Review: Disney’s Beach Club Resort

| September 7, 2010

Date of Review:  August, 2010
Score:  89 out of 100
Pros:  Great location, excellent pool
Cons:  Beds and bedding left something to be desired, room service food was below par, service could be improved.

The Beach Club is a nice resort – it was never one of my favorites, but it also wasn’t the scene of any horrendous experiences.  I haven’t stayed here for about 5 or 6 years, but on previous visits I’d stayed on the Concierge floor (as I did for this visit) and always found it to be enjoyable.  While nothing awful happened during our 4 day visit, I can’t say that I was overly impressed by the hotel.  I walked away feeling that it was nice, but no better than many other upscale (non-Disney) resorts I’ve visited in the past.

Arrival and Check In:

We arrived at the resort around 1 pm on the day that Disney’s late summer ‘free dining’ promotion began.  The resort was a mad house.  The lobby was packed and seemingly so was every square foot of public space at the resort.  That made our concierge check-in experience that much nicer.  When you stay concierge at most Disney resorts, you are greeted in the lobby by a member of the concierge team and taken up to the club floor for check in.  No mingling with the unwashed masses here.

As I do with all my Disney reservations, I utilized online check-in.  If you take nothing else away from this review, let it be this – USE ONLINE CHECK IN.  Disney has perfected this service to an art form and the amount of time it saves you can be significant.  I’ve been very fortunate in all my reviews this year that my room has always been ready for me at check in.  I’m not sure if this has something to do with the online check in process, or if I’m just lucky, but as in the past, my room was ready for me upon arrival .  I have to be honest, being greeted in the lobby, escorted to the 5th floor, handed your keys and being shown to your room within the span of 15 minutes is an experience that everyone should have at least once in their lives.  It really does make you feel special, and extends a sense of welcome that’s not common in most hotels, even when you’re staying on the Concierge floor.  In all honesty, this was the last time I felt ‘special’ during my stay.

While concierge level is more expensive than non-concierge (generally you should expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $200 extra per night depending on the resort and time of year) – the rooms themselves are the same as non-concierge level rooms at the Beach Club.  These are large rooms by most standards that are extremely comfortable and nicely appointed.  The room includes a 42” flat screen television, 2 queen beds (1 king bed is also available), a nice size desk and entertainment center (which holds the mini-fridge, and VCR/DVD player).  The bathrooms are the split design – two vanities outside, shower and commode inside.  There is also a small table that slides beneath the desk that can be pulled out for room service meals, or in our case, as a separate work area for Walter.

The ocean blue, deep brown and ivory colors are relaxing, and do a great job of conveying the ‘beach resort’ theme – as do the subtle extra details you find in the room.  Things like the seashells that adorn the top of the mirror, the lamp depicting Mickey Mouse on the beach sitting in a lifeguard stand, and the dark oak planks that make up the headboard on the beds finish off the ‘beach’ theme throughout the room without beating you over the head with it.

The beds are fairly comfortable, but not as comfortable as I’ve experienced in other Disney deluxe hotels.  While they were pillow-top mattresses, they felt as though they were past due for a replacement. Where they really missed the mark for me was with the bedding.  The sheets felt more like ‘hospital issue’ than ‘deluxe resort’.  Since the majority of time you spend in a hotel room is sleeping, I put a lot of emphasis on the comfort and quality of the beds.  As I found with most things at the Beach Club, they were adequate for the intended purpose, but not exceptional.  The room does have ample storage that includes a closet, a large, 4 drawer dresser, with four smaller storage drawers within the entertainment center.

One thing that I did notice, and gave high marks for is housekeeping.  Our room was immaculate – not just when we checked in, but throughout our stay, and trust me – Walter and I make it tough on housekeepers.  You’ve never seen two people trash a hotel room quite like we can, so I tend to tip housekeeping generously, especially when they can keep up with us.

