Note: When I first wrote this post, the Sandcastle Club and Lilo's Playhouse were still in operation. As of August 1, 2018, Disney will be closing these kids' clubs. However, Kid's Nite Out will remain available for Guests looking for a child or babysitter service. I've decided to go ahead and post this recap of our experience using the Sandcastle Club for nostalgia purposes. The Sandcastle Club and Lilo's Playhouse allowed us to have a lot of good "grown-up" fun at the Disney theme parks, and we look forward to seeing what sort of replacement service Disney comes up with. Fingers crossed!
In June of 2015, I took our son Nate on a trip to Walt Disney World with some girlfriends of mine and their kids. Nate was somewhat of an anxious kid, and although he absolutely loved visiting all of the Disney theme parks, he was hesitant to go on the rides there. This meant I enjoyed the attractions solo while he was supervised by my friends. While they were very supportive and helpful, I didn't want to take advantage of them. Nate and I had a lot of fun at the parks on his terms, but twice during the trip I took advantage of the Sandcastle Club at Disney's Beach Club Resort so that I could enjoy some "grown-up time" with my friends and ride the attractions I didn't want to miss. Nate absolutely loved the Sandcastle Club! Here are some of the reasons we think Disney's Sandcastle Club was awesome for kids visiting Walt Disney World, and why we are hopeful a new club will launch in the future.
Our Review of Disney's Sandcastle Club
Date Night for Mom & Dad
Childcare services like Disney's Sandcastle Club give parents visiting Walt Disney World theme parks the opportunity to go and be kids themselves, without the responsibility of putting their kids' needs first, even if it's just for a few hours. Because we have one child, Graham and I would not be able to go on rides like the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster or Hollywood Tower of Terror together. Checking Nate into the Sandcastle Club or Lilo's Playhouse gave us the chance to have a date night, Disney-style.
Character Interaction for the Kids
On both of the nights that Nate attended Sandcastle Club, a Disney character made an appearance. These intimate character encounters can be rare at the Disney theme parks, so if your kids enjoy meeting Disney characters up close and personal, this is a great way for you to make this happen for your kids.
Dinner was Included
The kids were fed dinner at Disney's Sandcastle Club. When we registered, we were provided with a menu so that we could select Nate's dinner ahead of time. There were lots of kid-friendly options to choose from, including a drink and dessert item. Dinner was served around 6 pm, and a snack was also provided later in the evening.
The Price was Right
Kids could be dropped off at the Sandcastle Club as early as 4:30 pm, and pick-up time was midnight at the latest. There was a flat rate of $55 USD charged for the evening, which meant parents had, at the most, seven and a half hours of child care available to them, which works out to under $8/hour. I don't know about you, but at home we pay sitters more than $8/hour, meaning this was a lot of value for your dollar, especially when you factored in a character appearance and dinner for the kids! You can have a lot of fun at Walt Disney World in seven hours! Nate didn't stay later than about 10:00 pm when he attended Sandcastle Club, but the staff there assured me that if he felt tired before I came to pick him up, they had a comfy area where he could cuddle up to watch a Disney movie until I arrived.
Activities and Programming
Each night at Disney's Sandcastle Club there were different activities planned. The kids baked "magic cookies" one evening, and had a ping pong tournament the next. There were tons of toys, video games, art supplies and board games for the kids to play with. I had no doubt that Nate would be kept busy and entertained the entire time he was there, and I was right.
The chance to play with other kids while having fun with Disney characters is really appealing to our son. We were so happy that Nate loved the Sandcastle Club and Lilo's Playhouse because it gave Graham and I the chance to head out to the parks for dinner and to ride the attractions together. We sure hope Disney provides an alternative option in the next few years!