*DIS Contributors review meals, resort stays, and entertainment that they have paid for during their own vacations. They only utilize discounts and offers if they are available to the general public, such as annual passholder discounts, Tables in Wonderland, or DVC membership discounts. They receive no additional compensation for dining experiences or events, so that they may give their honest opinions about price and value.
Walt Disney World is full of breathtaking resorts and one of the most beautiful, in my opinion, is Disney’s Yacht Club Resort. There is something elegant in its refined nautical decor and its exquisite gray tones that make it the epitome of classy New England-esque yacht clubs, while still embracing subtle touches of Disney. But is it family friendly? That was my main concern when we booked our recent summer stay.
There’s no doubt that Yacht Club’s sister resort, Disney’s Beach Club Resort, is family friendly. The pastel blue of the exterior practically beckons children in, while the interior decor is more beach cottage pastels compared with the regal nautical elements found at Yacht Club. But, judging a book by its cover is frowned upon, so let’s dig deeper into why Yacht Club is a great, family friendly resort choice for your next vacation.
Location, Location, Location. The biggest draw of this resort is its proximity to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Both are easily within walking distance, and offer optional boat access. Guests staying at Yacht Club can also walk over to Disney’s Boardwalk area, as well as The Swan and Dolphin. With so many options for recreation, dining, and fun within walking distance, it’s easy to see why the location of this resort is one of the best on property. After a long day at the parks, the convenience of being within walking distance or a relaxing boat ride away from your bed is priceless, especially with children in tow. We also found the boat ride a nice change of pace from the usually crowded end-of-the-night park buses we had used while staying at other Disney resorts.
Stormalong Bay. Stormalong Bay is shared by Yacht and Beach Club and is arguably the best pool on property. The three-acre, partially sand bottomed pool has unique features such as a lazy river and the highest waterslide on property. Kids, and kids at heart, will enjoy the replica shipwreck waterslide, and those looking for a more mellow way to cool down will enjoy the lazy river. For younger kids, there is a sandy beach area of the pool perfect for building sandcastles. The kiddie pool also has a miniature waterslide. Each resort also has its own quiet pool for those looking for a more relaxing experience. Stormalong Bay was truly the highlight of our stay at Yacht Club, with my 10 year old setting his own record for trips down the waterslide.
Dining Options. Yacht Club hosts a handful of really great family friendly dining options that are not to be missed. Have a breakfast buffet with Minnie and company at Cape May Cafe where they are dressed in their best beachwear. Or head over to Beaches and Cream and enjoy a sundae in their 50s themed ice cream parlor. Keep in mind that while Beaches and Cream is currently closed for refurbishment, a temporary ice cream location has been established just around the corner at Ariel’s. Within walking distance, families can also enjoy a character breakfast at Trattoria al Forno at Disney’s Boardwalk area, with visits from Ariel, Prince Eric, Rapunzel and Flynn Ryder. Another option is for dinner is Garden Grove, also within walking distance at The Swan, where “a duo of Disney characters” make an appearance.
Recreation. Yacht Club has plenty of family friendly recreation options available. Gamers can visit the arcade, which is decently sized and offers many different options for gaming. Anglers can enjoy either dockside fishing or take a guided fishing expedition. Motorized boats can be rented, as well as kayaks and canoes. Kids looking for the ultimate sailing experience can partake in the Pirate Adventure Cruise (for ages 4-12 years). Wind down a busy day at the parks by taking advantage of the nightly campfire activities, where you can make s’mores and watch a Disney movie under the stars. While not at Yacht Club, (just a short walk away and across from the Swan Resort) is Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf, for those families looking for a fully immersive Disney mini golf experience.
Miscellaneous Resort Activities. Be sure to consult the monthly activities calendar for more daily activities. Some of our favorites were: Mickey Tie Dye, poolside games led by cast members, afternoon special character appearances at the pool (we met Donald and Daisy Duck!), and Disney trivia. Also offered were sunrise yoga, sandcastle building, Mermaid School, a 3K Regatta Run, Painting in the Vineyard, and Stormalong Slime. Be sure to consult resort activities calendar for times, dates, location, registration procedure (if applicable) and fees (if applicable).
All in all, we found Disney’s Yacht Club Resort to be a nice mix of elegance and family friendly fun. If this resort was a Disney character, it would unmistakably be Mary Poppins: very prim and refined on the outside but full of fun surprises on the inside! While the Disney details are more subtle, there are plenty of hidden Mickeys to be found among the lobby decor so keep your eyes open at all times.