Taking a Disney Vacation Club Tour for Extra FastPasses and Gift Cards!

Please note this site has financial relationships with American Express and this post may contain affiliate links. Read my Advertiser Disclosure policy here to learn more about my partners.

Apologies to those who couldn’t care less about Disney related topics, but we are at Disney right now so I kind of have Disney on the brain, and on my shoes, and in my stomach, and pretty much everywhere else. Before our trip I knew a bit about the opportunity to take a Disney Vacation Club (timeshare) tour in exchange for a $50 Disney gift card and three additional “anytime use” FastPasses for each member of our party. I didn’t know if I would actually get a chance to take the tour since we had a tight schedule given that we have a toddler in our crew, but I kept the idea on the back burner in case the opportunity presented itself.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

We ended up having a few free hours before heading to the parks on our first full day here, so I wandered over to the DVC representative in the lobby of the Polynesian and chatted about the possibility of taking the tour and the available time slots. There weren’t any appointments open immediately at the Polynesian, but there was one about an hour from then at The Boardwalk, so we signed up. They provide transportation via van (complete with car seats) to the tour, and then from there to anywhere on Disney property. In our case, they were going to drop us off right at the front of EPCOT after the 60 – 90 minute tour and presentation.

When we were signing up, we were initially told about three additional FastPasses as an incentive to take the tour, but the $50 Disney gift card wasn’t confirmed until later in the process, so I’m not sure if there are any restrictions with who can get that. Since my mom is technically a different household, she was also eligible for her own $50 gift card for going to the DVC tour.

I knew I wasn’t going to be buying a timeshare today, but I wasn’t going just for the FastPasses and gift cards (though that was obviously the primary motivator). We are actually staying at Disney for a few of our nights on rented DVC points, so I am very open to learning more about the program…I’m just not going to be writing a five figure check for a Disney timeshare right this second. You can decide for yourself the ethics of going on one of these tours if you know you aren’t going to be buying at this time.

We were picked up by a very nice driver in a van in front of the Polynesian at the appointed time and driven the 10 – 15 minutes over to The Boardwalk. We headed straight into a small but comfortable office area where we were shown to a room that had a coloring table set-up for the kids, and even Disney loaded iPads for them to borrow! There were juices, waters, and sodas available. If you do your tour at Saratoga Springs there is also ice cream available after the tour, but the time slots for that tour didn’t work with our schedule.

Our presentation started with the rep chatting with my mom and me about our current Disney trip and our typical travel styles and patterns. As I usually am on these sort of tours, I was very up-front that my traveling patterns are a little unique because while we travel a lot, our lodging costs are much lower than it would seem because of miles and points. This makes the usual ‘numbers portion’ of the presentation not all that relevant to us. However, we are enjoying the heck out of our first Polynesian stay, so the applicability of DVC ownership is higher than some non-Disney timeshares due to the uniqueness of Disney.

Our presentation room

We chatted for a while about how their points-based system works, looked at the numbers, and within 45 minutes or so we were done and on our way to EPCOT with our promised gift cards and the FastPasses were loaded to our accounts. We had a great conversation and learned a lot (like that we should use DVC points the first full week of January when points prices are really low!), but it was clear we weren’t buying today, so the presentation didn’t run as long as it otherwise might have. We actually were never shown any rooms, which surprised me a little. I don’t know if that was because it was clear we weren’t buyers or because we were already staying in a DVC room at the Polynesian. There was no second person we had to talk to, or alternate offer presented at the last minute, or any other sort of higher pressure situation. It was exactly what you would expect from Disney…friendly, informative, and efficient. Nothing more, nothing less.

While we were aren’t DVC buyers at the moment, I can understand why others would be. If you typically pay anywhere close to retail for Disney Deluxe rooms, and like to do something Disney related at least every other year or so, then being a DVC owner can make financial sense. They say it saves roughly 50% off the retail price of the Deluxe resorts, and I think that is probably accurate. Not only that, but you get other discounts on tickets, meals, etc. and special access to events and more than non-owners miss out on. However, it is still a bunch of money to spend on Disney, and the initial purchase price still doesn’t cover your annual dues. Of course it also doesn’t include all the other costs you will incur when you actually come to Disney to use your points/nights.

