Yacht Club: Disney World’s Underrated Christmas Resort
We stopped at Yacht Club while working on updates for our Free Self-Guided Walt Disney World Yuletide Resort Tour post. That itinerary is a popular (and our recommended) thing to do in the morning before attending Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party so you don’t waste a park day of your normal tickets.
To be honest, updating the free WDW resort tour is not at all necessary; like most of this blog, it’s a pretense for doing what we want to do, anyway. In this case, we love spending time at the various resorts, particularly during the holidays. During this critically important update process, our first stop was the Crescent Lake area, which we’ve now visited a couple of times after evenings at Epcot.
During one of those trips, we were sitting by the Christmas tree in the convention center at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort (as one does), when it dawned on me: this is a really underrated resort at Christmas. The idea seemed like a ‘too long for Twitter’ type of thing, which gave me the idea for this post…
In turn, the idea for this post gave me another idea for a series of individual photo tour posts of each Deluxe Walt Disney World resort at Christmas (and maybe some of the Moderate and Value Resorts, as well), because I want to find an excuse to spend even more time at the resort hotels this Christmas. Naturally.
As for Disney’s Yacht Club Resort being an underrated resort at Christmas, here’s why I think that’s the case. In large part, it’s due to the difference in the hotel’s vibe during the holidays versus the rest of the year.
One of the common complaint about Yacht Club is that it’s too stuffy and drab, with more of an ‘adult’ atmosphere versus the playful, family-friendly sensibility you’d find at other Walt Disney World resorts. Some people say it isn’t “Disney” enough, and while I’d definitely disagree with that (thematically, it’s incredibly strong, it just has a different aura than what fans are used to elsewhere), I get what people mean when they say that.
To be sure, Yacht Club is Walt Disney World’s high-dollar convention resort, and there are more single adults (many of whom have little to no interest in Disney) staying here than most other resorts, save for Coronado Springs. So at least in part, it behooves Disney to create a different feel at Yacht Club.
As we note in our Beach Club v. Yacht Club post, this is even more pronounced by going between the two resorts, which basically function as a single, combined entity with similar themes, but that are worlds apart in terms of ambiance.
Enter the Christmas season. It’s a scientific fact that every strand of Christmas lights warms the heart by 4.76% [no citation needed]. There are easily 400 strands of Christmas lights in Disney’s Yacht Club Club, which means there’s a lot of heartwarming action going on.
But seriously, the Christmas lights alone, and the Christmas trees, wreaths, and other decor around the lobby of Yacht Club absolutely ‘soften’ the mood, and make the environment much more warm and welcoming. There’s a palpable sense of holiday spirit in the air at Christmas, and at other times of the year, Yacht Club feels far less dressed down. (Or stuffy, whatever you want to call it.)
The convivial vibe might be established via the Christmas lights and abundance of evergreen, but the family friendly atmosphere is owing entirely to Yacht Club’s Christmas railway diorama. On a normal day in October, you might not think any children are staying at Yacht Club, if judging by the lobby. Visit again the first day this is up in November and, bam, children come out of the woodwork!
While there is something to be said for vicariously seeing model trains through the eyes of a child, there is also something to be said for visiting Disney’s Yacht Club Resort at close to midnight and having this Christmas railroad diorama all to yourself so you can pore over its details. It changes somewhat every year, and during one of our late-night visits, we noticed so many fun details we had never seen before.
One of the coolest things about this diorama, at least we think so, is that it’s one part elaborate, hand-made railway modeling, and one-part product placement.
For those who aren’t aware, the vast majority (all?) of the Disney character elements of the diorama are from the Disney Department 56 Christmas Village Collection, which can be purchased from Amazon.com and arrive at your doorstep tomorrow.
Sarah and I may or may not have had a very serious conversation about ‘investing’ in this Christmas Village a couple of days ago. Not so much for ourselves, but for future generations who will cherish such a valuable heirloom. (In other words, we’d be doing it for the children.)
