This review is sponsored by by DVC Magic Resales at www.dvcmagicresales.com (they used their DVC points to book the room and in exchange will also be posting this review and reviews of the other properties). If you’re looking to buy into the Disney Vacation Club or purchase more points for less than you’d pay Disney directly, they’re a great choice. They also take excellent care of those looking to sell their contracts independently.
- Saratoga Springs review is available here
- Old Key West is available here
- Wilderness Lodge is available here
Like Wilderness Lodge, the Beach Club Villas are located in a separate wing of the resort. A map:
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While we’ve looked at each of the previous resorts individually for the most part, our discussion of the Beach Club Villas wouldn’t be complete without also briefly discussing the resorts near it. In fact, Disney’s Beach and Yacht Clubs are so intertwined that Disney doesn’t even publish individual maps of the resorts. Many of their amenities are also shared or in such close proximity that there is virtually no way to distinguish whether they belong to the Beach or Yacht Clubs. For example, the feature pool complex, Stormalong Bay, is shared evenly between the two resorts. Yacht Club doesn’t have a traditional quick service location, so it shares with Beach Club Marketplace at the Beach Club and Hurricane Hanna’s Bar and Grill, which is located right outside Beach Club’s back entrance. On the other hand, Beach Club doesn’t have a signature restaurant. Yacht Club does in Yachtsman Steakhouse. Yacht Club doesn’t have a character breakfast. Beach Club does in Cape May Cafe. Beach Club doesn’t have a casual table service restaurant. Yacht Club does in Captain’s Grille. The point here is that the Beach Club Villas offer a lot of options in dining, recreation, and other activities, even if all of those amenities are not technically found on Beach Club grounds.
And that’s only discussing what’s right next door. Across Crescent Lake is a wealth of restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and other amenities that are all a five to ten minute walk away.
Note where Atlantic Dance Hall is in both pictures above and it should give you a better idea about the close proximity of everything.
We’ll discuss location and transportation in more depth in its own section, but it’s important to also note right off the bat that Beach Club is about a five minute walk away from Epcot’s International Gateway entrance in between the France and United Kingdom World Showcase buildings. For guests planning multiple meals inside Epcot or for those wanting to take advantage of the Food and Wine Festival, the convenience of not having to wait to crowd into a bus or monorail can be invaluable. Because the location is in such high demand, pricing is also higher than the other properties we’ve looked at, even if the Villas are the same size or smaller.
Back to the Villas, the wing is located off to the left as you look at the main entrance, closest to Epcot. The parking lot extends out in that direction, so walks to and from the car to the villa should be relatively short if you’re driving.
Online check-in only offered two room requests, of which I selected “Near transportation.” This should not only put you a bit closer to the bus stop, but more importantly, closer to the elevator and main lobby.
Check-in is located just inside the main entrance with the Concierge located just inside the entrance on the left. Finding Beaches and Cream, the arcade, and fitness center may actually be more difficult than you expect. They’re all kind of hidden behind the feature pool. The easiest way to get there is to take the walkway past Cape May Cafe and then exit outdoors once you arrive at Martha’s Vineyard lounge.
Further ahead, you’ll see the fitness center and then arrive at the Yacht Club Resort shortly thereafter. Beaches and Cream is the hamburger-centric, ultra-casual table service restaurant that also serves big ice cream sundaes and the famous Kitchen Sink, which includes a full can of whipped cream and every ice cream topping they serve. A to-go area is also available, in addition to the arcade.
Back to the lobby, the Concierge is on the opposite side and the walkway in the other direction heads to the Beach Club Marketplace, home to the resort’s store and a quick service with a limited menu.
Also down the hall is the Solarium, a pleasant, bright area to sit and relax or watch television.
Few people venture this way, making the space relatively private even with all the windows.
These tables that line the wall leading up to the Solarium are a good spot to bring a snack from the Marketplace.
Inside the Villas wing, you’ll find two more fun public spaces.
The Drawing Room, located just inside the entrance, is a fun place to hang out.
Pool, checkers, televisions, and more are available.
On the other side is The Breezeway. The door leads to the Villas’ quiet pool.
While Beach Club’s lobby isn’t as grand as some, the semi-private nooks and crannies are a lot of fun and the various areas offer some lounging opportunities that you’re not going to find at most resorts.
