By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2017, from the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever. Paperback available on Amazon here. Kindle version available on Amazon here. PDF version available on Gumroad here.



yourfirstvisit.net—Disney World Instructions for the First-Time Visitor



Category — d. Where to Stay at Walt Disney World

Dining Options at Caribbean Beach During Its Refurb

(For the first page of this review of Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, see this.)

The counter service area and Shutters table service venue in Centertown at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort closed in May 2017 for replacement.

Alternate dining arrangements have been made, and during my May visit and June stay at Caribbean Beach, I had eight meals here.

A full report follows later on this page, but here’s the short review of  temporary dining at Caribbean Beach:

  • Breakfast: Fine. Supplies for cold in-room dining are easily available, and the hot buffet and food truck offerings are entirely adequate.
  • Lunch: Weak. Both hot and cold offerings are limited. The quality of the hot food is good, but options and capacity are each slim. Cold food is widely available in limited options and while the fruits and salads are OK, the cold sandwiches are weak.
  • Dinner: Adequate for a meal or two.  Between the buffet, food truck, room service, and other options, most will find something to like, but the offerings at each option are limited, and capacity is tight except at the buffet.

A couple of general points before diving into the details

  • Disney has not consistently met demand in its smaller venues, so outages have happened–the Centertown food truck was out of sliders when I wanted them, and I’ve seen reports of the Trinidad South truck being out of lamb and the Island Markets selling out of sandwiches.
  • Waits at the Centertown food truck and buffets may “feel” long at busy times. By my stopwatch, in both cases the entire cycle wait (from committing to starting to eat) is comparable to what you’ll find at other Disney World moderate and value resort food courts at busy times, but don’t expect these to be “quick” options.
  • The buffets may use two holding lines–one to enter the tent (for fire marshal/egress safety issues) and a second before the buffet line (to allow those who have already eaten to get in line for seconds without going back out of the tent to the beginning of the line).
  • While you are in these lines, others may enter the tent simply to use the air conditioned tables or access the beverage station. Neither these people nor those returning to the buffet line for “seconds” are cutting in line, though it may feel like that at times.

OK, everything else I know is covered below.  If you want to see a specific venue, click the links:

THE CENTERTOWN OFFERINGS

The largest range of dining options is in Centertown, between the main pool and Trinidad North.

Here’s you’ll find a food truck offering all-day dining, a buffet serving breakfast and dinner, a bar, and, at times, a mini-truck with snacks.

I’ll get to the food truck and buffets in a minute, but to cover the minor Centertown entries, here’s the mini-truck…

…and a closer shot of its menu (click it to enlarge it).

The bar is visually horrible but with two bartenders, it operates just fine.

The bar menu.

Bar seating is available along a rail and at tables by the beach.

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THE CENTERTOWN FOOD TRUCK

All day dining is available from a food truck. You order from the kiosk on the right above…

…and pick your food up at the truck itself, typically being given a pager so that you can wait for your meal in the air-conditioned buffet tent.

You can then eat outside, bring it to your room, or enter the buffet tent and eat there.

The food truck runs two menus, one for breakfast and one for lunch and dinner. My image of the truck’s limited  breakfast menu, above, has a bit of a Jungle Cruise feel. For a more readable version, click here.

I had the bacon egg and cheese sandwich with a side of potato casserole. Both were fine.

Morning coffee is available outside (later in the day sees a shift to a lemon-water service here) and also inside the tent, which also has a refillable mug station.

The lunch/dinner food truck menu is also limited (click it to enlarge it)…

…but the burger was much better than most Disney food court burgers.

The fish tacos were good, too.

The food truck serves breakfast from 7-11.30a, and lunch/dinner (same menu) from 11.30a to 9p.

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THE CENTERTOWN BUFFET–BREAKFAST

The main option, however, is the buffet. It’s open for breakfast and dinner–but not lunch. The buffet is open for dinner from 5-10p, and for breakfast from 6.30-11.30a.

You pay for the buffet at the same area where you pay for the food truck. Breakfast prices are $13.99 for those ten and up, and $8.99 for those 3-9 years old, or one quick service credit. Dinner prices are $20.99 for those ten and up, and $11.99 for those 3-9 years old, or one quick service credit.

You then get a wrist band, which is what allows you into the buffet line—and allows the buffet tent to also serve double duty as an air-conditioned area for eating off the food truck, and/or filling your refillable mugs.

Here’s a couple of views of the buffet tent, which seats on the order of 250-300 people.

The buffet is all-you-can-eat if you dine in, and you can dine in or do it as a takeaway. However, you can’t both do a sit-down all-you-can-eat buffet meal and then also fill up a to-go plate. One or the other, bucko.

