by Disney Magic Diva
We’ve always been a “Rope-Drop-til-Kiss-Goodnight” type of family. Our typical plan is to enjoy the parks, and not focus much on the pool or other resort amenities. It’s always been one of my biggest Disney regrets, because I know what fabulous activities are available for families and adults alike outside the parks.
So on our most recent visit, we decided to change things up. We were bringing our two grandkids, and we knew a mid-afternoon nap was going to be essential for our 3-year-old grandson. Since we scored a great deal on airfare, we decided to splurge a bit on the room and book a stay at the Disney’s Beach Club Resort so we could finally experience the amazing Stormalong Bay pool. (Read Nick the Disney Devo’s article here) But in booking our room, I discovered that it would save us money if we booked Beach Club for the first few nights, then move to Disney’s Yacht Club Resort for the remainder of our trip.
Since the resorts share Stormalong Bay, we thought it would be a great opportunity to try a split stay and compare both resorts! (Click here to read about how we dealt with a split stay.)
Having the chance to cross both of these marvelous deluxe resorts off our Disney Bucket List on one trip was more than a little magical. It was so fun to spend time at the resorts, and constrast and compare the two experiences. Here’s what we found:
Resorts: While the Yacht and Beach Club resorts are sisters, there are naturally some differences. Beach Club is located closer to Epcot; Yacht is closer to Boardwalk and Hollywood Studios.
Beach Club has a slightly more casual, open- air feeling. Its décor has soft teals, tans, and whites – exactly the colors you’d expect to find at the beach. Yacht Club is a little more “masculine” with jewel tones of navy, burgundy and gold. Some reviews had mentioned a “stuffy” feel to it, but we never experienced that. Everyone was gracious, relaxed, accommodating, and fun! Our room at Beach Club was quite a distance from the lobby.
We had to go down several long hallways with multiple turns (so long and winding that there were small lounge areas along the way!) to get to our room.
The hallways were narrow and felt somewhat dark because there wasn’t really much natural light along the way. Our Yacht Club room was quite a bit closer to the lobby, although still not what I’d term “close.” The halls here were noticeably wider and brighter, which I found somewhat ironic since the overall décor of Beach Club had a lighter feel.
Beach Club is one of the Disney Vacation Club properties while Yacht Club has a conference center attached to the resort. Neither of those attributes impacted our trip in the slightest, but worth mentioning if you want a true comparison of the resorts.
Rooms: Both resorts are considered deluxe, and so naturally they both have fabulous accommodations. We booked standard rooms, but were pleasantly surprised by having a pool view at both! At Beach Club we had a view of Stormalong Bay, albeit you had to look over the gravel-covered flat rooftop which was
immediately outside our balcony. At Yacht Club we were treated with a view of one of the quiet pools. From both rooms we could see the Star Wars: A Galacatic Spectacular – something we enjoyed immensely! Our room at Beach Club had two queen beds and a day bed which was quite the treat. Our grandson loved his own special bed! The room at Yacht only had the two queens, so there was a little disappointment, but without the daybed we had extra floor space for playing – so all was good.
Both had beautiful double vanities with granite countertops, showers/tubs with tiled walls (ceramic tile that looked like wood planks at Beach, marble tiles at Yacht), and countless perfectly themed details. I thought the beds at Beach were more comfortable, and overall had a more updated feel. The draperies, carpet and other minor things were showing their age in our Yacht Club room.
Dining: Yacht and Beach Club share restaurants, so there is no advantage or disadvantage to staying at one resort over another when it comes to dining. There are four table service restaurants between the two resorts. At Yacht Club, The Yachtsman’s Steakhouse is the only signature restaurant and is well known as a top choice for a fabulous steak dinner. (Read Darlin’ Diva’s review here.) Captain’s Grille is also located at Yacht Club, and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. (Disney Diva’s review can be found here.) Over at Beach Club is Cape May Café, which serves Minnie’s Beach Bash Breakfast, a delightful character breakfast. We opted to try this on our get-away day, and loved it! Cape May also serves a fabulous Seafood-and-More Dinner Buffet for dinner. (Beauty and the Beast Diva tells you about here.) Finally Beach Club is home to Beaches and Cream Soda Shop which serves lunch and dinner, but is more famously known for its ice-cream and desserts.
