Disney BoardWalk Inn Deluxe Resort Hotel Review and Info

by josh on April 11, 2010

Wondering how the Boardwalk Inn stacks up against the other Disney World Deluxe Resorts? Check out The Best Disney World Deluxe Resorts for a comparison of the eight Deluxes in a variety of categories including Best Layout, Best Dining, Best Transportation, Best Location, Best Rooms, Best Pool, and Best Overall Deluxe Resort.

Address:

2101 Epcot Resorts Boulevard
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830-1000

Direct Phone: 1- 407-939-5100, Fax: 1-407-939-5150, General Reservations: 1-407-WDISNEY (1-407-934-7639)

Resort Class: The BoardWalk Inn is a Deluxe resort, Disney’s most expensive resort class.  There are nine different room, suite, concierge, and view configurations with prices ranging from $340 per night for a Standard room with a Standard View during Value Season to $2,780 for the two-bedroom Presidential Suite during Holiday Season.  Overall, the pricing is almost identical to the nearby Yacht and Beach Club.  There are only two view types for Standard rooms – Standard and Water.  Water View rooms cost an additional $85 to $110 per night and provide views of Crescent Lake and the BoardWalk.  Club Level with Concierge Service starts at $470.

Location: The BoardWalk Inn, along with the Beach Club and Yacht Club, has one of the best locations at Disney World.  It’s within walking distance of Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Beach Club Resort, Yacht Club Resort, Swan Resort, and Dolphin Resort.  In addition, there is a free boat ride to all of those locations as well.  Another key asset is that it’s located right on the BoardWalk, which is a quarter mile stretch of land that features a variety of bars, restaurants, and nightclubs.  The Boardwalk Inn is also centrally located in the middle of the Walt Disney property, which means bus rides to the Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom are relatively short as well.

Size: The BoardWalk Inn is actually the smallest resort at Disney World, with only 380 rooms.  That’s 2,500 less than the Pop Century and about 500 less than the Polynesian.  There is also a 20,000 foot convention center attached to the resort and the BoardWalk Villas add another 532 studios and suites to the mix.

Room Amenities and Quality: Most of the Standard rooms are about 390 square feet and can accommodate up to five people.  This is about 80 feet larger than Moderate rooms and 30-50 feet smaller than Standard rooms at the Monorail Deluxes.  Rooms come with all of the Deluxe amenities including: small table, two chairs, ceiling fan, internet access ($10 per 24 hours), 32” LCD television, small safe, telephone, hairdryer, iron, ironing board, alarm clock, coffeemaker, refrigerator, bathroom with two sinks, shower/bathtub combo, toilet, and mirror.  All Standard rooms either have two queen beds or one king bed and many also have a day bed.  I would recommend requesting a day bed at the time of reservation and then confirming your request with the resort directly about three days before your check-in date if you would like a room with one.

The Boardwalk completed a room refurbishment in 2008.  The odd flower and plant bedspreads and drapes are gone, in favor of classier furnishings similar to those found at the Grand Floridian.  While the room décor doesn’t fit in well with the “colorful” atmosphere of the resort, I think most guests will appreciate the more subtle and relaxing white and yellow color palette.  The bathroom counters are marble, the headboard and armoire are made of high quality light and dark woods, and the old tube televisions have been replaced by new flat-screens.

Theme and Layout: According to Disney, the BoardWalk Inn “captures the charm, whimsy and elegance of 1940s Atlantic City.”  Indeed, the resort’s façade faces the Boardwalk area and features gorgeous architecture, bright colors, and a touch of class.  It’s hard not to get caught up in the fun immediately after setting foot outside on the BoardWalk promenade.  The interior of the resort is less colorful, but the lobby is still well appointed with hardwood floors, colorful rugs, and fine furniture.

