Sunday, December 11, 2011

Disney Yacht Club Review

Yes, we went to Disney World again. And it was oh so needed. It was planned a couple months ago as a "babymoon" - a time for Jon (and Lilly) and I to hang out in our current family status and to relax prior to baby coming this April. We went to WDW when I was 20 weeks pregnant with Lilly as well, almost 6 years ago, and thought it would bring us good luck.

After the last two weeks of November, the trip turned from "nice relaxing vacation that we don't totally need" to "oh my goodness I need a vacation." Plus, with all Lilly's hospital stuff it was nice reassuring her: "When we get through this, we're going to Disney World."

It was, as always, a wonderful vacation. Instead of getting into all the specifics- going to wait until I've uploaded and organized all the pictures - I'm going to first review our hotel, the Yacht Club.

Background: We've stayed at most Disney resorts. Pre-Lilly, I've stayed at the Contemporary, Grand Floridian, Boardwalk Villas, Old Key West, Swan/Dolphin, Wilderness Lodge, Fort Wilderness, Caribbean Beach, Port Orleans Riverside, and All Star Sports. (Yikes!) On our babymoon when I was pregnant with Lilly, we stayed at Wilderness Lodge and loved it - it was the end of January and it just feels so warm that time of year.

Since Lilly, we've stayed at Port Orleans Riverside (12 months), Saratoga Springs and Port Orleans French Quarter (20 months), Coronado (3rd birthday), Bay Lake (3 1/2), Polynesian (4th birthday), Polynesian (1 night before 5K race; the rest off property), Animal Kingdom Villas and 1 night at All Star Movies (4 1/2), and Polynesian (almost 5). It sounds ridiculous, right?

I love Polynesian - for its location and its atmosphere (I never liked it prior to actually vising the South Pacific/Fiji/New Zealand and now think it is amazing). But, I wanted to try something new. Grand Floridian was on my "potential" list - if it had a deep discount. I could be persuaded into Contemporary although not on my "must do" yet. Wilderness Lodge was high on my list since we stayed there when pregnant with Lilly and I love it, plus not too far from Magic Kingdom, but discounted rooms never were available. Animal Kingdom Lodge was available, but since we had just stayed at the AK Villas, I wanted to try something new. Coronado would have been a fine option, but it wasn't available, and in the winter I'd rather be in a traditional "hotel" style hotel, without having to be outside to get to different parts. And if we were doing a moderate this time, I'd rather be at Coronado than the Port Orleans' hotels and Caribbean Beach (just because I love Coronado, the other mods are definitely good), so we ruled them out. All Star was definitely not bad the times we've tried it, but when you do actually spend time in the room - like we were planning on doing on this somewhat relaxing trip - I'd rather be in a little nicer room. And for a "babymoon" kind of trip, I pictured a ton of walking the way we did 6 years ago, and while Saratoga Springs and Old Key West rooms are so nice, I'd rather be somewhere walkable to the parks. Boardwalk was a maybe, but for the same price, Yacht/Beach sounded better because of the pool.

We've wanted to stay at one of the hotels in the Boardwalk area for awhile now. So when I received a 35 percent off code, and looked to see what was available, Yacht Club popped out. Beach Club was available occasionally when I looked, but only club level rooms, which was more than we wanted for this vacation. So, I took a leap of faith and booked Yacht. And then I did some research.

And I got nervous. Everything I read talked about how far it is from things, how there isn't easy access to food. How it's great - for couples - but stuffy for families. How the pool is in fact amazing, but it would be too cold to use it, and Lilly would be too young to appreciate the slides anyway. But we were locked in, and I figured we'd give it a try.

It was amazing. Loved it. Might be Jon's favorite Disney resort.

I'll begin at the beginning. We woke up at 4:30 for our early 7 am flight and arrived in Orlando at 9 am. Love getting there early - we're exhausted at first but there are no lines for Magical Express and we have the whole day ahead of us. Lilly was in a great enthusiastic vacation mood - which is normal for her. Girl loves to travel. I got nervous when the Magical Express stopped at 3 or 4 other hotels first, dropping off tons of families to bustling hotels, and then we got to our resort.

