Mar 11, 2014

Disney 2014: Day 5 (Disney's Beach Club & Pool)

Day Five of our trip was our blessed, much-anticipated, much-needed Day of Rest. We enjoyed one in 2010, and it was a non-negotiable for 2014.

I don't know how people go to Disney World for a week and DON'T take a break in the middle of the week.

To be clear, I know that's a luxury, to include a day in the middle of your trip solely for the purpose of recharging at your hotel. For me personally, I would have given up any day in the parks to have been able to include our Rest Day in the trip, just because our Group of Nine really, really needed it. I think it's as much mental as it is physical, knowing you have that day in the middle of the week that you won't be walking 28,800 steps, eating park food, pushing a stroller/carrying a toddler for 12 hours and changing diapers in less-than-ideal conditions.

But maybe that's just me.

Back to Wednesday. Wednesday, beautiful Wednesday. What's not to love about spending a day here?

Disney's Beach Club resort (we stayed in the Villas, which are the condo units) is on EPCOT property, walkable to EPCOT's back gate, across the street from Hollywood Studios (you can get there by boat), and also really close to Magic Kingdom.

It's beautifully landscaped, the staff is so helpful and polite, and I'd definitely stay there again. (As a reminder, these posts aren't sponsored. I'm just trying to give you the overall view of our experience, especially since we stayed at a different resort than we stayed at last time.)

We were in two first-floor condos, which were great because we had easy access to the pools, lobby, restaurants, ice cream parlor, arcade and Marketplace (shop). The ONE thing I'd say that is less convenient about Beach Club than Old Key West is that the guest parking lot at Beach Club is all out to one side, a good walk out the doors, past the "quiet pool" and across a bridge. (At Old Key West, you park directly in front of your condo and have about a 10-foot walk to your door.)

But our rooms were very comfortable, we had housekeeping service every day (which went a long way toward making it really feel like "vacation"), and although the resort is large -- VERY LARGE -- by this point in the week, the big boys already had the lay of the land and were comfortable running to get a drink refill or back to the room for something they had forgotten. (With the Magic Bands and their refillable cups, they were entitled to all the refills they could drink, and of course they could get in the rooms as needed.)

I suppose the name "Beach Club" comes from the fact that there's a good-size beach close to the pool on the rear side of the resort.

The beach looks out onto a beautiful lagoon, and directly opposite is the Boardwalk. The lighthouse in the center is where the shuttle boats pick up and drop off passengers for the parks and different excursions throughout the day.

We never actually made it over to the Boardwalk this trip, but there are several restaurants there, as well as an arcade and some shops, I think. My sister took the picture below on one of her sunrise runs. (She ran on vacation! Yuck!)

I didn't see too many people on the beach during the day while we were there ... most people seemed to prefer the pool.

However, every night at 7:00, they show a movie on the beach, and that seemed to be pretty popular. They were setting up one evening as we walked to supper at EPCOT, so I snapped this picture.

The thing I had the hardest time finding good pictures of online before we left for our trip was the pool at Disney's Beach Club. I told myself I'd try to get really good pictures for you guys. And then when we got there, I found out why there aren't any good pictures of it out there anywhere.

The pool -- the GARGANTUAN POOL -- serves both Disney's Beach Club AND Yacht Club resorts. The Beach Club is on the right in the picture below (blue), and the Yacht Club is on the left (grey). The pool starts roughly where that tall blue pointed roof is at the right center of the frame and extends way farther to the left than my shot shows you. "Huge" would be an understatement.

That squareish platform on the mast of the pirate ship? That's the starting point of the veeerrrrrrry long waterslide.

It actually runs across the sidewalk, about 20 feet above the ground, to get to the pool on the other side.

That's a trip, right?

Nick and Jake spent a lot of time on it. They were in heaven!

(FYI, that water is about 4 feet deep.)

Oh, I can't believe I forgot to mention how our day BEGAN. And now it's way too difficult to move these pictures around, so I'm just going to tell you and you can rearrange it in your brains. Like I'm about to have to.

One of the neat things that Beach Club offers is a variety of experiences for kids, one of which is a Pirate Cruise. We asked our boys if they wanted to do it on Wednesday morning, and Jake couldn't volunteer quickly enough. "ME, ME, ME!!!" The other two couldn't have cared less.

We asked Jake if he wanted to do it even if he were to go alone, without knowing anyone else, and he was like, "Shu-ah."

NBD for that kid.

So off he went from 9 to 11 a.m. on Wednesday, and we just met him when the "pirate ship" came back to port. They'd gone around the harbor and even "run aground" at one point, getting out to dig for "treasure," and the pirates had to dig the boat out. It was ALL SO EXCITING for Jake! He had an absolute blast.

When they disembarked, one of the women gave Jake the key to the treasure chest, which was a huge honor.

