There’s no doubt that the Epcot Resort Area is one of Disney World’s best places to stay. Along with having some of the most convenient locations, it offers some of the best on-property dining and entertainment.
This guide was created to be the ultimate resource for everything you need to know about Epcot’s resorts and hotels. Whether you’re deciding on accommodations or just looking for a fun place to spend an evening, we’ve got you covered.
#1 Beach Club & Yacht Club Resort
I’m putting the Beach Club and the Yacht Club together since they are essentially the same general resort and share all amenities. They combine to create one of Disney World’s best resorts, period.
The top choice for families (Beach Club) or for adults (Yacht Club)
The Beach Club Resort and Yacht Club Resort are the best Epcot resorts. It’s definitely not a stretch to say that they have something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a great spot for a family full of kids or a romantic spot for two adults, it’s hard to beat these two.
The Beach Club Resort is perfect for families of all sizes. The theme is based on 19th-century coastal New England and is a bit more laid back than what you’ll find at the Yacht Club. Don’t be mistaken though- even though the resort is meant to have the feel of a laid-back beachside resort, it’s very impressive and is deserving of its “Deluxe” categorization.
The Yacht Club Resort is, without a doubt, one of the best adult-friendly resorts that Disney World has to offer. It’s right at the top of our list of the best grownup Disney World resorts. While the Beach Club has a general New England beachside theme, the Yacht Club’s theme would be better described as refined and nautical. Think navy blues and rich wood grains instead of pastels and white-wash.
Stormalong Bay is absolutely the best pool at Disney World
And it’s not even close. If having access to a great swimming pool is one of your biggest resort priorities, Stormalong Bay is going to blow you away. It’s essentially a miniature waterpark smack dab in the middle of the Beach Club and Yacht Club. The entire 3-acre pool area contains three gigantic pools, a lazy river, a 230ft waterslide, and multiple whirlpool spas. One of the pools even features a sandy bottom.
Seriously, Stormalong Bay is massive for a resort pool area. Whether you want to have fun with the kids in the pool or lounge around on one of the elevated decks, you’re in good shape here.
The best overall location
All Epcot Resort Area resorts and hotels are conveniently located, but the Beach Club and Yacht Club Resorts are the best of all worlds. Epcot is only a 10-minute walk from your room in either resort, Hollywood Studios is a 15-minute walk, and The Boardwalk Inn is a 5-minute walk.
This awesome location is about as convenient as it gets at Disney World. The significance of having walking access to two parks really can’t be overstated. It’s also a huge perk to have the quietness and charm of the Beach Club or Yacht Club while still being extremely close to the liveliness of the Boardwalk.
The Beach Club and Yacht Club are situated along Crescent Lake, providing a beautiful waterfront view with the Boardwalk Inn as a backdrop. Sandy beaches line the waterfront and give you a relaxing spot to soak up some sun.
Top-notch restaurants abound
Staying at the Beach Club or Yacht Club means that you’ll have immediate access to some of the best Disney resort restaurants. There are a number of above-average options within the resorts, both quick-service and table-service.
The Beach Club’s restaurants are a little more casual in nature. For example, Beaches and Cream Soda Shop is a popular table-service restaurant that serves good burgers and a ton of ice cream. If you’re looking for character dining, you can find it at Cape May Cafe, a Beach Club buffet-style restaurant.
In my opinion, the Yacht Club’s restaurants are a notch above (not that it really matters since they are both connected) the Beach Club’s restaurants. Yachtsman Steakhouse is one of the best signature fine-dining establishments at Disney. Ale and Compass is a fairly new restaurant but has become one of my favorite resort table-service spots for lunch. Yacht Club’s Crew’s Cup Lounge is also one of the best resort lounges both for drinks and for food.
And of course, staying at the Beach/Yacht Club also means that you have easy access to all of the restaurants at Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and the other resorts nearby. There’s nothing better than walking from your hotel room to get some Epcot ice cream before turning in for the evening.