Only 2 other people were still on the bus with us, and they got off with us. The front of the resort was totally dead. People were not coming and going, it was like a ghost town. I was nervous! A guy who worked there immediately came up to us before we even got inside, and asked our name. He walked us inside directly to the counter and, thanks go online check in, got everything for us in less than a minute. And - at 10 am - our room was ready! So, the fact that they weren't all that busy definitely worked in our favor. So far, all was good.

We got to our room and it was a beautiful water view room. Two queen size beds, a bathroom with a double sink, desk and sitting area. We overlooked the boardwalk on the first floor, it was a beautiful view. So far, all was good again.

Lilly ended up feeling sick the first couple days of the vacation, but it was so easy staying at the Yacht Club. We walked to Beaches and Cream to have an early lunch, but when Lilly didn't feel good, Jon walked back with her and we all took a nap.

It was really easy to walk to the Dolphin (they have a great spa there) and Boardwalk, and we were connected to the Beach Club. We easily walked to Epcot and it's only a slightly longer walk to Hollywood Studios. Buses to Magic Kingdom were fast (never more than a 5-10 minute wait, but we were lucky), and this time we skipped Animal Kingdom since we were only there for a short trip.

Regarding my food concerns, each morning the bar off the lobby has coffee, fruit, and baked goods set up for purchase, so we didn't have any problems finding something perfect for our family in the morning. The Beach Club next store has a quick service dining location, if we wanted something more, but we didn't - bagels, muffins, bananas, coffee, and milk were exactly what we wanted. We usually ate in the parks for lunch or dinner, and one night when we had a late lunch, we walked to the Boardwalk for a easy snack for dinner.

On my concerns that the Yacht Club was stuffy - it was and it wasn't. The atmosphere was more formal than the Beach Club and the other resorts, but it was absolutely kid friendly - the rooms, the cast members, the hotel generally has the Disney quality that we love - but at the same time, I felt that there were less families here than at other resorts, so it was nice to feel like we were at a quieter resort. They had a great TV setup in the lobby - they have this at all the resorts - but the kid sized chairs were better than any I had seen elsewhere, and Lilly loved hanging out there watching Mickey cartoons for a few minutes at the end of a long day. During the day - not sure what the hours were, but usually around 2 or 3 when we'd be walking by coming in from the parks, there was ice water and glasses for a couple hours (good tasting water, not Florida water) for guests to grab a cup, which was a nice touch. There is a nice store with the typical Disney merchandise and essentials.

The pool was nice, but we didn't get to use it very much as Lilly was sick and the weather was a little chilly, but in better circumstances it would be ideal - the water slides, a pool with sand on the bottom, lots of things to do. There were also events all day near the pool - kids activities, dance parties, etc, which we didn't do this time but would be nice to look into next time. Also each night there was a bon fire on the beach, and later a movie shown on the beach. It really is a nice resort - much more going on than I had anticipated, having previously only just walked in the lobby or passing it on the boardwalk.

The cast members were very helpful as well. My parents came down for one night and they easily printed out room keys for them just for the day/night. When Lilly was sick, we weren't sure if it would turn into something worse, and they gave us a bunch of brochures for nearby medical facilities, some with free transportation.

And speaking of free: free wireless internet in the rooms. Perfect. And probably more storage than anywhere we've stayed before, we all totally unpacked with room to spare. And the tv was so easy to use, Lilly was an expert by day 2. Beds - and bedding - were more comfortable than ever.

I couldn't "rate" any of the Disney hotels because I love them all, they all have their strengths and weaknesses, and I feel like at different times and for different people, different hotels are better for an individual trip. But I would recommend the Yacht Club to both couples and families. It was actually nice being able to walk to two parks and not wait for transportation or have to fold a stroller, so in that respect it was better than the monorail or other hotels, and I got tons of Disney World walking, which was good for my pregnant body. (I think we walked about 10 miles each day!)

The problem is, where do we stay next time? Next time being probably a year away, give or take, so once we meet this baby we might have a different list of criteria - but I'm thinking a 1 bedroom at one of the villas might be perfect.

Let me know if there are any questions regarding Yacht Club or any of the other Disney hotels!


Amanda said...

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Amanda said...
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