Be Entertained at Disney’s Boardwalk

Disclosure: I attended an expenses paid media trip with Walt Disney World at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn and Villas. However, all opinions are my own.

You don’t have to look far to find things to do at Walt Disney World. However, what about those days where you don’t have a park ticket? Or what about those people that want to have fun without leaving their resort? The answer you are looking for is a visit and/or stay at Disney’s Boardwalk. In the past couple of years, a lot of changes have come to this little corner of the “world”, and as someone who loves to just chill at the resort, I couldn’t be more thrilled.

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The entire Boardwalk is filled with activities for the family, foodie, couple, or girls night. Let’s start on one end and head down to the other, but first I think it’s important to understand the “history” of the Boardwalk. This fun area is reminiscent of the grand hotels of the early 1900’s along the Jersey shore. Around the lobby and in the restaurants you will find artifacts from this time period, transporting you through time to a slower pace of life where carnival games could be heard at night, and you could even watch horse jumping (into the water!) by day.

If you have ever heard of Sonora Webster Carver and her diving horses (Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken anyone?) then you will love this fun fact I learned: The structure that sits atop the ESPN Club at the far end of the Boardwalk is the same size as the water tank that Sonora and her horses dove into back in the early 1930’s. I had no idea! I just thought it was part of the décor of the ESPN club. But like many hidden things at Walt Disney World, it stands for something greater, and I love it. At the ESPN Club you will find 100 screens and a 10 x 10 projection screen in which to watch your favorite sports team, along with a menu to match. I may or may not have spent many a Saturday night or Sunday afternoon here making new friends (and taunting new rivals, of course) all in good Disney fun.

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Moving on down the Boardwalk you will come across Ample Hills Creamery. Be sure to stop in for a sample…which will then turn into a scoop (or two!) of this delicious dessert. There are sixteen signature ice cream flavors, one is even made just for the Boardwalk. Speaking of sweet treats, the aroma of the decedent pastries at the Boardwalk Bakery will have you dropping in to see what’s baking even if it wasn’t part of your plan. This is where guests of the Inn and Villas can refill their resort refillable mugs, grab breakfast, coffee, and light snacks during the day. Keep in mind there is no indoor seating, however there are plenty of tables and chairs right outside.

Trattoria al Forno boasts a lot of real estate on the Boardwalk, and it is well deserved. This relaxing eatery inspired by the farms in the Italian countryside, serves wood fired pizzas, house made pastas, and a 100% Italian wine list. During breakfast hours, the restaurant is transformed into a fun family gathering place. You can meet Rapunzel, Flynn Ryder, Ariel, and Prince Eric while you dine. Note that this is the ONLY place on Disney property where you can meet these two princes! This experience fills up fast, so be sure to make dining reservations early.

Inspired by farms in the Italian countryside, Trattoria al Forno at Disney’s BoardWalk Resort features an open kitchen and family-friendly dining rooms. The restaurant highlights authentic flavors of Italy’s diverse regions including wood-fired pizzas, house-made pastas, hand-crafted mozzarella, imported charcuterie and cheese and a 100 percent Italian wine list. The restaurant is open for breakfast and dinner at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kent Phillips, photographer)

Recently opened next to Trattoria al Forno is somewhere I finally got to check out, the Abracadabar (say that ten times fast!) This quirky bar has drinks that do magic tricks, and wall posters that disappear in the blink of an eye. Legend has it that this spot was once the local hangout of famous touring magicians and boardwalk illusionists. Apparently at night after their shows, they would meet at the lounge and swap tips and tricks with each other. One day, they all vanished while at the bar, but their magic remains, so pay attention to the details!

AbracadaBar, a "curious cocktail lounge," combines the Golden Age of Magic with the magic of Disney storytelling to bring a whimsical experience to Walt Disney World Resort guests. Located at Disney's BoardWalk, AbracadaBar serves up signature specialty drinks amongst enchanted show posters, mystifying mirrors and vintage props and tricks. It is open daily from 4 p.m. to midnight. (Matt Stroshane, photographer)

The drinks also happen to be very good. Keep in mind this isn’t a large bar, so get there early!

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Capping off this side of the Boardwalk is an old favorite with a fresh new look: The Flying Fish Café. I was very impressed with the remodel, as it has more of a sophisticated flair with the blues, greys, and ocean vibe. The menu is also top notch, with items you won’t see at many places on property. The service was great too, and it’s fun to take a peek at the open kitchen while you are relaxing and enjoying the atmosphere. There is even enough space for 12 guests at the “chef’s counter” directly in front of the kitchen. Flying Fish is a signature dining experience, which counts as two credits on the Disney Dining Plan.

