Dueling pianos? A magic-themed cocktail bar? Most guests to the Walt Disney World Resort know at least a little bit about Disney Springs, but some don’t know much about Disney’s Boardwalk Inn. This Disney deluxe resort also features one of the most fun areas on the property, modeled after the Atlantic City Boardwalk.
There, you’ll find some fabulous Disney Boardwalk Restaurants, as well as shops, bars, and entertainment. If you are looking for something a little different on your next Walt Disney World vacation, definitely spend some time at Disney’s Boardwalk. Even if you aren’t staying at the Boardwalk Inn resort hotel, you can still visit the Boardwalk at no cost.
Disclosure: I am a past member of the Disney Parks Moms Panel. I have experienced the Boardwalk during press trips (at no/limited cost) as well as personal trips (at my expense). All thoughts are my own.
All About Disney’s Boardwalk: Restaurants, Resort, and Entertainment
Location of Disney’s Boardwalk
Disney’s Boardwalk and Boardwalk Inn is located in the Epcot resort area between Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot’s World Showcase. It’s centrally located if you are planning to visit those two theme parks because you can either walk or take a boat to either location.
In addition, it’s near the Swan and Dolphin, as well as the Beach and Yacht Clubs. If you are staying at either of those resorts, definitely plan to visit the Boardwalk, whether it’s for dinner or for activities. It’s an easy walk, and there’s also a boat that travels between Epcot and Hollywood Studios that stops at each of the resort areas.
Disney’s Boardwalk Inn Resort Hotel
While the Boardwalk does feature bars, shops, and restaurants, there is also a deluxe Disney resort and DVC property that’s the centerpiece of the area. The Boardwalk Inn offers several room types including standard view, water view, and garden view rooms. Club-level rooms are also offered.
I’ve stayed at the Boardwalk Inn on one occasion, and really enjoyed it. While I was initially worried that the rooms may be loud due to the activity on the Boardwalk, I found that my room was quiet when I stayed there.
Rooms at the Boardwalk Inn offer comfortable beds, a coffee maker, a refrigerator, a hairdryer, and complimentary WiFi. It’s in the deluxe room category at Walt Disney World, so you’ll spend a little more for your stay than you would if you were staying at a moderate or value resort.
Disney’s Boardwalk Inn offers the same amenities that you’ll find at the other deluxe resorts, including a pool with waterslide, surrey bike rentals, tennis courts, an arcade, a self-service laundry room, valet parking, and a fitness center. It’s also a fabulous place to stay due to its location near both Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
You can also walk to Disney’s Fantasia Gardens miniature golf course if you want to do something a bit different during your Walt Disney World family vacation. You’ll have all of the Disney Boardwalk restaurants as dining options, but you’ll also be near the restaurants at the Swan and Dolphin, the Yacht and Beach Clubs, and Epcot’s World Showcase.
If you are staying at the resort, you can take a boat or walk to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom are accessible by bus.
The new Skyliner has stations both at the entrance of Disney’s Hollywood Studios as well as at the International Gateway entrance of Epcot. It goes to Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, the Art of Animation, Pop Century, and the soon-to-open Disney’s Riviera Resort. If you are staying at the Boardwalk, or have plans at the Boardwalk, either of these stations is within walking distance.
When going to Epcot from the Boardwalk Inn, you’ll enter through the back entrance – the International Gateway. Even though the World Showcase is typically open later than Future World, you’ll still be able to go through this entrance. The countries will be roped off and you’ll be directed to Future World.
Disney Boardwalk Restaurants
There are several different Disney Boardwalk restaurants and bars. If you love dining at the Walt Disney World Resort, you’ll find that the Boardwalk area contains a nice concentration of restaurants in a variety of cuisines. For the table service restaurants, you’ll want to make advance dining reservations because they can be popular.
Our favorite Disney Boardwalk Restaurant is the Flying Fish, which was recently renovated. Offering delicious seafood and steak, this restaurant is in the signature restaurant category, so there is a minimum dress code.
Like the other Disney restaurants (with the exception of Victoria and Albert’s) it’s also kid-friendly. We’ve visited a number of times with our children and they’ve always enjoyed it. This is often the special dinner of our trip when we want to splurge.
