Disney’s BoardWalk Inn Review
BoardWalk Inn is a Deluxe Resort and DVC Villa at Walt Disney World, located within walking distance of Epcot and Hollywood Studios on Crescent Lake, with Skyliner gondola, boat, and bus transportation. This hotel review features room photos, pool & restaurant info, pros & cons, and much more. (Updated June 19, 2022.)
We’ll start with updates on the future of Disney’s BoardWalk Inn. The good news is that the BoardWalk is back, with the hotel and most its restaurants and retail having reopened over the course of the last year-plus. This includes Flying Fish, which finally returned in early 2022.
However, a few things remain closed or modified. For example, Trattoria al Forno still is not offering its Bon Voyage Character Breakfast featuring princesses and princes. Other restaurants continue to have reduced menus, hours, and availability. Finally, ESPN Club is not open at all–and won’t be reopening. It’s slated for replacement as part of a resort reimagining project at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn.
This resort reimagining is light on specifics at this point; Disney has simply stated that it’ll be making “a seaside splash at Disney’s BoardWalk!” Over the next few years, Walt Disney World is adding and reimagining elements of the beloved turn-of-the-century promenade and inside the Deluxe Resort, including a new lobby design, coffee bar, dining options, refreshed guest rooms, and other changes.
Along the BoardWalk, a new table service restaurant will replace ESPN Club and BoardWalk Bakery will also be reimagined. It’s likely other locations along this stretch will be modified, as well. Since there are guest rooms above these venues, it’s likely noise will be heard in the hotel.
Walt Disney World hasn’t yet released a timeframe for this work, but our expectation is that it’ll start no earlier than Fall 2022–perhaps early 2023. Disney’s BoardWalk Inn will not close during the construction. The project will occur in phases, likely lasting through 2024. Keep an eye on our Walt Disney World Resort Refurbishment & Construction Tracker for regular updates.
In terms of basics, Disney’s BoardWalk Inn is located between Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. BoardWalk is technically two resorts–the hotel that is reviewed here and the BoardWalk Villas, which are the Disney Vacation Club accommodations that are under the same roof.
Directly across Crescent Lake from the BoardWalk are Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts; adjacent to BoardWalk are the Swan & Dolphin Resorts. All of these hotels form their own little district, known as both the Crescent Lake Resort Area or Epcot Resort Area. Even if you don’t stay at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn, it’s worth walking over here from Epcot’s International Gateway entrance/exit in World Showcase between the United Kingdom and France.
Walt Disney World describes the resort as capturing, “the charm, whimsy and elegance of 1940s Atlantic City.” This isn’t just marketing lingo–BoardWalk Inn is a really charming hotel, with turn-of-the-century theme throughout the lobby, common areas, and even the guest rooms. It does a great job of marrying a bygone era, timeless style, and modern amenities.
The Inn itself is located above a “working” Boardwalk entertainment district complete with restaurants, night-time entertainment, and recreation. This quarter-mile promenade along the water’s edge features fun and fine dining, midway games, and evening street performers. Disney’s BoardWalk evokes memorable boardwalks in coastal cities such as Coney Island and Atlantic City.
We first stayed at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn during our Walt Disney World honeymoon. That was over a decade ago, and since then we’ve stayed in the hotel or Disney Vacation Club villas at least once per year. (We actually bought into DVC for the purpose of staying at the BoardWalk, but that’s a mostly irrelevant tangent. If you want to read the full story, see our Disney Vacation Club Buying Guide.)
In our minds, Disney’s BoardWalk Inn is INNcredible! (Yeah, I’m that lame.) The book DisneyWar describes how former CEO Michael Eisner spent a lot of time fussing over the details of the Crescent Lake resorts because they reminded him of summers in New England. Ostensibly, these hotels are all very similar in theme. However, if you look beyond the surface, there are substantial differences among the three resorts.
Most of the differences will be clear in reading our separate reviews of Beach Club, Yacht Club, and even the Swan & Dolphin. When deciding where to stay, we wouldn’t put much emphasis on dining or transportation, as those are pretty comparable among all of the Crescent Lake resorts, and you can always walk from one property to another for a meal in ~10 minutes or less.
