Disney’s Yacht Club Resort Review


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…

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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 30-40% 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.

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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.

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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.

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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?!

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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.

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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 & CreamCape 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!

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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.

Stormalong Bay is basically a small water park, and we think it's the best hotel pool at Walt Disney World. Which hotel pool is your favorite?

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!

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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!).

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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.

Considering joining Disney Vacation Club? Read this first: http://www.disneytouristblog.com/disney-vacation-club-reviews/

Overall, Disney’s Yacht Club Resort is one of the best options, 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.

Considering staying at Disney’s Beach Club Resort? Visit Expedia’s Beach Club page for for current promotions and discounted rates.

Not sure which Walt Disney World hotel is right for you? Check out our Walt Disney World Hotel Reviews page, which offers quick-hit capsule reviews of the strengths and weaknesses of every Walt Disney World hotel, plus links to our reviews and photo pages for every hotel we have reviewed.

Looking for comprehensive Walt Disney World vacation tips? Make sure to read our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide.

Your Thoughts…

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!

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31 Responses to “Disney’s Yacht Club Resort Review”

  1. Great Yacht Club review! I agree with all your points here. I’ve stayed at Beach Club a few times, and my first Yacht Club stay is slated for later this year. The Epcot area resorts are tops in my book, for all the reasons you mention. The ability to walk to two parks is huge for me. While the bus service to MK is terrible, it’s a small trade-off in my opinion. The benefits of this location far outweigh anything on the monorail loop for me!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      We go back and forth on MK resorts v. Crescent Lake resorts. At this time, we’ve decided that it depends upon the time of year. During fall, Crescent Lake is a no brainer because of Food & Wine Festival. Same for Spring because of Flower & Garden (and the beginning of Star Wars Weekends). At Christmas-time, MK resorts get the nod because they have better decor, and we spend more time at Magic Kingdom that time of year.

      All other times of year, it really just depends. YMMV, that’s just us! :)

  2. Lauren says:

    Since you mentioned the horrific bus situation, which resort (ANY resort) is the best for transportation (NON-bus) to the parks. Yacht Club sounds like a fantastic option, but without taking a bus, how do you get to MK? We’re just 4 hours from Orlando, so we always drive and have the option to drive ourselves, but I wondered what your thoughts were. We have small children and buses seemed like a HUGE waste of time and my husband hated lugging the stroller on and off. And then there was always the chance we’d been standing and waiting for a bus and we might not even get on the one that came.

    • Amanda says:

      When we stayed at the Beach Club last fall, theYacht Club and Beach Club did not share a bus with any other resort for MK and we never had a problem with the buses.

      • Melissa says:

        We’ve always gone in July (call us crazy), and that’s when the bus situation is at its worst.

        If you have the park hopper option, take a scenic walk through EPCOT and take the monorail from EPCOT to MK!

    • Heath says:

      Lauren-

      The best resort for non-bus transport depends on where you’re going. The Crescent Lake resorts (Yacht, Beach, Boardwalk, Swan, Dolphin) are all good options to walk or boat to Epcot and DHS, but I actually prefer the Polynesian if you’re traveling with small kids. Poly has many ways to get to MK- boat, monorail- but the Transportation and Ticket Center is also right next door, so you can walk and board a direct monorail to Epcot and you don’t need to fold your stroller for the monorail. That’s the top two parks within easy access and no transfers. You also have the option of boarding the TTC boat to MK, which is huge and does not require strollers to be folded (the smaller boats at the Poly dock and the Crescent Lake boats require folding).

      • Tom Bricker says:

        Totally agreed with this, and I’d also throw in Disney’s Contemporary Resort. It’s an easy walk to Magic Kingdom in the morning, and the first monorail stop on the way back from the Magic Kingdom (or an easy walk back, too). This is especially nice when lines for the monorail are long, or it’s down altogether.

      • Lauren says:

        So Epcot and MK are on monorail, you can access DHS by boat (?), and AK is bus only. Is that correct?

  3. C-J. says:

    We stayed at Yacht Club a couple of week’s ago for an entire week and loved it. Getting to both MK and AK was a snap as the bus was only being shared with Beach Club while we were there.

    The staff at the Crew’s Cup was phenomenal as well!!!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      A couple of weeks ago…so before Memorial Day, right? Interesting, I would have pegged that as a moderate time of year in terms of crowds, and usually the bus-sharing situation is at its worst during slow-to-moderate times, crowd wise. Thanks for the feedback!