The breakfast buffet menu is above and also here.

First on offer is the waffle station, with waffles being made in the background.

The waffle station includes waffles, syrup, and blueberry and strawberry toppings.

Next is oatmeal, grits, and some more toppings.

Around the corner you’ll find butter and cream cheese, a variety of fruits…

…and several yogurts.

The hot station is next, with eggs, sausage, the same potato casserole you can get at the food truck as a side…

…veggie fritattas and “Island Crepes.”

Next is  a station with biscuits, sausage gravy, and pastries.

Then the bacon and ham station, with ham glaze.  This is the only station where a cast member portions the offerings–which, after you’ve tried the sausages, will make perfect sense to you.

Finally,  there’s a selection of breakfast bagels, pastries and breads.

Here’s what I assembled.  All was fine except the sausages, which looked unappetizing, were cold, and had little flavor. Bacon is the way to go! (The potato casserole looks weak but was quite good, as was the frittata.)

See below for the drinks station.

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THE CENTERTOWN BUFFET–DINNER

Here’s the dinner menu. Frankly, there’s a little less here than meets the eye, so I strongly suggest that early on a stay at Caribbean Beach you go inside and inspect the actual offerings, so that if you later decide to have dinner here there’s no surprises.

My main issue with the buffet is how limited the options are. Frankly, for a quick service credit, it’s nicely priced if you can find meal items you are in the mood for, but the adult cash price is high for the range of options available.

The first station combines some kids offerings with what the menu calls the “Pasta with a Selection of Sauces.” You’ll find here chicken nuggets, mac and cheese, meatballs, sausage, pasta alfredo, and pasta marinara.

Next are a couple of soups—on one of my visits, tomato and Island Conch Chowder. I had the chowder—it was very mild.

On another visit, instead of tomato, the second soup was collard green soup.

The salad section has precisely one greens option—mixed lettuce, mostly garden variety—well you know what I mean, it’s exactly the opposite of the variety of greens in our salad garden—six dressings, mixed fruit, and a pasta salad and slaw salad.

The entrée station includes the carving station—at both of my dinners, it was carved turkey. At one dinner, other options included roast pork, jerk chicken, and shrimp curry.

At another dinner, the same roast turkey, pork, chicken and shrimp was available, with “Island Glazed Fish.”

No beef—even though beef is common at carving stations at moderate and value food courts. If you want beef, get a burger at the food truck.

The meats were all adequate–mildly flavored (even the curry) and with a tendency to dryness–although the turkey gravy helps with this. The baked chicken and the shrimp curry were probably the best of the lot.

The image is of one of my dinners–the chowder, shrimp curry, rice, and collard greens. All these were delightful, expect for the greens, which were far too sweet.

Vegetables available my visits included broccoli, mixed vegetables, mashed potatoes, rice, black beans and collard greens.

There’s also a dessert selection…

…and a bread service area.

Off to the side is the beverage station, which is also accessible to those with refillable mugs. (You can get the mugs both outside the buffet and in the Island Markets, covered next.)

Service is incredibly attentive—at my first dinner, I must have had three cast members ask me how the food was, and two others ask if they could get me a drink. Others have commented on nightly live music here as well—such was not playing during either of my dinners.

An expansion in offerings would make me not hesitate to recommend this buffet. Another pasta, another soup, one or two more leaf salad leaf options, some salad toppings, a beef entrée and one or two more “casserole” or sauced entrees, and a couple more vegetable options would round it out nicely.

But without that, if exactly what’s on offer works exactly for your group, it’s fine; otherwise, it’s more of an emergency option than something I’d count on for a nice dinner at Caribbean Beach.

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THE ISLAND MARKETS

“Island Markets” are in three converted rooms—one each in Martinique (2509), Jamaica (4308), and Aruba (5524). (The first two digits of the room number indicate the building number.)

They offer

… ice cream (above, in the box at left), pastries, coffee and tea, cereals and pop tarts (with a microwave above)…

… drinks, yogurt, fruit, salads, sandwiches and wraps…

… and refillable mugs, bananas, and snacks.

A couple of closer looks at the salad side of the cold case…

…and the sandwich and wrap side.

The wraps/sandwich/fruit/salad choices are thin, and have sold out at times by early evening. I expect that problem to be largely fixed shortly as Disney learns more about patterns of demand.

Regardless, the offerings of these spaces work better for snacks and for breakfast supplies than they do as a place to grab lunch or a light dinner—unless you are thinking very light.

The Island Markets are open from 7a-10p.

