BoardWalk Villas Review
BoardWalk Villas offers Disney Vacation Club resort accommodations at Walt Disney World. In this review, we’ll share photos from the refurbished Studio, compare it to other hotels in the Epcot area, and provide general info. We’ll also discuss how BoardWalk Villas ranks in terms of DVC properties around Walt Disney World. (Updated August 6, 2020.)
For starters, Disney’s BoardWalk Villas have reopened following the multi-month closure of Walt Disney World. However, the hotel side of the property–Disney’s BoardWalk Inn–has not yet resumed operations, and does not presently have a reopening date. Consequently, many of the restaurants along the BoardWalk are currently unavailable.
We’ve stayed at Disney’s BoardWalk Villas in Summer 2020 since the reopening, and share thoughts in a couple of different posts. Our Health Safety Report covers the measures and modifications made in common areas and guest rooms at the BoardWalk Villas. Our Surreal Stay at Walt Disney World: Sunset Funset details the extent to which the stay felt normal & familiar versus surreal & eerie. We have a few more stay at BoardWalk Villas booked in September, November, and December 2020, so stayed tuned for more…
As for the regular review, it’s worth point out up front that Disney’s BoardWalk Villas and BoardWalk Inn have a lot in common. The main hotel and the villas at BoardWalk are part of a single structure, with a wing being carved out of the hotel during construction for a second Disney Vacation Club as a result of the massive popularity of Walt Disney World’s first Disney Vacation Club resort.
Consequently, there’s probably more in common between the hotel and DVC at BoardWalk than anywhere else at Walt Disney World. It’s not just that all amenities are shared, which is the case with most Disney Vacation Club resorts. Unlike Bay Lake Tower and Disney’s Contemporary Resort (for example), at BoardWalk, the hotel building itself is shared. Still, there are some differences to cover.
Naturally, the biggest differences are in the rooms. While the DVC and hotel sides of BoardWalk each offer a variety of room choices, there is no overlap between the two. Thematic similarities, sure, but the room layout and substance differs between the two.
Villa accommodations at the BoardWalk Villas are similar to what you’d find elsewhere at Walt Disney World in terms of layout and features. Studios offer kitchenettes while one and 2-bedroom villas feature full kitchens, plus in-room laundry facilities.
As with all Disney Vacation Club resorts, a set portion of the resort is set aside for the general public to book. This is why BoardWalk Villas is a “Deluxe Villa” resort in addition to being a Disney Vacation Club resort. Rather than booking BoardWalk Villas directly from Disney, we strongly recommend renting DVC points from members who won’t use theirs.
We pretty much only book the BoardWalk Villas during Adventure Season (which coincides with Food & Wine and our early December Christmas trips), and our cost in points (converted to dollars) for one of those standard studios is ~$150/night. Obviously, this is an absolute steal for a Crescent Lake resort.
Unfortunately, this is also normally the most competitive time of year. Standard View and BoardWalk View rooms are among the very best value-for-point picks at 10 and 15 points per night, respectively. That can make them really difficult to book from September through December.
However, that’s not the case for Fall 2020 and this Christmas season. Due to the current real world circumstances and Walt Disney World’s scaled-back operations, we’ve found it comparatively easy to book both room types. (Read our Tips for Renting Disney Vacation Club Points post if you’re thinking of doing a stay here.)
BoardWalk Villas studio rooms now sleep up to 5 people thanks to the pull-down bed, plus the main queen-size bed and the double sleeper sofa. Some sites indicate these rooms sleep 4, but that has changed now that BoardWalk Villas added the pull-down bed.
The total size of (most of) the studios at BoardWalk Villas is 359 square feet, which is almost identical to the 365 square feet size of the Beach Club Villas studios. You can see how this compares to other resorts in our Hotel Room Sizes at Walt Disney World post.
