Saturday, September 1, 2012

Resort Review: Beach Club

Before I had my own blog to force my opinions on people, I did a lot of writing on Epinions. When the website was started in the late 90's people were making some pretty good money writing reviews on the site. In fact, there was a lot of "dirty pool" by some people to maximize their earning potential! While I never made the big bucks like some posters, I did my fair share of reviews, and was able to gain a little extra spending money for myself. 

Over the years my commitment to doing reviews there has ebbed and flowed. Recently, there has been no flow at all for me at Epinions. Before the review I will post below, I hadn't written anything there in over four years! The site is a good place to find out what real people think of products and services. When I was writing there a lot, most of my reviews were of tennis products, but I think I might start doing some Disney reviews over there. 

Well anyway, I just finished writing a review of my favorite Disney resort the Beach Club resort and I thought I would share it here as well. If you want to see it on the Epinions site, CLICK HERE

We have stayed at most of the resorts on property at Walt Disney World, and the Beach Club is our favorite! It was also the first of Disney's Deluxe resorts that we stayed at, and suffice it to say, it set the bar high! 

Originally I wanted to stay at the Beach Club because of it's proximity to the International Gateway entrance to Epcot, which is only a five minute walk from the resort. Little did I know that the resort would become the benchmark that we would judge all Disney resorts by! The rooms are spacious, the sand bottom pool is amazing, and the service is great, even by the high Disney standards you expect! 

Upon arrival we were greeted at the door by a cast member who showed us to the registration desk. As it turned out she was from the same small town in Ohio where my family comes from. She could not have been more plesant, and check in went very smoothly.   

We stayed in a first floor room that looked out on Crescent Lake, and the sand volleyball court. The room was very nicely sized and our family of five was very comfortable. The light blue beach motif was very comfortable, yet it had a very luxurious feel as well. 

The room was equipped with a flat screen TV, two queen beds, and a day bed/sofa. The furniture was of a high quality, and thanks to a recent refurbishment of the resort, in great condition! There was also a small refrigerator and a coffee maker, albeit with below average coffee, but if you have been to Disney before, this will come as no surprise!

Whenever we stay at  Beach Club we build in a resort day to our vacation. In my opinion,  the Beach Club, and Yacht Club (which is attached to the resort) are two of the few resorts on Disney property where you can spend an entire day at the resort, without ever leaving to hit one of the theme parks. The main reason for this is Stormalong Bay, the resorts main swimming complex. I say complex, because just calling Stormalong Bay a swimming pool is like saying that Disney World is just a theme park! One part of the inter-connected swimming area is a sand bottom pool. This is where the smaller kids hang out and make sand castles, and climb on the rocks. The water is shallow, and there are lots of chairs to relax in while the kids play. There is also a more traditional swimming area, and a small lazy river that is deep enough to play dolphin or mermaid! The last part of the complex is a shipwreck themed slide. There is a big slide that starts at the mast of the ship and empties out into the main pool, and a smaller kiddie slide that is in the hull of the shipwreck. You could easily spend a whole day here at this mini water park! Something else that is very nice about Stormalong Bay is that it can only be used by people staying at the Yacht and Beach Club. You must show your room card to enter the complex and get towels, and they put a wristband on you that you need to re-enter. Throughout the day there will be poolside activities and games for the kids as well.

Next to the pool on the Crescent Lake side is Hurricane Hannah's, which is essentially a snack bar. It's a nice place to get a quick burger or a beer, but there isn't anything really special about it. 

On the resort side of the pool there is a large video arcade, and one of the best reasons to stay at Beach Club, Beaches and Cream! Beaches and Cream is an undersized for it's popularity pool side diner that serves typical diner food like burgers, hot dogs, and yummy onion rings. They also have (and you're probably getting tired of me saying this) the best ice cream on Disney Property! My favorites are the No Way Jose, which is a chocolate-peanut butter sundae (big enough for two people), and the Kitchen Sink (big enough for the whole family), which is 8 scoops of ice cream, all of the toppings at the bar, and a whole can of whipped cream! We have tried twice unsuccessfully to finish it. They only allow walk ups, and it is not unheard of to have 2-3 hour waits for a table. There is a walk up ice cream counter where you can get a couple scoops or a milkshake, but not the signature sundaes or non ice cream items. 

There is a sit down restaurant at Beach Club called Cape May Cafe. In the mornings it is a breakfast buffet with character meet and greets. The characters that are usually there are Minnie, Goofy and Pluto, but I have also seen Chip and Dale show up as well. The food is pretty good, but your kids will be too excited to eat. It is one of the easier character meals to get reservations for, and we have always gotten a lot of attention from the characters when we eat there. 

At night the restaurant serves a seafood buffet that they call a clam bake. My wife is allergic to seafood so we have never tried it, but I have heard mixed reviews. 

There is also a quick grab and go market/deli in the resort gift shop, The Marketplace. This is where you can buy and refill your refillable mug, pick up some small grocery items, and of course souvenirs! The shop has a lot of great stuff in it, and a few resort specific items, but we have never had much luck with the food here. 

To be honest, that is the one negative thing about Beach Club. The food options can be limited. It is the smallest of the Disney Deluxe resorts, so it doesn't have as many food options as the larger resorts. There have been a couple times when we have just wanted something quick, but couldn't easily get what we wanted. The other side of this criticism is that you have the larger Yacht Club literally next door, and the Boardwalk Resort a short walk away. Not the most convenient solution, but it's an option. 

One very good reason to walk next door to the Yacht Club is the Yachtsman Steakhouse, one of Disney's signature restaurants! This is probably my favorite Disney restaurant that isn't on a cruise ship! The steaks are great, the service is professional, and while it is a bit expensive, totally worth the price! A couple years ago my wife and I had Valentine's dinner here. She is a recovering vegetarian, and still not a big meat eater, but she loves it to! It's usually pretty easy to get a reservation, and I recommend asking for a table with a view of Stormalong Bay. Try not to rub in the face of the people walking by what a great meal you're enjoying! 

So I think that just about covers it. I wish that the beach vacations that I used to take as a kid was as great as staying at the Beach Club!            

Thanks for reading!      

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