However, pools are a different story, as are guest rooms, theme, and price. For a head-to-head comparison, see Disney’s BoardWalk Inn v. Beach Club. If you’re looking at Crescent Lake as a whole, other relevant entries in our Walt Disney World Hotel Comparison Series are Yacht v. Beach Club and Swan & Dolphin v. Beach Club. Lots of Beach Club comparisons in there, but you’ll understand why once reading them all.
One of my favorite areas of the BoardWalk Inn is the lobby itself. While it doesn’t have a grand lobby like Wilderness Lodge or some other Deluxes, it has a ton of detail. From the miniature Boardwalk complete with rollercoaster to the beautiful light fixtures to the elephant statues and more.
BoardWalk Inn’s lobby is extremely well-appointed, and a great place to just sit and relax in the morning. It’s especially gorgeous at Christmas.
Despite having a relatively small footprint, resort itself actually has a lot of relaxing areas to escape the hustle and bustle of the BoardWalk entertainment area itself (not that there’s that much hustle and bustle in the first place).
Beautiful gardens and out of the way benches can provide a relaxing reprieve for relaxing. Even the waterfront promenade offers some quiet spots.
Speaking of this promenade, it circles Crescent Lake and leads to the parks and other hotels. Disney’s BoardWalk Inn is situated just a short walk from Epcot’s International Gateway entrance on Crescent Lake. Although it varies based on room location, BoardWalk Inn is about a 10 minute walk from Epcot.
Walking from BoardWalk Inn to Disney’s Hollywood Studios takes around 15 minutes. However, you also have the option of using the Disney Skyliner gondolas. That will take about the same amount of time, but the aerial gondolas are a much more pleasant way of getting there. You can also use the Skyliner to access Pop Century, Art of Animation, Caribbean Beach, and Riviera Resorts. That opens up a lot more convenient dining options, all accessible without convoluted bus transportation, renting a car, or using Uber/Lyft.
Unfortunately, the downside of this is that bus transportation to Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom from BoardWalk Inn often disappoints. There is often shared bus service operating, meaning that a bus picking up guests at BoardWalk will stop at another nearby hotel before heading to Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom. This can make these routes take longer and mean more guests aboard each bus.
We have had better bus service when staying at Pop Century for less than one-third the nightly rates of Disney’s BoardWalk Inn. It’s disappointing that these Crescent Lake Deluxe Resorts don’t offer better service in this regard than a Value Resort.
Much ado is made about Walt Disney World pools, and BoardWalk’s Luna Park Pool is a fun one. Themed to an old-time Atlantic carnival, the pool is cool, and its water slide, themed to look like a wooden rollercoaster is quite a hoot. (Although RIP Creepy Clown.)
With that said, Luna Park Pool doesn’t hold a candle to Stormalong Bay at Yacht & Beach Club. In fact, this feature pool doesn’t crack our List of the Top 10 Pools at Walt Disney World. Most Deluxe and even a few Moderate and Value Resorts are represented there, so this is arguably a weakness of Disney’s BoardWalk Inn. With that said, if you’re just interesting in lounging, Luna Park Pool is great–its bar is fun and the seating area is pleasant–and there are leisure pools that are also nice.
The rooms are also excellent. Keeping with the Atlantic Boardwalk theme, the rooms use a subdued and almost pastel color scheme.
They also feature beautiful paintings and fixtures to convey the sense that you’re staying in a vacation room just minutes from an actual turn-of-the-century boardwalk. With the exception of the turn-of-the-century part, you are!
One thing that’s worth noting about Disney’s BoardWalk Inn as compared to literally any of the other Crescent Lake Resort–including the BoardWalk Villas–is that the rooms have not been stripped of their charming theme.
If you’re looking for something more modern and less Disney, look elsewhere.
We far prefer the hotel rooms at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn to the DVC villas in terms of style and theme.
Even though these guest rooms are older, they are incredibly well-maintained and are generally in better condition than the newer rooms in the Disney Vacation Club villas.
