by Jackie Perrin
Less than two hours from Walt Disney World Resort, but a world away from the hustle and bustle of the theme parks, Disney’s Vero Beach Resort offers an Old-Florida experience that’s refreshingly authentic and restorative.
Situated on Florida’s Treasure Coast and overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, the Disney Vacation Club property debuted in 1995, and boasts a bevy of land, water and environmentally-based activities, with options to suit every member of the family.
On weekly excursions, school-age kids can practice casting a line in the lake, or steer a kayak on a lagoon trip bound for a barrier island. Preschoolers ages 3 to 5 can attend a tea party, set off on a treasure hunt, or play games like “Fish Find” and “Coin Toss”. Teens and ‘tweens can try a new sport, such as surfing to scuba.
By day, families can play together in the surf and sand, or at a lighthouse-themed pool complex, complete with a pirate ship water play area and a winding 163-foot waterslide. Nighttime brings a new roster of kid-friendly fun, from campfire sing-a-longs with s’mores to Disney Discover Club — an entertaining evening childcare program.
Accommodation options range from standard Inn rooms which sleep four, to deluxe three-bedroom, three-bathroom beachfront cottages which sleep up to twelve. Spacious one and two-bedroom villas feature full kitchens, washers and dryers and a sleeper chair and accommodate five and nine persons, respectively.
Along with nature, the resort emphasizes the area’s strong treasure, baseball and citrus connections. Families can cavort with Disney characters at a pirate themed-dinner, sign up for a naturalist-led turtle walk, or play ball at “LaSorda Field,” a grassy lawn dedicated to the Baseball Hall of Famer who brought the Los Angeles Dodgers to Vero Beach in 1948. A new 1,500-square-foot spa features citrus-inspired treatments, as well as ‘tween, teen and “Mommy and Me” services.
Our Editor Loves
- Character breakfast and pirate character dinner
- Surfing, kayak and fishing eco-excursions
- Beachfront accommodations with comforts of home
- Water Sports
- Children Programs
- Connecting Rooms
- Family Room 5+
- Game Room
- Kids' Pool
- Onsite Dining
Rooms & Rates
Besides 112 Inn rooms, the property offers deluxe studio, one- and two-bedroom villas, which are located in three buildings situated either near the Inn or the pool. Six three-bedroom beach cottages, which are in high demand, average 2,125-square-feet and are just steps away from the Atlantic Ocean.
Room decor matches the natural seashore theme, with curtains, linens and prints featuring beach scenes and images of sea turtles, shells and ocean waves.
Standard 360-square-foot Inn Rooms sleep up to four guests, plus a child under the age of three in a crib. Most rooms feature two beds, a table and chairs, a TV, a DVD player and a kitchenette with a microwave, a toaster and a mini-refrigerator. Bathrooms are basic without frills, showcasing a double vanity located just outside. Each accommodation features either a patio or a balcony. Deluxe Studios measure 350-square-feet and feature the same amenities, with either two beds or one bed and a double sleeper sofa.
Spacious 880-square-foot one-bedroom villas include a fully-equipped kitchen, a stackable washer and a dryer. These accommodations sleep up to five, plus a child under three in a crib, with a large bed in the master bedroom, a sleeper sofa and a sleeper chair in a separate living room. A single bathroom, featuring a Jacuzzi tub, services all guests of the villa.
Two-bedroom, two-bathroom villas sleep up to nine people, and are available in two configurations. The first, a traditional set up, features two beds in the second bedroom along with a bathroom. The second, a studio lockout, features two beds or a bed and a double sleeper sofa, a kitchenette and a second door to the outside.
Three-bedroom, three-bathroom freestanding cottages feature more space, along with premium views. Cottage layout is unique, with a kitchen, two private balconies on the second floor, a master suite and a full-size washer and dryer on the first floor.
With regard to location, upper floor ocean-facing Inn rooms offer some of the prettiest vistas. Ocean View rooms average around $40 to $65 per night more than Standard Inn rooms, depending on the season. Deluxe Studios and Villas in Building 14 are closest to the pool and recreation complex, while those in Building 12 are convenient to the Inn. For a better Villa view, request a third floor accommodation. Beachfront cottages occupy the choicest location of all.
