These big Crescent Lake inns next door to Epcot and Hollywood Studios seem straight out of a Cape Cod summer, with their conservative and gracious nautical and beach decor, waterfront locale, airy, light-filled rooms, rocking-chair porches, and family-friendly water-based activities. The five-story Yacht Club has hardwood floors, a lobby full of gleaming brass and polished leather, an oyster-gray clapboard facade, and evergreen landscaping; there's even a lighthouse on its pier. At the Beach Club, a croquet lawn and cabana-dotted white-sand beach set the scene. Stormalong Bay, a 3-acre water park with a pirate ship slide and whirlpools, sits between the clubs.
The resort rooms, while deluxe, are fairly spartan in their decor, with classic navy, blue and beige the primary colors. Standard rooms come with a variety of sleeping options, but all can sleep up to five guests. There's a large flat-screen TV, storage space, mini fridge, and coffeemaker.
The classic, spare decor continues in the bathroom, where white marble and dark wood dominate. Two vanity sinks and plenty of space for toiletries on the marble counters ensure an easy start to the day.
Richly appointed, but quite separate, lobbies front each of the two resorts. The Beach Club side has pastel fabrics and rich, flowered carpets, while the Yacht Club side is more nautical, all navy and clubby, with a spectacular marble globe map in the center. Kids enjoy seeking the hidden Mickeys.
Each resort has its own quiet pool, but the main attraction is Stormalong Bay, a large water park and pool complex, with lazy river, wrecked pirate ship with slide, sandy beach, and kiddie areas.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The clubs are situated on Crescent Lake, and have a nice, sandy beach. But Crescent Lake is NOT for swimming, as, despite the best efforts of Disney officials, wild Florida sometimes creeps or swims in.
Ship Shape offers a varied menu of massages, facials and salon services.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The locker room and changing area at the Ship Shape are quite small.
Ship Shape's array of cardio and strength training equipment includes ellipticals, bicycles, treadmills, weight machines and free weights.
Choose from the Yachtsman Steakhouse for traditional steaks, the Cape May Cafe for character breakfasts and seafood buffet dinners, and the Ale & Compass for light snacks. The Crew's Cup Lounge offers up a seafood feast that includes, of course, a lobster roll.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The Yachtsman Steakhouse is so traditional it has imposed a very conservative dress code that includes khakis, slacks, or dress shorts and collared shirts for men, and dresses, skirts, capri pants or dress shorts for women. Even though this is a beach resort, tank tops, swimsuits and cut-offs are not allowed, and t-shirts with offensive language and/or graphics are forbidden.
Martha's Vineyard serves up wine by the glass or the bottle; the Crew's Cup Lounge has craft ale, beers and cocktails, as does the nearby Ale & Compass Lounge.
The resorts are close enough to Epcot's International Gate to walk (five minutes) or you can hop a boat for a pleasant ride. The boats also take you to Disney's Boardwalk or Hollywood Studios. If other Disney parks are on your itinerary, the bus system is complimentary but slow. Disney teamed with Lyft to start its own ride-share service, called Minnie Vans, in 2017, but other ride sharing services or taxis are available. A car would be best if you are planning on visiting Universal or SeaWorld or points further afield.
The nearby Boardwalk, within walking distance, offers several restaurant choices, including Flying Fish, for seafood, and Big River Grille & Brewing Works, for casual brew-pub fare. A slightly longer walk leads to the Swan & Dolphin Resorts next door, where you can choose from two celebrity restaurants, Shula’s Steak House and Todd English’s bluezoo. If sushi, sake and karaoke are what you seek, Kimonos at the Swan Resort offers all three. Summon a Minnie Van or ride share service for a trip to Disney Springs, where you can choose from more than 50 restaurants and watering holes.
If you want sports with your beer, the ESPN Club on the Boardwalk offers dozens of screens filled with games and sports-related programming, which you can enjoy while seated at the bar or at a table with a pitcher of your favorite libation. If piano bars and sing-a-longs are more your cup of tea, check out Jellyrolls at the other end of the Boardwalk. At the Dolphin, the restaurants have full service lounges, and the lobby bar, Phins, offers cocktails, wine, or craft beer. If none of these appeal, head for Disney Springs, where you can choose from dozens of watering holes, and sample sake at Morimoto Asia, Guinness at Raglan Road, bourbon and local whisky at Art Smith's Homecomin' or a Margarita at Rick Bayless' Frontera Cocina.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Location is the main attraction at these resorts, particularly because of the proximity to Epcot and the Star Wars attractions at Hollywood Studios. You can't beat a 5 minute walk to the back door of Epcot, or an 8 minute boat ride to Hollywood Studios. When you add in Disney's Boardwalk, where you can see Epcot fireworks for free, hang out at a piano bar, or watch sports til closing time, you can have a great time without driving an inch. That says vacation to us.