In a prior piece, we explored the benefits of a smaller Disney Vacation Club (DVC) contract. The article demonstrated that a member can have a lot of fun with as few as 50 annual membership points. It begs a question, though. What could you do with a lot more points? The most common contracts fall in the range of 160-200 points, which is at least triple the amount discussed last time. With so many points on hand, you have a lot more options for your vacation. Here are some ideas about the kinds of vacations you should expect with an average amount of points.
Returning to the Basics
As previously discussed, Disney constructs their DVC point occupancy and logistics, they’ve identified which resorts are more desirable and which ones are less desirable. When you have fewer points, you’re left with a hard choice. You can spend more nights at one of the less coveted resorts or fewer nights at the most popular locations.
The great news about a larger contract is that your options expand dramatically. You’ll still have the same general constraints, as you unfortunately can’t stay at a DVC resort every night of the year. Nobody has that many points. So, you still have the same basic decisions about how to spend your points, debating whether to stay longer or at a more popular resort. You’re just not as constrained. With triple the points, you can do a LOT more.
With DVC membership, you currently have 14 different properties where you can spend your points. The Walt Disney Company will introduce a 15th location, Disney’s Riviera Resort, in 2018. Even if you only spend a three-day weekend at each property, you would still need 45 entire days to vacation at the various participating hotels. This causes an additional kind of decision making.
In addition to length of stay and points utilization, you must choose where you want to stay. And that choice starts early for those who believe that you should buy at the place where you plan to vacation the most. Once you have a contract, that place is where you will have the easiest time booking hotel stays, making it the most likely place for you to visit throughout the life of your membership agreement.
The Average Membership
These three factors comprise the basics of DVC ownership. With 160 points in hand, however, you will have more flexibility in how you address each one. Since you’ve invested $15,000 or so (or bought more than a decade ago), your contract rewards you. You will get what you’ve paid for, which is innumerable great Disney vacations.
When you’re ready to book, you’ll run into the same disclaimers from the previous article. You’ll discover that the DVC Points Chart for each resort varies. Some of them require fewer points for a week’s stay. The ones that tend to cost the most are the three monorail resorts at Walt Disney World: Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, and Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. The Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian Resort & Spa joins that list, primarily because it’s currently the only viable option for DVC members at Disneyland Resort.
The other overriding factor is that Disney has grouped their various DVC properties into tiers. You’ll spend more when you stay during a holiday such as Thanksgiving since that’s a more crowded period on the Disney calendar. Should you visit during a slower time such as January or September, you’ll spend fewer points. We’ll evaluate how that helps or hinders you as the discussion unfolds.
What Can You Get with 160 Points?
Okay, with the economics lecture out of the way, let’s get to the fun stuff! You’ve got 160 points. What can you do with it? Your initial instinct may be that with an average number of points, you’ll receive an average DVC vacation. This belief couldn’t be further from the truth. You’ll relish a multitude of options available to you thanks to your moderately-sized contract.
What you’ll discover with your 160 annual points is that your options have expanded dramatically from a small one. Disney wants people to join DVC, and they really want guests to own a lot of points. Park planners and DVC strategists structure the Points Chart to entice travelers to spend more time at Disney theme parks and resorts.
In the small contract article, I referenced the fact that you could stay for a week at a resort. You’d simply have to plan ahead by banking or borrowing points from a different Use Year. With 160 annual points, you can spend a week at Disney every year. In fact, you could do a lot more than that if you like.
Let’s use Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge as an example. Whether you prefer the villas at Kidani or Jambo House, you’ll find a welcoming DVC Points Chart here. A week’s stay in a standard studio here costs as little as 81 points, 146 points at most. Would you rather look out at the animals from your room? Of course! Those rooms have higher points costs, but you’ll have enough on your annual contract to stay there during all but three weeks of the year. A Savannah View room is 181 points during Premier Season. Those are the dates of March 25th through April 7th and December 24th through December 31st.
Your contract gives you a strong chance to book a room with a zoo view 49 out of 52 weeks each year! Should you want to go during Christmas, remember that you can always buy single-use points from Disney. A maximum of 24 are available. Since you’re only 21 points short, you could even stay a week during Premier Season for a modest fee of $17 per points ($357 total). It’s a great deal. Plus, you’ll never forget your Christmas holiday that you spent with the animals!
Animal Kingdom Savanna View Studio
What Else Can You Get with 160 Points?
You’ll find other wonderful possibilities when you receive 160 points each year. Let’s start with single-year usage. With so many points, you can stay at a monorail resort for a week. You must be selective with your room types and your traveling dates, though.
For example, you may schedule a studio room at Bay Lake Tower. The cost for a week is less than 160 points for all times except Premier Season. The catch is that your only options for that amount are standard view and Lake View. Theme Park View (TPV) is just a bit out of your point range most of the year.