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These are the highest prices we’ve seen thus far. BoardWalk Inn’s Villas across Crescent Lake cost the same, while Yacht Club doesn’t have villas. Rates are considerably less expensive than Bay Lake Tower, the Polynesian, or Grand Floridian.
1-Bedroom Villas at the Beach Club (730 square feet) are nearly identical in size and layout to Wilderness Lodge (730 square feet) and Saratoga Springs (715 square feet) and considerably smaller than Old Key West (942 square feet). They’re also smaller than BoardWalk Inn (815 square feet) for the same money.
The living room and kitchen should look familiar.
Couch, center table, chair, television and console, breakfast bar, and chairs with the door leading to the balcony outside.
The couch pulls out into a bed that’s just a couple inches narrower and shorter than a queen.
With the bed folded down, there’s just enough room to move around it. Remember that 1-bedrooms here sleep just four over the age of three, despite being nearly twice the size of standard rooms that sleep up to five.
All of the usual amenities are present, including several that will probably make your stay more enjoyable, even if you’re not planning to cook a big meal. Just being able to microwave popcorn, open wine/beer bottles without having to Google how to do it with a hanger and the side of a desk, being able to pour coffee into mugs, having a roll of paper towels, etc. all make life a little easier.
This closet opens up to the washer and dryer.
The bathroom does the multiple door thing, allowing for people outside the bedroom to access the toilet/vanity/shower area without having to go through the bedroom:
It’s a standard issue toilet, even if it looks a bit small.
You can open the wooden divider in between the bedroom area and whirlpool tub if you’re feeling social or close it for a little more privacy.
In the back is another closet with a laundry basket, vacuum, hangers, safe, iron, and ironing board.
The standard bedroom layout for the most part.
This one has a chair and a desk in place of a second bedside table.
Looking at the television, luggage bench, and chair from the bed.
Finally, one in the opposite direction with the doors closed.
Like the other properties, there are little details throughout that make the room “feel” more Disney, here with Pete and Mickey on the drapes.
Art helps set the place.
Villa views vary. Ours looked out at the woods behind the resort. A pool view might be a little more interesting/creepy, in addition to being louder.
With Epcot in the distance. You can sort of make out France’s Eiffel Tower in the center of the frame.
Overall, Beach Club’s villas are nicely appointed. The resort is undergoing a massive refurbishment that should continue through the end of the year, which will bring new furniture, carpets, art, televisions, and other furnishings, but the setup and overall aesthetic should remain largely the same.
Activities and Things to Do
Direct link to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BqpPpoPmnOU
Capturing the fun and size of Stormalong Bay is virtually impossible to do in photos, but this video should help. According to Disney:
Take the plunge at this beachside water park area that offers 3 acres of aquatic fun for the whole family.
Catch currents in an expansive sand-bottomed pool. From atop the mast of a life-sized shipwreck replica, zip down a 230-foot-long waterslide, one of the highest hotel slides at Walt Disney World Resort. Float down the lazy river on a rented inner tube, unwind in one of 3 whirlpool spas or simply relax on the elevated tanning deck.
Children can wade into the main pool from the gently sloping, sandy beach and cool off in the kiddie pool—complete with a miniature waterslide.
With 795,000 gallons of water comprising an impressive complex of pools that range from swirling to placid, open to secluded and cool to warm, every member of your family can find a place to make a splash at Stormalong Bay.
How fun is it when the pool slide starts high atop a shipwreck?
The pool is actively monitored in an attempt to keep people not staying at the resort out. MagicBand checks are common at each of the entrances, so make sure at least one person in your party brings theirs.
Those looking for a quieter, calmer atmosphere should look no further than the Villas’ quiet pool.
Complete with hot tub.
Another quiet pool and hot tub are located in the back of the resort closer to the walkway around Crescent Lake. Because it’s a lot more obvious, it also tends to be busier. Guests may also opt to use the pool on the far side of the Yacht Club, though the Villas pool is accessible to everyone and would provide a similar experience. Still, it’s always better to have options. You never know when I’m going to show up with my water wings double fisting margaritas and singing Celine Dion and you’re going to want to get out of there. For those that don’t want to risk it, the resort offers other scheduled activities:
Is there a more picturesque spot to catch a movie?
Movies are preceded by the nearby campfire right on the beach, complete with s’mores making.
Beach volleyball and tennis courts sprinkle the property.