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THE FREESTYLE COKE MACHINES

Refillable mugs can be refilled in freestyle coke machines—where you get to design your own drink, like my favorite, peach Sprite.

These machines are available in one or two buildings in each village, replacing in those buildings the old-style Coke machines—which remain in the rest of the buildings. Find the right building, then follow the signs for Ice and Vending.

Buildings with the freestyle machines are marked on the resort map–note what I’ve circled in red.

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THE TRINIDAD SOUTH FOOD TRUCK

The overview of dining at Caribbean Beach Disney provides does not include a food truck at Trinidad South.

But on both my mid-May and June visits, every day one was there, on the parking lot side of the quiet pool…

…specializing in gyro and pita sandwiches (click the image to enlarge it).

I quite enjoyed my lamb and beef gyro. Lots of sauce…

I imagine that the absence of it being listed means you can’t count on it being there.  But if it is, it’s a handy option for those staying in the otherwise distant-from-food Pirate Rooms in Trinidad South.

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IN-ROOM DELIVERY OF PIZZA AND SUCH

Another option is ordering off of the limited delivery menu, which features, pizza, wings and such. The menu (click to enlarge):

I’ve never had delivery pizza at Disney World. I tried to order one on my June visit, but a lizard-drowner of a storm meant everyone was sheltering in their rooms and ordering pizza, so after 15 minutes on hold I gave up and got a salad from an Island Market instead.

This option is available from 4p till midnight. Don’t use the dining plan for these options–way too many credits will be charged.

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SNACKS AT CUSTOM HOUSE

There’s a small selection of snacks available for sale at the Custom House.

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A BREAKFAST BAG IN YOUR ROOM

As a “thank you” for staying here during the construction, you’ll find a small soft-sided cooler in your room (if you don’t get one, call from your room phone for one).

The bag includes a couple of bottles of water and a selection of shelf-stable breakfast items.

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THE VENDING MACHINE IN THE QUIET POOL LAUNDRIES

Finally, a post on the disboards Caribbean Beach thread reminded me that there’s a vending snack machine in the quiet pool laundry rooms!

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THE MAIN FUENTES DEL MORRO POOL AT DISNEY’S CARIBBEAN BEACH RESORT

This review continues here.
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Perspectives on the Caribbean Beach Construction

THE BASICS OF THE REFURB AT DISNEY’S CARIBBEAN BEACH RESORT

(For the first page of this review of Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, see this.)

Disney’s Caribbean Beach resort is undergoing a major redo.

Nine accommodations buildings have closed and are surrounded by construction fences.

Closed are all six buildings of Barbados, and the three northern buildings in Martinique. The other three buildings in Martinique used to be priced as “preferred,” but are not anymore.

All rooms at Caribbean Beach were refurbed recently, and many had a fifth sleeping spot added. The furniture for this fifth spot is being taken out of the rooms in the closed nine buildings and added to the 18 remaining queen bed buildings.

What this means is that in the remaining queen rooms (that is, in all villages except Trinidad South), it will be much easier to get a five person/three bed room.

The nine closed buildings are gone from the map, and are expected to be demolished and be replaced by a new DVC resort–although as usual, this has not been announced. The absence of these ~562 rooms—more than 25% of Caribbean Beach’s pre-construction capacity—has already reduced crowds on the buses and at the main pool.

I spent some time on my June stay here (my 9th stay here) evaluating the buses. 80% of buses (the gold line) departed 20 minutes or sooner after the last bus to the same park had departed. The median (red line) time between buses was 15 minutes, implying a 7-8 minute average wait.

Your results may vary, and bus routes will be changing shortly, with the new sequence being Martinique–>Old Port Royale–>Trinidad North–>Trinidad South–>Jamaica–>Aruba then a turn around and exit after passing Aruba and Jamaica again.

Construction is also happening at the Custom House area, including the addition of a large temporary building (the image shows its short side). This building has not been widely discussed, but while it could be the office for the new construction, it seems poorly located for that and to be too large to be anything but a temporary replacement for the Custom House…

The shops, concierge services, table service restaurant, quick service restaurant, and other amenities at Old Port Royale are closed. They will be rebuilt near the same area but along the water. What this means is that the remaining buildings in Martinique will have demolition and/or construction at both their northern and southern ends, and should be avoided.

The bar has been converted to this weak-looking thing, but functions just fine.

Temporary replacement for the gift shops comes from a shopping truck near the main pool…

…and also from small “Island Markets” in converted rooms in Martinique (2509), Jamaica (4308), and Aruba (5524). (The first two digits of the room number indicate the building number.)