When choosing between an Inn room and a Deluxe Studio, consider your family's preference for sleeping arrangements, as well as whether you favor convenience or privacy. Inn rooms offer easy access to resort dining, plus lots of close company. Studios are a short walk to the pool or the beach and offer more solitude. Guest laundries are located on the fourth floor of the Inn and in the garage of villa buildings. A single elevator services the Inn, so if you're visiting with children in strollers, plan on allotting some extra time for transit to and from resort activities.
Pack 'N Plays, bedrails and high chairs are complimentary. Wireless Internet service is available for $9.95 per day. Guests enjoy free underground parking.
This was our first visit this Disney Resort and to Vero Beach. The resort was sold out, yet it did not feel crowded. Plenty of room in the pool and water slide. The beach area was not crowded however the umbrella rentals did sellout each day we were there. Fun putt putt golf and nice tennis courts. Also nice nature trail. Parking was sometimes a challenge. The food was good and Wind and Waves.
We’ve been coming here for years and it has always been a nice place, but the renovations have really made the pool area so much nicer! The staff members are great and quite a few have been here for ten plus years.
Pool and Play Areas
A super slick 163-foot spiral slide that shoots out of a lighthouse makes a big splash at this nicely laid-out feature pool. In a pirate ship water play area, kids can shoot cannons, take a turn at the wheel, walk the plank and slide to safety. Pool hours are 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Lifeguard and slide hours are between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Swim diapers are required for non-potty-trained children. You can buy them, along with limited baby and child supplies, at Island Grove Packing Company. Pool towels are provided in resort accommodations. Trade them in at Eb & Flo Rentals.
Adjacent to the pool, a large sandy-bottom playground features multiple slides and fun cargo crate props.
Beach Access and Rentals
To visit the resort's private stretch of sandy beach, use your room key to access the dune crossover -- a wooden bridge which brings you to the waterfront. No lifeguards are on duty, so parents should be vigilant about supervising small children, paying special attention to signs advising caution due to seasonal rip currents.
At a beach hut on the boardwalk, you can rent a variety of equipment and craft, from beach chairs, umbrellas and cabana hoods to sailboats and jet skis. A beach wheelchair is available for guest use. Rental hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
A full roster of daily programs is offered for kids from pre-schoolers on up. Kids enjoy treasure hunts, cooking classes and campfire sing-a-longs with s'mores to organized sports and an "Un-Birthday Party," complete with cupcakes, party games and a pinata. A good number of activities are held at Community Hall, a summer camp-like gathering spot adjacent to the pool. Basketball and tennis courts and a soccer field are located across the street. To reach them, guests take the underground tunnel from Community Hall.
On select evenings from 5 to 8 p.m., supervised childcare is available for children ages 4 to 12. The Disney Discovery Club provides nightly dinner and activities, like crafts and games. The program cost is $35 per child.
Tennis and Bike Rentals
Rent bikes and borrow board games and equipment for activities ranging from basketball to bocce at this recreation rental window, overlooking the pool. You can also borrow tennis racquets for a small fee, reserve court time, and sign up in advance for a variety of recreational activities. A good variety of bikes are available, including bikes with training wheels or baby seats. Ask for an "Indian River County Bike Path" map. Rental hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Port Holes Miniature Golf
Behind the pool, this nine-hole course features fun obstacles like crocodiles and a ship's wheel. The cost is $2 for a single round or $5 for an unlimited length-of-stay pass. Use is free for Disney Vacation Club (DVC) members. Course hours are 9 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. Equipment is ready for pick-up at Eb & Flo Rentals.
Blinkers Game Room
Open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., this small game room offers a handful of playful diversions, from driving games to Guitar Hero. Purchase tokens onsite.
Classes and Excursions
On scheduled excursions, kids can try their foot at surfing, learn to snorkel or paddle a kayak. The following classes are offered at the resort: Fishing Fundamentals, Snorkel Ears, Kayak Adventures, Scuba Experience and Surf School. DVC members enjoy a small discount.
Bleachers Bar & Grill
Step up to the plate at this casual baseball-themed poolside eatery and refillable mug station. Served in a sand pail with a shovel, kids meals are dished out in generous portions. Menu choices include grilled cheese, hot dogs, chicken nuggets and pizza. For adults, "Crab Cake Sliders" with vegetable slaw, "Peel and Eat Shrimp" and a "Seasonal Fruit Plate" with an orange muffin offer welcome variety. Soft-serve ice-cream, smoothies and ice cream bars are also available. Seasonal hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For a single price, a refillable mug includes unlimited refills on hot and cold drinks at Bleachers Bar & Grill Soda Tower for the length of your stay.