Definitely take a look at our Insider’s Guide to Epcot Dining if you want to see our recommendations for every Epcot restaurant, snack, dessert, and drink imaginable.
Ease of transportation
The Beach Club and the Yacht Club have some of the best resort transportation options. There is a boat launch footsteps from your room that will take you to Epcot, Hollywood Studios, or the Boardwalk Inn. Since Epcot has a monorail to Magic Kingdom, this means you can get to every park but Animal Kingdom without ever setting foot on a bus.
If you’ve spent enough time at Disney World, you probably already know that buses are usually the least fun part of the vacation. The ability to mostly eliminate them is a HUGE perk.
If you’re in the middle of planning your Disney World trip…
Definitely take a look at our Ultimate Guide to Planning Disney World on a Budget. It will give in-depth tips and information to help you through every planning phase.
#2 Boardwalk Inn
The Boardwalk comes in a close second for Epcot Area Resorts, but can easily be the top choice for anyone who prefers a bustling resort over something quieter.
Excellent choice for anyone who likes having a lively resort atmosphere with plenty to do
The Boardwalk is one of the most unique resorts at Disney World. It has all the expected details and theming of a Deluxe resort, but adds a whole different element with its old-fashioned boardwalk. It’s pretty cool to have all of the luxuries of an upscale Disney resort while also having an outdoor area full of cool shops, restaurants, and entertainment to keep you occupied.
The theme is designed to transport you to 1940’s Atlantic City and it definitely delivers. The Boardwalk Inn’s atmosphere is whimsical and upbeat, so it’s pretty unlikely you’ll encounter any boredom during your stay.
The Boardwalk is also a destination for other Disney World guests, so it stays fairly busy with non-resort guests. This isn’t a bad thing if you like staying somewhere with a high level of activity. The Boardwalk prioritizes fun over straight-up relaxation.
Fun and games all over the place
Having a full, working boardwalk footsteps from your resort room means that that you’ve got access to constant fun. Think of Disney’s Boardwalk as a largely scaled-down version of Disney Springs.
One of the most fun places at the Boardwalk (for guests 21 and over) is Jellyrolls. Jellyrolls is a dueling piano bar that specializes in music from the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s. The pianists are really talented and can take just about any song request you can think of. It’s a busy place and a lot of fun for a grownup’s night out. Atlantic Dance Hall is right next door to Jellyrolls. The Dance Hall is another fun spot for anyone 21+. It plays everything from the 80’s through today.
For general family fun, there are street performers, carnival games, caricature artists, and more up and down the Boardwalk. There’s also a full arcade.
It’s also worth noting that, even though it’s not an official part of the Boardwalk Inn Resort, Fantasia Gardens Mini Golf is a short walk away. It’s a popular spot in the evening, but isn’t usually too busy during the day.
Lots of restaurants and shops
The Boardwalk has quite a few dining options. The restaurants also have a good variety, from quick-service to table-service.
Casual spots include a bakery, pizza window, and hot dog cart. Flying Fish Cafe, Trattoria al Forno, Big River Grille & Brewing Works, and the ESPN Club are the sit-down options. Flying Fish is one of the best Disney World restaurants for seafood.
There are a number of shops throughout the boardwalk. Most don’t offer anything overly unique, but there are a couple of specialty stores. Wyland Galleries is also worth checking out. It has a large inventory of Disney-themed paintings and other artwork.
The Board Inn is absolutely a top-tier Deluxe resort. Even though it lacks in the “wow” factor you get from a resort like the Animal Kingdom Lodge or the Wilderness Lodge, it makes up plenty of ground with its style and activity level.
Immersion is something that plays a big role in the overall resort experience and the Boardwalk does a great job of it. The resort layout is designed so that the buildings wrap around the boardwalk. This layout does a lot to help you block out the rest of the world.
The Boardwalk’s physical location is just as good at the Beach & Yacht Club’s. The only real difference between the two is that they are on opposite sides of Crescent Lake. Epcot is a short 10-minute walk from the Boardwalk. Hollywood Studios is a 15-minute walk. Friendship Boats also dock at the Boardwalk, so it’s very simple to get to the parks by waterway.
