I was pretty shocked at how little people in the Disney community talked about the DVC, and more importantly how you can rent DVC suites and save a ton on your trip. So I figured I'd put it out there, and let you know how we snagged DVC rooms at The Polynesian Resort for HALF the cost of booking directly through Disney.
I'm not sponsored by anyone, and by no means do I know everything about this process, I just wanted to let people know what our experience was like and what other options there are when it comes to booking a room at Walt Disney World.
Now we weren't penny pinching per-say for our 7-Day trip, but we looked into some simple ways to not put a downpayment on a house into a Disney World vacation. There was the pretty minimal savings (for kinda a lot of effort) of buying a ton of gift cards at Target with a red card and saving 5%, which everyone tells you to do if you're Disney-ing on a budget. BUT if there was one thing I would suggest everyone look into for any Disney vacation, it would be if renting a DVC room is a viable option. The savings in doing this was significant, as in hundreds and could be thousands of dollars if you're planning a longer stay.
My Brief Understanding of DVC
Alright so you may have seen DVC or Disney Vacation Club signs around resorts before, but essentially it's a timeshare that people can buy into, and get points to use to reserve rooms at their favorite Disney resorts. They get to stay in buildings or hallways or floors dedicated to DVC members, at most of the Disney resorts. And while they blend right in with the rest of the rooms, they're a bit different. From what I can gather, DVC rooms usually have a microwave, mini-fridge, wet bar, and access to free guest laundry, among other amenities I'm sure. (I'll link to a YouTube video tour when I get around to making that)
I have no idea the costs behind that, and what type of lifestyle it suits best. But these people can rent or sell their points if they aren't going to use them. And that is were DVC Rentals come in.
If you happen to know a DVC member then you can make some sort of arrangement directly with them and have them make the reservation and put your name on it and what not, but if not you can work with a rental agency who takes your information and handles the arrangement for you.
DVC REntal Agency
If you google DVC rentals and what-not, a few agencies will come up. We used The DVC Rental Store (Link Here) to reserve our 7-Day Poly stay.
I think one of the first things to mention about this process, is that it starts as a request. You have to submit your top two or three resorts and possibly even alternate dates, which are then matched up with DVC members and their availability. You are not guaranteed your first pick. Your assigned agent is the go-between person who handles everything from reservation requests, payment forms, and any changes along the way. They will come back and let you know if your first choice is available or if you need to rearrange some dates or select your second choice resort for a DVC member to accommodate your stay.
Our first pick was the second week of September at the Polynesian, and our second pick was going to be Disney's Beach Club. There's a timing window to be aware of as well. These things are first come first serve and so the earlier you get your request in, the better chances you have of getting your first choice. With that said, the earliest we could make a request was 11 months prior to the trip. Which you may say is plenty of time, but my crazy ass had been planning this trip a year and a half in advance, so waiting for a room request to come back was a little nerve wracking.
We snagged our first choice and things began rolling. Our agent, sent us instructions for the deposit and due dates for the remaining balance and such. There were also add-ons we could have selected, like a protection plan, meal plans, park tickets, etc... if we wanted to get everything done in one transaction. We added a protection plan just to calm my nerves a bit, but otherwise we stuck with just the room reservation.
We were sent the reservation details, and were able to plug all that into our own MyDisneyExperience accounts, and start building our plans directly through Disney, which I wasn't expecting. The only thing we had left to really do through our DVC member was simply reserve the Magical Express ride to and from the airport.
Our Disney resort experience was exactly the same as everyone else's at that point. We still got to choose our complimentary Magic Bands, make fast pass selections and advance dining reservations. Once we got our room reservation numbers, all the planning took place on the MyDisneyExperience app. Even checking into the resort could be done 100% from my phone and, our Magic Bands let us right into our room when we got the text saying they were ready for us.
Okay but what really are the savings?
So what y'all really want to know is, what does this really save you? And I'll be 100% open and honest about what we spent, so you know I'm not blowing smoke.
The pricing is on a "per point" system, since the DVC members are given an amount of points to use each year and thats essentially the booking currency for DVC rooms. So a rental agency will list how much it will cost per point needed for a specific resort and length of stay. The system can be a bit confusing to understand so I'll just link to some professional explanation here.
Obviously deluxe resorts require more points and therefore are more expensive than moderate resorts. And you can choose varying sized rooms or suites to fit your party's needs as well.
For a Sunday to Saturday stay at "Disney's Polynesian Villas & Bungalows - Standard View Deluxe Studio Villa" booked 11 months in advance during the second week of September, it was 99 points at $18 per point or a total of $1,782. This was broken into an initial deposit of $100, booking deposit of $989, and balance that had to be paid by 45 days prior to arrival of $693. The optional protection plan was $175, and we ended up not needing it at all.
Now for the same week booked directly through Disney we would have paid $551 per night at a total of $3,306. Guys... Thats a savings of $1,524 or 46%. (Yeah, yeah, not exactly half, but pretty damn close!)
I know prices are constantly changing (and going up and up, when it comes to Disney) but there isn't a single other "Disney Budgeting Tip" out there that has this much of an impact, and if you find one PLEASE send it my way.
Anyways, I hope this can help some of you with your Disney planning and budgeting, and maybe will allow you to book a resort you've had your eye on.
If you have any questions, I'll try my best to direct you to the right answer!