Adjacent to the Flying Fish is AbracadaBar, which offers delicious, unique cocktails. It’s a relatively new magic-themed lounge and is such a fun new bar. Try Pepper’s Ghost, which is one of the best alcoholic drinks I’ve ever had. This is definitely more of an adult location.
Love Italian food? One of the newer restaurants is Trattoria al Forno, in the former location of Cat Cora’s Kouzzina. Trattoria al Forno offers authentic Italian cuisine as well as Italian wines.
I recently dined there for dinner with several friends. The menu includes so many delicious entrees. I especially loved my Pasta Alla Vongole with fresh pasta and littleneck clams. It’s a great restaurant and since it’s away from the theme parks, it’s a little less busy.
For breakfast, Trattoria al Forno hosts a popular character breakfast called the Bon Voyage Adventure Breakfast. There, you’ll see characters from Tangled and The Little Mermaid like Ariel, Prince Eric, Rapunzel, and Flynn Rider.
Characters are only at the breakfast, however, so plan accordingly so you aren’t disappointed. As we mention below, getting to the Boardwalk if you aren’t staying in the area is a bit tricky, especially early in the morning.
There’s also the Big River Grille & Brewing Works, a micro-brewery and restaurant that is also family-friendly. At the Big River Grille, you’ll find sandwiches, burgers, ribs, chicken, and so much more. I haven’t dined there, however, because I have so many other places that I love.
Sports fans will enjoy visiting the ESPN Club. This table service restaurant has over 100 video monitors and is a popular destination on game day. Entrees include fish and chips and burgers, and the restaurant does have a kids’ menu.
Because of the popularity during game days, they only accept reservations for lunch on weekdays, but not for dinner or at all on weekends. Seating is first-come, first-serve, and be sure to arrive early if a popular game is on. I’ve seen lines out the door on busy days.
There are also several different Boardwalk quick service locations. These include the Boardwalk Bakery, Boardwalk Joe’s Magnificent Margaritas, Ample Hills Creamery, a Funnel Cake cart, and a pizza window. These are great for a quick snack or drink while exploring the Boardwalk area.
Disney Boardwalk Entertainment
When I’m on an adult trip to Walt Disney World, I love visiting the Boardwalk area. There’s so much entertainment and other things to do.
In the evening, you can enjoy a visit to Jellyrolls, featuring dueling pianos. There’s also the Atlantic Dance Hall nightclub, which hosts limited events. AbracadaBar, the newest bar on the scene, is my new favorite place for a drink.
For kids, you can enjoy midway games, an arcade, and surrey bike rentals. There are also shops on the Boardwalk – the gift shop there is one of my favorite souvenir shops because it has a huge selection of products.
If you aren’t staying near the Boardwalk, it can be a bit challenging to get there. It’s best to take a bus or boat to the hotel, but that may not be as easy if you are arriving from another resort. If that’s the case, you’ll need to take transportation to a park, and then walk or take the boat to the Boardwalk.
Parking is offered at the Boardwalk but is subject to availability. Sometimes, valet is the only option when it’s especially busy. If you are traveling for breakfast, I’d recommend taking an Uber, Minnie Van, or cab if possible, so you don’t have to wake up too early to take resort transportation. It’s worth the added expense for peace of mind (and extra sleep).
Disney Boardwalk Frequently Asked Questions
Is the Disney Boardwalk Open to the Public?
The Boardwalk area is open to the public for dining and entertainment. It’s not nearly as big as Disney Springs, so I wouldn’t necessarily make it a destination unless you want to try one of the Boardwalk restaurants, or if you are staying nearby. There’s also a hotel there.
Is the Disney Boardwalk Free?
You don’t need a theme park ticket to access the Boardwalk area. Of course, you’ll pay for food, games, entertainment, and merchandise. There’s no charge to just walk around. Jellyrolls does charge a cover fee if you are planning to go there.
Is Parking Available at the Boardwalk?
It is, subject to availability. In the past, we’ve had to use valet because self-parking wasn’t available. You may find it easier to take a cab, Uber, or Lyft so you don’t have to worry about parking or driving.