The BoardWalk Inn sits on top of several restaurants and shops and blends in perfectly with the overall Disney BoardWalk area.  Unfortunately, the resort features a similar layout to the other Epcot resorts.  This equates to long, maze-like hallways that can be somewhat confusing to traverse.  Luckily, with so few rooms, the walk from the lobby to the furthest rooms out should only be about five minutes.  Although it doesn’t look like it from the front, the BoardWalk Inn and Villas are actually connected to one another and share amenities, including pool areas.  Luna Park Pool, the resort’s feature pool, is actually behind the BoardWalk Villas rather than the Inn.  The transportation dock, where guests board boats to travel around the World, is situated in the middle of the two resort areas.  Finally, the BoardWalk Inn is closer to Epcot by foot than the Villas and the Villas are closer to the Hollywood Studios by foot.

Pool: A quick word of warning to those with a fear of clowns: the 200 foot water slide sends guests plummeting through the mouth of a large clown face.  If that sounds like a panic attack waiting to happen, you might be better off staying elsewhere.  With that out of the way, the slide is modeled to look like a wooden roller coaster and is one of the best slides at any Disney resort.  As a whole, the pool isn’t as extravagant as Stormalong Bay at the Yacht or Beach Club, but it’s more of a relaxing swimming experience which may be more appealing to adults who aren’t interested in dodging hundreds of kids.  The two quiet pools are pleasant and less crowded than the ones found at other resorts as well.  The BoardWalk also does a good job of keeping “pool hoppers” out, which means more rooms for guests.

Transportation: The BoardWalk Inn is less than a ten minute walk to Epcot, less than a ten minute boat ride or 20 minute walk to the Hollywood Studios, and within walking distance of the Swan resort, Dolphin resort, Beach Club resort, Yacht Club resort, and right on top of the BoardWalk.  It’s the perfect location for anyone planning several meals at Epcot or those who enjoy the Hollywood Studios.  It’s not particularly far from the Animal Kingdom or Magic Kingdom either.  The downside is that there is no bus transportation to the front entrance of Epcot so guests will need to enter from the International Gateway, nearest to the World Showcase.  It’s also common for the Boardwalk Inn to share buses with several of the other Epcot area resorts which can add significant additional transit time as well.

The times below are calculated after the bus or boat leaves for its final destination.

Hollywood Studios by Boat: about 15 minutes (including the wait for Swan and Dolphin guests to board)
Hollywood Studios by Walkway: about 20 minutes
Epcot by Foot: about 15 minutes
Epcot by Boat: about 15 minutes
Animal Kingdom: about 15 minutes
Magic Kingdom: about 20 minutes

Best Rooms: The quietest rooms at the BoardWalk Inn are generally Standard View rooms overlooking the gardens.  If a view overlooking the BoardWalk is of little interest or you plan to spend little time on the balcony, then you should request a room in that section.  Few rooms overlook the parking lot, so chances are good you’ll have a garden or pool view.  Other than Magic Kingdom View rooms at the Contemporary or Savanna View rooms at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, the BoardWalk Inn is really the only other view I would strongly consider upgrading.  Sitting out on the balcony gazing out over the lake during IllumiNations at Epcot is wonderful and watching people have fun on the BoardWalk and lake is nice as well.  Unfortunately, there are few rooms that look out directly over the BoardWalk and it is impossible to guarantee you will be placed there.  If you do reserve a Water View room, at the time of your reservation make sure to request a room directly facing the BoardWalk and looking out over Crescent Lake.  About three days before your arrival follow up with the resort directly by phone.  If you do check-in at the resort and you’re placed in a different location, you can always request to be moved.  Although they can’t always accommodate you, it never hurts to be persistent.  The downside to these Water View rooms is that guests will be out enjoying the BoardWalk area (and making noise) late into the night and they may be loud.

On-Site Dining Options: The biggest downside to dining at the BoardWalk Inn is the fact that it doesn’t have its own counter service location.  Although Epcot is close and there is plenty of casual and fine sit-down dining available, sometimes guests may just want a quick burger and a Diet Coke.  This isn’t a convenient option at the BoardWalk Inn.  The BoardWalk Bakery does have some fantastic breakfast options, but it’s tiny and service is slow.  The best casual restaurant in the BoardWalk area is the ESPN Club, which has many sandwiches and burgers in the $10-$12 range.  It does get loud and busy, but so do most Disney restaurants.  The Big River Grille also serves inexpensive (more so for lunch) food and has a nice location with tables outside near the BoardWalk.  I wouldn’t recommend Big River for dinner, but it’s fine for an inexpensive lunch.  If it were me, I would prefer to walk to Epcot with my Park Hopper ticket and have lunch or dinner there, but the BoardWalk may be more convenient.

