|Our First Trip "Home" in fall 2009 as a Family of Five to Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge Kidani Village|
Disney Vacation Club gave us the opportunity to lock in future resort stays in deluxe accommodations for a more affordable price, and allow us to stay in a much larger room, with a separate sleeping area for the kids, and some amazing amenities such as a kitchen, and a washer and dryer. Also in every room is a high chair and port-a-crib. For a mom of four, not having to worry about those things makes my vacation even more enjoyable. I love the fact that we can book a studio, 1 bedroom, 2 bedroom or even a grand villa for our stays. For our family, it was a great choice. Will it work for you? Maybe!
|Studio Portion of a Villa at Animal Kingdom's Kidani Village|
Basically DVC is a timeshare, but it is very different than timeshares you may have heard of, and Disney prefers to call it a "Vacation Ownership Program". Like other vacation ownership programs, you make a one time large purchase, then lower yearly maintenance fees on that purchase to cover upkeep and property taxes. Unlike many other programs however, the Disney system is very flexible in terms of when and where you can vacation, how long you can stay, when you check-in, etc...
Many people are familiar with traditional timeshares, whereby you buy a one week stay in a specific size room to use for a specific week every year. Check-in is usually restricted to certain days, usually Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, and usually you use the entire week during one stay.
Unlike those types of programs, Disney uses a flexible points system. Instead of buying a week, you buy points. Just like a kid with tickets at Chuck-E-Cheese trades them in for prizes, you use your points to reserve your room. A more deluxe or popular prize will require more tickets/points. In DVC terms, smaller studio rooms will use less points than a 2 bedroom suite. Weekends generally cost more than weeknights, and a room during the quieter seasons will require fewer points than the same room during the holidays or spring break.
This is where the flexibility comes in. Lets say your kids have a long weekend from school, and you'd like to check in on Thursday, and check out on Monday. No problem! Each night has its own points cost, and you can check in and out whenever you wish as long as there is availability and you have the points. You can reserve a 1 bedroom this year for 8 nights in September, and a 2 bedroom next year for 5 nights in April. You are not locked into using the same accommodations every year.
|Sleeper Sofa at Kidani Village|
|Enjoying the spaciousness of a Grand Villa at Old Key West with our friends|
Points are able to be banked and borrowed for up to one year. If you took a shorter vacation this year and didn't use all your points, you can bank them into the following year. Or if you want to take extended family on your trip with you this year and need more points, you can borrow from next year. For a better idea of how many points are needed, a look at Disney's points charts will help.
Here is an example to give you an idea of how many points are needed, the 2013 Points Chart for Animal Kingdom Villas. The points for 2014 are the same. There is no need to worry that after you purchase Disney will suddenly make your room that was 100 points cost 200. While they can make small changes here and there on the charts, the total number of points on the chart cannot change. So, if they decide to require 2 more points per night during the month of April, then they need to decrease the point requirement by 2 points somewhere else on the chart.
Eleven months before your check-in date, you can book whichever resort you own. This is called "Home Booking Priority". Seven months before check-in, you can book any of the other DVC resorts that still have availability for your dates. We have had good success booking non-home resorts at the seventh month mark for slower times of year.
We own at Animal Kingdom, and so far it truly is our favorite resort. If we were unable to book a different resort at seven months, we would not be disappointed staying at our home resort.
Since our original purchase in 2009, our family has grown from 5 members to 6, and our DVC membership is flexible enough that it has been able to change with us. At some point we are planning on expanding our membership by adding points, but for now, we still feel like we are getting a great value for our purchase!
|Our now larger family at our home resort Animal Kingdom Lodge Kidani Village Feb. 2014|