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Amanda Jenkins
Writer

Where to Stay: Review of Disney's Beach Club Resort at Walt Disney World

Published: August 27, 2015 at 10:58 AM

As Labor Day approaches, we know that summer is coming to an end. But there is a place though that captures the essence of summer and holds on to it all year long. That would be Disney’s Beach Club Resort. I’m sure that I am not the only one who has ever rode the Friendships between Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios and gazed longingly at the large pirate ship, where squeals of delight were heard. The white sandy beach stretched out along Crescent Lake beckons you toward the resort. Needless to say, this bright blue resort called to me like a mythical siren. I had to stay there.

Disney’s Beach Club Resort

Our vacation this summer allowed me that chance. It took a lot of persuading on my part to convince the guys that this was the place to go. With our annual passes, I was able to book a club level room with a nice discount. Once I pointed out that this was the resort that we were dying to go due to the pirate ship slide, they were slightly ready to give in to my request.

Stormalong Bay

We arrived early and it was immediately apparent upon entering that the lobby brought about a sophisticated ambiance mixed in with memories of a beach visit. The lobby is decorated in creams, browns, blues, and sea foam greens. Many of the seating areas boasts of shell-like furniture, which draws one to sit nestled, like a pearl, within it. The impressive chandelier has large seahorses and is draped with a string of pearls. The sconces also had shells and starfish as part of their designs. It seems to be the perfect setting to start one’s stay.

Lobby

Our room was located on the first floor. I personally have never stayed on the first floor at any of the resorts, so this was also a new experience. Our room contained two queen beds and one daybed (with chocolate mints on our pillows each night). It was a corner room and it felt like we had more space than usual. The room contained two sets of windows and a sliding glass door leading out to a patio. Our room looked out over Crescent Lake of one window and a small pool out the other.

Beds

The wallpaper design had little seahorses and the pictures were of beach scenes. We even had a Mickey lamp that helped remind you that you were at a “seaside” resort. The bathroom was more nautical in design with a ship and lighthouse wallpaper on the walls and seashells as the design along the vanity area. Two of the things I liked most about this room was how bright it was and the fresh flowers that were placed on our chest each day. I was concerned that staying on the first floor would result in a more disruptive rest with noise, but we did not suffer from any of these.

Mickey lamp

The Stone Harbor Club is the concierge level where one can get snacks and drinks throughout the day. It is also decorated along the lines of the lobby. We were not as impressed with the selections that were offered here. The only items that caught our eyes were the desserts offered in the evenings. The other snacks offered were not appetizing. Our concierge stay at the Board Walk resort offered a much better selection of food. My boys did not eat anything here other than the occasional chocolate chip cookie. We would mostly come up here to get some cokes and the occasional dessert during our stay here.

Stone Harbor Club

Now for the entire reason I wanted to stay at this lovely resort. The most impressive three-acre pool ever created is known as Stormalong Bay. When I visit Walt Disney World, I don’t believe in hanging out at the hotel, much less the pool for very long. I’ve always felt that this took away from time I could spend riding rides at the parks. This pool totally blew that idea out of the water. Both the Yacht and Beach Club guests share this massive pool. It is such an incredibly popular place, that castmembers are stationed at the entrances to scan MagicBands to make sure that there are no outside visitors. I asked some of the castmembers about this and they informed me of how many people try and sneak in to this pool. They said that many attempt to climb the rocks to get inside, only to realize that there is no way to enter in through that path. Once your MagicBand is scanned and they see that yes, you are indeed a resort guest, you are given another wristband to wear so that you may come and go as you please into that pool. The colors of the wristband change each day. You are also checked for these wristbands if you are attempting to go down the slide.

Water slide

This pool is by far the shining gem of this resort. I have never had so much fun at a resort pool. And we tried it all! It is a steep climb up to the pirate ship slide, but so worth it. There is also a lazy pool area (probably for those that climbed the pirate ship over and over), where there are floats available to allow the gentle waves to push you through the meandering path. I loved floating along, letting my feet drag along the sandy bottom. Absolute paradise. There are other sectioned off pools for little ones and for those that want a quieter swim without the lazy part. The proof that this pool is so wonderful is that my family (all of which would ride rides for as long as the parks stay open) actually chose to not go to the parks twice during our stay just so that we could spend as much time as possible at Stormalong Bay.

Pool

This resort is lovely. It was undergoing some refurbishment while we were there, yet it did not disturb our stay. We loved being here. The only problems we encountered were with food. With my picky eaters, it was hard to find quick service selections to meet each of these needs. We were satisfied with the room service we ordered during our stay. Transportation was excellent considering the summer crowds, and we loved being next door to Epcot’s World Showcase. Within five minutes we were at Epcot from walking along the pathway. The boats and walkways to Hollywood Studios were a pleasant change from the buses. We will definitely be returning to this resort for another visit. This resort dedicated to summer fun has won our hearts.

