Disney’s Boardwalk Resort – An Excellent Resort for Theming and Location
Walt Disney World’s Boardwalk Resort is what I would consider one of the more unexpected stand out offerings in the world of Disney Deluxe Resorts. The Boardwalk is a unique blend of luxury, location, and amenities that is fairly hard to beat in regard to Disney’s Deluxe tier properties. Unfortunately, as always, the Boardwalk and other Deluxe tier resorts tend to accompany a fairly high nightly price tag, but at the same time the cost put in tends to play a role in the overall vacation experience. Some guests may find that a necessary expense for their vacation style while others may prefer more budget friendly accommodations on property (or off – before considering off-property there’s a few things you’ll want to consider – Off-Property At Disney World: What to Consider and Why).
Just last week (March 2018), we had the opportunity to stay at the Boardwalk Resort with some friends and family. Honestly, it was a wonderful vacation, and the resort certainly played a big role in that experience. We were not payed by Disney to make this review (even though I wish we could make that happen lol), but in all reality it was a very expensive out of pocket stay. Thankfully, we used a technique we have in the past to minimize the cost of deluxe resort accommodations by booking a 2 bedroom villa. I know that sounds like the opposite of saving money but we also traveled with a fairly large group so the cost was split among two families, making the overall cost per group far more manageable. It’s not the ideal tactic to save money and book deluxe for every situation, but it’s worked out wonderfully for us and we get to travel with some great friends along the way.
But, with all that being said, this resort isn’t perfect and we’ll gladly share that information as well in today’s article. In the big picture, this is an outstanding place to stay, but it’s different in a few ways that what you may expect from the typical deluxe tier resorts at Walt Disney World. However, it is pretty high on our list of resorts, but it’s hard to beat our top pick of Club Level at Wilderness Lodge. Long story short, we admittedly have high expectations.
At Walt Disney World, as many of you know quite well, everything has a story and while many stories are more elaborate that others you may be surprised at the level of detail built into the Boardwalk experience.
As you walk into the lobby, you’re surrounded by a bit of real life history. From the scale model Illions Carousel (which comes to life each hour), or the Lucy the Elephant Scale Model, to the Luna Park Pool area, to the picturesque views over charming, yet active Crescent Lake, the Boardwalk harkens back to the days of old school Boardwalks readily overlooked in today’s fast paced world.
Based on an elaboration of turn-of-the-century Atlantic City blended with the subtle yet memorable touches of iconic Coney Island, the Boardwalk welcomes a good time while remaining family friendly nearly all hours of the day. As the days turn into nights, the Boardwalk comes alive a few feet above the glistening water of Crescent Lake. Live acts share their talents and tricks, and carnival games allow guests to test their skills and enjoy a piece of the classic boardwalk experience in the heart of central Florida. It’s a surprisingly simple concept, but one that is accomplished so tastefully and in such a unique way that it creates a truly memorable experience. Some day we’ll have to share a closer look at some of the hidden details in the history of the experience, but we’ll save that for another day. Nevertheless, be on the look out for a few hidden details hiding in plain site that really develop the theming to an entirely shocking level.
The Check In Experience at the Boardwalk
A Closer Look at the Villas
Late that night we returned to the resort and picked up our luggage (a very easy process) on the way to the room, instead of having it brought to us, and were pleasantly surprised by our room placement. We managed to get a room location on the main floor, less that a two minute walk from the lobby, a short distance down the hall.
The room itself was a bit oddly set up, but a great set of accommodations for our situation. At the entrance to the room there were two doors. A typical room or studio room would not feature this same set up but with the two bedroom villa it was designed as what Disney called a “lock off.” Essentially the first room was a one bedroom villa with a king bed and a rollout sofa bed with a kitchen and living area. The other room (the second door also opening to the hallway) featured a queen bed and a queen size sleeper sofa in addition to a twin size trundle bed cleverly tucked away under the television.
