by Jackie Perrin
Providing a spacious, home-like atmosphere and a front door to a bustling Atlantic City scene, Disney’s BoardWalk Villas offer excitement, entertainment and family convenience, just a short stroll or boat ride from the International Gateway at Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Opened in July, 1996 and the second to debut among Disney’s Vacation Club properties, the 282-unit Robert A.M. Stern-designed resort offers studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom villa accommodations for nightly rental.
Besides access to a carnival-themed pool with a mini roller coaster slide and an adjacent pool and playground just for little ones, the lakefront property boasts a dedicated pool and spa for Villa guests, as well as the best family activity center in all of Walt Disney World — complete with toys and diversions for toddlers and teens.
At night, kids can interact with mimes, musicians and jugglers, or try their hand at old-fashioned games like “Lob a Lobster” on the Midway, while parents and adult family members can choose from an array of area dining and nightlife options, from Greek, seafood and a popular sports bar to a lively dance hall and an interactive dueling piano club.
Our Editor Loves
- Extensive family activity center
- Accommodations with comforts of home
- Easy access to Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios
- All Inclusive Rates
- Theme Park
- Water Sports
- Children Programs
- Connecting Rooms
- Family Room 5+
- Game Room
- Kids' Pool
- Meal Plan
- Onsite Dining
Rooms & Rates
Scheduled for renovations in late 2014, accommodations at Disney's BoardWalk Villas are spacious, tastefully furnished and conveniently situated -- and come with a number of amenities that make an extended stay easy on families.
Located adjacent to Disney's BoardWalk Inn, between the walkway to Disney's Hollywood Studios and Epcot, the lively Disney Vacation Club property offers studios, one-, two- and three-bedroom villas, featuring furniture, linens, prints and wall decor in a classic seaside theme.
Somewhat more spacious than accommodations at the neighboring Beach Club Villas, one- and two-bedroom villas (814 and 1,226 square feet, respectively) sleep four and eight persons, plus a crib sleeper for guests under the age of 3, and contain a king bed and a flat-screen TV in the master bedroom, plus a whirlpool tub in the master bath, connected to the bedroom by a set of shutters. While a nice luxury for parents, this feature isn't particularly kid-friendly -- you'll need to lock two doors to guarantee privacy while soaking.
In a separate living area, there's a queen-sized sofabed, as well as a second TV and a DVD player. Both types of accommodations feature a stacked washer and dryer and a compact, fully equipped kitchen. A dining table with two chairs and a low-to-the-ground breakfast bar provide elbow room for diners.
Two-bedroom, two-bath villas are available only as a studio lockout, with a queen bed and a double-size sofabed, as well as a kitchenette in the second sleeping room. Note that studios feature an outside entrance -- something to consider if you're traveling with little ones. Three-bedroom, three-bathroom Grand Villas sleep up to 12 and are in limited supply.
Slightly more spacious and priced similarly to a standard view BoardWalk Inn hotel room, Deluxe Studio Villa accommodations (412 square feet) sleep four (versus up to five in a BoardWalk Inn hotel room) and feature a queen bed and a double-size sofabed, a bathroom and a table with two chairs, as well as a kitchenette with a sink, a microwave, a toaster and a mini-fridge. For some families, the kitchenette is a selling point when choosing between a Deluxe Studio Villa and a standard hotel room, since the hotel room lacks a dedicated area (and a separate sink) for food preparation. In the trade-off, guests lose a second queen bed (available at the resort hotel) and gain a Vacation Club-furnished double-size sofabed. For Villa guests, a free laundry room (key card access; fee for detergent) is located on the first floor, not far from the resort arcade and fitness center.
For guests seeking V.I.P. service, Concierge Level accommodations are available at Disney's BoardWalk Inn next door.
All rooms feature either a balcony (upper level) or a patio (ground level), as well as a Pack 'N Play. Bedrails, high chairs and complimentary Wi-Fi service are available.
With regard to location, BoardWalk view accommodations are considered by many to occupy the most desirable (albeit noisiest) location, while canal and garden view accommodations are a better bet for those seeking peace and quiet at lights-out time. There's a single bank of elevators, so plan accordingly.
If you're traveling with stroller-age children, consider requesting a ground floor lodging overlooking the Luna Park Pool, near the arcade and fitness center. Within the vicinity, there's a pass-thru to the boardwalk and the walkway to Epcot. In the opposite direction, you'll find a walking path that provides a direct route to Disney's Hollywood Studios.
Magical stay at the Boardwalk Villa. I have stayed at a number of Disney Orlando properties in the past and have always been unimpressed with the room quality for the price. I was pleasantly surprised at how spacious and nice our room was at the Boardwalk Villa. The convenience of being within walking distance to both Epcot and Hollywood studios was an added bonus. Lots of dining choices are also available on the Boardwalk. We had an Everything Everything Bagel almost every morning at the Boardwalk Bakery.
We made use of the Beach Club pool at the Beach Club because my kids really like the sandy bottom of the pool and the net for pool volleyball.
I was also impressed with the customized magic bands provided upon arrival. I hear you can request different band colors if you request it early enough.
This DVC location is great value for the proximity to the parks eg Hollywood & Epcot.
But if you’re stepping from the poly or the grand you may find this a bit too designed for kids eg all pools feature ball games etc.
The WiFi by the pool is also not good and there is a real shortage of drink refill stations, one is behind the bar which typically has a long queue and one down on the boardwalk itself.... such an easy fix that would make a big difference.
