The charm of being second. See what we did there. On July 1, 1996 Walt Disney World opened its second Disney Vacation Club Resort (DVC), the Disney’s Boardwalk Resort. Situated between Epcot and Hollywood Studios, the Boardwalk Resort is within walking distance or boat ride to both parks, as well as the Yacht and Beach Club, and Swan and Dolphin resorts. Our friendship boat is ready to go, let’s set sail on our DVC Duo resort review of the Villas at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort.
The Boardwalk Resort transports you to the Jersey shore no not the TV show, we’re talking circa 1940’s. A time with top hats and taffy were the backdrop to gorgeous beaches filled with vacationers rocking wool bathing suits. We’re itching already. Disney brings to life the charm and elegance of a time period that’s classic Americana, no detail is too small even down to the squeak of the boardwalk boards.
With 530 villas Boardwalk Resort is a 4 story resort stretching from Crescent Lake down the walkway towards Hollywood Studios. In 2014, the villas went through a room refurbishment that kept the charm of the 1940’s while updating the amenities to be more contemporary. The lighter color palette and carnival theme brings the feel of a seaside getaway to your room. Boardwalk Resort has a range of room types that vary in size and amenities, as well as views. Guests have the option of a Boardwalk View , Garden or Pool View, or Standard View. Below are the room options for all the views:
- Deluxe Studio – Similar to your normal hotel room, these rooms offer one queen sized bed, a couch that converts into another queen bed, a single pull down bed, and a bathroom. Sleeps 5 people.
- 1 Bedroom Villa – Similar to 1 bedroom apartment, as these rooms have a kitchen, laundry facilities, living room and large master bedroom with a jacuzzi tub. One bathroom with a standup shower.The living room couch can convert into a pull out queen bed. Sleeps 4 people.
- 2 Bedroom Villa – The 2 bedroom villa is made up of a deluxe studio and 1 bedroom villa. The only difference is the ability to have two entries, one in the main living space and a second in the studio portion. Sleeps 9 people.
- 3 Bedroom Villa – A single story “house” that has the same facilities as the 1 and 2 bedroom villas with the following additions, a larger dining room, 3 total bathrooms, and 3 total bedrooms (1 king bed, 4 queen beds in each bedroom). The couch in the living room converts to a queen bed. Sleeps 12 people.
Passholder Insights: The 3 bedroom villas at the Boardwalk Resort are only available with the Boardwalk View. There is no option for a Garden and Pool View, or Standard view.
We’ve stayed in all the room types at various resorts. In our opinion, what makes Boardwalk Resort different than Bay Lake Tower and Boulder Ridge is the single floor for the 3 bedroom villa. Having everything on one floor makes moving already a lot easier for everyone.
Arriving at Boardwalk Resort
Rolling up to the Boardwalk Resort either by the Disney Magical Express, car, taxi, or rideshare you’ll be dropped off at the entrance to the lobby. Bell services will greet you for any of your luggage needs or if you’d like to valet your car. Stepping through the front door you’ll want to head to the left for guest services and room check in (heading straight will bring you down a staircase to the boardwalk).
Depending on the time of day (before check in time) we would recommend having bell services hold your bags so you can enjoy the magic. Of course, you could always take advantage of the Magical Express Luggage service and save yourself the hassle of lugging luggage like we do
Directly across from the Boardwalk Resort check in area is a beautiful seating area with comfortable period style pieces of furniture, as well as miniature replicas of Coney Island from the 40’s. The attention to detail in the display is a sight to see.
Continuing pass the check in area you’ll find a smaller gift shop with select DVC branded merchandise as well as a small assortment of grab and go snacks and toiletries, in case you forgot something.
The Pools and Recreation
Heading down the staircase from the lobby you’ll come out to an open grassy area that is used for games and movies. Off the to left when facing Crescent Lake is an underpass that brings you to the Luna Park Pool. Themed around a boardwalk style carnival the pool has a “carousel”, which is the pool’s snack and drink bar. It’s the perfect location to grab a refreshing beverage while the kids play.
The Luna Park Pool also has one of the more famous resort water slides on Disney property. Themed around a wooden roller coaster, the 200 foot slide has a unique way to end your watery trip, as it shoots you out of a clown’s mouth. Not just any clown, but one that looks like Pennywise from IT. Haunted Mansion doesn’t hold a candle to the fear on this one, according to Serena!
If you prefer your pool time to be more relaxing and not what Serena’s nightmares are made of, the Boardwalk Resort has two additional pools for those of us who are clown-adverse
Beyond the pools the Boardwalk Resort offers up a variety of recreational activities from tennis, to fishing trips and even movies under the stars. The most famous one is renting a Surrey bike and heading out for a lap or two around Crescent Lake. Whether you’re a group of 2 or 4, there’s a bike for you. Make sure to get a head of steam going for those hills you’ve been warned!
Passholder Insight: The lap around Crescent Lake is about three quarters of mile, and there are two uphill areas.
