Disney’s Boardwalk Inn Review
This review of Disney’s Boardwalk Inn shares an account of our last stay at the resort. We discuss rooms, recreation, dining, and other amenities.
“Welcome Home.” Those words are my first-ever memory of staying at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn many years ago.
To this day, I fondly remember multiple cast members opening our car doors the moment we pulled under the Boardwalk’s porte-cochere. With that kind of arrival, it felt like home.
In this instance, home meant a place where we were treated as honored guests. One could say that Disney’s Boardwalk Inn had me at hello. Literally.
Since then, we’ve stayed at the hotel many times. Not much has changed at the resort over the years. Unfortunately, that includes guest rooms that have become exceptionally dated.
With that said, the Boardwalk is currently undergoing extensive refurbishment. New rooms are expected to debut in the future.
Related: Resorts Under Refurbishment at Disney World
So for this review of Disney’s Boardwalk Inn, we’ll look at a few of those updates that have already taken place. Then when the rooms become available, we’ll return to see what it’s like to stay in the newly renovated hotel.
Related: Disney’s Boardwalk Construction Timeline
Disney’s Boardwalk Inn Review
Disney’s Boardwalk Inn offers a unique appeal, mimicking a quaint New England seaside setting with carnivalesque theming. Okay, that’s a mouthful. But I think you get the picture.
Boardwalk Inn falls under the category of a deluxe resort, the finest category of resorts at Walt Disney World. In addition to the Inn, the Boardwalk is also home to Disney’s Boardwalk Villas, a separate Disney Vacation Club Resort.
One of the primary reasons guests consider staying at Boardwalk Inn is its location. The resort is within walking distance of Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot.
Being within walking distance of a theme park from your hotel is a significant benefit. Other perks of staying at the Boardwalk include stunning sunsets and picturesque views every which way you look.
Imagine waking up and indulging in these views at the start of your day. Maybe you’ll enjoy a cup of coffee from the balcony of your room?
Or you could pick up breakfast from the deli and enjoy it out on the Boardwalk. There are far worse ways to start your day at Walt Disney World.
Boardwalk Inn’s interior is fashioned after the turn-of-the-century Atlantic City.
As charming as the lobby is, this is one of the areas we expect to see refurbished.
While the furnishings appear formal, there’s an air of fun and mischief. For example, this chandelier in the lobby’s foyer is slightly different from what you might expect. It features horses that are part mermaids and cherubs.
A vibrant settee sits underneath the chandelier. Upon first glance, the look always feels very traditional.
But if you look closely, you’ll notice a miniature carousel sits on top of the piece.
Those of you who are lucky enough to visit during the holiday season are in for a real treat. Boardwalk’s Christmas decor is pretty outrageous, and I mean that in the best way. Think bright reds, greens, circus elements, and then some.
Related: Top 10 Disney Resorts to Tour at Christmas
Off the Boardwalk’s lobby, a new coffee shop, Carousel Coffee, opened in early 2023. Dundy’s Sundries, the former gift shop, is now permanently closed. However, the resort has plenty of other gift shops on the Boardwalk.
Related: The Gift Shops at Disney’s Boardwalk
Off the lobby, a long hallway leads to the resort’s regular guest rooms. Along the way, you’ll encounter several lovely pieces of art.
Belle Vue Lounge sits off the lobby behind the interior staircase that leads down to the resort’s lower level.
If you were to come in when it’s raining, you’ll find a box of fresh towels waiting at the entrance. Fresh towels are one of the special touches you’ll only find at Disney’s deluxe resorts.
Boardwalk Inn has a large, partially covered veranda off the lobby. Casual wicker furniture on the veranda evokes memories of summer afternoons spent on the back porch.
With a view like this, you’ll be humming the tune, “All I wanna do when the day is through is linger here on the front porch with you.” If you get that Summer Magic reference, the Boardwalk Inn is probably a good choice for your next vacation.
Like most other Disney Resorts, you’ll find a variety of rooms at the Boardwalk Inn. The following rooms are available:
- Standard Room
- Standard Room Club Level
- Deluxe Room Club Level
- Two Bedroom Suite
- Sonora Vice Presidential Suite
- Outer Building Garden Cottage Room
Additionally, some rooms offer the following views:
- Water View
- Standard View
- Garden View
Normally, we don’t tend to upgrade our room views. However, Boardwalk is an extra special place, and if you plan to spend a decent amount of time in the room, a view upgrade might be warranted.
