The Boardwalk resort completes Disney’s northeast coast vacation theme: The Yacht Club is at the marina; the Beach Club sits a few blocks from the water; the Boardwalk is where everyone goes for entertainment. Officially, it’s the Boardwalk Inn and Villas, with the “Inn” part referring to the hotel and the “Villas” part referring to a limited number of larger rooms, with kitchenettes, that are part of Disney’s semi-timeshare division, Disney Vacation Club. If DVC guests do not reserve villas, reservationists offer them to everyone.
Unlike most Disney resorts, the Boardwalk resort is both a hotel (Boardwalk uppercase) and a stand-alone attraction (the boardwalk itself, lower case). While all Disney resorts have a handful of shops and restaurants, the boardwalk has stores, restaurants, and bars that operate independently from the Boardwalk Resort. The area, primarily for adults, includes entertainment such as bike rentals and carnival games of chance. It appeals to all Orlando visitors, and attendance isn’t limited to nearby Disney guests. Note to offsite visitors: Disney guards check driver licenses at a security gate, but parking is free and open to everyone.
Many Boardwalk hotel rooms tower over the boardwalk, while other buildings expand toward the parking lot. The pool, while not as extensive as the Yacht & Beach Club, has a kinda-cool amusement park theme, complete with a fake wooden roller coaster slide.
There is little difference between room amenities and service at the Boardwalk or Yacht & Beach Club, and a decision to stay here is usually based on décor and the proximity of extra stuff to do – including a blues bar, ESPN restaurant, and dance hall. The Boardwalk also has convention facilities, which makes a difference to some families.
Who should stay here
Adults tend to like this section generally called the Epcot resort area, in part because families gravitate elsewhere. The greater number of upscale stores and restaurants also appeal to visitors with a bit more money.
Who shouldn’t stay here
Boardwalk Resort is one of Disney’s best – meaning also more expensive – so people who plan to spend most of their time in the theme parks may wish to save vacation money and stay elsewhere. If kids make the decision, they’ll opt for the Yacht & Beach Club because it has a better pool.
Boats ferry guests to either Epcot or Hollywood Studios; both parks are also in not-so-easy walking distance. Hearty guests may walk in the morning; few choose the option after a day in the parks. All other points reached by bus.
Questions to ask when booking
Not all rooms have boardwalk, pool, or lake views, so ask if that’s important – but expect to pay more for scenery. Rooms at the far end come with a longer hike to some services, such as check-in; however, it will take a bit of walking to get from one end of the boardwalk to the other anyway. Ask about conventions that may scheduled, though those facilities sit back from the main guest areas and crowds mainly impact wait times in the bars and restaurants.
Disney’s website: http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/destinations/disneys-boardwalk