PICK OF THE CENTRAL REGION
Best For » A more grown-up take on Disney, with a maritime spin. At Disney’s Yacht Club Resort in Orlando, guests are greeted by a uniformed ship’s captain — in full dress blues — welcoming you to “the Yacht.” From there on, every detail evokes the feel of a high-class New England nautical town. Set pieces like a mammoth old-world globe in the center of the lobby, showing the world as navigators knew its coastlines circa 1651, and dark-wood cabinets in the hallways, housing navigational instruments and crest-adorned fine dinner ware, conspire with detailing of rope knots, ship’s wheels and portholes in carpets and railings to make you think you’ve been spirited away to Martha’s Vineyard.
Water, Water Everything » Waterborne adventure is in abundant supply. Stroll behind the resort, catching the sweet aroma of flowers blooming from crepe myrtle trees that line the walkway to the three-acre Stormalong Bay. With tall palms, lush landscaping and large rocks bordering three different pools give kind of an organic feel to what is widely considered the best pool area in all of Disney World. So frolic in the sand-bottomed pool — complete with an island sandbar for castle construction — or chill in the lazy river while soaking up some rays. Definitely don’t miss the water slide through the hollowed-out mast of Albatross (a “shipwreck” on the resort’s stir of beach) for a splashdown back in to the pool. Just beyond Stormalong Bay is the Bayside Marina on Crescent Lake, your gateway to a variety of specialty cruises. Book the Illuminations Cruise, which anchors the boat near the edge of the lake, for a best-seat-in-the-house view of Epcot’s nightly laser-light and fireworks extravaganza.
Surf & Turf » See the thick-cut filet or porterhouse that might make it to your plate through the aging room’s window at Yachtsman Steakhouse. Caution: Viewings may cause increased hunger and even mouth watering. Next door at the Crew’s Cup Lounge, lighter bites wash down with drinks that were created in far-flung Disney resorts — seared scallops pair well with the Zen-chanted green tea from Hong Kong Disneyland Resort. Flying Fish on the boardwalk will put together a five-course, wine-paired dinner with anything from ginger-laced lobster ravioli to short ribs and veal tenderloin. Make reservations at least a day in advance.
Movin' & Groovin' » After dark, stroll around Crescent Lake or take a boat from the Yacht’s light- house dock to Disney’s Boardwalk. Performers from fire-eaters and jugglers to card-trick magicians line the wooden walkways in homage to early 20th-century atmospheres of Coney Island and Atlantic City. Get your Greek on with an ouzo-tini at celebrity Iron Chef Cat Cora’s Kouzzina before trying to stump the dueling piano maestros with off-the-wall song requests at Jellyrolls. If you feel like moving your feet, the Atlantic Dance Hall is the place to go. When 2 a.m. (or whenever bedtime may be) hits, your room is a short walk away.
Insider Tip » About a five-minute walk from the Yacht Club is a “secret” entrance to Epcot that puts you in the heart of the theme park’s World Showcase, between the United Kingdom and France pavilions. According to guest service manager Warner Zingg, those in the know book a room at the Yacht for easy access to the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, which runs from September 30 through November 13.