In addition, Boardwalk Villas offers a separate category of rooms ranging from deluxe studios to a three-bedroom grand villa. We cover staying at the villas in a separate review.
Related: Disney’s Boardwalk Villas Review
On my last stay at Disney’s Boardwalk, we were in a deluxe studio on the villa side of the resort. Those rooms were updated a few years back.
I found the sage paint color of the room relaxing. Pale reds and creams made for pleasant accent colors. Overall, the updates were positive, and we enjoyed our stay.
Probably the best thing about the deluxe studio is that it sleeps up to five guests. Unfortunately, two of those guests will end up on a sleeper sofa. From our stay at the Beach Club Villas, you may remember that I found the sofa bed extremely uncomfortable.
Related: Deluxe Studio at Beach Club Villas
Thankfully, I didn’t have to sleep on the sofa sleeper here at the Boardwalk. If you are a group requiring room to sleep five, there are a few better options.
Most of the newer studios have a pulldown Murphy bed. You can preview those rooms in these articles:
Below we have the standard guest room at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn. These rooms are slated for refurbishment in the coming months.
It’s been a few years since I stayed in this room. However, I remember the room feeling formal even though the style isn’t my personal taste. Overall, it was a cozy and quaint room.
Similar to the villas, some of the standard rooms at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn sleep up to five guests. The setup is two queen-size beds and one daybed.
Additionally, some rooms will offer two queen-size beds, and a few rooms are available with a king-size bed. Disney tends to assign rooms based on the size of your group.
For a real treat, you might consider the deluxe club-level suite. The deluxe suite sleeps up to six guests and is larger than a standard room. It has two queen beds and a queen-size sleeper sofa.
Boardwalk’s club level is called the Innkeeper’s Club. Guests staying on the concierge floor will have access to a lounge that provides various food and drinks throughout the day.
Related: Club Level at Beach Club (Stone Harbor Club)
Formerly, Disney’s Boardwalk Inn was known for having a clown pool. However, that theming is now a thing of the past.
Mickey and Friends have taken over, and I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing.
Here is the former clown pool for reference.
Related: The Pools at Disney’s Boardwalk
Boardwalk’s pool is called the Luna Park Pool. Since Boardwalk is a deluxe resort, it has a water slide. All of the moderate and deluxe resorts have water slides at their pools.
But I guarantee you, this slide doesn’t have anything on the pirate ship waterslide next door at Stormalong Bay.
Related: Disney Resorts with Water Slides
Boardwalk’s pool is designed to look like a wooden roller coaster. It’s a fun pool that children tend to love.
Near the pool area, there’s a pool bar called Leaping Horse Libations, designed to look like a carousel. Leaping Horse Libations offers drinks, sandwiches, and snacks. You can view their menu here on Disney’s site.
A small playground area sits near the feature pool. All of the Disney World Resorts have a playground.
In addition to the feature pool, Boardwalk offers two quiet pools. First is the Community Hall pool, which sits on the DVC side of the resort.
All of the pools at Disney’s Boardwalk have a spa.
You’ll find the other leisure pool on the opposite side of the resort. This is also where you’ll find the Boardwalk’s laundry room.
Another benefit of staying in a deluxe resort is that they all have fitness centers.
Muscles and Bustles is Boardwallk’s fitness center. It’s located near the Luna Park Pool. If you’re coming from the main lobby, you’ll pass it in the breezeway before you get to the pool.
Like most hotel gyms, there are plenty of equipment options and free weights available.
Here are a few of the weight machines.
Related: Fitness Centers at the Disney Resorts
In addition to the gym, the surrounding Crescent Lake area is an excellent place to jog. There are several maps posted around the area that show the various trails.
Related: Best Jogging Trails at Disney World
When it comes to dining options at Disney’s Boardwalk, I have mixed feelings. There are quite a few options, but the counter service locations are lacking.
However, the new Boardwalk Deli does bring a better variety of items to the mix. And there are other dining improvements on the horizon for the resort.
First, there’s the infamous Flying Fish, a signature dining location at Disney. Reservations are required in advance, and a meal here is not likely to disappoint.
Next door to Flying Fish is Abracadabar, like abracadabra, except with a bar at the end. I don’t have any experience here, but anyone interested in magic tricks and unusual elixirs (alcoholic beverages) might enjoy the location.
