One of our favorite places to visit on a non-park day is the Disney BoardWalk at Walt Disney World. Sure, we love a long park day with thrills and magical moments, but sometimes we also want to enjoy the resorts for all that they have to offer. This is why we love Disney’s BoardWalk!
Let’s remember that the Walt Disney World resort is massive! So, you’ll never run out of things to do. And one of those places that should be at the top of your list is Disney’s BoardWalk. You can spend hours at this waterfront location enjoying dining, shopping, and live entertainment. Our Disney BoardWalk complete guide is going to break down everything you need to know about this top destination. We’ll even give you some tips to maximize your time here.
So, let’s put on our flip-flops and head over to Disney’s BoardWalk! This is one my favorite places to pause and escape the crowds during one of our frequent Walt Disney World vacations.
Disney’s BoardWalk: Overview
Let’s first cover the basics. What is Disney’s BoardWalk? Disney’s BoardWalk is an actual boardwalk with tons of dining, shopping, and entertainment located at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn and Villas. It floats above Crescent Lake and is themed to the glory days of old resorts in the Atlantic City area of New Jersey. It’s especially neat given that you wouldn’t expect to see a full-fledged boardwalk in the middle of Walt Disney World! With its authentic wooden floorboards and the sounds of water crashing up against it, the BoardWalk is the perfect place to visit at any time of day.
While we’re going to go into more detail about the attached resort, it is worth noting that being tucked into a beautifully themed resort is honestly half the fun! Resort hopping is one of our favorite things to do in Walt Disney World. It might sound odd, but taking time to visit the different resorts at Walt Disney World is a great way to see and do so much! Disney has a robust transportation system so you’re never too far from a bus, Monorail, boat, Skyliner, or walk to a unique attraction. The BoardWalk is no exception to this and it’s part of the reason why it makes for such a great destination. Not only do you get to enjoy all it has to offer, but you’re also near other great sights and sounds!
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Disney’s BoardWalk: Getting There
Before we go into all the fun details, let’s talk about how to get to Disney’s BoardWalk. As I mentioned, it’s located at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn and Villas in the Crescent Lake resort area. If you’re not familiar with this area, you’re in for a real treat! More on that later. For now, let’s check out all the different modes of transportation available to get you to Disney’s BoardWalk!
The easiest way to get to the BoardWalk is to hop on a Disney bus. Let’s check out the different possibilities:
- From one of the Disney Parks: This one is easy! If you’re headed to the BoardWalk after a fun day at the parks, all you need to do is grab a bus that’s headed to Disney’s BoardWalk Inn and Villas and you’ll be taken straight there!
- From one of the Disney resorts: Unfortunately, Disney buses do not take guests from one resort to another. So, what you’ll need to do here is take a bus from your resort and head to any of the four theme parks. From there, you’d switch buses and grab one that’s headed toward Disney’s BoardWalk Inn and Villas.
- From Disney Springs: This is another easy one. The Disney Springs area offers direct transportation to Disney’s BoardWalk Inn and Villas so you’ll simply hop on one of those busses and before you know it you’ll be right on the BoardWalk!
While the monorail is a fun way of getting around certain parts of Walt Disney World, we would not recommend taking it to get to the BoardWalk. Disney’s BoardWalk Inn and Villas are not on the monorail loop so it would require you to do many transfers, a lot of walking, and maybe even a park ticket to EPCOT! For this reason, we’re going to save our monorail adventure for when we’re staying at one of the hotels on the loop!
Since we’re heading to be right on the water, why not take one of Disney’s famous Friendship Boats?! That’s right, depending on where you’re coming from, you can take a relaxing boat ride straight to the steps of the BoardWalk! The Friendship Boats service many locations in the Crescent Lake area and you must know that they are a lot of fun! Aside from the fun of being on a boat, you get to see new sights and enjoy a relaxing cruise that saves your feet from walking!
You can hop aboard a Friendship Boat that will take you to Disney’s BoardWalk from:
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios Park
- Disney’s Swan and Dolphin Resorts
- Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts
- The International Gateway entrance to EPCOT
As you can see, you have lots of options. We’d venture to say that taking a Friendship boat adds to the fun you’ll have at your final destination!
