There are a lot of factors that go into deciding which on-site hotel to stay at during your vacation: price, location, atmosphere, amenities, etc. Some people feel a certain loyalty to their hotel of choice, and will stay there for every Disney trip—others like to explore the wide range of options available. Personally, I enjoy knowing exactly which hotel I’m going to book for all my vacations, and that’s the Yacht Club.
The Yacht Club is a deluxe hotel located in the Epcot resort area next to its sister hotel, the Beach Club, and across from the Boardwalk Inn. The resort is modeled after a New England seaside beach town and features a gorgeous landmark lighthouse, as well as Stormalong Bay, an outdoor pool complete with sand and a massive shipwreck-themed water slide. The rooms are boat-themed, and there is a special floor reserved for a “Concierge Level,” which contains a lounge that serves food and a private balcony. Here are some great reasons to stay the Yacht Club:
The back of the resort looks out over a scenic lagoon with sandy beaches and a boardwalk that leads to the lighthouse. It’s incredibly picturesque, and is especially pretty at dusk. The resort holds movie screenings and other events right on the beach, and you’re always free to walk along the sand and lounge in the beach chairs. You can see Epcot’s IllumiNations right from the beach, and many of the resort’s rooms give you a view of the lagoon from your balcony.
The rooms at the Yacht Club are simple but elegant, and are slightly more refined than the ones found at the Beach Club because the Yacht Club typically caters to an older crowd. All rooms are furnished with a private balcony that provides great scenery. The lobby is also very elegant, and when you arrive you are greeted by The Captain, who hangs around the resort completely in character.
Stormalong Bay is an outdoor pool that connects the Beach and Yacht Clubs. It’s an enormous facility with plenty of sun, sand, and beach chairs. It’s got a great water slide for the kids, a lazy river section, and has plenty of noodles and tubes to go around. The Yacht Club is also home to Yachtsman’s Steakhouse, an upper-scale restaurant with some really quality food options.
Perhaps the best reason to stay at the Yacht Club is its position between the parks. A short walk from the hotel will take you directly to the back of Epcot (pictured above) and right to the France Pavilion. From the park, you have boat and monorail access. If you choose to walk down to the lighthouse, there is a boat service that will take you across the way to the Boardwalk, or over to Hollywood Studios. Buses also stop by the lot to bring you to Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom.
This iconic supernatural journey through a ghostly home is located in Liberty Square, Magic Kingdom, and is one of Disney World’s most famous attractions. Just because it’s well-known doesn’t mean it’s overrated! The ambiance and attention to detail are just a few great things that puts this ride on my must list.
The Haunted Mansion attraction starts with an interactive queue that builds the spooky atmosphere, complete with an eerie crypt and ghostly graveyard. Inside the mansion, Disney Imagineers put forth some of their greatest work with a room that inexplicably stretches right before your eyes. When you get to the ride, an invisible Ghost Host invites you to take a seat inside your ‘doom buggy’ and tour the home where ghosts lurk at every turn! You’ll want to try out this ride a couple times to catch all the details – they’re worth it!
While a little scary at times, this ride is suitable for younger vacationers, and is perfect for the kid at heart. It truly sums up Disney Magic.
Images courtesy of vimeo.com, answerparty.com, and disneyworld.disney.go.com.
On Sunday, March 9th, 2014, Disney World debuted its highly anticipated Festival of Fantasy Parade. The procession can be found in Magic Kingdom every afternoon, and is designed as a tribute to the newly-renovated Fantasyland. Young ones will enjoy seeing all their favorite characters (Belle & Beast, Peter Pan & Tinkerbell, Rapunzel & Flynn Rider, and even Elsa & Anna!) on spectacularly decorated floats. Make sure you stick around to see the parade’s biggest spectacle: Maleficent as a metal, fire-breathing dragon.
Want a sneak peek? Check out a video of the full parade courtesy of allears.net.
Image courtesy of insidethemagic.net.
Looking for an old-fashioned, out-of-park dining option? Stop by the Beach Club hotel, near the back of Epcot’s World Showcase, and check out this classic take on a 50’s soda shop. Beaches & Cream boasts one of the best burgers on Disney property, and is famous for the delightfully challenging dessert, The Kitchen Sink.
This hidden gem is one of my favorite places to eat at Disney World – it’s perfect for a light and flavorful lunch or dinner, and its fantastic dessert selection makes it a popular nighttime hot spot. It’s got such a great theme, and the wait staff is always friendly and helpful. Compared to other park dining options, Beaches & Cream is relatively cheap, and you certainly get what you pay for in terms of proportions. I would highly recommend giving this classic seaside diner a try!
Images courtesy of disneyfoodblog.com, themellosandthemouse.blogspot.com, and onlywdworld.com.
Christmastime in Walt Disney World is one of the most spectacular events of the year, and if you don’t mind the crowds, it’s sure to be a wonderful experience for the whole family. In November and December, each park and resort gets grandiosely decorated for the holiday, featuring trees, wreaths, life-sized gingerbread sculptures, and 8.5 million lights strung throughout the property. If you’re planning to visit Disney during this time of year, be sure to check out the following special events:
On select nights during November and December, you can purchase an extra pass to attend this special event held in Magic Kingdom. If you’re in Disney for the season, there is simply no better way to celebrate the holidays! Guests will enjoy a magical lighting of Cinderella Castle, Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade featuring Santa, a delightful holiday version of Wishes, and even a snowfall on Main Street!
