Disney’s BoardWalk Inn is a deluxe resort hotel and Disney Vacation Club villa at Walt Disney World, located within walking distance of Epcot on Crescent Lake. We first stayed at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn during our honeymoon in 2010. Since then, we’ve stayed at the BoardWalk Inn and BoardWalk Villas more than any other resort hotel at Walt Disney World. Our most recent visit was in early 2014, at which time we updated this review.
Disney describes the resort as capturing, “the charm, whimsy and elegance of 1940s Atlantic City.” This marketing lingo actually couldn’t be more accurate. Disney’s BoardWalk Inn is a really charming resort featuring a “working” Boardwalk entertainment district complete with restaurants, night-time entertainment, and recreation. Perhaps most importantly, Disney’s BoardWalk Inn is situated just a short walk from Epcot’s International Gateway entrance on Crescent lake (adjacent to the Swan & Dolphin Resorts and Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club resorts). BoardWalk Inn guests also receive MagicBands and can make FastPass+ reservations. Learn more about this in our MyMagic+ FAQ.
In addition to staying at the BoardWalk several times, we have also dined at Flying Fish Cafe and Big River Brewing Works, and partied at Jellyrolls and Atlantic Dance Hall. Thanks to those wonderful experiences on the Boardwalk (minus Atlantic Dance Hall!), we have fallen in love with the place.
As mentioned, we first stayed at the BoardWalk for our honeymoon. This came about after extensive time crunching the numbers. We determined that, all things considered (including yearly maintenance fees and the time value of money) that it would not be that much more expensive for us to purchase a small Disney Vacation Club contract on the resale market than it would be to book a room at the Polynesian. Obviously, a room at the Poly for our honeymoon would have no residual value whereas we would be able to use the Disney Vacation Club contract for years. Plus, it would save us ~$275 each year on Annual Passes! Since it’s sort of a tangent to this review, you can read more about our rationale for doing this in our Disney Vacation Club Buying Guide.
In our minds, Disney’s BoardWalk Inn is INNcredible! (Yeah, I’m that lame.) I’ve read previously in Disney War that Michael Eisner spent a lot of time fussing over the details of the Crescent Lake resorts because they reminded him of summers in New England. This might explain why, ostensibly, the resorts are all very similar in theme. However, I think if you look a little deeper, there are substantial differences among the three resorts. It might be nicer if they were radically different from one another, but I think each are beautiful in their own right.
One of my favorite areas of the BoardWalk Inn is the lobby itself. While it doesn’t have a grand lobby like Wilderness Lodge or some other Deluxes, it has a ton of detail. From the miniature Boardwalk complete with rollercoaster to the beautiful light fixtures to the elephant statues and more. It is extremely well-appointed, and a great place to just sit and relax in the morning.
Despite having a relatively small footprint, resort itself actually has a lot of relaxing areas to escape the hustle and bustle of the BoardWalk entertainment area itself (not that there’s that much hustle and bustle in the first place). Beautiful gardens and out of the way benches can provide a relaxing reprieve for relaxing.
Much adieu is made about Disney pools, and BoardWalk’s main pool does not disappoint in this regard. Themed to an old-time Atlantic circus, the pool is very cool, and its water slide, themed to look like a wooden rollercoaster and featuring an “interesting” clown at its end, is quite a hoot. It may not have a sand bottom or a lazy river, but it’s definitely one of the top Walt Disney World pools, in my opinion.
The rooms are also excellent. Keeping with the Atlantic Boardwalk theme, the rooms use a subdued and almost pastel color scheme, and feature beautiful paintings and fixtures (notice the Minnie Mouse lamp in the corner above) to convey the sense that you’re staying in a vacation room just minutes from an actual turn-of-the-century boardwalk. With the exception of the turn-of-the-century part, you are!
The restrooms are on the average side. The shower and toilet in a different room than the double sinks, which is nice, but other Deluxes certainly have nicer/larger restroom-areas. There’s certainly nothing wrong with the set-up at the BoardWalk Inn, though. It’s just not praise-worthy.
To us, these rooms capture the essence of the Victorian-era theme well, without making the room feel dated at all. This has long been our criticism of the Grand Floridian–that it didn’t feel elegant enough because the luxury accommodations stumbled over the theme. BoardWalk doesn’t aim for the same level of luxury as the Grand Floridian, but it arguably hits the mark much better than the Grand Floridian. In short, the rooms at the BoardWalk Inn and BoardWalk Villas balance luxury and theme very well.
We found the resort to be exceptionally clean and maintenance to be impeccable. On occasions when we’ve dragged ourselves home at 4 am after Evening Extra Magic Hours in the Magic Kingdom, we have seen Cast Members painting hand rails and undertaking other improvements to the resort. It’s this kind of maintenance that establishes the BoardWalk as one of the premiere Walt Disney World resorts. It’s also nice to stay at the BoardWalk when there are Evening Extra Magic Hours at Epcot, because the hotel is just a short walk from the park!
We mentioned it above, but it bears repeating. BoardWalk’s location is awesome. It could have been one of the worst resorts at which we’d ever stayed (it was not, it was the best thus far), and that location would have still been wholly redeeming. Only 5 minutes from Epcot. Only a few minutes to Kouzzina, Flying Fish, and Big River Brewing Company. Only 10 minutes from Beaches & Cream and Cape May Cafe. Although I love the monorail resorts, I think the Epcot resorts might have them beat!
Overall, we don’t have a single negative thing to say about Disney’s BoardWalk Inn. Its ambiance, entertainment offerings, and proximity to dining and Epcot are all huge selling points. The rooms are well-themed, combining nice accommodations with a sense of design that is distinctly Disney, but not over the top or garish. About the only conceivable negative, I guess, is that if you have small children the theme may not be so appealing to them (with the exception of the pool). The real negative, though, is that once you stay there you’ll be hooked, and it will cost you in the long run in the form of the cost of future stays!
Considering booking Disney’s BoardWalk Inn? Visit Expedia’s BoardWalk Inn page for for current promotions and discounted rates!
Not sure which Walt Disney World hotel is right for you? Check out our Walt Disney World Hotel Reviews page, which offers quick-hit capsule reviews of the strengths and weaknesses of every Walt Disney World hotel, plus links to our reviews and photo pages for every hotel we have reviewed.
Looking for comprehensive Walt Disney World vacation tips? Make sure to read our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide.
If you’ve stayed at BoardWalk, what do you think of it? Do you prefer its location to the monorail resorts? Share your thoughts in the comments!