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.
Totally subject to personal opinion, but of the Deluxes I have stayed in, Yacht Club is my personal favorite. Why? It offers a great combination- great location to Epcot (my family’s favorite park) by foot, convenience to Hollywood Studios (my family’s second favorite park) by boat, access to the Boardwalk (fabulous morning cocktails or coffee drinks courtesy the bar in the Boardwalk Inn- if that’s your thing), access to the best pool on Disney property in Storm Along Bay and theming that feels rich and Disney-like without feeling over the top.
During our stay, we had a garden view, which was peaceful and a couch that offered my son his own sleeping area. The rooms are well-laid out. Most have full balconies (unlike Beach Club). The bathroom offers a sliding door to section off the sink area which adds extra privacy, and the beds have been updated so that you can slide suitcases underneath. This gave us plenty of changing space and kept our room tidy while keeping our suitcases out of the way. The decor has a few nice nautical touches, like constellations on the curtains, that we enjoyed.
I also highly recommend the Market at Ale and Compass. It is by far my favorite marketplace in Disney. If you are using Disney Dining, you can make a meal out of the snack credits- they offer delicious bites like curry chicken salad, tomato and mozzarella salad, shrimp cocktail and bakery items. There are also a few sandwiches and a wide array of bagged snacks. If you’re looking for something hardier though, the Beach Club Market is a short walk away because the lobby of the two resorts are connected. That’s another plus... Yacht and Beach Club are connected and share amenities. But have different personalities!
I have no Cons for this resort except the decor is personal preference and it IS more subdued than Beach Club. The consensus seems to be that Beach Club is more fun and family-oriented. I agree that Beach Club feels more busy, but after a stimulating day at the park, my family prefers Yacht Club. Though we like both resorts!
Tip: Get the park hopper if within budget when staying at this location. It really lends itself to hopping between Epcot and HS, and even monorailing to MK. Also- I recommend early breakfast at Les Halles in Epcot. It’s within walking distance, opens at 9, so 2 hours before the rest of the World Showcase and you in position to ride Frozen with little to no wait.
Just completed a stay at this lovely hotel with our 3 children. Warm welcome on arrival and the staff on the desk were always so friendly and helpful. Lovely pools and room and great access to Epcot, HS & the Boardwalk - the only minor disappointment was the lack of Disney ‘magic’ - we have stayed at other (lower category)resorts and have enjoyed getting back to the room to see what had happened with the towels/pyjamas etc.. No extra touches this time!
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.