She gave him instructions about how to use the key to open the chest. He looked so official, what with his sword, bandana, Toy Story Crocs and treasure chest key.

I do NOT think he was prepared for the crush of pirates that enveloped him as he tried to get the treasure chest open.

I mean, those pirates were ANXIOUS to get in that chest.


Finally, success! And then, chaos.

There were plenty for everyone, of course. No idea why everyone was so panicked.

But when plastic compasses, inflatable beach balls, pirate tattoos and plastic beads are at stake, well, you know how it is, Internet.

Anyway, after Pirate Jake returned, he joined us at the pool and spent plenty of time on the slide and exploring every other nook and cranny.

This is where it gets really difficult to explain the pool to you. I'd heard that it's the best of any of the pools at Disney resorts, and I fully agree with that assessment. It IS amazing. But it's also a warren of twists, turns and that one huge waterslide that make it really hard to find your kids if they get away from you. Hypothetically speaking.

This is a great time to point out that it is EXCEPTIONALLY well guarded. There are life guards about every 20 feet or so, and they all pace. They don't sit still; they pace the circumference of the pool, watching the bottom. Some portions of the pool have a sand bottom, which churns up a little bit from activity ... so the guards are very vigilant.

There's a poolside grill, Hurricane Hanna's, right beside the beach-entry section of the pool, which is great for families with young kids. Food and beverages are an easy walk, and you can bring them back to the tables and chairs close to the pool so you can keep your kids in sight, even if they're not eating at that moment.

The pool is heated, which was GREAT, because even though the days were warmish, the water definitely would have been too cold for swimming if the water hadn't been heated.

We settled in on the beach-entry side, which is on the Yacht Club side of the pool, so that Amelia would be able to get in and out of the water as she pleased. It was a dream. A DREAM, Internet. (Remember, Yacht Club = grey, Beach Club = blue. The slide is waaaaaay over to the right, far out of frame in this shot.)

It's even better than the beach, because there aren't any waves to knock toddlers down! (The fully clothed people dressed like they're going to the movies are my parents.)

At different points during the day, Nathaniel, Nick and Jake came over and played with Amelia, but they were often playing "Keep Away" with Jake's pirate ball, floating down the lazy river (it goes up to 8 feet in depth) or going down the slide. Every once in a while we would go check on them if we couldn't see them, but again, the guarding was excellent, and they checked in regularly.

Meanwhile, Amelia was having a blast!

I'm going to do my level best to show you the rest of the pool ... this is part of the lazy river looking back toward the Beach Club.

Again, the lazy river is home to the deepest water in the pool ... this part was maybe 6 feet deep? But the deepest point was 8 feet deep, I think.

Hypothetically speaking, if you WERE looking for a child or two who'd been gone longer than you'd like, it's tedious to look for them because of this winding river. You have to walk up and down all of these ridiculous steps and over these bridges repeatedly, just trying to get from one section of the pool to another.

Or you WOULD, if that were to happen to you.

Once you finally make it all the way down to the end of the lazy river, you're back at the Beach Club again, where there's a volleyball net and -- way down at the end -- the exit for the waterslide.

If your family loves a good pool, I can highly recommend Disney's Beach Club pool. The variety of depth, activities and areas meant that it entertained all four of our kids (11, 9, 5 and 2), and they wanted to come back early from the parks in the evenings just to get in some swim time. Big hit, that pool!

On Wednesday night (CAN YOU TAKE ANY MORE?), we loaded up and headed over to 'Ohana at The Polynesian, one of our favorite restaurants from our previous trip.

It started drizzling just as we walked up to the doors of the resort. A storm was rolling in, for sure.

While we waited for our table, we watched the clouds roll in, and although you can't tell it from this shot, it got really dark outside.

The kids gathered at the window to watch the rain pelt the lush greenery that's everywhere on the Polynesian's property.

This restaurant's decor totally reminds me of the time the Bradys went to Hawaii. Tiki idol, anyone?

I digress.

We had a DELICIOUS meal at which Grayson ate so much he was afraid he was going to burst open. Like, he was literally groaning.

I think everyone on the other side of the table put their Big Boy Pants on and pretty much ate what they knew they could hold and then they stopped.

As we left, we got a picture in front of the Lilo & Stitch surfboard ... we took an identical one four years ago. Fun!

Nick wanted one in his new Stitch hat, which I was happy to take.

We jumped on the Monorail back to Magic Kingdom, where we'd parked our cars, and I wanted to include this picture just because I thought it was cute. No other reason than that it was a candid moment ... tired, full, happy kids. Close quarters, and they weren't fighting. Good memory.

So that was our Day of Rest, and I wouldn't have traded it! Highly recommend Disney's Beach Club Villas, and if you have any questions about it or the pool, I'd be happy to answer them in the Comments.

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