TIP: Beaches and Cream is an extremely small restaurant, so if you want to dine here I would highly suggest reservations. The Kitchen Sink should be on every Disney fan’s “must-do” list at least once!
All the restaurants at the Yacht and Beach Club resorts accept the Disney Dining Plan, although The Yachtsman’s Steakhouse is two dining credits.
If you are looking for a quick service choice, your options are slightly more limited. Hurricane Hanna’s Waterside Bar and Grill is perfect for a poolside lunch or dinner. The kids’ meals are served in a plastic beach pail – precisely what you need for an afternoon of sandcastle-building fun! Beach Club Marketplace is the other quick service location. This is a small “take-out” style location where you can get pizza, sandwiches, soup or salad as well as some limited grocery items. Both restaurants accept the Disney Dining Plan. If you have the resort refillable mugs which came with your Disney Dining Plan package (or you purchased separately), you can refill them at either of these quick service restaurants.
TIP: If you plan on using your refillable mugs frequently during your stay, you may want to choose Beach Club instead of Yacht. Both Hurricane Hanna’s and Beach Club Marketplace are considered Beach Club Resort locations. While Hurricane Hanna’s is poolside, and therefore pretty centrally located, the food service and beverage station there closed by 8:00 pm each night (the bar stayed open later.) So the only option to refill our mug in the evening was walking all the way over to Beach Club Marketplace, about a 20-30 minute roundtrip walk from our Yacht Club room.
Transportation: Yacht and Beach Club share Disney bus transportation. Yacht Club was the first stop, but we never had a problem getting on a bus while we stayed at Beach Club. The bus drop-off/pick up location for both resorts was near their respective lobbies, so depending on where your room is the walk to the bus can be anywhere from 5-10 minutes. One advantage of staying at either Beach or Yacht Club is that you can pretty much stay under cover from the sudden Florida downpours the entire way from your room to the bus stop. With two little ones in tow, that was a tremendous bonus!
Another perk of staying at Yacht and Beach Club is the option to use the boat transportation to Hollywood Studios, Boardwalk and Epcot. Right outside Yacht Club, you can catch a boat which will take you to any of these locations. On a hot summer day, a cool trip on Crescent Lake can be a welcome respite!
Of course, if you are in a hurry, the fastest way to get from Yacht and Beach Club to Epcot, and perhaps Hollywood Studios, is by walking! Epcot is about a 5 minute walk from Beach Club, and maybe an 8 minute walk from Yacht Club. Hollywood Studios is a little further – reportedly about 20-30 minutes – although we didn’t get a chance to try it for ourselves.
Recreation and Amenities: If you have somehow found a way to squeeze more than 24 hours in a day, then maybe you’ll have time to enjoy all the activities available at Yacht and Beach Club resorts. As I noted, we chose these resorts so we could play in Stormalong Bay when not in the parks. And we absolutely enjoyed every moment of it! The grandkids made some new friends, and enjoyed the poolside activities (Disney Junior Pool Party, Mickey Tie-Dye, Bingo, Chalk Art, Trivia Challenge) led by the Recreation Staff. And of course building sandcastles. And more sandcastles.
But if swimming isn’t your thing, maybe you’d like a game of tennis or volleyball; a surrey bike ride or a run around the lake. Maybe you’d like to take home a memory of “the one that got away” and embark on a guided fishing tour. Or rent a motorboat. Or hit the fitness center. Maybe the kids (or you!) want to play in the arcade, or attend Ratatouille Cooking School, or take a Pirate Adventure Cruise. Had a long day in the parks? Relax by roasting marshmallows around a campfire then catch a movie under the stars. Or maybe enjoy a grown-up evening out while the kids build a paper volcano at Sandcastle Club and watch it explode. There truly is something for everyone at Yacht and Beach Club!
As you may be able to surmise, we loved both Yacht and Beach Club. Each has it’s own unique magic, and I’m looking forward to our next visit! Which resort will you choose? Contact Patricia at All for Dreams Travel to find the best fit for your next Walt Disney World vacation. And build a sandcastle for me!