Dining & Merchandise

For dining options at the Beach Club you have the Cape May Café, Beaches and Cream as well as a quick-service counter located inside the resort’s store on the first floor.  The counter service location offers breakfast as well as ‘all day’ items that range from flat bread pizzas to sandwiches and salads, soups and desserts.  There is also a drink station here where refillable mugs can be purchased (and refilled).  You will find some grocery items here, which is standard with most DVC resorts (the Beach Club is also home to the DVC’s Beach Club Villas).   The ‘merchandise’ part of this location is downright depressing, as it embodies all that is wrong with Disney’s current retail strategy.  That strategy can be summed up in a few words – ‘sell the same crap everywhere’.  There is very little here to purchase that is unique to the resort.  Everything is pretty much the same generic Disney crap that can be found in every theme park and at the World of Disney.  What is most upsetting is the fact that Disney has done away with all resort specific logo merchandise.  It’s no longer possible to purchase a polo shirt, t-shirt or coffee mug with the logo of your favorite resort emblazoned upon it. I know it’s probably stupid, but there are very few decisions that Disney corporate has made lately that upset me more than this.  If you want to know why they’re doing it – I’ll tell you it in a nutshell – it’s cheaper to produce in bulk than it is to produce for a specific location.  Instead of purchasing 10,000 crappy generic WDW t-shirts, they can produce 15,000 and save money.  By contrast, producing 5,000 ‘resort specific’ shirts costs more.  Never mind the fact that they charge upwards of $20 for a shirt that’s worth a quarter of the price – but that’s a rant better left for the show.

A highlight of any visit to the Beach Club is a stop at “Beaches and Cream”, the resort’s ‘soda shop’ themed table service restaurant.  Here you can find standard fare like burgers, hot dogs and such, but the real star of the show are the amazing ice cream sundaes  – namely the gluttonous “Kitchen Sink” sundae.  As the name implies, it pretty much includes everything but the kitchen sink – except that it’s served in a bowl designed to look like a kitchen sink.  This massive creation includes scoops of vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, coffee, and mint chocolate chip ice cream served with ALL the toppings in the house, topped with an ENTIRE can of whipped cream for $24.  Now, keep in mind this is designed to serve 4 people unless you’re a complete pig.  As a diabetic, I consider this ‘suicide in a bowl’.  The two meals we ate here were very good, service was excellent and the atmosphere is fun.  There’s a reason this place is so popular and I like the fact that it has remained so consistent over the years.

We ordered room service on two separate occasions during our stay – once for dinner and once for breakfast.  The dinner was a complete disappointment.  I ordered a Filet Mignon ($35.99) and honestly, it was the worst piece of meat I’ve ever been served.  It was grossly overcooked, and was a very poor quality of meat.  The next day I had a filet at Le Cellier that was $6 cheaper and infinitely better.  In my opinion, they should remove the filet from the room service menu if they’re not capable of cooking it properly.   Thankfully, I also ordered the chili and chips ($10.49), and that was significantly better.

We did have a good breakfast via room service – two eggs any style with sausage, toast and breakfast potatoes were $12.99, and an order of French Toast with syrup ($12.99) as well as coffee ($6.99 for 32 oz) and orange juice ($4.49 for 20 oz).  The food was good – not exceptional – but not offensive.  If I have to round up my opinion of this resort in ten words or less, that would cover it.

Stone Harbor Club (Concierge level)

Guests who stay on the club level at the Beach Club have access to the newly expanded Stone Harbor Club lounge.  The lounge is open from 7 am-10 pm every day.  They offer coffee service from 6:30-7:00 am and ‘Sunrise Starters’ (breakfast items such as pastries, danish, bagels, cold cereal, juices, oatmeal, etc) from 7:00 – 10:30 am.  From 11:30 am – 4:00 pm – they offer ‘Seaside Snacks’ (small snacks, sodas, bottled water, coffee, tea, juice, iced tea), from 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm – Twilight Treasures (hors d’oeuvres, beer, wine, snacks) and from 8:00 pm – 10:00 pm – Regatta Delights, which include a variety of desserts and cordials.

I have to say that the staff working the Concierge floor were excellent.  They were professional, friendly and very helpful.  They were able to secure a last minute reservation at the Yachtsman Steak House for us by calling the restaurant directly, and they were also able to get us a last minute ‘Concierge Safari’ ($50 per person) at Animal Kingdom.  I often hear the question asked “Is Concierge worth it?”  If you are looking at it from the standpoint of “Will I save enough money having meals in the lounge to justify the added cost?”, the answer is almost always no.  Concierge is not a service provided because it provides a discount – it’s one of those things where you pay extra for the service and amenities.  As a good example, both a Honda and a Bentley will get you from point A to point B – the only difference is one does it in much nicer style than the other.  That’s how you need to look at the added cost of Concierge.  If you’re a budget conscious traveler, it’s usually not something that makes sense.  Of course, there are those rare occasions (as was the case for us this trip) where the price of a room on the Concierge floor was not as expensive as it would be at other times.  On this trip, we paid $280 per night on a Florida Resident rate for our club level room.  It’s not unusual for these rooms to go for upwards of $400 – $500 per night depending on the season.


