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 Funsetdetails 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.
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!