Disney’s Vero Beach Resort is celebrating it’s 21-year anniversary. Vero Beach opened on October 1, 1995 as the 2nd Disney Vacation Club resort.
Disney’s entry into the timeshare business resulted in sales of about $50 million in its first year of operation. Mark Pacala, general manager and senior vice president of the Disney Vacation club at the time, stated in February 1993 that “If we carry out our vision, we will dot the world with Disney vacation clubs.” He added, the company “is exploring its options in North America” and a major announcement could be made within a few months.
In March 1993, Disney announced that it had purchased 70 acres of oceanfront property near Vero Beach, Florida, where the company would for the first time open a resort outside the boundaries of its theme parks. The DVC resort would begin with a 120-room inn and 60 vacation villas, expected to open during summer 1995. Plans called for another 260 villas to be built later, along with a 6-acre artificial lake. On the diagram below, the 120-room inn and 60 vacation villas would be built between the highway and the beach (on the right), while the another 260 villas and a 6-acre artificial lake would be built on the larger inland plot of land (on the left).
In a public meeting in May 1993, some Vero Beach residents expressed concern that the Disney resort might grow beyond the planned 440 units on 70 acres of land. Again and again, people in the audience asked if Disney had its eye on adjoining parcels of land. They asked if Disney planned a seaside theme park, a monorail from Walt Disney World to the beach or expansions to the local airport. Mark Pacala pointed to a slide of the master plan, which was filed with the county planning and zoning board Tuesday, and said, “What you see up there is what you get.” In the end, the Indian River County Commission approved the project.
Ground breaking took place on July 28, 1994, where Mickey, Minnie, Chip and Dale were all in attendance for the big moment.
On October 1, 1995, Disney’s Vero Beach Resort opened as the first expansion of the Disney Vacation Club. The resort opened with a 115-room inn and 60 villas. When completed, the resort was expected to have 436 units. Disney officials said they’d wait a year to gauge how business was going before starting additional construction.
However, point sales at Vero Beach turned out to be much slower than Disney had anticipated. Remember, Disney originally planned to start with the 112-room Inn and 60 villas on beachfront property, and then expand by adding 260 more villas across the street, along with a 6-acre artificial lake. Disney proceeded with the initial phase, however, due to poor sales, DVC cancelled Phase 2 in 2001 and sold the land in 2006. Because of this, DVC ended up subsidizing the annual dues for early purchasers of Vero Beach.
Instead of a 70-acre resort, Vero Beach is only a 22-acre resort.
Since Vero Beach is just a 2-hour drive from Disney World, some members add a stay at Vero Beach to relax after WDW.