from Disney. This move would enable you to stay six consecutive nights at Old Key West!
Yes, with only 60 points and a bit of calendar-based strategy, you can spend a week’s vacation at Walt Disney World! When you have a smaller contract, you shouldn’t view it as a negative. Instead, you’ll have the opportunity to get more creative in managing your annual points.
The “Every Two Years” Strategy
We can extend this premise to the biennial visit. By attending Disney once every two years, your points double. You bank them for the year and then use them the following one. It’s a great vacation strategy for people who want to visit Disney but who also prefer to travel to other places, too.
With 120 points in your account from two years of savings, you have even better options. Let’s say that you want to stay at Disney’s Beach Club Villas, home to the best pool at Walt Disney World, Stormalong Bay. You desire the convenient access to the World Showcase section of Epcot, too. Plus, you could hang out at Disney’s BoardWalk some, and that’s always big fun.
To appreciate the pool fully, you’ll want to stay during the spring or summer, preferably before the weather grows too humid. That’s Dream Season at Beach Club, when a studio costs 16 points on weekdays or 20 points on Fridays/Saturdays.
With 120 points in your account, you can spend *seven* consecutive nights at Beach Club. That’s 80 points for the Sunday-Thursday portion and then 40 points for Friday and Saturday. By spending seven nights at Beach Club, you can spend a day at each of the parks, shop at Disney Springs a lot, and still have plenty of time to hang out at the pool.
To a larger point, you won’t have a hectic, go-go-go Disney trip. You’ll have more time to savor it. By spending eight days and seven nights in Orlando, you’ll savor the perfect vacation length according to science! Plus, during your non-Disney year, you can check out other vacation destinations around the country/world. While some DVC members can’t imagine traveling anywhere else (and I’m one of them), it’s probably healthy to mix things up year to year. Along those lines…
The “Every Third Year” Strategy
With a small contract purchase, you maintain a lot of flexibility. You’ve spent $10,000 or less to buy into the DVC program. What you may not have realized is that with some clever planning, you can still have the run of Walt Disney World during a decadent vacation stay!
The key is to maximize both the banking and borrowing aspects of DVC membership. Once your points enter your account for a given Use Year, you have the right to bank them. You also have the option to borrow points from the following year. This sounds confusing, but it’s a huge benefit to you once you understand the system.
Let’s say that your target vacation date is late 2019, after Star Wars Land opens at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. What you can and should do is bank your 60 points for 2018 so that you’ll have them next year. Once you’re in your 2019 Use Year, your account will have 120 points.
Despite having twice your normal amount of points, you can still borrow points from 2020! By doing so, you stuff your 2019 Use Year with triple the points. After banking from 2018 and borrowing from 2020, you have 180 points to spend in 2019!
What can you do with that many points? Well, you can have the Disney vacation of your dreams! I’m not even exaggerating. Since we previously established that eight days is the perfect vacation length, we will target a seven-night stay for this mega-trip.
Where would you want to stay during such a magical vacation? Why settle for anything less than the best? Book a room at Grand Floridian! A week’s stay during Dream Season is 153 points for a studio.
You actually have your choice of ways to jazz up your trip even more! You could add one more night for 21-24 points! Alternately, you could choose Lake View for 183 points. You’d have to buy three single-use points for the latter, but that would cost only $51.
When you looked at cheap contracts at DVC, did you ever imagine that you could book a week at Grand Floridian? As you can see, it’s not only possible but fairly easy once you understand how to work the system.
Any of these three vacation strategies would maximize the value of your inexpensive DVC contract. The main decision you’ll face is whether you want a contract with fewer points at a Walt Disney World facility or one with more points at a DVC resort like Vero Beach or Hilton Head.
By choosing the latter option, you’ll pay less upfront while attaining a lot of points. However, you will spend more on maintenance fees over the lifetime of your DVC membership. Run the calculations and do whatever makes the most sense for your family. Given the above, it’s clear that you’ll have many wonderful vacations whatever you decide. A small contract goes a long way for a smart DVC owner.
Check out our current DVC Resale listings to find your perfect small point contract today!