Resort Review: Boardwalk Inn
Up until this point all the resorts I have reviewed have been Disney Vacation Club resorts. This resort although has a DVC component I will just be dealing with the Inn side of things. This spot holds a very dear place in my heart. So excuse the extra unnecessary information, scroll down if you don’t want my personal story. I grew up going to the Beach Club resort. As we came and vacationed we saw the Boardwalk appear. It went from being empty space to this magnificent place. With great dining, entertainment and ambiance. I always wanted to stay there. It looked so fun and exciting. So on my second trip with my husband, on the trip we became DVC members, we stayed here. I have great memories of this particular trip and when I think about the Boardwalk I yearn to go back. If you’re considering it, friends, the pros far out way the cons. But in the spirit of this blog I will do my very best to provide information that does not show my favouritism to this spectacular Epcot Resort.
This resort is located in the Epcot Resort Area. It has two sides to it. This review is concentrating on the Inn side of things. The other side of the resort is the DVC Villas. This resort is connected to so much, a perk of being in this area. With lots of options for transportation, dining and entertainment. The Boardwalk is an entity of its own. Comparable to Disney Springs but on a much smaller scale. There are rooms at the Inn, the Villas on the Villa side, the pools and recreation on the parking lot end and then there’s the Boardwalk itself. The Boardwalk itself has lots of traffic with people hopping from EPCOT to Hollywood Studios, guests from the neighbouring resorts out for a stroll, patrons for the various lounges, bars and restaurants. This creates a lot of activity and what you’d think would be a lot of noise. But it is generally well maintained. Walt Disney World did a fabulous job creating a resort that is nostalgic to a time where one piece bathing suits were shocking and changing tents were the norm. You can immerse yourself in the story of the Boardwalk.
Boardwalk Inn is nestled in the heart of the Epcot Resort Area. Across the water from the Yacht and Beach Club resorts, this resort is connected to EPCOT through the World Pavilion entrance. You can also walk to Hollywood Studios via the EPCOT Resorts – Hollywood Studios connector. Making this resort a great spot to stay if you plan on going to either park. It’s close proximity to four other resorts also gives you great choices for resort dining. Great for those on the dining plan. Being located so close to two parks is great for accessibility but it creates a lot of activity in the resort area. So it’s not great if you’re looking for a quiet vacation spot. You’re able to hear the fireworks from both nighttime shows. You can actually watch a bit of them if you station yourself in the right spot. That being said if you’re looking to be able to get to bed at an early time or you have youngsters who go to bed at an early hour this may be an issue. Also if you’re a light sleeper I’d take this into account.
As mentioned above the Boardwalk Inn is stationed between two of the four theme parks. Giving you great accessibility for both Hollywood Studios and EPCOT by foot or by boat. Bus transportation is available for all other areas. The bus stop is located outside of the lobby near the parking lot. Exit the lobby and head east, towards the convention centre. Ver right before reaching the convention centre. The boat launch is located in the centre of the boardwalk. Make your way to the hear of the boardwalk, directly across from the lawn and you will find the boat launch down the dock.
This bus ride is not very long, maybe 15 minutes.what takes up your time is how many stops you make on this bus.
There are three ways to get to EPCOT: by bus, by boat or by foot. By bus, you would pick this up at the bus stop. Now this is by far the slowest way to get to EPCOT, but it’s the only way you can go in through the main entrance and get the money shot of the iconic symbol of EPCOT, spaceship earth. You could always walk through the world pavilion and snake around to the front to get the view but it’s not the same as walking in and seeing it in all its splendour. Also World Showcase doesn’t typically open until 11am, so you’re having to go to Future World as it is. The friendship boat found at the boat launch will take you to the World Showcase entrance of EPCOT. Make sure to take the proper boat because there’s also a boat that will take you to Hollywood Studios. Now this again is not the fastest way but it is certainly unique and fun. Lastly you can walk. It’s only half a km to the entrance to World Showcase, no big deal right. But EPCOT is HUGE. You’re going to be walking A LOT during a day at EPCOT so if you want to save your legs then take the boat or the bus. Again, World Showcase isn’t open until 11am. So you have to walk through World Showcase to get to Future World as it is. This is a great exit to use though. Especially since you’re going to watch Illuminations in that area of the park anyways. So be sure to use this way on your way back to the Boardwalk Inn.