The guest rooms at BoardWalk Inn have far more personality and character than the rooms at Beach Club and, to a lesser degree, Yacht Club. (The new rooms at Yacht Club do the best job of merging modern amenities, luxury, and themed design.)
There are character touches around the room, nods to Atlantic City, beautiful artwork, and more.
The bathrooms in guest rooms at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn are on the average side. The shower and toilet in a different room than the double sinks, which is nice, but other Deluxes certainly have nicer/larger restroom-areas.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with the set-up at the BoardWalk Inn, though. It’s just not praise-worthy.
To us, these rooms capture the essence of the Victorian-era theme well, without making the room feel dated at all. This has long been our criticism of the Grand Floridian–that it doesn’t feel elegant enough because the accommodations are bland and lacking in theme. It could pass for a Marriott, whereas BoardWalk is distinct.
BoardWalk doesn’t aim for the same level of luxury as the Grand Floridian, but it arguably hits the mark much better than the Grand Floridian. In short, the rooms at the BoardWalk Inn balance luxury and theme very well.
We found the resort to be exceptionally clean and maintenance to be impeccable. On occasions when we’ve dragged ourselves home late after closing out Magic Kingdom or Epcot, we have seen Cast Members painting hand rails and undertaking other improvements to the resort.
It’s this kind of maintenance that establishes the BoardWalk as one of the premiere Walt Disney World resorts. It’s also nice to stay at the BoardWalk during Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival or when you want to rope drop Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Hollywood Studios, because the hotel is just a short walk from those parks!
The final selling point of Disney’s BoardWalk Inn is its room views. This hotel is already expensive just for a standard view room, but if you’re splurging, we’d recommend going all out and doing a water view, which overlooks the BoardWalk itself. This is great for people-watching and views of the fireworks at Epcot. It’s a big advantage BoardWalk Inn offers over Yacht or Beach Club.
With that said, BoardWalk view rooms aren’t cheap. If you’re already splurging to stay here, consider a split stay (see our How to Do a Split Stay at Walt Disney World Hotels post). For another splurge, consider Concierge or Club Level, which is offered at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn.
We mentioned it above, but it bears repeating. BoardWalk’s location is awesome. It could have been one of the worst resorts at which we’d ever stayed (it’s not–it’s among the best!), and that location would have still been wholly redeeming.
Only 5 minutes from Epcot. Only a few minutes to Flying Fish, and Big River Brewing Company. Only 10 minutes from Beaches & Cream and Cape May Cafe. Although I love the monorail resorts, the Epcot resorts might have them beat!
Ultimately, we love Disney’s BoardWalk Inn. Its ambiance, entertainment offerings, restaurant lineup, and proximity to Epcot and Hollywood Studios are all huge selling points. Boats and the Skyliner provide convenient transportation to other nearby hotels (and those parks). The rooms are well-themed, combining nice accommodations with a sense of design that is distinctly Disney, but not over the top or garish.
In terms of negatives, the largest is BoardWalk Inn’s high nightly cost. Another potential one is counter service dining, which is so-so at best all around Crescent Lake. Then there’s Luna Park Pool, which is not nearly as impressive as Stormalong Bay over at Yacht & Beach Club. Finally, commuting to the two “Kingdom” parks is another downside; guests who will be spending a lot of time at Magic Kingdom might want to think twice about any Crescent Lake resort. Those who enjoy the charming turn-of-the-century boardwalk, nice dining, and Epcot or Hollywood Studios will likely agree with us that Disney’s BoardWalk Inn is one of the best hotels at Walt Disney World!
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If you’ve stayed at BoardWalk, what do you think of it? Do you prefer its location to the monorail resorts? Are you a fan of Luna Park Pool or do you agree that it doesn’t hold a candle to Stormalong Bay? Do the views and atmosphere of the BoardWalk make up for this? Agree or disagree with our review of Disney’s BoardWalk Inn? 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!
