If you and your family take several Disney trips a year, you’ve probably considered opting in to the Disney Vacation Club. There are advertisements for it in nearly every Disney-owned property, including the parks. I’m here to help you navigate whether this is a good decision for your family and if there are other options available that could help you save money.
Disney Vacation Club – What Is It?
The Disney Vacation Club allows you to purchase real estate from Disney as points, similar to a timeshare that you can use at different times of the year. You can then convert the points to nights at a variety of Disney resorts, Disney cruises, or the Disney resort in Hawaii. There are different levels of memberships you can choose between based on how often you visit, the size of your family and your budget. However, the purchase of your plan isn’t the only cost associated with the program; there are also closing costs and yearly maintenance fees. The price runs at $201 per point, with 150 minimum number of points required for purchase. Making the cheapest option available $30,150. However, Disney recommends that a family of four who want to stay in one bedroom at resorts close to the parks purchase 225 points, rounding up the cost to $45,225 total. The most popular financing option is a 10-year loan through Disney, with monthly payments and 10% down. Additionally, the vacation club will get you discounts in the park, but it’s not a guaranteed all-inclusive vacation.
You can also bank your points, meaning if you don’t use all your points in one year they can roll over. Where and when you use your points will determine how many times you can go to Disney per year. For instance, if you book two rooms during the holiday season, one of Disney’s busiest times of the year, you may use up the majority of your points. Limiting your family to one vacation that year.
Any one of these plans is an investment for your family, and like any investment, the decision should be made very carefully. The standard contract is 50 years, so if you see your children growing out of Disney vacations or the membership going to waste, you might want to consider other options. There are also very few contract buyout options if you want to purchase and sell later. Unlike other investment options, you would not make money off this purchase, just save money throughout your annual vacations.
What Are The Benefits?
Beyond the initial money savings benefits, there are also some perks that the Disney Vacation Club can offer your family. First, there are discounts on the Disney Annual Passholder membership. Typically, these benefits are only available to Florida residents, but they’re also available to Vacation Club members at an additional $100 off per household family member. This is a great option if you visit the park several times a year. If this doesn’t interest you, Disney will occasionally offer discount tickets at certain off-season times. It’s a common misconception that your Vacation Club membership comes with park admissions, which isn’t the case at this time. A nice perk of each Vacation Club location is that it’s equipped with free laundry rooms that members can access; something not available to all resort guests. Additional savings also include 10 to 15 percent off shopping and dining experiences. However, your Vacation Club membership does not come with a Disney dining plan, as that must be purchased separately.
There are also great benefits to staying at a Disney resort, such as the extended park hours, entertainment for all ages, and transportation to and from the parks. While many hotels in the area might offer transportation, they don’t always provide the same amenities as the Disney resorts.
What Are Your Other Options To Save?
If your goal is to go to Disney on a budget, occasionally, the Vacation Club probably isn’t the best option available to you. It also isn’t a great option if you were interested in investing in real estate that you can one day cash in on.
For budget Disney vacations, there’s a range of hotels in the area that provide complimentary breakfast and shuttles to some parks. Some of these hotels will also shuttle to Universal Studios if that’s something your family is interested in as well. To save additional money, you can get a grocery delivery service to deliver snacks and easy hotel meals like sandwiches. This will help you save money on meals and snacks in the park, which is a huge expense on a Disney vacation. You can even visit Disney Springs or explore Downtown Orlando to avoid the price of park admission for a day.
If you have more of an interest as some sort of investment with access to Disney, you can opt to invest in a home in the Orlando area, such as Kissimmee. As a Florida homeowner, you’ll have access to the residence annual passholder program or discounted single tickets. You also have a guaranteed place to stay on all your Disney vacations. During the months you aren’t there, you can rent it out on a website or directly to other eager vacationers. This will give you a passive income, and the house will pay for itself if you market it out at a good rate. While this is also a huge investment, it allows you to make some money, rather than just save some with the vacation plan. A good way to see what your family can sensibly afford in a second property is to get your mortgage pre-approved. You can then shop for homes within your price range that would be more affordable and likely to make a profit. Think of small homes for a midsize family that would need the least amount of work done to it. That way, you can start renting it out immediately.
Whether it be through the Disney Vacation Club or any other way you choose to experience the Disney magic, your family is guaranteed to have a memorable vacation.