Let’s Talk About DVC Restrictions

Written By: David Mumpower

For the first 20 years, the Disney Vacation Club program operated the same way.

However, DVC’s leadership team recognized that customers had recognized that DVC resales provide better value. So, DVC updated the rules a bit, which leads to a question that potential DVC owners wonder. What are the DVC restrictions for resale buyers?

Let’s discuss the rules you need to know.

The 2011 Membership Changes

Have you ever paid sticker price for an automobile? I sincerely hope the answer is no because car dealers list the price and presume you’ll haggle with them. Your goal is to pay the least amount of money for the same item.

DVC resale packages work the same way. Why would you pay Disney’s higher prices when you can purchase the same contract with the same number of DVC Points for thousands less? You wouldn’t, and many customers didn’t. Once the internet spread in popularity, the premise of DVC resales exploded as well. DVC executives recognized that they needed to take steps in a flawed attempt to discourage would-be members from choosing a DVC resale.

In 2011, Disney implemented resales restrictions for the first time in the program’s history.

Here’s how the Orlando Sentinel summarized the changes at the time:

“Instead, such owners will be allowed to use their points only for stays in one of Disney’s 11 time-share resorts — seven of which are at Walt Disney World — or in third-party Resorts available through time-share exchange operator RCI (now Disney is partnered with Interval International or II).

Customers who buy directly from Disney will still be able to redeem their points at Disney Resorts, aboard Disney Cruise Line or through Adventures by Disney. The ability to use points for different Disney vacations is a perk frequently cited by Disney Vacation Club “direct” sales agents.

In other words, the huge change DVC announced was that guests who purchased their DVC Points via resales must…use their points at only the DVC resorts. Oh, no. The horror.

What Went Wrong with the 2011 Rules Restrictions

DVC miscalculated here in believing that members would pay more for direct sales to avoid these restrictions.

Consumers aren’t idiots, though. They could glance at the DVC Points Charts and recognize that the exchange rate for Disney Cruise Line (DCL) was terrible.

Similarly, one of the less heralded options in the DVC program is the Concierge Collection, whose exchange rates were somehow even worse than DCL’s.

Not coincidentally, Disney recently phased out the Concierge Collection, although some of the bookings remain available.

Similarly, Adventures by Disney (AbD) is something of a niche product anyway. So, its appeal was in question already. Few potential DVC members viewed that as a significant development and the point cost for an AbD was exorbitant as well.

Disney hoped that its potential customers would pay more to have “everything,” even though it’s like purchasing paint or fabric protection on a new car.

You don’t want or need the upsell, at least not at those prices.

The 2016 Membership Changes

Five years later, the Disney Vacation Club tried again, this time with a more aggressive approach.

In 2016, DVC introduced new restrictions on DVC resales. Specifically, Disney removed Membership Extras for some customers.

Anyone who purchased a DVC contract via resales would lose access to Membership Extras.

The cutoff date for this change was April 4th, 2016. Anyone who had previously purchased into the DVC program by that date was grandfathered in.

The changes applied to future potential buyers rather than previous ones.

At the time, Disney described the change as necessary to ensure a “premium advantage” for DVC members who purchase directly.

This change boils down to Disney taking away some restaurant and store discounts from DVC members who purchase via resales.

In other words, Disney hoped to entice guests into spending thousands more dollars by offering them $10 off a $50 meal every once in a while.

The math never worked in Disney’s favor here. Instead, the company relied on a kind of velvet rope mentality, hoping that DVC members would pay more to say they had the best.

We now refer to these as “Blue Card Benefits,” as Disney created physical membership cards for qualifying members.

For several years, whenever we wanted to use Membership Extras like access to the DVC Lounge at EPCOT, we had to show our Blue Cards.

Eventually, Disney switched to digital, and even that requirement comes and goes, depending on the cast member you encounter.

Perhaps the most fascinating part of this change is that Disney originally allowed owners to gain Membership Extras via a small DVC Points add-on.

That total started at 25 points, but Disney gradually raised the qualifying level to its current 150 points in an attempt to close loopholes.

The Resort-Specific Restrictions

Once again, Disney miscalculated the desire of customers to find a good deal.

DVC resales have remained strong throughout the years, causing Disney executives to take a different approach.

On January 19th, 2019, DVC changed the rules by creating a new tier of resorts. Well, it was only one resort at first. As of today, there are two.

When you buy a DVC resales contract at Disney’s Riviera Resort, you may only use your applicable DVC Points at this resort.

Let me clarify what this statement indicates. If you own multiple DVC contracts, you can use your non-Riviera points wherever you like.

However, if you bought a DVC resales contract at Riviera, you must use the points from that contract at the Riviera. It’s a one-to-one exchange.

For more than four years, this rule only applied to the Riviera. Then, The Villas at Disneyland Resort opened in September 2023.

This DVC property also employs the one-to-one exchange rules restriction.

Should you buy a resale contract here, you may only use those points at The Villas at Disneyland Resort. Since I know some people wonder this question, I’ll also state that you cannot use your Disney’s Riviera Resort points at The Villas at Disneyland Resort or vice versa, presuming you purchased them via DVC resales.

If you purchase any other DVC resale property at any of the original 14 DVC resorts (excluding The Riviera Resort or The Villas at Disneyland Tower) you can use your DVC points at any DVC resort location. However you cannot use The Riviera Resort or The Villas at Disneyland Tower. If you purchase The Riviera Resort or The Villas at Disneyland Tower via resale, you can only that one property you purchase into.

Evaluating the Latest Rules Restrictions

Even these restrictions are trivial, though. Realistically, when you purchase at a specific resort, you plan to stay there more than anywhere else.

At The Villas at Disneyland Resort, you don’t have much choice anyway. The Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian Resort & Spa book quickly due to the lack of availability.

So, most Disneyland Resort guests will choose the new expansion tower anyway.

There’s a bit more opportunity cost at Disney’s Riviera Resort.

Since this is the only DVC resort on the Disney Skyliner, its owners typically want to stay here anyway.

Still, if you’re not confident you want to spend each vacation at the Riviera, it’s the one rules restriction that could significantly impact your vacations.

As such, you should proceed more cautiously with this one.

Please let us know if you have any questions or if you’d like any additional information. If you’d like to rent a DVC Villa for your next Vacation or purchase a Disney Vacation Club property at a reduced price, our agents will be happy to assist you with any questions or information.

 You can reach our office at 800-550-6493 or email sales@dvcstore.com. 

About David Mumpower is the author of Behind the Ride and the Disney Demystified series. He’s written more than 25 million words and been quoted as a subject matter expert by CNN, the Washington Post, USA Today, CNBC, and countless others. A DVC member for more than a decade now, his favorite resort is the Polynesian, his favorite park is EPCOT, and his favorite ride is Spaceship Earth.