After deciding to take their family to Walt Disney World, the first thing most people do is pick a hotel. Disney offers a range: There are the more affordable Value Resorts that have all your basic necessities, the Moderate Resorts that offer more amenities but can be far from the park, and the Deluxe Resorts that are close to the parks, have the most amenities, and are the most expensive.
Then there are the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) villas, which are part of Disney’s flexible timeshare program. These rooms can accommodate larger families, and some even have full kitchens. Best of all, their proximity to the theme parks is unmatched. While you could spend hundreds of dollars a night for these rooms by booking them through Disney’s hotel booking website (which is separate from the DVC booking site, which is what members use to book with points), there’s a cheaper alternative.
On a recent trip to Walt Disney World, I saved hundreds of dollars on a one-bedroom villa at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge by renting DVC points. Here’s how I did it.
First off, Some DVC Lingo to Know
DVC Points: The "currency" that Disney Vacation Club uses to book rooms. Members buy a set amount of points that they can use every year for each timeshare contract.
DVC Member: The owner of the contract and points.
Points rental: The process of buying a set amount of points from a current DVC member, or buying a confirmed room reservation from a DVC member.
Confirmed stays: Someone else's booking that you can take over but not modify in any way.
Know Who You’re Renting From
There are a few ways to rent DVC points (also, we should clarify here that despite the terminology, you’re not returning the points, it's really just a one-time-use situation).
The first is to rent points from a current owner. To rent via a DVC owner, you can search Disney message boards or social media groups to see who may be renting an allotment of points. Just be mindful about engaging in transactions with people you don’t know. Look up the owner online or in other social media groups to see if anyone else has had a good or bad experience with the person. Also, pay for everything with a credit card that has purchase protection so if you do run into trouble, your credit card company can fight for you. However, know that this can result in an endless amount of back and forth.
What I did, and what I suggest to my friends and family, is to rent DVC points online from a professional service that acts as the middleman between the owner and you. With these sites, like DVC Shop and DVC Rental Store, you can book two ways: by paying cash for points and booking the resort you want to stay at with those points, or by looking through stays that members have already booked but no longer want and can’t cancel. The latter is known as confirmed stays or reservations: You’re essentially taking over someone else’s booking. However, this means that you need their travel dates to match yours (or be flexible).
I opted to look through the pre-confirmed stays on both sites to see if there was anything that fit the dates I wanted to visit Walt Disney World: Lo and behold, DVC Rental Store had a confirmed stay during this time for one night at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge in a one-bedroom villa in the Copper Creek Villas. The only downside to booking confirmed reservations is that they cannot be modified in any way, including upgrading a room or changing dates.
How the Rental Process Works
Once I made my selection, I clicked on the “request now” button on the reservation page and filled out my information for the liaison to see. Almost immediately, I got an email stating that they received my request and would get back to me with next steps within 24 hours. I paid, and the rental was mine.
All in all, I spent $300 for one night in a one-bedroom villa at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge by booking a pre-confirmed reservation. To compare, the same room in the same part of the resort for the same date was going for $674 had I booked through Disney and paid cash — and that’s before tax. Saving over 50% is huge for me, and anyone looking to save money on a Disney vacation.
What Happens After the Rental is Booked?
Getting ready for my trip was the same as it normally is. I checked into the resort online and made dining reservations and theme park reservations as I usually would for any other non-rented stay.
Once I arrived at the resort, I got a text message that my room was ready and I was able to skip the front desk and drop my bags off before taking the complimentary boat service over to Magic Kingdom for the evening.
What is a One-Bedroom Villa Like?
There are multiple types of DVC rooms at Walt Disney World, from smaller studios to three-bedroom Grand Villas. The smaller studios often sleep four or five people but lack a full kitchen and dining room, laundry, or separate sleeping areas.
My one-bedroom villa was perfect for families looking to have more space and potentially even cook meals on vacation. The villa had a long galley-style kitchen with a banquet dining room set up, a living room with a pull-out couch, a washer and dryer, a mud room, and plenty of storage space.
The main bedroom featured a king-sized bed, and the bathroom was conveniently split into two different spaces, one with a single vanity, toilet, and rainfall shower, and another area with a smaller single vanity and a large soaking tub.
A balcony stretched from the living room all the way to the main bedroom and featured four chairs and two small cafe tables. The view was pleasant, overlooking the Boulder Ridge DVC Villas, trees, and part of the pool.
Where are the DVC Resorts?
There are over a dozen DVC resorts across the United States where you can rent points or book confirmed stays.
DVC Resorts at Walt Disney World
- Bay Lake Tower at Disney’ Contemporary Resort
- Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas — Jambo House
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas — Kidani Village
- Disney’s Beach Club Villas
- Disney’s BoardWalk Villas
- Disney’s Old Key West Resort
- Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows
- Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort
- The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort
- Disney’s Riviera Resort
DVC Resorts at Disneyland
- The Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel
- The Villas at Disneyland Hotel
Other DVC Resorts
- Aulani, Disney Vacation Club Villas, Ko Olina, Hawaii
- Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort
- Disney’s Vero Beach Resort
Is This Travel Hack Worth it?
Travel hacks are what you make of them. If you don’t want to fuss with going back and forth with DVC owners to rent individual points or aren’t flexible with your travel dates, this Disney travel hack may not be for you.
But if you are flexible with your travel dates and want to save a lot of money even when booking a room at one of Disney World’s most expensive hotels, it’s worth it.
For me, the savings outweigh the little bit of time it took to research room availability and go through the booking process.