Disney’s Vero Beach Resort is a relaxing Florida beach hotel on the Atlantic Ocean that offers an escape from the crowds and chaos of Walt Disney World. In this post, we’ll review Vero Beach Resort, share photos from our visit, and offer tips about this Disney Vacation Club Resort that is still distinctly Disney, but not an even remotely similar experience to the theme parks less than 100 miles away.
For us, Disney’s Vero Beach Resort was love from the moment we arrived and walked into the lobby. The resort instantly struck me as a product of peak-1990s Imagineering. Vero Beach was built at a time when Walt Disney World was expanding rapidly but responsibly, and CEO Michael Eisner was at the high of his career ebb with Disney.
This same era bore many fruits on the resort hotel side of Disney: BoardWalk Inn, Wilderness Lodge, and Port Orleans/Dixie Landings are all products of this same timeframe. (So too are the All Star Resorts, but let’s just pretend that’s not the case.) Fortunately for old school Disney fans, Vero Beach Resort is impeccably maintained and doesn’t seem to have changed all that much since it opened.
In addition to being an exemplar of one of the golden ages of Imagineering, Vero Beach also feels like the epitome of a Florida-themed resort. While you see flashes of this at Walt Disney World in Grand Floridian and Old Key West, Vero Beach is more of an overt love letter to Florida.
Resort Theme & Basics
The resort is themed to “Old Florida” celebrating the state’s Treasure Coast, and you can find nods to Indian River County history throughout the resort. This is first established with the gorgeous mural behind the check-in desk, which features citrus-farming-inspired artwork, nods to Walt Disney World, and even the Los Angeles Dodgers.
This last one was a bit confounding at first, and I was further confused when I saw an entire lounge paying tribute to the Dodgers, and then a field named after Tommy Lasorda. I thought perhaps it was a particularly convoluted backstory until it dawned on me that the Dodgertown spring training complex is in Vero Beach, Florida. That makes much more sense.
Elsewhere at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, the Old Florida theme revolves around treasure-hunting, Spanish explorers & conquistadors, migrating sea turtles, and so much more.
One aspect of the resort that I enjoyed the most was simply wandering around the common areas; not just because they provided an incredibly relaxed atmosphere, but also because it seemed like every bookshelf or detail included deep cuts about Florida history.
This theme extends to the style of the hotel, which is designed to resemble coastal lodging from around the turn of the 20th century. While it is a resort with a host of amenities, it’s also designed to evoke an intimate seaside inn. With only 211 rooms and a much smaller footprint, this is definitely not akin to the larger Disney’s Aulani Resort in Hawaii.
Disney’s Vero Beach Resort features deluxe inn rooms in the main building; studios, one, and two-bedroom accommodations in the three outlying villa buildings; and three-bedroom oceanfront beach cottages. For our visit, we stayed in a studio villa, which was only a 5-minute walk to the main inn.
It appeared that our room had been refurbished fairly recently, and the stylistic choices are reminiscent of what has been done at the BoardWalk Villas and Beach Club Villas. Personally, the decor struck me as a bit out of step with the rest of the resort, with a more modern and vibrant look.
Nonetheless, we generally liked how the room looked. As silly as it might sound, the sea turtle bed runner tied the room together. I really wish Walt Disney World would retain these or, if they’re as unsanitary as readers keep claiming in the comments, invest in something other than just plain white sheets. The bedding looks so boring without any thematic flourishes, and given how much space the bed takes up in Disney hotel rooms, this is a big deal (we think).
That aside, we found the room sufficiently spacious, impeccably maintained, and having a decent amount of texture and detail. The layout was very similar to Old Key West’s studios and while I didn’t measure, I’m guessing these rooms are slightly smaller than Old Key West, but larger than average DVC studios.
While Disney’s Vero Beach Resort is a Disney Vacation Club resort, it’s also one of the least-popular among DVC members, meaning that there are ample opportunities to book Vero Beach paying out of pocket. This is particularly true outside of turtle nesting season, which is the resort’s peak time for visitors.
