Disney Vacation Club: Is It Worth the Cost (A Simplified Financial Analysis)

I often get questions about the value of Disney Vacation Club. This is a simplified post to express the strict financial value of Disney Vacation Club using “napkin math”, assuming you plan to visit Walt Disney World for one week (7 nights) every year through 2070 (the end year for Disney’s Riviera Resort). This analysis does not factor in the emotional impact, benefits, or other considerations. It also does not factor in the value of buying through resale, which can save thousands.

Who is this article for? This analysis is intended for anyone with at least a basic understanding of Disney Vacation Club who is looking for just a financial analysis of purchasing a Disney Vacation Club membership direct from Disney.

Before we start, there’s an important disclaimer: This is a simplified analysis looking only at the financial cost/benefit. I must implore you to do your homework when it comes to this kind of investment. Contact Disney Vacation Club, ask other members for advice, and do diligent research before making this kind of long-term commitment. You’ll find the vast majority of Disney Vacation Club members say it’s the best decision they ever made, and most love being members, but like anything, it’s not necessarily for everyone and should be considered very carefully. Give yourself time to think about it before jumping in! This analysis is by no means meant to be comprehensive, and I’m not here to offer any specific recommendation as every single family is different. In the end, this article is intended to help anyone looking to “run the numbers” to understand the financial risk/reward of joining Disney Vacation Club. It’s also worth noting that the ideas presented here are my own, according to my own independent analysis. This website (and the author) are not affiliated with or endorsed by Disney Vacation Club or The Walt Disney Company.

Disney’s Riviera Resort is still on sale via Disney Vacation Club (updated July 27, 2021)

Brief review of Disney Vacation Club: The short version is it’s a flexible timeshare option that’s represented by vacation points. According to the Disney Vacation Club website, when you purchase your membership, you receive an annual allotment of vacation points “to book incredible accommodations at Disney Resorts and other destinations.” The website also expresses various benefits, including the ability to “Vacation when, where and how often you want — you’re never locked into a specific Resort, time of year, type of accommodations or length of stay” and “Stay in outstanding Disney Vacation Club accommodations”.

Another way to look at Disney Vacation Club is it offers a way to save on future Disney vacations by paying for them in advance. Membership (purchase price plus closing costs and annual dues) pays for up to 50 years of membership with an annual allotment of vacation points that can be used to book your Disney vacations rather than paying cash. I’m being overly simplistic, so you’ll definitely want to visit the Disney Vacation Club website to get a much more thorough understanding of this product.

Is Disney Vacation Club worth the cost: In the long run, assuming you plan to vacation at Walt Disney World or Disneyland every year, Disney Vacation Club costs the same as a moderate resort discounted 25%, or about $215 more per year than you’d spend at a value resort (assuming you stay once every year for 7 nights in late July or early August).

  • Catch 1: The down payment is the catch. If you can pay off 100% of the down payment immediately, this statement holds true. If you plan to finance 10% down with a 10-year loan, you’ll be paying the same in the long run as a non-discounted moderate room.
  • Catch 2: The down payment comes with a lost opportunity cost. This analysis simply compares renting vs. owning Disney Vacation Club. It does not include applying the down payment to an investment, savings/money market account, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, or even other investment properties (e.g. vacation homes) in the Orlando area.
    • Catch 2A: If you plan on vacationing at Disney every year and usually stay at a non-discounted moderate resort, your money is better in the bank IF you plan to hold it there without withdrawing funds AND if you can earn interest equal to or greater than 1.4% APY.
    • Catch 2B: If you usually stay at a value resort or even a discounted moderate resort, your down payment will earn more in most interest-yielding bank accounts than you’ll save from Disney Vacation Club, even if you put 100% down into DVC.
Disney’s Beach Club Villas are one of the Disney Vacation Club Resorts at Walt Disney World

Simplified Cost Comparison (Average Cost Per Year, Disney Vacation Club Options Italicized, Cost in Order from Least to Greatest):

  • Value Resort (Disney’s Pop Century Resort): $1,685
  • 150 Points at Disney’s Riviera Resort (Direct Purchase, 100% Down): $1,897
  • Moderate Resort (Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, Discounted 25% off): $1,899
  • 150 Points at Disney’s Riviera Resort (Direct Purchase, Financed 10% Down): $2,395
  • Moderate Resort (Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort): $2,532
  • Disney’s Riviera Resort Deluxe Studio (Paying Cash): $5,185

What You’ll Pay for Buying Direct in 2021 (100% Down):

  • Down Payment: $30,150
  • Closing Costs: $809
  • Annual Dues: $1,259

What You’ll Pay for Buying Direct in 2021 (Financed, 10% Down):

  • Down Payment: $3,150
  • Closing Costs: $809
  • Financing (10 Years): $51,246 ($427/month)
  • Annual Dues: $1,259

What if I can no longer afford DVC or don’t plan to visit Disney?

  • In the short term, you can bank or borrow points to/from the next year, which you can use on a longer trip or a larger room.
  • In the short term, you can also gift vacation points to family and friends or rent out your vacation points to other guests using a third-party service. In some cases, you can earn back what you spent on annual dues for that year’s respective allotment of vacation points.
  • In the long term, Disney Vacation Club contracts can be sold in the resale market and often historically return a large percentage of the original amount spent. Please note that Disney has what’s known as the “right of first refusal” on all contracts, essentially blocking a particular sale for any reason.
  • Disclaimer: purchasing Disney Vacation Club membership should never be considered a financial investment for profit. The potential earnings are never guaranteed. The options are simply a way to more easily hedge against greater possible losses in the short-term and long-run.

Other Important Notes/Disclaimers:

  • The prices listed in this article for Disney Vacation Club and the annual estimates for resort pricing and points needed are all based on data collected online from the official Disney Vacation Club and Walt Disney World websites on July 27, 2021. Prices, terms and conditions are subject to change as determined by Disney.
  • Disney’s Pop Century Resort (standard room) was used to estimate value resort rates. Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort (standard room, outer building) was used to estimate moderate resort rates. Dates used were July 25, 2022 – August 1, 2022.
  • Inflation was not included in this analysis since both annual dues and cash room rates are subject to inflation. It’s also worth noting that Disney often offers discounts on cash rooms, which is why I included a “best case scenario” cost for a 25% discounted room at a moderate resort.
  • Financing with Disney Vacation Club is available to qualified purchasers. The actual fees, costs and monthly payment amount on your specific loan transaction may differ and will depend on the final contract terms. You will need to contact Disney Vacation Club to determine if you’re qualified, and the rates and options are all subject to change.
  • This analysis evaluates one week (7 nights) in late summer (July 25-August 1). The Disney Vacation Club point estimate is equal to 150 vacation points, buying direct from Disney and staying at Disney’s Riviera Resort.
  • This analysis does not include the additional perks or benefits of Disney Vacation Club, especially since most are hard to quantify and all are subject to change. In many quantifiable cases, the Annual Pass discounts equate to the Disney Vacation Club discounts. You should never purchase Disney Vacation Club for the perks alone.

Still have questions? If you’re considering purchasing Disney Vacation Club membership, please consider reaching out to Disney Vacation Club directly. The Guides at Disney Vacation Club are incredibly kind and informative, and in my experience they generally offer a low-pressure sales environment. If you decide it isn’t right for you, they’ll simply share their contact information and encourage you to reach out with future questions.

1 Comment

  1. This is REALLY HELPFUL. Just spelling it out without a sales pitch is so illuminating. Thank you so much.

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