Disney’s BoardWalk Inn is a resort many of us have heard of, primarily because it shares a name with (and sits on) Disney’s Boardwalk—one of Disney’s premier dining, drinking, and recreation spots. As we’re fans of the Boardwalk, we obviously give high marks to the BoardWalk Inn for location—but how does the rest of the resort stack up? Read on to find out!
The Basics and Booking Disney’s BoardWalk Inn
The BoardWalk Inn is a deluxe level hotel at Walt Disney World in the Epcot Resorts Area. We booked our Club Level Standard View room through our choice Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, Lauren Quirk of Enchanted Escapes Travel. We paid $470.20 per night on an Annual Passholder offer rate. The rack rate for the room was $723 per night, which meant our offer rate was about 35% off.
For 2019, BoardWalk rooms start at $494 per night. Honestly—I’m not sure why the hotel gets a premium over Yacht Club and Beach Club, which start at $452. Those resorts have a better pool (albeit shared between the two of them), have newer rooms, and have near identical location.
Between standard offers and maybe discounted prices at Expedia or Priceline, there may be times when rates get down to $400 or maybe $300 range. Alternatively, you can rent Disney Vacation Club points to stay at BoardWalk Villas.
Guests at Disney hotels—including BoardWalk—get a wide range of perks, including Extra Magic Hours and advance FastPass+ booking. BoardWalk’s biggest perk is its location, which leaves you within walking distance of Epcot (7 minutes), several resorts, and Hollywood Studios (15 minutes or 12 by boat).
Arrival and Check-In at BoardWalk Inn
We arrived via Uber from our nearby apartment. Most guests will arrive via Disney’s Magical Express shuttle service from Orlando International Airport.
Unlike our recent stay at Yacht Club, we didn’t receive the front door greeting when we arrived at BoardWalk. We walked in and hopped in the check-in line, waiting only a few minutes.
We were staying club level, and we told the Cast Member as the desk that. She escorted us up to the Innkeeper’s Club—BoardWalk Inn’s Club Level Lounge, which we have reviewed separately.
Generally, we’re fans of online check-in. We skipped it this time because we were testing the club level check-in process. It’s common that rooms aren’t ready if you arrive before 3PM. From BoardWalk, you can easily drop off your stuff with bell services and walk over to Epcot or Hollywood Studios for lunch and some afternoon rides.
BoardWalk Grounds and Theming
BoardWalk Inn claims the entire Boardwalk as part of its grounds. If you’re not familiar, the Boardwalk is a semi-circle boardwalk around Crescent Lake that has a variety of restaurants, bars, stores, and entertainment venues. In case you’ve lost track, that’s:
BoardWalk Inn and BoardWalk Villas (capital “W”) — hotel on the Boardwalk
the Boardwalk (but also sometimes “BoardWalk”) — the semicircle boardwalk around crescent lake that is home to BoardWalk Inn and Villas, as well as a variety of dining and entertainment venues
boardwalk — “a promenade along a beach or waterfront, typically made of wood”
Obviously, since the Boardwalk is easily accessible from Yacht Club, Beach Club, Swan & Dolphin, Epcot and (with a bit of a walk) Hollywood Studios, we need to take this with a grain of salt. This isn’t to say it isn’t a fantastic location—it is—but you don’t have to stay here to easily enjoy the perks of its location.
As we emphasize repeatedly, all of Yacht Club, Beach Club, BoardWalk Inn, and the Swan & Dolphin are within walking distance. One loop around the Boardwalk, which takes you past all those hotels, is 0.8 miles.
BoardWalk Resort consists of two sides (joined by a central building)—the Inn and the Villas. The Villas are the Disney Vacation Club Villas, which we’re not reviewing. The Inn is the regular hotel. Both sides have rooms facing the Boardwalk. The Inn side consists primarily of hotel rooms, in addition to a small secondary pool. The feature pool is on the Villas side, but is accessible to all guests. The Villas side also has its own secondary pool.
BoardWalk is more whimsically themed than nearby Yacht Club and Beach Club. Evoking the fun of an east coast boardwalk, the hotel is peppered with carnivalesque details.
I’m particularly taken in by the chosen art. I’m sure I haven’t seen it all, but both in our room and in the shared spaces, there was art that reimagined the Boardwalk as it may have looked in its fictional historical state. Beautiful!
The feature pool at BoardWalk is Luna Park Pool. Although it’s smaller than nearby Stormalong Bay at Yacht & Beach Clubs, Luna Park Pool is intensely themed—highlighted by the slide through the giant clown face.
Our BoardWalk Room
The BoardWalk rooms were last refurbished in 2014. This leaves them with more theming than the more modern Yacht Club and Beach Club rooms. Most of our comparisons will be to the new rooms at Yacht Club, as we recently stayed there.
I’m generally a fan of Disney’s recent refurbishments (2016 onward). I felt like Polynesian (around 2015) missed the mark. BoardWalk was last renovated in 2014, but I actually like the BoardWalk rooms, despite their age.