With the availability of renting DVC points from others, periodic sales on rooms directly from Disney, etc. I think we do okay not being DVC owners at the moment, but it is still something to be aware of in case our travel patterns shift or we decide we want to go all-in on Disney at some point. Of course if you are actively interested in being a DVC owner, also remember the resale market for Disney timeshares, though there are some perks you get only if you buy directly from Disney so you will want to factor everything into the equation.

All in all I’m really glad we did the DVC tour as we learned some things we didn’t know, each got three FastPasses to use on most attractions (other than the really new ones and a handful of others), and we netted a total of $100 in Disney gift cards for our roughly hour of committed time. If I had to do it again I would have made an appointment a bit further in advance so we wouldn’t have had to leave the Polynesian at all, but otherwise I would 100% do this again if the variables stayed the same.

Have your, or would you, do a Disney Vacation Club tour in exchange for learning about the program and getting some Disney goodies?

Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.

Comments

  1. Yes, we did this back in 2006 for the free fast passes. We had no intention of buying even though we had rented points quite a few times. We ended up buying a small Boardwalk DVC contract on the secondary market in 2007. Haha – I guess their plan worked. They know that some people are going on the tour just for the gift cards and fast passes. They truly believe that they have such a good product that some people will become buyers even when they didn’t start off with those intentions. The DVC is great for a points/miles motivated person. There are some great ways to work the system just as you would a loyalty program. It just takes education and persistence. We have stayed at the Disney Aulani resort a couple of times for pennies on the dollar for last minute trips. Enjoy your trip MommyPoints! We just returned home from the Dolphin last night.

    • Did you stay at Aulani for pennies on the dollar as a DVC member or did you rent DVC points? How do you rent points, by the way?

      • I bought points from someone and had them transferred into my DVC account right before they expired. The owner had to cancel a last minute trip and was going to lose the points completely. I gave them a $200 for a grand villa at aulani for 3 nights and a 2BR for one night. We took my parents and had a vacation that none of us will ever forget. We lucked out and got the top floor ocean view. It was the best room at the resort – I think it was about $2,200 a night. I couldn’t have done it unless I owned DVC. The owner wasn’t willing to look for availability for me- they just wanted to sell the points and do the transfer immediately. I looked online for the availability prior to purchasing and then booked it as soon as the points were transferred.
        I am an atypical timeshare owner. I do not book vacations 6-12 months in advance. I book last minute trips and rent out my points at peak season. I can rent out 1 years worth of points for 3+ years of my annual maintenance fees. It has been a great formula for the last 10 years. The two things that I love most about my DVC membership:
        1) Using the intricacies to my advantage (this took a lot of education at the beginning) . I also love this about the miles/points game.
        2) Being able to rent out my points during peak season

        I should also mention that I currently have 2.1 million miles/points and use them regularly, so I am not just a blind DVC timeshare lemming. The crazy thing is that my boardwalk DVC timeshare is worth more now than it was 10 years ago when I bought it. I don’t know of another timeshare that has actually appreciated – very strange to me.

        You can rent points on mouseowners.com or disboards.com

        It is very surprising to me to more miles/points junkies aren’t DVC owners as well. Yes, you have to have some cash to buy in. I would not recommend borrowing money for your vacations or investments. There are lots of opportunities to work the DVC system as well as rent the points/reservations. Disney’s rack rates continue to climb. There are some really good returns in renting reservations. Feel free to let me know if you have any questions

    • Buy just enough to get you in from Disney and then look for a good sized amount of points on the secondary market. These can be transfered into your primary purchased via disney. Bank and borrow what you need for a good week stay every three years. Rent directlyvia disboards or through a place like Dave’s to use your extra points to pay for the dues and I’d you bought enough, pay yourself back the purchase price. I’d only ever consider Disney, they can actually be sold for more than you paid later on . I’d never finance unless it was at a really low rate via some other loan besides a mortgage. Like against your retirement plan and paying yourself interest back.

      We pay our dues via our Chase Sapphire Reserve and get points off of it as well. We have traded stays directly with other owners at other timeshares without going through the the exchanges. Disney rooms are the closest thing to gold in the timeshare world.

  2. I think your entire family is an ideal candidate for a good timeshare like DVC.

    Even though DVC points transfer to RCI (etc), however, I feel their usefulness at Disney resorts/cruises would wane over time as your kids got older. In which case you would be using them someplace else but also paying a premium for that benefit by purchasing at Disney to begin with.

