Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts are two Crescent Lake hotels at Walt Disney World, both within walking distance of Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios and across the water from Disney’s BoardWalk Inn. In this post, we’re going to continue our ongoing Walt Disney World hotel comparison series with an entry featuring these two so you can decide which is a better option for your vacation.
Yacht and Beach Club are sister resorts that are physically connected to one another, but this does not mean they should be viewed as a pair. Debunking this “myth” of sorts is basically our main motivation for writing this comparison. In fairness, their interchangeably does apply in some regards, such as transportation, location, dining, and amenities; in terms of theme, they are stark contrasts.
We think this is very important. When you stay in a Walt Disney World resort hotel, you’re paying a significant premium over a real world venue, and that’s largely for two things: location and theming. Given that, we think choosing a theme and resort atmosphere that appeals to you is incredibly important…
Setting aside the general ‘nautical-ness’ of each resort, the theme and ambiance of Yacht Club and Beach Club and significant departures from one another. If anything, Beach Club is more comparable to BoardWalk Inn from an atmospheric perspective, whereas Yacht Club is (arguably) more like a nautical Grand Floridian.
Suffice to say, the resort theme (and by extension, the room theme) should be a significant deciding factor in this showdown. As such, the first two variables in this Walt Disney World hotel comparisons. Unlike our other entries into this series, we do not use all six elements of two different resorts to determine which is “the best.” In fact, this comparison seeks less to crown a definitive champion and more to compare and contrast…
Theme/Atmosphere: Beach Club – While technically sister resorts, I think the theme and tone of each resort is dramatically different. Beach Club has a theme resulting from former Disney CEO Michael Eisner’s obsession with his childhood vacations in the seaside communities of the Northeast. Its theme is meant to evoke the seaside resort cottages scattered around New England in the early 20th Century.
Beach Club is very laid back; both in the substance of the theme, and the styles used. There are a lot of light colors and pastels, and this makes for a relaxing environment. The only thing slightly at-odds with this is that the lobby is sometimes noisy and chaotic, moreso than the Yacht Club lobby. All things considered, though, I’d say Beach Club shares more with BoardWalk Inn in terms of theme and atmosphere than it does with Yacht Club.
By contrast, Yacht Club feels like an actual high-society yachting club set in turn of the century New England. If I were to describe it in a single word, I’d call it “stately.” The color scheme is much more muted and darker, and there’s also an abundance of deep woods, nautically-themed antiques, and rich furniture throughout the resort. The environment could pass for a place where the Kennedys and other elites might have met for liquid lunches and made power plays.
This environment can be off-putting for some families. While I think it stops well short of being stuffy or unfriendly to families, it’s definitely more sophisticated and less laid back. You’re also more likely to see business people and conventioneers around Yacht Club, since it’s adjacent to the (huge) Convention Center.
Our take is that both of these resorts offer exceptional attention to detail and do an incredible job of conveying their respective themes, and setting a tone for the resort via those themes. Which is “better” will largely be a matter of personal preference–whether you prefer refined or laid back. Our personal take is that Beach Club is a hair better from an objective perspective, and the exterior common areas (shared between the resorts) are also more in keeping with the vibe at Beach Club. Your mileage may vary.
Rooms: Yacht Club – Both resorts recently completed room refurbishments, replacing some fairly dated rooms for more modern ones. In our estimation, the end result at Yacht Club is dramatically superior. Not only is the room more well-appointed, but it does a much better job of offering a thematic extension of the resort’s common areas. As a result, the new rooms are much darker than the old ones.
Beach Club’s new rooms are nice, but bland. They remind us of mid-grade chain hotel rooms you could find pretty much anywhere, except with a light beach motif. They are not necessarily bad, but feel uninspired to us. (The Beach Club Villa rooms are better, but still not great.) Not quite what we expect given the price points of Beach Club.
With that said, both sets of rooms are very much an extension of the style of their resorts. If you find the lobby of Yacht Club ‘stuffy and drab’ you’ll feel the same way about the guest rooms. If you enjoy the ‘light and airy’ nature of Beach Club, you’ll find that extended into the guest rooms.
One caveat I figure I should mention up front, because I know it’s going to come up in the comments is that Yacht Club has a small number of dog-friendly rooms. Thus far, very few guests have brought their pets to Yacht Club, but this seems like a very big deal to some guests.
Transportation/Location: Push – This is a really poor basis for choosing between the two, but Beach Club is slightly closer to Epcot. On the other hand, that means Yacht Club is slightly closer to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. (Most people will probably take a boat there, though.) We’re talking a 1-5 minute difference, at most.
In terms of boat transportation, the two are equal as they share a boat dock. They’re also equal(ly bad) for bus transportation, with shared buses.
Amenities: Push – For this, we’re talking dining and pools, since those are usually separate categories. Since all pools and restaurants are shared between these two sister properties, there is no meaningful distinction between any of these.
With that said, it’s always worth noting that Stormalong Bay is awesome, and is a good basis for choosing either (or both!) of these resorts.
Cost: Push – Standard room rates are identical, with higher tiers seeing some differences.
Historical discounts show better offers for Yacht Club in the recent past, but that was also during the resort’s refurbishment, so we view that unlikely to continue going forward (especially with Yacht Club seeks to cater to more business travelers).
Verdict: It Depends – This is a first for us. Even in other hotel comparisons that were really close calls, we went ahead and crowned a winner. In some cases, that required really splitting hairs, or even a bit of subjectivity.
The problem here is two-fold. First, these resorts share so many amenities that it’s downright impossible to crown one victorious without splicing them down the middle and only counting those locations physically within each resort. That’s a nonsensical approach given the shared grounds, and the fact that some rooms in Yacht Club may be farther from that resort’s amenities than some Beach Club rooms (and vice-a-versa).
Second, this verdict ultimately comes down to your personal take on the atmosphere. While I would give Beach Club a slight hair in this regard objectively, the subjective side matters far, far more. A lot of families are going to dislike Yacht Club and love Beach Club, and perhaps some older couples will prefer the refined elegance of Yacht Club. (This is not to say the inverse won’t be true, too–as mentioned, it’s a lot of personal preference.)
Really, the single element of the two resorts where we think there’s a decisive advantage is in terms of room quality, where Yacht Club prevails. However, even there, we’ve encountered a lot of people who prefer the new rooms at Beach Club because of their vibe and atmosphere. So once again, even that will largely be decided by subjectivity.
Just in case you’re really indecisive, here’s our normal poll so you can see how other Walt Disney World fans feel about these two resorts:
Considering theme, atmosphere, rooms (and probably nothing else since the rest is shared), which of these two Walt Disney World hotels do you prefer:
We’re predicting a decisive victory for Beach Club. It seems to be Disney fans’ cup of tea much more so than Yacht Club, and the new dog-friendly policy of Yacht Club will certainly cost it a few votes, too.
Ultimately, for us, Beach Club is the winner. We really enjoy both–but prefer the Yacht Club rooms–but the vibe at Beach Club is more to our tastes when on vacation. Read our full Disney’s Yacht Club Reviewand Disney’s Beach Club Reviewto see more photos of each, which can help determine which will appeal more to you.
Which resort do you prefer, Yacht Club or Beach Club? Any other considerations we didn’t take into account? Do you agree or disagree with our verdict? Any questions we can help you answer about these hotels? Hearing feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!