There’s two ways to get to Hollywood Studios from Boardwalk Inn. The first is to take the boat launch and the second is to go by foot. They are about the same amount of time. The boat feels like it takes longer because it is out of your control. Whereas the walk actually takes a long time and can be killer on the feet. If you are walking be sure to leave via the lobby side not the Boardwalk side. Unless of course you’re grabbing breakfast at one of the fabulous places on the Boardwalk. To get to the Epcot Resort Area Hollywood Studios connector (the walkway connecting the resorts to the Hollywood Studios entrance) leave the lobby entrance and make your way down the right hand sidewalk. Walk all the way down until you reach the parking lot and make an immediate right. You will see the tennis courts up ahead and then make your way onto the connector. It’s certainly not the most glamorous way to get to the sidewalk but it saves some mileage for sure. And this entrance to the Boardwalk is also lit up beautifully at night so you could also go this way on the way home. The boat launch is located in the heart of the Boardwalk. This is a really relaxing way to get to Hollywood Studios. It does stop at the other resorts first before heading to the park so that can be a bit of a pain. And right now with the little amount there is to do at Hollywood Studios you don’t really need to save your legs. The majority of things going on at Hollywood Studios is stage shows, so you’ll be sitting a lot of the day. So I would recommend walking.
The only way to get to the Animal Kingdom is by bus. The ride isn’t that long, but same as the Magic Kingdom you’ll be stopping at the other resorts in the area which adds time to your travel. And once Blizzard Beach opens for the day it will stop there as well. With the opening of Pandora there’s going to be more and more guests heading to the Animal Kingdom so be sure to get to the bus stop at least a half an hour before you wish to get to the park. In the morning there are more buses to account for guests wanting to get to the park for opening time but there is nothing worst then arriving at the bus stop to find out you just missed the bus and will have to wait about 15 minutes for the next one. Therefore give yourself lots of time.
Make your way to this shopping, dining and entertainment district via the bus. As per all the other bus transportation you will also be picking up other guests along the way. The Disney Springs bus is typically not very busy, so there will always be lots of room. This bus also stops at Typhoon Lagoon when it’s open. If you are trying to get to Disney Springs for a restaurant reservation then give yourself an hour before your reservation. If you get to Disney Springs long before your dining time you can explore shops and maybe catch some live entertainment. There are two bus stops at Disney Springs, the Marketplace and the West Side. This is also a great bus to take if you plan on doing some pool hopping over at Saratoga Springs.
Head to Blizzard Beach on the bus. This bus also goes to the Animal Kingdom. It will stop at Blizzard Beach about a half hour before it opens. If you’re looking to spend the whole day there then I would head to the bus stop at 9:30. That way you get a spot picked out and you get on some of the water slides before it starts getting busy.
To get to Typhoon Lagoon you will be taking the Disney Springs bus. So that’s a lot of destinations for one bus to take. All the Epcot resorts, the two Disney Springs stops and Typhoon Lagoon. So you’ll be on the bus for a while before reaching your destination.
ESPN Wide World of Sports
During Run Disney events you can find a bus to this sports centre at the convention centre. Also during the Night of Joy concert weekend there’s bus transportation provided. All other times of year make your way to the All-Start Sports Resort, Pop Century and the Caribbean Beach Resort on Thursdays-Mondays 5p-11pm. If there’s an event going on outside of those dates check with the concierge to see if there’s transportation from those hotels to get you to the complex. To get to any of these resorts simply walk to Hollywood Studios and jump on their resort bus.
There are three pools at the Boardwalk Inn. Even though this resort is in close proximity to the Yacht Club and the Beach Club resorts you can’t pool hop to their pools. If you want to enjoy pool hopping you’ll have to do so by going to other resorts. For all this resort has to offer the pools definitely need to be updated. We were thinking of staying here on our upcoming vacation but with our kids being preschoolers the pools are not ideal for them. If you have preteens, teens or are doing an adult-only vacation then the pools will be sufficient for your trip.