Saturday morning breakfast with Goofy and Donald Duck, along with Sunday Brunch and a seasonal Monday night Pirate-themed character dinner are the highlights at this family-friendly Inn dining room. Kids' menu items, from macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets are similar to what you'll find at a Walt Disney World Resort table-service restaurant. Hours are 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Advance reservations are recommended for special meals, including Goofy's Beachfront Breakfast, the Pirate Dinner with Goofy and Donald Duck on Mondays and the Thursday Seafood Buffet Dinner.
Fresh seafood and wood-grilled steaks are the specialties at this upscale venue, open for dinner Thursday to Sunday from 5 to 10 p.m.
The Green Cabin Room
Featuring night time entertainment and plenty of quirky charm, this second floor shipwreck-themed Inn lounge is a favorite haunt for locals. Soup, appetizers and light bites can be ordered from the Lounge menu, available from noon to 10 p.m. The venue is open until midnight. There's live entertainment from 8 p.m. to midnight Thursday to Sunday.
Take it easy after a day at the beach and order up a whole pie and dessert for delivery to your resort accommodation. Pizza varieties range from standard "Cheese" to "Buffalo", "Vegetable to "Hawaiian". An 18 percent gratuity charge, plus a $3 delivery charge will be applied to all orders. Bypass the fees by picking up at Bleachers. Service begins at 5 p.m.
Guests order up a Mickey waffle for breakfast or a "Chocolate Dipped Cheesecake" dessert for in-room dining. Kids' dinner choices -- ranging from a cheeseburger and chicken nuggets to grilled fish -- are the same as at Shutters. A variety of special treats, from Mickey and Minnie cookies and a "Celebration Cake" to a "Family Snack Basket," with whole fruit and snacks are available. A four-hour advance notice is requested for special orders. Room service hours are 7 to 10 a.m. and 5 to 10 p.m.
Planning & Tips
The Art of Smart Timing
For the best deals, plan a visit for January to mid-February, or between mid-August and mid-December. Mid-February to mid-April and mid-December to New Year's are times when you'll find the highest rates, along with plenty of crowds. Summer is hot and humid, but water activities bring relief. October, which promises lower crowds along with warm air and ocean temperatures, is a particularly nice time to visit. November is a little cooler and more crowded, but brings a lesser chance of rain, along with holiday festivities. For best results at securing your desired accommodation, book well in advance.
All About the Extras
In rooms, guests often find towel pets like sea turtles, left by Housekeeping. During hatching season, naturalist-led "Turtle Patrol" programs are a highlight. At holiday times, the resort features special activities and decorations, from a menorah lighting ceremony to Christmas trees bedecked in starfish and sea turtle ornaments.
Next to Community Hall and accessible 24-hours with a resort keycard, Anchors A-Weigh Fitness Center offers a range of Life Fitness equipment. Nearby, Steamer's Sauna is open from 7 a.m. to 10 pm.
At a new 1,500-square-foot spa, enjoy citrus-inspired treatments. Teen, 'tween and "Mommy and Me" services for children as young as age 4 are also available.
For Mom and Dad
Sign-up for a wine tasting program. Alternatively, claim a comfortable chair on the back porch and watch the sun set while the kids play on the lawn.
Kids Nite Out, the same agency that provides services at Walt Disney World Resort, offers in-room babysitting. There is a four-our minimum and additional fees apply.
The resort is midway between Palm Beach and Cape Canaveral and is a little less than two hours from Walt Disney World Resort. Disney does not provide transportation service to the resort. Whatever your point of origin, it's best to have a car if you're staying a week or more. If you're visiting Walt Disney World Resort along with Vero Beach, Hertz and National have car rental service onsite. If you prefer for hire transportation, Treasure Coast Limo is an option.
From Orlando International Airport (MCO), take 528 toll road East (Beachline) to I-95 South. Follow I-95 South to 512 East (Exit 69). Turn left on 512 to US 1. Turn right on US 1 to 510. Turn left on 501 to A-1-A. Turn right on A-1-A. The resort is on the left.