The marina closer to the Yacht Club offers boat rentals and fishing excursions.
“Ship Shape Massage Salon Fitness” is located closer to the Yacht Club, and offers state-of-the-art ellipticals, regular and recumbent bicycles, treadmills and stair climbers, in addition to weight machines and free weights. You can also book salon and spa services with more information on pricing and availability here.
This is probably the most scenic running trail on property.
The closest Community Hall is at the BoardWalk Inn across the lake, but Beach Club does offer the Sandcastle Club for adults looking to drop off their kids between the ages of 3 and 12 for a while. More information is available here.
Since a meal between 6pm and 8pm is included, you can get a good amount of value and some key peace and quiet for a few hours.
Right outside the Sandcastle Club is an opportunity to compete for Artist of the Day.
Hair wraps along the beach, operating from 10am-5pm daily at $2 per inch plus the cost of beads.
Pearl Factory is out here too, though most guests looking to pick-a-pearl will see more fun and fanfare at the Mitsukoshi Department Store in the Japan Pavilion.
A portrait studio is located in between the lobby and Beach Club Marketplace. The sample portrait of the sad-looking girl with her hands on her face has always seemed like an odd choice.
They’re not cheap.
Lafferty Place is the resort’s arcade it shares with the Yacht Club, positioned in between the two resorts near Beaches and Cream.
It’s one of the better arcades on property with the large size, variety, and empty space.
Pricing is good if you can commit to putting $25 on a card at one time.
Location and Transportation
Beach Club’s proximity to Epcot and the convenience of being able to walk over in just a few minutes really can’t be overstated for guests looking to spend a considerable amount of time at the Park. Imagine being able to start the day at Animal Kingdom, take a break swimming at Stormalong Bay back at the resort, then walking over to Epcot for dinner and IllumiNations. Having so many other restaurants and resorts within walking distance opens up even more possibilities.
Beach Club offers boat service to Epcot’s International Gateway, the Swan/Dolphin, BoardWalk, and Hollywood Studios’ main entrance. Service officially begins one hour before the Studios and Epcot open and continues for one hour after both close. Unfortunately, Disney doesn’t offer bus service to Hollywood Studios or Epcot’s main entrance. That results in longer walks for Beach Club guests to Future World, where the majority of Epcot’s rides are located. The boat is also excruciatingly slow, resulting in trips from Beach Club to Hollywood Studios taking about 20 minutes, which is the same amount of time it would take to walk. Depending on weather and stamina, walking is usually faster and offers a little more freedom.
Bus service to Animal Kingdom/Blizzard Beach, Downtown Disney (Disney Springs)/Typhoon Lagoon, and Magic Kingdom is usually shared with Yacht Club, with Yacht Club getting picked up and dropped off first. On buses to the theme parks, it means Yacht Club guests are more likely to find seats and on the way back from the theme parks, it adds a couple minutes of additional transit time.
Beach Club has a single collection of stops out in front of the resort, about a two minute walk from the main entrance or three to five minutes from the Villas.
Overall, Beach Club’s location is highly desirable for guests planning to spend the majority of their time at Epcot. It’s a little less convenient to Hollywood Studios with the lack of bus service. Transportation to Downtown Disney takes a little longer than most routes and service to Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom is average.
Beach Club’s primary quick service is located at the Marketplace nestled just off the lobby in the back of the area that doubles as the resort’s merchandise store. The menu is not particularly robust:
But it does offer a few sandwich, salad, and pizza options.
I’ve ordered the $10.49 Turkey Sandwich with Bacon, Brie, Arugula and Cranberry Spread on a Multigrain Roll served with choice of Side Salad or House-made Chips in the past. It was a serviceable sandwich with a generous pile of turkey and bacon topped with fresh, crunchy arugula. The cranberry spread was what carried the dish though – plenty of it and it had a nice fresh cranberry quality to it. Probably not worth going out of your way for, but a fine option if it’s convenient.
Most of the dedicated seating is covered, but outside, and lines the Villas courtyard. There are a couple high top tables inside or you can walk your food over to the Solarium for a comfortable spot.
Hurricane Hanna’s Waterside Bar & Grill is another quick service option, this time located outside the resort along Stormalong Bay on the Beach Club side.