In theory, Disney splits up these two bedroom villas in the case that it would need to be booked as a studio room and a 1 bedroom villa independently. So, when you book a two bedroom villa of the type you essentially get two adjoining rooms and two doors to the hallway as well. It’s a clever concept and likely makes it easier for Disney to fill resort rooms and accommodate a variety of party sizes.
As for the theming itself, it’s fairly simple. The paint scheme of the room is accented heavily in white but also draws from a fairly bright color pattern and features artwork picturing carnival rides and special Boardwalk-esque experiences. During our stay, the room remained impeccably clean and housekeeping did a wonderful job promptly cleaning the room and replenishing towels and other needed items.
Our upgraded view (as mentioned above) landed us three balconies overlooking the “DVC” pool area and resort recreation section. We mostly faced the smaller of the pools on the property, a select few guests playing ping pong or playing billiards poolside, and a picturesque view of the waterway to Hollywood Studios and the Swan and Dolphin a short piece away. It wasn’t the best view but it was far from the worst! We really enjoyed the few minutes we got to sit back and take it in from the balcony.
A Quick Comparison to Other Disney World Deluxe Resorts
I’ve been fortunate enough over the years to have had the opportunity to stay at quite a few resorts on property. I haven’t stayed a them all but I have visited nearly every resort on property at least once and have stayed at many of them at least once. By comparison to the others, I would put the Boardwalk firmly in the above average to excellent category. It’s not going to beat the iconic Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon Resorts overlooking Magic Kingdom in my opinion, but at the same time this is a wonderful resort and located in one of the best locations on property. You’re a 10 minute walk to Epcot, and 15 minute walk to Hollywood Studios and boat transportation is also provided to each of those locations. On top of that you have typical Disney busses to Disney Springs, Magic Kingdom, and Animal Kingdom. During this trip we only had one issue with bus transportation and that was for an early entry day to Magic Kingdom.
All things consider the transportation is excellent here and provides a great alternative to busses for those who may get carsick (like me) or simply prefer alternate transportation.
From a theming perspective this resort is only rivaled by a select few properties. To me, Wilderness Lodge, Animal Kingdom Lodge, and the Polynesian are the ultimate standard in well themed accommodations. Of course, your opinion will very, but the level of detail at the Boardwalk is something very difficult to overlook and true impressive to see and experience first hand. As you can see in the images in this post, the area is spectacular at night and nearly as beautiful during the day. What you may not be be able to tell in pictures is that this place is covered in little details that make a huge difference in the broader resort look and feel. It’s impressive to say the least and something you should definitely check out even if you don’t plan on staying there during your vacation.
The Ideal Epcot Resort
As a result of the proximity to the park and the transportation options, I see Disney’s Boardwalk as the ideal Epcot resort. Not only is it close to the park and allows access into Epcot’s back International Gateway entrance, but allows you to avoid the crowds to a certain extent during the opening of the park in the mornings. Additionally, with the opening of Toy Story Land and Star Wars on the horizon over at Hollywood Studios, the ease of transportation to that park could be a life saver as those projects draw to completion in the coming year(s) and the heaviest of crowds file into the park.
Given the proximity to these parks, it’s easy to leave the park in the heat of the day, run back to the resort and hit the pool to cool off or freshen up a bit in the room without wasting too much time in the realm of transportation and moving from location to location. Convenient is the ideal way to describe the location and that short amount of saved time each day can add up to a noticeable time savings at the end of your Disney vacation.
The other Epcot resort area accommodations are excellent as well and while the Swan and Dolphin leaves a bit to be desired in the realm of theming, their teacher discounts are a great way to save some money if it applies to your situation. With that being said, the Boardwalk is our top pick of the Epcot area resorts. It’s centrally located, convenient, and in my opinion offers the best bang for your buck out of all the Crescent Lake area properties.