“Kouzzina by Cat Cora” replaced Spoodles on the BoardWalk.  It’s open for breakfast and dinner and features a Mediterranean (Greek) menu.  Prices are moderate for breakfast, in the $11-12 range, and dinner entrées are between $20 and $30.  You might recognize the chef’s name, Cat Cora, from the Food Channel’s Iron Chef Television show or the fact she was invited to cook at the White House for President Obama.  Unfortunately, her restaurant is not quite as spectacular as I’m sure the chef is.  Be sure you allot enough time for the meal as well because service is usually slow.  If you like Greek food then this will probably be a better meal, but if you’re unsure or know that you don’t like Greek then there are better options.

Flying Fish Cafe is the BoardWalk’s Signature Restaurant and it costs two table service credits on the Disney Dining Plan.  Only open for dinner, Flying Fish is expensive, with most entrées in the $30-$40 range and most appetizers over $15.  Flying Fish is one of the better Signature restaurants at Disney World and it should be considered right along with other favorites like the California Grill and Narcoossee’s.  It’s also far and away the best restaurant on the BoardWalk.  As you might expect, the menu emphasizes fish and seafood, but there are also chicken, steak, and pasta dishes available.  The Potato Wrapped Red Snapper is a favorite and arguably the best entrée on the menu.  The restaurant’s décor evokes a more fun and noisy atmosphere, which is somewhat surprising considering the quality of the items on the menu and high cost of the meal.  This makes Flying Fish less of a romantic or intimate experience.  The open kitchen is fun and if you like watching chefs prepare the food then consider requesting a seat overlooking it.  Overall, Flying Fish is a pleasant meal with excellent food and service – just don’t bank on a fine-dining atmosphere.

Full reviews coming soon.

Best For: Those who plan to spend considerable time at the resort, pool, and the BoardWalk area.  People who want to take advantage of the location within walking distance of Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Beach Club, Yacht Club, Swan, and Dolphin.

Worst For: Those on a budget.  People with an irrational (or rational) fear of clowns.  Those who plan to spend most of their time at the Magic Kingdom might want to stay at one of the Monorail Resorts.

Summary of Key Points: The BoardWalk Inn has a terrific location right on the BoardWalk.  It’s hard to beat a five minute walk to Epcot or an easy boat ride to the Hollywood Studios.  With street performers in the evening, several lounges and clubs, and numerous restaurants, the BoardWalk is one of the most fun areas at Disney World outside of the Parks.  The Inn’s exterior and theming are gorgeous and the rooms overlooking the BoardWalk are some of the best at Disney.  Unfortunately, there are only about 40 rooms with that view and it’s impossible to guarantee you’ll be placed in one.

The BoardWalk Inn has several nice pools, although the clown at the end of the slide may frighten a few people.  The 200 foot long water slide, designed to look like a wooden roller coaster, is one of the best slides at Disney.  The quiet pools are also less busy than those found at other resorts, which is beneficial if you actually want to swim around, rather than just stand in water near other people.  There is no counter service location at the BoardWalk which can make it inconvenient if you want a quick meal or snack.  The ESPN Club and Big River Grille serve relatively cheap burgers and sandwiches, but service won’t be as fast or inexpensive as a good counter service.  The nearby bakery serves excellent breakfast items, but lines are long and it’s a tiny location which makes it a poor choice if you’re in a hurry.  Kouzzina serves a tasty breakfast, but dinner service is slow and the menu may not appeal to those who don’t like Greek food.  Flying Fish is an excellent, albeit expensive, Signature restaurant that specializes in seafood.  I would recommend it to anyone looking for a casual meal with higher quality food than “regular” restaurants.  It’s not a particularly intimate or romantic location so I wouldn’t recommend it if that’s what you’re looking for.

