My family is known as big Disney fans. For instance, we are often told that our home looks like an elegant Disney Store and wait until Christmas time when the nine Disney themed trees (plus some others), and numerous other decorations come out. I grew up going to the Walt Disney World Resort each summer. My wife and I spent time there on our honeymoon, and we have been taking annual trips there since our son was two (18 years ago). In addition to our annual family trip, my wife and I also take at least one other trip as a couple, typically in the Fall.
We have been interested in the Disney Vacation Club for many years, but never thought it made sense for us financially. We typically stayed in value resorts for the family trip and then a moderate resort for our couple’s trip. The math never appeared to make sense as the cost of ownership always seemed more expensive than what we paid each year. Even so, we always knew we would end up taking the plunge, and last year was the year.
I can’t tell you how many hours of research we spent. We did the tour and received the DVD. We spent countless hours reading various blogs, videos, discussion boards, and Facebook groups, such as The DIS, DVC Fan, and DVC Store to name a few, to the point of information overload. As I looked at the financial impact, I realized how much the cost of cash stays increased over time. Looking back, if we had joined years ago, we likely would have crossed the break-even point and been ahead, plus getting to stay in much better accommodations.
So, we decided that it was the right time. The big question was, what home resort do we choose? We received a lot of advice about direct versus resale, and to our typical luck, new resale restrictions were implemented this year, which gave us another thing to think through. We found some pieces of advice that stood out for us:
- Buy where you want to stay. The eleven-month booking window is key to having the best chance of staying where you want. Depending on the season and resort, it seems like it can be difficult to get your preference at the seven-month window.
- Get enough points for the desired seasons and the room size and think about how your trips may change in the future.
Ultimately, we decided that buying over 200 points directly at Disney’s Riveria Resort was the right choice for our family. We anticipate having our annual family trip for several years to come, but at some point, we may break it into two more couple trips in addition to the ones we already do. This amount of points should cover the needs of today and tomorrow, we think.
Then, it was time to make it happen. We don’t live in Florida, so we called DVC and were assigned a guide to help us with the process. David was fantastic in every way. We probably made his job easier since we had done so much research and knew what we wanted. He walked us through some key information, such as pricing options, point charts, and financing details. David called us back later that afternoon, and we agreed to purchase and paid our deposit via credit card.
We were then handed us over Member Services to book our welcome home trip on the call. I appreciated that we did not have to make a separate phone call ourselves, that David stayed on the line until we were connected, and that Henry knew enough about us and our preferences to take care of the reservation. We were on hold for a while, but he came back with exactly what we asked for. We understood that it could be possible not to get our first choices due to availability, so we were extremely happy.
A few days later, we received our paperwork and other goodies. We signed the paperwork and sent it back. A phone number was provided to call if we had any questions about the paperwork. It was all straightforward, so we didn’t make that call. Finally, we had a call scheduled with Member Experiences. Trey provided lots of key strategies and information that will be helpful for us.
A great piece of advice that echoes what I have read many times is to always book at your eleven-month window, even if you want to stay somewhere else to guarantee having a reservation, which can be changed later if there is availability at the desired non-home resort. He answered all our questions and left us feeling like we’re in good shape. Plus, the blogs, Facebook groups, etc. will continue to provide great information going forward. We received access to our blue cards within a couple of days, and our physical cards came in the mail a few weeks later.
Overall, I believe the wealth of information available from other DVC owners and superb service from DVC contributed to making our purchase process easy, stress-free, and enjoyable. The next big question is when the “add-on-itis” will kick into the point that we’ll need to make another purchase!