My DVC Points
078 History of Disney's Vero Beach Resort

Season 4 of the My DVC Points Podcast was made possible through financial support from the DVC Dream Team:

Part of our Disney's Vero Beach Resort series!

Brian Reed from The Main Street Chronicles Podcast joins us for another Disney Vacation Club resort history episode! Previously, Brian has helped us unpack the history of Disney's Polynesian Villas & Bungalows and Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort. Today's episode is all about Disney's Vero Beach Resort!

The History of Vero Beach

  • Vero Beach was established in the 1800s as a shipping port, as Florida was and still is the citrus capital of the world.
  • In 1891, Henry Gifford established the town's post office, naming it Vero after his wife.
  • In 1893, the East Coast Railroad began operating, and Waldo Sexton took advantage of this new transportation system. He opened The Driftwood Inn, built entirely out of driftwood, in an effort to bring tourists to the area. The inn is still standing today!
  • Two years after the establishment of The Driftwood Inn, a set of bones was unearthed along Van Valken's Creek. The remains were believed to be prehistoric and named “Vero Man.” He caused quite a controversy, as some scientists believed his bones were older than the previously established theory of settlement of the New World (10,000BC). Unfortunately, once exposed to the elements, the bones disintegrated and were not able to be tested when Carbon 14 dating was invented in 1947.
  • Vero Beach was also the site of Dodgertown, home of the Dodgers Spring Training, from 1948 to 2008.

A Little History of Disney Vacation Club

  • The early vision of Disney Vacation Club, the goal was to build resorts at popular tourist destinations across the United States.
  • After Old Key West opened, the DVC development team planned three new properties that were not near a Disney theme park – Vero Beach, Hilton Head, and Newport Beach.
  • When DVC purchased the land for Vero Beach, they also purchased the land for the Newport Beach resort at the same time. Sadly, the Newport Beach resort never came to fruition.
  • The idea for Vero Beach and Newport Beach was that families would extend their Disney theme park vacations with a beach stay. This was in keeping with the touring habits of the time when most families took road trips to Disney theme parks. The Newport Beach property was 20 miles from Disneyland, while Vero Beach is 100 miles from Walt Disney World.
  • Brian Reed intro (Poly Episode 38, SSR episode 60)

Disney's Vero Beach Resort

  • Disney's Vero Beach Resort opened in October 1995 as the second Disney Vacation Club resort. It was scheduled to open after Disney's BoardWalk Villas, but issues with planning and construction delayed the project.
  • The resort was designed to be a “throwback resort,” encouraging guests to return to nature and step back from the chaos of everyday life. Disney officials used Daytona Beach as a contrast to their laid-back resort, as that area was heavily commercialized.
  • Disney Vacation Club's original pitch for the resort was:
  • Relax on the warm sand and play in the sparkling blue waters of Disney's Vero Beach Resort! Just two hours southeast of Walt Disney World Resort, this elegant, old-fashioned hideaway is located on Florida's scenic Atlantic Treasure Coast near the charming community of Vero Beach. Getaway from it all in spacious lodgings that provide the comforts of home with an idyllic beach practically at your doorstep.
  • Vero Beach Resort also takes part in Disney's wildlife conservation efforts. The beachfront is a prime spot for sea turtles to lay their eggs. Each summer during “Turtle Week,” guests can watch the young turtles hatch and make their way to the ocean. The resort will sell out this week within the 11-month window. Turtle week booking priority is one reason to be a Vero Beach owner.
  • The resort is one of three Disney resorts with a Mickey-shaped pool. The other two are Bay Lake Tower and Shades of Green (now owned by the United States Department of Defense).
The Tim Tracker Covers Turtle Week

Vero Beach Resort Stories

  • Karen from DVC Resale Market had some interesting stories to share with Chad about Disney's Vero Beach Resort!
  • Along the resort's beachfront, someone found eight Spanish coins that had been blown in by a hurricane. These coins were from a 300-year-old shipwreck and each valued at $300,000! It is estimated that $400 million in loot from three sunken Spanish ships is in the water off Vero Beach. This led to the area being called Florida's Treasure Coast.
  • Since the resort brought significant development to a previously untouched shoreline, the beach's resident land crabs were quite an issue early on. Many of the crabs would attempt to cross the road in front of the resort, and unfortunately, most would not make it to the other side. The issue here was that the crabs had claws that could grow up to six inches in length, enough to pierce a car's tires! Eventually, the crabs moved to a less developed area of the beach.
  • On opening day, DVC bussed in Walt Disney World visitors and locals to check out the new resort. So many people came through that the resort was trashed!

Development at Disney's Vero Beach Resort

  • Some Vero Beach contracts have subsidized dues! This compromise was reached between Disney Vacation Club and original owners at the resort a few years after its opening. Originally, the resort planned to have 112 inn-style rooms and 320 villas, but 260 of those villas were never built. To lessen the expense burden on current owners, DVC subsidized their dues. This subsidy passes from owner to owner, so occasionally some resale contracts will have this benefit.
  • In October 2019, Disney sold 26 acres of land adjacent to the resort to a residential developer.
  • This land had been purchased by a Disney entity from DVC in 2006 for an undisclosed project.
  • Some members of the Vero Beach Rocks! The Facebook group hoped the 2019 sale would result in lower dues, but any tax benefit was applied after the 2006 sale.
  • Disney has retained some ownership of the lake for fishing.
  • The developer's original plan was to build 5.8 million-dollar homes per acre but has since downsized to 2.77 homes per acre. This is a welcome decrease, but the development will still bring increased foot traffic to the beach (which is public) and possible commercialization.

Connect with Brian and His Research Team!

Today's episode was produced, edited, and engineered by Chad Pennycuff. Show notes by Samantha Kurtz-Seif. Facebook admins and moderators of the My DVC Points Community Group: Valerie Fairnington, Donna Bickert, Tamara Speidel, Caleb Allison, and Mary Anne Tracy.

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