Disney’s first successful expansion into resorts away from their theme parks is located only about 100 miles from Walt Disney World.
Constructed in 1995, Disney’s Vero Beach Resort is one of three Disney hotel resorts that are located somewhere other than the Walt Disney World or Disneyland. It’s was the first and it’s also the only one located in Florida.
The city of Vero Beach in Indian River County and North Hutchinson Island, the barrier island along the ocean, have limited development compared to much of Florida’s Atlantic Coast. This made it an interesting location for a resort. Not close to a major airport or other significant tourism, at first glance, one wonders what Disney was imagining.
Disney’s own description of the resort sheds some light, however. The phrase an “old-fashioned hideaway” is accurate, and has been since day one. While beautiful and well-appointed, compared to many Disney hotels, this resort is rather lightly Disney themed.
Of course there are character meet and greets and there’s the requisite hidden Mickeys, but most of the resort can be viewed with Disney running in the background. Indeed, the focus on the classic movie Peter Pan for much of the Disney ambiance speaks to the resorts’s idea of escaping busy life.
Located on A1A, Florida’s Beach access road, the resort owns property on both sides with the bulk of the facilities on the beach side.
Like with any proper resort, there are plenty of amenities, including a spa, fitness center, community hall, sports courts and fields, bonfire pits, classes for art, programs specifically for kids, restaurants, a pool (that’s one of the hidden Mickeys), and a mini-golf course.
A nature walk as well as some of the sports amenities are located across A1A and can be accessed by a tunnel that safely funnels guests (Disney-speak for tourists) underneath the road.
The resort is beautiful, maintained well, updated when needed and clean, as one expects from Disney.
Environmental awareness has been a focus of the resort. It’s an important message, particularly on the Treasure Coast, the colloquial name given to this part of Florida’s coast because of the number of Spanish treasure shipwrecks that have been found offshore.
One of the natural treasures of the coast are the thousands of sea turtles that nest annually just above the high-water mark on the beach. The sea turtles are protected by law as are their nesting sites. Female turtles return to the same stretch of beach from which they hatched, so it’s important to conserve all the beach areas used by turtles.
Disney teaches about conservation and works to keep their resort property using primarily native plants and reducing it’s impact on the highly-fragile dunes habitat.
Disney’s Vero Beach Resort is aging well, with renovations keeping the rooms and property feeling modern and welcoming. It’s a great escape from the intensity of Walt Disney World and the Disney Cruise Line, both of which are less than two hours away.
The two drawbacks? The property is typically fully-booked and there’s not enough Tinkerbell!