Becoming members of the Disney Vacation Club has been the single best investment we have ever made. We first bought into the program back in 1998. We enjoyed it so much that it broke our hearts to have to sell it in 2004 when were in the throws of our financial crisis. However, we got more than what we bought it for so it was a great investment.
Disney Vacation Club, in a nutshell, is this. You purchase "points" at various Disney Resorts and use them for your hotel accomodations while on vacation. It is kind of like a timeshare but you don't have a specific time when you have to use it. You can use them at any time during the year that you want. The beauty of this arrangement is that once you purchase your points, they are yours for 40 YEARS!!!! All you have to do is pay your maintenance fee. This maintenance fee covers upgrades at the resorts, refurbishments and so on. Another wonderful thing about this deal? You don't have to use it at Disney. You can use your points for vacations to other countries, or for Disney Cruises, or for vacation hotspots all across the United States! The only drawback is that the points are a little pricey. But, remember, they are yours for FORTY YEARS!!!!! Right now points run anywhere from $120-$135 each and you have to buy 150 intially. (I'm pretty sure it's 150) After that, you can purchase in increments of 25. We bought 240 initially and we will probably add on another 100 in the next few years as vacation cash becomes available. When we bought 3 years ago, the points were $110-$115 each and we got the lower end of the price because they were just finishing the latest vacation club resort, Bay Lake Towers, and hadn't sold out yet. We ended up financing (I know, I know. Don't hate me)for 5 years so we will be paid in full in July 2014 unless we pay it off early, which we probably will do. We are also able to deduct the mortgage interest from our taxes because you are actually buying a share of real property. You also have the option of "banking" your points. Say you have 50 points left for the year and you aren't going to use them. You simply "bank" them for next year and those 50 points will get added to your points for the coming year. You can also "borrow" points from the following year. Say you want to visit Disney during Spring Break but you don't have enough points available for when you want to go. You simply borrow points from next year's allotment. Different times of the year require different amounts of points. Also, different resorts require different amounts of points. You may also allow someone else to use your points so if you aren't going to be using your points and you don't want to bank them, you can allow a family member or friend to use your points without them having to be vacation club members.
Because of my husband's business, we can take vacations in either February or September because they are his slower months. Those months also happen to be the value season for Disney so the points required for stays during those months are much less than, say, during summer. We usually stay at Old Key West resort because it is the original resort and requires less points than a newer resort, like Bay Lake Towers. However, you could never guess that Old Key West isn't a newer resort because it is being updated and refurbished frequently. That's those maintenance fees at work!
Another wonderful benefit of the vacation club over just staying at a hotel is the room itself. You have 4 types of accomodations at most of the resorts. A studio condo which includes 2 queen beds, bathroom, sitting area and kitchenette. A one bedroom condo which has a king sized bed in the master suite, a full bathroom (2 at some resorts) with a whirlpool tub, full kitchen and laundry room, living room with a queen sized sleeper sofa and, in some resorts, a chair that also folds out into a twin sized bed and a balconey. A 2 bedroom condo is a one bedroom and a studio hooked together and for the largest rooms, you have the grand villa which sleeps 12 comfortably. At Old Key West resort, the grand villa is a 2 story condo! These are great for family reunions! All of the Vacation Club resorts would be considered 4 star resorts. They are magnificent and each are themed differently.
Here is an example of a one bedroom condo at Animal Kingdom Resort.
This is a shot of the master bathroom. This particular resort also has another bathroom just before you get to the front door. Lots of room and the toilet has its own little room. Very handy when traveling with MEN!
Even though it was February and we were on a mini vacation, here's hubby working. All rooms include High Speed internet so he brought his laptop and set up a little work station for himself. We didn't visit any parks on that trip. We just hung out at the resort and my son still says it was the best trip ever! See, you don't even need to visit the parks all the time. Sometimes just being away from home and chores is enough!
Since we have never used our points outside of going to Disney World, I really can't comment on how that all works. You can visit this site and it will give you a much more in depth view at what Club ownership is really about. You can also send for a free dvd about the Vacation Club. If you are interested in talking to a salesperson about ownership, leave your email address in the comments and I will make sure someone contacts you. If anyone buys into the club through my referral, I will get some kind of bonus (not sure what it is as I haven't ever signed anyone up!) so I just want to be up front with you. Disney Vacation Club makes vacationing so much more enjoyable so please check them out!