The menu offers some unique takes on the usual quick service fare, like the muffuletta-style chicken sandwich, pork sandwich with cider and apple slaw, and burger topped with Vermont cheddar and Hanna’s steak sauce, among other things.
I’ve tried the $11.29 Lobster, Shrimp and Scallop Roll on Parker House Bread with Citrus Mayonnaise served with French Fries or Apple Slaw on a previous visit. Packed with seafood on fresh bread, it’s one of the best quick service sandwiches on property, in my opinion.
One thing virtually nobody knows (until now) is that the bar side offers its own menu with a few more unique items:
The sea salt fries, pulled pork sliders, house-made popcorn shrimp, and seared tuna are either somewhat or entirely unique to the bar side, in addition to some cocktails:
They don’t do a very good job of promoting their unique drinks either – the only mention is on the far right side of the bar far away from the main menu and where most people approaching the bar are looking.
Lisa ordered the $7.69 Seared Tuna with Olives, Arugula, Tomato, and Lemon Vinaigrette. It was perfectly seared and as good of quality as you’d receive at most table service restaurants for a lot less money. And for less than eight bucks.
She didn’t care much for the acidity of the unadvertised artichoke hearts and lemon vinaigrette in the salad that’s propping the tuna up, but I was more familiar with the flavor profile. If you’ve ever had artichoke hearts from Costco’s big jar, you know what to expect.
I, unintelligently perhaps, went with the $10.19 Muffuletta-style Grilled Chicken Sandwich with Ham, Salami, Provolone and Olive Relish served with French Fries or Apple Slaw, not realizing at the time that it was available next door. While the sandwich was hand-delivered on a real plate, the chicken was overcooked and dry with opaque slices of provolone melted on top.
The ham, salami, and olive relish on the other side of the bun was cold, lowering the temperature of the lukewarm chicken further once it was pressed together. It didn’t really come together for me, which is probably why you don’t see muffuletta-style toppings on anything other than a sandwich served in New Orleans.
Florida Beer’s Hurricane Reef Caribbean Style Pilsner is a unique beer available on draft. It’s a relatively light, 4.7% ABV pale lager with a little citrus, a little hops, and a crisp aftertaste. It’s not an excellent beer, but it’s more interesting than the other draft choices and it’s refreshing on a hot day.
I tried an $8.75 Category 5. Like most drinks with creme de banana, it tasted mostly like creme de banana, but it enjoyed refreshing citrus overtones that helped cancel the artificial-tasting liqueur out. It’s no Turtle Krawl, but it’s stronger than most of the standard drinks.
Beaches and Cream is one of the least expensive and most casual table service restaurants on property. It’s also one of the smallest – nearly the entire seating section is visible in this picture, in addition to the line for the to-go counter on the right.
Beaches is best known for “The Famous Kitchen Sink,” a $29 sundae featuring scoops of vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, coffee, and mint chocolate chip ice cream, in addition to a can of whipped cream and a pile of every other topping they have. Even if you’re planning to visit “just for ice cream,” you still want a reservation. The counter is still usually reserved for walk-ups, but there are only around eight stools and there’s no guarantee that there will be availability. Like any restaurant, you always want to make a reservation as soon as you know you want to eat somewhere or you risk being turned away, even with a half-empty restaurant.
It’s hard to go wrong with the grilled cheese sandwich and a cup of tomato bisque.
A To-Go counter is located next to the check-in kiosk for the restaurant.
It’s a nice spot to grab ice cream on the way to Epcot or on the way back to your room.
A similar Mini Kitchen Sink is available at The Plaza at Magic Kingdom, but this spot may make it easier to drop off the Mickey pants at the room instead of having to carry it around a theme park all day.
Cape May Cafe is the resort’s buffet restaurant, serving breakfast from 7:30am-11am and dinner from 5pm to 9pn. Because the restaurant is really only accessible off the main lobby, there isn’t much to it other than a large room with the buffet area in the middle.
Goofy, Donald, and Minnie host the character breakfast, which currently costs $26.99 for adults and $14.99 for kids. According to Disney
Join some favorite Disney Characters—including Beach Goofy and Friends—for a lively morning meal, as well as autographs and photos at this charming beach-themed café.
Crayons on the table let Guests of all ages draw on paper tablecloths, while they enjoy Mickey waffles, scrambled eggs, seasoned potatoes, sausage, oatmeal and more.
