The “Secret” Disney Perfect Multigenerational Vacation at the Disney Vero Beach Resort Part II: Family Haven

Vero_Beach_Resort_PoolWe arrived home today from the Disney Vero Beach Resort, with every one of the sixteen of us with a Disney smile on our face.  There is an amazing secret Disney haven for families somewhere on the ocean north of Vero Beach, Florida.

The photograph you see on the website is the perfect photograph to show you the best accommodations in the resort for close access to everything.  The photograph seems to be taken from the main inn on the third floor.  You can see what view of the ocean you would see from there.  We did not see the rooms in the inn or other buildings, but read they are not as nice as the cottages.  We were lucky enough to be assigned the two separate beachfront cottages you see in the top left of the photograph for our 90th birthday celebration.  These cottages are adjacent to the pool and all play areas and beachfront so have some people walking by, but the positives outweighed the negatives.   Three bedrooms (one king with a Jacuzzi tub and two bedrooms with two queen beds each), all with en suite bathrooms, and laundry room and two porches are on the first floor, where you can hear the surf crashing day and night.  A large open plan family room with a sofa bed, fully equipped kitchen, large dining room, and two porches are on the second floor, with the spectacular ocean view.

Yes, the cottages are beachfront, although, for turtles and safety, there is one main exit to the beach.  However, there are direct beachfront porches and pool facing porches on each of the first and second floors of the cottage.  This is FOUR large porches, each large enough to hold many family members, and did.  We watched the grandchildren playing on the beach and in the ocean from the top beachfront porch.  The older two generations chatted in the main floor quiet porch as we listened to the surf.  The parent generation worked on the second floor beach and pool porches.  The stars from the second floor beachfront porch were incredible to show the grandchildren.  And did I add the rocking chair and family size hanging swing on the front porch?  We have an incredible picture of GG and her great grandchildren rocking together on that swing and that swing was where we found the “early risers” as we awoke when we felt like waking or at least until the two year old yelled, “hey, guys.”

The resort is very small and self contained with everything within manageable distance for all ages, even the smallest guest to anyone who cannot walk too far.  There were chairs and special stairs for handicap access to the pool and hot tub.  Pretty much by sitting at the pool, a family adult can be within steps of grandchildren playing on the sprinkler water playground pirate ship or the sand area with playground equipment or the pool or on the three story water slide or the miniature golf course or the outside arts and crafts area or the inside arts and crafts room or the arcade or the outside games and live music and live games (think dance, Disney trivia, and hula hoop contests) at the pool.  The grandchildren, old enough, made sharks tooth necklaces and tie die t shirts, part of the many scheduled activities during the day, some with a nominal charge, some free.  The two year old joined bubble time and lasted much longer than we expected because of being occupied by a very large variety of bubble wands.  We did take turns playing ping pong and played miniature golf, but never made it to shuffle board or tennis or bike riding on one of the many sized bikes available.

We had an incredible time, with lots to do, and able to be all together with ease, with space to be apart but not too far apart.  That I think is the real secret of this amazing secret Disney haven for families somewhere on the ocean north of Vero Beach, Florida:  not too Disney, but Disney quality.

You cannot help but feel you are in Disney from check in to check out.  Everyone has a Disney smile on their face, wears a button from their home town, and is friendly and very helpful.  Since there were three special birthdays among our sixteen, all in different decades, we were surprised with buttons the birthday person would wear the entire weekend.  Everywhere, including the bar when two adults went to talk away from anyone under ten, the birthday person was greeting with a song and a piece of cake.  The ten year old missed one birthday song and cake at the character breakfast when we left early to make the class for tie dye t shirts, and could not believe it happened to him.   Yes, even at the character breakfast, Donald Duck and Goofy were around a lot (we still cannot understand why Mickey was not there—not even having one of the two Mickey Mouse shaped pools in the world does not make up for his absence), and Goofy was so kind to the two and a half year old who was first terrified, then intrigued, then calling his name across the room to come visit again.  When I called once, I said we have a rambunctious two year old, and was kindly told that the resort loves rambunctious two year olds, and they have perfect accommodations for them.  They do.

Ah, the food.  The food is Disney average.  The service is Disney wonderful.  When you are with many little ones, wonderful service many times outweighs average food.  We came a Thursday night and had the seafood buffet.  There was a great selection, and the best was the peel and eat shrimp and the cornbread, but then I love bread.  The pool café had average lunch fare and good soft serve.  We ate at the character breakfast, and have always found the Disney Character breakfast (a la Chef Mickey at the Contemporary but never as good) served family style, plentiful, with both fruit and cinnamon buns.  Every time we ate, whether eleven or sixteen, they made a table large enough to accommodate all of us without a word.  Disney wonderful service.

But, knowing what to expect about Disney food, I searched for a Publix and some good food locations nearby.  Publix, a fabulous supermarket with prepared foods as well, is a five minute drive away.  They make great cakes, and the ten year old wanted his photograph of him surfing on his cake, and yes, they can do that too.  We had three different cakes for three different nights of birthdays.  It was a very cake filled weekend.  With a large refrigerator and freezer, stove and oven, microwave, toaster, and any utensils and items you need, Publix is a good source for stocking up staples, like bottled water, and breakfast and lunch items, at least.

Blogs identified Orchid Island Pizza within walking distance, but there was no menu on line.  Pick a menu up before you turn south on A1A to enter the resort as it is at the light at Wabasso and A1A east of A1A toward the ocean on the northeast side of the street. We thought the menu expansive and the portions large.  The restaurant has lots of good food: appetizers (including chicken wings), dinner salads, Italian entrees, pasta choices, and desserts as well as wonderful pizza choices.  It is too small to eat in.  The food lasted a dinner and a lunch, and was better and cost less than one meal at Disney.  We picked up as I saw warnings on the blogs about the time it takes for delivery.

I searched for a special place for dinner for the 90th birthday celebration and someone told me about Ocean Grill.  It was a great choice and they accommodated us with a table for 16 as well.  One set of parents took us grandparents up on the offer for a dinner alone and went to the recommended Tides in Vero Beach.  They loved it.

We can understand the strict 11 am checkout policy as we wanted to be in our rooms as soon as possible and no rooms are released unless the manager checks them first.  Even if it is not true, Disney could not be more accommodating with allowing you to use the facilities the day you arrive and the afternoon before you leave.  Towels, showers, and lockers are available.  They forgot only one thing—no plastic bags for wet bathing suits.  Yes, imagine a perfect child—the one thing they do wrong is so insignificant that you are upset you even bring it up.

The only real negative is the bug bites.  In Florida, we have “no see’ums,” literally tiny bugs that bite, too tiny for you to see.  Some of us were inundated with bug bites when we got home.  At the resort, we were so happy and busy we forgot to use repellent.  The lit up play area makes you forget it is dusk or dark and the bugs are out.   This negative is preventable though.  Bring insect repellent and Afterbite.

Shh.  Please keep the secret of this amazing secret Disney haven for families somewhere on the ocean north of Vero Beach, Florida.  You can’t get reservations as is!

Joy,

Mema

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