Monday, April 23, 2018

Walt Disney World: Beaches & Cream Soda Shop


One of the most highly coveted Advanced Dining Reservations at Walt Disney World is the elusive Beaches & Cream Soda Shop at Disney's Beach Club Resort. The reason is not because it's necessarily the best meal on property, but because the space is small and therefore reservations are limited.

It's also the only spot where you can get the infamous Kitchen Sink sundae, which contains 8 scoops of ice cream, all of their toppings, and a whole can of whipped cream. They even set off siren lights when someone orders it to make sure everyone knows what's going on. Finishing a Kitchen Sink is a pretty epic task.

So anyway, Beaches & Cream reservations are tough to come by, but I've been luck to get reservations twice in the last 6 months. The first time was back in early December (hence all the Christmas decorations in the pictures), and the second time more recently in mid-April. Both times I had every intention of ordering ice cream, but both times was so insanely full that I just couldn't do it. Maybe on my third try.

In the meantime, let's take a look around the small but fun space that is designed to look like a 50's style diner. Near the door is a jukebox playing all 50's era music. It's free to pick your favorite songs, but it's awfully close to a nearby table, so if there are guests sitting there, it may be a little awkward to go pick your music.

In general, the tables are quite small. There are a few booths, which are probably quite popular. On our recent visit two of the booths were open, and we asked if we could sit in one for our party of four, but they said they save them for larger parties of five or more. Then shortly afterwards they seated a party of four with two small kids in one of the booths. They took up a lot less space than our four full-grown adults. There were also four adults sitting at the already occupied booth. We were a little unhappy that we were given that excuse by the hostess to see it wasn't really true. This, and the tiny tables are my only real complaints about Beaches & Cream.

On my first visit, everyone at my table ordered the Patty Melt, which is a juicy Angus burger patty, sautéed onions, Swiss cheese, and garlic-peppercorn dressing sandwiched between rye bread. OMG it was absolutely fantastic! The rye bread was nicely toasted but not dry, and the burger was nicely juicy but not greasy.

All the burgers and sandwiches are served with fries, but you can upgrade your side for an extra $1.25 to get one of their special fries off their appetizer menu. I tried the Sock Hop Fries, which is fries topped with white gravy and shredded cheddar cheese. I imagine this is their take on poutine, but it's really nothing like poutine. With that said, it was still really tasty.

On my recent visit, I couldn't help but order the Patty Melt again, because I had been thinking about it since the first time. It was still really good, and this time I swapped out the fries for the Chili-Cheese Fries, which are topped with homemade chili, and cheese sauce. It was also good, but probably more filling than my previous choice because of the meatiness of the chili.

My mom tried the highly regarded Veggie Burger, which is honestly a pre-made veggie burger (I can't remember which brand) that is made predominately with beets. Although it was good, she said it really was nothing special, even though our server and the hostess both raved about it.

To drink, my sister and I shared the Frozen Sunshine, which is a mixture of rainbow sherbet, vanilla ice cream, and seltzer, topped with whipped cream and candied oranges. It was described as being very refreshing, and it kind of was, but honestly didn't have much flavor. I expected a bit more color and flavor from the rainbow sherbet to be honest. Our server split it into two glasses for us, but it was nothing special. I kind of wish I had saved those calories and pushed myself to get a sundae instead, even if it was a small one.

Next time I'm pretty sure I will try to share an entree just so I can ensure to save room for ice cream afterwards. That's such a big part of the Beaches & Cream experience, and even though I've been here twice I still feel like something is missing, and it's probably because I still haven't eaten ice cream there!

They do have some to-go ice cream options, so you can always swing by even without a reservation and still get some ice cream. That's a good consolation, but keep in mind they only serve ice cream to go, not the entrees, and you can't get the full-sized kitchen sink to go, that's only for dine in.

The Patty Melt is really great, and if you can score a reservation here I'd highly recommend it. This was probably the least exciting place we ate during our five-day visit, but that's only because we made so many great choices. I would still come back here, especially if staying at the Beach Club or Yacht Club, as it is supremely convenient and a really fun atmosphere.

Beaches & Cream Soda Shop
1800 Epcot Resorts Blvd
Orlando, FL 32830
(407) 939-3463

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Walt Disney World: Beach Club Resort and Villas


Disney's Beach Club Resort and Villas has an optimal location at Walt Disney World. It's a short walk from the International Gateway entrance to Epcot (from our room in the Villas, probably no more than 5 to 10 minutes), it's also a short walk to Disney's Boardwalk, and a quick Friendship Boat ride (or walk) to Hollywood Studios.

If you're looking to visit Walt Disney World for any of Epcot's festivals, such as the Food and Wine Festival or the Flower and Garden Festival, the Beach Club is an excellent and very popular option.

