Last week we saw that you can often save 50-75% by renting points to stay in Disney Vacation Club (DVC) Villas, compared to reserving them directly through Disney for cash. If your first thought after that was “Yeah, but how much can you save compared to staying in a regular room at the Poly?” — you’re in luck, because today I have your answer! In this post we’ll begin investigating how renting points to stay in a DVC Villa stacks up against booking a hotel room.
Today I’ll look at “sibling” rooms in Deluxe Resorts, and next week we’ll break it down for Moderates, Family Suites, and Fort Wilderness Cabins. Last week I covered a huge number of room types, which made for a pretty dense analysis. This week should be a bit more straightforward.
What’s The Difference (Other Than Money)?
It seems like saving money would be a no-brainer, but money isn’t everything, so let’s take a minute and go over the big differences between DVC Villas and regular hotel rooms. For a deeper dive into this question, check out our article on the pros and cons of renting points, or Erin’s article comparing regular rooms to DVC Studios.
DVC Villas come with more space (especially if you are staying in a multi-room unit). They come with better kitchen facilities, including kitchenettes in studios and full kitchens in 1-bedroom and larger units. They come with free laundry, including in-room laundry in 1-bedroom or larger units. And, if you will have a car with you, they come with free parking.
Most of the negatives of renting DVC points are about logistics. The process is a little different, although as Becky points out it’s not as intimidating as it might seem. The cancellation policies are not as friendly as those attached to regular hotel rooms or Disney vacation packages. And planning in advance will serve you well; for popular times you may need to plan almost a year out.
Most regular hotel rooms have 2 queen beds. Most DVC Studios have one queen bed and one sleeper sofa. When the bed is closed, that contributes to the feeling of increased space and livability. I can say with confidence that when they’re in good condition, these are some of the best sleeper sofas I have ever slept on; so much so that I searched out the same brand when I needed a sleeper that I knew would get a lot of use. But no sleeper sofa is going to feel like sleeping on a bed when it is on the downhill side of its life, so depending on your travel party you may prefer to have the actual beds.
There are exceptions to every rule, of course; Pop Century and Art of Animation have a number of rooms with a pull-down bed, and the DVC studios at Old Key West have two queen beds instead of the bed/sleeper combination. Pull down murphy-style is making an appearance in many refurbs including DVC Studios. So this is definitely something to look at on a resort-by-resort basis if it’s important to you.
Storage also varies wildly. I’ve stayed in some DVC studios where I wondered if they ever expected 4 people to stay in the room at once, because there didn’t seem to be enough drawers. In contrast, rooms at some moderates seemed to have more usable storage for a family despite having less square footage. And again, I’ve seen it go the other way around.
About the Numbers
There are a gajillion different combinations of dates and length of stay, so to keep things manageable we’re going to look at 1-week stays (beginning on Sunday) over the whole year.
For hotel room prices I’ll use the rack rates. For the cost of a point rental, things are a little trickier. Although the number of points you need for a particular room and week is constant, the rental price of those points is variable. I’ll focus on pricing for Your Choice-type reservations, where you pick your week and resort and negotiate with an owner to make the reservation for you. These reservations are typically $19-22 per point, and I’ll use $20 per point as our marker.
Deluxe “Sibling” Rooms
Some Disney Vacation Club resorts only have DVC rooms available, but some (such as Animal Kingdom Lodge and Beach Club Villas) are neighbors with the hotel side of a Deluxe resort. If you stay on the DVC side your room will look different than it will on the hotel side, but your resort experience of pools, restaurants, and other facilities will be very similar. So, what if you rented a DVC studio at the Polynesian instead of reserving a hotel room at the Polynesian? Would you save money in the DVC sibling?
I’m going to tell you a secret. I already know the answer to this question, and here’s how: most of the time, the rack rate for a DVC room is the same as the rack rate for the sibling hotel room. The chart below is from last week’s post, and it shows the average cost to rent points for a DVC studio compared to the rack rate for the same studio (which we now know is mostly the same as the regular hotel room). This is for all weeks in DVC Season 4, which covers about 5 months of the year.
The green bar is the cost to rent points, and the top of the light blue bar is the rack rate, and it’s pretty easy to see that no matter which resort or room type you choose the green bar doesn’t get close to the rack rate. You can save some serious dough. However, I feel like “you’re going to save a lot of money” is not really the kind of answer that numbers-oriented TouringPlans customers are looking for. So let’s keep going.
The Heavy Lifting
I promise that we’re going to get to a really nice and useful summary. But there are 13 different pairs of sibling rooms, so we’ll have to do a little heavy lifting on the way. Feel free to skim or skip this section.
We’ll start by looking at the cost for each resort, for each week of the year. This is an
ugly crowded chart, and there’s no need to stare too hard.
The things we care about in this chart are that the shape of all the curves is mostly the same, and we can pick out some distinct “seasons” in the data. “Savings of 27-73%” is not much different from “You’re going to save a lot of money”, so we need to break this up some if we’re going to say something more useful, and these seasons are our key to doing that.
I’m just going to go ahead and give these seasons some descriptive names that sort of (but not exactly) line up with the Epcot Festivals to make them easy to remember.