It’s why we’re all here! Situated along Crescent Lake is a quarter mile long boardwalk boasting a variety of things to do and check out. The boardwalk is the perfect place to relax and recharge during the day, or enjoy a cup coffee on the mornings you’re not rope dropping. By nightfall the boardwalk comes to life with entertainers lining the “streets” fully equipped with some amazing seaside tricks and talents. If you’re looking to put your carnival game skills to the test there are a variety to play. You’ll find Nate shooting hoops and trying to win that stuffed teddy bear. Below is a full breakdown of what’s along the Boardwalk:
Sit Down Restaurants
- ESPN Club – Located on the far right of the boardwalk is a sports fan’s dream. Filled with wall to wall TVs, you’ll never miss a minute of the action! Open for lunch and dinner. ESPN Club is a single meal credit if you’re on the Disney Dining Plan. If you’re looking to watch a certain game we would recommend getting there at least an hour early.
- Trattoria al Forno – Located about halfway down the right side of the boardwalk is an Italian restaurant with a wood fired grill. Serving a character breakfast in the morning and a regular dinner service in the evening, Trattoria al Forno is a single meal credit if you’re on the Disney Dining Plan. For a full review check out the DVC Duo restaurant review.
- Flying Fish Cafe – Located on the corner when you turn right onto the boardwalk is Disney’s seafood Signature Restaurant. With dishes inspired by the sea, the Flying Fish Cafe is open for dinner and is two credits on the Disney Dining Plan. Expect a full DVC Duo dining review coming soon.
- Big River Grille – Located on the left side of the boardwalk is a brew works serving up a variety of their own craft beers, along with American fare. Open for lunch and dinner. Big River Grille is a single meal credit if you’re on the Disney Dining Plan. The patio is a great to relax with a cold one and enjoy some people watching.
- AbracadaBar – Attached to the Fishing Fish Cafe is a magician’s lounge that’s home to some of the craftiest of cocktails. Opening daily at 4 pm, it’s on the DVC Duo’s favorite places for an adult timeout.
- Jellyrolls – Located to the far left of the boardwalk is a dueling patio bar. Opening nightly at 7 pm for guests 21+ the pair of pianists take requests, as long as they’re Disney friendly. Kick back and raise a glass and enjoy the show. Please note that Jellyrolls usually has a cover charge to enter.
- Boardwalk Joe’s Marvelous Margaritas – Located across the ESPN club is an open air lounge serving up a variety of margaritas, and other tropical inspired drinks for your enjoyment. Grab a drink and a seat along Crescent Lake, while you work on your tan or gaze at the stars. Drink orders begin at 12 pm.
- Ample Hills Creamery – Next to the ESPN Lounge is an iconic Brooklyn creamery serving up a variety of unique flavor combinations, it’s a great place to cool off on a hot Florida day. Opening daily at 12 pm head over and grab a scoop!
- Boardwalk Bakery – Next to Trattoria al Forno is Hue G Krazant’s infamous boardwalk bakery. Serving up a variety of delectable bake goods, the Boardwalk Bakery is the perfect place to find your breakfast pastry nirvana. Opens daily at 6:30 am.
- Pizza Window – Attached to Trattoria al Forno is a great place to grab a slice. Serving up a variety of pizza options the window opens at 12 pm daily. For a full review checkout our DVC Duo food review.
- The Carts – Scattered along the boardwalk are a variety of carts serving up iconic boardwalk treats. From funnel cakes to popcorn and even jalapeno poppers (a new classic?), if there’s a carnival food you crave they’ve probably got it!
Passholder Insights: At the Boardwalk Resort the bakery is where you would go to refill your refillable mug.
- Screen Door General Store – Located on just on the left hand side when you enter the boardwalk is the general store. From grocery items to your favorite souvenirs you’ll be able to find it here.
Passhold Insights: If you’re looking to purchase a refillable mug or pick one up, you’ll want to go the Screen Door General Store. If you’re on the dining plan all you’ll need to do is scan your MagicBand to receive your cup.
Vacations and workouts usually don’t go hand in hand, unless you’re like the DVC Duo. The Boardwalk Resort has a variety of options for a morning workout. Home to one of the DVC Duo’s favorite running paths, the path is also part of many of the runDisney events. If weights are more your speed the Muscles and Bustles Health Club has everything you need for a vacation workout.
Overall, we love the Boardwalk Resort. It’s Nate’s favorite resort on Disney property and slowly becoming Serena’s as well. It is a great location, as it’s centrally located and you’re able to walk to two of the parks. There is definitely something relaxing about walking to a park in the morning. Throw in all the fabulous dining options within a stone’s throw of your room, what else could you ask for? With all the new attractions coming to Hollywood Studios and Epcot in the coming years, the resort is perfectly situated to enjoy it all. We would highly recommend staying at the Boardwalk resort if you’re looking for easy access to multiple parks. We’ll meet you at AbracadaBar!