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Welcome to the second in a series of articles introducing newbies to Disney Vacation Club. Many vacationers, especially Orlando vacationers, shudder at the mention of a timeshare. And while DVC is a timeshare, it’s unlike a traditional timeshare in almost every way. This series of articles will outline the basics of how Disney Vacation Club works, how to become a member, and how to book stays at a Disney Vacation Club resort. If you missed Volume 1, I’d recommend you go back and read that first and then come back here.
In the first article in this series, we talked about timeshares in general and how Disney Vacation Club is a timeshare but is also very different from a typical timeshare. In this article we will go into depth about the points system that DVC uses and how members use them to book accommodations.
In the beginning of the timeshare world, when you purchase your ownership interest, you select a specific accommodation type and a specific week of the year, and that’s the week you “own” at the resort. So you have to travel that same week each year to use your ownership interest. This is one way that DVC is completely different than a traditional timeshare. When you buy into DVC, instead of buying a week that you use every year, you buy an allotment of points that you receive every year. These points can be used to book different types of accommodations at different DVC resorts. DVC publishes charts that describe the available accommodations at a resort and the corresponding “cost” in points for that room. You can think of the points as the “currency” of the system and the point charts as the “cost” of the room, and you can calculate exactly how many points will be required for your desired room and time of the year. Below is the 2023 points chart for Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. I’ve selected this one for its relative simplicity compared to some others. You’re probably laughing right now at me calling this “simple,” but in a future article we’ll get into some real doozies!
A couple of things are worth noting right away. First, there are “travel periods” (or seasons) and the same room can have different point requirements depending on the time of year you are traveling. Just like a normal hotel, traveling at Christmas is going to be much more expensive that in the middle of January. If you’ve booked Disney hotels before you’ll be familiar with the Peak, Regular, and Value season designations. This is similar but DVC has way more seasons.
The second thing that you’ll notice is that rooms have different point costs on the weekends versus weekdays. Again, just like at a typical resort, weekends are in higher demand and thus command a higher price. (Note that the weekly point costs in the chart are simply for convenience. Booking a week is the total of 5 weeknights and 2 weekend nights – there is not a deal for booking 7 nights.)
In order to calculate how many points you’ll need for any particular room, you first figure out the room type you want (here there are only 3 options – a Deluxe Studio, a One-Bedroom Villa, and a Two-Bedroom Villa). Then figure out when you plan to visit, and where that row and column intersect is how many points you’ll be paying.
As you can see, the points required for different room types and different travel periods can vary widely. So how do you know how many points you’ll need to buy? Disney encourages you to figure out when you’d typically travel and what kind of room you’d typically want, and then calculate how many points you’ll need and buy that number of points (or maybe a few extra). I don’t know if anyone actually does that, though. When I first purchased DVC, I simply figured out how much I could afford and bought that many points. For most people, that will be somewhere between 100-200 points. Note that Disney Vacation Club requires a minimum purchase of 100 points when buying directly from Disney, but on the resale market you can purchase any contract available (just one of the benefits of buying resale).
It’s also worth mentioning that different resorts have wildly different point costs. Generally the older resorts (Old Key West, Boardwalk Villas, Hilton Head, Vero Beach, Beach Club Villas, Saratoga Springs) cost less for the same type of room than the newer resorts (Grand Floridian Villas, The Villas at the Disneyland Hotel, Polynesian Resort Villas, etc.). So you can either splurge and stay at the Grand Floridian for a few days, or spend wisely and stay at Saratoga Springs for several days longer. It’s totally up to you and very flexible.
The other thing I’ve learned over the years is that it’s pretty hard to have too many points. I’ll either stay in bigger rooms, stay for longer, or plan more trips to use up the points. And if you absolutely can’t use all your points in a given year, you can save them for next year (a process called “banking” which I’ll talk about in the next installation of this series.)
Now that we’ve introduced you to the Disney Vacation Club concept, are you excited to learn more? If you’re interested but not ready to buy into DVC just yet, I recommend trying out the DVC resorts and see if they’re for you. If you’ve always stayed at the All-Stars, a DVC resort can make a big difference in your vacation. To find out just how big of a difference, and whether you think it’s worth it, you can rent DVC points for your next Disney trip. This gives you the opportunity to stay at a DVC resort just like a DVC member, but without buying into the system just yet. If this sounds like a great idea, contact our friends at DVC Rental Store to book your next resort stay in one of the many DVC resorts at Walt Disney World, Disneyland, or Hilton Head Island, Vero Beach, or even Hawaii! If you’re in love with this idea and think you’re ready to buy in, get the best deal on a DVC contract from DVC Resale Market, which is staffed by many former DVC cast members who know the ins and outs of buying into DVC.