The room was relatively spacious, as is standard for rooms at the deluxe resorts.
On the bathroom and amenities end, BoardWalk had dental kits while Yacht Club had sunscreen. The shampoo and conditioner were bottled for personal use (values and moderates use large dispensers). The vanity area felt bigger than Yacht Club, but I think this was a trick of using slightly a larger mirror. Regardless, the bathroom door opened into the vanity area, which was annoying (the new ones at Yacht Club slide).
The shower used a curtain, where Yacht Club used a sliding door.
While the desk and tv stand did have built-in outlets, the side-table just had a unit on it with USB ports and outlets. Functionally I LOVE this. But it looks a bit, for lack of a better word, cheap. I can see why Disney might wait for a full refurbishment to replace all the side-tables, but this is definitely a sacrifice of style for functionality.
BoardWalk plays with color well. I’m a dull person—big fan of the dark wood and deep blues at Yacht Club. But BoardWalk impresses. The yellows, greens, reds, and browns all play off each other well. Add in some nice detail, and it creates a really warm environment with an appropriate level of elegance.
This lamp was misaligned. It’s a weird problem for a room to have, but just a sign of some of the trouble Disney has maintaining the rooms as they age.
Our view was more pleasant than the Yacht Club view we had. I don’t like to put too much emphasis on views when I’m not paying a premium. If you’re getting a standard view, you’re just paying for any natural light and balcony space, in my opinion.
What I’d say about the BoardWalk rooms is that while I prefer the more modern design of the Yacht Club rooms, I’ll be really nervous when Disney gets around to refurbishing BoardWalk. These rooms are cute, colorful, and whimsical in an unoffensive way. I hope they never lose that.
Location & Transportation at BoardWalk
BoardWalk has one of the best locations on property. Along with Beach Club, Yacht Club, and the Swan & Dolphin, this is one of the few hotels you can actually walk to two parks—Epcot and Hollywood Studios—from. Epcot’s World Showcase is about a seven-minute walk from the BoardWalk lobby. Hollywood Studios is about a 15-minute walk from the BoardWalk lobby.
Keep in mind that when visiting Epcot, you’ll be using a different entrance than other guests. the World Showcase entrance is between the U.K. and France pavilions. We briefly discuss this in our Epcot FastPass+ and Rope Drop Strategy.
Besides the two parks, you can also walk to all those other hotels. And of course, you have the entirety of the Boardwalk at your fingertips.
Besides walking, you can take a boat to Hollywood Studios (approximately 16-minute trip, running every 15 minutes) and Epcot (about 2 minute trip). For the most part, we stopped using the boats years ago (we walk), but we occasionally ride them just to keep tabs on them.
From BoardWalk, we endorse always walking to and from both Epcot and Hollywood Studios. Hollywood Studios is a bit of a trip, but shorter than the 20-minute walk from Yacht Club. Particularly when leaving Hollywood Studios at close, the line for the boat can get quite long. The Hollywood Studios walking path was just reopened after a lengthy period with a construction detour. It now has brand new bathrooms just outside of Hollywood Studios.
To reach Magic Kingdom, you’ll have to rely on bus transport. Keep in mind that although you can walk to Epcot, you use a different entrance than the main entrance, so it isn’t practical to walk to Epcot and take the monorail to Magic Kingdom. And, as always, to Animal Kingdom, Disney Springs, Typhoon Lagoon, and Blizzard Beach you’ll rely on bus.
We always recommend you also consider using Uber at Walt Disney World. Finally, keep in mind that if you’re flexible, you can always hop on a bus for Yacht Club, Beach Club, or the Swan & Dolphin and walk home from there. This won’t always save you time, but particularly in the middle of the day (when bus transport is at its worst), it’s a good option.
Food and Dining at BoardWalk
In case you forgot, BoardWalk Inn is on the Boardwalk, which has a ton of dining options. We remind you once more that you can also visit the dining establishments nearby at Yacht Club, Beach Club, Epcot, Swan & Dolphin, and Hollywood Studios. In this post, we’ll simply be covering the dining options at the Boardwalk
Quick Service Food at BoardWalk
This is the part of the review where I throw a fit about deluxe resorts’ lack of quick service options. I don’t get it. You can get all manner of quick service food at the value and moderate resorts, but you’ve got very limited options at the deluxe resorts. BoardWalk offers four quick service restaurants, but stick with us before you decide it’s a quick service paradise.
Belle Vue Lounge is a small lounge just off the BoardWalk lobby. At night, it is a standard bar. During the morning, it offers quick service continental breakfast. Continental breakfast is its only quick service meal.
Leaping Horse Libations is the pool bar at BoardWalk, adjacent to Luna Park Pool. The Dis has the most recent menu I’ve seen (Disney doesn’t keep their online one updated.) Leaping Horse Libations serves hot dogs and sandwiches during the day.
