Now that you’re a member of the Disney Vacation Club (DVC), you have likely fallen victim to the greatest temptation. Now that you have DVC points, you want MOAR! You probably have your eye on other DVC resorts in addition to your current Home, the place where you officially possess an ownership interest. Should you give into temptation? The answer is maybe. There are pluses and minuses to having multiple DVC memberships. Here are some of the pros and cons of owning at more than one DVC resort.
You Can Stay Where You Want
Let’s start with a basic assumption. Right now, you’ve purchased a DVC ownership interest at only one resort. You love your membership, which is why you’re open to adding more. What you’re wondering is whether you’ll gain anything in doing so. The answer is yes, but you need to understand what you’ll gain in the transaction.
The most important benefit of owning at multiple resorts is that you will double your options at the 11-month window. By now, you understand that you’re only certain to book a room at your home resort. Everywhere else, you’re left hoping that you will find availability when the seven-month window begins.
For example, let’s assume that you own at the oldest DVC property, Disney’s Old Key West Resort. You can book there up to 11 months in advance. If you want to stay at one of the monorail resorts, however, you must wait until seven months prior to your arrival date. That’s not ideal.
When you purchase a second contract, you gain an additional 11-month window for those points. Let’s say that you buy a resale contract at Disney’s Polynesian Villas. You can now book there in addition to Disney’s Old Key West. You’ve given your family more flexibility with your vacation. And while it should go without saying, you also added more DVC points, giving you more time at Disney! That’s a second huge advantage of a second contract.
Also, remember the golden rule of DVC ownership: You should always buy at the place where you want to stay the most. Otherwise, you’re leaving availability up to chance. A DVC add-on of your favorite resort assures that you get a priority booking window and should be able to stay there when you want.
You Can Avoid the Dreaded Holding Account
Have you ever had to change your DVC reservation at the last minute? Let’s face it. Life gets in the way of Disney dreaming sometimes. When that happens, you’re stuck without a vacation at the Most Magical Place on Earth.
Even worse, the points from your last-minute cancellation wind up in a Holding Account, which feels like life kicking you when you’re down. You know that these Holding Account points are only good for reservations in a small window of two months. You can’t plan anything well ahead of time with these distressed points, negating one of the strongest advantages of DVC membership.
With a second DVC membership, you vastly reduce the odds of Holding Account issues. You can (and perhaps should) buy a DVC contract with a different Use Year. In doing so, you’ll have a longer gap in your booking window. Anytime you’re not sure about a vacation, you can use the contract with “newer” points, i.e. the ones that have the longest time until the banking date. That’s the day when you can push your points forward to the following Use Year.
Let’s assume that your current Use Year is February, the second-most popular one. Let’s also assume that you like to visit Walt Disney World twice a year, once in the spring and once during the holidays. Your Feb Use Year is great for a Spring Break visit, which likely occurs in March or April. It’s the November/December visit that can cause you issues.
Should you ever have to cancel a December vacation at the last minute, you’re well past your banking date to save those points. And, if you have to cancel under 31 days in advance, you’re destined to see your points go into the dreaded Holding account. You can sidestep this issue by adding a second DVC contract with a September or October Use Year. These two months guarantee that your points are still bankable if you should have to cancel a holiday trip to Walt Disney World or if they happen to go into Holding, you have more time to re-book something before your next Use Year starts and those Holding points expire. The additional flexibility solves the problem caused by the February Use Year on your current contract. You can learn more about the importance of Use Years here.
Two Other Positives
A couple of other pros of multiple memberships are primarily for huge Disney fans, which you presumably are. Otherwise, you wouldn’t participate in DVC. The first pro is that as an owner, you feel more attached to your home resort. After all, you’ve claimed a piece of it. When you buy at multiple resorts, you feel that connection with more DVC properties.
Many owners suffer from an affliction known as “add-on-itis”, which is a tongue-in-cheek way of saying that they can’t stop gobbling up DVC contracts. That happens because of the love members feel toward their ownership interests. These contracts directly connect Disney with Disney fans.
The other advantage is that when you have more points, you get to visit Disney more times. The upshot of this ability is that you can visit more DVC resorts over a period of time. You’ll at least visit your home resorts more often, but if you’re the adventurous type, you can leverage the additional points into visits at several DVC properties.
By my count, my wife and I have spent time at eight DVC resorts since the start of 2014. That’s the kind of flexibility that you enjoy as a DVC member. Each time that you add a new contract, you’re increasing the odds that you can stay at all the DVC properties.
The Difficulties of Multiple Home Resorts
While I feel that the advantages vastly outweigh the negatives, I do want to point out three big issues that come up in the management of multiple memberships. The first one is a booking rule that Disney has in place.
Let’s say that you want to visit Walt Disney World during Memorial Day each year. You’ve figured out that Disney introduces all their major attractions and themed areas during this time of the year, and you want to book 11 months ahead of time. For example, let’s say that in late June of 2018, you want to book Disney’s Boardwalk Resort for May of 2019 (11 months later) for no particular reason (STAR WARS LAND!!!).
Buying a contract at Boardwalk is only a half-measure unless you do it right. If you want to spend a week there in May, you’ll need at least 104 points for a Deluxe Studio. Let’s say that you buy a Boardwalk contract with 75 annual points. If you don’t have any banked points and don’t want to borrow points from the upcoming Use Year, then you cannot actually book your full week at the 11-month window. You don’t own enough points at Boardwalk to do so. Disney rules state that you must use the Home Resort contract at Boardwalk to book the room and you cannot carry over points from your other memberships until the 7 month window. For this reason, add-ons work best when you buy them in larger volumes…and that can get expensive.
BOOKING TIP: Book as many nights as you have points for at 11 months and try to book the additional nights with points from your other membership when the 7 month window opens. At least you will secure part of your stay at Boardwalk and if push comes to shove, enjoy a split-stay at another resort.
Another Financial Area of Concern
The second monetary issue is the obvious one. When you own more contracts, you pay more in maintenance fees and each resort has a slightly different amount. While these expenses are reasonable relative to the overall value of a DVC contract, you should still keep them in mind when you shop for a contract.
You’ll pay the bill for your maintenance fees in January, which isn’t the optimal time for most folks. The maintenance fee expense arrives right around the time that the holiday credit card bills start to show up. You want to make sure that you can pay for everything. Otherwise, the first quarter of the next year could include a lot of financial stress. Only buy what you’re sure you can afford.
Land of Confusion
The final concern that stems from multiple memberships is one of contract management. You may not realize this, but Disney will assign you a new member number for each one if they are different Use Years. Keeping up with two or more contracts doesn’t sound difficult in theory. In practice, well, it can grow tired quickly.
For starters, each time that you contact Disney customer service, they will ask for your membership number. If you give them the wrong one, they should be able to see what you meant, but that’s not guaranteed. You’re likely to have more minor snafus when you maintain multiple accounts because cast members cannot read your mind.
When you book your reservations, you also may choose the wrong account, go through with the reservation process, and then realize you’re mistake after wasting a couple of minutes in the wrong account. This isn’t earth-shattering stuff, but it is a potential aggravation that you should know in advance. With time, you’ll get better at managing multiple accounts. Just be prepared for a learning curve.
Buying additional DVC contracts is a wonderful decision for many DVC members. You simply have to understand the pros and cons ahead of time. Hopefully, you’re now better informed and ready to purchase the right resale contract for your current needs.