A Photo Tour of the Yacht Club Resort and Stormalong Bay

by Brian Bennett, contributing writer

A Photo Tour of the Yacht Club Resort and Stormalong Bay

Dropping the horrible (in my opinion) "entertainment architecture" exhibited by Michael Graves in the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin resorts that were built in the mid-1980s, the Yacht Club and Beach Club Resorts were a welcome return to the kind of themed architecture that has been the hallmark of Disney resorts in Florida since the Contemporary and Polynesian resorts opened in 1971.

The Yacht Club Resort's Porte Cochere. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Designed by the renowned Robert A. M. Stern, the Yacht Club and Beach Club Resorts provided a huge addition to Walt Disney World when they opened back in the early 1990s. According to the Robert A. M. Stern Associates Web site, the whole project included adjacent to Epcot included two hotels with a combined total of 1,215 guest rooms, a 110,000-square-foot convention center, and a 35,000-square-foot "fantasy" pool.

The site goes on to point out that, "While both hotels draw their inspiration from America's architectural past, each has a unique identity. The Yacht Club is reminiscent of the rambling, shingle-covered seaside resorts that were built toward the end of the last century in New England towns such as Newport, Marblehead, and Bar Harbor. The Beach Club is lighter, more airy in expression. It is modeled on the many Stick Style cottages and resorts that could be found in towns like Cape May, New Jersey."

Bus transportation to points all over Walt Disney World is available from the Yacht Club Bus Stop. Photo by Brian Bennett.

So there you have it. Two different resorts, but with a common character combined into one gorgeous resort complex. The two hotels share a convention center, restaurants, and other amenities. Both provide the tremendous service that the Walt Disney Company is famous for, and are among the most expensive resorts in all of Walt Disney World. And most guests would say that their money was well spent.

Note the two costumed greeters in front of the globe centerpiece. Photo by Brian Bennett.

A visit to the Yacht Club Resort begins with a walk into the lobby from the Porte Cochere. To the side, the resort's bus stop is conveniently located for guests that wish to take WDW bus transportation to almost anywhere within the resort. (Epcot and the Studios can be reached via friendship motor boat or your own legs as they are both, especially Epcot, within a reasonable walking distance from the resort.

The lobby area, in contrast to the simple sea side theming of the Beach Club, is strongly themed in nautical terms. That's not a surprise, of course, but the resort is decidedly more formal than the Beach Club.

Near the check-in desk there is a nice little waiting area for kids to hang out while their parents take care of the trip logistics.

Children's waiting area near the check-in desk. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Also nearby is a nice little waiting area for adults to hang out and partake of adult beverages if they should so choose. The Ale and Compass lounge is a bit more popular in the more-adult-oriented Yacht Club than the Rip Tide Lounge, just off of the Beach Club Resort's lobby.

Inside the Ale and Compass lounge. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Just down the hall, Fittings and Fairings provides a nice store for conveniences, snacks, and other necessary items... as well as the typical resort wear, character merchandise, and so on.

The centerpiece of Fittings and Fairings is Mickey driving a 1920s wooden speedboat. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Typical resort clothing is available for all ages, including the very young. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Fittings and Fairings sells over-the-counter medicines and other essentials. Of course, character merchandise is always available in a Disney resort store. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Returning to the lobby area, a short hop up the stairs takes you to the guest room halls of the resort.

A view of the lovely lobby stairs. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Like the Beach Club, the Yacht Club Resort boasts a quiet "secret" courtyard. The details of these two resorts are just lovely. Mr. Stern and company did a fabulous job, in my opinion.

Like the Beach Club, the Yacht Club Resort boasts a quiet "secret" courtyard. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Returning from the lobby takes us back down the stairs. And strolling across the lobby allows us to take a stroll to see the rest of the shared facilities of the resorts.

A view down the stairs back at the lobby. Photo by Brian Bennett.

The Yacht Club Galley restaurant provides comfort food meals, and is popular with families staying at the resort. Prices tend to be moderate, although the menu is fairly broad in scope. A popular buffet breakfast is served here daily, too.

Yacht Club Galley is popular with families staying at the resort. Photo by Brian Bennett.

The Crews Cup Lounge, located down the hall, is another popular place for adults staying at the resort.

