Disney Vacation Club changes rules on booking theme park hotel rooms

January 18, 2011, 9:02 PM · The Disney Vacation Club is making a change that will make it harder for thousands of Disney fans to visit the company's theme parks this year.

Of course, the change might make it easier for thousands of other fans to visit Walt Disney World and Disneyland, too.

Old Key West Resort at Walt Disney World

How so? Disney's barring Disney Vacation Club members from using points that they buy from other DVC members to book nights at Walt Disney World and Disneyland hotels. If you want to book at a Disney World or Disneyland hotel, you have to use points that you bought from DVC, Disney's time-share arm. (Though, of course, Disney will never, ever call it that.)

DVC members can continue to use points bought on the secondary market to book DVC properties at Disney World, as well as vacations at non-theme park DVC properties, such as Disney's Vero Beach facility. And they can book at other properties that participate in DVC's time-share exchange network.

But by taking the "regular" hotel rooms out of the DVC pool, Disney will make it harder for members using "after-market" points to book WDW vacations. They'll have to compete with fellow members for only the rooms available at the DVC resorts, while members using Disney-bought points can book either at the DVC properties or the regular Disney World hotels.

Why would people buy points from other DVC members? 'Cause they're cheaper, that's why. With the collapse of the housing bubble, thousands of DVC members not longer have the home equity cash to spend on stuff like DVC vacations. Others have lost jobs or income, cutting into vacation funds. So they try to recoup a few extra bucks selling their leftover points to others.

If you're wondering, Disney can't ban the resale to others of DVC assets like it can theme park tickets, due to various state real estate laws. But it does give itself the right of first refusal on point resales. And it appears to be within its rights to change the terms under which members can use resold points. (Though I wouldn't be surprised to see someone sue.)

Any DVC members want to comment?

Replies (10)

January 18, 2011 at 9:24 PM · This kind of thing is why I've stayed away from DVC despite some value we'd likely realize -- the company will not be on your side. Disney is trying to circumvent the free market by making this change. It's an admission that the timeshares they are selling are overpriced and can't stand on their own.
January 18, 2011 at 10:05 PM · As a DVC member, I'm not that happy with the concept of Disney making policy changes when it comes to how points can be used. I also don't like the idea of differentiating points bought direct from points purchased through resale. Points should be points, no matter how they are acquired.

Having said that, the reality is that this will have very little impact for my travel plans. The point requirements for non-DVC Disney resorts have always been ridiculous and prohibitive, so I never really considered it an option.

January 18, 2011 at 10:51 PM · It doesn't really affect me from what I see. I will see what my parents think of this change, but we have NEVER bought secondary points outside of Disney (and we have had them since 91 with the addition of more points in 07 from DVC).

The problem with alot of the DVC loopholes and restrictions are most of them are put into place because somebody has figured out how to really abuse the system just like the "free tickets to the parks" DVC perk (yes, it exsisted!)

So all in all, as a DVC family at OKW and AKL, this new rule does not affect us and we really are not worried! We also would likely not stay at a non DVC resort. At WDW, its pretty hard not to! I also really have never had a problem staying at other DVC resorts except during EPCOT's Food and Wine Festival (I mean, who wouldn't want to stay at the Boardwalk or the Beach Club for that!)

Perhaps we got into the DVC really early and the reaping the benefits of early investments, but we think DVC ROCKS!

January 18, 2011 at 11:01 PM · The problem is simple - Disney should never have allowed DVC points to be used at their hotels. The change is obviously necessary to curb the blatant abuse.

I don't see how anyone can make an argument that Disney is cheating their timeshare owners by restricting them to use their points at the timeshare properties. You invested in those properties, not the hotels.

January 19, 2011 at 1:06 AM · I'm not a DVC member because, let's face it, it's a timeshare. However, I do shop around for the points that people don't use online, often getting ridiculously good prices on longer stays.

That being said, this won't affect people that aren't members buying points from members, will it?

January 19, 2011 at 7:58 AM · Actually, this change will impact all current DVC members. It may not change how you book your vacations, but it does reduce the value of your timeshare should you decide to sell (since Disney has now created two tiers of members). Where did that value go? It transferred to Disney. Many of you will keep your timeshare to the end and thus this won't matter. But think about how many people who loved their DVC timeshare had to sell for economic reasons over the past few years. Had this policy been in place, they would have received even less than they did.
January 19, 2011 at 8:54 AM · The change only applies to purchases after March 21, 2011. Thus there is no basis for any law suit.
January 19, 2011 at 9:08 AM · Its more than just a timeshare. Basically, you need to go on vacation for about a week every two years (thats how we calculated it). Plus, you can use it for more than just Disney resorts. My relatives have gone on the east coast and southwest with their points.

But really, if you are a DVC member, you should be staying at a DVC resort when you go to WDW, simple as that! There are enough DVC resorts that you can stay by any park or area now.

I still call massive abuses to the system as reason for them to crack down on!

January 19, 2011 at 10:52 AM · We are former DVC owners (economics forced a sale) and I will say that since we purchased on a resale, we were able to get all of our money back when we sold our DVC. That won't be the case anymore and the resale value of all the DVCs out there will go down. So, if any current DVC owners end up needing to sell for financial reasons, they won't be able to recoup as much now.

I agree that staying anywhere other than a DVC resort was prohibitive, so we never did. That said, we used to use our points for the cruise. The cruises are very expensive and using DVC points was the only way we could afford to go. This may have been a "perk", but it was a perk that was sold to us with our membership and one of the reasons we purchased to begin with. We'll have to think hard about purchasing again in the future.

January 19, 2011 at 12:47 PM · Anthony Murphy -

How is DVC anything but a timeshare? Many other timeshares allow you to stay at many resorts within their system or trade through RCI or II. Now, like most other timeshare operators Disney is now making resale purchasers second class citizens, and the only reason is because they feel that resales are stealing some of their direct sales.

As for abuses, what does this stop? Where owners rushing to pay way too many points to stay in a Disney hotel unit?

I don't know about the free Disney passes, but they included them with the units intially because they though they needed to include them to sell the points at their prices. They stopped when they realized that they can sell the points at the same price without the passes.


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