Erin and I had the opportunity to stay in a Club Level room at Disney’s Beach Club Resort over the July 4th holiday. Above is the view from what ended up being a 2-bedroom suite on the 4th floor of the resort. A cast member friend was gracious enough to let me use his room discount, which is as high as 50% off, so I figured the more you spend, the more you save. That, and the fact that I was booking just a couple of weeks out over a major holiday, meant that pickings were slim. I was originally interested in staying at the Yacht Club and hoping to get put in a refurbished room there. But that resort was only offering 25% off. Beach Club was a solid 50% off, but only Club Level Garden View rooms were available. So I booked two nights at a total of $770 with tax. From there, somehow we were upgraded all the way to a 2-bedroom suite, which costs between $1,634 and $2,814 per night depending on the time of year. So I pretended that it was Christmas and we were paying $770 for the equivalent of $5,628 worth of real estate. Not bad.
We’ll take a look at that room separately, but just the living room area here is going to be larger than most on-site rooms.
Club Level accommodations are available at each Disney Deluxe resort. At Beach Club, access will run you between just over $200 to just over $300 more per night, depending on the room category and the time of year. On July 4th, the full price rack rate of a Standard View room was $501 with tax. For Club Level access, the same room type and view would cost $710 or a difference of $209. During Columbus Day Weekend, the same Standard View room costs $555 without Club Level access or $894 with Club Level access. That’s a difference of a whopping $339 per night or $130 more than the difference over July 4th. So Club level is expensive by default, but it could well be much more expensive depending on the time of year.
Club Level is arguably more than “just free food and beer.” You’ll find the Stone Harbor Club on the fifth floor of the resort and upon check-in, a cast member will take you up for a more private experience. Cast are also stationed at twin desks in front of the Lounge area to assist with reservations and they can also be called or texted for assistance. I’m not sure how good that advice will end up being – as I was sitting there, the cast member at the other desk was informing a family that they better be at Magic Kingdom before 10am on July 4th because the Park would close to capacity and they might not be able to get in later in the day. Of course, nobody goes to Disney World during the summer anymore and Magic Kingdom didn’t even make it to a Phase 1 closure. And since the guests would be staying on-site with tickets in hand, they would assuredly be able to get into Magic Kingdom up to a Phase 3 closure. But Concierge Services staff have been known to acquire hard-to-get restaurant reservations and will otherwise bend over backwards to fulfill any (un)reasonable requests you might have.
A continental breakfast is served between 7am and 10:30am.
Smoked salmon with capers, lemon, red onion, and cream cheese. On morning two, Pastrami Salmon was offered instead.
Almonds and granola.
Brown sugar, raisins, and cranberries.
Oranges and bananas.
Vanilla, strawberry, and Greek yogurt.
Strawberries and mixed fruit.
Croissants, danish, coffee cake, banana muffins, and bagels.
2% milk, chocolate milk, and skim milk.
Apple juice and orange juice.
Water and ice in the center.
Another look at the setup.
Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Sprite, and Seagram’s Ginger Ale were readily available all day.
You can also request a complimentary mimosa or other alcoholic beverage from the staff. I suppose that they would be happy to provide a 7:30am Bud Light.
Overall, I thought the early morning meal provided a nice filling breakfast replacement. If you were staying Club Level for five or six nights then you may seek out some scrambled eggs and Mickey waffles on at least one morning, but we were able to put together fast, tasty, filling meals on two consecutive mornings with minimal effort. You could be in and out in just a couple of minutes if you wanted to be. One thing I noticed on morning three is that they are very serious about the start and end times of service. Cast were actively monitoring their watches and once 10:30am hit, the food was promptly removed. So I wouldn’t plan on heading up at 10:40am because “something will probably still be there.” Otherwise, breakfast was a strong offering.
The Light Snacks provided between 11:30am and 4pm were easily the weakest offering.
Here we’ve got “concierge mix” and raspberry yogurt pretzels.
Cheddar whale crackers, dark chocolate cranberries, and gummi bears.
Fruit, vegetable crudite, and creamy garlic ranch.
Salted Potato Chips, Old Bay Seasoned Potato Chips, Kalamata Olive Hummus, and Crackers.
Chocolate chip cookies, sugar cookies, oatmeal cookies.
Also available during breakfast and throughout the day, you’ve got espresso, coffee, flavor syrups, and accompaniments.
Twinings tea down on the right.
Natura sparkling water was also available.
Also Natura filtered water, ice, stormaway bay breeze (kind of like Hawaiian Punch), lemonade, iced tea, and simple syrup.
Again by request, cast will trot out a variety of alcoholic beverages. This is their popular sparkling wine cocktail that is also purportedly served at check-in, though I wasn’t handed one and never saw any drinks flowing, which isn’t to say it doesn’t happen. I typically look like I’ve already had a couple. I’d otherwise recommend requesting a few rounds of these – very light and refreshing with a bit of a strawberry kick.
Beer is also available by request.
And less edible games.
A couple of the items are switched out on a daily basis. Here, the snack mix and pretzels are slightly different.
The lounge itself is comfortable though they do run low on available tables during the breakfast rush around 9am and during hot food service in the evenings around 5pm.
In between service times, the main door to the lounge will be closed, but you can still go in and take ownership of a table through the open door down on the left.
Overall, the Light Snack portion of the day was exactly that and outside of the alcohol consumed, you’re probably not going to get a whole lot of value out of it. But if you’re heading in from the pool or otherwise find yourself back at the resort in the middle of the day, then it’s kind of fun to grab a Stella and a cookie “for free.” If you don’t find yourself in a 2-bedroom suite, it’s also an opportunity to get out of the room and sit around a comfortable table.