Since we have no children at present and our cat & dog probably wouldn’t fully appreciate this treasure, we decided to hold off. For now. (I’ve still got my eye on Mickey’s Ear Factory; at 32% off, we can’t afford not to buy this fine collectible, right?!)
Oh, and you better believe we will be ordering Reindeer Mater once he’s back in stock with Prime Shipping; but not the one below…this one. (Don’t tell Sarah that “we” are doing this.)
As the kids say, “In Mater We Stan.” Or something like that.
Anyway, the point is that irrespective of what you think of Yacht Club on a normal day, with that Christmas railway diorama running, the atmosphere of the lobby is unquestionably and quintessentially Disney. Perhaps I’m just more obsessed with trains than the average adult (in my defense, we’ve visited three different railway museums, and I’ve yet to see any adult look like they were bored or disinterested), but I think railway dioramas are something that transcends age.
From my perspective, this makes the Christmas railroad diorama an excellent fit for Yacht Club. If they give it the chance, even the most Disney-disinclined and cold-hearted adult cannot help but smile at this.
While fun, the other holiday decor at Yacht Club is thematically pitch-perfect. I’m also going to go out on a limb and say these are among the most expensive Christmas decorations at Walt Disney World. I’m no expert, but I can’t imagine those model yachts and boats are cheap, and there are a number of fancy-looking ones hanging from the Christmas trees, and in the center of the resort’s wreaths.
In addition to everything else, Yacht Club has an easy path to the “underrated” throne since it’s almost never mentioned in the same breath as the Walt Disney World Christmas heavyweights. Grand Floridian and Wilderness Lodge might be (there’s really no maybe about it) better during the holidays, but they’re highly rated to begin with. By contrast, Yacht Club lacks an icon tree or crowd-pleasing gingerbread creation, so it’s generally not hyped up.
All of this despite that detailed model, some of the most ornate decorations at Walt Disney World, and a one-hundred eighty degree change of ambiance. In sum, that’s my argument for Yacht Club being the most underrated Walt Disney World resort at Christmas-time, and I think it’s a pretty airtight case.
The only real challenger of which I can think is Animal Kingdom Lodge, but that’s not so much underrated as under-visited due to location. Everyone we know who has seen Animal Kingdom Lodge at Christmas raves about it, so it’s not really the same thing.
As noted above, this post is the first in a potential series covering the Walt Disney World resort hotels at Christmas. If there’s a particular resort you’d like to see sooner rather than later, please let me know in the comments. (Especially if it’s a Moderate, Value, or DVC Resort, as I may not otherwise do those.) This isn’t a democracy, but we’ll do our best to prioritize the resorts that get the most ‘votes.’
Finally, a few plugs. First, the latest edition of our free Vacation Kingdom at Christmas eBook is now available for download! This free eBook is 90 pages, with 100+ photos, and tons of great tips & info for the holiday season at Walt Disney World. For more details on how to get this totally-free ebook, click here. Did we mention that it’s free?! 😉
For comprehensive tips for planning your Christmas-time trip to Walt Disney World, check out our Ultimate Guide to Christmas at Walt Disney World. For Walt Disney World trip planning tips and comprehensive advice, make sure to read our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide and related articles.
What do you think of Disney’s Yacht Club Resort at Christmas? Is my ‘case’ as airtight as I think it is? Which other resorts would you like to see us individually tour as part of this series? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!
Just returned last week from a Yacht Club holiday stay…easily it has become one of my top resorts. Now, I will state that Grand Floridian has my heart Christmas or any time of year…but I this resort made me just as happy here. Everything just seemed to glisten and shine. There were details everywhere to see and not just theming. Even walking outside down the boardwalk path from the lobby to the lake was lovely. Also, my 5 year son was way more interested in the Model Train and Village display than the gingerbread display next door.
Just returned last week from a Yacht Club holiday stay…easily it has become one of my top resorts. Now, I will state that Grand Floridian has my heart Christmas or any time of year…but I this resort made me just as happy here. Everything just seemed to glisten and shine. There were details everywhere to see and not just theming. Even walking outside down the boardwalk path from the lobby to the lake was lovely. Also, my 5 year sold was way more interested in the Model Train and Village display than the gingerbread display next door.