Our Visit & When to Visit
The most popular time to visit Disney’s Vero Beach Resort is unquestionably June through August, which is peak summer vacation season. More notably, these months are also loggerhead sea turtle nesting season. This presumably makes it a great time to visit if you want to see turtles, but perhaps not so much if you want a tranquil escape from the crowds.
Florida’s coast is the primary nesting area for loggerhead sea turtles in the Northern Hemisphere. If you visit Disney’s Vero Beach Resort during June or July, you can participate in the guided Sea Turtle Night Walk. Per Disney’s site: “You’ll be provided with night–vision goggles so you can watch the turtle lay her eggs, cover her nest and return to the sea. You’ll also be equipped with a radio earpiece, so you can hear the specialist narrate this up-close experience.”
From late August until October, it’s turtle hatching season, but there are really no upsides to visiting then. We haven’t visited then, but I’d think it’s all downside, since it’s illegal to walk on the beach at night when turtles are hatching (for their safety) and it’s also hurricane season.
I’m not sure that you’d want to walk on the beach at night in the first place–there’s no artificial lighting (again, for the safety of the loggerhead sea turtles), so it’s really dark.
We visited during off-peak dates in the winter (paying out of pocket) and not only did we get an incredible deal with a nightly rate on par with Value Resorts, but the resort was pretty much deserted. From what Cast Members at the resort told us, after a spike around Christmas time, the beginning of the year is pretty slow at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort.
During our stay, it was pretty much just us plus elderly Florida residents (who presumably booked with a healthy resident discount) on one end of the spectrum and College Program students (who presumably booked with a healthy Cast Member discount) at the other end of the spectrum. I would not be surprised if we were the only two people at Vero Beach during our stay between the ages of 30 and 60.
I guess this makes sense, given that the Atlantic Ocean is a big draw for a lot of visitors to Disney’s Vero Beach Resort and winter isn’t the optimal time for venturing into the ocean. We’re pretty used to going to the ocean without entering it (I can’t remember the last time I got wet on purpose at the beach in California), so it didn’t even dawn on us that the water wouldn’t be ideal for swimming. We didn’t plan on swimming, anyway.
For us, visiting in the winter was perfect not just because it meant an excellent deal, but because the lack of crowds really reinforced the sleepy seaside ambiance of Disney’s Vero Beach Resort. My absolute favorite “activity” at Vero Beach was sitting in an overstuffed chair in the lobby late at night or early in the morning and reading or working on my laptop. Most of the time, there was no one else around aside from the front desk staff.
Staying at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort for 2-3 nights at the end of a Walt Disney World trip sounds about ideal to me. Same idea as a land and sea cruise here; do the WDW leg first because that’s not a true vacation (at least, if you do Walt Disney World like we do), followed by Vero Beach to decompress and recover from the high-energy leg of the trip.
Things to Do & Amenities
If “sitting” doesn’t strike you as the most riveting activity, there are plenty of other options at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort. If you’re looking for more active recreational options, you’re in luck, because there are a ton of them. These include biking, tennis, football, foosball, watercraft rental, pool games, trivia, video games, movie rental, and other things I’m probably forgetting.
Of course, this being an ocean resort, there’s also all sorts of things to do along the waterfront. If you want to lounge on the Atlantic, beach chairs and umbrellas are available for rent; you can also simply walk along the coast, which we enjoyed.
There’s also ample lounging space at the feature pool, which reminded us a bit of the pool at Old Key West. The pool itself is not particularly interesting; it’s shaped like Mickey Mouse but there’s no theme to speak of (Disney claims it’s pirate-themed, but this pool has nothing on Caribbean Beach’s). The highlight is unquestionably the Pirate’s Plunge water slide, which is a 2-story, 163-foot spiral water slide.