The afternoons are not typically busy at all.
All bets are off come 5pm when “hot hor d’oeuvres and select beverages” are offered through 7pm, though this picture purposefully doesn’t capture that frenzy. Imagine Costco when they put out a bread sample. “OMG I’VE NEVER HAD BREAD BEFORE.”
An assortment of cold salads are available. This is “Farro Wheat Salad.”
A second salad.
The Greek salad was a highlight – packed with stuff in a zesty Italian dressing.
Peppers, big chunks of feta, olives, artichoke hearts, and red onion. Very good.
The Chicken Waldorf Salad was cool and refreshing with a bright fruity flavor from the raisins. The presentation is also elevated, which I thought was a nice touch.
Smoked Tillamook, apricots, and dates.
German Butterkase – very flavorful.
Bread and crackers.
Parker house rolls with butter, green apple slices, peanut butter and jelly cups, and caramel cups.
I laughed out loud when the chicken nuggets were trotted out. But they are quite satisfying with the thin, crispy coating and juicy, meaty interior. I am not ashamed to admit that I went back for seconds.
Pork with mascarpone polenta was another winner. The cornmeal had a really buttery, cheesy flavor with a satisfying creaminess, while the pork had a nice meaty flavor against the sweet barbecue sauce.
Four types of beer are available – Bud Light, Stella Artois, Kona Longboard, and Yuengling. A cast member will fetch your selection out of the fridge, open the bottle, and offer to pour it into a glass if you like.
Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc and Fess Parker Santa Barbara County Riesling are available out of this classy-looking cooler. It’s a bit surprising that they don’t offer your standard chardonnay, but these are pretty decent table wine selections. Any time we don’t run into Beringer White Zinfandel seems positive.
On the red front, you’ve got 14 Hands Cabernet Sauvignon, Lapostolle Carmenere, and Beso Del Sol Sangria. Again, you’re probably not going to impress anyone with these labels, but they’re perfectly serviceable wines.
Above is what was served on day one. Below is day two.
An olive salad.
A potato salad.
A tomato and cheese salad.
The Beef and Onion Jam Crostini with Horseradish Cream was another standout.
Really flavorful with an elegant presentation.
Bread and crackers.
Vegetables, sun-dried tomato pesto, and red pepper hummus.
Two different cheeses – both quite good again.
The apple station.
Franks in a blanket – an incredibly popular item. They had a nice, fluffy, crispy puff pastry around the mildly spicy hot dog. Okay, but not great.
Buffalo chicken with “blue cheese fondue.” The sauce was surprisingly spicy and the chicken was lean and flavorful. Quite good.
Overall, I was impressed by the offerings – it’s not Boma, obviously, but there’s enough variety that you could make a decent meal out of it if you wanted to. And it would certainly work nicely as a heavy snack before a late dinner elsewhere. The wine pours were generous and a bottle of Stella would run you around $8 at a restaurant or quick service.
Service was friendly throughout our stay, though it would be nice if alcohol was more available earlier in the day. Cast have enough to do clearing plates and replenishing buffet items that it was a bit of a hassle for them to grab us what we wanted in the middle of the afternoon. Back in the day, the beer would be available in a fridge, but then you obviously have people filling their own coolers and you can’t be certain that a 16-year old isn’t going to grab one and make a run for it. There was occasionally a 10-15 minute delay in getting a new plate of food out, but there was enough other stuff that you could get going during the wait. They were operating on all cylinders during the evening service, but there were far fewer people around in the afternoon.
We made it up for desserts and cordials just one time on July 4th. This is Vanilla and Blueberry Whipped Panna Cotta. A pretty little cup.
It was fun to see some themed desserts for the holiday. Here you have raspberry, coconut, and cotton candy mousse with chiffon.
You can add some jimmies to your cupcake if you like.
The same cookies as the afternoon.
While they are careful with their beer and wine, the cordials are out in the open to close out the night with Courvoisier, Disaronno, Amarula, and Kahlua. Each pour of the cognac would run you like $15 at a resort lounge, so you can really get some value here if you camp out. I might have had two. Villa Rosa Moscato was also available to pour yourself.
Value-wise, it obviously comes down to how much you plan to visit the lounge and how many people you have in the room. The cost is the same whether you’re one person that doesn’t drink and only visits in the morning for half a bagel or you’re a group of four heavy drinkers that plan to use the lounge as a replacement for the bar. Not that I know anybody that fits the latter characterization. I paid so little for the room, relatively speaking, that we extracted plenty of value out of several visits. With tax and tip, every one of those beers, mimosas, and glasses of wine are somewhere between $8-$14 if you want to rationalize it under Disney pricing. Of course, you could bring your own 6-pack for around $9. It may also be worth noting that you have access to the lounge and the resort’s full assortment of amenities on your checkout date, so one night can be as much as two full days of lounge access.
I could certainly see springing for Club Level again for a relaxing couple of nights where you plan to hang out around the pool and the resort. Beach Club is perfect with all of the other restaurants and lounges in the Crescent Lake area and Epcot just a short distance away. We liked being able to visit the Park for a couple of hours before heading back to the resort to cool off and grab some snacks. I feel like we would have experienced diminishing returns on a longer stay, but being able to head up to the top floor for immediate gratification is a nice bonus. $300 a night nice? That’s probably tougher to rationalize as three hundred bucks can go far even at Disney signature restaurant prices. But in the right conditions, it might be worthwhile.
I’ll be back.