With the basics out of the way, let’s talk room quality and theme. Walt Disney World’s room redesigns over the course of the past few years have been a hot topic that we’ve addressed a lot. I won’t fixate on that, suffice to say Disney had the tough task of balancing theme and luxury, and in some cases we felt that has missed the mark.
Nowhere was that mark missed more than at the BoardWalk Villas. In fairness, the pre-refurbishment rooms were not the paramount of themed room designs. They looked dated and definitely not as rich as BoardWalk Inn’s rooms.
Rather than correcting the problem, the redesign here exacerbated it. What thematic ‘richness’ present in the old style has all but vanished, with only a scattering of flourishes to remind guests that they’re at a boardwalk-themed resort.
Just as problematic, these vestiges of theme are present mostly in stylized photos that themselves have a very 2000s modern vibe to them. In other words, the rooms at BoardWalk Villas traded one ‘time-capsule’ style for another. The one they traded out at least matched the vibe of the resort; the new style seems more fitting of a Holiday Inn that was updated to a “trendy” style a decade ago.
Of course, reasonable minds may differ on all of this. We have friends who like this style, and prefer understated room designs to ‘busy’ themed rooms. We don’t necessarily agree, and frankly find it a bit odd that Disney would redesign rooms mostly used by staunch fans (Disney Vacation Club members) to make them bland and devoid of theme. Presumably, rich theme is exactly what made so many of these guests DVC members in the first place.
With the rooms covered, there really isn’t much that’s unique to the BoardWalk Villas to cover. As noted, all amenities are shared, so we’ll breeze through those…
We’ll start with dining, if only because we consider that to be the most important amenity. BoardWalk has Flying Fish on the fine dining level, Trattoria al Forno for solid Italian table service, ESPN Club for a sports bar/crowd-pleasing option, BoardWalk Bakery for snacks and limited counter service fare, and BoardWalk Pizza Window or Big River Grille if you are in the mood for some self-loathing.
During the first phase of Walt Disney World’s reopening, only Trattoria al Forno, BoardWalk Bakery, and BoardWalk Pizza Window are open. The pizza window is probably the only restaurant at Walt Disney World that has seen a spike in business–every time we walk by, it has a line. (Probably for lack of better options.)
Lunar Park Pool at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn has it all: creepy clowns, whimsical elephants, and a roller coaster water slide. Thematically, it harkens to early 20th century seaside amusement parks, and even though it’s mostly average in terms of overall quality, the design is fun or scary, depending upon your opinions of clowns.
Transportation is a key consideration for any hotel you choose at Walt Disney World, and BoardWalk Villas is mostly strong in that regard. Walking to Disney’s Hollywood Studios or Epcot is awesome, and a great option if you want dinner in World Showcase (or need to stumble home after Drinking Around the World). Boat service is also available to these two parks and is definitely a nice perk. You could also take the Skyliner from International Gateway to Caribbean Beach, Pop Century, Art of Animation, or Riviera Resort if you wanted.
The downside to transportation from the BoardWalk Villas is bus service. It’s fairly bad, and this is in large part because bus service is always shared between at least two of the Crescent Lake resorts. In which case, the close proximity of these resorts makes hopping off wherever the bus stops first an easier option.
Overall, we are big fans of the BoardWalk Villas because of the resort’s location, dining options, overall resort theme…and did we mention the location? For Epcot-centric trips, particularly those during “Festival Season,” BoardWalk is tough to beat for a quick trip using DVC points (we do prefer Beach Club Villas, but that’s a tough reservation to score).
At one point, we had stayed at the BoardWalk more than any other resort, usually staying in the Villas. We’ve shifted away from this in recent years since more Disney Vacation Club resorts have opened in the Magic Kingdom area, but we still enjoy staying at the BoardWalk Villas. Even our disdain for the bland room design is not enough to keep us away, but it is even to drop BoardWalk Villas to the middle of the pack among DVC resorts.