#3 Swan & Dolphin Hotels
Disney’s Swan & Dolphin Hotels are the only Epcot Resort Area hotels that aren’t owned and operated directly by Disney. I’ve heard people describe them best as “unofficial official” Disney properties. Either way, rooms at either one of these hotels often offer some of the best value for of any on-property accommodations.
A great option for guests who want the most bang for the buck
Since the Swan and Dolphin are independently owned hotels, they offer pricing that’s a little bit more competitive than actual Disney resorts. It’s not unusual to find rooms here for $150/night or less. You do lose some of the perks that come with staying at a full resort, but that’s mitigated bigtime since you’re in the same connected area as the Beach Club and the Yacht Club. Same basic location for half the price. Not a bad deal.
On the flip side, there are a few drawbacks. One drawback is that the Swan and Dolphin both have an extra resort fee. But even with the dreaded “resort fee”, the Swan and Dolphin will almost always beat out the vast majority of Disney resorts in price. The other big drawback is the lack of Disney theming. There are still some Disney elements sprinkled in, but there won’t be nearly as much Disney World “magic” at these hotels.
Overall, your money definitely goes pretty far here when compared to nearby resorts.
An outstanding restaurant lineup
The Swan and Dolphin’s restaurants are 100% on par with Disney Deluxe resorts. In fact, the dining options here are even better than some Deluxe resorts, depending on your preferences.
Between to two hotels, you’ve got everything from grab-and-go quick service to full-blown fine-dining. Shula’s Steakhouse, Il Mulino, and celebrity chef Todd English’s Bluezoo are the two standout signature restaurants. Bluezoo, in particular, is a really fun dinner spot. For character dining, there is the buffet-style Garden Grove. One of my personal favorite places here is Kimonos, an excellent sushi (with a side of karaoke) joint inside the Swan.
So, of the areas that the Swan and Dolphin lack in some areas of the “full” Disney experience, food is definitely not one of them. And you still have walking access to all restaurants at the Beach & Yacht Club, Epcot, Hollywood Studios.
The Swan and Dolphin’s non-Disney management is a pro or a con, depending on who you ask. Many regulars feel that the Swan and Dolphin’s Starwood management is actually a step above what you’ll find at a Disney resort. This is probably splitting hairs though, because I believe that they all do a pretty decent job. Disney is still very involved with the Swan and Dolphin, so standards stay high.
The Swan and Dolphin have the look and feel that you would other 4-star hotels. Both hotels are well-appointed, clean, and have a very attentive staff. Also, all rooms were recently renovated, so you won’t have to worry about getting a “dated” room.
Compared to a Disney Resort, these hotels will definitely feel more “business”. They’re luxurious enough for their hotel class, but they won’t overwhelm you with charm. This makes them a good option for guests who are a little less enthused about being in the “Disney World Bubble”.`
The pools are actually on par with some of Disney World’s best, so that’s a big plus. Other amenities include swan boat rentals, basketball, volleyball, tennis, a full spa, and more. There’s definitely plenty to do.
Access to Disney transportation
The Swan and Dolphin include Disney buses and boats to the parks, which is nice considering you’re paying a lot less to stay here. There’s a boat launch on the water and a bus stop out front.
Note: Though you do have access to transportation around Disney World, the Swan and Dolphin don’t provide you access to Disney’s Magical Express. This means guest flying to Orlando will be responsible for their own transportation to and from the airport.
#4 Caribbean Beach Resort
The Caribbean Beach Resort is the only resort on this list that isn’t a Deluxe or 4-star property. It’s a standalone Moderate Disney resort that is separated from the previously listed resorts, but it still considered part of the Epcot Resort Area. Its rating does take a hit due to the heavy construction it’s been undergoing (which will continue for quite some time).
Good choice for guests who want the Disney Resort experience for a more reasonable price
Being in the Moderate Resort category means that the Caribbean Beach Resort will obviously be quite a bit cheaper than a Deluxe. That said, Moderate resorts can still be very nice.