      • C-J. says:

        No worries!

        We were there from May 7-15th so were pleasantly surprised as well – especially since we had stayed at Boardwalk two years ago starting the Sunday after Memorial Day and had to suffer the Boardwalk/Dolphin/Swan/Yacht/Beach routes. :-)

  4. Melissa says:

    We’ve stayed at the Beach Club and dined in the Yacht Club, and we definitely think that the Yacht Club is a tad stuffier. It’s still gorgeous, however! I agree that the Beach Club has a more “vacation-y” feel to it, which is the reason why we love staying there! Also, that pool is wonderful. Just putting that out there.

    To avoid the annoying MK bus situation, we usually walk through EPCOT and take the monorail to MK, but this option only works if you have the added park hopper plan.

  5. Lisa C. says:

    Yacht Club is my new favorite resort! My first stay there were no room-only passholder discounts available at any of the other Epcot-area or Magic Kingdom deluxe resorts. I had not heard much about this resort, and I was very pleased with my accommodations and the service. Its proximity to all of the parks(except for Animal Kingdom) make it my top pick. Since I live two hours away, I always have my car, but it’s much easier to walk or take the monorail everywhere. I have never had time to really check out the pool, but it looks fantastic. When my husband and I are there again in October, we plan to take a half day to hang out at the pool and float down the lazy river.

  6. I was sold… until the part about the bus system! I remember waiting hours as a kid on a family vacation circa 1989 for a bus at one of the non-monorail hotels. Can’t believe Disney hasn’t fixed those bus bugs decades later. This is why my family always stayed at the Polynesian for all our WDW vacations after that one fateful trip. But the Yacht Club pool sure is tempting, especially with little kids of my own now….

    • Tom Bricker says:

      As others have mentioned, quite often it’s just Yacht Club and Beach Club sharing a bus, which is completely bearable.

      Even if all of them are sharing a bus, the work-around of just getting off at the first stop and walking makes things much easier. If you park hop from Epcot to the Magic Kingdom, the only bus you really need to worry about is Animal Kingdom.

      In practice, the bus situation really isn’t that bad (it’s more annoying than anything)…unless you don’t prepare for it, which is why we brought it up! :)

  7. Heath says:

    Is it true that this is the hotel that Eisner stays at when he visits WDW? As you said, the lobby connotes absolute power and wealth and seems to be a statement of how Eisner saw himself during the era when Yacht Club was built.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I’ve heard that story about Eisner many times, and while I think there are a lot of stories about Disney and its executives that are myth, I’m inclined to believe this one.

      Even if it’s not completely true, it’s at least partially so. Eisner’s input and micromanaging during the construction of the Crescent Lake resorts is well-documented, and these resorts held personal fascination for him due to his attachment to their themes. DisneyWar (http://amzn.to/1rOggo8) touched upon this.

  8. Jack says:

    Our family loves the Captain’s Grille restaurant. It’s a great meal at only one dining credit. It’s also very easy to get a last minute reservation.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      We’ve wanted to try Captain’s Grille, but it’s soooo hard to resist Beaches & Cream and Yachtsman Steakhouse (our two favorites there). Thanks for the recommendation!

      • Donald says:

        I also recommend Captain’s Grille! It’s definitely a hidden gem for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Breakfast has some interesting à la carte options (lobster omelet, lemon-ricotta hotcakes with blueberry compote and lemon curd, etc.) as well as a decently priced buffet. Lunch has some nice sandwiches, such as a lobster roll and a burger topped with crabmeat. For dinner, the crab cake (appetizer or entree) is great – very little filler!

  9. Liz says:

    So I have yet to go in the Yacht club. I will go in October for a lunch at Captain’s Grille. However I am from Nantucket and am curious to see how the theming measures up. I am no ascot wearer myself but there are certain stuffy areas here, mainly the local Yacht Club. As I said I have yet to see it up close but am thinking it more resembles old Newport than anything else, because their photos of wood shingling are just not salty enough. :)

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I don’t know my New England design styles well enough to differentiate between Nantucket and Newport. I was just throwing out some random names of places up there that sound like they’d be into yachting. ;)

      You’re probably right that it’s more like old Newport than Nantucket. Being from around there, you’ll have to let us know what you think of the theming! :)