    I think it’s great you made the effort to attend a presentation. I don’t know if this is your first, or not (& most other companies won’t let you attend without your hubs, believe it or not!), but keep an open mind to the possibilities, & I think you will know a good fit for your family long-term when you are presented with it.

    Talking with other owners is the best education (redweek.com; tung2.net; mommypoints.com!). Ask LOTS of questions. Believe me when I say there are plenty of ts naysayers out there. If you are clever in your purchase price and realistic with your expectations, though, I know you would do an outstanding job working it for all its worth (and fitting it alongside your other travel tools).

    Enjoy the rest of your trip, and I am so glad you had a nice experience. I have been to many over the years, and I usually also find that to be the rule rather than the exception with the nicer companies. I personally own 3, & I couldn’t be more pleased with my choices.

  3. We are DVC members and our trips have created a lifetime of memories for our kids. We originally bought into DVC so we could take family and friends on trips with us to Disney. We love getting a 2 bedroom with kitchen so there is more space and we can fix a few meals in the rooms. We bought our BCV contract when the girls were 7 and 4. As our oldest heads to college in the fall, I don’t regret the decision one bit even though I had a tough time justifying the numbers at the beginning. The girls have amazing memories from spending time with family/friends at Disney, Hilton Head, Aulani, and cruises. Looking forward to trips without the girls while they are in college and then maybe one day with grandkids!

  4. We bought at Bay Lake Towe when it was first sold and got a great deal, including bonus points. We used our points for two weeks at BLT in a magic kingdom view one bed room, two trips to Aulani, a couple nights at the Grand Californian, and rented a few extra point out one time. I think we also got a small discount on a cruise. That got Disney World out of our system, and so I sold the points on the resale market. Taking into account the difference between what I paid and what I sold them for, plus the maintenance fees I paid, total out of pocket was about $5500. I thought that was a pretty good deal for what we got — certainly way below rack rates. I don’t think these kind of returns are possible anymore, but I thought we played it right.

  5. All of the comments justifying the price is silly. This is a points blog. We travel for free or close to it. No churner would dare pay thousands for a timeshare.

    • Timeshares enhance family vacations – it just depends what that is worth to a family over a long period of years.
      2-3 bedrooms & cottages, for instance, provide more space to unwind. They are the timeshare sweet spot over hotel room(s).

      Before I purchased, I was continually shopping multiple-room properties that sometimes wouldn’t accept points. I had to then redeem room-by-room and then ensure that they adjoined. It broke up the whole feeling of a “family vacation” when you had to enter someone else’s space to relax, eat, etc. Plus more hassle for me, the trip organizer.

      I found some success with Marriott using “hotel” points for their own 2-3 br timrshare properties, but it would invariably wipe my Marriott Rewards bank out quick! Same with Hilton at, say, 200k/night in Hawaii at HGV. I love the Hyatt Kaanapali Residences, but 30k points/night for a 1-br facing the mountains is just not special + I can find much better value for their use for family travel.

      I complememt Wyndham often, and they now offer affordable point options on their multi-room cottages, priced out by room. Problem is actually accumulating enough WR – there are only 2 cc “bonuses” available – the rest is all thru spend.

      Full kitchens, dining rooms, washer/dryers, etc. are flat out more convenient for families traveling together. I have exchanged time for glamping in a yurt to real wood-burning-fireplace cabins in the Ozarks. There are experiences I have had using my ts points I never had churning hotel points & vice-versa.

      There is a price to pay for any travel – meeting spend requirements/hefty annual fees on most cc offers these days are only 2 of them. Heck, the almost $1k/year I pay on 2 of my premium card annual fees would more than cover one of my HOA fees!

      I have been in the points game for a very long time, and sometimes it’s just a comfort to have a sure thing (ts points & transfers) in your back pocket for planning purposes. So, yes, there are the intangibles, but don’t we place a high premium on those when we travel anyways?

      Summer is creative, organized, and looks ahead – the trifecta of successful ts ownership management. In my opinion, modern timeshare ownership is flexible (you can exchange for yachting, cruising, and rail travel) and a crucial part of a well-diversified travel portfolio. If you intend to travel extensively anyway until you, well…can’t, I say go for it but tread carefully. There are plenty of blogs & advice on how to do that affordably for what fits your needs. Research & many conversations with owners nets the best result at a surprisingly affordable price extrapolated over several decades, even considering rising HOA fees.