With hues that conjure up the deep blue sea, the re-imagined Flying Fish restaurant beckons guests to Disney's BoardWalk with a contemporary, sophisticated interior that pays homage to the golden era of seaside boardwalk dining. Flying Fish is a signature restaurant at Walt Disney World Resort and is open for dinner daily. (Matt Stroshane, photographer)

Moving across the lush lawn and past the surrey bike rentals <—one day I will do this, you will find more than 9000 square feet of shopping opportunities that range from exquisite pieces of art to Mickey ears to groceries. This is also where package pickup is for resort guests, and where you can get a bottle of wine for your room!

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Big River Grill and Brewing Works is next door and features handcrafted specialty beers. It has some nice outdoor seating so you can enjoy the sights and sounds of the Boardwalk, too.

At night, the Boardwalk comes alive with plenty of entertainment opportunities. Not only are there carnival games and magicians up and down the Boardwalk, but there are two great places to hang out: Jellyrolls and the Atlantic Dance Hall.

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Jellyrolls is a dueling piano bar where the audience picks the music, and lots of singing along with ensue. (I may or may not know from experience.) Pick from the specialty drink menu or order your favorite beer, while snacking on baskets of popcorn instead of peanuts. The pianists are quick witted and are sure to keep you laughing all night at this 21 and up location after 7:00 (Please note the $12 cover charge.) The Atlantic Dance hall is steps away next door, and is just what it sounds like. A great place to dance the night away (if you are 21+) and have a drink with friends.

In addition to all of these amazing places, there are other hidden relaxing spots, fun drink stands, and boat transportation to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and EPCOT. No longer should you wonder what there is to do outside of the theme parks, but it’s a matter of “what will you choose to do with so many options!” While I highly recommending staying at this resort (for many reasons, but that’s for another post!) the great thing is you can enjoy the Boardwalk without being a guest of the hotel, and without having a park ticket.

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An attraction all in itself, the beautiful Boardwalk sits tucked away on the shores of Crescent Lake waiting for you to come and experience it. Go for a visit, you won’t be disappointed. When you do, be sure to take a deep breathe as you step back in time. Welcome to your vacation.

QOTD: What is your favorite thing to Do on the Boardwalk?

Disney’s Boardwalk Area Resorts

I get asked by many potential clients about the three Disney resorts that are considered the “Boardwalk area resorts.” Which is best? Which is closest to EPCOT? Best pool? Best nightlife? I thought it would be a good idea to dissect these three resorts and give you a taste of each to help you see which would be the best fit for your Disney vacation.

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Disney’s Boardwalk Inn, Yacht Club, and Beach club are all deluxe resorts. They have the same amenities as far as what is in your room, but they all have different themes. All three are within walking distance to EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and all offer some great dining locations.

Let’s start with the Yacht Club. This resort, per the name, has a very nautical feel. Lots of navy blue and browns can be seen throughout the resort. The lobby is very cozy, and it has a quaint feeling to it.

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The rooms have lots of nautical touches as well as hidden Mickeys.

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One of my favorite restaurants, Yachtsman Steakhouse, can also be found at this resort. This is the only resort where I have not stayed club level so I cannot attest to it, but I have heard it is a very small room, similar to the Beach Club’s club level lounge.

One of the biggest draws here is access to the pool (saying pool just doesn’t do it justice, it’s amazing), Stormalong Bay.

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Kids (and adults!) can play here for hours and hours. Back before magic bands, you had to have a special wrist band to get into the pool area because so many people not staying at the resort would try to sneak in. This miniature waterpark is shared with the Yacht Club’s sister resort, Disney’s Beach Club. Here you will find light colors, sand volleyball courts, and Beaches n Cream soda shop. It is also home to Cape May Café which has a character buffet and a clam bake dinner.

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Rooms are light and airy, with seafoam green and light blues.

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I have stayed club level here, and the lounge was very small, cramped, and loud when we were there. The food offerings were, in my opinion, just ok.

Lastly, we have the Boardwalk Inn, on the other side of the lake. This resort attracts the older crowd and the single crowd because well, the scary clown slide just freaks everyone out. (I will spare you a close up!)DSC_0655

The pool is fine, but compared to Stormalong Bay…well, there is no comparison. The room below is not a normal sized room, it is a deluxe room…so don’t go thinking all the rooms are this big. Smile

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The color scheme has a lot of red and yellow for a more Victorian feel. I love all the brightness, and it remind me a lot of the Grand Floridian. The biggest draw for this resort is the sweeping Boardwalk views, and the nightlife. Below is a view from our balcony. Gorgeous.

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At night you can find magicians along the Boardwalk, and you are steps away from the Atlantic Dance Hall and Jellyrolls dueling piano bar. My favorite two restaurants on the Boardwalk are Flying Fish café and the ESPN club. If we are staying during football season we always end up there watching a game!

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As I mentioned before, all three resorts are within walking distance to two parks. Boardwalk Inn is the closest to Hollywood Studios, and the Beach Club is the closest to EPCOT. The walks to both parks are beautiful and peaceful, we really enjoy this time before the hustle and bustle of the day. Note: there is also a boat if you don’t want to walk!

