Designed to resemble turn-of-the-century style summer homes on Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, these upscale resorts are attached though guests must step outside to get from one resort to the other. Here’s the location and access info:
Location: In the Epcot area. Yacht Club Address: 1700 Epcot Resorts Blvd, Lake Buena Vista, FL, 32830. Beach Club Address: 1800 Epcot Resorts Blvd, Lake Buena Vista, FL, 32830. Beach Club Villas Address: 1900 Epcot Resorts Blvd, Lake Buena Vista, FL, 32830. Beach Club phone: (407) 934-8000. Yacht Club phone: (407) 934-7000. Beach Club Villas: (407) 934-2175. Beach Club fax: (407) 939-3850. Yacht Club fax: (407) 939-3450. Beach Club Villas fax: (407) 934-3850.
Though they have similar themes, they have very different styles. The Yacht Club has a more formal décor, while the Beach Club and Beach Club Villas have a festive New England seaside resort theme. Having lived in New England I can say that it feels authentic.
The resorts and villas all share some amenities such as Stormalong Bay, a fantastic 3-acre water complex with a lazy river, water slide, multiple whirlpools and a free form sandy bottom pool. These three resorts are close enough together so that it’s practical to plan on accessing all the amenities at these locations.
One of the best reasons for staying in one of these resorts is the location within Disney World. It’s a very short walk to the International Gateway entrance of Epcot. Within 10 minutes (give or take, depending upon where you’re room is and how fast you walk) you’ll arrive at the World Showcase side of Epcot. Here’s what one Disney fan from Florida had to say:
“During the Epcot Food and Wine Festivals we like to stay at the Beach Club. It’s great being able to walk to Epcot whenever we want to eat our way around the World Showcase for lunch, dinner or snacks. At closing time after the fireworks show, while crowds are thronging towards the huge lines for buses, boats and monorails, we take our time. The walk is so pretty and pleasant by the water, and it‘s a gigantic bonus to be able to avoid all the stress, crowds and waiting in lines.”
Tip: There are two paths on the walk to Epcot from the Yacht Club and Beach Club. Though the upper level path gives you a water view, the lower level path takes you right by the side of the river. Either way, it’s a pleasant walk and accessible.
Tip: If you’re planning on walking to Epcot, the Beach Club is the resort that’s has the shortest walk. The Yacht Club is just a bit further, and a little bit further than that is the Boardwalk Inn. Although you can walk from the Swan and Dolphin, most people find it far enough away (approximately 15-20 minutes) that they prefer take the Disney boat transportation.
Another benefit of these resorts is that they sit on the shores of the 25-acre Crescent Lake. Guests get to enjoy the pleasant water views, views of the resorts around the lake, walking paths, boat transportation, and the white sandy beaches. Within walking distance or a short boat ride is the BoardWalk Inn, Swan and Dolphin Resorts. There’s easy access to many great dining and entertainment options in these locations.
Buildings: The Yacht Club is the more conservative, sophisticated and subdued environment. It features a pale grey clapboard exterior, white trim, red and white striped awnings. The interior is positively formal with shiny oak wood floors, and the kind of furniture you would see in an upscale home on the New England seashore.
There are many details that make the lobby elegant and special. There’s a great deal of pale, ornate wood trim on the walls and ceilings including a ship’s steering wheel design. You’ll find antique chandeliers, leather furniture, nautical touches such as ropes hanging from the railings, a miniature ship model and brass handrails on the staircase. You can’t miss the beautiful, large antique globe situated in the center of the lobby. Attentive cast members wearing nautical themed outfits designed in the styles from the late 1800’s greet and attend to the guests.