Concierge services are still available in the Custom House, and also in a converted room in Trinidad North, room 3109.

There’s a couple of replacements for the closed dining—current dining options at Caribbean Beach are covered in great detail here.

  • The Island Markets have a narrow selection of breakfast supplies, cold sandwiches/wraps/salads, and snacks
  • A food truck by the main pool offers breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • An air-conditioned tent offers breakfast and dinner buffets with somewhat limited menus
  • A second food truck may be outside the quiet pool at Trinidad South
  • Pizza delivery to the rooms is also available

See this for much more on the dining options during the refurb at Caribbean Beach, but its summary is as follows

  • Breakfast: Fine. Supplies for cold in-room dining are easily available, and the hot buffet and food truck offerings are entirely adequate.
  • Lunch: Weak. Both hot and cold offerings are limited. The quality of the hot food is good, but options and capacity are each slim. Cold food is widely available in limited options and while the fruits and salads are OK, the cold sandwiches are weak.
  • Dinner: Adequate for a meal or two.  Between the buffet, food truck, room service, and other options, most will find something to like, but the offerings at each option are limited, and capacity is tight except at the buffet.

Note that heavy rain can impede Disney’s ability to supply the buffet, force the closure of the food trucks, and overwhelm room service.

THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE REFURB AT DISNEY’S CARIBBEAN BEACH RESORT

There’s three major issues that come with this refurb:

  • Visual blight from construction
  • Noise from construction, once demolition kicks off
  • Limited dining options until the new venues are built and running

The visual blight is inescapable, as it is present along the bus routes and, if you have a car, at the main entry. That said, this sort of thing happens at Disney World all the time and doesn’t matter a lot unless you are staying in Martinique.

This is the path from Martinique to the dining and pool area.

The view from near Aruba 5641. The near part of this area used to be wetlands between Aruba and Barbados, and the far part Barbados.

Construction noise during demolition, and to a lesser extent construction, will be particularly a problem in Martinique, quite minor in the distant Pirate rooms in Trinidad South, and present elsewhere. Noise will be limited to the day, but may interfere with afternoon naps, or otherwise intrude into an otherwise peaceful afternoon in the main pool.

The limited dining is probably the most acute issue. While it could be made a little better with more options at the buffets, and the expansion of the breakfast and dinner buffet offerings to include a lunch buffet as well, unless that happens Caribbean Beach will not be a great choice for those planning more than one or two lunches or dinners at the resort.

To be clear, dining at Caribbean Beach is NOT a disaster except in heavy rain—it’s not a lot worse than that at Port Orleans French Quarter, there’s still more counter service than at the Epcot resorts, and one no more should pick a Disney moderate based on dining than one should pick a spouse based on sock color…

…but the current state of dining, when combined with the noise and visual blight, makes it hard to recommend Caribbean Beach when for just a little more money one could book one of the other Disney World moderates—especially Port Orleans French Quarter and Port Orleans Riverside (Coronado Springs is also seeing construction, though with no dining implications).

There are some minor new perks.

You should find a gift bag in your room..

…with a couple of bottles of water and a selection of shelf-stable breakfast items. Loved the waffles..

Mickey and friends visit at the main pool–I missed this, but did get evidence of their presence.

And bands have been playing in the evening–rained out my visits.

My advice? Well, unless you have a pin code, effective prices go down, or dining options are strengthened

  • If you have any qualms, change your resort. The potential for you to second-guess yourself is too high.
  • If you are one of the seven people worldwide who chose Caribbean Beach specifically for Shutters or the food court, change your resort.
  • If you never felt strongly about staying at Caribbean Beach anyway, change your resort.
  • If you picked Caribbean Beach for its tranquility, consider how construction noise might affect that.
  • If you plan more than one or two lunches or dinners at the resort, consider changing your resort

WHAT MIGHT BE NEXT AFTER THE REFURB AT DISNEY’S CARIBBEAN BEACH RESORT

The traditional issues with Caribbean Beach have been the number of bus stops, the distance of most of the resort from the check-in area at the Custom House, the distance of two villages—Barbados and especially Trinidad South—from the central services and pool, and the somewhat awkward layout of the quick service dining here.

This refurb holds the promise to fix almost all of this—particularly so if the a. the main lobby is moved to join the other central services in Centertown and b. in addition to the elimination of the Barbados (and Custom House) bus stops, the three stops serving what are now six accommodations buildings at Martinique, Centertown, and Trinidad North are combined into one.

Note that there is also much rumor of a gondola system that, among other things, might connect Caribbean Beach with Epcot and Hollywood Studios via a station between Jamaica and Trinidad South.

