by Jackie Perrin
Immerse yourself in luxury from stem to stern at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, a nautical-themed property that’s cultured enough for an admiral, yet still kid-friendly.
Somewhat more sedate than its Beach Club Resort sister, with which it shares the coolest pool in all of Walt Disney World, the 621-room resort features full balconies in most rooms, a first-rate steakhouse that caters to both junior and adult palates, an onsite convention center and Concierge Club service at the Regatta Club lounge.
Designed by Robert A.M. Stern, the property opened in 1990 and is reminiscent of the sprawling Shingle-style resorts common in seaside New England towns at the turn of the century. A gray-and-white clapboard exterior is accented by steep gables and red-and-white striped awnings, and inside, oak floors, gleaming brass, and extensive millwork help evoke a nautical atmosphere throughout.
Besides enjoying an array of recreational activities available to visitors to both Disney’s Beach Club and Disney’s Yacht Club resorts, ship-loving guests can board a boat bound for Epcot or Disney’s Hollywood Studios, embark on a Pirate adventure cruise, or charter a pontoon and enjoy a guided fishing excursion or private viewing of Epcot’s nightly Illuminations fireworks show.
Our Editor Loves
- Sandy-bottomed, water park-style pool
- Sandcastle Club for kids ages 3 to 12
- Short walk or boat ride to Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios
- All Inclusive Rates
- Theme Park
- Water Parks
- Water Sports
- Children Programs
- Connecting Rooms
- Family Room 5+
- Game Room
- Kids' Pool
- Meal Plan
- Onsite Dining
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Renovated in 2009, guestrooms are decked out in a crisp white-and-navy color scheme with nautical stripes, and feature luxurious bedding and plush mattresses. Special seafaring touches include headboards designed to resemble ships wheels, marble vanities with twin porthole-style mirrors, a classic character captain desk lamp and several rope-themed Hidden Mickeys.
Spacious by Disney standards, standard guestrooms sleep up to five, plus one crib sleeper for guests under the age of 3. Most standard guestrooms contain two queen beds, and many rooms have a daybed, as well. Priority for daybed rooms is given to families of five and there is a surcharge per night, per adult for more than two adults in a room. Rollaway beds are available for a fee, and the resort will deliver complimentary Pack 'N Plays, bedrails or a microwave to your room upon request.
Unlike rooms at its Beach Club neighbor, where smaller standing balconies are common, most rooms at Disney's Yacht Club feature a full balcony. First-floor rooms contain pleasant patios (non-gated), and both balconies and patio setups include tables and chairs.
In addition to a desk/dining table with two chairs, a flat-screen TV, an alarm clock with an iPod docking station and high-speed Internet access, each room is equipped with a wall-mounted hair dryer, a coffee maker and a dresser/cabinet housing a mini-fridge (bring a hair tie or a zip tie to secure if you're traveling with little ones).
You can upgrade from a Standard room to a Standard Club Level room, which will gain you plush robes, a DVD player with complimentary rentals and other Concierge category privileges. Besides four daily food and beverage presentations at the private Regatta Club lounge, Club Level guests enjoy perks like personal onsite assistance and pre-trip itinerary planning.
Parents who don't want to be prisoners of the dark after the kids crash for the night have a number of space-stretching options. If you have the extra cash, you can book connecting rooms or else spring for one of the Club Level suites, which accommodate four to eight people and have separate living and sleeping areas. Of course, you could always check in to the Beach Club Villas next door -- these home-away-from-home Disney Vacation Club accommodations offer flexible room arrangements, plus some additional family-friendly features like a washer and dryer and a full kitchen.
If you're traveling with an infant and no additional children and want to stick with the standard room, you can gain some privacy by placing your child's crib in the bathroom vanity area, which is separated from the rest of the room by a dividing wall. For easy access to the Stormalong Bay pool complex, as well as Marketplace counter-service dining and the Transportation Dock, families might consider requesting a room close to Disney's Beach Club Resort.
Stay Club Level and forego the Meal Plan! No points to keep track of and terrific selections!! Rooms are clean & beautiful. View of the water and The Boardwalk Resort across the way is spectacular. We can view the Epcot nightly fireworks from our balcony! Pool is delightful with a Lazy River and Water Slide to keep the kids entertained while mom & dad relax. A terrific resort!
by Mark D
This is above and beyond my favorite of all the Disney resorts. It is not the most opulent, nor the most fun. You won't find any grand lobby or in-your-face Disney theming. There's no Whoop De Doo musical review or pretentious restaurants. In fact, besides the service and Stormalong Bay, there is nothing seemingly exceptional about this hotel at all.
