Beach Club is a Deluxe Resort at Walt Disney World in walking distance of EPCOT and Hollywood Studios, with Skyliner gondola and boat transportation to those parks. This hotel review features room photos, restaurant info, commentary on the amazing pool and much more. (Updated May 30, 2021.)
As Walt Disney World’s phased reopening continues, Disney’s Beach Club Resort is now open as of Memorial Day weekend! This belated return comes after the Beach Club Villas reopened last June and Disney’s Yacht Club Resort reopened last August. There are now only a handful of hotels that remain closed–see Walt Disney World 2021 Resort Reopening Dates for more info.
The most noteworthy thing to know right now is that capacity at Stormalong Bay pool, aboard the Skyliner, and on buses is reduced due to physical distancing, which can lead to longer waits and lines. However, since Yacht Club and the Disney Vacation Club wing of Beach Club have been open for nearly a full year, there’s not much at the resort that remains temporarily closed. Most shopping, dining, and recreation are available–let’s start with a list of what’s open…
- Beaches & Cream Soda Shop
- Beach Club Marketplace
- Martha’s Vineyard
- Ale & Compass Restaurant
- Ale & Compass Lounge
- The Market at Ale & Compass
- Hurricane Hanna’s Waterside Bar and Grill (bar only)
- Cape May Cafe
- Beach Club Marketplace
- The Market at Ale & Compass
- Poolside Activities
- Pool Cabana Rentals
- Movies Under the Stars
- Fitness Center
- Seaside Retreat
- Sports Courts
- Fishing Excursions
Note: Although the fitness center is available, salon and spa services remain temporarily unavailable.
Regularly lumped together with its sister resort, the adjacent Yacht Club Resort (sometimes even referred to as “Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resort”), Beach Club is very different. Most obviously in that its exterior has a light blue color scheme as opposed to the gray of Yacht Club, but also in the more laid back theme. Beach Club is modeled after seaside resort cottages found in New England in the early 20th century, rather than a refined yachting club.
We feel that Disney’s Beach Club Resort is among the most well-rounded hotels at Walt Disney World, with a great location, strong table service dining, great theming, and top-notch amenities. It’s the resort we’d choose for our Walt Disney World vacations if money were no object. While it’s not without criticism, Beach Club fires on all cylinders to rank as one of our top Walt Disney World resort-hotels.
On the exterior, the Beach Club looks great. It was designed by Robert Stern, who also designed the Newport Bay Club in Disneyland Paris, which is strikingly similar to Beach Club. Apparently, Disney was quite satisfied with Stern’s take on seaside cottages.
That, or Michael Eisner was obsessed with his childhood summers in New England and directed the company to build a number of hotels in the late 1980s in this general style. Regardless, the airy Victorian look of the trim against the blue siding of the resort along with the touches of theming give the hotel an element of whimsy.
Both inside and outside, this contrasts nicely with the more stately design of the Yacht Club. While the two hotels are more or less the same, we’ve noticed that the Yacht Club is a tad stuffier (not to the point that it’s actually “stuffy,” it’s just closer to that point than the laid back Beach Club).
Inside Disney’s Beach Club Resort, the seaside motif continues, with paintings of New England and fixtures that evoke the beach feeling. The color scheme is generally cool, consisting primarily of light or pastel greens and blues.
The rooms also continue this theme, but here’s where we think the hotel stumbles a bit. Disney’s Beach Club Resort is attempting to execute an early 20th century theme, so in theory the rooms should always have a timeless feel of that era, but they don’t.
This was true of the old rooms, and it’s still true of the new ones. The problem with the old was that it was as if they’re an early 1990s take on the early 20th century. They felt like something you’d see on the Golden Girls, and most definitely weren’t timeless.
On the other hand, the new rooms are generic and bland it looked. These look like rooms you could find at some random Hilton anywhere in the country for about $400 per night less.
Granted, there’s a certain premium to be paid for the location advantage of a Walt Disney World hotel room, but part of that premium is that the rooms are different than “ordinary” hotel rooms. Or at least, they should be.
With Beach Club, one of the best-themed resorts in all of Walt Disney World, I expected more.
The rooms are devoid of warmth, theme, and charm: the style is totally plain and nondescript, there aren’t any whimsical touches, and the new look isn’t an extension of the resort’s overarching theme.
In fairness, this is a criticism we have for many of the rooms at Walt Disney World. It’s very difficult to balance a themed environment with a modern feel and amenities in the rooms themselves.
However, Disney has done a much better job striking this balance with more recent new room stylings at Riviera Resort, Saratoga Springs, and Polynesian Village Resort.
Let’s turn to dining. There are several excellent restaurants on-site in every category except standard counter service with Beaches & Cream, Cape May Cafe, and Yachtsman Steakhouse (technically at the Yacht Club), putting it right up there with the best of the Deluxes in terms of quality restaurants.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that the counter service options at Beach Club (and all around Crescent Lake) leave a lot to be desired. We’ve managed to have success recently with Beach Club Marketplace, but it’s still a far cry from the options in World Showcase at Epcot or other food courts around Walt Disney World.
