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.
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.
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!
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!