Pizza Window is a pizza window on the Boardwalk between Boardwalk Bakery and Trattoria al Forno. It serves sandwiches, salads, beer, and sangria. It also serves pizza. At Pizza Window, service is through a window. The designers of Pizza Window must have taken naming advice from the designers of BoardWalk Inn.
There are a limited number of tables and chairs, in the immediate vicinity. Pizza Window is open for lunch and dinner (roughly noon to midnight).
BoardWalk Bakery is a small shop specializing in breakfast pastries. They also have sandwiches and salads throughout the day. It offers limited quick service options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Before we move on to Table Service, there are three smaller options to know about on the Boardwalk. BoardWalk To Go is a snack stand right in front of the BoardWalk hotel that sells hot dogs and burgers etc. It does not participate in the Disney dining plan, nor can you pay by Magic Band. Ample Hills Creamery is an awesome ice cream shop next to ESPN Club. It does not participate in the Disney dining plan (not sure about Magic Band).
And there is a funnel cake stand on the Boardwalk as well.
Table Service Restaurants at BoardWalk
BoardWalk has four table service restaurants. We’ll provide brief overviews of them and link to reviews we trust. Our limited experiences with them (and our limited food knowledge generally) don’t qualify us to really speak to their quality.
Flying Fish is the signature restaurant on the BoardWalk, requiring two table service credits for those on the Disney dining plan. As you might guess, the specialty is seafood. The always-great Disney Tourist Blog has a review of Flying Fish.
ESPN Club is a sports bar and restaurant at the end of the BoardWalk. If you’re looking to watch sports at Walt Disney World, this is the place to be. Reservations are only accepted prior to 6PM. If you need a review of ESPN Club, here’s Josh at easyWDW.
Big River Grille & Brewing Works is a microbrewery serving typical bar / pub food. Without insulting it, I want to call it an “ESPN Club Light,” but really its more brewpub than sports bar. It has a few TVs, but the focus will be more on the beer and food here. Here’s TouringPlans on Big River Grille.
Bars at BoardWalk Inn
We discussed the pool bar—Leaping Horse Libations—above. The Boardwalk has four other bars.
We also already briefly mentioned Belle Vue Lounge, which is as close as BoardWalk has to a lobby bar. This lounge, which you’ll recall serves continental breakfast, also operates as a bar from 5PM to midnight. It’s a cozy spot within the hotel, easy enough to pass by without taking notice. There’s ample seating, particularly outside.
AbracadaBar is on the BoardWalk between Flying Fish and Trattoria al Forno. It’s one of our favorite bars at Walt Disney World, with beautiful theming around the idea of magic. Honestly, they could do so much more with the concept (sometimes they don’t even mix the miraculous color-changing drinks in front of you), but the tasty beverages and sharp design make up for any shortcomings.
Jellyrolls is a 21-and-over piano bar on end of the Boardwalk, right by Atlantic Dance Hall. This is more piano bar than Disney bar. It’s pretty nice if you want to try something different while in the neighborhood, but cover is $12.
Atlantic Dance Hall is a 21-and-over dance bar on the end of the Boardwalk, right by Jellyrolls. Unlike Jellyrolls, there’s no cover charge.
The Boardwalk also has a margarita stand, BoardWalk Joe’s Marvelous Margaritas.
Recreation at the BoardWalk Inn
Like every Disney hotel, BoardWalk Inn maintains a decent schedule of activities, including pool games, campfires, and nightly movies under the stars. Additionally, the Boardwalk has additional activities, including Surrey Bike Rental ($) and a few small carnival games ($).
Shopping at BoardWalk
BoardWalk has four stores. Just off the main lobby is Dundy’s Sundries. This is a small shop specializing mostly in Disney Vacation Club gear. Out on the Boardwalk you’ll find two attached stores—Thimbles & Threads and Screen Door General Store. Screen Door General Store sells mostly snack food.
Thimbles & Threads has a decent selection of general Disney merchandise. There’s more here than at other resort stores because of the location on the Boardwalk. If there was some item in the parks you forgot to grab, you might check here. There’s also a good selection of BoardWalk hotel gear.
Finally, there’s a high-end art store, Wyland Galleries selling Disney and non-Disney art. It’s a bit hidden, just around the corner from the general store in the nook by the BoardWalk entrance.
Disney’s BoardWalk Inn — Conclusions
Once Star Wars—Galaxy’s Edge opens at Hollywood Studios, we expect BoardWalk to be one of the most popular hotels on property. Maybe you’re even reading this review because you want to be near Hollywood Studios.
It doesn’t have the newest rooms—you’ll need to go to Yacht Club across Crescent Lake for those—but they are nice and (to repeat myself, sorry) whimsical. They’re not the same quality as Yacht Club, but I definitely could see people preferring BoardWalk, especially if they aren’t into modern aesthetics.
And to say it one last time—location, location, location! The Boardwalk is packing with dining and drinking options, and you’re a walk away from the all options at Epcot. BoardWalk is definitely a hotel to consider if you’re at all interested in being near Epcot or Hollywood Studios.
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