This pool is the one you see all the pictures of, with the waterslide coming out of the clown’s mouth. The waterslide looks like a rollercoaster ride, fitting in with the Boardwalk theme. This pool is surrounded by Disney Vacation Club villas, with colourful siding, which adds to the fun atmosphere. This pool is oddly shaped with steps located around the entry points. There’s areas around the pool with lounge chairs, table and seats with umbrellas. There’s not a lot of lounge chairs so if you plan on spending the day down at the pool it’s best to come down at an early hour and claim your spot. This pool has steps at each point of entry. This is not a zero-point entry pool. Making it a little deep for young ones or non-confident swimmers. Close by there is a kiddie pool with elephants encircling the pool with water pouring out of their trunks. Beside this is a dry ground playground as well. This is enclosed with a gate and fence. Bordering this pool is a building with showers and bathrooms. Great for if you are pool hopping here or need to quickly clean yourself off before grabbing a bite to eat at Captain’s Grille. This pool also has a bar conveniently located in the vicinity. Offering a few snacks and sandwiches, their primary service is liquor. For lunch you’ll get better offerings at the bakery down on the boardwalk. Just make sure to wear your shoes. There’s also a whirlpool steps away. Not very big. I would use the whirlpool located at the other pools at this resort before using this one. At this location your going to have kids running past you as they make their way to the 200-foot water slide. The only time of year you may find this to be a good whirlpool location is September, early December and January. To find this pool exit the lobby towards the Boardwalk. As you are walking towards the water you will see the arcade on your left. Pass the arcade and you will enter into the Luna Park Pool area.
This quiet pool is located in the next section of villas. This pool is your normal hotel pool with steps in and out. Good for doing laps and taking a relaxing swim. There are plenty of lounge chairs around this spot. For being a quiet pool though it’s not that quiet. With the community hall bordering this pool you’ve got people coming and going renting bicycles and enjoying all the recreational activities available at the community hall. If you’re looking for a place to really relax I would suggest the quiet pool on the Inn side of the resort. To find the Villas Pool walk along the EPCOT resort area Hollywood connector, past the Luna Park Pool and you will see it located on your left. Or you can get there from the inside of the hotel on the bottom floor of the villas section of the resort. You can not get back in this way unless you are staying at a Villa. If you’re staying at the inn you’ll have to return to your room via the lobby entrance on the Boardwalk side or parking lot side.
This pool is a hidden gem. You must come and at least walk around this area of the resort. Nestled in between the conference centre and the outer building garden rooms, this quiet pool is secluded. The pool itself is nothing fancy. There’s no lifeguard, there’s no waterslide, no pool activities. For adults having a romantic getaway, it’s a beautiful spot to come spend the evening. It was here we met a wonderful couple, having also just completed the Goofy Challenge in 2012 and who told us of drinking around the world. To get to this pool go to the elevators in the lobby on the inn side of the Boardwalk and follow the signs to the pool.
There are many places to sit and enjoy a meal at the Boardwalk. Mostly the restaurants are located on the Boardwalk itself but there’s also the pool bar and the lounge nestled on the lobby floor of the Inn. And don’t forget this resort is within walking distance of the Yacht Club and Beach Club Resorts giving you access to even more variety of table service and quick-service dining experiences.
This restaurant is part of the Signature Dining Restaurants. So it will cost you 2 table service dining credits if you’re using the dining plan. This restaurant has a small menu featuring seafood entrees and fruit inspired desserts. This is one I would indulge in if you are a lover of seafood. And can appreciate a high quality seafood dish. This restaurant is located on the Boardwalk, if you are heading outside from the lobby it will be your first right facing the water. This restaurant only serves dinner, and you should be able to get a reservation a few weeks ahead of time. Hours are from 5:00pm-9:30pm.
This Italian restaurant opened last year, and quickly became a favourite for us. We had a delicious meal and great service. They offer breakfast and supper here. The breakfast meal is a character meal with Ariel, Prince Eric, Rapunzel and Flynn Ryder. This is a reservation you have to book 180 days before, because it’s a great price for a character meal and it’s the only place to meet Prince Eric. With Italian food you also can’t go wrong. There’s going to be something for everyone on this menu. Trattoria Al Forno is located on the eastern side of the Boardwalk after the AbracadaBar and before the Pizza Window. Hours are from 7:30am-11:00am and 5:00pm – 10:00pm.
