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Monday, March 16, 2009

The DVC Era

If you don’t know the worst kept secret in the history of Disney, I’ll fill you it. Disney claims it’s the Disney Vacation Club. If you don’t know what DVC is it is Disney’s version of a timeshare. It is arguably one of the best timeshares you buy. However, that’s like being the best proctologist. You might be the best but you still poke people in the bum. A timeshare is still a timeshare.

Basically instead of an actual timeshare location you buy points. The points can be used at any DVC location or can be used to buy non-Disney vacations. It gives you a lot of flexibility.

There are many pros and cons to being a DVC member. There are people who should be DVC members. If you go to Disney more than once a year, like to stay in a moderate to deluxe resort, can buy the points out right, and don’t want to vacation somewhere else, you should be a DVC member. In the long run you can save a large chunk of money by being a member.

Am I a DVC member? No. I’m an awful candidate. Here are some reasons why I should not be a member. I hope that people who match up to the following think twice about becoming members.

- On average I’ve been to Disney World once every five years with the biggest gap being ten years. I don’t go anywhere near enough. Although I will admit that if I was a member I’d go a lot more.

- I hate the fact that your maintenance can go up every year. You have to pay “maintenance” (aka a fee) on every point you own. Even though you already bought all of your points the fees and keep creaking up on you.

- I can’t buy the points our right. For the sake of argument let’s say you’re going to buy $15,000 in points. You don’t have the cash so you finance it over ten years. The financing for a timeshare is ridiculous. If you’re lucky you might get a 10% interest rate. So let’s figure that out. How much are you really paying to be a member? Try $23,782 give or take a few dollars. What if you have average credit and get a rate of 15%? In that case it would be $29,030. Let’s say you have a big family and need $20,000 in points. In that case you are looking at $31,710 and $38,708 respectively. What did you really save by becoming a member?

- When you buy you have to buy into a resort which determines your future fees but you get little in return. What do I mean? The benefits are really hit or miss. The only guaranteed benefit is that you can book that resort before DVC members who bought other locations. For example – you buy into the Wilderness Lodge and can therefore make a reservation there months before someone who bought into the Boardwalk. That sounds good but there is a chance that the other person paid less for their points, pays less every year in maintenance, and they could still make a reservation at your location when the window opens up. Now if your points went farther at your home location that would be a benefit.

- I like to go other places. A DVC rep would immediately inform me that I can use my points to go on a cruise or other trip. That’s true but what am I saving by doing that? Instead of paying up to 75% off at I’m now paying face value for that cruise. In others words, I’m paying through the nose.

- You don’t own anything. This is one of the biggest sticking points I have with DVC. With most other timeshares you own something. With DVC you own nothing. You’re just prepaying your vacations. Every resort has an expiration year. When that year comes you’re no longer a member. I hope you vacationed your brains out and got your moneys worth because the memories are all you have to show for your investment in DVC. Granted you may have saved some money if you did it right but, unless you stuck the savings in an account you’ll have a hard time remembering what happened to them.

At the end of the day the DVC is for hardcore Disney fans or people who didn’t know what they were getting themselves into. DVC is NOT an investment. Most people are better off taking their money and buying a CD or putting it in a Money Market. Make sure you do some big time research before buying into DVC. There are many invaluable resources out there if you want more info.

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