That's where Disney's Yacht Club shines. After a long day at the parks - after you've walked all you can walk, eaten all you can eat, and had every sense overloaded for an entire day - there's no feeling in the (Disney) World more comforting than seeing those muted, sparsely placed white lights. It feels like home.
The lobby is not a large, cold, meandering hodgepodge... it's a warm, small, impeccably clean room with rugs where there needs to be rugs, couches where there need to be couches, and a globe where there needs to be a globe. If you need to unwind, head to the lounge. Need to rest? Head to the elevators. Concierge, Bell Services, and Front Desk employees are standing at their post waiting for any request you throw at them. Restaurants are at one end and the market is at the other.
In the past couple years, all of the rooms I've stayed in here have had synthetic hardwood floors, the most comfortable queen beds Disney has to offer, a full sized balcony, a pullout couch, a desk, and chairs. The moment you walk in you can see everything on the floor, under the beds, and in every nook and cranny and can be instantly positive that the room is as clean as can be. It does appear that there are rooms without balconies and some with very small balconies, but I have never been assigned one of those rooms. There are plenty of outlets and usb chargers in the furniture.
The Yacht club staff is second to none. In their pursuit of technology, and the struggles of being the most visited resort on the planet, Walt Disney World is far from perfect. With guest services at the parks generally being understaffed and concerns going essentially unheard, a visit to Yacht Club front desk has always yielded excellent results. The staff has resolved and followed through with every concern my family has ever had, even if they weren't responsible. They have resolved problems we have had with My Disney Experience, taken responsibility for issues we had at other Disney hotels, and stepped in when our parks experiences were lacking. Management has even stepped in with outside entities. My family's luggage was lost on one trip, and the manager dispatched an employee to outfit us from the market while she went to task calling JetBlue and MCO to track our luggage down. Even pizza delivery is better at the Yacht Club, the staff treats this dining choice just as elegantly as any room service order: laying out real napkins, plates, and glass condiment containers as well as pouring drinks.
The location of the Yacht Club is perfect for adult guests. Though Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom require bus service, Epcot's International Gateway is a short walk or boat ride away (this entrance leads directly to the world showcase area of Epcot and is also the location of the Skyliner Epcot line). The Boardwalk is connected to the Yacht Club and features bars and restaurants. Hollywood Studios has a very nice mile long canal and walkway that connects to the Boardwalk and Yacht Club areas. The Friendship Boats offer service between Epcot, Yacht Club, Boardwalk, Swan and Dolphin resorts, and Hollywood Studios. Being able to walk back when the parks close and all the transportation options are jammed is the quickest and easiest way to get back to your resort. Most Disney resorts do not have any walking options to any parks or other resorts. If you hate busses and have a park hopper ticket, you can walk to the International Gateway down to the front entrance of Epcot and take the monorail system to the magic kingdom or the Polynesian, Floridian, and Contemporary Resorts. This is a long walk and the total trip can take upwards of an hour, but we far prefer this method to the bus system.
Stormalong Bay (the shared pool facility for the Yacht and Beach Clubs) has a lazy river, a sand bottomed pool and shores, a pirate ship themed water slide, and a pool bar. It is often considered the best hotel pool on Disney Property.
The families and children at this resort seem more relaxed than those at other Disney resorts. The connected Beach Club is a little more rowdy and the Boardwalk across the pond is rowdier still. The rooms feature heavy doors and thick walls and with the comfy beds it's easy to sleep in on the days it's necessary. The staff, besides being incredibly helpful when they're needed, are also a little friendlier than the staff at other resorts. There are plenty of dining and drinking options on the shared Yacht and Beach Club site, and if you want more, Epcot and Boardwalk restaurants and bars are a short walk away. There is no air of pretentiousness nor gaudiness that usually accompanies a resort of this class. It also must be restated how clean and inviting the rooms are. The Yacht Club lit up at night is one the most aesthetically calming and inviting sights I know of.
All of Walt Disney World's resorts greet you with this simple message when you arrive: "Welcome Home". This is the only resort where Cast Members and Imagineers fool me into believing this.
Stormalong Bay Pool
Considered to be the best in all of Walt Disney World, this three-acre water park style pool sits on the shores of Crescent Lake and features a sandy bottom, a 230-foot shipwreck waterslide and three separate lagoons with whirlpools, waterspouts and a circular lazy river. Good luck trying to peel your party away from the splash-happy action -- and honestly, how could you blame them for protesting? Kids big and small can play for hours in the shallow-sand lagoon, and there are two separate kiddie pools, including one with its own pint-sized waterslide. Room keys are checked at pool entrances, and guests are issued official resort wristbands, which afford all-day water-play access.
Organized activities for kids and families begin around 1 p.m., with the majority occurring poolside and in the water. Daily itineraries range from rubber duck races and bucket relays to Disney family trivia contests and karaoke dance parties.
Swim vests are available for free at Poolside Gifts (resort key card needed), where you can also rent inner tubes or buy pool noodles, sunscreen and swim diapers (required for non-potty trained trained children). An army of lifeguards staffs the pool, but given its size and design, families with multiple children might find it difficult (and unsettling) keeping tabs.
On the Yacht Club side of the pool, there's a shaded playground and near the beachfront promenade, a Hair Wrap Station and a design-your-own jewelry kiosk called the Pearl Factory give guests more opportunities to shell out their Disney dollars.
Lafferty Place Arcade
Offering around 60 games, the pool-area fun spot is open from 7 a.m. to midnight.
Admiral Quiet Pool and Tennis Court
For those seeking calm and a clean set of clothes, the non-guarded Admiral Quiet Pool (hours 7 a.m. to midnight) is located in a remote corner of the resort, adjacent to a lighted tennis court (hours 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.; equipment available at Ship Shape Health Club) and a coin-operated laundry facility. Towels are available.
Rent bikes and take a trip along the BoardWalk, or borrow a boat and cruise Crescent Lake. Half-hour boat rental options range from Sea Raycers ($32) to Sun Trackers and Boston Whalers ($45 each), and bike rentals are $9 per hour or $18 per day. Training wheels and baby seats are also available (11 a.m. to 5 p.m.).
Albatross Treasure Cruise
Recommended for ages 3 to 12, but probably most appreciated by kids 5 to 10, the two-hour nautical scavenger hunt departs 9:30 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, with stops at "Ports of Call" along Crescent Lake and Epcot. The $36-per-child fee includes a snack and some loot. Call 407-939-7529 for reservations.
Crescent Lake Beach
Here, you'll find a sand volleyball court, lounge chairs for sunning and nightly campfire sing-a-longs with marshmallows (free), followed by complimentary star-lit showings of popular Disney movies. Swimming is prohibited.
Located off the Beach Club lobby, the onsite childcare center for kids ages 3 to 12 (formerly 4 to 12) offers a number of activities for older children, too, like Wii, PlayStation, board games and puzzles, as well as plenty of playthings for little ones, like a dress-up corner, a kitchen center and lots of vehicles to rev and race. You can check out the staff and the facilities -- and bring kids of all ages along for the fun -- when the Club hosts complimentary Craft Time from 1 to 3 p.m. daily. Club hours are 4:30 p.m. to midnight. Cost is $11.50 per hour, per child; 24-hour advance reservations (407-939-3463) are requested.
Buffet or a la carte breakfast and a lunch menu featuring New England specialties like clam chowder and lobster rolls are the early-day highlights for adults at this nautical dining room. For kids, there are Mickey waffles for breakfast and cheese pizza and a selection of fun kabobs for lunch and dinner. Hours are 7:30 to 11 a.m. for breakfast, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch and 5 to 9 p.m. for dinner. Call 407-939-3463 for reservations.
Kids (ages 9 and under) can order steak skewers, grilled chicken, baked fish or pasta with marinara or cheese sauce at this upscale steakhouse, specializing in oak-grilled meats and seafood. For dessert, kids' choices include a chocolate Mickey Puzzle with edible paint or a chocolate brownie with vanilla gelato. Hours are 5 to 9:30 p.m. daily. Call 407-939-3463 for reservations well in advance.
Ale & Compass Lounge
Continental-style breakfast is served daily in this small, nautically themed lounge adjacent to the lobby registration area. Choices include cereal, muffins, Danish, fresh fruit and coffee, and cartoons for kids are shown in the seating area, which includes a few small tables and a couch. More tables are available on the porch outdoors. Hours are 6 a.m. to noon for breakfast and 4 p.m. to 12 a.m. daily.
