In 1993, when Disney Vacation Club announced plans to build a time-share resort in Vero Beach, Florida, about 100 miles southeast of the Walt Disney World resort, the question on many people’s minds was:
Why would Disney build a resort so far from its central Florida theme parks?
After spending a few days at the idyllic DVC property just steps from the Atlantic Ocean, it became obvious why that decision was made.
Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, which opened on Oct. 1, 1995, stands out among Disney Vacation Club properties in that it embraces the beach lifestyle without getting too caught up in the commercialized aspect so prevalent at many seaside towns.
If you’re looking for a true Disney experience, without having to brave crowds, long lines or the hassle of connecting to Genie+, then you should check out Disney’s Vero Beach Resort.
During my initial stroll around the beautifully manicured grounds, elements of several other Disney properties caught my eye.
Disney’s Vero Beach Resort is part of Old Key West [colorful south Florida-style architecture]part Polynesian Villas [exotic foliage abounds]part Kidani Village [garage-style parking under many of the main buildings is available] and part Castaway Cay [the beach is a short stroll away].
In reality, it’s ALL Disney.
Disney’s Vero Beach Resort is located off state road A1A, a scenic stretch of highway that hugs Florida’s Atlantic Ocean coastline for 338 miles. Indeed, some sections of A1A are dominated by million-dollar mansions and equally opulent yachts.
At Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, a more relaxing, laid-back vibe permeates the area.
What you get at Disney’s Vero Beach is tastefully manicured landscaping; family friendly amenities [loved the pirate-themed Port Holes Mini Golf course]; an inviting swimming pool; comfortable, spacious rooms; close proximity to the beach, and friendly, knowledgeable cast members.
The Atlantic Ocean’s crashing waves are very much a part of Vero Beach’s appeal. So, too, is Disney’s commitment to the environment.
The resort shares space with the nesting grounds of the endangered Loggerhead Sea Turtle. In fact, the Florida coast is the turtles’ primary nesting area for the entire northern hemisphere.
Given the Walt Disney Company’s decades-long commitment to conservation, Disney’s Vero Beach Resort is serious about its partnership with the turtles and is committed to having as little impact on them as possible.
When a turtle lays her eggs on the beach, Disney staffers rope off the spot to help protect the nesting area from human intervention.
In addition, the east-facing windows at the resort are tinted to diminish the impact of interior lighting, and no exterior lights face the ocean. There are also tall shrubs which buffer the shoreline from any other ambient lighting.
The reason? After the young turtles hatch, they instinctively use moonlight and the stars to guide them to the ocean.
Vero Beach’s main building, called The Inn, features a large and inviting lobby. Inside the building are a grill, a bar, a lounge, a gift shop, a market and a spa.
The planners also put together an homage to the Vero Beach of decades ago. There’s an area where memorabilia is displayed, everything from beach photos to classic displays featuring the Brooklyn [later Los Angeles] Dodgers, who used the nearby Holman Field and its Dodgertown complex at Vero Beach for spring training from 1948 until 2008.
I found one aspect of Disney’s Vero Beach to be fascinating. It’s called the Tunnel Breezeway.
The underground walkway burrows under A1A and it allows guests to walk to another section of Disney’s Vero Beach property, a place where wide open spaces abound.
The tunnel sports a Peter Pan theme, with wall paintings of the film’s main characters featured prominently throughout. Music from the classic film can be heard as you make your way under and through.
Once you’ve reached the other side, you’ll find walking and nature trails, tennis and basketball courts, soccer and volleyball fields, and lakeside picnic areas. During one of our visits, we observed a group of adults engaged in a spirited game of pickleball on the tennis court.
With no theme parks to run off to, Disney’s Vero Beach Resort was designed to give guests a laid-back, relaxing vacation experience.
And on that score, the resort delivers.
Chuck Schmidt is an award-winning journalist who has covered all things Disney since 1984 in both print and online. He has authored or co-authored seven books on Disney, including his Disney’s Animal Kingdom: An Unofficial History, for Theme Park Press. He also has written a regular blog for AllEars.Net, called Still Goofy About Disney, since 2015.