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!
Just to be “that person”, I would like to point out that while the laundry area could maybe be better designed and benefit from some artwork, the table and chairs in there are actually quite functional. Assuming that your large group includes at least a couple children you would definitely be doing laundry during your stay, and that table is perfect for folding laundry. Mundane? Yes. Functional? Yes.
I agree. A nice space to do laundry and a folding table when traveling with family is clutch.
Tom, Very nice article. Your comments regarding the patio made my day. But while boardwalk foot traffic is sparse right now, I’m sure the few down there would still be appreciative that you are not using the patio as your bathroom. It would be memorable though! Lol
Your comment reminded me of a time we stayed at the BWV in a Village Green Studio. We were on the second floor so we had one of the much larger balconies. We were sitting out enjoying the view when suddenly something liquid dropped on me from above. The guy above us had been drinking an alcoholic beverage and it was watered down so he just poured it out into the balcony floor to run down the floor drain – that was right over my head. I yelled out something in response to getting non-water liquid poured on my head and he hollered back that it was just melted ice. No, it wasn’t. The second floor balconies are over the stores on the Village Green, so they are much deeper. All the balconies have a floor drain, but most just run over the far corner of the balcony. Except for these second floor villas.
How’s the noise from the boardwalk at that height?
When the clubs are open and the boardwalk is busy at night, it can get a bit noisy if you plan on sitting on your balcony. If the doors are closed and you are inside, it’s not so bad.
The picture of the laundry room (and the appropriately hilarious comment) is one of the funniest DVC-related items I’ve seen in quite some time! As bad as that space looks though, it’s not nearly as head-scratching as the vast stretch of emptiness that meets you on the second floor of a Saratoga Springs GV. While I haven’t been in a refurbished GV at Saratoga yet (last stay was in a new 2 bedroom there), I can only assume that they haven’t populated the (perfectly situated) balcony space with pool tables. (like at the Grand Californian.) The sad thing about the BWV GV’s is that the laundry rooms will most likely remain, given budget constraints. Some spaces need more than just refreshes – they need complete re-designs. (The kitchens here specifically.)
We just got back from a stay in a studio room at the Boardwalk, on rented points. It was so amazing being able to walk to 2 parks. We were at Epcot every night. I doubt we’ll ever go back to the moderates as long as we can rent points in this area for about the same price. The Villa looks overpriced for what it is, but staying in this area can’t be beat. We’re booked at the Beach Club in September in a 1 bedroom, and I’m super stoked. I’m sure we’ll end up at the Swan at some point. We ended up having breakfast there most mornings because the Boardwalk doesn’t have any indoor breakfast options, which is a huge mistake in my opinion.
You missed the best breakfast secret on property! Trattoria al Forno!
Thanks Carolyn – we’ll look into booking there in September! I’d still like a place to get a simple breakfast inside at 6am without the whole reservation and waitstaff rigamarole. Even pre-Covid the options for that on the Boardwalk weren’t great.
I’m with Carolyn. We ate there for breakfast right before we headed home about two weeks ago. It was very, very good. My husband had the steak and eggs and I had the pancakes. They were delicious and the fruit compote was very good.
We also ate dinner there our first night and it was also great. We both had some leftover after dinner, so we brought it back in a container and ate it as an early lunch the next day.
Ok… maybe the room is boring BUT… how do I find out the paint color in the bedroom so I can paint my bedroom??? 🙂
We absolutely loved our stay @ the one bedroom villa at Riviera. We toured the two bedroom and three-bedroom villas, But those were way out of our price range. The Riviera rooms have absolutely gorgeous high-end finishes. And not to mention the Skyliner. The downside, which has nothing to do with the room, is their pool could be a lot bigger.
I agree with your review of the boardwalk villa. Bland and could use some upgrades in appliances
We were very VERY lucky to be upgraded to the Grand Suite when we stayed at the Grand Floridian concierge level last year. The Grand has never been my favorite resort thematically, but this room definitely blew it out of the water and was even ok with it being slightly dated. The other details more than made up for that part. It was such a beautiful room and once in a lifetime experience.
I had the chance to visit one of the higher end suites (I don’t recall which) at Grand Floridian a couple of years ago, and I absolutely loved it. My memory isn’t perfect, but I don’t recall thinking it was dated–I think part of that is the Victorian theme.
I’m always astonished at how some DVC members seem to accumulate just masses and masses of points, thinking, “how could they possibly spend them all?” I guess this is the answer, though only partly, because the annual dues on that many points must be horrible. Really don’t understand how there is a market for this when you could just get multiple rooms together if traveling with extended family and everyone would have more privacy.
What rooms like this are great for is large family gatherings with less park time. The common areas are excellent for that, and something you don’t get from multiple smaller rooms.
My favorite of that ‘style’ of room is the Treehouse Villa. Those are niche and taste-specific, but appeal to me a lot.
We’ve booked a GV one time. When our son graduated from HS, he brought eight of his friends to WDW (we were along to chaperone) and we stayed in an OKW GV. The girls got the upstairs bedrooms and the boys got the downstairs bedrooms (we had a few more girls than boys). We got the master. It was a good way for the kids to gather each day to decide what they were going to do that day. Plus we could kind of keep an eye on things. I provided food in the villa so they could eat breakfast and other meals if they wanted to, plus snack. We did one meal together that we paid for. They paid for all the rest of their meals and park admission.