While this would require another bus stop (or maybe moving south both Jamaica’s and Aruba’s bus stops), the combination of Caribbean Beach’s current loveliness and playfulness and its great main pool with a gondola, new waterfront dining, fewer rooms, and a net smaller number of bus stops, would really make Caribbean Beach stand out among the moderates.

I have invented the material on the map below to show the potential here:

Even if there’s no gondola, there’s great promise here. But at least until dining options—or effective room prices–improve, I would advise most who plan more than a lunch or dinner or two at Caribbean Beach to stay elsewhere.

Have you stayed here since the refurb started?  Let me know what you think in the comment form below!

VILLAGES AND THEMING AT DISNEY’S CARIBBEAN BEACH RESORT

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May 23, 2017   19 Comments

Refurb Update

I had an unplanned–no, that’s not right, otherwise I would have been in Omaha or Osaka, not Orlando–unexpected visit to Disney World this week, through the combination of a client meeting being canceled and some subsequent creativity on the issues of where I would pick up my connecting flight, and how long my layover would be.

The main thing it let me do was see this, which I’ll write more about next week:

But I also took the opportunity to run around and check in on a bunch of resort refurbs. More on the basics of these refurbs is here, and I’ll write more about each soon, but here’s the quick scoop.

CARIBBEAN BEACH REFURB

The replacement dining at Caribbean Beach is at best adequate, more so at breakfast than lunch or dinner.

The cast members, however, are spectacularly attentive.

Perhaps the most interesting news is that furniture from the five-person rooms in the now-closed Barbados and half of Martinique areas is being installed in previously four-person rooms in the remaining non-Pirate villages, so the extra bed will be much more available.

POP CENTURY REFURB

The refurb at Pop Century began with Building 8–the refurb of this building is not yet complete.

However, Building 9 has now begun its refurb.

Update June 5: Building 7 has started, and the coffeemakers are confirmed!

CORONADO SPRINGS REFURB

At Coronado Springs, the refurb of Rancho 7A is complete.

The next building to have kicked off is Cabana 8A.

WILDERNESS LODGE REFURB

The re-done Wilderness Lodge quiet pool looks like it could re-open any minute.

The official word is July 17, but I would not be surprised to see something earlier.

YACHT CLUB REFURB

Rooms on the 4th floor of the Yacht Club are done, and the 3rd floor is being worked on.

The new Yacht Club counter service, The Market, opened Monday. I’ll have more to say about this soon, but additional counter service options have been badly needed at the Epcot resorts.

OK, that’s it for now, but more to come soon!

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May 17, 2017   4 Comments

Review: Disney’s Yacht Club Resort

OVERVIEW: DISNEY’S YACHT CLUB RESORT

Our most recent stay (our third, in March 2017) confirms that Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, one of the Epcot resorts, is the seventh best deluxe resort at Walt Disney World for first time family visitors.

You can have a wonderful visit at any Walt Disney World resort hotel.

However, this site recommends that first time visitors to Walt Disney World who can afford it should stay at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, a deluxe resort, and that those who can’t should stay at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, a value resort.

(It also suggests that first time visitors should avoid the moderate resorts, while noting that these resorts are wonderful for visits after the first. See this for why.)

Compared to other Walt Disney World owned and operated resorts, the deluxe resorts are distinguished by having (on average) the most amenities, nicest views, best dining options, best transport options, largest rooms, best service, and highest prices.

Among the deluxe resorts, Disney’s Yacht Club Resort has a lot of positives.

It stands out for sharing with the Beach Club Resort the best pool among the Disney-owned resorts, sharing with the Beach Club and the BoardWalk Inn convenient access to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and also sharing with these resorts a short walk to dozens of table service dining options located in these resorts, at the Swan and Dolphin, on the BoardWalk, and in Epcot.

(See this for much more on resort distinctions by price class–value, moderate, deluxe, etc.)

One of the principal negatives of the Yacht Club–tired, beat-up rooms–is being fixed by a refurb that is expected to be completed in 2017.

The other principal negatives–inconvenience to the Magic Kingdom, bland theming, and weak counter-service offerings–remain, although slightly better counter service came on line in May 2017.

This review has 6 pages

ACCOMMODATIONS AT DISNEY’S YACHT CLUB RESORT


Standard rooms at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort are sized in the middle of the deluxe resorts.

They are larger than those at the Wilderness Lodge and Animal Kingdom Lodge, but smaller than those at Disney’s Polynesian Resort and the other monorail resorts.


Most of these rooms sleep five–two each in two queens, and another in convertible sofa. Some rooms have just the two queens, and rooms with one king bed are also available.

