While on board our Disney Cruise this year, we joined the Disney Vacation Club. This is something that we have been going back and forth on for years! We went to Disney World on our honeymoon and chatted with the DVC people for over an hour. We almost joined then, but honestly the initial sticker price had us nervous. Now we wish we bought back then because the savings are unreal!
I am not going to lie or deceive you, it is a pretty big upfront cost, even if you finance. But my husband is a numbers guy and so he crunched the numbers and it made so much sense for us to join. I want to be upfront with you, we go to Disney World at least once a year, if not twice. We plan for this to be our big family vacation nearly every year to come. We are in Upstate New York so we have to consider flights as well, but in the end, the numbers turned out in our favor. After 5 years, the DVC will be paying for itself. And we discovered a few tricks to help us save even more money in the process!
Tables in Wonderland
Tables in Wonderland is a yearly dining discount membership that can purchase as a DVC Member, Annual Passholder, or a Florida Resident. With this service you receive a 20% discount offered on food and beverage (including alcohol) at over 100 participating restaurants at the Walt Disney World Resort. This discount is valid for a party of up to 10 Guests and includes complimentary Resort Valet and Theme Park parking for dining purposes.
Now, we usually get the Disney Dining Plan whenever we go to Disney, and I highly recommend it. However, Tables in Wonderland seems to make the most sense when you are going at least twice in one year. For Disney Vacation Club members, the cost is $150 for the entire year. Full disclosure: All Tables in Wonderland locations are blocked-out for Mother’s Day, Easter Sunday, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
If you plan two trips in one year (or more!) like we are doing, this tends to make more sense than the dining plan. Now I won’t be filling up on snacks our last day because we have a ton left on our plan (come on, we all have been there!). An 18% gratuity is added on to all of your meals, however, we normally tip more than that while at Disney, so this will actually save us some money. Over the course (no pun intended) of our next two trips, we will be in the parks for a total of 15 days. We might even be adding a third trip in those 12 months as well, which was add another 5 to 7 days on. Simply purchase your card at any guest services location on your first day and you will be all set!
Gold Annual Pass
As a Disney Vacation Club member that will be going to the parks more than 10 days a year, it really makes sense to pick up a Gold Annual Pass. There are a few black out dates with this option, however it is normally only a week in April and about 20 days around Christmas. This annual pass option will really help you save money on park tickets – especially if you plan to visit the park two or three (or more!) times a year. And the best part – you save again when you renew your annual pass! Meaning your second year you only need to go to the parks 7 days for it to make sense. Also, there is a deal running right now that if you renew your pass prior to it expiring, you get an extra month of membership!
With an annual pass you also get great perks like FREE Memory Maker (I always purchase this, so this will be a HUGE savings for us), 20% off on merchandise throughout the park and resorts, as well as free theme park parking! It might be a big upfront cost, but it makes so much sense in the long run. Just imagine that second trip of the year where you don’t have to worry about purchasing park tickets!
Pay Your Annual Dues on Your Disney Rewards Visa
I have talked to you guys about the benefits of the Disney Rewards Visa card before but if you are a Disney Vacation Club member, I highly recommend getting one. You can easily pay your DVC annual dues using your rewards Visa and rack up some Disney Rewards points! We always use our card while at the park for every single purchase to take advantage of the rewards pack. By the time we leave the park, we have hundreds of dollars in Disney money to use for our next trip! Plus, you get 6 months with 0% APR on many Disney purchases, which is a great perk! I recommend purchasing your annual passes and Tables in Wonderland card using your Disney Rewards Visa as well!