Two hours from either Disney World or Miami/Fort Lauderdale, Disney's Vero Beach Resort offers plenty of Disney magic in a relaxing seaside setting on the Atlantic coast. Worried you'll miss the Disney fun? On Saturday mornings, Goofy himself shows up to host a breakfast on the beach. A campfire s'mores roast, complete with silly songs led by Disney castmembers, is a fun family experience. You can order a Mickey ice cream bar by the pool, and a kid's drink with an illuminated Buzz Lightyear or Tinkerbell on the side. Disney's Vero Beach Resort has the lounge area off the lobby complete with pint-sized chairs and continuous Disney cartoons playing, just like at the Walt Disney World Resort.Take a photo tour of Disney's Vero Beach
Disney's Vero Beach: Checking In and Guest Rooms
I brought my family on the easy two-hour drive from Disney World for a long weekend at this Disney Vacation Club resort. Pulling up outside, we were greeted by the "Welcome Home" signs, a fixture at all DVC resorts. Despite the familiar signs, I immediately saw the difference in the lobby--it was quiet. The constant buzz of families that is a trademark of the Disney World resorts was missing, and the feeling--like having the resort to ourselves--was wonderful. We were handed a very full list of activities planned over the next few days, including campfire singalongs, dodgeball, water slide races, and arts and crafts.
On a previous visit, we'd stayed in a studio, the smallest room type. (On the other end of the spectrum are three-bedroom free-standing villas situated right on the beach.) The studio was oddly shaped and a bit small--with our Queen bed, the sofa bed for our son, and the port-a-crib for the baby, there was no room to walk. We did have a kitchenette with a microwave, sink, coffee maker and mini-fridge (and a "free sponge!" as my six-year-old excitedly observed), plus a tiny closet and small bathroom.
This trip, we opted for more space in a one-bedroom villa with a full kitchen. Definitely worth the upgrade, it also included a washer and dryer and a large terrace with an outdoor dining table. In the living room, both the sofa and the chair opened into beds for space to sleep three people. Larger families can opt to join a studio and a one-bedroom villa via an interior connecting door. The bathroom is a unique split-design bathroom with a garden tub in one and a shower in the other, great for families getting ready at the same time.
Disney's Vero Beach: Pool, Beach and Spa
A large heated swimming pool, surrounded by lounge chairs, is just one option for getting wet at this Disney resort. The multi-story, corkscrew water slide is a popular playspot for adults and kids alike, and a few times a week the resort staff puts a stopwatch to swimmers for "water slide races." Adjacent is a pirate ship water playground for the little ones with a slide and water cannons, plus a separate, dry playground. Snaking around is an 8-hole mini-golf course. A hot tub is hidden among landscaping for a bit of a retreat from the action. Beach towels, life vests and board games are available at Ebb & Flo's just off the pool area, in most cases complimentary. A locker area with showers is a good bet if you're room isn't ready for check in when you arrive, or for cleaning up after a day at the beach after you've checked out.
On the way to the pool, a bit of Disney magic--a small brown bunny--greeted us next to the pathway. Finding chairs poolside was no problem, the beach bar served Mickey ice cream bars, and the water slide races were in full swing; we weren't missing the theme parks at all. The pool was busy, mostly with guests either just off the Disney cruise line or preparing to head out to sea, Orlando residents out for a long weekend and Disney World theme park visitors in search of recuperation.
Steps away from the pool area and on the other side of a tall hedge of sea grapes (designed to protect the sea turtle nesting grounds from ambient light) is the beach, where we enjoyed the crashing Atlantic Ocean and famous Florida sand. Chairs and umbrellas are available for an extra rental charge. Many regular guests had brought their own portable chairs and umbrellas, which could be set up closer to the water.
I was thrilled to see the addition of a spa in fall of 2010. Operated by Tanja McGuire of local day spa A Pampered Life, it's a small but peaceful space well-equipped with a Vichy shower and organic products. Two other treatment rooms can be combined for a couples massage experience, or for a solo enjoyment of treatments like the fabulous signature massage (which includes your choice of tropical-scented oils and a facial mask). Manicures and pedicures are done in massage chairs (a nice touch) and there is a special bridal readiness room. A spa menu with absolutely scrumptious offerings including poke tuna on wonton crisps, coconut milk rock shrimp ceviche, and "better for you" antioxident cocktails, is offered in the spa as well as in Shutters for lunch.
Disney's Vero Beach: Dining
After a fun swim, we discovered another plus of staying at a Disney resort so far from the crowds--we walked right into Shutters, the casual breakfast/lunch/dinner restaurant, without a reservation or a wait. We had good memories of the food and service from our last visit, when the waitstaff doted over our baby and told our older son he had to eat all his dinner before he could order dessert. We were even happier this visit, with a new menu (introduced summer of 2010) that was a big hit with our family. I loved the Low Country fish of the day with asiago grits and a rock shrimp and tasso gravy so much I ordered it again the next night. We also loved the seafood whether it was boiled, fried or made into crabcakes.
Sonya's, the fine dining option, wasn't open during our visit (it's Thursday through Sunday), but the menu is new there as well. Breakers Beach Bar & Grill poolside offers the usual cheeseburgers, pizza and hamburgers, with the welcome addition of tasty and healthier items like Tropical Chicken Pita and salads with grilled shrimp or chicken. The children's menus were exactly the same as at Disney World restaurants, so we knew what to expect: kid-friendly food in Mickey-shaped plates with lots of healthy options like grilled chicken, fruit and carrot sticks.
Disney's Vero Beach has become one of my family's all-time favorite resorts, and I would definitely recommend it as an add-on to a Disney World or Disney Cruise Line vacation, or even as a stand-alone Florida beach vacation. I hear many guests who schedule a few days at this resort in the middle of their Disney World vacation are reluctant to return to the busy theme parks. Save Disney's Vero Beach for the end of your Disney trip - your feet will thank you.(Reviewed 2/1/2009)
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Disney's Vero Beach is located: on Florida's Atlantic coast, about a two-hour drive south of the Disney World Resort in Orlando.
9250 Island Grove Terrace, Vero Beach, Florida 32963 USA
Phone: (772) 234-2000; Reservations: (800) 500-3990
Web site: Disney's Vero Beach
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary accommodations for the purpose of reviewing those services. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.