We are leaving on Monday March 31st for 1 week at the Boardwalk and I can not wait to get there! This will be our 3rd stay at the Boardwalk and I can’t imagine staying at any other Disney resort! Many years ago when my children were very young we stayed at the Carribean Beach resort. We now travel with our grown children and grandchildren. One reason we absolutely love the Boardwalk is they will accommodate 6 people in one room if you stay in the consieree deluxe rooms. They are beautiful spacious rooms with a bacolny and view of Crescent Lake and the Boardwalk. You also get complimentary breakfast, afternoon snack and evening cocktails and horsderves. All complimentary with the consieree room. This trip will be myself, my daughter and my 4 granddaughters! This is going to be so much fun. The girls are very exciting but I think I’m more excited about seeing their faces when they are having so much fun at Disney! The older girls remember the great pool at the Boardwalk from our last trip and they are looking forward to it again. The Keister Coaster slide was enjoyed by all of us! The nighttime entertainment is a great way to wind down the evening too. The little ones really enjoy watching all of the little shows the the street entertainers put on and they like to engage the kids in a lot of them also. The Surrey bikes are a lot of fun on the Boardwalk too! Almost forgot to mention the scrumptious Bakery!!! The best baked goods you will ever want to set your lips upon!
My family just returned from the Boardwalk and each one of us loved it! It is now our favorite hotel. I didn’t realize how easy the walk from Epcot would be, and even the walk from Hollywood was doable for a 10 and 11 year old. I can’t tell you how great the feeling was walking in the opposite direction of the masses following the end of IllumiNations! We loved that the hotel felt small- getting to the pool or boardwalk were both easily accessible yet there were plenty of areas to walk around Crescent Lake and enjoy the other resorts and dining options (and of course the Boardwalk). We loved Beaches and Cream at the end of the night, and we ate breakfast at Cape May. Kids loved the pool, daughter liked having ‘her own’ day bed I could go on and on…….
I likewise stayed at The BoardWalk on my honeymoon (and first adult trip), and it was a big part of the reason that I absolutely fell in love with Disney World. My problem now is that I can’t bring myself to try somewhere else (although I’m curious to see how the Polynesian DVC rooms turn out).
It’s funny to read your report because you keep calling it the “Atlantic” boardwalk instead of “Atlantic City.” You’ll have to visit the real Jersey shore (and I’m not talking about Snooki)! I’m not a big fan of AC, but I’d highly recommend Ocean City, NJ, where I’m from. I also love that they pay homage to Lucy the Elephant in the lobby. She’s a real thing in Margate, NJ — she’s enormous, and you can walk around inside her. She used to be a library but now she’s just a museum.
The Boardwalk is really a fantastic place to stay when you’re at Disney, especially if you have the vacation club. My parents are members at the Boardwalk and have been since the late 90s.
How does one ‘rent’ DVC points?
Here’s some info: https://www.disneytouristblog.com/renting-disney-vacation-club-points/
My wife and I are staying here for our 1-year anniversary! 4/26-4/29 We are looking forward to it 🙂 any Disney-must-do’s on the boardwalk?
Also, Tom I’ve read this review a couple of times but this is the first time I noticed you in the slide with the double thumbs up looking like a kid on Christmas morning!
Flying Fish Cafe and Jellyrolls are must-dos. Same with breakfast cupcakes from Boardwalk Bakery!
That photo took great timing, but we pulled it off! 🙂
Definitely looking forward to breakfast cupcakes! :o)
We have been DVC members since 1999 (Boardwalk) and have ‘come home’ every year (sometimes more). It has defined our kids’ lives. They were 3,5 and 7 when we bought, and are now 17, 19 and 21, and still want to come back each year. I have no doubt there will be a wedding in our family (maybe more) at the Boardwalk. I highly recommend visiting the bar off the lobby (Bellevue Lounge). It is lovely, quiet and charming for a nice drink and/or a game of checkers.
Guilty of being hooked on the Boardwalk Resort! It is very hard for me to stay anywhere else. Even Yacht & Beach Club resorts don’t measure up. It truly feels like home, as they say.
Boardwalk is #1 on my dream WDW list. My budget’s more Pop Century…. but maybe one day.
You should look into “renting DVC points” there – that makes it more affordable & at the right time (less busy) would be only a little more than a value resort like POP 🙂
I have been “on the boardwalk” and in the lobby a few times and that is enough to make me want to stay there. I love the non-traditional seahorse chandelier and your photo captures the exact vantage my daughter loves…right underneath it! It’s so whimsical!