  10. Jackie says:

    I have to comment on the bus situation. We are DVC owners and our home resort is BCV. We have stayed here many, many times. We have NEVER shared a day time park bus with all 5 resorts. In our experience the YC and the BC share, and it has been fine. The YC is picked up and dropped off first. I usually have a seat, even as the second stop in the busy mornings.
    The DTD buses are all 5 resorts and they are awful. We usually budget for a taxi for our evening at DTD.
    Thanks

    • Tom Bricker says:

      In our experience (also having stayed at the Crescent Lake resorts ‘many, many times’), all 5 resorts share park buses about half of the time, maybe a little less. This typically occurs when occupancy is lower or during the slower times of the year. Perhaps you’ve been lucky, or perhaps you visit primarily during busy seasons, but I can assure you that at various times, all 5 resorts *do* share park buses.

  11. Gina says:

    We stayed at Yacht Club during the week of Memorial Day and had a wonderful stay! The location is fabulous. The rooms were large and comfortable, all with balconies! We did find the bus service to be a bit slow here. It was usually only shared with Beach Club, but it still never took us more than 30 minutes to get to Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom. Just plan accordingly. Also, be aware that there is no counter service restaurant in Yacht Club. There is one at Beach Club and at the pool. I agree that the Crew’s Cup staff were the friendliest around! Overall we loved Yacht Club and would most certainly return in the future!

  12. Mi Mi 5 says:

    Our original family stay in 95 was at the still new Beach Club. Your review lists all the great reasons why both the Yacht & Beach Clubs are our favorite properties. We love the quiet atmosphere & quick, beautiful walk to parks. My husband & I continued staying as a couple at the more adult YC after our kids grew up. You are correct about the bus service. Originally it was quicker, growing more cumbersome as it served more hotels & guests. That is what finally chased us off property to a condo. However we will be back at the BC in Sept, as we escort our oldest grdaughter for her 1st official Disney World visit.
    (Her mommy looks forward to sharing her first visit memories with her daughter, too.) We will all check out the bus status & the ease of visiting other parks…it used to be a favorite perk of staying at a Disney hotel!

  13. Susan says:

    Great timing on this review! I’m planning my next wdw trip and am researching which Crescent Lake resort I’d like to stay at-thanks!

  14. Gevidge says:

    I stayed at Beach Club in February and it was very nice, but honestly, I really like Caribbean Beach just as much for 1/3 the price. Yes the pool was cool and restaurant options were great, but I think I am going to pay that much again, I would prefer the Contemporary.
    My biggest issue with Beach/Yacht Club was the transportation – the only way to get to HS was boat or to walk and it started to downpour and the boats stopped running and it was not practical to walk in that weather. We had Fastpasses to make, so we ended up having to pay for a cab! The buses went to all the lake hotels and that took so much time. And we had to wait 45 min for a bus to Downtown Disney and missed the first 5 min of our movie bc we were so late. We thought an hour was enough time but we were wrong.
    But I have nothing but positive reviews of the actual hotel and amenities. I just don’t know that its worth all that money when the moderate hotels are just as nice and way less money.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I agree with you that the transportation leaves something to be desired at Yacht Club, but I think it’s a bit of a stretch saying the moderates are “just as nice.” Still, I think you raise some good points, and it’s worth considering the Moderates if the location near Epcot doesn’t matter.

  15. Ciara says:

    Planning our 1st trip the end of May/ early June with my husband and our 12 and 13 year old children. This is our trip of a lifetime so we want to get it right! We were thinking of 3 nights in Wilderness Lodge on deluxe dining plan. We thought easy access to MK and DTD. Then moving to Beach Club for 8 nights on regular DDP. Easy access to Epcot and HS. Just take a taxi to AK. In your very experienced opinion does this sound like it would be a good in terms of transportation? We don’t want to waste valuable time on buses! Or instead of Wilderness Lodge would you recommend The Contemporary? We want to go to the 4 Parks, the 2 Water Parks and to Sammy Duvall Watersports. We want to do it all – is 12 nights manageable to do it all? We are hoping to move then to Portofino Bay Hotel for 3 nights so we can do Universal. If ANYBODY can help with advice, we would so much appreciate it. This trip is taking 4 long years of saving! We are travelling from Ireland. Love all of your reviews Tom, hope you can steer us in the right direction as regards accommodation, thanks in advance!

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