There is no other resort I know of that has a pool quite like “Stormalong Bay”.  This massive, sand-bottom pool has long been a favorite among frequent Disney visitors, and I don’t doubt that there are more than a few people who book this resort specifically for this reason.  It’s so popular that wrist bands are required to use it.  The resort has had problems over the years with guests from other resorts coming to the Beach Club (and its sister resort, the Yacht Club, as the two resorts share this pool) just to swim here.  Complaints ran high at one time with guests of the two resorts complaining that they could not get a lounge chair or a place to sit because the pool was overrun with guests from other resorts.  Nowadays, each person needs to show a room key with their name on it in order to receive a towel and wrist band.  This is a good thing, it’s just a shame they have to do it.

Overall Impression:

The Beach Club is a perfectly nice resort – but it failed to leave me feeling as though I wanted to return.  The cast at the Beach Club were professional and friendly, but not on the level I’ve come to expect from Disney – it was more on the level I’ve come to expect at Hilton or Sheraton.  Perhaps I’m jaded because I fondly recall the days when Disney service was the envy of the industry.  In some sections of WDW however, those days seem as though they are a bygone era.  Gone are the days when cast members routinely tried to go ‘above and beyond’, replaced instead by perfectly nice, competent people merely doing their job.  Even on the concierge floor, while the cast was very nice and very professional, I simply did not get the feeling that I was at a Disney resort – but rather at any upscale resort where the service is good.  Some may say that my expectations are too high, and frankly – I think that’s why Disney’s service level has declined in recent years.  People have stopped demanding that level of service from them.  When you charge the premium that Disney charges for their resorts, you have to expect something beyond good proximity to the parks.   This is not to say that I think people shouldn’t stay at the Beach Club – it’s just a personal observation.  Will I go back to the Beach Club again? Probably.  Will I be excited about it – probably not.  This resort scores an 89 out of 100 .

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Category: Disney World, Editorials

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  • wdw4ever

    well. These unwashed masses have had an opportunity to stay club level, and we aren’t in the “elite” crowd, so be careful of the wording chosen for your “blog” entries.
    you didnt even know that the word concierge isnt the name for the “elite”
    people, Its called the club level.

    Also there is a reason you didnt get that Cast member appreciation,
    thats because Art is gone. But if you were a real Disney Fan you would have made note of that. He was afterall The epitimy of What a disney cast member should be. But if you are going to rant a whole paragraph of how bad the cast member experience is it should at least be noted that the customer service at this resort is lost without his presence.

  • jdsnively

    Pete Werner,
    I am a cast member at Disney’s Grand Floridian. I apologize that we didn’t meet your standards. I do agree with you on a lot of what you said. the marketing strategy at Disney needs to change, i am also annoyed that Fantasmic is only 2 nights a week now, and that many of our hotels are in need of improvement at places. I hope we can earn your trust back, and i appreciate your blog. I like to read constructive critical blogs and comments about disney, because it helps motivate me to attempt to go above and beyond for every guest. every day. I try to live and work everyday so that if Walt was still alive, he would be proud of me.

    Have a magical day

  • natenlogansdad

    I can agree with both this blog and WDW4Ever on different things. I do miss Art and he was, by far, the epitome of what you should expect from a Deluxe Resort. However, I don’t think that the rest of the staff should take it down a notch just because one of their own is no longer there. Art was a great guy and I had the privilege of spending some time with him in the lobby on our last few trips. He said, with a smile and honesty in his eyes, that in all his time working for Disney he had never experienced a bad day. Not one. I could sit here and write page after page just on my conversations with him, but I digress.
    What I’m trying to say is that the staff here and every other hotel/park in Disney World have the opportunity to make every day special for each guest that walks in the door, and in doing so, they themselves would probably enjoy their day so much more. It’s a snowball effect that would build and build, a happier Cast Member makes a happier experience which makes a happier Cast Member.
    Now, do I expect a Cast Member to carry me up the stairs? Of coarse not. Do I want 20 handshakes when I walk into the room? Probably not. What I do want is a smile and a “Welcome Home” when I walk in the door. Being a parent of two small children, one of the best things in the world for me is to see my boys smile, laugh, and have a good time. I understand some of Pete’s review because it’s taken from an adult’s perspective with no children in tow, and it seems like he has been there and done that one to many times. Personally, the deluxe hotels at Disney are the one time of year where we really splurge on ourselves. Maybe it’s just what we don’t know that keeps us thinking the Beach Club is so great.
    Personally, I’d like to see more upgrades thrown out to people or maybe a dinner on the house for the adults side to bring out the “special” in the resort. It’s funny, when I’m with my kids all I want is someone to just walk by with a sticker or two they don’t need. Make my boys feel special, and I’ll be back every chance I get.

