Disney’s Yacht Club Resort is one of the Disney resorts we have the longest history with. It was my family’s choice hotel in my youth, and I’ve stayed here probably 10+ times. Emily also has a few stays under her belt.
Even when we’re not guests, we’re frequently visitors to the hotel, which is well-situated near the Boardwalk and Epcot and has one of our favorite bars, Ale & Compass Lounge.
It had been a few years since our last stay, though, and we particularly wanted to check out the refurbished rooms. This review is almost more of a guide to Yacht Club, as we cover pretty much everything you would need to know about the resort. Read on to learn about our experience at this deluxe Disney option!
The Basics of Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
The Yacht Club is a deluxe level hotel at Walt Disney World in the Epcot Resorts Area. We booked our Club Level Standard View room through our choice Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, Lauren Quirk of Enchanted Escapes Travel. We paid $514.81 per night on an Annual Passholder offer rate. The rack rate for the room was $755 per night, which meant our offer rate was about 32% off.
For 2019, Yacht Club rooms start at $452 per night. Between standard offers and maybe discounted prices at Expedia or Priceline, there may be times when rates get down to $350 or even $300. Guests at Disney hotels—including Yacht Club—get a wide range of perks, including Extra Magic Hours and advance FastPass+ booking.
Yacht Club has one problem (or benefit, for some)—the convention center. This isn’t always a problem, but when large conventions, or those with raucous participants, are around, the resort is not a great experience. Everything will be louder and more crowded, and you’ll find it harder to get tables at the restaurants.
There’s no way to avoid this problem entirely, and while we’ve had a few nights at Ale & Compass Lounge invaded by obnoxious business-people, we think it’s probably worth rolling the dice to have the best rooms in the Boardwalk area.
As we’ll mention repeatedly in this review, Yacht Club’s biggest perk is its location, which leaves you within walking distance of Epcot (7 minutes), several resorts, the Boardwalk, and Hollywood Studios (20 minutes or 12 by boat).
Arrival and Check-In at Yacht Club
We arrived via Uber from our nearby apartment. Most guests will arrive via Disney’s Magical Express shuttle service from Orlando International Airport.
If you’ve only stayed at a deluxe resort once or twice, you might not realize that when they try, they actually have the most “Disney” check-in process. On their best days, they even start with “Welcome home!” and identify you by name as soon as you arrive.
We didn’t get the “Welcome home!” but we did have a very positive check-in experience. When we arrived, the front gate took our name. Then we were dropped off at the front door, and a Cast Member was waiting for us. He escorted us first to the front desk, where they placed a call upstairs, and then up to the Regatta Club Lounge, Yacht Club’s Club Level lounge (which we’ve reviewed separately here).
Generally, we’re fans of online check-in. We skipped it this time because we were testing the club level check-in process. It’s common that rooms aren’t ready if you arrive before 3PM. From Yacht Club, you can easily drop off your stuff with bell services and walk over to Epcot or Hollywood Studios for lunch and some afternoon rides.
Yacht Club Grounds and Theming
Yacht Club and Beach Club, while they are separate resorts, are connected and share a pool (this isn’t a downside in our experience, more below). For this review, we’re going to talk exclusively about Yacht Club’s offerings. As we emphasize repeatedly, all of Yacht Club, Beach Club, BoardWalk Inn, and the Swan & Dolphin are within walking distance. One loop around the Boardwalk, which takes you past all those hotels, is 0.8 miles.
Yacht Club consists of a single hotel building and a second building for the convention center. Most guests don’t need to know anything about the convention center, but we’ll note it does have a business center. The feature item in the lobby is a beautiful, large globe.
It’s one of the cooler features in a Disney resort, but it also sort of begs you to notice the small size of the space. BoardWalk, Beach Club, and Yacht Club all have smaller lobbies that are easily contrasted with the grandiose, open lobbies of Wilderness Lodge, Polynesian, Grand Floridian, and Animal Kingdom Lodge. That said, it’s not really a small lobby:
Yacht Club is, as its name suggests, nautically themed. It doesn’t really hit you over the head as hard as it could (i.e. it isn’t as visually loud as the value resorts), sticking to the deluxe hotels trend of using understated features and simple displays more than kitsch to convey the theme.
The feature pool at Yacht Club is Stormalong Bay, the pool shared with Beach Club and widely regarded by experts as the best pool on Disney property. Stormalong Bay features a lazy river, a sand-bottom zone, and a water slide.
We don’t want to belabor this point, but Stormalong Bay (above) is one of the biggest reasons to stay at Yacht Club (or Beach Club), and it makes the hotel particularly good for planning a resort day. If you’re not a pool person, then obviously this shouldn’t impact your decision, but it is a major highlight of the hotel. There is also a secondary pool on the far end of the resort if you hate fun:
The farthest rooms on the first floor are a three-minute walk from the lobby at our relatively quick pace. That’s not huge, but it is sort of a bummer that they’re in the direction away from Epcot. You will be three minutes closer to Hollywood Studios, though.