I should also take a moment to say that the service isn’t as friendly or knowledgeable as it is at other resorts.  While I don’t usually make sweeping negative generalizations like this, it’s worth pointing out that more guests than usual report sour experiences when dealing with staff members.  While it’s unlikely that you’ll run into serious problems, it’s something to take into consideration when choosing the BoardWalk Inn over the Yacht or Beach Club.

Overall, I usually recommend the Beach and Yacht Club over the BoardWalk Inn.  The Beach and Yacht Club have the better pool, friendlier service, and are generally quieter and more relaxing.  The BoardWalk Inn is great for those who want to be right on the BoardWalk or aren’t interested in Stormalong Bay. There just isn’t anything particularly special about the BoardWalk Inn that makes it better.

Overall Rank on The Best Disney World Deluxe Resorts: 8th out of 8

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Janene September 29, 2010 at 5:27 am

Oh, we LOVE the Boardwalk because, like you said, it is close to Epcot, but we love the fact it is the smallest of the resorts and doesn’t have all of the traffic the traffic of the other resorts.

But your comment regarding the staff is the first I have heard of this. We have found the staff extremely friendly and accommodating. In fact, the only time we have ever had a bad experience with staff is at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. We were there last Christmas and found the staff unprofessional and very under-trained.

By the way, you have a great blog :)

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Jeannette September 16, 2011 at 9:47 am

We love the Boardwalk. We love having the option of being able to walk or take the boat to two great theme parks. The whole EPCOT resort is awesome with some great dining experiences. I also was puzzled about your comment about their staff. We have alway found the cast their very friendly and outgoing. We love staying club level and have to say that the Innkeepers staff is amazing, friendly, and outgoing. They always go above and beyond the call of duty to be helpful. We have stayed Club Level at the Beach Club and Contemporary and were not impressed at all.

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Stacey September 16, 2011 at 11:35 am

I will agree with the above review and say a praise for the Boardwalk. We too stay club level and the service is outstanding. It is throughout the entire resort though, as well as the Innkeepers Club. The Boardwalk view is one of the best on property. The walk to EPCOT and the Studios is fast and convenient. The atmosphere on the Boardwalk in the evening is so relaxing and fun. It is a 10 out of 10 for my family.

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Maggie December 30, 2011 at 3:05 pm

I also agree that Boardwalk has always shown us superb service. In fact we moved out of Animal Kingdom (concierge) because service was so poor.

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bowbat January 21, 2012 at 12:48 pm

Also surprised to see the note about poor service. We stayed at the Boardwalk in November, and the service we received — from everyone we encountered — was amazing. Absolutely the friendliest, most helpful staff of any Disney resort we’ve experienced so far (Contemporary, Polynesian, Wilderness Lodge).

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Lauren S December 2, 2012 at 9:15 am

Great thorough review. We’ve visited the Boardwalk several times, but have never actually stayed there. Looking forward to our first stay this coming August.

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Tser March 25, 2013 at 4:06 pm

We just gave up a 4 night stay at jambo house club level to stay in a one bedroom BW pool/garden view. Honestly the club level concierge staff were horrible. Not the food preparers but the ones that sit at the desk. I waited and waited for one, then sat down. One of them got up and was replaced and she literally was turning people away by saying, “do you just have a quick question?” like she needed a ton of time to settle in before she could help someone. Room service was awesome however. I hope I like the BW!

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Pam March 19, 2014 at 5:25 pm

We stayed at the Boardwalk Villas in October 2012 and loved it! We found the staff very helpful and friendly, even getting us into our room early upon our arrival because of dinner reservations and that we were going to MNSSHP that night. We did end up being in the very last room in our hallway, and it was about a 5 minute walk to the main lobby, but we made it fun and played tag all the way down each time! The street performers were great too! A magician pulled our daughter into his act on her actual birthday! She was elated! Would highly recommend the Boardwalk Inn and Villas!

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Matt June 11, 2014 at 4:36 pm

Does the 380 rooms include DVC villas? We are planning a trip there next fall and wonder if we will have any problems with availability to book it on points since it is not our home resort.

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