Big River Grill & Brewing Works
This microbrewery offers 6 draught beers made on site. It has a large selection of appetizers making it a great place to sit with friends and enjoy a few cold ones. Share some good food, great drinks, memories and great atmosphere. With a bar, dining room and patio out on the Boardwalk there’s a nice selection of places to sit. The lunch menu is served from 11:00am-4:00pm with the dinner menu beginning at 4:00pm-11:00pm. At this restaurant you’re going to find a variety of pub style food, which may be lacking from your Disney Vacation. Big River does take the dining plan but they do not take reservations. Having been around this resort many times they always have room for one more. Or if they don’t have room you can always try one of the other restaurants in the area.
Come watch your favourite team play on the big screen while you enjoy a meal with your family. This large restaurant has a vast menu with appetizers, burgers, sandwiches and desserts. Again nothing to really write home about or take away as the best meal on your trip, but if you’re looking for a last minute place to beat the heat or tune out from a busy vacation this could be a great place to do that. Located at the end of the east end of the Boardwalk, with the hours 11am until 12pm you can eat or drink at the bar or in the dining room.
This place is the best. On our Goofy Challenge vacation we got something from here everyday. Whether it was a breakfast sandwich, a cupcake, a muffin or to refill our refillable mugs. This bakery is open from 6:30am-11:00pm with delicious bakes good and coffees. There’s nowhere to enjoy your food inside but there are a few tables on the boardwalk where you can sit and indulge. The bakery is located on the east side of the Boardwalk, after the pizza window and before the creamery.
Stop here to grab a pizza combo for lunch or dinner. Or you can grab a whole pizza for the whole family to enjoy (this is a great use of the dining plan). Pop your head in the window and order and then take your pizza to your room or enjoy it on the tables and chairs along the boardwalk. Open from 11:00am-12:00am, this is a great place to stop and grab a slice after a day at the parks. Located on the east side of the Boardwalk after Trattoria Al Forno and before the Boardwalk Bakery.
The To-Go Cart
Find this little spot on the waters edge of the Boardwalk, with everything you’d expect to find in this kind of atmosphere. With a long list of things that come in baskets, this spot does not count on the dining plan as meal credits. You can find corn dogs, fried ravioli, pulled pork, meatball subs, and of course chill fries and cheese & chilli dogs. Embrace the Boardwalk by enjoying some deliciously bad for you food. This spot is open from 12:00pm-10:00pm.
Funnel Cake Cart
This midway themed cart features funnel cakes and fried ice cream. Enjoy one of these delicious treats while walking to Boardwalk. This cart is also found on the waters edge of the Boardwalk on the western side of the dock. The funnel cake cart is open in the evening, from 6:00pm-11:00pm.
Ample Hills Creamery
A creamery based out of NY. With a variety of options for your small or large cone. Come and enjoy an ice cream after a delicious meal at Trattoria Al Forno or after enjoying a Surrey Bike Ride. This location is open from 12:00pm-11:00pm. Found on the easter side of the Boardwalk after the Bakery and before the ESPN Club.
Leaping Horse Libations
Found poolside at the Luna Park Pool. Don’t loose your lounge chair when you’re in need of a snack or a quick lunch. The Leaping Horse Libations offers a few sandwiches, snacks, ice creams bars and kids meal. Open from 11:00am until 8:00pm.
Belle Vue Lounge
Located on the Inn end of the Boardwalk. Stop here for a glass of wine or a cocktail. Sit at the bar or relax with a book or game at one of the variety of tables, chairs or couches. It’s a great place to come and enjoy some quality time as a couple or family. We spent quite a bit of time here on our Goofy Challenge Vacation. They do offer some easy breakfast options in the morning but don’t be swayed. Even if you’re heading out to the bus stop make the extra walk down to the bakery for more selection. Open from 6:30am-11:00am and 5:00pm-12:00am. To find this lounge leave the lobby and head towards the Inn elevators and the lounge will be on your immediate left.
Open from 5:00pm-12:00am come and enjoy a pre-drink cocktail at this lounge located beside the Flying Fish. There’s a selection of wine, beer and other alcoholic beverages. This unique magic themed spot doesn’t offer any food. A fun spot to spend the evening or end the evening after a day at EPCOT or Hollywood Studios.
