If you are new to hearing about Disney Vacation Club memberships, you are probably wondering what it means when people refer to points/contracts as being Direct or Resale. So as a follow up to my post linked below regarding the up front cost of purchasing a Disney Vacation Club Membership in general, it is important to address what the differences are between Direct and Resale contracts, since clearly the prices are quite different, to say the least. Refer to the link below for the drastic differences in prices.
Direct Disney Vacation Club points are those purchased in a contract directly from a DVC representative at a DVC location, via the DVC website, or the DVC membership inquiry phone line. They are points that have been allotted directly from Disney for a specific home resort at a specific, non-negotiable price. Resale Disney Vacation Club points are those purchased in a contract from a current DVC member who no longer wants their membership. These contracts are usually sold on very active resale markets via a reseller webpage (but sometimes directly from a member via social media). Resale prices are controlled by supply and demand on the resale market.
Resale points were formerly direct points purchased by another Disney lover directly from DVC. Due to life circumstances, people choose to sell their contracts to other Disney lovers (thank goodness for that, otherwise you would be buying a timeshare with no option of ever selling it if need be! That would be a dangerous investment). Resale points serve exactly the same function for the new acquiring member as they did for the former member who purchased the points from Disney. They have the same use year, home resort, expiration date, annual dues, etc. The only thing that gets lost in the resale transaction process is some “direct perks” that Disney has added on for points purchased directly from them, so as to incentivize people to fork over the big bucks for a direct contract.
So what are these perks exactly? If you purchase a DVC contract directly from DVC, instead of via the resale market, you qualify for this list of perks, taken directly from the Disney Vacation Club Website:
For the first four on the list above, they are referring to your ability to use points to book reservations outside of Disney Vacation Club resorts. You can use your points, instead of cash, to book a Disney Cruise, a trip to a “Disney Collection” resort, a “Disney Adventure,” or a stay at a “Concierge Collection” resort. The Disney Collection and Concierge Collection items are referring to using your points at regular Disney hotels around the world that typically don’t qualify as DVC resorts, while the Concierge Collection is referring to using your points at a variety of fancy hotels throughout the country (world?). For example you could use points to book a night at a nice hotel in Chicago. The general consensus among DVC members is that the pricing for these options makes them a pretty poor use of points, and you’d be better paying cash for these trips and maybe renting your DVC points out that year to cover the cost. These bookings at non DVC resorts cost a large number of points per night, which doesn’t translate to a savings when compared to paying cash. Similarly, you could rent out your DVC points (resale or direct) and use the proceeds to pay for a Cruise if you’d like. So in my opinion, these items are not of much consequent in deciding to purchase resale vs direct.
Member Cruises and Exclusive Member Events refer to cool members-only options for Cruises and usually “Moonlight Magic” events in the parks. Every so often, DVC announces a members-only cruise, where direct owners can use their points to book a Disney Cruise exclusive to DVC members. So it will be a boat full of true die-hard Disney lovers from the DVC community. Similarly, Disney will announce Moonlight Magic events periodically (not during Covid so far), where direct DVC members can sign up (for free) to get a ticket to an after-hours event in a specific park. I personally don’t give too much weight to these events because I live out of state and can’t drop everything to go to Disney on a specific day of the year just to take advantage of a Moonlight Magic event. They usually are only offered a handful of times per year, and sell out rapidly (since MM events are free – Cruises, of course, are not). None of them have ever fallen on a date when we were traveling to Disney, so they haven’t been too applicable to my analysis, but free events are a cool concept nonetheless.
Now the discounts… dining, shopping, and recreation. Direct DVC members typically get 10% off table service dining, most shopping within Disney, and recreation options like some tours, mini golf, etc. Similar discounts are available to Disney Visa cardholders and Annual Passholders. Sometimes the AP discount gets bumped up to 20-30% at certain times of the year (for merchandise…not dining). Many DVC members are also Disney Visa cardholders and Annual Passholders. If this is the case, the discounts are irrelevant in your decision to buy direct vs resale, as you will get similar discounts regardless. If you do not have a Disney Visa card or an Annual Pass, you need to think about how much you spend on food/shopping in Disney and if saving 10% of that would be worth the additional up front cost of purchasing Direct points. As someone who is a DVC member, a Disney Visa cardholder, and an Annual Passholder, I can say that I generally show my Annual Pass for discounts. It is just a little bit easier than showing my DVC membership ID and (allegedly) your photo ID as well.
Now here is the big one that I skipped over because it actually could be a deal breaker for many people…. “Discounts on Theme Park Tickets.” First of all, don’t get excited, that is quite a misleading name on the list because there is no discount for park tickets at all for DVC members really. You do not get any discounts on daily park tickets, park hoppers, or anything like that. If you are booking a trip using your DVC points, you will not be offered any sort of discount on park passes for your trip. You are better off using Undercover Tourist for your park passes than Disney honestly (ah yes there I just lost the support of Disney/DVC in this post haha).