The Crew's Cup Lounge. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Yachtsman's Steakhouse, located right next door to the Crew's Cup Lounge, is the resort's premier restaurant. You'd think that such a resort, based on a nautical theme, would serve seafood at it's marquee restaurant. Although some seafood items are available at the Steakhouse, beef is the obvious draw here.

Prime beef is kept ready for this evening's diners to select and enjoy at the Yachtsman's Steakhouse. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Comfortable surroundings are provided for diners. Photo by Brian Bennett.

A walk back to the lobby and then a quick turn to the left allows us to take a stroll outside to see the marina and Stormalong Bay.

A view toward Crescent Lake from the lobby courtyard. Photo by Brian Bennett.

The friendship dock is straight back from the lobby. It's a major transportation hub for guests staying at the Yacht and Beach Club Resorts as the friendships provide passenger service to Epcot, the Studios, the Swan and Dolphin, and the Boardwalk resorts.

The friendship dock is a major transportation hub for Yacht and Beach Club Resort guests, and the friendship passenger service is provided to many locations around the Crescent Lake area.Photo by Brian Bennett.

The lovely landscaping provided by the Disney horticulture department, never ceases to amaze guests with their lovely displays of color and texture.

The near-perfectly maintained gardens at the Disney resorts never cease to amaze. Photo by Brian Bennett.

On the way to the marina, Breathless II can be seen stored high-and-dry out of the lake water. Guests can rent Breathless II for special occasions. It's not uncommon to see her near Epcot during "IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth" filled with partygoers.

Breathless II can be rented for special occasions. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Bayside Marina has a great selection of water craft and water excursions that guests can take advantage of. One can rent boats to cruise around Crescent Lake or choose to participate in a fishing excursion.

Bayside Marina provides lovely views of Crescent Lake and some fabulous recreation. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Smaller water motor boats and larger pontoon craft can be rented by the hour. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Walking back toward the Yacht Club Resort from Bayside Marina, you can see the elegant design. The octagonal shape of the corner turret, especially, adds interest to the building.

The Yacht Club resort, viewed from the marina, shows its elegant seaside design. Photo by Brian Bennett.

A quick look toward the right shows our next, and final, destination... Stormalong Bay.

Stormalong Bay is the huge pool complex that is shared by Yacht and Beach Club Resort Guests. The Stern Web site described Stormalong Bay as a 35,000-square-foot "fantasy" pool. I like to think of it as either a private water park or a hotel pool on steroids. You can take your pick depending on whether or not you're a Barry Bonds fan.

Stormalong Bay is shared by Yacht and Beach Club Resort guests. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Stormalong Bay's childrens area actually boasts a sand bottom and a "beach" of sand to play with. It's a fabulous place for the kids to play in the water and sand.

Stormalong Bay's childrens area. Photo by Brian Bennett.

No resort pool at Walt Disney World is as large and as well-themed as Stormalong Bay! Photo by Brian Bennett.

Adjacent to the pool complex, Hurricane Hanna's serves up fast food and beverages and is very handy for guests that are enjoying Stormalong Bay.

Hurricane Hanna's is conveniently located for guests of Stormalong Bay. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Stormalong Bay has a few pools that are quieter than others, but for the most part this is a busy place. Photo by Brian Bennett.

The "shipwreck" that lies just off Crescent Lake directly across from the Boardwalk Resort provides some excitement for Stormalong Bay visitors. The "wreck" provides access to a pair of water slides. One is for the kids, the other rivals some of the better slides at Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach.

The resort's "shipwreck," just off of Crescent Lake, provides access to a great, high water slide. And the back side of the shipwreck has a smaller kiddie slide. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Fifty feet down and several hundred feet away from the shipwreck's mast, swimmers splash down in the easternmost end of Stormalong Bay. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Without doubt Stormalong Bay is one of the major reasons why the Yacht Club and Beach Club resorts are popular with families.

Final view of the "shipwreck." Photo by Brian Bennett.

After checking out the water slides, nothing remains but to walk back to the lobby and jump in the car to go home...

The boardwalk resort is just across Crescent Lake from the Yacht Club. Photo by Brian Bennett.

...but I can't help but wonder when my budget will allow me to bring the family back to these resorts for a short stay.