You can add to this capacity of five a child younger than three who sleeps in a crib.

After their refurb, I expect these rooms to have the same floor plans and furnishings, but different colors and details, as those in the recently refurbed rooms at sister resort the Beach Club.

For a photo tour of an un-refurbed Yacht Club room, see this, and for more on accommodations at the Yacht Club, see this. Come back in later 2017 for a refurbed room!

DINING AT DISNEY’S YACHT CLUB RESORT

The Yacht has two table service restaurants. Yachtsman Steakhouse is a terrific–but expensive–option. The less expensive and simpler Captain’s Grille (below) is dull but with excellent value (for Disney…).

More dining is within walking distance at the Beach Club. There, Beaches and Cream is a wonderful burger and ice cream shop, but far too small for the demand for it. The Cape May Cafe has Minnie and other characters, but not Mickey, at breakfast, and an OK seafood buffet at dinner.

Quick service dining is quite limited, with just a new limited venue in the Yacht Club gift shop, small venues at the back of the distant Beach Club gift shop and by the main pool, plus pastries and coffee in the lobby bar in the morning.

For more on dining at the Yacht Club, see this.

THE POOLS AT DISNEY’S YACHT CLUB RESORT

The Yacht Club and Beach Club share the best pool complex at any Disney-owned resort (the Four Seasons has the best overall pool complex on property).

Hot Tub Disney's Beach Club Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

Known as Stormalong Bay, there’s actually three pools in the complex, plus a stunning water slide.

There’s also a smaller pool at the Yacht Club, plus two smaller pools at the Beach Club.

For more on Stormalong Bay, see this.

KID APPEAL AND CONVENIENCE AT DISNEY’S YACHT CLUB RESORT

Resorts are ranked on this site for first time visitors based first on their kid appeal, and then on their convenience.

On this basis, Disney’s Yacht Club Resort is the seventh-best deluxe resort for first time family visitors to Walt Disney World.

Kid Appeal.

The kid appeal of the Yacht Club Resort, such as it is, comes from its pool and beach, not its design, architecture, or theme.

Stormalong Bay, the pool that the Beach Club and Yacht Club share, is the most fun and kid-appealing pool among the Disney-owned resorts.  

Otherwise, nothing about the design or architecture of the Yacht Club shouts out that it was built for kids, and in fact it feels formal and austere to many of them.

Convenience. Disney’s Yacht Club Resort is the seventh-most convenient of all the Walt Disney World resorts in carrying out the itineraries for first-time family visitors on this site.

All of the Epcot resorts are convenient to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Epcot is a moderate walk from the Yacht Club, and the Studios are a longer walk or a boat ride away.  (Epcot can also be accessed by boat.)

The other two parks are accessed by buses, which are shared with some of the other Epcot resorts.

Map Disney's Yacht and Beach Club Resorts

BEST PLACES TO STAY AT DISNEY’S BEACH CLUB RESORT

This site suggests that first time visitors stay in standard rooms, not preferred rooms.

This is because they won’t be spending much time in their rooms.

The single exception is visitors to the Animal Kingdom Lodge, who should always pay for savanna views.

On the map, the Yacht Club Resort is on the left, the Beach Club is center-right, and the Beach Club Villas are at the top right. The walkway to Epcot is at the far right, and the boat dock shared by the Beach and Yacht Clubs is at the center in the lake.

The room areas of the Yacht Club–at the left on the map–are in a long, narrow building with only two elevator banks, one central, and one on the left side.

As a result, some rooms on the left side of the Yacht Club can be a hike from the main pool and central services and restaurants area–and from Epcot.

So you should ask for a room as close to Epcot as possible. The current room request form won’t allow for that–but you can call and ask!

BEST FOR:

Any first time family visitors who can afford it, but can’t get into or don’t want to stay at Disney’s Polynesian Resort or the Beach Club.  Here’s what we say in The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2017 about the difference between the sister resorts the Yacht and Beach Club:

Yacht Club vs Beach Club from The easy Guide

WORST FOR:

Families seeking the highest degree of kid appeal. Families too large to fit even its 5 person rooms. See this for more on large families at Walt Disney World.

THEMING AND ACCOMMODATIONS AT DISNEY’S YACHT CLUB RESORT

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Theming and Accommodations at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort

(For the first page of this review of Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, see this.)

