The Yacht Club Experience
Now that winter is creeping up on the Northeast, it’s a perfect time to reflect on my September honeymoon in sunny, temperate Florida. For our nine day stay at the Disney World Resort, the Yacht Club Resort was recommended to us by our Small World Vacations travel agent, and my husband and I chose the deluxe resort for two major reasons: 1. the close proximity to a fabulous selection of restaurants in Epcot’s International World Showcase and 2. the phenomenal Stormalong Bay pool complex.
When compared with Disney’s resplendent Grand Floridian or the stunning Animal Kingdom Lodge, the Yacht Club’s New England nautical-themed decor is rather low-key, but the resort definitely has its charms. More formal than its sister resort, the Beach Club, the Yacht Club caters more to business clientele than to vacationing families with young children. While some guests may find the atmosphere a little affected, during our mid-September stay, we found the resort and our room to be relaxed and charming.
The resort’s greatest inadequacy is its lighting. The lobby and rooms are dimly lit and the resort’s overall lighting rated an F in The Unofficial Guide to Disney World.
To compare the Yacht Club’s 2011 rack room rates with the other Disney Resorts, visit Mousesaver’s 2011 Walt Disney World Resort Room Rates.
Stormalong Bay is the three acre, 750,000 gallon pool complex that the Yacht Club shares with the Beach Club. The massive pool area features a replica shipwrecked pirate ship (with a flume slide), sand-bottomed pool, lazy river, and sandy beach. All of the Disney Resorts feature elaborate themed pool complexes, but Stormalong Bay has the distinction of being the best of the best, surpassing even Disney’s signature Grand Floridian’s pool complex.
During our September stay Stormalong Bay’s pool hours were 10am to 10pm, and unfortunately we were often out for dinner later than the complex stayed open.
Directly across from Stormalong Bay is the beautiful Crescent Lake situated between The Yacht and Beach Clubs and Disney’s Boardwalk. Boat service to Epcot and Hollywood Studios runs through Crescent Lake, and along the Lake’s shore, resort guests can attend campfire sing-a-longs and watch Disney movies under the stars.
Getting Around the Resort
As one of Disney’s Epcot area resorts, the Yacht Club is very accessible to the World Showcase entrance at Epcot and resort guests have their choice between walking or taking a short boat ride. Hollywood Studios is also accessible by boat while the other two parks – The Animal Kingdom and The Magic Kingdom – require bus transportation.
My husband and I found the walk to Epcot very pleasant and we made our way to the park almost every night for dinner, but the 20 minute walk may seem strenuous for some, especially families with young children, so if you’re planning on using the boat service after a late Epcot dinner, make note of when the last boat is scheduled to launch that night so you don’t miss it.
The bus transportation to the other parks and resorts left a lot to be desired. The buses came fairly regularly during our stay but the Yacht Club shares its buses (and boat service as well) with The Beach Club as well as The Swan and Dolphin hotels near Disney’s Boardwalk which means you’ll be making several additional stops before the bus even leaves the Epcot resort area. Many of Disney’s bus routes require transfers at Disney’s Ticket and Transportation Center, especially when traveling between the resorts. It took us well over an hour to get from the Yacht Club to the Animal Kingdom Lodge for dinner one night and after that experience I was glad that most of our dining reservations were within walking distance. The buses are slow, over-crowded, and generally unpleasant.
The Yacht Club features one of Disney’s “Signature Dining” restaurants, the Yachtsman Steakhouse, which requires two table meal credits on Disney’s dining plan. The other two places to eat at the resort – The Captain’s Grille (a la carte dining) and Hurricane Hanna’s (poolside counter service) – are more standard park fare. The Beach Club is similarly lacking in quality dining with only two places worth mentioning: Cape May Cafe for a character breakfast and Beaches & Cream Soda Shop for burgers and ice cream. The nearby Swan and Dolphin hotels feature a number of restaurants but none of them are eligible for Disney’s dining plan.
If you’re on Disney’s dining plan, your best bet for table service meals is to head over to Epcot’s World Showcase for some of the best dining in all of the Disney World Resort. Some highly recommended restaurants include: