Disney’s Yacht Club Resort is a Deluxe Walt Disney World hotel, adjacent to Beach Club and within walking distance of Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios (boats are also available to these parks). It is themed to a New England yachting club, and based on Disney’s descriptions it’s an elegant and refined hotel contrasting with its sister resort, Disney’s Beach Club Resort.
The relationship between Disney’s Yacht Club Resort and Disney’s Beach Club Resort has always been an interesting one. They share facilities and are located right next to one another, but are technically separate resorts. Unlike Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter, however, there is very little to distinguish them from one another, both in terms of distance and theme. From the best we can tell, Yacht Club utilizes a different color scheme and is aimed at the high society types in Nantucket who wear an ascot aboard their vessels, whereas Beach Club is geared towards those who shout “I’M ON A BOAT!” from the bow of a ship. Okay, maybe not to those extremes, but the idea is that Yacht Club feels a bit more stuffy and refined in terms of theming, whereas Beach Club feels more relaxed and leisurely.
Even that is probably drawing too large of a distinction between the two. Most people informally lump them together as one resort: Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club. That’s the impression you probably could get if you paid close attention to the flourishes and details throughout the two resorts. This is great for avid Disney fans who will definitely notice the difference, but for the casual guest, they both just have a nautical/beach feel. The main noticeable differences for most guests will simply be color choices on the exterior: Beach Club is light blue and Yacht Club is grey.
This isn’t really criticism. While we do think that Michael Eisner was probably a bit obsessed with his childhood days in New England and too many Disney hotels are reminiscent of that as a result, given how interconnected the Yacht Club Resort is with the Beach Club Resort, it would be jarring if they significantly contrasted one another thematically. It basically seems like a matter of having one larger resort with one theme, or having two smaller resorts with very similar, but different themes. Since we aren’t casual guests, we do notice the differences, and we prefer the variety. Here’s why…
Although they are variations of the same idea, each do bring something unique to the table. In Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, this is evident as soon as you walk into the lobby. It feels, for lack of a better term, “stately.” With deep, masculine woods, dark colors, and even leather furniture and an antique-looking globe, it reminds you of someplace that you’d imagine senators and titans of industry might have puffed on cigars and made power plays in the early 1900s. Or maybe that’s just what it reminds me of.
Even today, you almost need to be a titan of industry to afford a stay here, as rack rates range from around $350 to over $500 per night, depending upon the season and room category. This puts it among Walt Disney World’s most expensive hotels, but still not as expensive as the Magic Kingdom area hotels. While we love the Yacht Club, we would not stay here without a 30% off room-only Walt Disney World resort discount or the Free Disney Dining Plan promotion. In fairness, few hotels anywhere are worth over $350/night for us, but everyone’s perception of ‘value’ differs, and Yacht Club may be well-worth the rack rates for you. The nearby Swan & Dolphin non-Disney hotels are usually significantly cheaper, but don’t offer all of the same perks. For more on what might be right for you, check out our comprehensive On-Site v. Off-Site Hotels at Walt Disney World article.
As for the rooms, they are largely solid. They have plenty of color, but without appearing too dated (the wallpaper border and curtains are really the only offenders in our opinion). The carpet is nice, the fixtures are nice, and the bedding is nice.
The beds are probably my favorite part of the room. As is expected of a Deluxe Resort, the bedding itself is nice, but what I really like is the headboard, which I think adds a bit of thematic whimsy without being over the top. Plus, the colors of the bedding just inspire me to sleep like a champ. Disliking red, white, and blue bedding is distinctly unpatriotic.
Much like BoardWalk Inn, Yacht Club is also great for the dashes of Disney presented in a restrained manner. Mickey is looking pretty dapper in his yachting attire on this lamp. Only one question…where’s his ascot?!
The restrooms are divided, with double sinks outside of the shower and toilet area. Pretty standard–no complaints or praise here. I do like the shower curtains, which are a nice touch.
The captain’s seat…
In terms of amenities, there is a nice benefit in their proximity of the Crescent Lake resorts to one another: better and more amenities as a result of sharing. Between the Yacht Club and Beach Club, there are some seriously excellent dining options, including Beaches & Cream, Cape May Cafe, and Yachtsman Steakhouse, putting them, collectively, right up there with the best of the Deluxes in terms of quality restaurants.