I know what you're thinking. Why is Victoria sharing pictures from Christmastime NOW when it's already April? Well, I visited Disney's Beach Club Villas back in early December for one night, which is when I took most of these photos.

I recently returned and snapped off more photos of Stormalong Bay, the epic pool shared by Disney's Yacht Club and Disney's Beach Club. I was waiting for our return visit to get good photos of the pool (and stay for more nights) before sharing a post with my readers about the experience.

So we've already established that the location here is excellent. You have very convenient access to not one but two Disney Parks. Let's move on to the themeing, which mimics a charming New England-style beach hotel.

The Beach Club itself is painted powder blue, while the Villas are a slightly more turquoise shade. All the amenities of the Beach Club and Yacht Club are available to guests at the Villas.

Beach Club Resort

Beach Club Villas

The Villas are particularly appealing as they are better suited for larger groups and families, and have more kitchen features than the standard rooms. Available room sizes include a Deluxe Studio which sleeps up to 5, a One-Bedroom which sleeps up to 4, and a Two-Bedroom which sleeps up to 8 or 9 depending on whether it's a Dedicated Two-Bedroom or a Two-Bedroom Lock-Off (that means a One-Bedroom connected to a Deluxe Studio, which features the additional single pull-down bed).

In December we stayed in a Dedicated Two-Bedroom Villa, and more recently stayed in a One-Bedroom Villa. Both feature full kitchens, while the Studio has a toaster, microwave, and mini fridge. The furnishings and decor are in line with the rest of the seaside themed resort, with nautical accents and blue-green color schemes. These photos are from a Dedicated Two-Bedroom Villa. The One-Bedroom Villa is identical but without the additional room with the two queen beds, and the extra bathroom.

Can you find the Flounders?

Here's where the second bedroom area starts.

The rooms are quite cozy, and we have enjoyed nice views from both of our rooms here.

Our view of the canal and the Dunes Cove pool area from our recent stay

Another great feature to the One-and-Two-Bedroom Villas is a washer and dryer in the room. This helps doing mid-week laundry, or simply drying bathing suits or wet clothes from rainy days.

The Beach Club Villas building also features a couple communal recreation rooms: The Drawing Room and The Breezeway. One includes a television and a pool table, while the other has high ceilings, and is more like a large sitting room without games or entertainment.

The main Beach Club building has a Solarium, which is a similar kind of common room with a large television.

There are many dining options available with nearby access, both at the Beach Club and the Yacht Club, including popular favorites like Beaches & Cream Soda Shop, Cape May Cafe, and Yachtsman Steakhouse.

Before we talk about the epic pool situation, I'd like to share some photos of the main Beach Club Lobby as well as the Villas Lobby with Christmas decorations. The Beach Club features a fragrant, working gingerbread carousel. I'm not sure if the design changes from year-to-year, but this past December it was Lilo & Stitch-themed. The entire lobby had such a wonderful aroma. I know most people run to the Grand Floridian to check out the gingerbread house, but I think this gingerbread carousel is just as exciting to see and smell.

The Beach Club Villas Christmas tree (from the second floor overlook)

In addition to the famous Stormalong Bay (we'll get there, I promise), there are actually three leisure pools available between the Yacht and Beach Club Resorts: the Admiral pool at the Yacht Club, the Tidal pool at the Beach Club, and the Dunes Cove pool at the Beach Club Villas. Here are some images of the Dunes Cove pool at the Villas.

It's finally time to talk about Stormalong Bay. I've saved the best for last. This is probably the unanimous choice of all Disney visitors as the best pool on Disney property. It's certainly the largest (if you include all three tanks of the pool), measuring at three-acres and 795,000 gallons of water. There are many different parts to the pool depending on what you want to do, including a sand-bottom pool, a play pool, a lazy river, and the infamous 230-foot long Shipwreck slide. It's truly impossible to really grasp the enormity of the space in photos. It just keeps going and going. I honestly felt a little overwhelmed, but in a good way.

Heading up the stairs for the Shipwreck Slide, there's a small pool on the backside overlooking Crescent Bay and Disney's Boardwalk

The sand-bottom pool

Wow. Now that's a pool! There's a reason why Cast Members scan Magic Bands at the pool's entrances to ensure only guests staying at this resort (and the Yacht Club) have access to Stormalong Bay. They give out paper bracelets of different colors each day to make sure the pool has private access to guests only.

Add up the super convenient location, the charming beachy theme, and the epic pool, and you have one of the most sought after Deluxe Resorts on Disney property. I highly recommend the Beach Club and the Beach Club Villas for all of the aforementioned reasons. I can't wait to go back! Two visits was not enough.

Disney's Beach Club Resort and Villas
1800 Epcot Resorts Blvd
Orlando, FL 32830


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