Dinner is a seafood affair without characters – currently $37.99 for adults and $19.99 for kids. According to Disney:
This seafood-and-more buffet offers a mouthwatering array of clams, mussels, crab legs, shrimp, ribs, chicken and more. Round out your meal with such hearty sides as mashed potatoes, chard and bacon, and corn on the cob. Be sure to save room for the delicious assortment of seaside sweets, including the decadent Oreo Bon Bon!
We enjoyed dinner, though the buffet area is cramped on the two sides that aren’t pictured, resulting in some awkward squeezes and making it more difficult to figure out where everything is.
Disney removed crab legs from the online menu over a year ago for whatever reason – probably so people out to eat 10 lbs of crab legs don’t show up at the restaurant daily.
And the crab legs are available in large quantities on two opposite sides of the buffet – here next to clams, seafood paella, and cooked carrots.
With red potatoes and corn on the cob on the other side.
Cold highlights include large chilled peel-and-eat shrimp and salads like the Cape May house salad, marinated seafood salad, and potato salad.
Cheese and more vegetables.
A variety of breads, hummus, and oil.
The Cape May Chowder is packed with seafood as well.
So is dinner “worth it?” There’s no set answer. It’s expensive, but so is just about any other table service meal. Above is a $30 plate of food from Captain’s Grille at the Yacht Club. For $8 less, you get the same snow crab legs, corn on the cob, and red potatoes that you get at Cape May. The Grille is a little more upscale with more attentive service. On the other hand, you don’t get all the other options as the buffet and dessert and non-alcoholic drinks aren’t available, like they are at Cape May. So if you’re looking to spend about 40 bucks a person on dinner and enjoy big seafood meals, Cape May is a good choice. If you don’t like seafood or have small appetites, you might do better elsewhere.
Dessert. I almost forgot. Also, a lot of the food items aren’t pictured because the food looks horrific with the lighting.
And I’m not one to prepare attractive buffet plates. Just about everything tasted good. I was a little disappointed in the fried shrimp, which are only available on a couple nights each week.
That looks better.
And better yet.
The carving station was slicing off quality strip loin.
Another dessert station with cookies and cupcakes.
Overall, we enjoyed our meal, though the price point can be difficult to swallow. But when you consider the all-you-care-to-eat seafood, bottomless beverages, and dessert, there is some value here. The atmosphere isn’t much to write home about and our server was entirely indifferent. I’m not ready to put Cape May in “must do” territory, but I won’t laugh you off the Internet either if it’s on your itinerary.
Martha’s Vineyard is the lounge located right around the corner. It’s one of the least trafficked bars on property due to its somewhat remote location. You may remember the 400 words and 17 red arrows it took earlier in the post to explain where it is.
If you’re not in the mood for the buffet, there’s a Taste of Cape May here, in addition to a bowl of their soup and other items.
Surprisingly, the lounge had two great, rare-at-Disney beers on draft in the Dogfish 60-Minute IPA and Harpoon White UFO.
The same snack mix that was popular during the Food and Wine Festival Craft Beer booth is available here – complimentary if you ask for it.
The bar is worth a visit if you’re looking for a pretty chill experience. The lounge doesn’t suffer from over-crowding like Tambu Lounge or Mizner’s and service is attentive.
Back to the Beach Club Marketplace, where there’s a variety of pre-packaged foods.
How much everything costs:
Beach Club Marketplace offers a variety of mostly generic theme park merchandise, in addition to a few resort-specific items:
Villa-wise, amenities in Beach Club rooms are similar to Saratoga Springs and Wilderness Lodge. They’re a little smaller than BoardWalk, Kidani Village, Bay Lake Tower, and Grand Floridian, and a lot smaller than Old Key West. Time will tell what the refurbishment will bring to the resort, but if Wilderness Lodge’s recent renovation sets any precedent, we can expect it just to improve things. The higher cost than the other resorts we’ve looked at so far is due mostly to the Beach Club’s desirable location on Crescent Lake, within walking distance to two theme parks, four deluxe-level resorts, and all of the amenities that those things bring. If spending time at Epcot is high on your priority list, you may not want to look much further than Beach Club. It really doesn’t get any more convenient.
Contact Rachel Thompson at www.dvcmagicresales.com for more information on selling or purchasing a DVC contract for Beach Club or any other Disney Vacation Club property. With 10 years experience on the resale market, you will be in good hands.