Adult Only Venues
Atlantic Dance Hall.
Come enjoy a night of dancing. Open from 9pm until 2am Tuesdays-Saturdays this Dance Hall looks reminiscent to the era of the Boardwalk but is contemporary once you walk in the doors. With music from ranging from the 80s to current hits you can see music videos playing on the big screen. Go up on the second floor to enjoy a drink or cut a rug on the dance floor. This is a place to go if you enjoy dancing but if you’re looking to enjoy the company of your companion then Jellyrolls would be a better spot to do so. Check the schedule outside before making this your destination for the evening to make sure there isn’t a special event booking. Find the Atlantic Dance Hall on the Western Edge of the Boardwalk. Expect a cover charge.
Located across from Atlantic Dance Hall, enjoy a drink with members of your party 21 and older. With pianists playing crowd pleasing songs expect an enjoyable evening. With a cover charge plan to spend a couple of hours here to get your moneys worth. Jellyrolls is open from 7pm until 2am.
At the Boardwalk Inn there are the standard rooms with Standard view and Water view. There are also rooms and suites available at the Club Level which offer standard rooms, deluxe rooms, Outer Bldg Garden rooms and Boardwalk View.
In these rooms you can expect your regular hotel room. These rooms are a cut above the rooms you would find at a moderate level resort. Open entering the room you will have a closet behind the door and the bathroom on the opposite. With two sinks located outside of the bathroom. This is great for the mornings everyone is trying to get ready at the same time. The bathroom has your standard tub & shower combo and toilet. The room features two queen size beds and a pull-out sofa bed. There’s a little unit before the closet as well that features a mini-fridge and some glasses. A dresser also comes with the room, found underneath the TV. Each room comes with it’s own coffee maker and coffee mugs. The majority of rooms have walk out patios or decks. Giving room for two chairs and a little table. These rooms can have a garden view, or a parking lot view. You can also get a Boardwalk view for a higher price. The garden view rooms are very beautiful, with some over looking the Eiffel Tower found in the French Pavilion at the World Showcase. These rooms are not large but they have everything you need, with room for five to sleep. With two in each queen size bed and one on the sofa/day bed. Room cos varies between $408- 518 per night depending on your view.
Club Level Rooms
There are three styles of rooms available at the club level. One with a standard and boardwalk view, a Deluxe room and outer building garden rooms. Having a room at club level gives you access to the club lounge which serves a continental breakfast, snacks throughout the day and drinks in the evening. There are beverages available throughout the day and something to munch with substantial food items at breakfast time and supper hour. This is included in the cost of the rooms on this level. The Standard and Boardwalk view rooms are the same as those found above. The Deluxe rooms offer a sofa bed which then gives you the ability to add one more guest to your room. Lastly, the rooms of the outer building are more like a villa. With a seating room offering you a walk out garden. You have a separate entrance you access through the courtyard, upon entering you see a sectional, a tv unit, desk and small kitchenette. Above is the bedroom that over looks the downstairs. With an ensued attached, you have a soaker tub and stand up shower. This room only has a king size bed so this luxurious room is only suitable for a couple. The separate garden entrance certainly make these spaces unit and desirable. Cost varies from $596-782 per night depending on the view and room chosen.
Head to the Boardwalk’s fire pit to roast marshmallows and spend some quality time with your party. This fire pit is located by the Villas quiet pool and the community hall. From the lobby head out to the Boardwalk and head to your left to the Luna Park Pool. Walk past the Luna Park Pool to the next pool on your left on your way to Hollywood Studios. The fire pit is on your left when you enter said area.
This community hall is located amongst the Villas buildings and the villa pool. It borders the walkway to Hollywood Studios. Here’s you’ll find boardgames, toys, a foosball table, video games and arts and crafts. Check your recreation schedule for the hours of operation.
This movies under the stars is located in the heart of the boardwalk on the lawn. Curl up for the ultimate Movie Night. Just be sure to check the schedule beforehand to make sure it’s a suitable title for your family and also bring along some bug spray.
Rent a bike and take your exercise up a notch. Bike around the boardwalk, yacht club and beach club resorts. You can rent single riders or surrey bikes which can handle 2 or 4 people. A fun and unique activity to share with the whole group. Head to the Community Hall for your 1 person rental. For surrey bikes rent them at the heart of the boardwalk.
