Friday, July 25, 2014

Disney Reviews: Resort Edition #4 - Disney's Yacht Club Resort

OK, so I know that I JUST did a review of the Yacht Club when I got back last October, but I've had time to stew a bit more on the whole experience and I'm not as biased now. I think, as time has passed, my opinion of it has softened quite a bit. It's kind of funny how Disney World has a way of making you forget the bad after a while. And again, I'm not going to go back and re-read the other review, so forgive me if I get a bit duplicitous.

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(remind me someday to tell you the story of my history with Disney cranes...it NEVER fails there is always one SOMEWHERE in my way!)

Disney's Yacht Club Resort is, of course, a deluxe resort, but unlike the others I've stayed at (all of which were Magic Kingdom resorts), Yacht Club is an Epcot resort. All that means is that Epcot is the closest park, and "close" is an understatement, you are literally within walking distance of Epcot via International Gateway (the area between the UK and France Pavilions in World Showcase)! It is a very pleasant walk although it can be quite exhausting after a long park day, but don't fret because, of course Disney offers other transportation to and from (via boat service from International Gateway).

Although my October trip wasn't the first time I had gone to WDW by myself, it was the first time I drove by myself. Given the choice between 15 hours in a car or 2 hours on a plane, I'd still choose the road every single time! It was quiet, peaceful, and I had full control of the radio. No TSA stress, no popping Xanax every two minutes because of general airport stress, no ear popping, no screaming children, no grumpy family because I need to arrive at the airport three hours ahead of time...basically, pure bliss!
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(kind of funny how DIFFERENT I looked back then compared to now, but I still feel just as fat)

I did stop for the night in Ocala, even though I was only an hour away from WDW, simply because I didn't want to spend that much money for the Yacht Club only to sleep (plus, Amber and I had stopped at the same hotel the year before, so I felt comfortable enough with it to stay on my own). OK, so I KNOW you are only spending the money to sleep in the resort anyway, but I see it more as a "whole day" experience and that rate includes the entire day, so $450 a day for 18-24 hours doesn't seem as expensive as $450 for only a couple of hours (yeah, another lie, it's an outrageous amount of money for a poor person, which I am, but credit card bills won't matter much to you when you're dead, which I shall someday be and, in all fairness, I didn't pay that much anyway because I used my Passholder discount...it was more like $285 - Wilderness Lodge rates). But speaking of the AP, since I became one, the whole "full day" theory doesn't really stand up anymore since a full day park ticket isn't attached to it as well, but I still can't change my view of it for some reason. Disney resorts have never been and will never be "just a hotel" to me, they are an experience, and I want my full 24/7 money's worth!

But, anyhoo...you do actually drive under World Showcase Lagoon to get to the Epcot resorts (just like you drive under Bay Lake to get to the Contemporary). It's a kind of weird experience and definitely changes the way you think about walking across the bridge between the UK and France Pavilions!
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I initially wanted to stay at Disney's Beach Club Resort (right next door), but the Passholder discounts didn't extend to the Beach Club and I thought I'd be OK with the Yacht Club. The second I got there, I had to take a mini break and call my Sister for support, partly due to my circumnavigated route through hell thanks to my sat-nav (anyone that has ended up on I-Drive knows what I am talking about) and partly because my panic-mode Asper self kicked in and I was too scared to get out of the car (happens a lot actually, even in the "real world"). I did eventually manage to get out of the car, Amber encouraging me along the way:
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I only got as far as here:
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before I was able to get off the phone...seeing a rainbow was enough to make me realize I was in my happy place now and it was time to start having fun! It was also much easier to park and walk up to the entrance:
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than to do our usual drive up, unload baggage, pay a bellhop to take the bags, get our room (which has typically always been ready no matter what time we arrive), then pay another bellhop to bring the bags up to the room 10 minutes later. So not only did I avoid unnecessary social interaction, but I also saved money, it was a win-win situation!

I had actually been in the Yacht Club lobby before, in 2006's solo Christmas adventure to see their Christmas decorations, so the beauty of the lobby wasn't that big of a shock:
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Although the Yacht and Beach Clubs are often lumped together (partly because they are exactly the same on the outside except for color, they share the same pool, and they are connected by a walkway), they are two completely different experiences...the Yacht Club is more elegant while the Beach Club is more laid back. I still think I would like the Beach Club better and hopefully one day will get to test that theory.
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The Yacht Club is the white building to the left, the Beach is blue, and the sunken pirate ship is the pool area

