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!
What are the logistics of using the Skyliner to go from Boardwalk Inn to DHS in 15 minutes? I can’t figure it out.
I so appreciate all your detailed description of everything at Disney, so hopefully you have some insight for me. I was wondering if you had been to the Boardwalk lately; have seen the magicians and juggling performers out and about on the Boardwalk at night? I cant find any official information on that in the Disney the Covid changes information. I just want to be able front load my teenagers expectations as we visit Disney this coming March.
I’ve been reading reviews and watching videos of the Boardwalk Inn Resort and I’m not seeing any ramps or handicapped accessibility to get from the lobby level down to the actual boardwalk. Also not seeing anyway to get to the quiet pool on the Inn side other than stairs. So far all I’m seeing is stairs everywhere. This resort seems to be very handicapped unfriendly. Do you know of any ramps or elevators other than the ones inside the lobby that take you to the various floors? If so, can you tell me where on the resort map they are located?
We love Boardwalk and it is where we stay the most when visiting Florida. Saw you you at the American adventure last May and again today when you walked through the lobby at Boardwalk. We were visiting with Nancy the manager there. She is the best! Any problems just ask for her and she will take care of you! Love your blog and keep it up!
We loved this place. It was quiet, no screaming kids. Convent location and so relaxing. Having that bakery so close was a positive we stopped at least twice a day. This is the only place we would stay.
Boardwalk Inn is the one deluxe resort we’ve not stayed at and never plan to. To me, it’s great for adults, but doesn’t offer much for kids. Jellyrolls and Atlantic Dance Hall are for adults only. The kids can eat at ESPN, but it’s not really a kids’ kind of restaurant unless they’re older kids. Seems the only thing there for kids would be the pool.
And the pool is another reason we don’t go there. My granddaughter says the clown is really creepy looking. She won’t go swimming in it. It’s the only pool at Disney she said she won’t swim in.
The rooms aren’t very Disney-inspired or kid-like, either. They look like my parents’ bedroom. I’m hoping Disney refurbishes this resort to bring it into the new millenium (though I’m sure many will disagree with me on that) and find a way to make at least part of the resort more geared for kids than it is now.
This might be the one epcot resort that’s truly geared toward the DVC crowd, and actually gives adults something to do after the parks close. Plus, for my money ESPN club has the best food at decent prices in the park. Being DVC members we have access to a community club where kids can play, little ones might not have much to do but we found our middle schooler was fine here. We don’t stay at this resort when we have our younger grandkids with us.
My favourite resort in all of Walt Disney World (although I’ve only stayed in the Villas, and not the Inn).
These images of the rooms are either outdated, or don’t include the villas, which were refurbished last year and look FAR nicer than what’s pictured above.
Been to Disney 4 times; 30 years ago at Poly for our Honeymoon, then Boardwalk many years ago with our two sons; then POR 2 years later with 2 sons and then last time in 2007 with a bunch of Boy Scouts at CBR (that was interesting; although I never saw the scouts much as they did their own thing). So now we are in the empty nest and going back in October 2016 to celebrate our 30th. I had booked CBR again which we liked, but then decided “I can’t take it with me” and re-booked at Boardwalk. I agree, this place could have been a dump (and it is far from that – my fave) but the location is unbeatable. If I want to go back to my room for a cheap beer or glass of wine, I can do that and still not spend tons of time doing so.
Do you know the price range for this resort? I’m the family planner for our vacation this next year and your blog is a life saver!
Question: We are planning a DVC stay in the spring. Boardwalk is high on our list. Do you know the quickest way to reach the Magic Kingdom? If we have park hopper passes and walk through Epcot, switch monorails at the TTC to Magic Kingdom, would this take a loooong time? We found the bus system so long from the Epcot resorts. If we only had to rely on the buses to Disney Springs and AK, I think that would be a deal breaker. Your thoughts? Thank you for everything you do!!
I would like to know this as well!