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Jacob Sundstrom
Writer

Knott's Berry Farm Announces its 2015 Halloween Haunt Lineup

Published: August 27, 2015 at 9:50 AM

On Wednesday night, Knott's Scary Farm announced the lineup for its 2015 event to loud, lengthy applause. Again. This is the third year I’ve been to Charles M. Schultz Theater to see the unveiling of Scary Farm on a warm August night, and it never ceases to amaze me how fired up the fans of this event are. Knott’s manages to pack the theater just to announce what mazes will be at the event. This, you may have gathered, doesn’t just happen everywhere. In fact, it doesn’t happen anywhere. Except Knott’s.

Knott's Scary Farm reveal

What makes all the commotion all the more amazing is that there really weren’t very many new mazes unveiled. Seven mazes had already been announced prior to the event, six of which were returners, and front man Jeff Tucker announced four more -- two of which were new. A slate of three new mazes out of 11 total isn’t exactly awe-inspiring, but Scary Farm has largely trimmed down on the fat and excess of some of its mazes and most of the offering at this year’s event sound pretty darn good. So let’s get to that.

NEW MAZES

Dead of Winter
Somehow, someway we made it through this announcement without a “Let it Go” joke being cracked. God is good. “Dead of Winter” takes guests through an icy tundra to face a vengeful snow queen; what she’s so upset about isn’t mentioned and honestly doesn’t matter. Vikings were mentioned, meaning this will have a bit of a Nordic twist.

Sound familiar? Of course not.

Paranormal Inc.
This announcement had a considerable amount of song and dance to it. A group of paranormal researchers (think Ghost Hunters, or Tucker and Specs from “Insidious”) came out on stage to announce they would be doing some research at Knott’s Berry Farm.

While talking about their work, one of the not-so-lucky band of nerds is snatched up by some sort of invisible demon, ala “Paranormal Activity,” and is dragged away to a grisly murder (offstage, of course). This maze sounds to me like a classic haunted house with this group of paranormal investigators mixed in as a bit of comic relief. Sign me up.

My Bloody Clementine
While not really a maze, the newest overlay on the Calico Mine Ride sounds like it just might be the best yet. Taking full advantage of the updated tech on the Mine Ride, Knott’s will opt to tell a great ghost story on the ride in 2015. Oh, and for the first time there will be live actors populating the mine.

How this will all play out remains to be seen, but color me optimistic. I think this is going to work.

NOT QUITE NEW

Special Ops Infected - Patient Zero
I was not a huge fan of the Special Ops experience at Scary Farm last year. I was in the minority. This year it’s back with double the actors and double the route — and updated guns to boot. So if you liked it last year, it’s back with a vengeance this year.

The Gunslinger’s Grave - A Blood Moon Rises
This was, by far, the worst maze at Scary Farm last year. Why? It wasn’t scary. Because cowboys aren’t scary. That just might change this year, as it sounds like werewolves will be added to the mix in a reboot of last year’s maze.

Voodoo - Order of the Serpent
By far the best maze last year, Voodoo is back and bigger than ever; which is good news given the maze’s relatively small footprint last year.

BEEN THERE DONE THAT

Tooth Fairy
A decent maze last year that will serve its purpose well this year.

Trick or Treat
Quickly becoming a staple of Scary Farm, this was one of the better mazes over the past couple of years and there’s no reason to think that will change this year.

Forevermore
One of my personal favorites, particularly because the set dressings are so damn good, this Edgar Allen Poe themed maze is a lot of fun.

Black Magic
Cool sets and a fun concept have been largely wasted on an aimless, directionless cast. Someone figure out how to get scares going in this thing!

Pinocchio Unstrung
Just bring back the Doll Factory. This maze has long rotted away.

SHOWS

Elvira’s Asylum
She didn’t make an appearance at Wednesday’s unveiling, but she’ll be back for the third-straight year with a new show.

The Hanging
Here’s the new Hanging, it’ll be a lot like the old Hanging.

Tickets are on sale now and the event begins on Sept. 24. What maze are you most looking forward to?

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Robert Niles
Editor

What's Next in Orlando? Here are 16 New Reasons for Fans to Visit in the Next Five Years

Published: August 26, 2015 at 10:11 AM

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Robert Niles
Editor

Universal Bringing Fast & Furious to Orlando

Published: August 25, 2015 at 2:15 PM

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Robert Niles
Editor

Why Isn't Disneyland Getting a New Marvel-themed Land?

Published: August 24, 2015 at 11:07 AM

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Robert Niles
Editor

When Will Star Wars Land Open?

Published: August 21, 2015 at 11:15 AM

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