One thing I learned. These teenaged girls were total pigs. I was so embarrassed for the housekeeper to see their rooms that I picked up the towels and trash and met her at the door with them to trade them off. The boys didn’t have as much stuff and kept most of it in their suitcases.
Our GV days are one and done.
Tom, With regards to DVC, its seems like Home Resorts with further out expirations seem to be a better deal because they are often not priced much higher than deeds with earlier expirations on resale. I know you thought boulder ridge was decent value right now. But with way pricing is going it seems that you could buy copper creek now, sell in 30 years, and make a profit on the upfront cost. What is your reasoning on people not considering the expiration much in their purchase decision? Thanks!
“What is your reasoning on people not considering the expiration much in their purchase decision?”
I think it’s something people should consider, especially if they’re planning on owning forever and financial circumstances are such that they’ll never need to sell.
The reality is that most owners sell contracts in under 10 years, and also that expiration dates have not (yet) had much bearing on resale prices. So that’s something to consider for buyers who might not plan on visiting WDW for the next 30+ years.
The problem with Copper Creek is trying to book a studio. With all those points tied up in the Cascade Cabins, there is a lot of competition for Copper Creek studios. BRV only has studios, one and two bedrooms, so it is easier to book a studio there. Plus the BRV studio and one bedroom will sleep five while CCV studios and one bedrooms are both limited to four.
Thanks for the tour, Tom. I agree that the rooms are not very inviting or original – I am not a fan of rooms that “scream” Disney, but I do enjoy the rooms with thorough theming and tasteful Disney touches. Hopefully, this trend towards bland decor will be short-lived.
Totally agreed. I love the new rooms at Animal Kingdom Lodge and Yacht Club. Both are well-themed but don’t scream Disney (although there are plenty of overt references and hidden details).
For that price point it should be the room with a butler.
The Grand Villa doesn’t look very exciting, does it? The chandelier looks odd…what’s it made of, Styrofoam cups? You would think that Disney would cash in on their own intellectual property and put in much more theming into such rooms, not necessarily more expensive, but more thought and talent. Make it such that people dream of living in it, like the Cinderella room or something.
For me, it’s not necessary to stay in something this big in Disney World. It’s better to be packed into a standard room so that the whole family is together and feels together, and I can see the kids all the time. Also, the room is too expensive and the money saved can be enjoyed in better ways, such as eating at more restaurants.
This girl can only dream about staying in a bland villa! 😉 After reading this post, it reminded me why I love the value resorts so much!! They scream Disney in every way possible which I love! Now if we can just some hot tubs at those value resorts! 🙂
thats actually a really good point!
We just got back from three nights in a BWV one bedroom villa. I thought the room was really nice. I liked the artwork there much better than what they put in at OKW with the cartoon images of Mickey and MInnie. The chairs always seem so uncomfortable, either too low or two hard. The room colors were nice and beachy and I like the beadboard trim on the kitchen counter. I liked the smooth cooktop on the stove, but the refrigerator was really small and didn’t have an icemaker like OKW. I also like the drawers in the master bathroom/tub room at BWV over the cubbies at OKW which are totally useless. We haven’t stayed at CCV and probably won’t since we own at BRV and like it there. And we’re waiting on what the renovation there holds.
It was interesting to see that the GV had full sized washer and dryer instead of the stackables like in the one and two bedroom villas.
Robert: I hope you are a member at BWV because booking a GV can be hard since there are only seven or eight of them. They seldom show up for cash reservations, if you don’t own there, you probably need to rent a DVC reservation from an BWV owner at 11 months out.
Tom: The OKW laundry room is bigger than a closet and it has full sized washer and dryer. The BLT inside the curve laundry rooms are pretty large, too, and provide storage space for luggage and other stuff. But the living room is smaller than the villas on the outside of the curve. But most of them are just tiny closets with folding doors so you can’t open them all the way if you drop something on the floor next to the washer. I did that once at AKV-Kidani and couldn’t find anything to try to get it. Luckily my husband was more flexible than me and found a spatula or something and got the sock off the floor.
That makes sense about the OKW laundry room, given that it was the first to be designed and built. On the other hand, it’s surprising about BLT given its comparative newness and how everything there just seems more compact.
It’s been a decade since we stayed in Grand Villa at BLT for New Year’s Eve. I loved that room–unsurprisingly better than the studios we’ve done there since!
We actually own at BLT and have purposefully gotten the 1BR on the inside of the curve for the big laundry room. It fits a pack-n-play perfectly! My mom slept in the living room with our daughter and our son (who was 1-year-old at the time of our last trip) had a quiet and dark place to sleep. So large laundry rooms with doors aren’t so bad for families with littles who don’t want to pay for a 2BR. 🙂
Our family is looking at a big trip next year for my parents’ milestone anniversary, and this room is one we’re looking at. Between proximity to the parks, size, and cost compared to other 2BR and 3BR villas (we’d need two 2BRs or a 3BR, most likely), I really like this one.
A couple questions:
-do the two story versions of this room use the space any better?
-do all of the grand villas at BoardWalk have a lake/boardwalk view?
-are there any plans to update the appliances before next year?
-Not sure, but my guess is that the space is at least more interesting and engaging. That’s pretty consistent with multi-level rooms.
-Per the point chart, yes.
-Not to my knowledge.