The Disney Boardwalk – Getting There, That’s The Hard Part…
As with any Disney Hotel or property, they generally cater to their actual guests when it comes to parking arrangements. The Disney Boardwalk is no different. When we got up to the gate we were asked if we had reservations. We simply told the friendly security guard we wanted to check out the resort. He didn’t seem to mind, but unfortunately they were pretty packed with people so we could either use the self parking across the street of valet parking. I’m not really one to use the car service so we headed across the street. We were greeted this time by someone who appeared to be a manager and we were welcomed to come check out the resort,but that there were only 6 spots left in the parking lot, and that we would be limited to 4 hour parking. This was acceptable to us, so we headed in. It was a bit difficult finding one of the 6 spots, but it seems that they kept a pretty good count on cars coming and going so we wouldn’t get stuck driving around the lot in a never ending loop.
Another suggestion, if you really want to check out this resort, or any Disney resort for that matter, and don’t want to explain yourself to the staff, just head on over to Downtown Disney. The parking is always free, and you can always find a spot. Just hop on board one of the Disney Transportation buses to the resort of your choice. You are not required to show any reservations or even a theme park ticket to board.
Let’s Wrangle Some Balloons!
So you know that Disney charm that everyone always talks about? You know what I mean, the part where cast members go out of their way to really make a guest experience something special? Well we knew this was going to be a great trip when we first walked up to the main entrance. Under the car drop off a little girl let go of her very special Mickey Mouse balloon, and was very upset about it. One of the cast members (whom might I add was still “Earning His Ears” was actually fishing for it! Because the roof was so high up, he actually got another balloon with a long ribbon and some tape. He very cleverly sent the new balloon up so it would stick to the girl’s precious keepsake and he very carefully reeled them both in. You would not believe the applause that this cast member received from everyone when he was finally able to return the girl’s lost balloon. I personally thought that was pretty cool of him to do. Other folks may have just given her a new balloon, but he went the extra mile.
The theme of the overall resort is Disney Boardwalk. Here you are transported back in to to an opulent hotel from the 20’s or 30’s complete with modern day amenities. We obviously didn’t check out the rooms as we weren’t registered guests, but the lobby was pretty amazing. I felt link I was checking into an old school hotel! We found quite a few little lobbies and relaxation areas downstairs complete with period decor. I was amazed to find an actually working old time animation movie machine! You put in a penny and turn the cranks and a short animated feature comes to life! I was amazed the thing even still worked! In the main lobby there was a model wooden roller coaster that reminded me of Mountain Park in Massachusetts when I was a kid.
As soon as you go outside, you’ll realize why it’s the Boardwalk! Even though you are on a lake, you’ll think you’re in Atlantic City or Jones’ Beach. There are a few carnival games setup as well as some food stands to check out. I personally never understood the draw of churros, but folks were lined up for them. At the main focal point towards the boardwalk area, you can rent pedal cars and bicycles. Because this resort is part of a larger complex, you would be surprised how far you can explore in a traffic free environment, but more on that later.
Relax Pool Side at the Disney Boardwalk (If You’re Not Scared Of Clowns)
With as many times as we have been to the Disney Boardwalk resort, this was the first time we checked out the Disney Boardwalk pool area. It again was made up to be a period area, decked out with old school decorations. There were a handful of elephant fountains spraying water, as well as an awesome water slide that looks like an old wooden roller coaster. You splash right into the pool through the mouth of a clown. I imagine it would be a bit creepy if you were afraid of clowns.
In this area, you’ll also find a small children’s playground as well as a small kiddie splash pool. The playground really isn’t anything to write home about, but it fits the bill if you want your kids to play out their extra energy.
I also wanted to mention that if you’re looking for some bottled water, I don’t recommend going to the bar for it. I made the mistake of heading over there, and got some really fancy water for almost $4. Yes I know Disney bottled water is expensive, but not by that much. I don’t recall the brand but it was fancy. Instead hit up any of the quick serve restaurants. If you have an annual pass, you can use your pass holder discount on merchandise at gift shops. That includes bottled water
A stop we ALWAYS make when we go to the Boardwalk is the Wyland Gallery. This art gallery is waaaayyyy out of our price range, but we love to window shop. There are other artists featured, but Wyland has a way of really making paintings come alive. In particular his ocean and volcano scenes use some really bright reflective paint, that in minimal light really seem to make his paintings “pop”! You’ll also see many of your Disney character friends in paintings, and three dimensional pieces of art that would look awesome in your home. Take a few minutes, and in many of the rooms you can adjust the lighting with slider light switches. We usually tend to ask the staff, before playing with the lights, and we’re usually very up front that we are just browsing. They have never been high pressure, but I’m sure they work on commission so I don’t want them to waste their time on non-customers. In addition Wyland himself visits this location quite often and actually hosts artist meet and greets. simply amazing! Almost everything is
Missing the Big Game?
If you’re vacationing with the family but don’t want to miss any major sporting events, the ESPN restaurant is THE place to go on Disney property. This dining location is a great place to watch any sporting event. Since there is a full service bar inside, the sports fan of the family is welcome to belly up to the bar and stay for as long as they want. There are TVs throughout the dining area as well, but it’s not the best viewing. A friend of mine worked there for years and I remember him telling me plenty of times that he only had a handful of customers because a major event was going on. He didn’t mind, just please be mindful of your wait staff if you plan on hanging out for quite awhile. (Hint Hint… They appreciate larger tips of longer stays, and they generally take VERY good care of those that will be around for awhile.) I have never heard of them placing a limit on how long you can stay and relax.
Explore the Disney Boardwalk Resort Complex!
Remember when I said this resort was part of a larger complex? The lake is surrounded by other resorts all make great and free viewing of the nightly EPCOT fireworks! This includes the Disney Boardwalk, The Swan & Dolphin Resorts, and Disney’s Yacht club. You can rent one of the pedal carts or bicycles and ride around, or you can hoof it around the complex. Disney did a great job blending the resort areas, so it’s not immediately apparent you are actually inside a different resort area from when you first started. You can also take a boat to Disney’s Hollywood Studios or EPCOT. In fact you can even walk to EPCOT from any of these connected resorts. There is an EPCOT admission gate that leads to the World Showcase area of EPCOT, so it’s very easy to get there. If you happen to visit any of these resorts at night, they
As a side note, since it doesn’t really fit into the frugal theme; you may also want to check out at this location there is a Disney Vacation Club demo room that you can check out if you would like more information. You can also check out what the rooms look like inside the Boardwalk Inn.
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Disney Boardwalk Location Specifics:
Address For GPS: 2101 Epcot Resorts Blvd, Lake Buena Vista Fl 32830
Phone #: (407) 939-5100
Disney’s Boardwalk Inn Website