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know. If you’re considering joining DVC, first be sure to read our Ultimate Guide to Disney Vacation Club. If you still can’t decide whether membership is right for you, “try before you buy” and rent points from DVC Rental Store. If you are convinced a membership is for you, check out this DVC buying guide at DVC Resale Market.
Do you agree or disagree with our take on the BoardWalk Villas? Where do these rank for you in terms of Disney Vacation Club resorts? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!
We normally stay in 1BR Villas because my 16 year old son is Non-Verbal Autistic and we tend to spend a lot of time in our rooms. Additionally he has a lot of allergies and sometimes it’s just easier for us to make his breakfast and dinner than try to get something at one of the restaurants that he both likes AND can tolerate. We stayed at Boardwalk and Beachclub both before and after refurbs and overall I think BOTH were made more bland by the refurb, but the fact that they did the BW refurb before BC they did end up keeping the Jacuzzi Hot Tub is now a huge factor of why we prefer BW. BC ended up going with the Soaking Tub they’re putting in all the newly renovated rooms and I definitely like the Jacuzzi style tubs in the 1BR Villas WAY better.
Thanks to all your posts we just rented from dvc rental store and had an amazing experience. We are leaving in 10 days and got the best deal. Thanks for everything.
I love Animal Kingdom Lodge Villas but not the location AND the fact that they don’t have a quiet pool. We end up staying at the Boardwalk many times as we love being able to walk to Epcot and Studios. But we also like having multiple pools. The larger pools with slides are great but it is also nice to be able to go to a pool where you can actually swim.
WHEN do you expect the all star resorts to open? would like to hear from you . thanks for your time
Hello all. Question in regards to BWV 1bedroom. I just booked a 1 bedroom for a few days in March on my DVC points and would like to know of all 1 bedrooms have been refurbished or would I need to request that at check in? Thanks all
I was there on points in a one bedroom villa in 2014. If these pictures are post 2014, I’m very disappointed. The sofa is beyond ugly. I really don’t like this trend to refurb with style from an average Marriott. I stayed in one of the new Beach Club Villas in 2016 (that was a horror show) and hated that refurb as well. Just so blah. However between Beach and Boardwalk, I would re-book Boardwalk. Yes there is a LOT of walking, to reach the “store” you need to go outside (which was literally in the 30’s when I was there) but the grounds are lovely and being so close to Epcot is a HUGE plus. The Lodges (Wilderness/Animal Kingdom) are my favorites but this is a great deal especially point wise.
These photos are all from the last couple of years. Sadly, a lot of the personality was removed in the latest room renovation.
Personally, I thought the old rooms were garish, but everyone has different tastes.
Have all the studios at BW been refurbished or just a far. Was there in 2016, and the unit we were in needed a lot of work. M
Can anyone speak to the comfort of the pull out bed? Would two young adults be miserable by the end of a week trip?
My 2 teens thought it was fine. We LOVE the Boardwalk. The location can’t be beat and we like that they have both the big pool with slide, etc AND quiet pool. I wish more Disney DVC properties had that.
Why don’t you date your reviews? I want to know how old a review is so I can put it in context. This is basic stuff that kids are taught in school: put a timestamp on your work.
I didn’t go to school for blogging, so I guess I missed out on the basics.
You could just ask for a date. No need to be rude..
Tom and Sarah don’t time stamp as they keep their articles updated with any new information that is available. So a post from
2014 can still be used with the updated text (which the Brickers highlight to ensure you know what is new). And this isn’t school – so no need to be follow rules. And I’m pretty sure they teach you not to be rude in school. Thanks Tom and Sarah for all the time and effort you put into this blog. It is much appreciated.
Yes, yes yes Tom Bricker!! I second this. Please start dating your articles. there are too many now and it would help a LOT.
We stayed in a 1 BR in December. I didn’t care of this resort, the location is the main draw.
The bus service was great! It was not shared and they had someone out in the morning calling other buses as need arrived.