Trattoria al Forno is located on the Boardwalk just past Abracadabar. The restaurant formerly served a character breakfast and offers Italian cuisine in the evening.
As of early 2023, Trattoria al Forno serves breakfast again. Unfortunately, no characters have returned. If you are looking for a character breakfast, I recommend Topolino’s Terrace.
Related: The Ultimate Guide to Character Dining at Disney World
Also, Disney’s Boardwalk has a pizza window that is considered quick service. It’s called Pizza Window, imagine that.
I have had okay pizza here (usually the specialty item) and not-so-great pizza. If you want pizza, you are much better off at Via Napoli in Epcot or ordering something from off-property.
Disney’s Boardwalk Deli recently opened. A reimagining of the former bakery to the new deli is part of the resort’s lengthy refurbishment.
Thankfully, more made-to-order items are now available. We recently tried a few things out and found the offerings much improved.
In addition to sandwiches, the new deli has two cases full of muffins and other sweet treats. We loved the key lime tart.
Related: Disney’s Boardwalk Deli Review
Another hidden gem on the Boardwalk is the Big River Grille. This table service restaurant takes walk-ups and is known for having decent food and lower-than-average prices. I consider it a hidden gem.
Unfortunately, ESPN Club has permanently closed.
A new and entirely different restaurant will open in its place, The Cake Bake Shop. This new restaurant is expected to open sometime in 2023.
Related: Considerable Changes Coming to Disney’s Boardwalk
Joe’s Marvelous Margaritas is located on the Boardwalk. In addition to margaritas, you can pick up a pretzel here, among other things.
An ice cream shop is on the Boardwalk, simply called Boardwalk Ice Cream. It replaced the former Ample Hills Creamery.
Lastly, there are a few other stands on the Boardwalk offering various food items. For instance, To-Go Cart serves chicken fingers and other quick service items.
Related: Disney’s Boardwalk Restaurants Guide
*As of 2023, you can also pick up a coffee or pastry at Carousel Coffee, off the resort’s lobby, between 7:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
On the Boardwalk
In addition to restaurants, there are several shops and entertainment offerings on Disney’s Boardwalk. First, the Screen Door Store is a huge store with several entrances similar to the Emporium at Magic Kingdom.
Each of those entrances has a different name overhead.
One is Thimbles and Threads. So naturally, that portion of the store has clothing items and Disney-themed merchandise.
Another shop, Disney Character Carnival, features houseware and novelty items. This shop is the one with the carousel horse in the window.
Overall, the shops on the Boardwalk are fun to browse. You might also enjoy the art gallery that’s right around the corner.
In addition to everything else, Disney’s Boardwalk offers some nightlife. Jellyrolls is open late and usually, has some form of entertainment.
And there’s the Atlantic Dance Hall.
I ran into a few ducks leaving the dance hall one evening. They said it wasn’t anything worth writing about.
Out on the Boardwalk, there are a few stand-alone carnival-style games.
Surrey bikes are available to rent.
You can have your picture made at the Novelty photo booth.
Collectors of pressed pennies will find a machine on the Boardwalk. There’s also a pretty cool pressed penny machine off the lobby.
Lastly, Movies Under the Stars are held nightly on the big green lawn. Several recreation calendars are posted around the resort that lists the movies and times on the week of your vacation.
One of the biggest perks of staying at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn is the proximity to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Both Disney parks are within walking distance.
You can easily walk out of the resort and get to either park in approximately 10-15 minutes. Being able to walk to these parks puts you in control of how long it takes to get there.
Related: Walking from Hollywood Studios to Epcot via the Boardwalk
You don’t have to wait on a bus or deal with any boat stops along the way. However, if you prefer a boat, the Friendship boats travel between Epcot and Hollywood Studios. They stop at all the resorts in between the parks along the way.
Promenade Pier is the boat dock that sits on Disney’s Boardwalk. From here, you can set sail on Disney’s Friendship boats to either the theme parks in the area or the other resorts nearby.
Additionally, Disney bus service is provided to the following destinations:
- Magic Kingdom
- Animal Kingdom
- Disney Springs
- Blizzard Beach
- Typhoon Lagoon
Also, you can walk or boat to the International Gateway(or Hollywood Studios) and take a ride on the Disney Skyliner. However, the ride would probably be more for leisure than anything.