The Beach Club is meant to be less formal than the Yacht club, though we find it to be just as upscale and elegant. The exterior is a pleasant Cape Cod stick-style, painted pastel blue with decorative white trim. The interior furnishings and rugs feature various shades of turquoise, coral and pink with a seashell motif. There are some unusual and very bright “electric orange” colored chairs with super high backs that curve over the top. The floors are made from natural French limestone with orange tinted earth tones. The high 24-foot ceilings are dramatic, and the furniture is comfortable. There are massive floral arrangements throughout the lobby and small curtained sitting areas which are inviting and cozy. You can spot characters from The Little Mermaid in the décor around the resort’s interior, including the carpeting. Adding to the elegance, there’s plenty of marble used throughout. Even on the elevator floors!
Tip: The Beach Club uses fragrance in the lobby. If this is a problem for you, you may wish to choose another resort. Although check-in is in the main lobby, we found that there’s not much need to spend time there. However, we did pass through on a frequent basis to get to other resort locations. We did not discern any strong fragrances elsewhere in the resort.
The Beach Club Villas is next to the Beach Club. The pale turquoise exterior with white trim is styled similarly to that of the Beach club. Visitors to the Beach Club Villas share all of the Yacht Club and Beach Club amenities including Stormalong Bay, the valet and bell services, the front desk and the concierge services. In addition this resort has its own quiet pool and whirlpool.
We’ve heard reports that the Yacht Club tends to be less kid friendly, and that there tends to be more adult travelers there. However cast members have told us that they think both resorts bring an equal number of families. On the Yacht Club side there’s a convention center bringing in adult visitors. However we’ve been told that there are likely to be convention travelers at both resorts. At times we’ve observed that there were very few kids in the Yacht Club, and many more kids around the Beach Club. The Beach Club has the Character breakfast at the Cape May Café, so every morning the lobby is filled with families (including running and playing children) waiting to be seated. The main dining location at the Yacht Club seems to be far more sedate. Regardless, there are many people with kids who love the Yacht Club.
Check-in: Service at these resorts tends to be top notch. When you walk into the lobby you’ll notice several cast members just standing there waiting to assist guests. Check-in at the Beach Club went amazingly well for this visitor:
“We recently had the best check-in we have ever had in any resort, anywhere. We were greeted at the door by very attentive bell services people who took our luggage. As we walked to the front door, a man in a blue nautical themed blazer approached us, welcomed us to the resort and escorted us to the front desk. He introduced us to the front desk person by name. We had a smooth check-in, and the front desk person gave my wife a long stemmed rose. The bell Services people got her scooter from the back, and escorted us up to our room. We felt important.”
Check-in for the Beach Club Villas is in the Beach Club check-in area. The lobbies have very small children’s sitting areas near the check-in locations. There have child size places to sit and a television playing Disney movies. This resort does not have low counters at the check-in area for guests who are in wheelchairs and ECVs.
There’s valet-parking for a fee or you can self-park at no charge. Disabled guests receive valet parking at no charge with valid state issued proof. Beach Club Villas guests get complimentary parking if they’re part of the Disney Vacation Club and using their points. Parking is a long distance from the main entrance, including handicapped parking.
Guest Rooms: There are 621 rooms at the yacht Cub, 576 Beach Club standard rooms, and approximately 208 villas which have 282 villa guest rooms. The Beach Club Villas is considered a timeshare resort, which is a part of the Disney Vacation Club. If there are rooms available, non-DVC guests can stay there, though DVC guests are given priority.
Tip: If a balcony is important to you, keep in mind that each Yacht Club room has a full balcony with a table and chairs. Though the Beach Club has some full balconies, many of the rooms have tiny partial balconies that only allow you to stand. You can request a full balcony at the Beach Club, but it won’t be guaranteed.
Yacht Club and Beach Club Rooms: The buildings vary with three, four and five-stories. Standard rooms are approximately 381 square feet. The maximum number of people in the standard rooms is two to five plus a child under the age of three in a crib. Deluxe guest rooms and Suites vary in size and sleep three to eight people. Each resort has a variety of suites that include 654 sq. ft. Junior Suites, 1,160 sq. ft. Two-Bedroom Suites and even a 2,374 sq. ft. Captain’s Deck Suite. Both resorts offer Club Level/Concierge rooms on the fifth floor.