The Boardwalk’s Pool and Recreation
In the realm of recreation, guests and visitors alike can jump on a Surrey bike and tour the entire Crescent Lake area. Tennis courts are available just steps from the main lobby, and a marked running trail borders Crescent Lake for those looking to get a bit of extra exercise in during their stay. Last, but certainly not least, about a 15-20 minute walk away you have the Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf course! It’s an impressive course and even made it onto our list of The “Little Things” We Do At Disney That Can Make All the Difference!
Unfortunately, some of these experiences are not entirely free of charge, but are excellent things to enjoy while visiting the resort nonetheless. Also worth mentioning is that these offerings only scratch the surface of all that is available for you to enjoy at the Boardwalk resort and surrounding area.
Incredible Views From the Boardwalk Itself
WDW Boardwalk Restaurants
For those looking to visit or even stay at the Boardwalk, the dining offerings are quite impressive and expansive to say the least. Unfortunately, if you’re looking for quick service meals, you’re wont find to many options on the Boardwalk itself. While the Boardwalk Bakery and a few of the smaller stands on the boardwalk do offer some unique snack offerings, and a select few meal items, there’s only a select few options in the realm of quick service meals. Thankfully, you’re only a few steps away from Epcot and Hollywood Studios which both offer a large variety of quick service meals of all types. Additionally, while not on the dinning plan, the Dolphin resort is home to Picabu which is a great quick dining offering with a changing menu and daily offerings which make each visit unique. Personally, I highly recommend their breakfast omelettes!
If you’re looking for table service dining you have a ton of options. The property is home to each of the following:
-Big River Grill and Brewing Works
-Trattoria Al Forno
ESPN Club is a great place to catch a sporting event with a vast array of TVs and a fairly impressive menu that features some more unique items while still offering classic cheeseburgers and other items kids and adults alike will enjoy.
Flying Fish is the high end dining establishment of the group and welcomes guests to a menu of a variety of fish and steak offerings in addition to other high end dining staples. For the full menu click here. However, you’ll want to be aware before making your reservation that the dining offerings are seasonal and are subject to change over time.
Trattoria Al Forno is unique in that it offers guests the opportunity to enjoy a character breakfast with Ariel, Prince Eric, Rapunzel, and Flynn Rider or a variation of the group. The meal is quite simple, viewable here, and late in the day the breakfast location transforms the menu and offers up a truly “Italian” dinner in an elegant but not to overly stuffy environment.
With all of those offerings for consideration, it’s a bit tough to pick the select few you’ll get to enjoy during your stay. If you need help narrowing it down or booking any aspect of your vacation, contact our friends at Destinations to Travel (clickable quote request form) for free planning help. Booking with them through our form helps us out here on the site and we appreciate your support.
Our Boardwalk Resort Overview – Our Thoughts
Without a doubt, this is one of the top resorts we’ve experienced first hand on Disney property. The theming is unbelievable and the level of service matches or exceeds the top tier theming. While all of that is true, the best way to describe this experience isn’t through my own experience but rather through the story of a guest I stumbled into on social media a few days ago.
During their stay, the particular guests young child lost a toy they had bought in the parks. The simple purchase was a slinky dog figure, but was somehow lost along the way. Upon returning home, the guests discovered the toy was missing and contacted the resort. The staff of the Boardwalk went above and beyond and not only found a slinky dog, but informed the guests that slinky would be sent to them in the coming weeks. While that’s great on it’s own the cast went beyond expectations and created a photo memoir of Slinky Dogs journey before returning home to the guests. There were pictures of his activities and shared experiences that unveiled a backstory that Slinky wasn’t quite ready to come home. It was a small gesture but one that set the Disney experience apart and made that lasting impression on the guests that will stick with them for years to come. It had to be a magical moment and that story is the only true way to do justice to this resort and it’s incredible staff. (If that guest happens to be reading this, shoot me a message on Facebook or email and I’d be happy to give you credit for the story and would love to add in a few photos if you’re interested!)
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