 Disney's Yacht Club Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

THEMING AND ACCOMODATIONS AT DISNEY’S YACHT CLUB RESORT

There are currently 8 official Disney owned and operated deluxe resorts at Walt Disney World. In their recommended order for first time family visitors, they are

  1. Polynesian
  2. Wilderness Lodge
  3. Animal Kingdom Lodge
  4. Contemporary
  5. Beach Club
  6. Yacht Club
  7. BoardWalk Inn

Many of these also offer Disney Vacation Club (“DVC”) studios and villas, all for rent to the general public–see this for more on the Disney Vacation Club resorts. The Yacht Club has no DVC offering, but next door sister resort the Beach Club offers the Beach Club Villas.

THE THEMING OF DISNEY’S YACHT CLUB RESORT

Disney's Yacht Club Resort from yourfirstvisit.net (2)

Disney’s Yacht Club Resort opened in November 1990, and in 2009 completed a major renovation. A badly needed refurb is under way, and expected to be completed in 2017.

According to Disney World’s website, the Yacht Club

“…[features] lush landscaping and the formal grace of a grand New England yacht club.

Designed by architect Robert A.M. Stern—known for his East Coast beach houses—this splendid 5-story Resort transports Guests to the summertime Shingle Style hotels of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. (Sister resort Disney’s Beach Club Resort is a more relaxed, pastel-toned edifice next door; the 2 share many amenities.)

Public areas, guest rooms and suites are adorned in dark wood and wicker furniture, portholes and simulated captain’s wheels. Cast Members are decked out in ship’s crew regalia, including navy blazers and captain’s hats.”

Disney's Yacht Club Resort from yourfirstvisit.net
The architect (and former Disney board member) Stern on his own website also talks about the Yacht Club in its context with the Beach Club:

“While both hotels draw their inspiration from America’s architectural past, each has a unique identity.

The Yacht Club is reminiscent of the rambling, shingle-covered seaside resorts that were built toward the end of the last century in New England towns such as Newport, Marblehead, and Bar Harbor.

The Beach Club is lighter, more airy in expression. It is modeled on the many Stick Style cottages and resorts that could be found in towns like Cape May, New Jersey.”

(For more on Stern’s role in Walt Disney World, see this.)

Well, I have a couple of issues with this.

First–and yes, do laugh at me for arguing with Stern, the master, about his signature Shingle Style–vernacular Shingle Style has a few more curves than the Yacht Club. Rounded turrets and eyebrow dormers are common elements missing in the Yacht Club.

But more to the point–these two resorts just aren’t that different.

Yes, the Yacht Club is a tad more formal, and yes, the Beach Club is a hint lighter. …but some of the discussions about these two resorts make it sound as though they were comparing the Grand Floridian and the Wilderness Lodge.

In fact, the Yacht and Beach Clubs are more like one another in theme, style, decor, layout, and rooms than are any other pair of deluxe resorts at Walt Disney World.

And this makes a bit of sense, considering that they are really just one building with mirror-image hotel wings, designed for conventioneers. The similarity of the rooms–which will re-emerge after the Yacht Club comes out of its refurb–makes convention room assignment much simpler.

Map Disney's Yacht and Beach Club Resorts

See the map.

The Yacht Club rooms and lobby are on the left, the Beach Club rooms and lobby on the right, and in between is shared space used for restaurants, kitchens, and other shared support activities.

Above this central shared space on the map is the shared convention center, and below it the shared spectacular pool, Stormalong Bay.

Note that the room wings are essentially mirror images of each other, and of course the room layouts themselves were identical (other than colors and details) until the Beach Club refurb, and will, I expect, become identical again after the Yacht Club refurb is complete.

What’s different between the two resorts in terms of theme is a set of small choices of decoration and decor, which do establish a difference but just don’t add up to much.

Here’s what we say about this in our book:

Yacht Club vs Beach Club from The easy Guide

So yes, the Beach Club is the better choice for most families.  But if you need Stormalong Bay or the easy access to Epcot, but can’t get into the Beach Club, don’t let the talk of formality keep you from bringing your kids to the Yacht Club. Yes, there is a tiny difference, and yes the Beach Club is preferable–but the Yacht Club is just fine for families!

ACCOMMODATIONS AT DISNEY’S YACHT CLUB RESORT

Disney's Yacht Club Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

All Disney deluxe resorts have standard rooms; concierge rooms, which Disney calls “club” rooms; and suites. (See this for more on suites at Walt Disney World.)

At Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, standard and club/concierge rooms sleep either four or five, in two queen beds, or two queens and a day bed.

Standard rooms are well appointed and nicely proportioned, and unlike at the Beach Club, all come with substantial balconies.

The only issue with standard Yacht Club rooms is how beat up they are, which the current refurb will address.

There’s a detailed photo tour of a standard Yacht Club room later in this review.

