Is Disney Vacation Club (DVC) worth it?

Is Disney Vacation Club (DVC) worth it?

Let me lay the financial groundwork and you can make that decision for yourself.

Let’s start off with a few disclaimers. First, Disney Vacation Club’s (DVC) initial cash outlay is significant, and there are annual dues which tend to go up every year.

Second, DVC is a point based timeshare, and as such, it has tons of flexibility in terms of Disney resorts, booking, cancellation, dates, availability, banking, borrowing, RCI transfers, etc. However, it is still a timeshare that expires, and should therefore, be looked at as a prepaid vacation fund of sorts – not a real estate investment.

Those stated, let’s crunch some basic numbers…

*The assumptions used in any of the following examples will be using 2018 data. I will also be using resale DVC memberships for my comparisons. A comparison between directly purchased DVC’s and resale DVC’s can be found here (soon).

I’m going to use a Saratoga Springs DVC membership in my example as it is the most popular and most transacted. As DVC memberships can be used for any of the 14 DVC resorts, the only 3 differences between them are annual dues (each resort’s annual dues vary – a comparison of annual dues can be found here), advanced booking window (ie: 11 month vs. 7 month), and expiration.

Step 1 – Determine cost per point

Determining cost per point enables us to compare apples-to-apples when looking at the difference between the cost of DVC membership and standard reservation costs.

The typical average Saratoga Springs contract sells for about $100-110 per point. With that assumption and 160 point contract as an example… (Use Year doesn’t matter)

Total Points: 160
Price per point: $100
Typical closing costs: approximately $750 (depends on contract size)
Total Initial cost: $16,750

Annual Dues (’18): $5.86 per point

Saratoga Springs contracts expire in 2054. From today, that’s 36 years. That gives you a total of 5,760 points over the life of the contract.

Initial cost/ total points = Cost basis per point

16750/5760 = $2.907986 per point

Now we can calculate our annual net cost per point, and compare apples-to-apples…
$2.907986 + $5.86 (annual dues) = $8.767987 is the annual net cost per point inclusive of all dues.


Step 2 – DVC reservation costs vs. Cash Reservations costs

Booked with Cash Reservation:

Resort: Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Reservation Dates: Oct 1 –Oct 7 (6 nights)
Room Type: Studio Standard View
Rate: $644.63 per night (including taxes)
Trip Total: $3,868 + (plus parking & extra adult fee if applicable)

Booked with our Saratoga Springs DVC contract:

Resort: Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Cost Basis per point = $2.907986
Annual Dues per point = $5.86
Annual Net Cost for a 2018 point = $8.767987
Total vacation points needed = 92 points
Effective rate per night = $134.44
Effective cost of the trip = $806.66 (92*8.767987)

DVC vs. cash reservations savings = $3,061.34 or approximately 79% savings

There are a couple important points to take away from this quick acid test.

  1. As a DVC member you are essentially locking in your room rate for the next X years left on your contract. In the Saratoga Springs (SSR) example, that is 36 years. Maintenance fees do increase annually, in the case of SSR 3.0% on average. However, inflation will also affect the cash room rates. It raises the question, “Does Disney raise their cash prices more than 3% annually?”
  2. In our example, there would still be 68 points left giving you a few options. You could bank those points into the following year, and use them to upgrade your next stay to a 1 bedroom villa instead of a studio (cash rate for a 1 bedroom is $927/nt.). Or, you could extend your stay 4 nights to Oct 11 in the example above… and you’d still have 6 extra points left to bank into next year.

Let’s examine one more example stay…

Booked with Cash Reservation:
Resort: Animal Kingdom
Reservation Dates: Oct 1- Oct 7
Room: Studio Standard View
Rate: $514 per night
Total cost: $3,084

Booked with our Saratoga Springs DVC contract:
Total vacation points: 74
Annual Net Cost of a 2018 point: $8.767987
Effective rate per night: $108.14 per night
Effective cost of stay: $648.83

DVC vs. Cash Reservation Savings = $2,435 (79% savings) with 86 points left over for a second trip, or…

1 Bedroom Villa Standard View: 153 total vacation points
Effective rate per night: $223.58 per night vs. cash rate of $731
Effective cost of stay: $1,341.50 vs. cash rate of $4,387

DVC 1 Bedroom Villa vs. Cash Studio = 58% savings
DVC 1 Bedroom Villa vs. Cash 1 Bedroom Villa = 70% savings

Is Disney Vacation Club right for you?

  • If you vacation or plan on vacationing at least once every 2 years at Walt Disney World Resort…
  • If you typically like staying at higher-end resorts…
  • If the initial investment and continuous annual dues do not pose a financial hardship…
  • If you are able to plan your vacations in advance as last minute reservations can be difficult…
  • If you’d like an economical way to upgrade to the larger 1-, 2-, or 3- bedroom villas, with full kitchens, washer/dryer, and other amenities…
  • If you consider DVC a prepaid vacation fund where you are essentially locking in discounted rates for the next several decades…

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