Adjacent to the pool is Port Holes Miniature Golf, which is a nine-hole Peter Pan-themed miniature golf course (this mini golf seems beloved among some DVC members, but we thought it was only so-so). Near that is the Community Hall, which is a large activities room with board games, table tennis, arts & crafts, and other daily programming. Next to that is Anchors’ A-Weigh fitness center, Eb and Flo’s rentals, and Rub Dubs massage.
The nightly campfire with free s’mores at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort is a potentially fun option. I say potentially because it was most just uncomfortable for me. Sarah had fallen asleep early, so I went to check it out (because FREE S’MORES!).
Everyone else at the campfire was very obviously a CP’r who knew the Cast Members working the s’mores station. I have a knack for being awkward and I don’t excel at small talk as it is, and sitting off to the side of a bunch of college kids quietly eating my s’mores only exacerbated that.
Island Grove Packing Co. is located in the lobby, and this is the resort’s gift shop, which features a variety of generic Walt Disney World merchandise and a handful of resort-specific merchandise items (I bought a Vero Beach hat with a turtle on it).
As with all Disney Vacation Club resorts, Island Grove also offers a selection of groceries that guests can purchase for in-room preparation. However, since you’ll certainly have a car when arriving at Vero Beach, it makes much more sense to do the bulk of your grocery shopping at Publix on the way into the resort.
Pretty much the entire dining scene at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort was overhauled about a year ago, consolidating a couple of restaurants and refurbishing another. Gone are Bleachers, Shutters, and Sonya’s, replaced by Wind & Waves, which has both a counter service marketplace and a table service restaurant
Wind & Waves Market is the counter service side, and is a lot like Captain Cook’s at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. There are coolers with sandwiches and other grab-and-go fare, plus a variety of snacks, and a Dole Whip machine. There’s also a grill, where you can order other sandwiches, salads, burgers, etc.
Wind & Waves is located adjacent to the pool, making it easy to grab a meal to eat poolside (alternatively, you can take it back to your room–it’s also convenient to the villas and main inn). Wind & Waves also has a pool bar here, and the RapidFill refillable mug station.
We thought Wind & Waves Market was fine. It was not just boring burgers, pizza, and hot dogs, but it also wasn’t the most inventive cuisine we’ve had at a Disney counter service restaurant. Totally serviceable, but nothing we’re craving on a return trip.
Wind & Waves Grill is the table service side of the restaurant, and it’s meant to have a ‘coastal bistro’ vibe. It’s open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as Goofy’s Beachside Character Breakfast on Saturdays.
We absolutely loved Wind & Waves. The fish was fresh, the service attentive, and our dishes were beautifully-presented. Given the location and ‘Disney’ in the name, the restaurant was also fairly-priced. We’d highly recommend splurging on a meal here if you go to Vero Beach.
Unlike the regular counter service restaurant, Wind & Waves Grill is a restaurant that was very memorable, and we’re eager to revisit it. I wish we had more opportunities to try it during our stay, as there were several items on the seasonal menu that sounded really appealing.
Finally, there’s the Green Cabin Room, the resort’s bar & lounge. Inspired by a 1618 Spanish galleon, the San Martin, said to be shipwrecked just offshore, the Green Cabin Room is really cool. It’s intended to evoke the feeling of Old Florida, and it nails this ambiance.
Even on off-season nights while we were there, the Green Cabin Room was hoppin’, and had some low-key live entertainment. This reminded me of a cross between Territory Lounge at Wilderness Lodge and Papa’s Den at Old Key West. It had the style of a nicely themed bar, but with a relaxed, tropical atmosphere.
We think that about covers it. The beauty of Disney’s Vero Beach Resort is that it’s a relaxing vacation destination, and that extends to the planning side of things, too. While we’d like to think this guide is helpful (why else would we write it?), you could just as easily show up at Vero Beach without having done any research or prior planning, and still have a great time. In that regard, it’s kind of like the anti-Walt Disney World…which is yet another reason it makes the perfect beach compliment to a Walt Disney World vacation!
Have you stayed at or visited Vero Beach? What did you think of the resort? Fan of Florida’s Treasure Coast? Do you agree or disagree with our advice? 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!