How we found our way to DVC

Joining the DVC is not a trivial decision for most familes. There are pros & cons to carefully consider beyond the cost outlay.  While the Disney Vacation Club may or may not be right for your family, where is an idea of what we went through to decide for our family.

Mid December 2015, our family took our second trip to WDW within 24 months.  I had caught the Disney bug on our first trip, and after raving about it at nauseum to whomever would listen, had even convinced my sister and her husband to join us for our second trip.  In the year and a bit between our trips I had become addicted to learning about everything and anything related to Disney travel, and in this process, had of course learnt about DVC.

While the concept of DVC seemed great – room costs bench marked to today’s rates for the next 50 years – I didn’t think it was something that would work for us for the following reasons:

  • We live in Montreal, Canada, and all of my trips down to WDW as a child and now trips with my own children involved the cost of airfare; which in Canada is quite expensive.  There aren’t any bare-bone airlines available to us, and flying out of the States involves a drive south of the border which at certain times of year (I.e snow storms) can be problematic.
  • Our most recent trip we managed to get a ‘Free Dining’ promotion.  Joining DVC would mean foregoing these types of promotions.
  • My husband enjoys WDW and all the theming, design details, and all the magical moments shared with our kids; but would prefer that the majority of our vacations be non-Disney related.  He likes to veg-out on a beach whereas, I like to keep moving – all the time.
  • Membership seems so expensive, and as a Quebec resident the amount of information about ownership is sparse; limited to blog posts, websites, as DVC cast members are unable to speak to residents of Quebec for legal reasons.
  • It’s a timeshare – timeshares are scary!

Every morning we would walk past the DVC kiosk in the POP Century lobby, and I would think to myself – how do people do it?  Day 4 into the trip my sister and I decided to stop and listen to the cast member manning the station.  Again, information was sparse, but he told us that he could book a consultation for us with a sales representative.  The consultation would be at the Saratoga Springs Resort (“SSR”), transportation to there and to our next destination would be provided, and we would each be given three “use anytime, anywhere fastpasses”.  As we were only heading to the Magic Kingdom later that evening to attend the Christmas Party, the lure of the fastpasses hooked us!

Arriving at SSR, we checked in, and then checked the kids into the kids club (which they loved and begged to go back to).  Our DVC cast member Tim was amazing.  He gently walked us through the benefits of membership and discussed our other concerns.  Major points of discussion were:

  • What are our vacation expectations for the future?  Do we plan to return to WDW year after year or do we like to travel elsewhere?
  • The DVC points system versus a traditional week lock-in for a traditional timeshare.
  • He discussed at length the concept of borrowing and banking points, helping us realize that we didn’t need that many points to have fabulous vacations every 2-3 years.
  • As my husband was concerned that DVC points can only be used at Disney, Tim discussed the non theme park DVC locations – Hilton Head South Carolina, Vero Beach Florida, and Ko’Olina, in Hawaii; as well as the use of points for RCI exchanges.
  • When weary of the cost of DVC stays over the use of promos like ‘free dining’, Tim’s answer was simple – nothing is free, including the dining promo.
  • The need to purchase either while we were still in Florida or from a location outside Quebec if we decided to purchase.
  • Tour of the Polynesian Village Villas and Grand Floridian Villas model villas!!!

Leaving that meeting, we still weren’t convinced, but we had a lot of positives aspects of membership to discuss and booked a follow-up meeting for later in the week.  Lots of our discussions then began to revolve around DVC for the next day or two, and on rough calculations, we decided that it was too short a time span to really understand if membership was right for us.  We cancelled our meeting and told Tim that we would get back to him if interested in the future.  He was very gracious and told us to enjoy the rest of our trip.  I’m guessing this happens a lot!

Back at home, discussions would turn to the DVC experience from time to time.  The fact that the Poly was the home resort being sold at the time, kept the option alive for us, more than I think any other resort would have done.  We’ve loved visiting the Poly to attend the Best Friends’ Breakfast, and walking around the beautiful grounds.  The proximity to the TTC, being on the monorail and the square footage of the  villas were also positive features of the resort.  Knowing that the points could be used in places other than Disneyland and Walt Disney World, increased the appeal of the DVC for my husband.  With an upcoming conference in NYC for my husband, we knew that we could have more of our questions answered by Tim if need be.

So, I started planning.  I got out the points charts and started to research the different resorts and point categories.  If we had the points, how would we use them?

  • 2016 August – Vero Beach Resort
  • Bank left over points into 2017
  • 2017 Fall – Polynesian Villas & Bungalows
  • 2018 points banked into 2019
  • 2019 August – Aulani
  • 2020 points borrowed by 2020
  • 2021 – Animal Kingdom Lodge

By the time we reached year 6 of membership, we would be able to take 4 trips, some Disney and some beach to fit the vacation interests of our family.

Another deciding factor was the ability to drive to destinations in the summer.  While we would not dare to venture down to Orlando during the Winter months, the summer months when we normally take a 2 week holiday was a different matter.  After talking to a few of our friends who normally drive to Florida or Myrtle Beach for their summer holidays, we felt more confident that we would be able to tackle a drive to Hilton Head or Vero Beach in the upcoming years, therefore diminishing the importance of the cost of airfare in our vacation planning.

So, did we become members?

YES!  The paperwork package was FedExed to NYC for my husband to sign, he went to a bank there to have documents notarized, and a few days after sending everything back, the ‘Welcome Home’ information started pouring in, and our points became active!  It was a very easy process!