The Skyliner is one of Disney’s newest modes of transportation. They’re a fun way of getting around and will have you soaring high above in the sky as you relax in a hanging gondola. If you want to learn more about this awesome way of getting around, be sure to check out our complete guide!
Luckily, the Skyliner is a great option, depending on where you’re coming from, to get to Disney’s BoardWalk. Since the BoardWalk is located just near the EPCOT International Gateway entrance, you’ll only be a few steps away from the fun! So, let’s see our options:
- From Disney’s Pop Century or Art of Animation Resorts: We LOVE these two resorts with a special shoutout to the Pop Century as one of our favorite value resorts. Both of these two resorts share a Skyliner station so you can easily hop aboard and be on your way! From these resorts, head to the Caribbean Beach station where you’ll transfer and grab the line toward EPCOT. Once there, you’re only a (very) short walk to the BoardWalk!
- From Disney’s Hollywood Studios: While not necessarily the most efficient route, you can take the Skyliner from Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Simply grab it at the park entrance and head toward the Caribbean Beach transfer. You’ll follow the same process here and transfer to the EPCOT line.
- From Disney’s Riviera: If you’re coming from Disney’s newest Vacation Club resort, you’ll hop aboard right at the Riviera Resort station and head to the Caribbean Beach transfer. You know the drill here, transfer, and you’re on you’re way!
- From Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort: And finally a transfer-less route! If you’re coming from this resort, simply grab the EPCOT line and it will take you straight to the International Gateway station!
If you have a car on property, then you can absolutely hop in and drive over to Disney’s BoardWalk Inn. Simply head to the resort and use their complimentary lot for day guests!
Disney’s BoardWalk: The Crescent Lake Resorts Area
Location, location location! Disney’s BoardWalk is located in one of Disney’s top destinations. The Crescent Lake area is home to not one, not two, but four resorts that are all within a short walk to multiple destinations! So, if you’re lucky to be staying at any of the resorts we’re going to mention, you’re mere steps away from all of the fun that the BoardWalk has to offer. Let’s take a closer look!
Disney’s BoardWalk Inn and Villas
Starting with the resort located right on the BoardWalk, Disney’s BoardWalk Inn and Villas is one of Disney’s deluxe resorts. It is themed to a turn-of-the-century mid-Atlantic seaside destination of days gone by. With its bright colors, whimsical decor, and fun vibe, it’s a crowd favorite with beautiful views and lots to do nearby. Obviously, the location can’t be beat if you’re looking to enjoy the BoardWalk as it’s a few steps away from your door!
Disney’s BoardWalk Inn and Villas has two properties. It is first a hotel, which is where the ‘Inn’ part comes in, but it is also a Disney Vacation Club Resort (DVC). This means you can enjoy accommodations here on either the hotel side or the DVC side! We’ll share more a little later, but this resort is currently undergoing some exciting enhancements and refurbishments as part of Disney’s refurbishment rotation. The hotel rooms are seeing some beautiful transformations and the DVC side is soon to be refreshed as well. We think you’ll love the changes and who doesn’t love that new room feel!
Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts
Just across the lake, you’ll come to two other Disney deluxe resorts: Disney’s Yacht Club and Disney’s Beach Club. These two resorts are sister resorts in that they are quite literally under one roof, but with distinct theming and decor. They are considered two separate resorts so if you want to stay here, you’d book at one of the two.
Disney’s Yacht Club is a hotel-only resort with a nautical theme. Here, you’ll see lots of dark woods and colors. It’s not called the Yacht Club for nothing! You can expect to see lots of boat touches and vibes. The Yacht Club underwent a refresh not too long ago so you can also expect to see updated finishes here.
On the other side is Disney’s Beach Club Resort and Villas. This resort is home to both a hotel and DVC wing. Beach Club has a similar theme as it still leans into the beach and sea motif, but here you’re going to see lots of pastel colors and calmer vibes. It’s a gorgeous resort with great amenities and dining. Be sure to check out our full guide here!
The main attraction at both of these resorts is the Stormalong Bay pool. We use the term ‘pool’ lightly here as it is truly a waterpark of sorts complete with a massive slide, lazy river, actual beach, and sand-bottom pools. It’s so much fun and another destination of its own!