Our Yacht Club Room
The Yacht Club rooms were refurbished in 2017, and they are stunning.
I’ve had a roller coaster relationship with Disney’s rooms recently, low-lighted by my disappointment with the Polynesian and highlighted by my pleasant surprise with our refurbished All-Star Movies room.
The room was relatively spacious, as is standard for rooms at the deluxe resorts.
On the bathroom and amenities end, it was nice to see mouthwash and sunscreen provided, and the shampoo and conditioner were bottled for personal use (values and moderates use large dispensers). The vanity area was actually a little smaller than expected, maybe even about the same size as at the moderate resorts.
There were plenty of outlets and a nice desk, which is a necessity for us. The furniture is all brilliantly designed, creating a very cohesive aesthetic. The curtains contain star patterns, and absolutely brilliant touch.
I guess the couch is a little blugh. Nothing’s perfect.
The view from the balcony was nothing of interest (that was our choice, as we booked a standard room).
These “modern” rooms Disney has been rolling out are always going to be a matter of taste. I was in the elevator with someone, chatting about how great the rooms here are. When I mentioned being disappointed with Poly, she replied “Poly is awful!” I definitely wouldn’t go that far, but it’s clear (and you can confirm this by reading any number of review sites) that pulling back on obnoxious, colorful theming means guests are sort of left to paint their own pictures.
Location & Transportation at Yacht Club
Yacht Club has one of the best locations on property. Along with Beach Club, BoardWalk Inn, and the Swan & Dolphin, this is one of the few hotels you can actually walk to two parks—Epcot and Hollywood Studios—from. Epcot’s World Showcase is about a seven-minute walk from the Yacht Club lobby. Hollywood Studios is about a 20-minute walk from the Yacht Club lobby.
Keep in mind that when visiting Epcot, you’ll be using a different entrance than other guests. the World Showcase entrance is between the U.K. and France pavilions. We briefly discuss this in our Epcot FastPass+ and Rope Drop Strategy.
Besides the two parks, you can also walk to all those other hotels and any other spots along the Boardwalk, which has restaurants like Flying Fish and ESPN Club, as well as a pretty good bar in AbracadaBar.
Besides walking, you can take a boat to Hollywood Studios (approximately 12-minute trip, running every 15 minutes) and Epcot (about 5-7 minute trip). For the most part, we stopped using the boats years ago (we walk), but we occasionally ride them just to keep tabs on them.
Realistically, you’ll always prefer to walk to and from Epcot. Hollywood Studios is a bit of a different story. The Club Level concierge suggested, and we agree, that it makes sense to take the boat to Hollywood Studios and walk back, particularly if you’re at the park when it closes. The line for the boat gets quite long when the park closes, though we’ve often seen it long during the day as well:
To reach Magic Kingdom, you’ll have to rely on bus transport. Keep in mind that although you can walk to Epcot, you use a different entrance than the main entrance, so it isn’t practical to walk to Epcot and take the monorail to Magic Kingdom.
And, as always, to Animal Kingdom, Typhoon Lagoon, Blizzard Beach, and Disney Springs you’ll rely on bus. The concierge did tell us bus transport has been getting worse recently and to report delays to him. This fits with our experiences around all of Walt Disney World recently. It’s definitely not a problem unique to Yacht Club.
We always recommend you also consider using Uber at Walt Disney World. Finally, keep in mind that if you’re flexible, you can always hop on a bus for BoardWalk or Beach Club and walk back to Yacht Club from there. Swan & Dolphin are a bit of a longer walk, but still doable. This won’t always save you time, but particularly in the middle of the day (when bus transport is at its worst), if you see a bus to Beach Club or BoardWalk, hop on it.
Food and Dining at Yacht Club
One of the awesome things about staying at Yacht Club—dare I say the most awesome thing—is that for the most part your dining options are unlimited. From Yacht Club you can easily walk to all the restaurants of Beach Club, the Boardwalk, the Swan & Dolphin hotels, and Epcot. That’s a really awesome feature. So keep that in mind while we quickly discuss the thing I hate most about Disney’s deluxe resorts…
Quick Service Food at Yacht Club
I have a huge gripe about the lack of quality quick service at Disney’s deluxe hotels. I’m very drawn to the food court setup at the value and moderate resorts. At Yacht Club, you’ve got two quick service options.
The Market at Ale & Compass is actually the Yacht Club’s store in addition to offering a very limited selection of quick service food. While we were there, they offered your choice of four sandwiches and a soup of the day for lunch and dinner. Additionally, you’ll have pastries, chips, and pre-packaged food. Market is usually open a bit after the parks close, between 10PM and Midnight.
Hurricane Hanna’s Waterside Bar & Grill is the pool bar (and grill) at Yacht Club and Beach Club. It has an okay lunch menu, which includes burgers, a buffalo chicken wrap, and a vegetarian quinoa wrap. Hanna’s closes earlier than Market, usually around 8PM to 9PM.