Lake View is 153 points or less during four out of five DVC seasons. TPV costs 141 points during Adventure Season and 151 points during Choice Season. Dream Season and Magic Season are still possibilities with one-time points, as they cost 174/183 points. You can’t stay during Premier Season unless you borrow/bank points, though. It’s a stiff 241 points. Disney makes you pay to have the best view at Christmas.
Standard View Bay Lake Studio
A quirk of the points chart is that the Polynesian and Grand Floridian have largely similar costs for studios. A standard view at both properties is 153 points or less during the first three seasons. Magic Season is 169 points for each location, and Premier Season is out of reach at 227 points. Remember, these are just the standard views.
DVC members who prefer Lake View at these properties will need to travel during Adventure (148 points) or Choice Season (153 points). You could also purchase enough one-time points to split the difference on Dream Season (183 points). Both Magic and Premier Season would require banking/borrowing, though. Even with 160 points, you only get so much in DVC. Your best bet when you want these experiences is to shorten the length of your vacation or dip into a different Use Year’s points.
But Wait! There’s More!
Owning 160 points opens up another door for DVC members. Now, you may experience a different sort of vacation experience. With this many points, you could book a one-bedroom suite instead. Most DVC properties feature one-bedroom options. These rooms come with an obvious benefit and a hidden one.
The obvious advantage of a one-bedroom suite is space. Generally speaking, DVC studios are in the 350-square feet range. That’s a massive amount compared to a standard hotel room, which is why Disney refers to the rooms in the program as villas. When you stay at an extended stay hotel room, it should be bigger, after all.
One-bedroom suites are much larger. These properties are generally around 800 square feet, the same as a one-bedroom apartment. They have kitchen features, plates and cooking utensils, larger bathrooms, and other benefits, too.
One Bedroom Villas at Bay Lake Tower offer full kitchens and expanded living spaces
My favorite one is the washer/dryer combo that comes standard. I tend to spend 10 days at Walt Disney World during each trip. Packing enough clothing for that long is tough. Thanks to the washer/dryer, I can clean my favorite Disney outfits from the comfort of my own room. A pro tip is to start the laundry then head down to the pool for a while. Eating a meal at the restaurant works, too.
About Those One-Bedroom Suites…
The DVC Points Chart has a general rule of thumb that one-bedroom suites are double the points of standard rooms. There’s some wiggle room there, of course, and I’m speaking in generalities with the statement. What I can say for sure is that enterprising DVC members with 160-point contracts will be able to book a suite.
You’ll have several choices about the best way to do so. For example, a one-bedroom suite at Disney’s Old Key West Resort costs 157 points during Adventure Season or 174 points during Choice Season. You could stay in one of these rooms for a week in January, September, or October plus some of November and December, too.
Old Key West is one of the most popular places to book a one-bedroom for a different reason beyond its reasonable points cost. Its suites are comically spacious, with 942 square feet in the floorplan. You can really stretch out here. Since this was the first DVC resort, Disney gradually realized that they’d overcompensated with their room sizes, gradually reducing the suites in particular. Old Key West stands out to this day due to its size and is the perfect choice for families who prefer some breathing room.
Old Key West Villas offer much more space!
Most DVC properties charge more than 160 points for a week at a one-bedroom facility. As an example, Disney’s Beach Club Villas starts at 197 points. This may sound price-prohibitive until you remember that you can bank or borrow points.
Let’s be real. You’re unlikely to visit a Disney resort every year through the life of your contract. Pick one of those years to add your points to the year when you will. With 320 points available, you’ll have access to a week (or more) in a DVC one-bedroom suite most of the year.
Finally, I should add that a 160-point contract gives you access to one other room type that you can’t get with a small contract. Animal Kingdom Villas includes a room type called Kilimanjaro Club Concierge. It’s the same type of room you would otherwise book as a DVC member, only it gives you special access to the concierge floor of the hotel.
The Kilimanjaro Club Concierge is effectively the club lounge. The room type is difficult to book due to its popularity, which speaks volumes about why you want to stay there. With concierge access, you’ll get free benefits like continental breakfast and food and drink options throughout the day. Many of these free foods and drinks are ones that you love from restaurants like Boma. Yes, they’ve had Zebra Domes at the club lounge at times. The famous Tusker House Jungle Juice is oftentimes an option, too.
Booking the concierge level costs a minimum of 125 points for the week. That’s for a studio during Adventure Season. Basic studios require as many as 211 points, but the maximum for anything Magic Season or lower is 153 points.
In other words, you can (and absolutely should) book a concierge level studio at Animal Kingdom Villas at some point. You’ll reduce your snack, drink, and possibly even breakfast expenses since you’ll get all of that free in the lounge. It’s just another way that having an average DVC contract benefits you as a loyal DVC member!