We stayed at Boardwalk for our honeymoon in December 2015 and walked or boated to Hollywood Studios and took a bus to Magic Kingdom resorts. We did this on days we weren’t going to the park and didn’t want to use one of our tickets (we have non expiration tickets). This actually seemed to go pretty quickly for us.
Can you walk to Epcot and then get on the Monorail to go to MK? Or do you need to use the bus to get to MK?
I have stayed at the Boardwalk every year. The Boardwalk Bakery has the great food. It’s nice to have transportation to all or most the parks at Boardwalk . Epcot is a very short walk away. Hollywood studios is a boat ride away or you could walk. The rooms are very nice.
We are renting DVC points for our upcoming trip and doing a split stay between Bay Lake Tower and Boardwalk Villas. My aesthetic for hotels leans toward modern, slick designs. Bay Lake Tower is right up my alley. However, I find the look of Boardwalk’s rooms to be just plain ugly. It’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make for the sole purpose of proximity to Epcot and DHS. I chose our two hotels based mostly on location. The actual Boardwalk area does look like a fun place to stroll though. And Flying Fish Cafe sounds like a great place to eat.
im planning to do the same thing in 2020. Can you Tell me how was your experience ? i know it was 5 years ago but i wonder if there is any downside .
We are traveling early next year. We are only staying 3 nights and will not be renting a car. We plan on visiting 3 parks. Debating on Animal Kingdom Villas Kidani 1 bedroom versus Boardwalk Villas 1 bedroom. Total of 4 adults and first trip to WDW. What would you recommend?
The perks of Boardwalk are that you can walk to Epcot and walk/ride a boat to DHS. Kidani Village is a little more isolated and would require driving to every other place you wish to visit. Animal Kingdom Lodge/Villas are a truly beautiful resort with excellent dining options, and in my opinion the rooms are better. For location, you should do Boarwalk. If a nicer hotel/room is more important, go with Animal Kingdom Villas and splurge on a savanna view room.
Great review! My husband and I will be staying at the BoardWalk Inn (for the first time) on our Honeymoon this November. I first went to the BoardWalk on my last trip in 2010 and immediately fell in love and said I’ll be staying here on my next trip. This review just makes me even happier that we chose this resort!
My husband and I will be take our honeymoon at Disney world in February. We’ve never been, so it’s the ultimate for me. I have no idea where I’d want to stay, first I wanted the Boardwalk, then we wanted to be more conservative with pop century, then I wanted to do a step better with port orleans french quarter, then I wanted to go all out and have no regrets, so we switched to polynesian. Then their pool sucked compared to the beach club so we switched again. Now we are back at board walk Inn, because it seems to be a better deal. I have never been to Disney, and yet I feel like I’ve been all around the park!
We are hoping to rent DVC points and Boardwalk is our first choice for our early Dec ’14 trip. After reading your review I am going to be super disappointed if it doesn’t work out! Thanks for the review and love the pool pic! Talk about good timing!
My family loves the Boardwalk! We have stayed here for the past four years and we are looking forward to our upcoming trip in September. There is so much to do at the resort, we always stay one whole day enjoying the pool, the bikes, shopping and nightly entertainment. We absolutely love the magician Brian Staron when he performs at the Boardwalk. It is so wonderful to actually feel “at home” when you are on vacation. I know it may sound a little silly but I even love the smell of the Boardwalk. It is such a clean and well maintained resort…it is like being on vacation while on vacation. We love the slow pace and relaxation from the parks. Hands down…best WDW resort.
Looks great, do you know if they have adjoining rooms? When we go back our girls will be teenagers and I can’t see us all sharing!!
We are working on securing rental points for a Christmas trip to WDW and are having a difficult time deciding between Boardwalk and Animal Kingdom Lodge. We’ve stayed at AKL and Beach Club. Love both resort areas, each with their own unique offerings. It’s hard to beat the location of Boardwalk/Beach & Yacht. Boat access to HS and World Showcase entrance into Epcot is so much nicer than the main entrance. Ugh!! Good thing is they’re both fantastic resorts. Decisions, decisions.
Staying there in 21 days. Haven’t been to WDW since 1995 and didn’t stay on site. Can’t wait.