  • natenlogansdad

    Jonathan, you gave me goosebumps. Don’t think for a second that Walt’s not watching. I’m sure when he’s not looking down still trying to figure out how to “Plus it,” he’s smiling when he sees you do what you do best.

  • travjunkee

    I have booked a vacation including a 5 night stay at the Beach Club for early November. I read, with interest, your review. I chose the resort for its location more than anything else. I am going to WDW on an “adults only” vacation this time and am more interested in the location, dining and amenities. Previous trips included chidren of various ages and stages. I did note that the photos in your review of your room and the Concierge area didn’t seem to bear much resemblence to those on the official website. I suspect there are different decors for different types of rooms or areas of the hotel. Thank you for your observations. I will definately check out Beaches and Cream and save my steak cravings for another time.

  • Pete Werner

    wdw4ever – perhaps you didn’t actually READ the blog. I did not rant about how bad the cast members at this resort are, I said they failed to live up to the expectations that Disney has set especially in terms of the deluxe resorts. The were competent and professional but did not elicit that ‘special’ feeling that I’ve come to expect over 20 years of staying at Disney resorts. Also to suggest that one person’s departure from the resort, no matter how wonderful he was, is the reason for that is just plain ridiculous.

    Jonathan – thank you for your comments. Its CM’s like you that give me hope.


  • wdw4ever

    I did read the article. I did NOT state you mentioned that the cast members were “bad”. I represented my statement as you having not received good cast member experiences while staying there, AND then I mentioned that the reason that the cast member experiences you were referring to are missing because one man is gone. I never said you said they were bad cast members. Perhaps you did not read my response.

    Going back to my unwashed masses. That was a tasteless comment honestly.
    I know you feel you are a god cause you “blog” for the disboards….ooo
    you must be such an important person in the disney community.

    unwashed masses….Just make sure you stay away from us next time you come visit…what an ego

  • jdsnively

    People come to disney for different reasons. some are coming for a family vacation, they may take the more value resorts- as they are more interested in the parks- whether than the resort. Others come to disney for a quiet atmosphere and enjoy the fancy dinners and the moderate/deluxe resort in club/concierge level.

    What Peter was meaning i think was that it was very crowded and busy because of the free dining plan- that the rowdier crowd (families, college students)- who may usually stay at the value resorts, are upgrading their resort due to the free dining. We love all groups of people, but sometimes our guests pay for extra treatment. I don’t think he feels he is special because he wrote a blog or he has to high of an ego- whether he wanted to give his honest opinion on his stay at Walt Disney World. There are reasons that only concierge people are allowed to be in the concierge rooms.

    As a company, we need to look at his opinions and his suggestions. i did not feel offended by him saying that we didn’t meet his lofty expectations. I think guests need to feel appreciated. they are spending 80 dollars a day to come, and over 100 dollars a night for a hotel. (many occasions well over 300 dollars). As cast members, we must demonstrate the values that Walt set out for us, to go as pete said “above and beyond”.

    People hold us to very high expectations, and we need to not only meet those expecations but go further.

  • jdsnively

    and i can tell you. there are some days i completely fail as a cast member, sometimes i am having a hard day or other circumstances. But that is my personal goal.

  • figmentgirl

    wdw4ever, I have read your original response a couple times and it is very hostile. Why? The review is not an rant on how negative the reviewer’s experience was. It’s just his personal experience of the place, both good and bad, and he is entitled to it. At no point did he draw a “hard line” against Disney cast members. I just don’t get why your tone is so negative.

    Johnathon- people like you are why Disney is my favorite place. Thank you-

    Pete- Thank you for taking the time to write this review. I believe that feedback like this helps keep Disney on the ball.

