Disney’s Contemporary and Bay Lake Tower Resorts
I get asked from time to time about the Disney Vacation Club. Seems like a lot of people think about DVC – the pros and cons, the benefits, how it works. I’m always happy to answer questions – except the one where I’m supposed to explain how it makes good financial sense. That one, I can’t really answer except like this – if you’re looking for a solid financial reason to make a DVC purchase, you might not find one. If you’re looking for a good reason to visit Walt Disney World every (or every other) year, you’re a big Disney geek, and you know your children and present or future grandchildren will love many years of future Disney vacations as well – that might be reason enough.
Note: Interior DVC studio pictures are all from our most recent visit to Walt Disney World – Old Key West Resort.
Elevated walkway between Bay Lake Tower and the Contemporary Resort
It costs a lot to buy DVC points and then it costs some more every year to pay the annual dues. Raymond and I joined in 2011 by purchasing points while on a Disney cruise to Alaska. This was not an impulse purchase by any means – we thought long and hard about it for several years, in fact. We took a DVC tour back around 2007 or 2008 and were very interested but ONLY if and when we could buy points at a DVC property located on the monorail loop. Our favorite resort is the Contemporary and when we heard about Bay Lake Tower, we decided it was time to see if this dream could become a reality. After visiting Walt Disney World more than a dozen times over the past 25 years, we’re pretty sure our love of Disney vacations will never go away.
Old Key West Studio
So, we’re on that Alaskan Cruise (which I highly recommend, by the way) and decide to take time on an at-sea day to listen to the DVC presentation and see if there were any specials available for Bay Lake Tower. The fact that we won a drawing at the presentation for $500 in on-board credit certainly seemed like a good sign! I’ll spare you the details, but we ended up with 220 points for, I think, the next 48 years. Turns out, 220 points is not quite enough (we’d like to add on about 100 more) – more on that in a minute.
First, a cautionary tale…
Old Key West Studio – sitting area
We met a super friendly, Disney-loving family from Ireland on our Disney Mediterranean cruise last summer. No doubt the entire family loved Disney – you could tell. Mom, Day, son, daughter – all Disney fans. During an excursion in Italy, while waiting to leave Pompeii, Mrs. Irish-Disney-Mom confessed to me that they had purchased 320 DVC points and were considering selling them on the resale market. Seems it was an impulse purchase made a couple of years prior and while they still intended to take Disney vacations as often as possible, airfare to the U.S. was too expensive to go every (or even every other) year and using points for anything other than WDW isn’t the most economical use of the points (in spite of what those DVC sales presenters lead you to believe). Moral of the story – don’t buy DVC points while swept up in the magic of a Disney vacation – consider this purchase carefully…many point purchases are as expensive as a new car.
My tips & things to consider before purchasing DVC points:
Old Key West Studio Balcony
Do purchase points at the home resort you really love (if at all possible). The 11-month booking window at your home resort (versus 7 months at other resorts) can make a big difference over the years. You may not want to go at peak times now, but in the future it may become really important. Christmas at Walt Disney World – including opening gifts there on Christmas morning – is a big dream of ours. We’ll appreciate that 11-month window when the time comes to plan that trip.
Old Key West Studio Kitchenette
Don’t buy DVC points if you really want to vacation elsewhere (using the exchange capabilities with non-Disney resorts world-wide through RCI) – While we’ve never done this, I’ve heard it is definitely not the best, most economical use of DVC points. Reports vary on ease of booking, value, and if certain RCI resort options are on par with Disney quality. There’s also no guarantee (if you love RCI) that Disney’s relationship with RCI will continue way into the future.
Even though it’s more expensive than buying resale, buying directly from Disney will give you the most flexibility with your points. If you wanted to use them towards Disney Cruise Line or Adventures by Disney vacations, the points cannot have been purchased on the resale market. Resale-purchased points can only be used at DVC resorts – which works out really well for a lot of people. We were concerned that someday – out in some unfathomable future time – we’d want to have more flexibility.
Studio TV at Old Key West
Here’s how we’re using this year’s points: 6 nights (last week of May) at Old Key West, 7 nights at Bay Lake Tower (home resort) in mid-October, 35 points leftover going towards a 4-night stay at Bay Lake Tower for the Princess Half-Marathon weekend in February, 2015 (extra points needed coming from 2015’s points). If we’d had more points, we would have stayed at Bay Lake Tower in May instead of Old Key West. We love our home resort and it would be our first choice – thus the reason we want to buy more points. However, more points means higher annual dues, so once again, we’re thinking it over before jumping in again.
Unused points from one year may be banked for use the next year. Need extra points? Borrow from the next year’s points. Banking and borrowing are common and important to get the most out of a DVC investment.
You get to choose the accommodations that work best for your particular travel party. Need a room for two? Get a studio or a 1-bedroom unit. Need room for 8? Get a 2-bedroom unit that has a full sized kitchen and living room (with fold-out couch and chair). Get what you need, whenever you need it. You’re not locked into one size or one particular time of year. Having a kitchen, washer/dryer and more room do give you a home-away-from-home vacation experience. Mousekeeping comes only every 4th day to collect trash and replenish toiletries, towels, and kitchen supplies.
A really wonderful perk is access to dedicated DVC travel planning specialists to help you book your trips and they are super knowledgeable Cast Members! You also get a dedicated web site to help you figure out what resorts are available when you want to travel. DVC members also receive a variety of discounts all over Walt Disney World are allowed to purchase the Tables in Wonderland card which saves 20% at bunches of Walt Disney World restaurants (and bars).
For official information on Disney Vacation Club, go here.
Are you a DVC member? What’s your home resort? If not, have you considered a DVC purchase? Where would you love your home resort to be?