Ample Hills is awesome! We ate there twice.
We have an upcoming 10 day stay at the BW villas this April/May. We rented the points and did indeed fall in the range that you mentioned in the post. The process was easy but we did book 11 months out. We picked the Boardwalk because not only did we like the location but for us we like the understated theme of the rooms. When I’m done with a long day at the parks, I want to De-sysitize and just add a bit of calm to my environment. I thought BWV fit that bill. But really – this is an all adult 25th anniversary trip and I could see how it would be different if we had little kids with us.
Sounds like it’ll be perfect for you, then. Have a great trip! 🙂
I find the “Villas” side of Boardwalk Resort to be much more appealing than the “Inn” side.
Better non-boardwalk balcony views and more convenient to the Luna Park pool.
Location-wise, I totally agree with that. I do think the BoardWalk Inn rooms are slightly nicer and more sophisticated…for now.
It would be so helpful to your loyal readers to have dates associated with your posts.
Where applicable, I’ve been adding (Last updated on ___) dates to the beginning of posts. Unfortunately, the built-in date feature for this WordPress theme is wonky, and it causes issues when enabled.
I agree that dates should be included; simply typing the date at the top of the text would work. Usually I look at the comments to see how old the material is. Based on that criteria this appears to be a “new” post. Others show up recently on the blog, but have comments many years old. I take that to mean it was re-posted, perhaps with some updates. Even when an update time is noted, though, it’s not always clear what info is new.
We are a family of four. We always stay at Boardwalk. Last trip at WDW and the only place we at twice was Big River Grille. Everything we had was very very good. We think it’s the most underrated dining option at WDW based on our most recent trip.
How would you compare it to Beach Club in terms of ease of getting to EPCOT/HS? Trying to choose for Arts Fest next year, and more long term, trips to Star Wars Land.
It’s slightly farther from Epcot compared to Beach Club, and the same distance closer to DHS.
So there is creepy clown pool and a dumbo bed, from terrifying to depressing. No thanks
Ok? Maybe just choose a different resort?
The bus to MK is no longer shared with other resorts. This changed a couple years ago.
Are you sure this is a permanent change? It’s been a while since we’ve seen shared buses used, but (if I recall correctly) when we stayed here in November 2016, there were shared buses during non-peak hours.
AK and MK buses are still shared as of our July 2017 visit. It was horrible-it was full from just our Boardwalk stop and then stopped at both Swan & Dolphin.
We are staying at Boardwalk in March for 5 nights. This is our first time staying at this resort. Trying to plan the most strategic way to park hop w/o the long waits of the buses. Is it a better idea to walk through Epcot to get on the monorail to visit Magic Kingdom?
While that would be more scenic and maybe more fun, I don’t see how you would save time. You’d have to walk to and through Epcot, then take the monorail to the TTC, then transfer to the MK monorail. That’s a long time, IMO.
I agree with Robert Alden’s comment. In addition, its a lot of unnecessary walking when you will walking plenty at the MK and during the week.
While this question is old, I figured I’d answer it for anyone else who might be considering this strategy. We did this on our trip in 2016, and while it was scenic (through Epcot), it took forever and was a LOT of walking. I wouldn’t recommend it, unless Epcot is one of the parks you’re hopping from/to.
We did a split stay last year at AKL and BWV. Gotta say, we love BWV. AKL wasn’t bad and Saana was great, but getting anywhere took forever. Might have to give Beach Club a try this year and see how it compares to BWV. Hope we’re not disappointed.
We did a split stay last year at AKL and Boardwalk by renting DVC points. These are different ends of the “theme spectrum” and after a couple days at AKL, the lack of theme at Boardwalk was definitely noticeable. That said, they were comfortable and the pull-down 5th bed is great for families of 5 (even with our family of 3, that is the bed my daughter used).
We did not have to share a bus once in our time at Boardwalk, but bus service was still pretty bad.