2016 Trip Recap: Our First Stay at Beach Club—Was it Worth the Extra Money?

As Disney diehards, staying at a Deluxe Resort has always been on our bucket list. The Beach Club, in particular, has always been on our list of must-dos. Everything about the Beach Club interested us: the pool, its close proximity to both EPCOT and Hollywood Studios, as well as the fun theming. After my sister and I stayed at the Dolphin Resort for Food and Wine in 2015, we saw just how rewarding the resort’s location really was. After that, we were sold.

The Cost

I’ll go ahead and say it: the Deluxe Resorts are overpriced. Sure, there are plenty of discounts to be had throughout the year, but the rooms will still run you at least $400+ per night most of the time.

The Service

After stepping off the Magical Express, we were immediately greeted by a Cast Member who knew us by name (probably from our MagicBands.) We were directed inside where a Cast Member with an iPad quickly checked us in and ran through some information. And off we went.

Immediately we saw the difference between a Deluxe and a Moderate or Value. We felt like VIPs checking in and every Cast Member we dealt with at the Beach Club from there on out paid us the utmost attention. Every Cast Member and Mousekeeper we saw in the hallways greeted us with a smile and a “hello!” It just had a totally different feeling than any resort we’ve ever stayed at.

Would we pay the extra money for the service alone? No, but I’d be lying if it didn’t boost the value a bit. There’s certainly a bigger emphasis on service and guest interaction at the Deluxe resorts, Beach Club in particular.

The Room

The biggest disappointment, for us, was the room. Did we expect the Ritz-Carlton? No. But we expected our $700 price point to land us something a little nicer. Now, don’t get me wrong, the rooms are slightly bigger (although most of that space is used for the refrigerator) and it does come with a balcony. Still, if you blindfolded me and brought me to the room, I’d assume it was at a moderate resort. Nothing stood out—the bathroom was a little nicer and the room received a bit more sunlight than most, but that was due in large part to it facing south.

The balcony was a huge factor, so when we checked in and found that we had been placed in a room with a Juliet balcony, we asked to switch to one with a full balcony. After all, a room with a full balcony was the one request we made upon making the reservation. After a little searching, the Cast Member placed us in a room one floor up, with a balcony and a better view.

The full balcony had its perks. I enjoyed a nice breakfast out there one morning and with our room facing south, we were able to enjoy the Star Wars fireworks from the comfort of our own private balcony.

Would we pay the extra money for the room and balcony alone? No, probably not. There are plenty of free spots to catch the fireworks outside of the parks.

Amenities

As I mentioned above, the room amenities were pretty standard. Where the resort started to really win us over was the theming and on-site amenities.

The Yacht and Beach Club features a full spa and fitness center. The fitness center includes a Smith Machine with bench, cable machine, free weights and cardio equipment. It was a small space that gets pretty crowded, but it got the job done. I only went to the fitness center once to make myself feel better about eating more calories in one day than I’d typically average over one week. But calories don’t exist in Disney, right? The spa offers treatments such as facials, massages and more at an additional cost. I was a little letdown to learn that there was no steam room or sauna. I fell in love with the steam room as a way to relax during my stay in Las Vegas and was hopeful that Disney would include one.

The pool was a big winner for me. I was so glad the weather held up for most of our trip. On our first day, my sister and I enjoyed the lazy river. We made our way back for a quick swim later in our trip and I made sure to go down the slide which is a lot of fun. We also had a quiet pool and hot tub right below our room which was great for a relaxing dip.

Would I pay the extra money for the pool alone? Maybe. If I’m deciding between a Moderate and a Deluxe, it’d certainly point in the Beach Club’s favor. Stormalong Bay is the best pool on property and very much like a miniature water park. You could easily skip the water parks at Disney or skip the parks all together for a day and just hang by the pool, which could save you money in the long run.

Location

Like any real estate buff will tell you: “location, location location!” The real winner for the Beach Club, like many Deluxe Resorts, is the location. This is where we truly saw the difference between a Moderate and a Deluxe. The ability to get from EPCOT to our room in less than 10 minutes after a long day at the park was incredible. Aside from this, the ability to run back to the room when it got a little chilly or swing by the French Bakery for breakfast made the location a huge benefit.

We’ve tossed around the idea of staying at a Monorail Resort at some point, but I honestly think the EPCOT area is the best on-site at Disney. Sure, the monorail resorts get all the attention, with their close proximity to Magic Kingdom and views of Cinderella Castle, but we loved how much there was to do around the EPCOT area. The Boardwalk is really improving. The Boardwalk Bakery has some of the best pastries and treats on property and often made a fantastic breakfast option. Ample Hills serves up some of the best ice cream I’ve ever had and if neither of those excite you, then the “world” is literally a 5-minute walk away.

We would pay for the location alone. Being able to leave EPCOT after a crowded day at the park and be in bed about a half hour later made it worth it—especially on New Year’s Eve. There’s a reason these resorts come with such a hefty price tag, similar to a home in a desirable neighborhood.

Overall

Is a Deluxe Resort worth it? At the end of the day, it depends. It depends on who is traveling, when and for how long. For my family, we’re all able to pay our own way, making it much easier when split between four people. For a young family of four, paying $400 or more a night, plus park tickets and dining could be a bit out of reach.

At the end of the day, we weigh the overall experience. We enjoyed the area, the close proximity to EPCOT and Hollywood Studios made getting around Disney far less stressful and we really enjoyed the pool, which added a lot of value to our stay. Plus, despite the room’s shortcomings, the balcony was a great addition, but that was because we paid extra for a water view. I’m not sure I’d feel the same way with a view of the resort’s parking lot. We had a “taste” of a Deluxe Resort and frankly, I’m not sure we’d go back to moderate now.

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