Head to the community hall to rent some rackets, unless of course you brought your own. These tennis courts are located off the walkway to Hollywood Studios. These courts are a first come first serve basis. They are lit which allows you to play later. Open from 9am-10pm, use your room key or magicband to gain access. Looking to learn a few skills while your here, call (321) 228-1146 to book a less for yourself or a group.
There’s a great playground located in the Luna Park Pool area. It’s gated off which is fantastic for those littles who tend to run like the wind. Now this may seem redundant for some people but the playground is a great place to go on a non-park day to run off some of that dessert for supper. Or it’s a great way to start a day if you’re littles are up really early. To find this playground head towards the luna park pool. If you’re entering the area from the arcade end then the playground will be on your right past the kiddie pool. If you’re entering the area from the dolphin and swan resorts it will be on your immediate left.
Side Shows Games Arcade
Perfect for a rainy day. Come here and play some air hockey, racing car games or basketball style games. To get here leave the lobby and descend the stairs on the left. Walk towards the boardwalk and the arcade is on your immediate left.
Yoga on the Lawn
Start your day of with some relaxed exercise. On Monday and Wednesday mornings at 8:30am head to the lawn at the heart of the Boardwalk. Be there early because there is only room for 20 guests. These spots are reserved for people staying at the Boardwalk. Mats are provided.
Head over to the Fantasia Gardens and Fairways for a game of miniature golf. If you have a water parks and more ticket package then this can be included as one of those bonus days. If not it’s $14.00 per adult and $12.00 for kids 3-9 years old. There are two different courses, a nice variety to return to on your next vacation or go back to another night. To get here take the boat to the swan and dolphin or walk across the bridge to this resort. Walk through the courtyard, hugging the water until you pass the first pool on your left. When you pass the first pool on your left take that sidewalk and cross the street. At this point you’ll be on the miniature gold property.
The Boardwalk is an ideal location for runners. You can run the Boardwalk loop countless times to the miles in or you can you use the street encircling the Epcot Resort area. Also you can hop on the walkway to Hollywood Studios. I love running around here. There’s so much to look at on the Boardwalk side, and on the Beach Club and Yacht Club side. Beware, the walkway to Hollywood Studios isn’t shaded so run early in the day and bring water. Here’s a route that I love.
Located in the heart of the Boardwalk come into this art gallery and discover some beautiful one of a kind paintings. Featuring art by Thomas Kinkade and James Coleman. Walk around and marvel at the pieces of art on the display for purchase.
Muscles & Bustles Health Club
Head to the gym to stay fit on your Disney Vacation. Open 24 hours, find this fitness location under the Boardwalk Villas across from the arcade. So head outside of the Boardwalk lobby and walk towards the Luna Park Pool and you will walk right past the gym. It is only open to guests staying at the Boardwalk. Those between the age 14 and 17 must be accompanied by an adult.
Located off the Boardwalk Lobby head here for magazines, books and other vacation necessities. There’s a couple of apparel items, purses and jewelry. It’s worth a stop if you’re looking for something unique to the Boardwalk. You can find DVC member clothing here.
Thimbles & Threads, Disney’s Character Carnival, Screen Door General Store
Found on the western side of the Boardwalk, these three stores are connected all the way through. Each has their own selection. Thimbles & Threads is a clothing store. You can find great adult Disney attire that is obviously Disney and others that could be found at any store. This is a great place to find a sweatshirt if you’ve forgotten one. Character Carnival has more children’s clothes and toys. Lastly, Screen Door General Store has your necessities, like peanut butter, bread, milk, cereal and so on. Plus lots of delicious Disney treats.
Overall the Boardwalk Inn is a beautiful resort. It’s in an ideal location. I would recommend it to those who are doing an adult only vacation or vacation with tweens and teens. It’s not a great spot for young kids, with no zero entry pool and the level of noise at night time. If you’re looking for a Disney vacation filled with excitement, great food and entertainment then this is the spot for you. You head down to the Boardwalk every night and watch the entertainers, you can dine at a different restaurant every night. If you’ve never stayed here then I would put it on your bucket list. Happy Planning.