Add to that the nearby Swan & Dolphin Resorts and Disney’s Boardwalk Inn, none of which technically share amenities but are so close that they might as well, and you have more high-quality restaurants within walking distance when staying at any of these resorts than at any other Walt Disney World hotel.
If dining is going to be a highlight of a trip, staying at one of the Crescent Lake resorts is the best option as there are numerous excellent dining options all within walking distance. This is especially true during Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival, when you can graze and drink in World Showcase and then stumble back to your hotel!
Disney’s Yacht Club Resort has a ton of amenities, but it’s biggest selling point is Storm-Along Bay. This is the crème de la crème of Walt Disney World pools. For those unfamiliar with Storm-Along Bay, it is a sprawling 3 acre pool complex with sand at the bottom. That’s right, it’s a hotel pool with sand at the bottom! Not only that, but it also has a lazy river, an excellent ‘shipwrecked’ water slide, tons of places for lounging, and an excellent poolside bar. While many Walt Disney World resort hotels now no longer allow “pool hopping,” this was the first that introduced the concept, and the pool that most vigorously enforces the no-hopping rule.
The excellence of this pool really cannot be understated. It’s the closest you’ll get to a water park at Walt Disney World without purchasing tickets to Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon (that’s not to say it’s on par with those, but you also don’t need to purchase a ticket to use it!). In fact, out of every Disney resort hotel in the world, this is our number 1 pick for pools, excluding Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa (that pool area is just, as the kids say, “bonkers”), which is sort of in a different category, anyway.
The close proximity to both Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios (we consider both walking distance, but most guests opt to take a boat to Disney’s Hollywood Studios instead of the 15 minute walking path–even if the path is usually faster) is another huge benefit. Boat service is also available to both parks, and it’s a certifiable fact that boat transportation at Walt Disney World is awesome.
Add to that the fact that you can start your day at Epcot and park hop to the Magic Kingdom via monorail, and you have three parks that can be reached without using buses. We loathe Walt Disney World bus transportation, so the number of parks we can visit without using a Disney bus is a big deal to us. Your mileage may vary on that!
The problem with bus transportation is actually exacerbated at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, and getting to Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom via bus is a real hassle. There is always at least some sort of shared bus service operating, but exactly how many buses share the service depends upon the season. Quite often, all of the Crescent Lake resorts share a single bus to the Magic Kingdom. That means 5 stops (Swan & Dolphin and Yacht & Beach Club each have separate stops, plus Boardwalk), which is beyond ridiculous, especially when you consider the prices guests are paying to stay at a Walt Disney World resort hotel with “Deluxe” accommodations. The fact that the Value Resort Pop Century has dedicated bus service makes our blood boil when it takes us an hour to get to a park via the bus system at the pricey Epcot-area resorts (although makes us happy when we pay the comparative bargain price to stay at Pop Century!).
If you do take a bus when all five resorts are on the same loop, regardless of which hotel you’re staying at, get off at the first stop and walk. Even if you walk incredibly slowly, this is the fastest option.
There are other amenities, including a health club, volleyball court, arcade, marina, business center, babysitting, tennis courts, and other recreational facilities, but none of these measure up to Storm-Along Bay. It is the ultimate trump card that makes Disney’s Yacht Club and Beach Club Resorts stand out from the other Deluxes. As is the case with all Walt Disney World on-site hotels, Yacht Club utilizes the MyMagic+ system, which means that guests receive MagicBands and can make FastPass+ reservations. Learn more about this in our MyMagic+ FAQ.
Overall, Disney’s Yacht Club Resort is a solid option, in our opinion, for a Deluxe Resort stay at Walt Disney World. However, we are a bit torn on it. Those considering Yacht Club are probably also considering Beach Club (and maybe Disney’s BoardWalk Inn), and in that regard, we have a difficult time choosing which one we prefer. On the one hand, the overall ambiance and laid back feel of Beach Club screams “vacation” in a way that Yacht Club just doesn’t, and this ambiance really appeals to us. On the other hand, with its refined look, Yacht Club has managed to age better than Beach Club. This is evident both in the common areas and in the rooms, and while it’s not patently obvious, it’s something we have noticed. Still, both resorts are great options–two of our favorites at Walt Disney World–and whether you should choose Beach Club or Yacht Club if considering the two should really only be a question of whether you prefer the elegant nautical look or the relaxed beach look.
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Do you agree with us that Disney’s Yacht Club Resort is one of the best Walt Disney World hotels? Do you think Storm-Along Bay lives up to the hype? Share your thoughts in the comments!