The Skyliner will dip down at Disney’s Riviera on the way. Then it will stop at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. You’ll have to disembark at Caribbean Beach and get on another Skyliner, depending on which way you’re headed.
Related: Disney Skyliner Resorts with Travel Times
Lastly, the following resorts are within walking distance of Disney’s Boardwalk:
Those in the Epcot Resorts Area can easily walk between the resorts to enjoy dining and other amenities.
Related: Transportation Options at Disney’s Boardwalk
A Few Other Benefits of Staying at Boardwalk Inn
Before we wrap things up, I wanted to mention a few other benefits of staying at the resort. Now through at least the end of 2023, all guests staying at a Disney World Resort are privy to early morning theme park benefits.
Each day all of the parks open 30 minutes early exclusively for Walt Disney World Resort guests. This will provide you with the opportunity to get to the park early and get at least one attraction out of the way before other guests are admitted.
Of course, because the parks open 30 minutes early, you’ll want to get there well ahead of time to take advantage of the offering. Being within walking distance of Epcot and Hollywood Studios will help immensely.
Since Boardwalk Inn is a deluxe resort, there’s another opportunity offered at this time. Guests of the deluxe resorts and deluxe villa resorts are privy to extended evening hours at select parks on select nights.
Typically, these nights are held on Monday evenings at Epcot and Wednesday nights at Magic Kingdom. However, occasionally we see a night or two added to the mix for Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom.
You can preview the schedule for these evenings here on Disney’s site. If you do not take advantage of the park hopper benefit, you’ll need to align your theme park reservations for the same park on these dates.
Boardwalk Inn Review (Final Thoughts)
Overall, Disney’s Boardwalk is an excellent hotel. Anyone with an interest in staying here will likely enjoy it.
From the classic decor that’s not-so-traditional when you take a closer look to the hard-to-beat location between two theme parks, Boardwalk Inn has a lot going for it.
Hopefully, the upcoming refurbishment will only continue to improve things, making the resort an even more sought-after destination.
Unfortunately, the main drawback of staying at the Boardwalk is the expense. Like the other deluxe resorts, this location often has a high price tag.
However, in my opinion, there’s no better location in all of Disney World. And that goes for anyone who will enjoy spending time outside in the evening. The entire area always feels safe, well-lit, and fairly populated.
You probably won’t find a better place to catch a sunset, either. Okay, I am a little partial to Crescent Lake and all the resorts in the area.
Over the years, I have also found the location perfect when traveling with teenagers. Since the resorts in the area are so close to two parks, you can let those responsible enough have a little time to explore on their own.
When my son turned fourteen, he loved that I would let him walk over to Hollywood Studios by himself. Fourteen is the age that you can enter the parks by yourself.
On the negative side, most of the hotel sits in direct sunlight, so it can get extremely hot on the Boardwalk during the day. But there are plenty of places to retreat for a break.
Disney’s Boardwalk Inn has so many positives. I hope this review provided the information you need to decide whether this was the right resort for your next visit.
For more information, all of our articles for the resort are located in our guide:
Or you might enjoy the following articles:
- Disney’s Boardwalk vs. Disney Springs
- The Best Restaurants at Disney Springs
- Planning a Split Stay at Disney World
- The Best Breakfasts at Disney World
Additionally, you may enjoy the following Disney World Resort Reviews for other resorts in the immediate area.
In the comments
Did you find this review of Disney’s Boardwalk Inn helpful? Do you still have questions about staying here? If so, I’ll be happy to answer them based on our experiences staying at the resort.
You could not be more wrong about the Cake Bake Shop. I suggest you read their website. The owner has made cakes for very famous people and Oprah herself raves. It’s actually pretty interesting, their history, It is more of a French based Tea room ,very upscale and the perfect place for female gatherings ala princess parties for the littles. It is so far removed from Rainforest that I have no idea where you got that, plus ” a chain ” (they have two whole locations) As a local Indy gal I love going here but you have to book months in advance.
The reference to the Rainforest Cafe (except for princesses) means that when I browsed the Cake Bake Shop’s photo galleries, it looked like the rooms were covered (perhaps, frosted is a better word) in stuff. So it does remind me of a Rainforest Cafe, except for princesses. I wasn’t knocking the restaurant. I’m a Landry member.