      • I get most of what you’re saying. A lot of what you have paid for is, like you say, comfort, or a lifestyle choice. And for those who value that, they can spend their money on anything they choose! My only point is that timeshares are not a bargain when considering a Disney stay is possible at free or close to it when you’re a solid player in the points game. I’m just pointing out that for those, like me, who live on a teacher’s salary, the multiplied $1,000’s spent on a timeshare is not necessary and not an efficient use of cash for the cost sensitive traveler. For those who buy in, it is a lifestyle choice, but never a bargain.

        • Please detail your secret for a free Disney trip for a family of 4. I mean specifics & not just churn and burn rhetoric.

          • I had 2 SW companion passes, so the girls were each flew free with my wife and I, who flew on points. We stayed at the Swan for 5 nights with SPG points. We bought the Disney parks tickets from a vendor that coded as travel on two different Capital One Venture cards. Paid for Discovery Cove from the same vendor with Barclay Arrival. Paid for ubers in town the the Arrival as well. It was a lot of planning, but so worth it. I’m not alone… there are several churners who have done similar Disney trips.

        • I never said a timeshare was a bargain, Eddie – I said the right one can be a good value, depending on family circumstances and preferences. But you are spot-on about lifestyle choices – I would never burn thru 60,000 SPG points (worth $1,620) at Disney. I prefer butler service in a big suite at a St. Regis for that kinda outlay!

          • Silly rabbit. I wouldn’t pay 60K SPG either. I stayed in 2015 when the Swan was 10K/night. And you may have forgot about the SPG 5th night free. My outlay was 40K for 5 nights, which is a solid redemption for Disney! With the room booking at over $300/night, my value was over 3 cents/point and I’ll take that every day!

          • No…I didn’t forget, I just didn’t want to presume you had any status. I’ll take my $1k cash equivalent (40,000 x .027) and pay the HOA on my beautiful new Westin timeshare in Maui on Kaanapali. If I need more room, I’ll use SPG points for an additional ocean-front unit.

            Different strokes . . . 5/24, “once in a lifetime” bonuses, and other future industry-tightening tactics will never be an obstacle to my family’s travel.

          • Pam, you don’t need status for SPG’s 5th night free. You made one of my points for me. I’m pointing out that buying into a timeshare for multiplied thousands of dollars is not an efficient use of dollars. You paying that kind of money bought you the comfort of avoiding “industry-tightening tactics”. Again, a lifestyle choice, for one with that kind of expendible income. I’m happy for you having the money to own a beautiful, new Maui ocean-front timeshare. I’m letting others know they don’t need to spend your kind of money if they want a similar experience.

    • Agreed! I stayed for 8 days at the Marriott’s Harbor Lake in a 2 bedroom villa that was better (in my opinion) that any DVC. FREE! Not to mention I gained a Southwest Companion Pass out of the deal.

      All I did was get 2 SPG cards, move the points to Marriott, buy a points+travel package.

      I used my CSR travel credit for the rental car. I used United points from another churn for 4 airline tickets.

      The only out of pocket expense was the Disney tickets and we got those at military prices.

      • Mary,

        If you are military, I am surprised you didn’t stay at the Shades of Green. Very nice resort, a few hundred yards from the Polynesian, and cheaper than the Disney resorts.

  6. Silly? You travel for free? I doubt both of your statements. The DVC is an excellent bargain for those wishing to stay at a better resort. Buy on the secondary market for 1/2 the cost, then buy the 25 point min from Disney and get all of the perks as if you bought them all through Disney. Our DVC will pay for itself in less than 3 years. Do the math folks. It is a bargain if you want to stay at micer Disney properties.

  7. We have been DVC members since 1999 and added to our membership 3 times. Great investment for our family. Several cruises, many Orlando trips, several trips to other DVC resorts, and multiple Hawaii trips for the family. Honeymoons for our sons were to Hawaii and on cruises using DVC points. We are very happy with our purchase.

  8. We’re headed to Disney at the end of August and I’ve thought about signing up for one of these tours. I’m not prepared to buy in right now, but we are renting points to stay at Bay Lake Tower (first time staying at a DVC property) so I feel like it’d be a good time to take the tour as well to learn more about the program. Plus the Fast Passes & gift card incentive don’t hurt. Thanks for posting about your experience; I’ll try to book a time in advance based on your recommendation.

