Periodically this year, we are going to spotlight different Disney Destination resorts. Today, we start our series with a review of Disney Yacht Club Resort.
The Yacht and Beach Club are nestled on the shores of Walt Disney World’s 25 acre Crescent Lake right beside Epcot and across the lake from the Boardwalk Inn. The Yacht Club has over 600 rooms with the Beach Club having about 575 rooms and 200 villas.
This past December we spent 9 days at the Yacht Club with close family friends. While we had stayed here many times, this was the first trip for our friends. All of us loved the Yacht Club. I have to admit, it is one of my favorite properties at Disney. I love the combination of the Yacht and Beach Club together. They offer two very distinct but separate environments yet share the wonderful pool area.
The nautical theme can be found throughout both properties. The Yacht Club is considered by many to be much more conservation in the décor as well as the overall atmosphere. If staying club level, guests are greeted prior to entering the lobby and escorted immediately upstairs to the club level check-in. All others are met at the door by “sporty” bell people who offer to take the luggage and bring it up to the room after check-in.
Upon entering the lobby, one of the first things you see is a giant world globe. This was created specifically for the resort and is designed to resemble the styles of globes from the 19th century. But, if you take the time to look closely, you will notice that it features fictitious countries – perhaps even a hidden Mickey. Personally, I love the “smell” of the lobby – strange – I know. But, I have since found out that they use a special scent which resembles that of the sea helping to transport guests to the shores of the east coast and the “grace of a grand New England yacht club” as Disney describes it. The shiny oak floors and leather furniture along with nautical themed decorations, portholes etc. can be found throughout and during the day guests are always greeted by a fine gentleman or woman wearing a navy blazer and a captain hat. Cast members, of course, are dressed in nautical themed clothing.
We prefer the Yacht Club lobby area to the Beach Club because it simply isn’t as busy. The Yacht Club has just over 600 rooms while the Beach Club has about 575 rooms plus an additional 200 villas. More rooms simply translates to more people. Plus, the Beach Club lobby houses Cape May – a very popular character breakfast buffet and a seafood dinner buffet. Those waiting to be seated typically are found in the Beach Club lobby area adding to the congestion and noise.
The rooms at the Yacht Club are the same size as those in the Beach Club with two differences. First, all rooms at the Yacht Club have a full balcony. Second, the theming inside the rooms reflects the different atmospheres of the two resorts. Both have standard room size of about 380 square feet and offer different configurations. Popular among families at both the Yacht and Beach Club are rooms with two queen beds and a day bed. This allows for five to sleep in the room. That said, in the past we have always had a room with a daybed. This year we did as well but our 13 year old opted for the queen bed saying there simply wasn’t enough room on the daybed. Of course, the difference between a twin bed and queen bed is substantial – but the daybed will sleep a smaller adult.
In the YC, as well as BC rooms, guests will find either the two queen beds or a king bed, a table, 3 chairs, refrigerator, coffeemaker, an armoire, flat screen TV, mini-bar, small safe and double marble sinks in the vanity area separated by a door from the tub and commode. There are 20 suite and 71 concierge rooms also at the Yacht Club. The concierge rooms, where we stayed this trip, are on the fifth floor which is only accessible with a private key-card. The room itself was just like the other guest rooms at the Yacht Club in décor and furnishings. Guests do receive additional services such as robes, makeup mirror and nightly turndown service (love those chocolates).
New to this trip was our ability to choose when we wanted our room cleaned daily. Also, when staying concierge you get private check-in and check-out, the use of the staff to make advanced dining reservations and help prior to your check-in at the resort. During your stay you can purchase tickets, have the staff make reservations for you, see to special transportation arrangements, etc. without having to visit the lobby. The club level is staffed, typically, by two people from 7am to 10pm daily. This level of service also includes access to the concierge lounge on the fifth floor. Complimentary continental breakfast, a variety of snacks (cookies, yogurt covered pretzels, gummies, soda, etc.), evening hors d’oeuvres with wines/alcoholic beverages and desserts can be found throughout the day at different times.
Our room had a great view of the Boardwalk and the boat dock area which is considered the water view. We could also see a little bit of Stormalong Bay, a wonderful feature at this property. Stormalong Bay is unique to the Disney properties and you must have your room key to get into the area. It is housed on 3 acres and includes a sandy beach and pool bottom, a slow river to float along in inner tubes and a water slide that starts a top the life-size replica of a wrecked ship. Hidden among the pools one can also find a few hot tubs. This is not the only pool area, though. The Yacht Club has its own pool and another can be found at the Beach Club. Also, on several nights we walked by the beach to see cast members roasting marshmallows with guests on the beach.
Often I am asked why we like the Yacht Club – what are the advantages and what are the disadvantages. For us, we like the location. We enjoy being able to walk to Epcot and DHS if we choose. We also like the boat transportation. Overall, though, what draws us back seems to be the service that we receive at the hotel, Stormalong Bay and the amenities we find here – great restaurants at the YC/BC as well as Boardwalk and Swan/Dolphin – all within a few minutes’ walk. Not to mention that we are just a five minute walk from Epcot where the places to eat are even more numerous.
One of the biggest disadvantages, we find, to staying at the Yacht Club involves transportation to Downtown Disney. It is slow and the bus is always crowded as it also picks up at the Beach Club, the Swan/Dolphin and the Boardwalk. Each trip I tell Disney, as I know others do, they need to separate the bus and have one for the YC/BC and one for the Boardwalk/Swan/Dolphin. But this doesn’t seem to change. So it is important that guests realize this is the case. The transportation to the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom is also by bus but we don’t seem to experience the same frustrations since the Yacht Club is the first stop on prior to picking up at the Beach Club which means we always get a seat. And, we only share a bus with those staying at the Beach Club.
The other disadvantage I hear guests comment about is the lack of a counter service restaurant at both the Yacht Club and Beach Club. In the mornings, guests can pick up light breakfast food in the lobby area at the Yacht Club. At the Beach Club there are some foods at the Marketplace. But, overall, there is not a place to get hot, quick service breakfast food. At lunch and dinner guests can find a limited menu selection at the pool and also a nice selection at Beaches and Cream – but there is almost always a wait at Beaches and Cream as the seating is very limited. Of course, room service is available. And, if you are staying on the club level this will not be an issue as you will find food and drinks in the lounge throughout the day.
This is a deluxe hotel and it does cost more to stay here, especially during peak season. But, for us, the advantages of location, food selection, general atmosphere, Stormalong Bay, and the great cast member service draws us back year after year.
For more information or to reserve your Walt Disney World vacation, please contact Castle Dreams Travel.