When is the right time to buy into the Disney Vacation Club (DVC)? Longtime members know this question well.
At one point, we all debated the pros and cons of joining. Then, we all eventually took a leap of faith and received decades of rewards for our decision. Some of you reading this are likely at a crossroads as well. You’re deciding whether you and your family will benefit from DVC membership. I’m always uncomfortable telling people how to spend their money. However, what I can do is relay my own experience.
Here’s how my family finally decided it was time to become DVC members.
Our Introduction to DVC
I’m a thrill ride fan. I’ve literally written a book about how several of Disney’s attractions operate. However, when I was younger, Disney wasn’t my preferred vacation destination. Well, I should modify that statement a bit. As a kid, I was just like everyone else. A trip to Disney represented the best vacation imaginable. I could meet Mickey Mouse and other cartoon characters in real life at the parks! Since we lived in the south, my family took me to Walt Disney World multiple times. I wouldn’t reach California and the theme park mecca of Disneyland until I was substantially older.
In between, I did what many teens do. I temporarily grew out of my Disney phase as I matured and tried to act what seemed more adult to my mind. To satisfy my thrill-seeker needs, I went to closer theme parks like Six Flags Over Georgia and Dollywood instead. Then, I discovered my perfect theme park, Cedar Point, the roller coaster capital of the world. However, my love of Disney never went away. I just pretended like it did to sound cool. I still watched all the movies and even reviewed them as a film critic.
Many of my annual top 10 lists over the years included at least one Disney animated movie. Recognizing this, my older brother and his wife started talking about their annual vacation plan. They had joined the Disney Vacation Club, which sounded a lot like a timeshare to me. I stubbornly resisted for years due to this misconception, a decision I regret mightily today. In reality, I wished I’d researched how to become a DVC member many years earlier.
What Drew Me to DVC
I was a tough sell at the time. My brother, a financially savvy individual, trumpeted several of the myriad benefits of DVC membership. Even though I sometimes write about economics or the importance of open-mindedness for a living, I didn’t listen for far too long. Finally, after literally years of them suggesting DVC, I relented and rented DVC points to try out the program.
I’m not joking when I state that I fell in love with DVC within 15 minutes of my arrival at Orlando International Airport (MCO). All frequent travelers understand the aggravation that comes from airport transportation. You must rent a car or hail a cab, neither of which is an ideal solution. Uber and Lyft hadn’t debuted yet, but they have similar issues. When you deboard a plane, you’re irritable and ready to enter vacation mode. Alas, it never quite works out like that. You face countless aggravations before hotel check-in that make that first day so stressful.
I’ve been a travel writer for a long time, and I still cannot believe how aggravating the process is. As such, Disney hooked me from the beginning. Thanks to the glory of Magical Express, my wife and I dropped off our luggage at the airport and never worried about anything the rest of the trip. When we reached the Magical Express kiosk at MCO, the friendly cast member sent us to a bus. We skipped all the transportation aggravation and were merely along for the ride…literally. Plus, Mickey Mouse cartoons played in the background!
Our First DVC Trial Vacation
Of course, I was already hooked on Disney vacations from my childhood. My better half required convincing about the trips themselves, while I needed a push on my DVC membership. We both got what we needed once we checked into our hotel. The trip was relatively last minute, and so we took the availability we could get. That locale proved ideal for us. It was Disney’s Old Key West Resort, the original DVC property.
My wife and I are fans of lying on the beach and reading a book or sunbathing. We also love swimming. Also, we tend to shop a lot during our vacation. The Old Key West boat to Disney Springs proved ideal for our needs. During our magical first trip as a couple, we frequently debated the differences between Disney parks and other amusement parks, the latter of which emphasize thrill rides. Disney’s different in that it prioritizes theming above all else. The results speak for themselves, as Disney’s attractions tower above the competition. We decided that we were okay with trading the pure velocity of Cedar Park rides for the meticulous touches on display at Disney. Even though minor things always happen during a trip, my wife and I think about that week at Old Key West as a perfect vacation.
Our Cons List for Joining DVC
Still, joining DVC required additional considerations. After all, DVC represents a legitimate real estate purchase, a viable ownership interest that will last for decades. So, my wife and I came up with a list of Pros and Cons to sell us on the premise. I’ll quickly run through
For us, the idea of a long-term commitment seemed like a con. The program comes with Membership Dues and an initial investment of thousands of dollars. If you don’t like it, you could get stuck. At the time, we didn’t realize that we could easily sell our DVC contract via the DVC Resale Experts. So,
we fretted about what would happen if we disliked membership. Timeshare programs have created such a negative stigma regarding annual vacation contracts that we failed to give Disney its due. Obviously, Mickey Mouse’s company will find a way to create a customer-focused program that satisfies
families for decades. We didn’t understand that when we were on the outside looking in, though.
The other con was that we felt like DVC membership committed us to vacation exclusively at Disney. I laugh at the thought of this as a con now, as we happily travel to Walt Disney World as often as possible. We love trips to Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort, too. Those are possible using membership points, which blows my mind. Hilton Head was always my favorite vacation destination on the planet. By joining DVC, I got to visit more…and for considerably less money!
Our Pros List for DVC
The pros for DVC came down to some specific aspects and a few personal ones. For example, I trust my brother and his wife completely. When they rave about DVC, that matters to me. I also asked the advice of a longtime friend who had joined DVC during the early years. I requested that he be honest with me about his feelings. As a family man and father, he emphasized that he trusts Disney to provide quality vacation experiences each time. He also amused me by stating that he was addicted to one-bedroom villas at Old Key West, his home resort. Having spent time in one since then, I completely understand his point of view. They’re larger than some apartments I’ve had.
So, the sage advice of family and friends weighed heavily in favor of DVC. Something else I liked was that I’d deduced that Walt Disney World was due to explode in popularity. Even now, the price of contracts increases steadily due to sustained interest in DVC membership. I expect that this trend will continue because the value of DVC is so easily recognizable.
My wife and I can spend an entire week at Walt Disney World during our favorite times of the year – usually January, May, and Halloween-early November – for the cost of annual maintenance fees. Once we paid off the loan, the price of DVC membership flipped to comically cheap. Like, I feel guilty at times when I’m sitting in my 465-foot studio at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, knowing how little I’ve paid! I feel like I’ve gamed the system.
My wife’s reluctance diminished the moment she hugged Stitch for the first time. By the time she entered the Japan pavilion at EPCOT, all doubt vanished. Since then, she’s become an evangelist for DVC, encouraging others to join.
We went from extreme skeptics to the people who won’t shut up about the greatness of DVC. Even now, I could write about anything I want, yet I prefer to discuss Disney trips. After all, what’s better than helping others experience the Disney vacation of their dreams? That’s possible thanks to DVC membership, a purchasing decision I have never regretted since the day I joined.