The Swan and Dolphin Resort
While not technically a full Disney resort, the Swan and Dolphin resort is just behind the BoardWalk resort. It offers many of the deluxe-style accommodations and amenities that you’d find in a Disney resort. Plus, they recently opened their third tower, the Swan Reserve, and we’ve got all the details about that! These resorts are typically considerably less expensive than a Disney resort and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed our stays here. Don’t think that just because it doesn’t have the Disney name it won’t be a wonderful stay!
Disney’s BoardWalk: Dining
With all that said, now it’s time to explore the many things to eat, see and do at the Disney BoardWalk! We’re going to start with dining as it is always one of our favorite food destinations at Walt Disney World. Yes, you’re going to find the usual BoardWalk style eats such as ice cream and cotton candy but don’t let that fool you. This area is known for having some of the top restaurants on Walt Disney World property! With 7 distinct dining locations, there’s something for everyone. Let’s dig in!
BoardWalk Ice Cream
Starting from one end of the BoardWalk, we’ve got BoardWalk Ice Cream. This location is a classic and always a must on any boardwalk. It offers tons of ice cream flavors to choose from, but also some really fun creations! You can expect to find sundaes, cones, brownie bowls, milkshakes, and refreshing beverages. It’s the perfect location to grab something sweet as you begin your walk down a nostalgic wonderland!
The BoardWalk Deli is one of the newer restaurants to join the BoardWalk row of dining destinations. As the name suggests, you can expect to find deli favorites such as savory sandwiches and yummy treats. We tried the warm Reuben sandwich, a classic deli item, and it was s0, so good! Disclaimer: this thing is huge so bring your appetite if you’re looking to enjoy this monster!
The restaurant serves breakfast and lunch/dinner service so no matter what time of day you visit, you’ll be able to enjoy one of its creations. There isn’t much seating here, but there will be plenty of benches and chairs to grab right outside. We think this refreshed location is a perfect lunch spot and are glad to see it bringing new flavors and fun to the BoardWalk area.
The Pizza Window
Up next on our BoardWalk stroll, we come across The Pizza Window. You knew we had to get a slice of pizza in at some point! This simple eatery serves up yummy slices or whole pies of pizza. Additionally, you’ll also find salads, drinks, and small sweets. Similar to the BoardWalk Ice Cream, it’s the perfect place to grab something on the go as you continue along the BoardWalk.
If you’re staying at any of the resorts we’ve mentioned, this is a great place to come and grab dinner for the family! The whole pies are reasonably priced and are a great grab-and-go dinner option for those long nights when you just want to go back to the room and get under the covers!
Trattoria al Forno
Trattoria al Forno is an exquisite dining destination on the BoardWalk. Serving Italian fare for breakfast and dinner, it’s a perfect sit-down dining location at any time throughout the day. Inside, you’re going to find a large dining room with beautiful decor and lots of Italian touches.
The food here is no joke. It is known to be incredibly delicious with lots of variety and specialty dishes. For breakfast, we recommend the breakfast pizza. It might sound odd, but it is really tasty and a great way of feeding 1-2 people! Think of a regular pizza except it’s going to be loaded with eggs, bacon, sausage, cheese, and veggies. It’s the perfect alternative to a Mickey Waffle, which they also have, especially if you’re trying to enjoy a large meal before a long day at the parks.
For dinner, we really enjoyed the Truffle Gnocchi. It was generously portioned and went really well with the complimentary bread service, as well as a smooth glass of wine. Overall, the experience at Trattoria al Forno is one we really recommend. It will obviously take a chunk of time out of your visit to the BaordWalk, but it’s well worth it. Reservations are strongly recommended.
Up next is another favorite sit-down dining location. Flying Fish is a destination restaurant serving some of the best seafood on Disney property. Flying Fish is going to be more on the side of fine dining but without a huge bill at the end. The inside is beautifully decorated with rich and dark colors. The restaurant does mention a nicer dress code, though we’ve never seen anyone be turned away. Still, if you’re heading here, it might be fun to dress up a bit and enjoy the ambiance!
This location is only open for dinner so you’ll want to plan your visit accordingly. Reservations are strongly recommended.