Once I got checked in (and, of course, my room was ready), I headed on to my room and was literally flabbergasted! I wasn't expecting it to be this pretty!
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the mini fridge:
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hidden Mickey in the top of the mirror:
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another great Disney lamp:
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more hidden Mickeys (and some not-so-hidden):
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Granted, I paid for a Standard View Room (which means Parking Lot View) so I was expecting a crappy view, but I was a bit miffed at having to share a balcony with two other rooms especially since the guests next door INSISTED on smoking outside on the balcony which inevitably ended up wafting into my room and I ended up not getting any night shots off the balcony because they were out there most of the night:
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The gift shop is quite big for a Disney resort, but there is only one and I was extremely disappointed at the fact that there was NO Yacht Club specific merchandise other than one pin, and I mean ONE. It was a bit disheartening, especially since I have so many Wilderness Lodge collectibles, but here is the gift shop at it's entrance (past that wall on the left, there is a wing that goes back further into another room, FYI):
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Considering it's close proximity to Epcot, for the first time ever Epcot became my "first" park of the trip and I quickly discovered that the back side is far more beautiful than the front (and NO cranes!):
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The lighthouse is where the boat dock to International Gateway is, but it also takes you around Disney's Boardwalk, stopping at the other resorts and you can also get a boat that will take you to Disney's Hollywood Studios. That means there are TWO parks that you don't have to get a bus for! Most times I chose to walk to Epcot, but I would take the boat back (you could always walk it faster than it takes to load the boats, FYI, so if you're in a hurry, DON'T take the boats). Here is the view from the boat dock, looking first toward the Swan and Dolphin (affectionately known as the Swalfin):
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and Disney's Boardwalk Inn:
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There are a lot of neat things down on the Boardwalk, from the Boardwalk Bakery to Seashore Sweets, and clubs like the ESPN Club (which is technically more of a bar) and Jellyrolls as well as several restaurants and they are all a boat ride away from The Yacht Club.

Stormalong Bay, the pool that Yacht and Beach share, is a whole other ball of wax (as is most Disney pools). It has a sand bottom (which is a Disney first) and is MASSIVE! It is also the most restrictive on entrance...you MUST be either a Yacht or Beach Club guest to get in (actually, all Disney pools have this policy, but pool hopping is another one of those "rude guest" behaviors that sometimes happens at the other resorts, but definitely not here, you are required to show your room key - or now magic band - to get access). Let's take a look at the pool from different angles (or as close as I got to it):
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the shipwreck is the water slide and is incredibly detailed:
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But onto the walk to Epcot - I may have mentioned it's a pleasant walk, but it isn't a short one. I found it easier to take the hallways between the Yacht and Beach as far as I could due to air conditioning, but you do eventually have to come outside. The front of the Beach Club (similar, but different to the Yacht):
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looking back towards Yacht Club and the Swalfin:
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the bridge ahead goes to The Boardwalk:
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a friend who joined me on the journey:
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International Gateway
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this bridge ahead is the waterway you drive under coming into Epcot Resorts Blvd:
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But the best part about the walk? Being able to walk through World Showcase before it opens at 11 am and seeing it guest free!
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They do section off the area, so walking all the way around is impossible, but you can still walk to the Patisserie in France to get some breakfast (although I didn't do this).

And, unlike other Disney Resorts, it is plenty lit at night:
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Now, on to the bad...what made that particular trip the #3 worst ever was the fact that the level of snobbery was outrageous! I have stayed in a tower room at the Contemporary for god's sake, and didn't encounter the quantity of rude, stuck up heifers there like I did at the Yacht Club! Granted, I have a general paranoia about feeling inferior anyway since I am poor and staying at a level WAY above my station (boy, that sounds very Austenesque when I put it out there), so I probably give off a "treat me like a servant" vibe anyway.

Here's an example...first day, before going to Epcot, I went to Downtown Disney. I had only been at WDW for an hour, so I wasn't mentally prepared for the crowds Downtown and ended up only staying for a little while before I caught the bus back. This lady and her husband (and I will NEVER forget them as long as I live), sat across from me and, although I did see them, I didn't pay too much attention ("my mommy taught me not to point and not to stare, but she did not teach me how to share" - I used to sing this all the time as a kid). Then the lady goes, "um, excuse me, you do know that this bus goes to the Yacht Club, DON'T YOU??", I'm like, in my best Southern girl polite voice, "yes ma'am, that's where I'm staying". She literally looks me up and down, from head to toe, leans over to her husband, puts her hand to her mouth and begins whispering while his eyes stayed locked on me the entire time. Then she leans back, looks directly at me, smiles a horrible grin, and then proceeds to look past me out the window. Most uncomfortable bus ride ever. True story.

From that point on, I was hyper-aware of the snobbery and every tiny little instance made me more and more paranoid about it. I ended up making more of an effort to look good (which is completely futile in the heat and humidity that is Florida), but I also ended up not looking around the resort as much due to the fear of running into another person like her (and, although I didn't run into another one as blunt as her, I still felt more than one set of disapproving eyes on me and it wasn't all paranoia). The entire fiasco ended up causing me to hate the Yacht Club, but now that I've had time to think on it, I still LOVED staying there overall, despite the rude heifers and the balcony smokers and the apparent honeymooners next door that kept knocking boots all night!

Plus, I had one of the best meals of my life at Yachtsman Steakhouse (as well as one of the best CM's I've ever dealt with), but let's do that review on another day, shall we?

1 comment:

Linda said...

Keebles, you take the most awesome pictures ever. Makes me feel like I am there.

Linda