After Thanksgiving, this unique and enlightening event takes place at World Showcase to highlight how each culture celebrates the season. Travel across the pavilions to learn about customs, traditions, and special stories that each country has to share. Also be sure to check out the Candlelight Processional, a beautiful retelling of the story of Christmas told by a celebrity narrator (Neil Patrick Harris, Whoopi Goldberg, and Geena Davis are some popular attendees!). Finish your night with a holiday presentation of IllumiNations at Showcase Lagoon.
This dazzling display of multicolored lights is strung around the Streets of America in Hollywood Studios. On select nights, the buildings alight with patterns synchronized to familiar Christmas songs, completely surrounding you with holiday spirit as you stroll down the street.
I was recently in Disney for the 2013 holiday celebration, and I can say that this really is one of the most magical ways to get into the Christmas spirit. My family scheduled our trip the week before Thanksgiving, which meant relatively low crowds, but an indeterminate amount of holiday festivities available. As it turned out, the only thing not yet running was Holidays Around the World — both the Christmas Party and Dancing Lights show were in their regular rotation, and the parks and hotels were decorated for the season. If you don’t mind this small caveat, I would recommend planning your trip before the Christmas crowds descend. Though I can’t attest to the Christmas Party as we didn’t attend, I can say that the Dancing Lights show is spectacular. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen before, and is such a beautifully immersive experience.
Images provided by disneyworld.disney.go.com.
Consider yourself a cuisine connoisseur? Stop by World Showcase from mid-September to mid-November and dine your way across all eleven countries! This fun fall event boasts nearly 30 international marketplaces, culinary demonstrations and dining experiences with professional chefs, and even an “Eat to the Beat” concert series. The 2014 event is currently scheduled for September 19th to November 10th.
Image provided by disneyworld.disney.go.com.
Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party
This holiday celebration for all ages takes place in Magic Kingdom on select nights during September and October. Guests can look forward to meeting Disney villains and ghostly characters by day, then taking part in the “Boo-to-You” Parade by night. Also be sure to catch the special version of the castle fireworks called “HalloWishes,” a ghoulishly fun spectacular.
Image courtesy of disneyworld.disney.go.com.
Star Wars Weekends
Occurring in late May and early June, Hollywood Studios uses the power of the Force to bring guests an out-of-this-world experience. Special franchise characters like Darth Vader and Chewbacca make an appearance to sign autograph books, and even to help train young ones in the art of being a Jedi!
Image courtesy of disneyworld.disney.go.com.
This special Spring event takes place in the gardens of Epcot each year from March to May. World Showcase and Future World are adorned with delightful flower displays and character topiary, including crowd favorites like Mickey, Donald Duck, and Tinkerbell. HGTV specialists visit Epcot during this time of year to conduct DIY seminars about indoor and outdoor designing, and their schedule can be found on Disney’s website. Also be sure to check out the Flower Power concerts performed each weekend.
Step right into the glamorous world of film and television when you enter Hollywood Studios. Formerly known as MGM, Hollywood Studios brings the entertainment industry to life with thrilling attractions, behind-the-scenes tours, and exciting new shows for all ages. Hollywood Studios has grown tremendously in size since Walt first pitched the idea 40 years ago, and now features some of Disney World’s most popular attractions.
The park is split into the following areas:
This entrance to the main park is meant to immerse you in Hollywood culture with palm trees, chic shops, and the iconic Sorcerer’s Hat just ahead. The feel of this classic era is especially captured in dining experiences like the Hollywood Brown Derby, or the replica of the Chinese Theater. Make sure you check out the Hollywood Walk of Fame right before getting in line for the Great Movie Ride, an adventure through classic cinema.
Echo Lake is home to some of Hollywood Studios’ classic landmarks, like Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, Star Tours, and the American Idol Experience. Also be sure to check out the notorious eatery, 50’s Prime Time Cafe, where the servers aren’t shy about telling you to keep your elbows off the table!
This section of the park hosts a few of Hollywood Studios’ famous attractions: Tower of Terror and Rock n’ Roller Coaster, both of which are only for the bravest vacationers! Also be sure to check out some entertaining shows, like Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage, or the nighttime spectacular, Fantasmic!
Next up is Pixar Place, a popular attraction for all fans of the animation studio. Here you will find the incredibly popular interactive ride, Toy Story Mania, as well as appearances from Buzz Lightyear, Woody, and even the Green Army Men!
Just after Pixar Place lies Animation Courtyard, a tribute to vintage Disney animation. Don’t miss some behind the scenes peeks at the life of Walt Disney, including Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream, and The Magic of Disney Animation. You can also check out a live action reenactment of Ariel’s story in Voyage of the Little Mermaid.
This popular section of the park is meant to be reminiscent of lively city streets. Its most popular attractions are Lights, Motors, Action!, an extreme stunt show for all ages, and the Behind the Scenes Backlot Tour, which gives you a sneak peek at how movie magic is made. Also popular are the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and Muppet Vision 3D attractions.
Images courtesy of wikipedia.org, disneydreams.net, and orlandoparknews.com.