For anyone considering a purchase of a Disney Vacation Club contract, a major curveball was thrown when DVC changed the way that contracts bought on the resale market would be treated when it comes to membership perks.
As the email that went out to members read: “Now, effective April 4, 2016, Members who do not
purchase their ownership interest directly from Disney Vacation Club will not have access to other
Membership Extras, such as exclusive Member experiences and discounts. Please know that as a
current Disney Vacation Club Member (regardless of when or where you bought your membership),
your access to Disney Differences and these additional Membership Extras will not be affected by this
What that means is that anyone purchasing a DVC contract on the resale market will not have access to membership extras such as member parties and access to the Top of The World Lounge or the soon-to-be-open members lounge in Epcot’s Imagination Pavilion. It also means new resale members won’t get the dining, merchandise and, most significantly, annual pass discounts current members enjoy.
So when you’re making the decision whether to purchase resale or direct, you’re going to have to factor in these changes. If you don’t plan on purchasing annual passes, the savings in the resale market are significant enough to continue to tilt in the favor of that option.
So how exactly do you run the numbers to determine the option that makes sense for your family?
Start with the contract price and divide that by the total number of points for the duration of the contract to determine your actual price per point.
Let’s look first at a Polynesian Villas and Bungalows contract bought direct. The direct price from DVC is $168 per point. Those purchasing a 150-point contract currently receive a $2,000 developer’s credit. Add in about $500 for closing costs and your total contract cost is $23,700. Since the contract goes until 2066, you’re talking about 50 years worth of points, or 7,500 points over the life of your contract. That makes the actual price per point $3.16. Add in the current annual fees of $6.09 per point, and the total amount you’re outlaying per point for this year is $9.25 (yes, fees go up every year but for this exercise, we’ll use current annual fees).
Now, we’ll look at a 150-point contract on the resale market. If you’re looking for a resale value, Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa is generally the property that people target. I found a 150-point Saratoga Springs contract on sale for $83 a point with $656 closing costs for a total of $12,450. The contract has 6 points coming this year, and all points after that. With it expiring in 2054, that makes a total of 5,556 points for the life of the contract, an actual price per point of $2.24. Add current annual fees of $5.44 per point and you’re at $7.68 per point, or $1.57 per point less than the direct Polynesian contract.
So the operative question is whether the annual pass discount makes up for the price difference in points. The current DVC offer is a Disney Gold Pass for $549, $200 less than the Disney Platinum Pass offered to the general public. Note that the Gold Pass, which is only available to Florida residents and DVC members, doesn’t provide admission during the the two weeks around Christmas and New Year and the two weeks around spring break. If you need to travel during these times, the Platinum Pass is discounted $100 for DVC members.
For our scenario, we’ll assume a family of four that will be able to use the Gold Pass. That family would save $800 by being direct-purchase DVC members. That more than makes up for the $235.50 extra that a year of direct Poly points will cost. Even if we assume this family is using the annual passes over two years of their DVC contract, doubling that additional point cost to $471, they’re still ahead of the game with the Gold Pass. If they had to buy the Platinum Pass, they would then be down $71.
Even if the annual passes haven’t made up the price difference in contracts, the additional extras, like access to member events and lounges, plus owning at a resort you enjoy, are worth enough to make purchasing direct worth the cost. Alternately, you can have your cake and eat it, too, by purchasing a small direct contract, then purchasing the additional points you need resale. That direct contract, which can be as small as 50 points, makes you a full-fledged direct owner.
And if things weren’t complicated enough, we should note the very large caveat that owning Disney Vacation Club only guarantees you access to book resort rooms using your points. There is no guarantee that membership extras and discounts will remain, even for existing members. Now, the outcry that would occur if DVC were to take away a major perk like the annual pass discount makes it fairly certain to remain. But the bottom line is that the equation we’ve outlined here could very well change 10 or 20 years from now.
As far as those considering a purchase today, we’ve explained how those owners who purchase annual passes could save money buying at least a portion of their points direct from Disney. Those who don’t purchase annual passes are left with a more difficult decision based on what they value. The merchandise and dining discounts, along with access to the member lounges might be worth the additional cost to you. It’s up to you to run the numbers to determine the best fit for your family.