The Caribbean Bech Resort has a tropical island theme. It’s a very pretty resort, from the Caribbean buildings to the well-kept grounds. The recent construction efforts have taken away some of the attractiveness, but the resort is massive and you can still find plenty of construction-free areas.
Carribbean Beach is especially good for guests that come from colder climates. The general tropical island theme, combined with palm trees and other special touches make it a nice change of pace.
A standalone resort
The Caribbean Beach Resort is a “standalone” resort. This means that it is totally disconnected from other guest areas by everything but the bus system. This is a major difference from the other Epcot Area Resorts on this list. This comes with some pros and cons.
The biggest advantage of a standalone resort is that they tend to be a little less busy, since you won’t find nearly as many non-resort guests walking around the property.
However, there are a few disadvantages of staying at a standalone resort. First and foremost, you won’t have easy access to parks and other resorts. The Beach Club, Yacht Club, Swan, and Dolphin are all connected by walkways; that’s not the case with the Caribbean Beach Resort. The other main disadvantage is that the Caribbean Beach Resort’s property is really, really big. This makes it a lot more difficult to walk to common areas like the lobby or the pools
Very family friendly
The Caribbean Beach Resort is particularly family-friendly. The resort’s general atmosphere and amenities are great for kids.
The pools at Caribbean Beach are especially good. The main pool is themed as a pirate-y Spanish fort. It’s a lot of fun and definitely one of the better Disney World pools. The resort also has a good splash zone and quiet pools. There’s a pretty large beach area too, adding to the already immersive tropical vibe.
I also like the newer rooms at CBR. They were updated not too long ago and have a nice design. They used to be loud and colorful, but they are now more akin to a toned down version of the Polynesian Resort’s decor.
Don’t forget about the construction while you’re making plans
Again, know that staying at the Caribbean Beach Resort in 2018 or parts of 2019 will mean that you are going to deal with some level of construction. The impact is felt most with the resort’s on-property dining. Many of the permanent restaurants are closed for refurbishment. As a temporary solution, Disney has set up tents in the parking lot to serve as makeshift restaurants.
My recommendation is to call the resort before you book and have them tell you exactly how the current construction will affect your stay.
Reasons to Stay in the Epcot Resort Area
- Easy access to Epcot: This is perfect for guests who plan on spending more time at Epcot than other parks. Having Epcot so close also means that you have a TON of additional dining options walking distance from your hotel room. Boat launches from your resort to Epcot are the cherry on top.
- Easy access Hollywood Studios: Like Epcot, Hollywood Studios is also a walk or boat ride away. Having two parks this easily accessible is a HUGE plus.
- Easy access to surrounding resorts: If you’re staying at a resort around Crescent Lake, you’ve got access to all other resorts nearby. The Beach Club, Yacht Club, Boardwalk Inn, Swan, and Dolphin are all footsteps from each other. Limitless dining and entertainment options for your entire vacation.
- Laid-back atmosphere: Since the Epcot Area Resorts aren’t on the monorail track, they tend to be a little more laid back. This works especially well with the laid back theme of the Beach Club or Yacht Club resorts.
- Walkability: Again, it can’t be overstated how nice it is to have access to such a large walkable area. The collection of parks and resorts in the area provide you with a limitless amount of entertainment and dining right outside your room.
- Boat launches: All Epcot Area Resorts (besides CBR) have on-property boat launches to transport you to Epcot or Hollywood studios.
- Limited need for bus transportation: Riding a bus from a Disney resort to a Disney park is often the least fun part of a vacation. Fortunately, the Epcot Resort Area provides you with a ton of transportation flexibility. You can simply walk or boat to Epcot or Hollywood Studios. From Epcot, you can ride the monorail all the way to Magic Kingdom and the other monorail resorts.
- Crescent Lake: Crescent Lake is a nice backdrop for Epcot Area Resorts. It’s relaxing to sit on one of the resort beaches and watch the boats roll in and out of the area.