(Begin rant.) I’ll never understand why deluxe resorts don’t offer better quick service options. If you come back to your hotel after a regular Epcot or Hollywood Studios close, you’ll have no dinner options besides expensive table service (if you can get a table), expensive room service ($3 delivery and 18% service included) or very limited, unimpressive options at Market.
Yes—guests at deluxe resorts tend to be willing to spend a bit more. But that doesn’t meant they’re going to want a table service meal after being at the parks all day, or that they’ll want to deal with the delays and hassle of in-room dining. To me, nothing beats being able to come back at 11PM from an exhausting day, walk right up to a counter, and order a burger or pizza at a reasonable price. (End rant.)
Table Service Restaurants at Yacht Club
Yacht Club has three table service restaurants. We’ll provide brief overviews of them and link to reviews we trust. Our limited experiences with them (and our limited food knowledge generally) don’t qualify us to really speak to their quality.
Ale & Compass is the newer restaurant at Yacht Club, having opened in November 2017. It’s the resort’s casual table service restaurant, adjacent to the lobby, and requiring a single table service credit. It’s open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Reservations are recommended. Here’s a review from Disney Food Blog.
Yachtsman Steakhouse is the signature table service restaurant at Yacht Club, requiring two table service credits. It’s open only for dinner. You’ll have to follow the hallway past Ale & Compass toward Beach Club to get there. Reservations are highly recommended. Here’s a review from Ziggy.
Beaches & Cream is a fun little soda-shop themed spot right on the border of Yacht Club and Beach Club, off the Stormalong Bay pool. It’s most known for its legendary “Kitchen Sink” dessert—an ice cream sundae designed to serve four—but it also serves burgers, sandwiches, and a variety of alcoholic ice cream floats. In the past, it didn’t take reservations but now does, mostly because it has very limited seating. Here, again, is Disney Food Blog.
Bars at Yacht Club
Besides Hurricane Hanna’s which is a combo bar-quick service stop, there are two bars at Yacht Club.
Ale & Compass Lounge is the lobby bar at Yacht Club, neighboring the Ale & Compass restaurant. It’s in keeping with the modern aesthetic of the Yacht Club rooms—with dark wood and deep blues. Ale & Compass Lounge is a fantastic spot for a cocktail, but it can get crowded due to its proximity to the lobby.
Crew’s Cup Lounge is the bar attached to the Yachtsman Steakhouse It’s actually easy to miss if you’re not eating at Yachtsman, as the sole hall-facing door is a bit hidden. Crew’s Cup really captures the former aesthetic of Yacht Club. The wood is something like oak / walnut—dark but lighter than Ale & Compass Lounge. It’s maybe better for wines than Ale & Compass due to sharing a selection with Yachtsman.
Shopping at Yacht Club
We previously mentioned The Market at Ale & Compass in the context of its limited quick service options, but it’s also the store at Yacht Club. As with all Disney’s hotel stores, it offers basic travel essentials as well as a limited selection of hotel-branded items.
As it’s a deluxe resort, you’ll also find some higher end options, like items from Vineyard Vines.
Disney’s Yacht Club Resort — Conclusions
Begin Update January 7, 2019
We’re putting Yacht Club on a bit of notice. We’ve spent more time there the past few weeks, and unfortunately what we thought was a one-off problem turned out to be an ongoing issue. Yacht Club is way understaffed, and this shows particularly in keeping the resort tidy.
In three separate occasions at the Regatta Club, Ale & Compass Lounge, and Ale & Compass Restaurant, we felt like service was slow and staff were very slow to clean up dirty dishes. At Ale & Compass Lounge, the staff were overworked to the point of being rude. I’ll be keeping my eye on this. Maybe after the holiday season things will level out.
I can say having spent the entire holiday season in Disney World, including staying at and visiting several deluxe resorts, that this is not a resort-wide issue. Yacht Club is lagging.
End Update January 7, 2019
I have to say, after a few years away, we were pleasantly surprised with our time at Yacht Club. The new rooms are great, we really appreciate the bars / restaurants in the area, and you can beat the easy park access.
In our recently updated Disney World hotel guide and rankings, we put Yacht Club (along with Beach Club) in the #3 slot. We’d keep it there, but Animal Kingdom Lodge (currently in the #2 slot) will have to put up a fight when we return in a few weeks.
Disney Transport continues to lag, but that’s a problem everywhere. Yacht Club’s location severely cuts down on transportation issues, even if it means you’ll need to exercise a bit.
Overall, if you’re considering a stay at a deluxe resort, you’re probably not going to be too bothered by the lack of quick service food, which remains my biggest complaint.
Of the three Disney hotels in this area, Yacht Club has the best rooms. When you factor in Stormalong Bay, it’s easy to settle on Yacht Club as the choice hotel in this area—especially given BoardWalk’s higher standard rates.
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