If you ask a group of Disney fans which resort at Walt Disney World is their favorite, you’ll likely get as many different answers as there are people. Some might prefer the retro majesty of Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. Some might be awed by the grandeur of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort. Some might love the exotic wonder of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Resort.
But if you ask a group of Disney fans which resort at Walt Disney World is the objective best, you’ll find the responses narrow quite a bit. In my opinion, while there are many fantastic resort hotels at the Disney property in Orlando, there is only one that excels at all aspects of the vacation experience. That resort is Disney’s Boardwalk Inn.
It takes quite a lot for a resort to dethrone any one of the traditional Crown Jewels of the Walt Disney World resort landscape: The monorail resorts. But, while the Grand Floridian, Polynesian, and Contemporary Resort are all wonderful, the Boardwalk Inn has a few key advantages.
Let’s break down all the ways that the Boardwalk is magical:
Much like all real estate outside of the Vacation Kingdom, location is arguably the most important thing to consider when choosing a Disney resort. And, when it comes to location, it’s awfully hard to beat the Boardwalk’s home between Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
The Boardwalk, Yacht and Beach Club, and Swan and Dolphin all make up what is known as the Crescent Lake area — a sprawling and beautiful complex with plenty to see and do. With Epcot a short 10 minute walk away from your room, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios easily reachable by ferry (or on foot, for the more active guests), the Crescent Lake resorts are the closest thing Disney has to a luxury entertainment district — rivaling the Disney Springs area down the road.
Having Epcot on your doorstep is amazing, as it enables guests at the Boardwalk who have park hopper passes to use Epcot as a kind of resort dining experience unto itself. Rather than eating at a quick-service dining option in the resort, guests can choose to pop into the World Showcase to enjoy a nice international dinner just the same. And, midday breaks are as easy as can be when visiting one of the two adjacent parks.
Lastly, the addition of the Disney Skyliner — a gondola connecting the two parks, Crescent Lake resorts, and Caribbean Beach Resort — will expand the area even further, offering guests free and quick access to even more spaces to hang and eat.
Speaking of which, there is no better place on Walt Disney World property for foodies than the Boardwalk Inn. The resort itself boasts an astonishing selection of table-service restaurants that appeal to every palate and taste. Everything from the casual Big River Grill and Brewing Works to the exquisite Flying Fish all offer wonderful and unique options. And for dessert, the Boardwalk also plays host to the best ice cream on Disney property: Ample Hills Creamery, a Brooklyn, NY-based company that serves unusual and delicious flavors.
But beyond even the myriad options for dining on the resort property, the Boardwalk’s location also gives guests access to each of the neighboring resort’s restaurants — including the Yachtsman Steakhouse at the Yacht Club, Beaches and Cream at the Beach Club, and Bluezoo, Il Mulino, and Shula’s at the Swan and Dolphin.
And if those bore you, you also have Epcot just steps away — which, during the annual Food and Wine Festival, turns into the culinary capital of America. Not too bad to have just out the balcony window.
Any guest at the Boardwalk will tell you that while the food is an amazing and important part of their decision to stay there, it isn’t the only part. The entertainment on offer is as important, if not more so.
While other Disney resorts have to get by on things like movie nights and face painting, the Boardwalk has many more options for non-theme park entertainment — ranging from busking street performers and piano bars to carnival games and surrey bikes.
It’s rare to have some place you can wake up from a nap, go for a stroll, enjoy an amazing dinner, watch a magician, go dancing, and win a stuffed animal all in one night. It’s even rarer to be able to do that at Walt Disney World. And yet, the dueling pianos at Jellyrolls and the empty-but-still-fun dance floor at Atlantic Dance Hall combine with the street performers and midway games to create a unique and entertaining environment.
And, if that gets old, there are still places like ESPN Club to watch some sports, too.