- “Festival of The Arts” (FoTA) Season | Jan 2 – Jan 30
- “Flower & Garden” (F&G) Season | Feb 6 – May 22*
- Summer Doldrums (OG EPCOT) Season | May 29 – Sep 11
- “Food & Wine” (F&W) Season | Sep 18 – Dec 11
- Holiday Season | Dec 18- Dec 25*
* These are going to get updated in a few minutes.
One thing that we do need to consider: are there any weeks that we should just throw out as outliers? Let’s take a look at the savings as a percentage of the total cost. This chart is – again – a bit crowded, but we can see some useful stuff.
There’s actually some important takeaways here (you can click to enlarge). First, remember that Disney often discounts these rooms at 25% off during periods of lower demand. So a quick glance will tell you whether there are any resorts that are routinely below that 25% mark in terms of savings — if you’re looking at a stay, those are times when the discounted hotel room might be cheaper than renting points.
I’ll do the work for you: only Wilderness Lodge routinely gets below 30%, but the huge dip in every curve is Easter, when you’re unlikely to be able to find someone who will rent you points anyway — and that week will never be discounted either. Based on the Easter outlier here (could we call it an Easter Island?) I’m going to move this week into Holiday Season. The rates aren’t quite as high as they are around Christmas, but our goal is to make the range of prices and discount rates within each of our seasons as small as possible, and moving this week will help a lot.
The other key takeaway from this chart is that each resort has a characteristic savings rank. There are a few places where the lines cross, and a few resorts where the line is really wandering. But for the most part, we see that you can generally get one of the biggest discount rates by renting points for a Standard View room at the Boardwalk, and the lowest at Wilderness Lodge. Of course it’s important to look at absolute savings too, so let’s get on that.
‘Tis the Season — For Savings!
Now that we’ve corralled everything into just a few bins, we can summarize in a table.
OK, there’s no getting around it, these rooms are not cheap. But if you were already considering staying in a Deluxe resort, pricing out the rooms and trying to stretch your budget, then renting points makes them a lot cheaper. Cheaper enough that they might actually fit into your budget.
On the low end, the Standard View rooms range from $3-4 K per week (I’m ignoring Holiday season), but renting can bring those down to under $2,000. On the high end, maybe your budget was already stretching for a Standard room at the Contemporary because you really wanted to be on the monorail. Renting points can give you enough savings to bring rooms at the Poly and the Grand Flo into reach. A quick scan of the table above shows that savings of 40-55% over the hotel room price are extremely common. One other thing that really stands out from the color coding is that the monorail resorts tend to cost a pretty penny, more than resorts in any other area.
Hotel booking sites often display the average nightly rate instead of the total price to prevent sticker shock before you’ve actually got the reservation in your cart. If that means that you have a better feel for how nightly rates compare to your other vacation lodgings (or to other resorts at Disney World), you’re not alone. The table below contains exactly the same data as the one above, but the rates have all been divided by 7 to give the average nightly rate.
If you’d like to really dig in a little deeper, the graphs below for each season are all the same format and can help you get a visual sense of the data, but I’m not going to discuss them individually because they are very similar. I will explain them though. 🙂
Each column is for a single room type in a single resort; all room types in a single resort are colored the same. The higher point is the average rack rate for the regular hotel room and the lower point is the average cost to rent points for the corresponding DVC Studio. The small vertical lines on each point stretch to the max and the min values for each; this is the information that we couldn’t really capture in the tables above, how wide the ranges were.
The upper point is labeled with the cost, and the lower point is labeled as the percent of the rack rate represented by the cost to rent points — so if the rack rate is $1,000, and the cost to rent the points is $600, this label will be shown as 60%. Note that this isn’t the same as the amount of savings, which would be 40%. This might seem like an odd way to label the points, instead of showing the dollar amount, but it allows us to get a sense of both the price and the discount information without having to click and enlarge the charts to read the data table.
FoTA Season | Jan 2 – Jan 30
F&G Season | Feb 6 – May 22 (except Easter week)
OG EPCOT Season | May 29 – Sep 11
F&W Season | Sep 18 – Dec 11
Holiday Season | Dec 18- Dec 25 (and Easter week)
What to Take Away
Renting points to stay at the DVC Studio sibling of a regular Deluxe resort hotel room can save you a lot of money; very commonly over 50%. This could bring a Deluxe stay within your budget, or could let you upgrade to a more expensive room type if that’s what you’re looking for. If you’re considering renting points, I recommend pricing out your specific week on a couple of sites, especially because Pre-Booked reservations can offer even more savings. (If you end up renting through David’s Vacation Club, TouringPlans will get a commission if you use this affiliate link). And if renting is as much planning as you want to do on your own, our agents at TouringPlans Travel can help you with tickets and transportation.
If some of those nightly rates looked remarkably similar to something you might see at Caribbean Beach, tune in next week to see how close they get.
Have you rented points for DVC Studios instead of staying on the hotel side? What was your experience? Let us know in the comments!
Other articles in this series:
- Renting points for Disney Vacation Club Villas vs. reserving through Disney
- Renting points for Disney Vacation Club Villas vs. Moderate and Value hotel rooms