The Yacht Club rooms have a blue, tan and white color scheme with white furniture. There’s a nautical theme with a bed headboard sporting the shape of a carved ship’s steering wheel, brass fixtures, and even a brass sailor Mickey Mouse lamp. The Beach Club standard rooms have a summer cottage ambiance with an off-white bureau, dark wood head boards, white duvets, and décor with pale and dark blues along with earth tones. The lifeguard Mickey lamp adds just the right Disney touch to the room.
Most standard rooms have two queen beds, and accessible rooms have one king bed. Some rooms also have a daybed. In addition to the items listed in the Deluxe Resorts Overview section, the rooms have a desk with a small pull-out table under it, a television on the bureau, a night table, a ceiling fan and two chairs. The Beach Club rooms have a flat screen 32 inch television and an IPOD docking station on the clock radio. There’s an additional tall bureau in the entry way. The bathrooms have marble floors and wall tiles, with a phone on the bathroom wall. There’s a marble vanity area just outside the bathroom with two sinks and a makeup mirror. A daily newspaper is delivered to your room. Turndown service is available upon request.
We found the beds to be super comfortable here, topped off with a comforter containing a down insert. If you have an allergy to down, request a non-down replacement. French doors open to outdoor patios (first floor rooms) or balconies. Full balconies and patios have two chairs and a small table. In the room with queen beds we find that there’s enough room to ride a scooter in and and park it out of the way. There are some rooms with two double beds. Also there are some rooms with King Sico beds which fold out from the wall.
Tip: When requesting a view, be aware that water view rooms don’t always face Crescent Lake. They may face the Stormalong Bay pool complex or a quiet pool. This can be a very noisy view, especially during the day when there’s loud music and a host on a microphone leading the kids in games at the main pool. Some other standard view rooms face the parking lot, a garden or inner court. There are even rooms with a view of the nightly Epcot IllumiNations fireworks. Remember that although you can request a particular view, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get it.
Tip: The hallways in these resorts are long. If you wish to minimize walking, request a central room location that puts you as close as possible to both the Beach Club and the Yacht Club amenities. The lobbies of both the Yacht Club and Beach Club are towards the center where the two resorts join, so if you request a room close to the main lobby, that should put you in a more central location.
Tip: If you plan to walk to Epcot a lot, you may wish to request a room in the Beach Club as close to Epcot as possible.
Tip: If you plan on using the boat transportation frequently, you may wish to stay in the Yacht Club, and request a room as close to the lobby as possible. This will put you near the marina.
Beach Club Villa Rooms: Guests can choose a studio, or a one or two bedroom villa in the five-story resort. The rooms are decorated with pastel colors such as pale blue, green and salmon. In addition to the items listed in the Deluxe Resorts Overview section, each villa has a balcony or patio, Sealy Posturepedic beds, and Wamsutta bed linens and towels. Guests in the Beach Club Villas can also request: Full-size cribs; booster seat, high chairs; toilet seat for disabled; telephone for hearing impaired.
The Studios offer approximately 365 square feet of room and allow for four adults and one child under the age of three in a crib. There’s a queen bed, double sleeper sofa, armoire, small table with two high-backed upholstered wicker chairs. Other amenities include a mini-refrigerator under the counter, a microwave, coffee maker, a wet bar, and a vacuum cleaner. There’s one bathroom with a separate vanity and sink area.
One Bedroom Villas give you 727 square feet and sleep up to four adults plus one child in a crib. The master bedroom has a king bed, and a private bathroom with a whirlpool bathtub. In the living room there’s a sofa that converts to a queen-size bed, upholstered chair with wood arms and an entertainment center with a television and DVD player. Just outside the kitchen area is a small dining room table with 3-person padded booth seating. There are two chairs at the nearby breakfast bar that you can pull up to the table to seat 5. A fully equipped kitchen makes this a great option for those who wish to cook during their stay. This includes a microwave, toaster, stove, refrigerator, dishwasher, coffee maker, dinnerware, utensils, pots and pans.
