Disney Plans to Expand Timeshare Resort Portfolio

DVC Polynesian Bungalows

Since their founding in 1991, the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) has grown to include 12 resorts in 5 destinations. As DVC continues to grow, timeshare resorts are becoming the bulk of Disney’s lodging portfolio.

While Disney has developed new properties to house timeshare units, many of Disney’s existing hotel rooms are being converted into timeshare suites. Disney’s Polynesian Resort is the latest hotel to undergo renovations, converting three towers into 360 timeshare villas. In addition, Disney has also built 20 bungalow units along the Seven Seas Lagoon.

To date, this is the largest timeshare renovation on Disney property. However, Disney anticipates that they will need to convert even more units to timeshare suites in the near future. In a statement, Disney shared that they will continue to develop timeshare units to keep up with “guest and market demand for expanded options.” While the units will be available for booking through the Disney Vacation Club, any un-booked rooms will still be open for traditional hotel reservations.

Scott Smith, a hospitality instructor at the University of South Carolina, shared, “When you look at the financial model, time-share is the way to go. It’s a big moneymaker for the industry.”

According to SEC filings, Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida now has about 23,000 hotel rooms. Additionally, Disney offers 3,000 timeshare suites in eight resorts on Disney World property. These eight resorts are included within Disney’s deluxe resort category.

“It comes down to that highest and best use of the real estate,” said Amy Gregory, professor at the University of Central Florida’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management. As a veteran of the timeshare industry, Gregory support’s the university’s Timeshare Advisory Board, a program to educate students on the timeshare industry through real-world experiences.

By converting existing rooms to timeshare units, Disney is creating more availability for owners in a quick and inexpensive manner. Plus, timeshare owners are more likely to travel and travel often. According to ARDA, last year the average timeshare resort occupancy rate was 77%, compared to 62% for non-timeshare hotels.

Smith adds, “It makes sense to put money into a resort where your guests are repeats.”

DVC members hold contracts that can last up to 50 years. It’s no surprise that after a few years of vacationing at their home resort, many DVC members will want to try something new. By converting hotel space into new, suite-style units, Disney is creating new opportunities for these owners.

Stay tuned to TheTimeshareAuthority.com for more on DVC projects and renovations.