Big River Grille & Brewing Works
Approaching the end of the BoardWalk, we come to our last restaurant, Big River Grille & Brewing Works. This restaurant is not known for its amazing food, but rather its laid-back sports bar vibe. Here you can expect to find classic bar food favorites such as nachos, burgers, and beers.
We recommend a visit here to check out the microbrewery that you can see from within the restaurant. They offer beer flights to try some of the beers made on-site. We also love exploring their long list of cocktails. Add this to your list if you’re looking for a casual spot to dine.
Disney’s BoardWalk: Bars and Drinks
While most of the restaurants we’ve talked about serve alcohol, it was worth putting the next two stops in their own category as we see them more as bars or alcoholic drink stops. So if you’re into some adult libations, you’ll want to check out one or both of the following locations!
BoardWalk Joe’s Marvelous Margaritas
Who doesn’t love a refreshing margarita on a hot day?! Joe’s may lack in size, but it doesn’t lack in options and flavor! It’s known to serve some great margaritas with lots of punch and flavor! If that’s not your thing, they’ve also got a full bar with other options such as pina coladas.
The best part once again is that you can grab one of these to go and enjoy it as you enjoy the BoardWalk or one of its shopping destinations!
AbracadaBar is nothing short of a magical experience! Except here we’re not talking about pixie dust, we’re talking about actual Houdini-type magic! This bar is definitely one not to miss and is a memorable experience to enjoy.
Taking inspiration from the old Atlantic City theme that you’ll find throughout, this bar pays homage to the days of old-fashioned magic that were once the center of entertainment. Inside, you’ll find a beautiful lounge setting decorated with rich colors and tons of magical motifs. Think of lots of reds, blacks and heavy drapes. It’s worth taking a peek, even if you’re not planning to drink!
The drinks here are wonderful with some even putting on a bit of a show for you! Ask the bartender for what they’d recommend, but this is a bar you don’t want to miss. I love taking a break here during a hot day.
Disney’s BoardWalk: Shopping!
With so many great restaurants to enjoy, shopping couldn’t fall far behind! After enjoying a delicious meal or a nice drink, why not pop into one of the stores located right on the boardwalk and enjoy the guilty pleasures of shopping! Whether you’re looking for classic Disney souvenirs or memorable gifts to take home, the Disney BoardWalk has plenty when it comes to shopping. Let’s take a look!
Screen Door General Store
As with all resorts, this store is going to have all of your household needs. Remember, since this resort offers a DVC location, it will have groceries as well on top of the basic necessities you might imagine in a travel boutique. Unless you’re looking for groceries or medicine, this may not be your first stop on a visit to the BoardWalk but it’s worth mentioning nonetheless!
Disney’s Character Carnival
Connected to Screen Door General Store, Disney’s Character Carnival is going to offer more of the classic Disney souvenirs you’d expect to find at Walt Disney World. Here, you’ll find lots of toys, plushes, mugs, pins, and, of course, Mickey and Minnie ears! This store is actually considered to be one of the best resort stores because it always has the latest merchandise as well as items that you may not find anywhere else. Bring your pennies because you’ll surely find something here!
Thimbles & Threads
The last of the three connected stores is Thimbles & Threads. As the name suggests, this will be your go-to spot for clothing. Like the previous store, this store also has a lot to offer, including unique items. We love collecting the Nike Dri Fit polos and this is always a place where we can find a good one! As a bonus, there’s even a dressing room here so you can be sure you’re going to love what you buy. Not a lot of Disney stores have dressing rooms so this is a big perk!
If you enjoy shopping, you’ll want to save time to enjoy these three stores as they are all large with lots to peruse. Given that they’re all connected, it’s also a great place to step in for a while if you get caught in those classic Floridian afternoon thunderstorms!
Next up, we have a store with some serious shopping. We’re talking serious spending to be exact! That Wyland Galleries sell expensive but beautiful artwork. You will find both Disney and non-Disney artwork. However, be prepared to spend big bucks here as some of the pieces can easily cost thousands of dollars.