There’s a full-size stacked washer and dryer, with the washer on the bottom and the dryer on top. Both the master bedroom and the living room have televisions with cable. There’s a safe in the bedroom closet that should be able to hold a laptop computer.
Two Bedroom Villas give you 1,080 square feet and sleep up to eight adults and one child under three years old in a crib. These units vary because some were created as two bedroom villas (same design as a one bedroom villa plus another bedroom), and some are the combination of a one bedroom villa plus a studio villa. All of these villas have televisions with cable in the living room and both bedrooms.
Dining: Yacht and Beach Club Resorts dining options include Captain’s Grille which serves a buffet breakfast, and à la carte lunch and dinner. Yachtsman Steakhouse is an upscale restaurant serving dinner only. Cape May Café has a character buffet breakfast and a dinner buffet without characters. The Beach Club Marketplace is the resort store, but it has a quick service counter in the back. Hurricane Hanna’s Grill is a pool bar/restaurant that serves lunch and dinner. Beaches & Cream serves ice cream, lunch and dinner. For details on all of these restaurants see the Walt Disney World Dining chapter of the book.
Crew’s Cup Lounge offers beers from around the world and hors d’oeuvres. There are padded bar stools with backs, some padded booth seats, and wood chairs with backs.
Martha’s Vineyard is a pleasant 59-seat lounge featuring a wide variety of wines and appetizers. Seats include wicker chairs with backs and arms, and bar stools with backs.
Room Service is available 24-hours.
Resort Shopping: The Yacht Club store is Fittings & Fairings and the Beach Club store is the Beach Club Marketplace. In addition to the usual essentials and Disney souvenirs, you’ll find some resort wear, bathing suits and accessories.
Pools: Shared by all three resorts, Stormalong Bay is a really incredible 3-acre water recreation area reminiscent of a Nantucket beach. The pools have sandy bottoms and there’s even a white sand beach for kids to play on that begins outside the sandy-bottom kiddie pool. Kids are given pails and other toys to play with. There are “boulders” everywhere, contributing to the illusion that you’re on a real New England Beach. You can’t miss the life-size shipwreck and the marina lighthouse that has lounge chairs on top where you can relax with a great view (only accessible by stairs).
There are two separate lagoon type pools at Stormalong Bay. They range in depth from 3 feet to 8 feet. The separate kiddie pool has a depth of 2 to 3 feet. On the Yacht Club side of Stormalong Bay, there’s a wonderful lazy river with water currents that gently pull and push you around a loop. It’s most relaxing if you have an inner tube or a noodle to float with. Without those this can be physically demanding and a great workout! You can enter the loop via metal stairs with handles, but you’ll find a deep drop (as much as 6-8 feet) after the last step. As you float around the loop, you can get out by metal ladder stairs, but you must be able to pull yourself up to the first step, which is high. You can bypass these stairs and use the gradual cement stairs, but you must walk/swim outside the loop to another area of the pool to access them.
There are hot tubs scattered around, some of which are made private by the rocks. On the Beach Club side lagoon, there’s a section that has currents that create a spinning whirlpool. We heard from a mother who told us the following:
“Tell parents to be careful. My son got sucked down under the water in the whirlpool part of the pool. It overpowered him and I had to grab him and pull him up out of the water. It’s really too strong for some kids.”
A spiral staircase takes you up on the life-sized shipwreck that rises to a 150-foot mast. There you’ll find the entrance to a water flume. It has you plummeting toward a rocky outcropping, and then down 150 feet of spins. You must be able to walk up the staircase to participate. You must also be able to swim in 4 feet of water without having to wear a flotation device.
There is no zero entry into the pool, but there are shallow sandbar areas (really designed for kids to wade in) that have that zero entry type of effect. There is a transfer tier.
