Guide to Disney’s Beach Club Resort0 Comments
A Brief History of the Beach Club Villas
Disney’s Beach Club Villas became the sixth DVC resort when it opened to the public in July of 2002. Yes, as hard as it is to believe, Beach Club has participated in DVC for more than 15 years!
The hotel portion of the property dates back even longer, as it opened in November of 1990. From that point forward, DVC members coveted a stay at the most relaxing of Disney’s luxury resorts. Okay, DVC wouldn’t even exist until a year later, but you get the point. This resort felt like an impossible dream for program participants for most of the 1990s. Then, in May of 2000, DVC confirmed that the dream would become a reality two years later.
The opening of Beach Club signified a huge moment for DVC members. Their only previous options at Walt Disney World were Disney’s Old Key West Resort and Disney’s Boardwalk Resort, both of which are marvelous in their own ways. Beach Club somehow married the beauty and timeless vacation aspects of Old Key West with the logistics of Boardwalk, creating what was the perfect DVC resort for the time. It was also one of the smallest resorts, with only 282 rooms available for DVC members.
At the time of its program introduction, Beach Club was also the most expensive resort ever. An ownership interest cost $84 in 2002, a sharp increase from Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Villas. Those rooms debuted less than two years earlier, but they were only $72 at the start of 2001. Disney used Beach Club as a way to bump up the expected price of new participants, a running theme throughout the years.
The Style of Beach Club Resort
The style of Beach Club Resort is right there in the name. For generations now, “Beach Club” has been a popular hotel name and description of a style of life. When you’re at a beach club, your expectation is that you’ll spend your days in the sun, wiggling your toes in the sand. It’s that picturesque daydream in your mind’s eye, that escapist fantasy that sweeps you away to a faraway place, somewhere you can hear the ocean waves crashing against the shore.
Technically, the theme is of a 19th century seaside cottage, specifically one at Newport, Rhode Island. Yes, Disney had intended to build a Newport Beach DVC resort during the early 1990s, but it isn’t quite the same thing and also is an entirely different Newport. This one is an atmospheric locale that should remind people of the early days of American vacationing. Disney even made a fake shipwreck to add to the illusion that guests are staying by the ocean.
The DVC Aspects
Despite its popularity, Beach Club skews toward the inexpensive side of DVC points usage. In January, May, October, and most of November and December, the current points chart is quite pleasing for Beach Club guests. A studio hotel room costs only 15 points on weekdays and 16 points on weekends. A one-bedroom home is 27 points Sunday-Thursday and 31 points on Friday and Saturday. Even the two-bedroom charges of 37 and 43 points are reasonable.
Obviously, points charges increase during more popular seasons. Disney built the chart under the belief that staying at a beach-based resort wouldn’t be as popular in the winter and fall. What they failed to anticipate is that the Epcot International Food & Wood Festival and holiday season festivities would extend the tourism calendar. The months when Beach Club is cheapest are also the ones when Epcot’s exhibitions make the resort desirable. Thankfully, Disney hasn’t modified the points chart much in the face of this gradual change in park attendance.
The DVC rooms at Beach Club are recently renovated. The Studios are 356 square feet and tastefully decorated. While the rooms are on the small side for DVC studios, the clever design negates the space concerns. Plus, the Studios come with balconies that overlook either the trees outside or, for some lucky guests, the quiet pool.
The suites at Beach Club are quite popular in terms of booking. The truth-in-advertising aspect is that with so few suites available, it’s difficult to determine whether their demand is higher than at other resorts. What I can say with certainty is that the occupancy rate for these suites is high.
The one-bedroom suites are 726 square feet, which is again on the small side. Disney also lists occupancy as four people per suite, the same as the Studios. Larger families won’t find acceptable options here. The suite’s washer and dryer are huge assets for parties of four or less, though.
The two-bedroom is effectively the same floorplan as the one-bedroom, only with more. The 1,083 square feet includes another wing on top of the standard parts of the one-bedroom. This wing has its own bathroom and bedroom. I think it’s fair to describe the two-bedroom as the one-bedroom with a Studio added.
Beach Club Resort Amenities
The amenities here are best described as, “Winner winner chicken dinner!” You’re staying at Beach Club due to these amenities, and one towers above the rest, figuratively and almost literally. I’m speaking, of course, of Stormalong Bay, the two and a half acre mini-water park that Disney calls a sand-bottom pool. It also features a lazy river, one that I’ve ridden for literal hours on end.