You really make it seem so easy along with your presentation but I find this topic to be really one thing which I think I would never understand. It sort of feels too complex and extremely broad for me. I am taking a look forward to your subsequent put up, I will attempt to get the hold of it!
Got a good laugh after a closer look at the photo of the pool slide. Epic.
There are some Boardwalk nay-sayers out there (look at the Unofficial Guides ratings), but you got it right. The Boardwalk is a great location, is the only resort with as much night life and entertainment, and is well maintained. I’d say it’s definitely top 5.
Those guys at the Unofficial Guide must be odd ducks! 😉
LOVE LOVE LOVE BOARDWALK! Stayed here my on my honeymoon in 08′(1st trip to Disney at age 26) stayed in a Garden Suite, and we were so spoiled that when we came back the next year and stayed at POP we were like never again! We were prepared for the crowds and noise of a Value resort but once we stayed at the Boardwalk we never wanted to stay anywhere else!
I stayed at BWI last Dec. The resort itself is beautiful and the rooms are bright and airy. It’s also wonderfully decorated for Christmas, and of course you can’t beat the location.
My only complaint is that you have to go outside for everything: food, gift shop, package pickup, etc. Normally this might not be such a big deal, but I prefer the Deluxe’s that are entirely enclosed. When it’s like 25-30 degrees out, the last thing you want to do when you get back to the hotel at 10:30pm is have to go back outside to pick up your packages down the Boardwalk.
Yeah, that stinks, but I’m willing to deal with a few minutes in the cold when the payoff in execution is so great.
Now I am all excited. We, my mom, my best friend and I, are staying at the Boardwalk for the 1st time this Christmas. My mom I had done the Beach Club in 08′ for Christmas so we switched it up. We had such a great time there we thought we would try another EPCOT resort. Hearing all of your praise has me very excited to stay there. I was a tad worried that maybe we should have repeated our stay at the Beach Club, but I feel better about that decision now, thanks 🙂
Great review! We fell in love with the Boardwalk when we stayed there for our honeymoon back in 1998 and try to get back there as much as possible. And, we still kick ourselves for not buying into Boardwalk DVC while we were there in ’98 – it was so much cheaper back then 🙂
Great review! We love staying at the Boardwalk–so much so that we’re returning for the third time in a row in December. We feel the ambiance compares favorably with both the Grand Floridian and the Polynesian, and the location (short walks to Epcot and Hollywood Studios) can’t be beat. The staff is also very friendly. The boardwalk itself its well done.
Can’t wait to stay there for my annual Girls Weekend food and wine fest with my best friend. We usually stay at Beach but only Boardwalk had AP rates available.
I have a quick question, did you get the refillable mug there? If so were the refill stations easy to get to like the other resorts or do you have to wait in line for the cast members to refill? Usually don’t drink it much but it’s probably worth getting since I’m staying for a week. 🙂
Sorry, I didn’t get a refillable mug there so I can’t answer that!
I’ve never gotten the refillable mugs. But, in the past you had to get them refilled by the cashiers in the bakery. They are busy renovating that bakery so I think part of the plan is to provide better beverage stations along with more counter service food choices.
Yes, you get a refillable mug and it can be refilled at the bakery AND the bar at the pool!! (But not with adult drinks–darn!)
My family and I stood at Boardwalk during Christmas week 2008 and enjoyed it. We all enjoyed the brewpub, ESPN Club, and Spoodles-before it became Kouzzina. My only problem with it was the location. The walk to Epcot was short but Epcot is by far my least favorite Disney park so this did little for me. You can walk to DHS but that walk is much longer so you are more reliant on the boat. The bus transportation was awful-we had stops at the Yacht Club/Beach Club and Swan/Dolphin which made the trips very long. With that said, I would recommend Boardwalk if you want to spend a majority of your time at Epcot or the Studios. If you are going to AK/MK more often, however, the bus transportation can get annoying.
Very good trip report. We have not stayed there….it is on our to-do-list.