Few Walt Disney World experiences outside the parks are as enjoyable as an early morning or sunset stroll around Crescent Lake. We love leaving Epcot, grabbing ice cream at BoardWalk, then doing a lap, passing by the Yacht and Beach Club Resorts before heading to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It’s a stroll we do each trip no matter where we’re staying, and although it’s often an excuse for stopping at Ample Hills Creamery, it’s always a lovely walk.
I have a tough time choosing my favorite resort at Walt Disney World. In large part, it depends upon season and mood, So, while I won’t say any specific resort is my absolute favorite, I will say that Crescent Lake or the Epcot Resort Area is my favorite ‘hotel region’ at Walt Disney World. The area being entirely walkable is a huge upside, as is the easy access to two theme parks by foot or boat.
In terms of the a specific favorite hotel in this area, it’s a close call. We’ve done a few hotel comparisons (Beach Club v. BoardWalk Inn, Yacht Club v. Beach Club, and Swan & Dolphin v. Beach Club) and it really varies. We used to stay at BoardWalk Inn more than anywhere else, but have come to love the vibe at Beach Club. Of course, Stormalong Bay is a huge selling point, too. We’ve also come to love the new rooms at Yacht Club, which is perhaps an unpopular opinion. Finally, there’s the price points of Swan & Dolphin, which are often under $200/night. Irrespective of each hotel’s individual selling points, the biggest upside is being at a Crescent Lake resort. The atmosphere in this area is second to none.
With this post, I thought it’d be fun to share some of my newly-edited photos from around Crescent Lake, as this conveys a lot of what I love about the Epcot Resort Area. While this isn’t strictly a photo post, I will sprinkle in some details about the photos, for those interested in photography.
The photos in this post were all captured at different times, so the camera I used will differ for each one. Most will have been shot with my Nikon D850 DSLR or Sony a7 III cameras. You can read about offer photography gear I’m using in my new What’s In My Camera Bag? (2020 Edition) post. I’ve yet to update that with my Sony mirrorless gear, but it’s accurate as to all of the Nikon stuff.
This photo looks stormy, and it really was. Shot from the BoardWalk on the evening before Hurricane Irma started bringing inclement weather, we had this eerily beautiful sunset scene.
While being stuck at Walt Disney World during Hurricane Irma was about the last thing we wanted at the time, it was an experience that I don’t think we’ll ever forget. I remember everything about those few days in vivid detail, from sitting in our room at the BoardWalk, watching the television on loop for two days, to the stunning skies before and after the storm.
Now for one taken immediately after that same storm (if you look carefully, you can see one bit of the aftermath).
This was one of the most beautiful evenings we’ve ever experienced at Walt Disney World. The storm cleared that afternoon, a double rainbow appeared during golden hour, and then there was a “slow burn” sunset that transitioned into dusk. Stunning stuff.
A straightforward dusk view of Disney’s BoardWalk Inn.
I know it’s simple, but I never get sick of seeing this view, and I liked the soft blue dusk sky against the warmth of the popcorn lights here.
A look at the lobby of Beach Club Villas at Christmas.
I chose this perspective because it emphasizes the pattern on the floor, which I think looks a bit “Christmasy.”
Here we head out to Yacht Club at night.
I like this view because it reminds me of our actual evening strolls around Crescent Lake, and showcases views of both sides at once. I’ve taken hundreds of photos of that lighthouse, but not many this far back that compress it with the BoardWalk.
Sticking with the same subject, but getting close and facing Beach Club for this sunrise shot.
Nothing particularly unique with this vantage, but I love how the rays of sunlight from below the horizon are creeping up and meeting the dark dawn sky. I wish I would’ve done this as a time lapse, because it was cool to watch the sky colors transition from cool to warm. Scenes like this are why I love sunrise on Crescent Lake.
In terms of awkwardness, taking photos of pools is #1. I thought it couldn’t get any more awkward than the quick morning photos I snap before the areas get crowded.
That is, until I had the brilliant idea of taking my tripod into Stormalong Bay while fully clothed, walking up onto a bridge, and setting up my tripod for this long exposure photo. That one scores a 15/10 on the ole awkwardness scale.
In my defense, I made my way here from International Gateway well after Epcot closed, and I wasn’t expecting the pool to even be open. I started by taking some photos from around the edge, out of the way of guests. When that went fine, I worked up my “courage” to go up onto the bridge, which was uncomfortable.
Even though only a single (empty) inner tube passed under me, I decided to get out of there quickly. I would’ve liked a do-over on this shot to compose a bit differently, but I didn’t want to spend even another 30 seconds atop that bridge. The 2 minutes that I was up there had already felt like 2 hours. On the plus side, I got this shot out of it, and you get to laugh at my expense!
Speaking of awkwardness, that’s how some might describe Atlantic Dance Hall (fair assessment) or Jellyrolls.
I know neither have many fans, but we have always really enjoyed our experiences at Jellyrolls. Here’s a pre-sunrise view from down the walkway towards Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
A nighttime view of the Solarium at Beach Club, which is one of my favorite quiet spots at Walt Disney World.
Located in a quiet wing of Beach Club as you head towards the Villas, this hallway and airy atrium rarely has many people in it, making it a great place to unwind or, in my case, work on my laptop.
That wraps up our walk around Crescent Lake. Of course, with only around a dozen photos, we barely scratched the surface of the beauty and atmosphere of this area. Even if you never stay at these resorts, we’d highly recommend taking a sunset or evening stroll around them–perhaps as you walk between Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. If you do stay at one of these resorts, we’d also highly recommend a sunrise stroll.
Want to learn more about photography to take great photos in the Disney theme parks and beyond? The best place to start is Tom’s Photography Guide, which covers a variety of topics from links to tutorials, tips, and tricks to recommendations for point & shoots, DSLRs, lenses, and more!
What do you think of Epcot’s Crescent Lake Resort Area? How does it rank in terms of Walt Disney World ‘resort areas’ for you? Above or below the Magic Kingdom Resort Area? Any photo-related questions? Hearing feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts or questions below in the comments!