I would call Stormalong Bay the single greatest amenity at any Disney resort. It’s such a family favorite that when we plan to stay at Beach Club, we presume that we’ll spend at least 90 minutes here each day. At Walt Disney World, that’s a massive amount of free time tied up at a single place, but we love this “pool” so much that we happily do. Honestly, it’s the reason that we stay at the resort. If not for this pool, Disney’s Boardwalk Villas would be just as good, maybe even better.
While the water park is the primary selling point, Beach Club has plenty of other wonderful amenities. The restaurant has several terrific dining options. Cape May Café is a seafood joint that you’ll smell long before you arrive. It also hosts a heartwarming character breakfast meal starring Goofy and Minnie Mouse and friends. They dress in delightful beach outfits, making it a phenomenal photo op for your family.
Beaches & Cream is a charming 1950s-style soda shop. It’s one of the tiniest Table Service restaurants at Walt Disney World, by which I mean it DOES sell out. You should book Advanced Dining Reservations when you plan to eat here. Also, you absolutely should plan to eat here. It’s a burger joint that throws in some decadent dessert treats including the beloved Kitchen Sink.
Stormalong Bay also offers a not-quite swim-up bar and restaurant called Hurricane Hanna’s Grill. I like this place for its television. I can swim in the pool but get sports scores as I do laps. I quite randomly saw a game-winning grand slam this way a couple of years ago. I’m also told that the drinks are divine, but I’m kind of a teetotaler. So, I’m not the best judge of this stuff.
Beach Club Marketplace is the merchandise store at the resort. It’s a Quick Service restaurant of a kind, too. Cast members serve hot meals here, and while it seems odd, I’ve found a lot of utility in the idea. When you’re not quite hungry enough for a full meal, it’s a great fallback option. They also serve the popular Bounty Platter for breakfast.
Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the restaurants at Disney’s Yacht Club. Since the buildings connect, you should think of those dining options as good ideas, too. The Yachtsman Steakhouse is a renowned Signature Dining Experience, while the Ale & Compass is a brand new gastropub that opened at the end of November in 2017. The Crew’s Cup Lounge beside the steakhouse is also a well-respected bar when you’re in the mood for a drink.
Resort Pros and Cons
The best part of Beach Club Villas is also one of its primary negatives. With fewer than 300 rooms available to book, it’s arguably the most exclusive, secluded of all DVC resorts at Walt Disney World. And it’s also among the hardest to book. The maxim that resonates with DVC members is to buy at the resort where you plan to stay the most. This wisdom is especially applicable to Beach Club Villas, a place where you’ll struggle to find openings even at the seven-month window.
I am not currently an owner at Beach Club Villas, but my brother is. We frequently compare notes on the situation, as his family and mine frequently vacation at Walt Disney World together. He has no trouble booking a room at 11 months or even eight months in some instances. As the seven-month window approaches, he has chronicled how booking windows close.
When I try at the first possible opportunity of the seven-month window, I have limited success. Generally, what happens is that I book some days but have to reserve the waiting list for others. Yes, I’ve been relatively fortunate with the waiting list overall, only whiffing entirely on two occasions. The only way I’d ever feel confident about staying here whenever I want is by purchasing an ownership interest, though.
Other than the difficulty in booking a room here, the other significant negative is that the DVC portion of the resort is circuitous at best, wholly befuddling at worst. My wife and I have a running joke that when we stay here for a week, we usually figure out the lay of the land sometime around the fifth day. We’ve wound up on the back end of the adjoining Yacht Club a couple of times. It’s that easy to get turned around at Beach Club.
The pros are self-evident. Beach Club is heavily in demand among DVC members because it’s in the discussion for best resort overall. Its logistics are impeccable. When viewing the resort from the boat dock, you’ll see the far right section of the property. Some of the rooms here are DVC villas, and they’re literally a three-minute walk to the International Gateway back entrance for Epcot.
A motivated walker can exit their hotel room and reach Soarin’ Around the World in 10 minutes, 15 minutes if you want to take in the sights. The convenience of Beach Club is superior to virtually any other DVC resort, especially for fans of the World Showcase.
As for the other pros, I’ve already touched on them. The amenities at this resort are exceptional. The resort restaurants are good enough that you don’t have to set foot in the park on a day of relaxation. Boardwalk is either a quick walk or a five-minute boat ride away, thereby increasing the restaurant and shopping options.
The design of this resort accentuates the greatness of Stormalong Bay. Imagineers understand that you won’t want to leave the property on some days. They’ve designed the resort to make it feel like your home away from home. Since that’s also the idea for DVC, the resort and program membership mesh perfectly together.