Our pro tip: in lieu of the counter service at Beach Club, head to Crew’s Cup Lounge, where you can get a delicious burger for about the price of a counter service meal. Much better food at a comparable price!
Another good option at Yacht Club is Ale & Compass Restaurant or its adjacent lounge. This is a fairly unpopular restaurant, meaning it’s relatively easy to score a last minute Advance Dining Reservation. While it’s design is a bit on the dull side, the food is very good!
Speaking of Crescent Lake, it should be noted that there are three other hotels within an incredibly short walk. Disney’s Boardwalk Inn doesn’t share amenities with the Yacht & Beach Club Resorts, but it’s so close that the restaurants there might as well count as Beach Club restaurants, too. Same goes for the Swan & Dolphin, and arguably even for the World Showcase restaurants.
If table service dining is going to be a highlight of a trip, staying at one of the Crescent Lake resorts is the best option. There are numerous dining options all within walking distance–including a couple of Signature Restaurants.
Walking from Beach Club to Disney’s Hollywood Studios takes around 15 minutes–maybe a tad longer if your room is closer to Epcot. However, you also have the option of taking the Disney Skyliner. That will take about the same amount of time, but the aerial gondolas are a much more pleasant way of getting there!
This distance to Epcot is another major benefit to staying at the Beach Club, as it’s only a 10 minute walk to the International Gateway from the grounds of the Beach Club.
Boat service is also available to both Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and generally takes just about the same amount of time as walking. It can be a little faster if you’re lucky, or a lot slower if there are long lines for the boats.
If you don’t mind walking, that’s by far your best option. For us, the ability to walk to both of these parks is huge. Disney bus transportation is unpredictable and often inefficient, so being able to avoid buses for two parks is a huge benefit.
The flipside is that bus transportation to Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom from Beach Club leaves something to be desired. There is always at least some sort of shared bus service operating, but exactly how many buses share the service depends upon the season.
We have had better bus service when staying at Pop Century for less than one-third the nightly rates of Beach Club. It’s disappointing that the Epcot-area Deluxe Resorts don’t offer better service in this regard than a Value Resort.
Of course, the main draw at Disney’s Beach Club Resort is Storm-Along Bay. I had salivated over this pool for some time before we finally stayed at the Beach Club, to the point that my expectations were probably impossibly high. It did not disappoint; in fact, it’s the #1 pool on my Top 10 Pools at Walt Disney World list.
For those unfamiliar with it, Storm-Along Bay is a sprawling pool complex 3 acres in size with sand at the bottom (for a while, I mistakenly thought “SAB,” the acronym used for Storm-Along Bay, stood for “Sand At Bottom”). Not only does it have sand at the bottom, but it also has a lazy river, an amazing water slide, great places for relaxing, and an excellent poolside bar.
Although it might seem like just a big pool with a dirty floor, in reality, it’s about the coolest thing ever. In fact, it’s so stellar that it cannot be adequately described without making up a new word. Storm-Along Bay is awesometubtacularnesszing!
Some people may tell you that some other pool at Walt Disney World is actually better, but unless that pool is called “Typhoon Lagoon” or “Blizzard Beach,” they are flat out wrong. Storm-Along Bay completely lives up to its hype, and is far and away the best hotel pool at Walt Disney World. It’s not even close.
One of our favorite splurges at Walt Disney World is doing a split stay (see our How to Do a Split Stay at Walt Disney World Hotels post) to take full advantage of Stormalong Bay and Club Level. Book a 1-night stay at Beach Club for the end of your trip and taking a late flight out on your last day. Alternatively, you could do that night in the middle of a three-resort trip, with a couple of relaxed resort days to decompress amidst your vacation. We describe the highlights of this strategy in our Stone Harbor Club Level Review.
Disney’s Beach Club Resort has many other amenities, including a health club, business center, babysitting, tennis courts, and other recreational facilities, but none of these measure up to Storm-Along Bay.
Overall, Beach Club scores highly for us because its theming perfectly conveys the relaxed feel of a seaside resort community, and this theming compliments a Walt Disney World vacation nicely. Like all of the Epcot-area resorts, Beach Club scores highly for its table service dining and convenience to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This location makes it the perfect place to stay during Epcot’s many festivals.
The biggest downside to Beach Club is its high nightly cost. Anyone wanting richly themed environments at Walt Disney World might also be disappointed by the guest rooms. Then there’s counter service dining, which is so-so at best all around Crescent Lake. Finally, commuting to the two “Kingdom” parks is another downside; guests who will be spending a lot of time at Magic Kingdom and don’t care much about a resort’s pool might want to think twice about Beach Club. Those who enjoy poolside relaxation, nice dining, and Epcot will likely agree with us that Disney’s Beach Club Resort is one of the top hotels at Walt Disney World!
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Have you stayed at Disney’s Beach Club Resort? What’s your take on it? Prefer it, Yacht Club, or BoardWalk Inn? Do you agree or disagree that Beach Club is one of the best Walt Disney World hotels? Do you think Storm-Along Bay lives up to the hype? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!