For us, we love stopping in every time we go to see what’s new and enjoy the art. You might even walk into a life-size model of Ariel herself! Otherwise, it’s a nice store to check out even if you’re not going to buy anything. Disney art is always neat to see and we give major compliments to the artists who create some really beautiful pieces of art!
Disney’s BoardWalk: Entertainment and Activities
Now that you’ve grabbed a bite to eat, drank and maybe even did a little shopping, it’s time to enjoy one of the many entertainment options found at the BoardWalk! The BoardWalk does not disappoint when it comes to entertainment. They have all types of entertainment and activities ranging from free to paid experiences. That’s right FREE!
Depending on what you’re hoping to see, there’s something for all ages at the BoardWalk. So, while you might be thinking you need to pay big bucks to be entertained at Walt Disney World, the BoardWalk will show you a great time without having to spend a lot. Let’s check out all of the entertainment options!
Surrey Bike Rentals
Let’s start out with a fun activity that the entire family can enjoy. Located on the BoardWalk are Surrey bike rentals of all sizes! That’s right, this classic boardwalk activity can be found here and allows families to do something out of the ordinary! Not many people have Surrey bikes at home, so why not give them a try here?!
For about $50/hour or $25/per half hour, you can rent either a single or double bench surrey bike and ride around the Crescent Lake area. Along this scenic route, you will get to see the sights and sounds of:
- The BoardWalk
- Disney’s Beach Club Resort
- Stormalong Bay
- Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
- Disney’s Swan & Dolphin Resort
The loop is not terribly long and if you have a double bench bike, you’ll be able to share the pain of those mild hills along the pathway. You may break a sweat doing this activity, but it’s a lot of fun!
If you’re looking to win a stuffed animal, then the midway games are going to be your stop! Just like the ones you’d see at your local fair, the BoardWalk is also home to several midway games that will test your skills! For a fee, you can enjoy these games right on the BoardWalk and maybe even win a prize to take home! So, sharpen your free throw skills and get ready for some serious fun!
FREE Live Entertainment
If midway games aren’t really your thing, don’t worry, there’s plenty more to enjoy! The BoardWalk offers live and FREE entertainment right in the middle of the action. You can expect to see circus-style acts ranging from contortionists, jugglers, stilt walkers, and more! You’ll typically see a circle of people getting ready for a performance and all you have to do is grab a spot to stand in and enjoy the show! While the performances themselves are free, it is customary to offer a small tip after the show. While this is totally optional, it’s worth mentioning here as the artists will generally ask for tips at the conclusion of their show.
This is a great way to spend time on the BoardWalk and we love it because it’s appropriate and entertaining for all ages!
Movies Under the Stars
Alright, we admit, this one is a bit of a hack, but too good not to share! Disney resorts have what they call Movies Under the Stars. On select nights, they’ll inflate a huge pop-up screen where they’ll show your favorite Disney movie hits. The best part, once again, is that it’s FREE! All you need to do is bring your blanket and enjoy this event outside and under the stars!
The reason we say that this is a hack is because this is technically a perk offered to resort guests. However, the turf grass at the BoardWalk Inn is located right on the BoardWalk. This means that anyone can technically come up and take advantage of this perk! Listen, the mouse is getting your dollars one way or another so why not enjoy this lovely activity while you’re there!
Atlantic Dance Hall
If you’re looking to boogey then head on over to the Atlantic Dance Hall where you can dance the night away! Inspirited by the real Atlantic Dance Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey, you can dance the night away on select nights. The music here will range, but you can count on hearing the biggest hits from the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s through today. There is typically a cover charge to get in, but if you know you’re going to dance, it could be well worth it.
Here’s where we also need to be honest. This location is a total hit or miss. We’ve been on multiple occasions and found that it was completely dead with only a few people dancing the night away. For some, this might not be an issue whatsoever. However, if you’re the type of person who thrives on large crowds and that type f energy, you might not always find that at the Atlantic Dance Hall. We recommend going with no expectations and being ready for whatever the night brings!
On to a classic and crowd favorite. Jellyrolls is a dueling piano bar that you won’t want to miss if you’re looking for a late-night experience.