Since in the past there were people sneaking in to use the pool who were not guests of these resorts, Stormalong Bay now has a fence around it. Also, you must show your room key to get towels. Once you’ve shown it, you’ll receive a wrist band that identifies you as a guest of the resort. Without a valid room key or wrist band, you can’t receive towels.
Exiting from the resorts to the Stormalong Bay can be tricky if you’re in a wheelchair or scooter. If you need an electric door, you’ll have to go out the back exit in either the Yacht or Beach Club’s main lobbies, and ride around outside to the pool fence to the entrance. It’s a little roundabout, but you’ll get there. There are many manual doors that will put you right outside by the pool complex, but here’s what an ECV user had to say about those doors:
“The areas around these non-automatic doors are usually empty of people, so if you’re alone and needing someone to hold the door open for you, there may not always be someone around. I was able to fling open a door while sitting on my scooter, and then I had to ride through it before it closed. The doors were light enough for me to manage, but it was challenging to dart through the exit quick enough to avoid having the door hit me or my scooter.”
Those in scooters and wheelchairs should keep the speed down and use caution around the pool. The ground can be uneven, and there are some narrow walkways surrounded by water.
There’s a poolside gift shop that’s behind the poolside restaurant and just under the gazebo. They have all kinds of items for sale including sun block lotion, noodles (a floating device currently costing $4 each), hats and even water guns. They also offer tube rentals, complimentary life jackets and swim diapers.
Stormalong Bay offers hosted kids games at the pool throughout the afternoon. See the Pool Planning section for more information. Sometimes they run these games on the Yacht Club side and sometimes on the Beach Club side. Parents will enjoy being able to relax with their children in sight. Those who are looking for quiet will want to be as far from the games as possible. Although you can hear everything loudly wherever you’re seated in Stormalong Bay, the side that they’re playing on is the loudest. There’s no pattern to which side they choose to play on, but ask a cast member what the plans are. Here’s what some Stormalong Bay visitors had this to say:
Stormalong Bay does not offer any umbrellas for lounge chairs. There are no areas where there’s shade throughout the day. If you’re looking for shade, you may need to move around as the sun moves to get partial shade from trees.
There’s usually a cast member who serves guests around the pool, taking your order for food and drinks from Hurricane Hanna’s Grille. We’ve found that they’re usually understaffed for the size of the pool area, so you can expect infrequent visits and long delivery times.
There are two quiet pools (Beach Pool and Yacht Pool) in alcoves at the far ends of the resorts and towels are available. In addition, the Beach Club Villas has its own quiet pool named Dunes Cove. Unlike most other Disney resort quiet pools, it has a hot tub/whirlpool, and guests are supplied towels. However there is no lifeguard here, and there’s no transfer tier or zero entry. There is a building with lockers and restrooms. The pools on the far ends of the resorts have transfer tiers but none of the quiet pools have zero entry.
Health Club & Salon: The 4,750-square-foot Ship Shape Massage Salon Fitness has a Jacuzzi, steam bath, sauna and a couple of massage rooms (by appointment). There’s a weight room and an aerobics room. Both are staffed with cast members trained to assist guests. In the weight room you’ll also find an elliptical machine, recumbent bike and Swiss ball. There is an accessible bathroom. Guests can take a jog around the beautiful Crescent Lake. The resort offers a hair salon called Periwig Beauty & Barber Shop (407) 934-3260.
Transportation: Buses and boats are the only forms of transportation used at this resort. These resorts are in the Deluxe category, and in our opinion just about everything you’ll encounter will reflect that, except the transportation. There are a variety of inconveniences as you’ll read below. You may wish to consider having your own car, especially if you’re staying during a peak season. On the other hand, the great thing about these resorts is that they’re so close to Epcot’s World Showcase, the BoardWalk Inn with its boardwalk entertainment complex, and the Swan and Dolphin resorts, that guests have the option of walking to all these locations.