Crew's Cup Lounge
Besides an open window where you can watch butchers prepare cuts of meat for grilling, cocktails, snacks and sporting shows on widescreen televisions are the highlights at this casual maritime-themed lounge, located next to the Yachtsman Steakhouse. Lunch selections are available from 12 to 5 p.m., dinner is served from 5 p.m. to 12 a.m. and a separate appetizer menu is available. Disney Dining Plan credits are not accepted.
Hurricane Hanna's Grill
This casual spot by Stormalong Bay Pool serves kids meals in a sand pail, along with a shovel. Kids' choices include a cheeseburger, grilled cheese, grilled chicken sandwich and chicken nuggets -- all come with a choice of 1 percent milk or water, as well as carrots and watermelon. Whole fruit, hummus with veggies, chocolate chip cookies, frozen lemonade and gelato are on the snack menu. Lunch is served, and Hurricane Hanna's Grill has seasonal hours.
Disney's Beach Club
At the Yacht Club's next-door neighbor, your can stretch your palate and you pocketbook at four additional drink and dine venues. Options include Beaches & Cream Soda Shop (11 a.m. to 11 p.m.), Cape May Cafe (7:30 to 11 a.m. and 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.), Beach Club Marketplace (7 a.m. to 11 p.m.; limited seating) and Martha's Vineyard Lounge (5:30 p.m. to midnight).
Kids can enjoy Mickey waffles or cookies and milk in their pajamas, or choose from a selection of the usual favorites like hot dogs and chicken nuggets. Whole pizzas are available from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and you can order up an in-room Pizza Party ($55) for four.
Refillable mugs can be purchased for unlimited hot and cold (non-alcoholic) drink refills at Ale & Compass Lounge and Hurricane Hanna's Grill, as well as at Beach Club Marketplace and Beaches & Cream at Disney's Beach Club Resort. Prices vary according to length of stay.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
From lobby greeters decked out in ship-shape costumes to steakhouse staff who go out of their way to make meals comfortable for families, cast members at this resort have a classy way of welcoming kids, while catering to a steady stream of conventioneers and adult travelers.
Overnight guests enjoy a number of special perks, like early-entry and late-stay theme park privileges (Extra Magic Hours), free onsite transportation, free parking, the ability to make FASTPASS+ reservations 60 days in advance and the opportunity to participate in a Disney Dining Plan with a Magic Your Way Package. Additional family-friendly privileges include online room check-in (up to 10 days in advance), resort airline check-in and airport transportation service via Disney's Magical Express.
Stormalong Pool Area Services
Ship Shape Health Club offers some of the latest in exercise equipment, as well as massages (by appointment). An attendant is on duty from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and access is available 24 hours with a venue-activated resort keycard. Next door, you can get a quick haircut or a pedicure at the tiny but welcoming Periwigs Beauty & Barber Shop (open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily).
Kids Nite Out, an independent agency, provides in-room resort childcare. A four-hour minimum and a caregiver transportation fee are required.
The Art of Smart Timing
When traveling to Walt Disney World Resort, it's best to avoid peak travel periods. Generally, these times include holidays and the summer months -- in other words, any time schools are out of session. If you do opt to visit in summertime, pack sunscreen, hydrate frequently and, unless you want to squander your souvenir money on ponchos at the parks, don't forget your raingear.
Fortunately for travelers on a budget, the least expensive times to visit Walt Disney World theme parks (Value Season) tend to coordinate with dates when crowds are the lightest. If your kids aren't in school yet, September is a great time to visit. Another prime time is after Thanksgiving through early December, when parks and resorts are decked out in holiday splendor.
From Orlando International Airport (MCO), free roundtrip airport transportation via motor coach is available to guests (advance reservation required; limited hours) via Disney's Magical Express. By car, take the South Exit Road from Orlando International Airport to SR 417 Toll Road (GreeneWay) West and follow signs to Walt Disney World/Disney's Yacht Club Resort.
You can reach Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios via walkway, and complimentary daily boat service is provided to and from these parks, as well. Free transportation to and from the Magic Kingdom Park and Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park, Disney water parks and Downtown Disney is provided by bus.
For Mom and Dad
If you're celebrating a special occasion, consider a splurge-worthy Evening Fireworks Specialty Cruise on Crescent Lake (call 407-939-7529 for reservations). Alternatively, and at no cost whatsoever, you can view Epcot's Illuminations show -- as well as the brightly lit BoardWalk Resort -- from a swing on the sandy beach or from a bench along the beachfront promenade.