Jellyrolls can sometimes have a cover charge of up to $20, but before you keep scrolling, wait! Often, this comes with a first drink so that cuts the charge at least in half. Afterward, you can expect to see master pianists playing your favorite songs on request! As with all piano bars, tips are appreciated and generally can move your song to the top of the queue.
Jellyrolls is open until 1:45 am and usually opens around 7 pm. So, if you’re able to stay up that late and want to sing the night away, make sure you make Jellyrolls your last top. Hopefully, your bed isn’t too far away after those vicious Long Island iced teas!
Disney’s BoardWalk: Exciting Changes Ahead!
As mentioned earlier, Disney’s BoardWalk Inn and Villas is undergoing a refresh with lots of new additions and enhancements. The BoardWalk is no exception to this! Since this attraction is technically part of the BoardWalk resort, they are also investing hear to make it an even better destination to enjoy. So far, we’ve seen a couple enhancements, but here is what’s still coming!
The Cake Bake Shop Restaurant and Bakery
The Cake Bake Shop Restaurant and Bakery is a new bakery and restaurant still under construction right on the BoardWalk. Replacing the former ESPN Zone, this new eatery is sure to excite you. With lots of desserts and yummy eats on the way, we have a lot to be excited about.
The interior concept looks beautiful and keeps with the current motif of the resort as a whole. No official opening date has been set, but we’re keeping an eye out!
Blue Ribbon Corn Dogs
Hot off the presses, this next quick-service stand is heading to one of the stands on the Disney BoardWalk! We’re excited to see another quick bite stop and who doesn’t love a good corn dog?! Here, however, we’re not talking about a typical mustard one. We’re talking about unique and delectable creations that take corn dogs to another level!
Again, no opening date has been set, but we’ll keep you posted.
Disney’s BoardWalk: Final Thoughts
As you can see, Disney’s BoardWalk has tons to offer for all ages. If you’re looking for a way to enjoy a non-park day, this is somewhere you have to put on your list. Even if you’re not staying at one of the nearby resorts, it’s still worth the trip over. We do it often and never regret it. So, let’s go to the BoardWalk and enjoy some fun in the sun!
Plan your next Disney vacation!
If you’re ready to stroll along the BoardWalk, let us help you plan your next magical Disney vacation! With years of experience, our team can help you piece together the perfect vacation you’ve been dreaming about. The best part? Our quotes are completely FREE! With no obligation, we can put together a trip that takes into consideration everything you’re dreaming about. Plus, we guarantee that we’ll find all of the discounts around so you don’t have to worry! Curious to learn more? Check out our other guides:
- Walt Disney World Bounceback Discount Offers Returning 2024
- Best EPCOT Restaurants Ranked 2023
- Everything You Need to Know About Disney World Fireworks
- Best Disney’s Hollywood Studios Restaurants – Where to Eat in 2023
- Best Disney Springs Restaurants
Disney’s BoardWalk: FAQs
Before closing out, we thought we’d offer a quick round of FAQs to make sure we cover everything you need to know about Disney’s BoardWalk.
Yes! There is no charge to enjoy this destination. While the dining and shopping locations are not free, there is plenty to do for free!
While this can vary from person to person, our answer is a resounding yes! With so much to see and do, we think it’s absolutely worth it and can be a perfect way to break up the chaos of the parks. It’s also the perfect date-night place if you’re looking to enjoy a night out without the kiddos.
You might be able to catch some of the fireworks from EPCOT or the Magic Kingdom but don’t count on it. If you’re looking for that, there are many other free options around Walt Disney World, but this is not a place we’d recommend as you won’t get the best views.
Operating hours for individual restaurants and shops will vary but you can expect to see it running as early as 8 am and lasting until 1:45 am for the late-night locations. Chances are if you’re there from the afternoon and on, you’ll find plenty that is open and ready for action.
In the summer months, you might see a lot of people enjoying the Boardwalk, but we would not say it gets overly crowded. Many people might be waiting for their dinner reservation or simply heading to EPCOT. So, we never worry about this and it never has gotten to a point where it’s unenjoyable.
There is no parking exclusively made for Disney’s BoardWalk. Instead, visitors can enjoy complimentary parking at the resort. From there, all you need to do is walk through the lobby or down the stairs in the photo above and you’ll end up right in the heart of the BoardWalk.
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