This is a continuation of a new series taking a comprehensive look at all of the Walt Disney World Resort hotels. There will be several posts on each resort looking at pools, dining, shopping, and other amenities.
Every Walt Disney World resort has at least one pool and all are very nice. It is likely that none can match the main pool at the Yacht and Beach Club Resorts in size, scope, and design. Named Stormalong Bay, the massive, free-form, sand-bottomed pool is something special.
While the theme of the pool is simply “beachy,” the execution is quite complex. There are two centerpieces that are helpful in orienting oneself; a decorative, yet moving, windmill and the gigantic shipwreck that serves as the start of the pool’s water slide. The shipwreck itself is actually on the beach side of the promenade, while the rest of the pool meanders and flows around the windmill and various walkways and footbridges.
Stormalong bay appears to be one giant pool, but it is actually a cleverly designed trio. There is a regular pool, with depths of 4-6 feet, a shallow kiddie area, and a slow-flowing lazy river. Each of these areas is separate, requiring swimmers to exit one to enter another. In between these pools are lovely vegetation, rock formations, and waterfalls. The whirlpools can be found atop the largest rock structure.
In addition to Stormalong Bay, there are two “quiet” pools; one for Yacht Club and one for the Beach Club. These pools are on the extreme ends of the resorts, the east side for the Beach Club and the west side for the Yacht Club, and they are simple, non-themed pools designed for those who wish to avoid the crowds at Stormalong Bay. Each “quiet” pool also has a whirlpool nearby.
Water Slides, Kiddie Areas, and Accessibility
There is one main water slide at Stormalong Bay. As mentioned, it begins on top of the mast of the shipwreck. From there the slide begins as an enclosed tube as it takes riders across the promenade. It then meanders through rocks and trees as the tube’s top is removed. Overall, this is a long slide although it is quite tame, making the scare level very low.
In addition to the main slide, there is a kid-friendly small slide at the bottom of the shipwreck. This is far from the only child area available at Stormalong bay however. The western end of the Bay contains one of the more unique kiddie pools available. The two foot depth pool is sand-bottomed, as is almost all of Stormalong Bay, but the sand is also mounded into a sandbar that cuts right into the middle of the shallow water. This creates the perfect place for children or adults to build sand castles. Next to the sandy shallow pool is an even shallower pool meant for the very small.
While Stormalong Bay is handicapped accessible via wide steps and hand holds, it is not a zero-depth pool. Therefore, those with limited movement may require assistance to get into the water.
Bars and Restaurants
Directly adjacent to Stormalong Bay is a handy food and beverage option. Hurricane Hanna’s Grill serves quick food and all manners of beverage, including beer. Around the corner, nearer the pool, is a full bar that serves additional alcoholic beverages. At the time of writing, Hurricane Hanna’s is undergoing refurbishment and is scheduled to reopen on December 18, 2012.
Some of the options available at Hurricane Hanna’s Grill are cheeseburgers, hot dogs, and wraps. The full menu can be found as part of TouringPlans.com’s dining menus. There are also other dining options very near the pool such as Beaches and Cream. Those additional options will be covered in the Restaurant Information section, to be posted soon.
For those who are not interested in swimming, there are many great spots around and near Stormalong Bay for lounging. Surrounded by lounge chairs, the child areas are easily seen from several spots. There are also banks of chairs and quite a few tables very near the water that are great for relaxing or eating a quick meal.
If sunbathing is the primary goal, there is a large raised platform with many lounge chairs on top. Part of this platform is covered, but much of it is in the open sun and perfect for getting slightly toasted. Of course, being the Beach Club, there is quite a bit of wonderful beach space across the promenade from the pool that will allow you to return home a few shades tanner than when you arrived in Orlando.
Activities and Other Items
As with all Disney resort pool areas, there are mid-day activities consisting of music and games led by Cast Members. This is usually set up near the kiddie pool area and takes place every afternoon. If pool toys such as noodles or inflatables are desired they can be purchased in the Marketplace in the Beach Club or in Fittings and Fairings at the Yacht Club.