  • figmentgirl

    I also found the “unwashed masses” comment funny… which it was… since it was a joke…

  • tarzan513

    So I have been a follower since 2008…not the longest time, but certainly long enough (I rarely post unless motivated to do so). This blog is related to the podcast and I kind of feel that the Pete is using inside humor from the podcast. Considering the inside jokes of the podcast and its community, I find nothing wrong with the comments. Additionally, I think some respect needs to be given to Pete. He is not just a “blogger,” he is the owner, of this FREE site that we use and the FREE podcasts that he provides every week to us. To me, Pete is an important person in the Disney community as he keeps me connected to Disney. Also, the media and ABD work with him to get his opinions…so that’s got to say something. Anyway, just wanted to stick up for Pete and let him know considering the Podcast jokes and the fact that this is a Podcast blog, I get your jokes and it is unfortunate that others don’t always appreciate the work you do for us. Let’s not forget the enjoyment that the DIS has provided to us and they charge us nothing in return. I truely is a special site for me.

  • tarzan513

    “It truely is a special site for me”…Not I :)

  • hayanyujah847

    Loved the review, Pete! It’s on my list of To Do resorts so I appreciate your perspective.

    And that’s just what it is…his opinion, his experience-everyone has a different experience. People who don’t get the ‘unwashed masses’ joke definitely don’t listen to the Dis Unplugged and get Pete’s sense of humor. :P

  • richard_andmel

    Thanks as always for both an in depth review and an excellent video. Have to agree with hayanyujah847, that it seems impossible that anyone who has ever listened to even one podcast wouldn’t get that you’re joking about the unwashed masses… I mean who would say that for real in the first place???

    I also take unbelievable exception to portraying you or any of the podcast team as thinking they are “god” like because of what they do for a living. I have always loved the fact that you all seem incredibly humble about your place in the Disney community and thankful for the jobs you have.

    Also wanted to say that we’ve met loads of wonderful cast members like Jonathan that you can tell have that Disney Magic. But unfortunately have also met more as the years have gone on that are professional, but didn’t seem to have as much magic as years past. It doesn’t help when they start farming out stuff like Valet parking.


  • LVoren

    wdw4ever, you really should study up on the concept known as “humor”, and not resume posting until you have done so.

    Also: You *might* want to relax just a *little*.

    And, Pete, excellent, informative review, as is usually the case. Would that your budget would allow you stays in multiple Disney properties throughout the year, if only so I could have the pleasure of reading your wonderfully addictive reviews of them more often.

  • BuzzLightyearInTampa

    Agree with your take 99%. The only thing I would add is that I have stayed at BC both concierge and as one of the “unwashed masses”, and at the Grand Floridian under both circumstances as well. The Grand Floridian has much, much better food at their concierge level. You could conceivably even skip eating elsewhere if you wished. Not at the BC. I’ll stay at BC again due to its proximity to EPCOT (we’re staying at the YC in December), but will never book concierge there again.

  • pcolmer

    We’ve just returned from an 8 night stay at Beach Club, although not in concierge. It was interesting to learn that concierge rooms aren’t any bigger or offer anything different compared to standard rooms.

    My wife & I had previously stayed in the same resort in 2007. Back then, I think the bed was more comfortable. Like you, I found the bed very uncomfortable on this visit.

    We are also very disappointed about the elimination of resort-specific merchandise. It doesn’t seem to stop there, either. My wife collects shot glasses and really wanted to get a Disney shot glass with the 2010 logo on it. There was quite a bit of 2010 merchandise available but not a shot glass. Quite disappointing.

    I like the Beach Club due to its location. We might swap back to the Boardwalk (where we stayed in 2000) next time just to see if it is any better or just different. I must admit that with the addition of the Dining Plan, we have enjoyed using the refillable mugs and snack points for our yoghurt parfaits in the morning, so Beach Club might still win out …

  • eliza61

    I’m a little late to the party as usual. Very interesting review. One thing I will comment on. I don’t think you have high expectations Pete, I think you have very unrealistic expectations though. Disney Deluxes are deluxes only on Disney property. Sorry but no where else in the world would they rank any where more than 3 star at best. Case in point, go not 2 miles away and stay at the new Waldolf. So you are absolutely right they compare to Sheratons and Hiltons, which are not what many would call Deluxe or Luxury.
    People have stopped demanding the best from disney. You have only to look at this website to see it. Post a negative review and see how many people will tell you that it is some how your fault that disney service has gone downhill. Comment about how the restaurants lack imagination and excellent food and you will get a million people who will say “it’s free, stop complaining”

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