BoardWalk’s Grand Villas: View with a Room

When it comes to the best resort rooms at Walt Disney World, you can usually have a combination of luxury, size, themed design, or unbeatable views. The 3-Bedroom Grand Villas at Disney’s BoardWalk offer two of the four things.

We’re big fans of BoardWalk Inn and its Disney Vacation Club villas, primarily for its location within walking distance of EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, proximity to other Crescent Lake hotels, and theme of the resort as a whole. For a few years, it was the DVC resort we stayed at most thanks to all of those variables plus bang for buck.

There’s still a lot we love about the BoardWalk, but its last room redesign made it fall out of favor with us. Nevertheless, when friends gave us the opportunity to check into their Grand Villa before they arrived, we took advantage of the opportunity to check it out. Given the nightly cost ($2,6000 to $4,300 or 76-145 points), it’s pretty unlikely we’ll ever book this ourselves.

At 2,142 square feet, the Grand Villas are the second largest rooms at the BoardWalk, barely edged out by the Presidential Suite, which is 28 square feet larger. We’ve only seen photos and video of that and the Vice Presidential Suite online, but judging by those, the flagship hotel rooms are much nicer than this DVC room.

Same goes for the Presidential Suite at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort, which we actually had the chance to stay in not too long ago. That remains the coolest and “peak suite” at Walt Disney World. None of this is to say the Grand Villas at BoardWalk are slouches…but they sort of are.

Our circumstances at the BoardWalk Grand Villa were similar to our recent visit to the Copper Creek Grand Villa at Wilderness Lodge, having a limited window of time to “test drive” each.

Going from one of the newest Disney Vacation Club resort rooms to one of the oldest threw things into stark relief.

One common criticism of newer resort rooms at Walt Disney World is that they’re bland, generically designed, and thematically lacking.

We’ve frequently derided these rooms for resembling a mid-tier chained-brand hotel. Aside from a few flourishes and wall art, there’s nothing distinctly Disney about them. They’re virtually indistinguishable from a Hilton.

However, a selling point of newer guest rooms at Walt Disney World is their improved functionality and finishings.

In particular, we’ve heaped praise on the new rooms at Disney’s Riviera Resort (a property we otherwise don’t love) for iterating upon past successes and failures and coalescing into something with a lot of smart flourishes and design elements that improve the quality of a stay. These newer rooms may not hit all of the thematic high notes, but there’s a lot to like about them.

However, Walt Disney World fans often fixate on what’s missing, not to our personal tastes, or a step back as compared to richly-themed styles of the past.

Nostalgia is powerful, and it’s easy to look back with a certain fondness or through rose-colored glasses while glossing over shortcomings. Not casting aspersions here–I am very much guilty of this.

I mention all of this because seeing the relatively new Copper Creek Grand Villas followed by the relatively old BoardWalk Grand Villas drove that home.

Comparing them side by side…there’s honestly no comparison. In almost every regard, Copper Creek is an improvement. Sometimes markedly so.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the kitchen. I don’t purport to be an appliance expert, but even I can see a night and day difference between the old and the new.

Copper Creek features a spacious area with modern, high-end appliances and thoughtful, custom design. BoardWalk’s cramped setup reminds me of our place in college. We weren’t exactly living the high life then, so that’s not high praise. It’s like a low-end condo.

The Grand Villas at BoardWalk actually feel a bit like the worst of both worlds.

The core layout is out of the 1990s before Disney found its groove with DVC resorts; the aesthetics are a result of a refresh within the last decade that pared back the theme. The end result is bland and basic.

I don’t really know what else to say about the style of these rooms.

They are so boring and unremarkable that not much commentary is warranted. Even low hanging fruit like the “artwork” on the walls is awful.

This is the laundry room…complete with random table for overflow bar seating, I guess?

It’s actually fairly noteworthy because this room is large and squanders some of the suite’s square footage. It’s significantly bigger than other DVC laundry rooms, which are typically closets.

While ranting, raving, and just generally shaking my fist about everything I dislike inside the Grand Villa at BoardWalk, I headed out to the balcony.

Okay, I love this room.

I’m only partially kidding.

I’m a total sucker for a good view. Of the ~5 hours we spent “in” the BoardWalk Grand Villa after taking photos and video, over 4.75 hours of that time were spent on the balcony.

Obviously, actually staying in this room would change the equation. We probably wouldn’t sleep on the balcony, get dressed on the balcony, shower on the balcony, go to the bathroom on the balcony, and so on. Probably.

Nevertheless, we would spend about 75% of our room time on the balcony if we booked this room. Every morning for sunrise; every evening watching sunset transition to nighttime as the BoardWalk comes alive. It would also offer great views of fireworks at EPCOT.

Every room at Walt Disney World has its own selling points.

In the case of the BoardWalk Grand Villas, proximity to the parks and views of Crescent Lake are the main ones. (Size being the other obvious advantage, but that’s true of all Grand Villas.)

Ultimately, we both really enjoyed our limited time on the expansive balcony of the Grand Villa at Disney’s BoardWalk Villas. This is a major strength of the room that cannot be overstated. If you’re considering an EPCOT area resort, this could alone be what gives BoardWalk the edge.

However, this is really more an advantage for the resort as a whole, and less for the Grand Villa. For us, it was a nice “reminder” that we should really splurge and pay a few more points for the BoardWalk view, as it’s far superior to the cheapo parking lot view we normally book. Most families needing a large room would probably be better suited by booking a Studio and 2-Bedroom Villa, which can sleep 2 more people and require a little over half the points.

When comparing this to other Grand Villas, especially the new ones at Copper Creek and Disney’s Riviera Resorts, it’s hard to see anything aside from how antiquated and outdated the room itself is at BoardWalk. In other words, you have to overlook quite a bit to glimpse that great view. This is more like a view with a room than a room with a view, which probably is not a ringing endorsement for pricey 2,100 square foot accommodations.

If you’re thinking about joining DVC, be sure to read our Ultimate Guide to Disney Vacation Club. This covers the pros & cons, resale v. direct, how much money you’ll save, and other important things to know before taking the plunge. If you still can’t decide whether membership is right for you, “try before you buy” with the recommendations in How to Save BIG on Deluxe Disney Accommodations Renting DVC Points.


What do you think of the Grand Villa at Disney’s BoardWalk Villas? Would you rank this among the best views at Walt Disney World? Do you dislike of the room itself, or think we’re being too harsh on it? Think it’s antiquated and outdated, or charming and inviting? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!

32 Responses to “BoardWalk’s Grand Villas: View with a Room”
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