Disney Vacation Club: The 8 Best (and Underrated) Benefits

DVC is a long and expensive commitment, but it can offer a plethora of benefits that money can't buy.
Sally French
By Sally French 
Published
Edited by Dawnielle Robinson-Walker

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Disney Vacation Club is the Walt Disney Company’s version of a timeshare.

To join, members put down an upfront payment (usually at least $30,000), and then pay recurring dues (which typically cost more than $1,000 annually) for the lifetime of the timeshare’s contract. And while you’re not locked in for life, it can feel like it with contracts extending as long as 50 years from the construction date of the building you bought into.

For many, joining the Disney Vacation Club isn’t purely about money. In fact, Disney itself says you shouldn’t join if your primary motivation is financial.

“Ownership interests should not be purchased for resale or rental, as an investment opportunity, or with any expectation of achieving income, capital appreciation, or any other financial return or valuable benefit, including any tax benefit,” according to the fine print at the bottom of the Disney Vacation Club website.

Disney also states that “an ownership interest should only be purchased for personal use and enjoyment.”

And there certainly is plenty of enjoyment to come out of being a DVC member. Here are 8 of the best (many of which are underrated) benefits of joining the Disney Vacation Club that aren’t necessarily about money:

1. Rooms are among the largest and most luxurious out there

The DVC portfolio tends to be a cut above any of the other nearby places where you can stay. DVC units often have multiple bedrooms, offering more privacy.

Most come with useful amenities like kitchenettes or full kitchens and laundry facilities. For folks who would otherwise check bags to pack more clothes or outsource laundry services elsewhere, the onsite laundry can be a huge benefit. And if you can use the kitchen to avoid paying for restaurant meals, that might also be a huge cost-saver.

Many units are located in especially convenient locations, such as the relatively new Disney’s Riviera Resort that easily connects you to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the International Gateway at Epcot through the onsite aerial gondola station called the Disney Skyliner. The Villas at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa are within walking distance of the Magic Kingdom.

Check out NerdWallet’s guide to DVC units to truly understand how comfortable and luxurious they are.

The kitchen inside Disney’s Riviera Resort three-bedroom Grand Villa is spacious enough for a big dinner party. (Photo courtesy of Disney)

2. Discounts and freebies on other Disney lodging

While using DVC points to book Disney trips outside of the DVC resorts is generally a bad deal, Disney offers discounts to DVC members using cash to book other Disney trips (like cruises).

For example, in 2020, DVC members who booked a Seine River Cruise with Adventures by Disney were offered a complimentary hotel room night in Paris before or after the cruise.

For certain dates in 2023, DVC members could have saved 30% on Disney’s Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser. And there’s an offer to save $750 on certain Arctic or Antarctic cruises through Adventures by Disney.

A passenger wearing a Togruta headpiece sits at the holo-sabacc table in the Sublight Lounge onboard the Halcyon starcruiser in Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser at Walt Disney World. (Photo courtesy of Disney)

3. After-party discounts

Disney frequently hosts after-hours theme park parties for an additional fee — and DVC members are often entitled to discounts.

These parties offer a way to experience the park that you wouldn’t get during the day. DJs often host dance parties, and there are usually rare Disney characters on display to meet. Attraction wait times are typically much shorter and there may be free food, too.

Disney’s H2O Glow After Hours transforms Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon water park into an energetic glow-filled party. (Photo courtesy of Disney)

4. Dining, shopping, ticket and tour discounts

DVC members also get discounts at hundreds of dining and retail outlets. Discounts are usually 10%, though they’re occasionally higher.

For backstage tours, such as Disney's Keys to the Kingdom Tour at Magic Kingdom Park or the Wild Africa Trek at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park, expect about a 15% discount.

Admission to Disney World’s mini golf courses and water parks is also often discounted, as are experiences like Disney World’s fireworks dessert cruise.

Just keep in mind that many of these discounts are also often offered through other affiliations that DVC members could very likely have, such as an annual pass or the Disney® Premier Visa® Card.

DVC members have access to discounts, including savings at Disney’s Winter Summerland Miniature Golf Course at Walt Disney World. (Photo courtesy of Disney)

5. Member gifts

Disney has been known to give out nominal gifts to its members, sometimes at random and sometimes alongside other purchases.

For example, members get an extra gift for booking a paid reservation at the KA WA'A - A Lū'au at Aulani (though prices start at $175). Disney won’t say outright what the gift is, but members have reported receiving a pin.

In October 2023, Disney offered members admission to a quasi-Halloween party at the Community Hall inside The Villas at Disneyland Hotel, where members could trick-or-treat through all DVC Welcome Home Centers and partake in crafts and photos with Disney characters.

Disney periodically offers free buttons and gift boxes filled with goods like water bottles and backpacks. While those tchotchkes and treats should hardly be a reason to join, they are symbolic of the perks you should expect throughout your membership.

Beignets at Scat Cat's Club located in Disney's Port Orleans Resort - French Quarter at Walt Disney World. (Photo courtesy of Disney)

6. DVC lounges

DVC has a few members-only lounges sprinkled throughout Disneyland and Disney World.

Head to the Top of the World Lounge atop Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort for one of the best views of the fireworks, which are typically held nightly.

Disneyland got its first DVC members-only lounge in April 2023. Located in Tomorrowland, the retro-inspired lounge features murals designed by Disney Legends such as Mary Blair, and it contains memorabilia including the K7 Space Suit worn by Tomorrowland astronauts from Disneyland’s early years. Complimentary Wi-Fi, device-charging stations and soft drinks are available inside.

The entrance to the first-ever Member Lounge at Disneyland Resort in California, named “Disney Vacation Club Star View Station – a Member Lounge.” (Photo courtesy of Disney)

7. Members-only events and trips

As a DVC member, you might be able to get into Disney’s theme parks for free through Disney’s Moonlight Magic events, which are similar to the paid, after-hours parties — but these are limited to only DVC members and are entirely free.

They occur infrequently (less than about a dozen times per year) and registration is extremely limited, but they can be delightful if your travel schedule aligns.

There are also paid DVC-only trips, such as a cruise to The Bahamas which occurred September 2023. Not only do they allow you to vacation with fellow Disney enthusiasts, but they typically include extra goodies you won’t find on similar trips offered to the general public, such as daily gifts and entertainment created just for members. And even though they incur an extra cost, they’re wildly popular.

The 2023 Disney Vacation Club Member Cruise aboard the Disney Wish sold out. (Photo courtesy of Disney)

8. The promise of a vacation for years to come

With DVC, a huge bulk of the costs are upfront, and in many ways it’s mostly just a prepaid vacation (aside from the annual dues). Annual dues can optionally be made monthly, which might be a helpful budgeting practice for people who prefer to have consistent monthly expenses versus having a single, lump sum payment the month you book travels.

Plus, the commitment required by DVC can provide enormous psychological benefits as you know you have a Disney vacation to look forward to each year. Plus, the idea of having a vacation locked in every year can make planning easier and more straightforward. And considering how many job vacation days go unused, DVC might incentivize you to actually use yours.

Are the DVC benefits worth the cost?

NerdWallet crunched the numbers to find out whether or not Disney Vacation Club is worth it and found that it can be – depending on the redemptions you make (some properties are more valuable on points), how long you remain with the program and whether you actually use all your points every year.

The DVC is an incredibly long and expensive commitment. But for Disney fans — especially those who vacation at Disney hotels and prioritize upscale, larger rooms — the costs can often pay off in the long run.


How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2024, including those best for:

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