While my family was cruising on the Disney Wonder to Alaska earlier this summer, I attended an onboard presentation about Disney Vacation Club (DVC) ownership. In case you are not familiar with DVC, it is Disney’s version of a timeshare, but slightly different. I had always been interested in attending one of these seminars, but until our most recent cruise I had never managed to fit it into our schedule.
DVC Ownership Group Preview On Disney Cruise Line
I attended the DVC Ownership “group preview” on the morning of our scheduled port stop in Ketchikan. One of the biggest incentives for me to attend is that during each presentation there is a drawing for a $200 onboard credit. And $200 aint too shabby!
I arrived just a few minutes before the presentation started, and there were only two other people attending. I thought my odds were pretty good! Unfortunately, as the presentation went on, more people filed in the room, so my odds of winning went down to about 1 in 15.
Two DVC cast members offered us bottled water, and we watched a video that showcased the current properties for sale. The entire presentation was heavily weighted toward nostalgia and making more family memories with Disney. Seriously, I was getting choked up.
The presenters were also very upfront about the costs involved. The presentation was not like the typical high pressure timeshare presentations I have attended in the past. It was much more relaxed and almost like a pep rally for Disney.
They encouraged us to sign up for a one-on-one session in the DVC office on board the ship to ask questions and learn more. We would get a $50 stateroom credit for our time if we attended one of these solo Q&A meetings.
I didn’t win the $200 drawing, and I didn’t sign up for an individual Q&A session since I knew I would not be purchasing that week. When I got back from the presentation, my husband could see how excited I was about DVC. He asked me nervously, “So, you didn’t buy it, did you???”
Crunching the Numbers
WARNING! Lots of math here.
At the time of the presentation in June 2017, these were the numbers for DVC ownership for Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort:
Purchase Price: $176 per point
Closing costs: $3-$4 per point
Annual dues: $6.13 per point (varies by resort—see this chart for more information)
Trading fee on RCI (timeshare exchange): $95 per transaction
If you purchased DVC on board, you would also get a $500 onboard credit for the current cruise. There were also promotional discounts for reaching certain points levels by resort.
For my family, I would want to buy enough points to afford one week in a studio villa each year. The studios at some of the resorts fit five people. The points chart cost varies by resort, but I’m basing my assumptions on needing ~170 points. So the math for my family at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort is this:
Purchase price: 170 points * $176 per point = $29,920
Closing costs: 170 points * $3.50 = $595
Annual dues: 170 points * $6.13 = $1042.10 per year (subject to increases each year)
Unlike traditional timeshares that you own forever, DVC deeds have an expiration date, typically 50 years from construction date.
I worked out a comparison of DVC ownership costs vs. paying cash for a deluxe room for 50 years on a spreadsheet. Assumptions: Annual dues rates will increase by 3% each year based on historical growth rates, cash rates at Disney’s Polynesian Village will be 25% below rack rates based on historical promos and cost of cash rates will increase 3% each year.
My calculations determined that I would break even between years 12 and 13. After the breakeven point, the cost of the annual dues is roughly 1/3 of the cost of the cash price for the deluxe room.
Does the Math Work for my Family?
When I looked at the totals at the end of 50 years, buying DVC definitely makes sense for people who want to stay onsite at Disney properties every year. For 50 years. Fifty years. Five Zero. Wowza, that’s a huge commitment.
But the thing is, my family doesn’t stay in deluxe resorts every year. We are quite comfortable in our favorite moderate resort, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. Or, in the past, we have gotten unbelievable group rates for conventions at deluxe resorts.
Maybe in the future, we will stay offsite using points. Or, we will want even more space and go for renting a house offsite with a pool. Oooh la la!
Trading DVC through RCI for another timeshare around the world is another possibility. DVC properties are in high demand, so the value through RCI is good. However, we use miles and points so much for free or deeply discounted stays that the math still doesn’t work out in our favor.
Of course, we could always buy DVC on the resale market or rent out our points, which would change the math. But we would also lose some of the benefits of buying directly through Disney, like the ability to use points for cruises.
The Emotional Tug of Disney
While the math says no, my heart still can’t help but say “maybe” to DVC.
Here’s the thing. I really want to give my kids the gift of travel for years to come. Not just while they’re with us, but after they are grown and out of the house. And DVC ownership would be a convenient way to do that.
When I was in college in my early 20s on my own for the first time, I didn’t have a lot of disposable income for vacations. I basically traveled back to my hometown for “vacation”, and that’s it. Wouldn’t it be awesome to have another option?
I envision sharing our points with our kids when they are grown so that they can take their families to Disney World, the beach, or anywhere. Sure, I can train them up in this miles and points hobby, but who knows if the signup bonuses will be as lucrative in the future.
Just the word Disney is sentimental to me, and I tear up looking at photos of my family’s vacations there over the years. The thought of my children making those same memories with their kids makes me happy. (Check out this wonderful post about a nostalgic vacation to Disneyland. Sigh).
We could pool the points from three years (carry over points from one year and borrow points from the next year) to rent multiple rooms for a big family vacation with our grandkids. I could see us doing that for a big milestone wedding anniversary.
Or, we could let each of our kids use the points on alternating years however they wish. They could even use the points to go on a Disney Cruise.
Having points at our disposal would be less awkward and controversial than just giving our kids money for vacations, in my opinion. Letting them use the points would be a fair and consistent method of spreading vacation joy.
To be clear, I did not purchase DVC on our last cruise. I would want to buy it without having to finance it, and we’re just not in a position to do that yet. We still have a mortgage, and we have three kids to get through college.
However, I am not ruling out DVC ownership in the future. It may be in the way distant future, or after we win the lottery.
My husband thinks we would be better off just buying a vacation condo on the beach for our entire family to use. And I’m not ruling that idea out, either!
Do you own DVC? Have you attended a DVC presentation on a Disney Cruise? Are you considering DVC ownership? What at the pros and cons for your family? I’d love to hear your comments.
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.