King bed rooms that sleep two or three (the third on the day bed) are also available.

CONCIERGE ROOMS, DELUXE ROOMS, AND SUITES AT DISNEY’S YACHT CLUB RESORT

I generally advise against special room types for first-time visitors, as they won’t be spending much time in their rooms. However, they may be well worth it for families intending to spend more time at the Yacht Club Resort than implied by this site’s itineraries.

TikimanPages.com has a great discussion of the value of concierge rooms here. Though focused on the Polynesian, it applies to any deluxe resort.

Most Yacht Club concierge rooms (Disney calls them “club” rooms) are the same size as the rest of the resort’s rooms.  However, there’s also an option called a “Deluxe” rooms, and several types of two-bedroom suites.

Disney's Yacht Club Deluxe Room

Deluxe rooms don’t offer any more sleeping capacity–they just give you more space, and more separate spaces, for your family to live in. Deluxe rooms (which used to be called junior suites) are about 60% larger than standard rooms, and include two queens and a semi-private sitting area.

Disney's Yacht Club Turret Suite

The two-bedroom Turret Suites have an unusual shape and layout–with one of the bedrooms connecting the other spaces.

Disney's Yacht Club Captain's Deck Suite

There’s also two-bedroom Presidential and Admiral suites, each with ~2000 square feet and the two-bedroom Captain’s Deck Suite, with ~2400 square feet.

For more on suites, see this, and for more on larger families seeking deluxe options, see this.

Note that to all the capacity figures above you can add a child under three in a crib. A crib fits nicely between the dresser/TV and the closet.

PHOTO TOUR OF A STANDARD ROOM AT DISNEY’S YACHT CLUB RESORT

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Photo Tour of a Standard Room at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort

(For the first page of this review of Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, see this.)

PHOTO TOUR OF A ROOM AT DISNEY’S YACHT CLUB RESORT

Standard rooms at the Yacht Club are being refurbed, with the renovation expected to be complete by the end of 2017. This tour is of an un-refurbed room from my March 2017 visit. I’ll have a renovated room to show later this year, but expect it to be near identical to a refurbed Beach Club room, except for colors and details.

Renovated or not, these standard Yacht Club rooms sleep either four on two queens or five on two queens and a sofa that converts to a bed.  These photos (and the floor plan) are of a five-person room.

As is typical, when you enter the room the bath is on one side and the closet on the other.


On the closet side you’ll first find this small set of drawers…

…expanding the storage available in the room and handy to the bath. The coffee maker may be on top of it, or on the desk.

Next comes the large closet.

Here’s one side.

Note the ironing board etc. on the other side of the closet. There’s also a small safe set in the closet–all Disney rooms have small safes, some smaller than others.

On the other side you’ll find the bath, starting with a pair of sinks.

In a separate space you’ll find the toilet and tub.

Deeper in the room you’ll find two queens on one side, and in the rooms with the fifth sleeping spot, the desk is on this side too.

Here’s the beds from the back of the room…

…and a close up of one of the beds.

There’s a small shelf on the bath wall, and this bedside table between the beds…

…with a bit of storage.

Here’s the desk:

Rolly Table Disney's Yacht Club Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

It includes a small rolling table that plays multiple roles: perch the kids on the couch or bed and roll it up to them for dining, or use it as a better-height laptop table.

In Need of Refurb Disney's Yacht Club Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

Note the worn edges.  These rooms badly need their current refurb.

On the other side of the room you’ll find the TV and dresser, and in five person rooms a couch–maybe I should call  this a daybed?

The TV side from the back.

The dresser includes a mini-fridge…

…and four smallish drawers–making the extra drawers near the bath that much more valuable.

Here’s the couch.

Take off the throws and it’s a bed. I measured it at 72″ long by 30 inches wide, with a 6 inch cushion.

Day Bed Tight Fit Disney's Yacht Club Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

The arms are right on the cushion, so it sleeps shorter than the mattress length implies–but it is comfortable!!

The balcony.

On my latest stay our balcony had distant views of IllumiNations…

View from Balcony Disney's Yacht Club Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

…but other stays here have had less good views–this one was of the roof of the central back-of-the-house kitchens shared by the Yacht and Beach Club.

Wall Art Disney's Yacht Club Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

There’s some nautical theming in the room–e.g. the sailboats on the shower curtain, the wheel in the headboards, and the 12 Meter race above the couch.

Some other nautical and Disney touches:

These rooms are nicely proportioned and have all the right furnishings.  They are tired, though, and need their refurb!

DINING AT DISNEY’S YACHT CLUB RESORT

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