Where the “discount” comes in is exclusively for annual passes. DVC die hards will clarify that technically there is no discount persay for DVC members buying annual passes, but instead, you qualify for a special annual pass that is normally only available to Florida residents: the Gold Pass. Normally on the Disney website, when purchasing an annual pass, you will see a ton of options including Platinum passes, Platinum Plus passes, etc. Only direct DVC members and Florida Residents qualify for the special “Gold Pass” that excludes some of the perks of a platinum pass (a couple blackout dates and no ability to add on water parks – you’ll need a separate water park pass), but is SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper. I believe when I purchased my Gold pass this year it was somewhere in the ball park of $700-$750, whereas a Platinum pass gets up to around $1000+. That means if you are fans of annual passes (which work great with DVC, since then you can travel to Disney any time with no incremental cost for park passes or hotel stays, basically your only cost is airfare and dining), this perk potentially saves you $200+ per year per family member. For a large family, that is huge. It could come out to be $1000+ in savings per year just on park passes. If you plan to travel every year for decades, this perk alone makes buying direct worth it. The caveat of course is that they can do away with this perk at any time. They make sure to mention that absolutely everywhere. Back in the 90s when people bought direct DVC points, their contract actually included FREE annual passes every year. Disney quickly did away with that. They could do away with the Gold Pass at any time (just like how this year no one can buy new annual passes at all).
The ability to purchase a Gold Pass applies to anyone listed on the direct DVC membership deed, as well as immediate family members living at the same address. I can’t get a discounted Gold Pass using my mom’s membership number (her membership is direct) because you have to show proof of your address when activating the pass at the Guest Services window at the park. I do not live at the same address as my mother, and I am not listed on the deed, so this pass is not available to me.
Oddly I will note, that I have been able to purchase and activate a Gold Pass, despite my membership being a resale membership. I think there is some sort of error in the system that let me get through the cracks though. I was able to purchase it online, much to my surprise, and I was able to activate it at the park without an issue. I did have a little trouble activating my son’s more recently because they said they “upgraded their system” and the membership wasn’t showing up the same anymore (probably because I don’t keep this strike of luck very secret lol), so my Gold Pass days may be numbered, we will see when renewal time comes around this Fall.
So if I wrote this back in 2018, my list would be done now. The items previously discussed used to be the only perks of purchasing direct. Then Disney threw a real curveball. You’ll see the item “All Disney Vacation Club Resorts” on the list now. A couple years ago, Disney realized they just weren’t combatting the savings of buying resale effectively with the previously discussed perks. They didn’t want to add MORE perks though, so they were in a pickle. Instead of adding additional perks for direct members, they took something big away from resale owners. That is when they announced that going forward, anyone who purchased a new resale contract in 2019 or beyond would be limited to using their points at the existing 14 DVC resorts, and would not be able to use them at newly constructed resorts. For now, this only excludes Riviera. There are no new DVC resorts in the works currently, except a new building at the Grand Floridian, so we are really just talking about Riviera for the foreseeable future.
Resale owners who purchased in 2019 or later can not use their points to book rooms at Riviera. Even more interesting, people who purchase Riviera points on the resale market can ONLY use their points at Riviera. This will apply to future resorts as well. If you purchase points for a future resort on the resale market, you will be limited exclusively to that resort. This should really impact the resale price for Riviera and future resorts, but I’m not sure that that has been seen yet. Disney really wants everyone to buy into their new constructions directly through Disney, so they are doing their best to make resale contracts at these new resorts unattractive. Ironically, this should deter people from buying Riviera points directly because it may impact their ability to sell their contract easily if they get in a crisis and need to do so.
If you purchased resale before 2019, this is completely not applicable. You can use your points at every newly constructed resort just like direct owners.
I purchased my resale contract in 2020. I wasn’t deterred by this limitation, despite absolutely loving Riviera, because 1. The rooms at Riviera cost too many points per night for me to realistically stay there very often and 2. If I do want to stay there, I’ll rent my points to someone and use the cash to turn around and rent Riviera points, bada bing bada boom, easy peasy, problem solved. The rental market isn’t going anywhere, it’s just getting bigger and better all the time, so this is a real safety net for people who want to save the money by buying resale and still have the options to stay at Riviera or future resorts.
Now the last two items on the list are applicable to both direct and resale members so I won’t even get into them, but it is worth noting there are a ton of additional “perks” of DVC that apply to both direct and resale members. For example, on the list above: the Top of the World Lounge. This is a pretty awesome little lounge at the top of Bay Lake Tower where you can have drinks and watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks. Similarly, there is a lounge in Epcot for all DVC members. It just has snacks and some much needed air conditioning. Another perk applicable to all DVC members: pool hopping. You can use pools at resorts that you are not staying at, excluding a list of specific resort pools that do not qualify. Why would anyone want to go to another resort to use a pool? Well, the Yacht/Beach Club has the BEST POOL EVER, and when we started staying at the Boardwalk we always took the 5 minute walk over to that awesome pool. Of course now that pool is on the list of No Pool Hopping pools, so that is a major bummer. Pool hopping is a cool way to visit new resorts that you haven’t stayed at though. Free parking at resorts is another perk that applies to all DVC members. Basically anything that isn’t in the list above should be assumed to apply to all DVC members, regardless of how they purchased their points.
Hope this little rundown on the “perks” of Direct ownership can help some prospective DVC members decide how to make their purchase! So many factors to consider! Just always remember: no matter how you buy, you are getting the same home resort options, the same booking windows, the same expiration dates, and the same annual dues as everyone else who purchased at the same home resort as you, whether Direct or Resale. Those key items do not vary across purchase types. The only thing that varies is access to the perks in the simple screenshot above.