  9. I don’t think that timeshares or DVC memberships are always good or always bad. You can put together a close to free Disney trip with sign-up bonuses, but it is not as easy to do the second or third time around. DVC is for someone who wants to return year after year, or at least every other year or so. There is also just a different experience staying off property, or even on property but at the Swan or Dolphin than there is somewhere like The Polynesian. Both can be great, but they are different experiences. If I had the cash sitting around to buy into DVC and I trusted our year over year income and travel patterns a bit more than I do, I think it could make a ton of sense for us. For now I like piecing together deals and shorter trips to experience the Magic instead of buying into a 50 year commitment, but I can absolutely understand why DVC makes sense for some Mouse Families.

    • Yes, MP, I am not a Disney fan per, but you have definitely piqued my interest in at least visiting the Polynesian!

      I see success with large extended families combining financial resources on a purchase. Ownership is deeded to a Trust, and a separate “Family Agreement” details who gets to use it when. There is usually some degree of flexibility built in. Say your family may want it for spring break now but that could be revisited in 10 years, for instance. Or you can switch out, you get the idea.

      Sounds like your main objection is cost, both the upfront now and future HOA fees – maybe worth discussing with the in-laws, etc if the first cousins are also Disney fans?

    • These are a couple of other areas to explore when deciding overall DVC affordabililty:

      Your entire portion of a DVC purchase + recurring DVC HOA fees could be placed on the Disney Premiere Visa Card to earn 2 Disney Reward Dollars/$. https://disneyrewards.com/how-to-earn/two-percent-locations/

      I am estimating costs, but for a $40,000 DVC 2-bedroom villa 6-night purchase at the Polynesian, you will earn 80,000 Disney Reward Dollars the first year that would go a long way toward your next Disney Vacation(s). That is in addition to additional incentives offered both by the ts and cc companies for a new account.

      Most ts companies offer 180 days to pay off a ts loan with no interest, so you could pay the loan off in increments on the Disney credit card (up to your credit line each time), then find alternative sources to pay that off before incurring any finance charges.

      Paying the estimated $1,400 annual HOA fees with the Disney card also generates an additional 2,800 Disney Reward Dollars/year for a total of almost 83,000 DRDs for use your first year.

      I used this same strategy with my Westin Nanea purchase. I opened a new SPG business card with a 35k bonus. I used it to pay for the timeshare while earning double points because it is a Starwood property. Using the example above, that is an additional 115,000 SPG points in the bank ($3,105 equivalent) + additional SPG point incentives awarded for becoming an owner ($2,160 equivalent).

      You promote the purchase, and use, of SPG points MP, so you should know I was also offered the purchase of 360,000 additional SPG points at a rate of .020681/point. Since 2.275 cents per SPG points is the least you can pay (with the current 35%-off special), that is a savings of $745 over the current public sales price on the full 360k points.

      For obvious reasons, I prefer timeshare companies that also tie into loyalty programs (Wyndham, Hyatt, etc). It is so convenient to easily switch back-and-forth between the timeshare and hotel sides as needed. I also like receiving bonus loyalty points when paying my HOA fees – 5 Wyndham Rewards earned for each HOA dollar charged to their card, for example, the most they offer.

      Hope this gives you more food for thought, Summer – enjoy the rest of your weekend.

  10. Thanks for the heads up about the incentives for taking the tour, we scheduled ourselves in! It will be fun to learn how this system works.

  11. I did the tour last week and ended up buying in. I was only going for the gift card ($100 was my offer).
    I’m the skeptical buyer (car dealers hate me) but when I want something, I’m not afraid to pull the trigger.
    But I wasn’t planning on getting the DVC. My wife, however, was sold on it.
    I don’t mind, as we do all love Disney, and being able to bank the points for a nice Disney trip every other year does sound nice.

  12. Glad you had a pleasant experience. My family and I did a tour last year with another TS company and they flat out called me a liar when I told them that I travel almost free everywhere we go.

  13. we did the tour back in april 2017 at saratoga springs. our representative was such a pleasure to speak with, not at all pushy, not even a little bit. she showed us the price schedule (depending as to how many points you want to purchase per year), then showed us the mock rooms, gave us a booklet and information to take home, then we got our gift card, fastpasses, and our ice cream sundae. ..we were done in within an hour’s time. it was a very pleasant experience.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *