A Beginner’s Guide to the Disney Vacation Club

by | Feb 9, 2023 | Disneyland Parks, Disneyland Resorts, DVC Destinations, Walt Disney World Resorts, WDW Blog

If you’ve ever wondered what, exactly, comes with joining the Disney Vacation Club (DVC), here’s your guide! From understanding the points system to visiting various resorts, discover all of the ins and outs of being a DVC member.

If you’ve long wanted to join the Disney Vacation Club – or, as it’s often referred to by members and fans alike, DVC – so you can turn your regular Walt Disney World Resort or Disneyland Resort trips into a regular occurrence, you’re definitely not alone! DVC membership is something of an exclusive club, giving you access to special villas and resorts, the ability to vacation at Disney properties around the world, and a whole host of perks that come with owning a little bit of the resorts you love.

“Stay Magical Year after Year,” is the slogan of DVC, and rightfully so! Members of the Disney Vacation Club get to do just that, returning to their favorite theme parks and resorts time and time again. If you’re interested in learning about the Disney Vacation Club and all that includes, this is your beginner’s guide to the unique ownership program.

Overview

How the Disney Vacation Club Works

Understanding what, exactly, becoming a DVC member entails is a little complicated. It’s not as simple as becoming an Annul Passholder or Magic Key holder. Because it’s actually a real estate investment, the Disney Vacation Club has some critically important details – from points to resorts to the investment and costs. Here’s a brief overview of how the DVC works, if you’re interested in joining.

What is the Disney Vacation Club?

The Disney Vacation Club is a version of a timeshare sprinkled with a bit of Disney magic. While you might be thinking, “oh this is just another timeshare,” think again!

The Disney Vacation Club does work similarly to a classic timeshare arrangement. You join DVC by purchasing fractional ownership of a property (in this case, a Disney resort). Your fractional ownership then allows you to make use of a guaranteed vacation destination every year – meaning you can visit your home resort or another resort within the DVC portfolio. However, while timeshares often cap or limit when you can visit (if you’ve ever heard of timeshare “weeks,” this is probably familiar to you!), Disney Vacation Club uses a points-based system.

When you join DVC and become a member, you purchase ownership at a dedicated property, or “home resort.” However, in order to actually stay at your home resort (or any other DVC resort), you’ll need to redeem points, which you accrue at a set rate per year. Keep reading to learn how points can be used to visit different resorts and take vacations throughout the year!

DVC Points

As we mentioned earlier, Disney Vacation Club is a form of a timeshare, but with a Disney twist – and the biggest twist is the use of points instead of weeks. While traditional timeshare weeks often lock you into a specific time of year or even exact week during which you can visit a resort, DVC points don’t limit you to a specific time of year or location. You enjoy far more flexibility!

Here’s how the points work. Based on your budget and how often you vacation, members can select a number of points as their initial buy-in. Since you need 150 points to receive Membership Perks (a key part of the DVC program), most Guests usually start with at least that number. What does 150 points get you? That depends. Every Disney Vacation Club Resort has different room types, with different views. Therefore, each is a different amount of points. Disney does offer a points calendar that shows you how many points per night each resort “costs,” which is also broken down by time of year.

For example, at Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, DVC members can book a Deluxe Studio with a Standard View for a week in July for just around 137 points. However, for that same time in July, members can also book a 1-Bedroom Villa for a week at Disney’s Old Key West Resort for 190 points.

The best part about DVC’s points system is the flexibility. You are given your set of points every year at the same time. DVC Members call this their “use year.” For example, if you have a December Use Year, you’ll receive your full allotment on December 1st. You can then use your annual points to book stays at resorts throughout the next 12 months.

If you happen to use all of your points up and you want to plan another trip or a larger trip, you can always use extra points from last year or borrow from next year. Another great detail is if you don’t use all of your points in one year, you can bank them, which means they will move over to the next year’s allotment of points. This gives DVC members plenty of choices – and if you plan to travel more in some years and less in others, you have the freedom to bank points as needed!

Choosing a Home Resort

Disney’s Beach Club Villas are just one of the home resorts you can choose. Picture by Disney Photo Snapper

Ever hear Disney Cast Members greet DVC members by saying, “Welcome Home?” There’s a reason! When you purchase your points, you purchase them at a specific resort. That resort becomes your home resort (you can think of it like your “home base” for DVC!). So, while you can still stay at any Disney Vacation Club Resort, the distinction of a home resort gives you some perks. 

Here’s why your home resort matters. First, when purchasing DVC membership, you’re purchasing a real estate interest in a Disney Resort. That’s why you need to select your home resort. Home resort selections impact contract end dates, annual dues, and, most importantly, booking windows. 

DVC contracts also have a lifespan of 50 years. Of course, at the time the contract expires, there might be the opportunity to renew, but the standard contract runs for 50 years. Depending on the home resort you purchase, your contract end date will differ. For example, the first DVC Resort was Disney’s Old Key West. It opened in 1992, so a contract for this resort would end in 2042. But someone purchasing at the newest DVC Resort, Disney’s Riviera Resort, would have a contract that ended in 2070.

Annual dues will often differ as well, depending on your home resort. While you can stay anywhere, you will pay dues specific to your home resort. For example, dues at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort are $7.9475 a point – meaning if you purchase 150 points your dues will be $1,192.13 for the year. Meanwhile, dues at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas are $8.8099 a point, meaning those same 150 points will make your dues $1,321.49.

The biggest perk of having a home resort is the booking window. Guests can book a stay at their home resort 11 months out. So, if you want to visit in November, you can book your stay the December prior. Guests are able to book non-home resorts seven months in advance. That booking window gives you a head start and solidifies a stay, especially during busy times of year. That’s why picking a home resort you like is essential!

Disney Vacation Club Membership Costs

Because joining the Disney Vacation Club is a real estate investment, it’s important to look at the initial buy-in pricing, or cost of membership. While most of the cost is made up of the points and annual dues, how is it all calculated? Here’s how it adds up.

Your membership costs include three factors:

  • Purchase price, or the cost of the home resort and initial points you purchase to become a DVC member
  • Closing costs, which are a one-time fee that’s required of any real estate purchase
  • Annual Dues, which vary depending on the home resort you choose

Remember we talked about points before? Points factor heavily into the initial cost of your DVC membership – and they also affect your closing costs and your Annual Dues. Say you decided 150 points was right for your family. Each point is valued at $217.00. That means your initial purchase price for points alone would be $32,550. Closing costs (which are required since this is a real estate purchase) and Annual Dues will then vary in their totals, since each depends on your home resort. 

Let’s look at the example of purchasing at Disney’s Riviera Resort. Here’s how your Disney Vacation Club investment would break down:

  • Your one-time purchase price for 150 points would be $32,550 
  • Your closing costs would be $854.05 
  • Your total one-time cost would be $33,404.05.

After this initial investment, you’d also need to factor in your annual dues, which come in around $106.38 a month, or almost $1,300 a year. 

Keep in mind, your dues cover resort expenses such as housekeeping, transportation and property taxes. Think of buying into the Disney Vacation Club like buying a house: Your purchase price covers the cost of the house, and the Annual Dues are the maintenance fees to keep the house running. 

Disney Vacation Club FAQs

Have more questions about the basics of the Disney Vacation Club? Find answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about the program below.

Is Disney Vacation Club a timeshare?

Technically, yes. While there are some differences between the Disney Vacation Club and a traditional timeshare program, it’s still a fractional ownership program that allows Guests to purchase real estate (in the form of points) at a home resort. The point-based system then allows members to stay at their home resort or other Disney resorts each year.

How much do you have to put down on a Disney Vacation Club membership?

A down payment of at least 10 percent is required to become a DVC member. That 10 percent minimum amount is calculated based on your Net Purchase Price (or the total amount of points purchased times the price-per-point, minus any credit).

How much does it cost to be in the Disney Vacation Club?

As we mentioned above, the initial investment and cost varies; it depends on how many points you purchase, the home resort you choose, and other factors like closing costs and Annual Dues. However, at a minimum, the current cost to join DVC is approximately $33,000. Members must buy at least 150 points to enroll, which sets the initial cost of points alone at just over $31,000.

Do you own DVC forever once you buy?

You do not! A DVC membership has a 50-year contract, and the end date of your membership will vary depending on your chosen home resort.

Do you pay for DVC every year?

While you won’t have to make a sizable purchase each year you’re a Disney Vacation Club member, you do have to pay Annual Dues. Those Annual Dues are due on January 15 of each year, and they’re calculated based on the calendar year, with the total determined by the Resort and size of your real estate investment.

How often do DVC dues go up?

It really depends! Remember, your Annual Dues are calculated based on the details of your specific investment in the Disney Vacation Club. Some years may see a minimal increase in DVC dues; in other years, the increase may be more significant.

Learn more about being a Disney Vacation Club member below:

Disney Fan Interview: Reflections of a Disney Vacation Club Member

Posts by Jenn Marrazzo

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Jennifer Marrazzo is a writer and adjunct professor and knows way too many facts about Disney and cruises. She’s a DVC Member and WDW Annual Passholder and has a vast collection of Disney merchandise from Beauty and the Beast to Baby Yoda. Jennifer has her own blog, The Happiest Travels on Earth, where she offers reviews and tips for Disney and cruises!
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Authored by
Jenn Marrazzo

Jennifer Marrazzo is a writer and adjunct professor and knows way too many facts about Disney and cruises. She’s a DVC Member and WDW Annual Passholder and has a vast collection of Disney merchandise from Beauty and the Beast to Baby Yoda. Jennifer has her own blog, The Happiest Travels on Earth, where she offers reviews and tips for Disney and cruises!
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