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The club level lounge at the Boardwalk is bigger than the other two, and has good food in my opinion. The staff is super friendly as well.

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So, in my opinion? If you has small kids, I would most likely pick the Beach Club or Yacht Club. If you are young folk with no kids, or empty nesters, etc. I would go with the Boardwalk Inn. All three are great no matter what you choose though!

QOTD: What is your favorite of these three resorts and why?

I would love to plan your family’s magical vacation to one of these resorts or one of the many other options. 2016 pricing comes out on Monday, so email me today to get on my list of quotes! [email protected]

February 2014 Disney Trip Recap Part 1

It has taken me a month to get around to this, but it was fun looking back on my pictures and remembering our trip!

We arrived on Thursday. We flew this time which was really nice, and took Disney’s Magical Express to our hotel, the Boardwalk Inn.

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We were staying in a beautiful Deluxe room (huge room with club level access) and we had plenty of room to all four spread out our things.

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(this picture is actually from a different trip, but same room layout)

I was starving and getting nauseated because of it, so we walked down to the Boardwalk Bakery and grabbed some lunch. It was a beautiful day to eat outside.

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Our luggage arrived after lunch, and we headed to the race expo to pick up our packets and bibs.

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Beautiful flowers my friend sent me congratulating me on my pregnancy. I couldn’t share before because I hadn’t announced it yet!

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View from our room

After the expo, we had dinner at Flying Fish, which was basically right below our room. It was nice not having to actually go anywhere after a day of travel. After dinner we watched a magician from our balcony.

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The next day was the Royal Family 5k. We were up at 4:00, ran the race, came back for breakfast, then headed to Hollywood Studios. I had to BEG Bobby and my dad to wear their shirts and medals. They were not happy with me and my dad kept trying to hide and ditch his medal every chance he got. He kept saying there were no other men wearing the pink Cinderella medal, and when we finally found one we went up to him and thanked him! My dad’s reply was that he must have been a plant put there just for us to see. Haha.

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royal family 5k medal

We used our fastpasses and did a few things, and I started getting SUPER sleepy. I knew I was doing too much and needed a nap, but we didn’t have lunch reservations until 1:00! We tried to get seated earlier but they were slammed, so we sat outside on a bench waiting for our name to be called and I fell asleep on Bobby.

When we were seated, I wanted to lay down and fall asleep at the table. I felt so bad being such a bump on a log, but there was nothing I could do. Dad had fun coloring the kids menu I had asked for.

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We went back to the hotel where I promptly fell asleep for two hours. We had no dining reservations that night, so we hung out at the hotel and just relaxed.

The next morning Mom and I ran the Enchanted 10k, and took the bus to the Swan then walked back to the hotel. I didn’t realize the race would still be going on by time we got back, so we stopped and cheered a bit on our way up to our room. Then when we made it upstairs I was able to cheer from the balcony, and even watch the last person go by, everyone was cheering it was really sweet.

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We were supposed to go to EPCOT right after breakfast, but I was falling asleep eating breakfast, so I told mom and dad to go ahead and I slept for 2.5 hours. Bobby and I met them in EPCOT for a great lunch at Via Napoli though. After lunch, I went back to the room and took ANOTHER nap. (Yall, I just can’t explain it. I couldn’t keep my eyes open!) and then we had a great dinner with our friends Karen and Jason and Karen’s parents at one of our favorite’s Trails End buffet (she has all the pictures, sorry!) I am so glad I took two naps because we were still at dinner past 8:00, way past this pregnant lady’s bedtime for when I have to get up at 2:45! It was fun though.

Up next time….the 2nd and last part of our trip, two full days to go!

QOTD: When you runDisney do you nap after races or go to the parks? What about any race, do you nap after?

October 2013 Disney Trip Photos

Bobby and I went to Disney at the beginning of the month for the Tower of Terror ten mile race. We stayed at the Boardwalk in a deluxe club level room, and I wanted to share a little about out trip with you! We very much enjoyed being able to walk over to the Food and Wine festival, and even to the race and back. Great location!

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We had an amazing view of the boardwalk and the lake.

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We ate out at several of our favorite restaurants as well, and even dressed up on some nights.

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The newly reopened California Grill was a favorite of ours.

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As were the animals at the Animal Kingdom park. How cute is this meer cat? We learned that one will stand guard while the others hunt for food, etc, and that’s what this little guy was doing. He constantly looked at the skies for birds!

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Mr. Gorilla says hi.

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Epcot was great as always, and Bobby particularly loved the food booths. It was still very warm, but the last full day we were there it cooled off which was nice!

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Lots of other yummy treats were consumed as well.

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We enjoyed just hanging out with each other and not thinking about the other crazy things going on in life.

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We went bowling together for the first time (ever!) as a couple. I have bowled once in the past 10 years…him, none.

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We goofed off at Mickey’s Not so Scary Halloween Party

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and made lots of great memories!

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QOTD: Do you enjoy going to the zoo or aquarium?