Would love to see Port Orleans decor! Love reading about the resorts and their Christmas decor. Thanks!
Planning 2019 November trip. Prob 6th thru 12th +/-. Any idea when they start decorating Monorail and Epcot hotels? ie GF Gingerbread house, Yacht & Beach. The first Christmas party should be around that time.
My mother and I returned recently from a week stay in Disney’s Yacht Club. We absolutely loved every moment there. The best moment was a day or two after we arrived we walked into the lobby on our way to an early breakfast to be surprised and delighted to see the lobby had been transformed overnight to a wonderfully festive New England Christmas. A few days later the charming train arrived. This resort is fantastic for people of all ages but the holiday decor made it magical.
My 11-year-old daughter and I just returned home from a week stay at the Yacht Club and loved every minute of it! I describe its holiday feel as elegantly festive – if there is such a thing. It was the perfect place to relax in peace after the crowded parks. We will stay there again next year!
I’d love to see Port Orleans’s decorations, and also AKL Kidani Village, please! 🙂
I vote YES, awesome idea for a new series! Thank you both for your willingness to sacrifice your time to do the necessary research and reporting!
Would love this as a series! I thought I was a bit of a weirdo, so obsessed with visiting the different resorts (especially at Christmas), so it’s awesome to see there are others out there that revel in this kinda thing! I just love your entire blog, really. I feel we share a lot of similar standards, interests, etc. I like the minutiae when it comes to Disney! My favorite time to visit is during the holiday season with my family and I really appreciate these posts! Great work!!
Yes, please keep doing this. Since I can’t get there this year but really hope to next December, I would love to see what the resorts look like. We will be staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge as we love it there and haven’t been there at Christmas time. Just found your website the other day and already love it! Thanks!
Yes…please…more resorts! Love being able to visit the resorts at Christmas from cold Pennsylvania via my tablet (). Christmas at Disney is on the bucket list in a few years. Thanks for the great posts!
We stayed at the yacht club last vacation and did not feel it had a stuffy attitude.
I’ve been saying this for years, as Yacht is one of my favorite hotels in general, but I went again last year at Christmas and was blown away yet again. The train is a very nice centerpiece for the lobby, but just the general ambiance of the lights as well as the yachts and boats in the trees make for a truly unique experience.
We are arriving in the World on January 1st and I’m very curious if Tom (or anyone else) knows what the chances are that some Christmas decorations will still be up. (For example, I know that Epcot’s Holiday Fest will be over on the 30th.) We will probably be visiting most of the Deluxes anyway (we’re doing a split stay at AKL and WL), but I’d love to know whether the Moderates would be worth a visit too.
We’re definitely going to Yacht Club, as the last time we were there, I missed going to Crew’s Cup Lounge, one of my all time fave hang-out places. Hope they still have the train display up!
100% of the Christmas decorations will still be up.
I would love to see the Beach Club!
I’m sure the Grand Floridian post is coming soon, but I was able to watch them build out / up the gingerbread house for the first time early this month. While I’ve seen the finished product before, I was amazed to see how many bakers and carpenters and electricians it takes to climb in and put it all together (much less the ingredients within). I would say the whole project easily comprises over 30 people – that’s a lot of labor for something relatively small and that displays for at most 8 weeks!
Great post! We are doing our first Disney world Christmas trip in two weeks. I was planning on taking my family on your self guided tour the day we fly out (16 Dec) since we have a late flight and a day to kill. Look forward to the updated guide (fingers crossed you are done by then :-)).
I am a big fan of the Dept 56 Christmas villages and I started my own collection. When I found out a few years on WDW trip that Dept. 56 and Disney made a Disney Parks Village, I went onto EBay and bought the whole set. Its a shame they stop making this village in the 1990s.
Great post – we’re heading to Disneyworld later this week and it’s our first Disney Christmas trip. I can’t wait and this is getting me even more excited!