Each resort has its own bus stop outside, not far from the main lobby. The Yacht Club, Beach Club and Beach Club Villas share transportation with each other, and with the Boardwalk Inn, Swan and Dolphin. This means that most buses and boats will stop at all of these locations. You may experience some very long rides and crowded conditions. The upside is that you can get to the other resorts using Disney transportation.
The outdoor bus stops are covered and there are a small number of benches with backs. When it’s crowded most people will have to stand.
The Friendship boats can be picked up at the dock approximately every 20 minutes. The Yacht Club, Beach Club and Beach Club Villas share a boat dock on Crescent Lake located near the lighthouse behind the Yacht Club lobby. The boats share a route with the Yacht Club, Beach Club, Beach Club Villas, Dolphin, Swan and Boardwalk Inn. Boats can be crowded with long waits at times, especially during peak seasons and high crowd times such as park openings and closings. There’s no seating in the dock queues. Here are your options for getting around using Disney transportation:
Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom, Downtown Disney and the water parks – Buses are the only form of transportation available.
Hollywood Studios, Epcot – Friendship boats are the only form of transportation available. The boats take guests to a dock near the World Showcase entrance of Epcot, which is located in the rear of the park. These resorts do not provide direct transportation to the main entrance at the front of Epcot, which is the Future World side. Future World is still a long walk from the boat dock. The other option is to take a bus to another location that does have direct service to Future World, and transfer, however this would be time consuming.
The Friendship boats also take guests to a boat dock fairly close to the Hollywood Studios entrance. Although some people prefer to walk to Hollywood Studios, it’s far enough away so that most people choose to take a boat.
Tip: After Epcot’s IllumiNations show, large crowds swarm the Friendship boat dock queue. We’ve heard accounts from people who were stranded when the boats stopped running at the end of the night before all the guests had been serviced. If you’re planning to take a boat back to your resort after IllumiNations, you may wish to view the show in a position as close to the World Showcase exit as possible. Make your way to the dock as quickly as you can just before the show ends. If you’re determined to catch the grand finale, just position yourself as close to the exit as you can, and head to the docks the moment IllumiNations ends.
Other Entertainment: The Lafferty Place Arcade is a full size arcade. The area is accessible although some games are not. At the marina guests can rent boats including Sea Racers, Pontoon boats and Montauks. You can also book a guided fishing trip. For reservations call (407) WDW-BASS [939-2277]. This resort has a Children’s Pirate Cruise. See the Marina Activities section of this chapter for details.
The resort offers tennis and volleyball. Balls are available at the fitness center with a resort I.D. There’s a very tiny kids’ playground located near the kiddie pool on the Yacht Club side.
The white sandy beach across from the Beach Club gives you a full view of Crescent Lake, the bordering resorts and the Boardwalk. There’s a two person swing and plenty of lounge chairs. Every evening, weather permitting, there’s a campfire on the beach by Crescent Lake where you can purchase and toast marshmallows and make s’mores. There’s also a different Disney movie played there every evening. You’ll receive a movie schedule when you check in. You can relax on the lounge chairs and enjoy the view and the movie. Please note that swimming is not permitted in any of the lakes on Disney property.
Child care services: The Sandcastle Club is open from 4:30 PM to Midnight. Children from 4 to 12 years old are welcome but they must be potty trained. Activities include unlimited free Sega/Nintendo, arcade games, arts and crafts, board games, play areas with toys and stuffed animals and movies. Dinner is served usually consisting of kid favorites such as macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and chicken tenders. You must make reservations. Call (407) WDW-DINE [939-3463]. To call the Sandcastle Club directly for questions call (407) 934-3750.
Laundry and other services: There are coin-operated washers and dryers located in the pool areas. Dry clean services are available for a fee. There should be an order form and a bag in your room closet. This resort has a business center.
Thanks to Jennifer and Chris Murray for the beautiful photo of the Yacht and Beach Club resorts!