Luna Park Pool Complex
A 200-foot rollercoaster-style slide (aptly dubbed the "Keister Coaster") is the centerpiece of the Coney Island-themed Luna Park Pool complex. The slippery ride twists and dips before spitting you out of a clown's mouth -- be sure to bring a camera to capture the comedy. Poolside activities include Carnivals, Dance Parties, Bingo and Name That Tune Contests, and parents are encouraged to join in on the fun. Unlike some other Deluxe and Moderate Disney resorts, this pool doesn't offer zero entry for toddlers, but in a back corner, you'll find a 1-foot deep pool that's suitable for little ones. Lifeguards and slide hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Kid-friendly Movies Under the Stars are screened at 9 p.m.nightly.
Nearby, the Luna Park Crazy Play Area (open 24 hours) features play structures for both toddlers and older kids. Lifeguard hours are seasonal. You can borrow life jackets at this location, as well as at Community Hall. Complimentary towels are provided at all pools. Swim diapers are required for non-potty trained children and can be purchased at Dundy's Sundries (7 a.m. to 11 p.m.) or Screen Door General Store (8 a.m. to 11 p.m.).
At this non-lifeguarded "Quiet Pool," located next to Community Hall, you can sunbathe, enjoy a quiet swim or a spa soak. It's open 7 a.m. to midnight.
Disney's BoardWalk District
By day, a panoramic view of Disney's BoardWalk is picture-postcard worthy, but at night, the area really shines, with illuminated shops and eateries, live mimes, musicians and magicians and a mini-Midway featuring carnival snacks and old-fashioned games of chance. The merrymaking includes live entertainers (generally from 6:30 to 10 p.m.), Midway games (4 to 11 p.m.), a hair wrap kiosk (6 to 10 p.m.), and pin trading cart (4 to 10:30 p.m.).
Surrey Bike Rentals
On the Boardwalk, borrow a four-wheel canopy bike and take a quick trip around Crescent Lake. You'll have to beep your horn and pedal fast, in order to return before the clock expires. Hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; $20 to $25 for 30 minutes.
Rent bikes and take a trip along the BoardWalk, or borrow a boat and cruise Crescent Lake. Half-hour boat rental options range from Sea Raycers ($32) to Sun Trackers and Boston Whalers ($45 each), and bike rentals are $9 per hour or $18 per day. Training wheels and baby seats are also available (11 a.m. to 5 p.m.).
Albatross Treasure Cruise
Recommended for ages 3 to 12, but probably most appreciated by kids 5 to 10, this two-hour nautical scavenger hunt departs 9:30 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, with stops at "Ports of Call" along Crescent Lake and Epcot. The $36-per-child fee includes a snack and some loot. Call 407-939-7529 for reservations.
A hidden gem, this spacious fun zone for families is located adjacent to the BoardWalk Villas area Quiet Pool and features old-fashioned games like Ping Pong, air-hockey and foosball (tournaments weekly), plus PlayStation II consoles, Wii, an art corner and a play area for pre-schoolers and toddlers. You check out movies, books, board games and tennis racquets for free, and for a fee, you can borrow bikes, paint your own pottery, or create a custom necklace or umbrella (9 a.m. to 10 p.m.).
Side Show Games Arcade
Located near the Luna Park Pool, this small arcade features around 20 games, from retro to modern. Hours: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Located near the Villas on the walkway to Disney's Hollywood Studios, two lighted courts are available from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Check out complimentary equipment at Community Hall.
The Belle Vue Lounge
This intimate lobby area offers breakfast fare and a full bar, and features an outdoor balcony overlooking Crescent Lake. Breakfast: 6:30 to 11 a.m.; Bar: 5 to midnight.
BoardWalk Bakery and BoardWalk Joe's
What kid wouldn't love a personal Mickey Cake for dessert? Via an open kitchen, guests gain a window to bread-making magic. Sweets and sandwiches are served from breakfast through dinner. Waits can be long -- divide and conquer if you can (6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.).
Grab a slice or order a whole pie at this quick-service spot. Hours are noon to midnight.
Big River Grille & Brewing Works
A casual lunch through late-night restaurant offering handcrafted beer and a pub-style menu; BoardWalk patio seating is available. (11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.; bar open until midnight)
Tons of TV's, sports memorabilia and an onsite arcade keep the kids occupied while everyone enjoys American fare at this casual table service eatery open from lunch through late night. A merchandise shop stocks ESPN, team and college logo wear. Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m.; arcade 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Flying Fish Cafe
This sophisticated dinner spot serves up seafood, steaks and fresh specialties in an intimate dining room with an open kitchen. Choices for children include Mickey-shaped pasta, baked fish and for dessert, a paint-your-own edible Mickey chocolate puzzle or a Mickey chocolate "cauldron" with fruit and cake dippers.There's a dress code and stroller parking is outdoors. This may not be suitable for small kids. Hours are 5:30 to 10 p.m.
Leaping Horse Libations Pool Bar
The limited menu includes frozen drinks and sandwiches from 11 a.m. to dusk.
Here, you'll find saltwater taffy, chocolates and hand-dipped ice cream to make the kids scream. Kids' cones are an affordable $2. Seasonal hours are 1 to 11 p.m.
The room service menu features wholesome kids' meal choices like grilled chicken breast with whole grain pasta, veggies and fresh fruit. Craving pizza? You can save 30 percent on a whole pie by forgoing room service and getting it to go from the BoardWalk Pizza Window instead (open noon to midnight). Room service hours are 6 a.m. to midnight.
For around $8 to $18, depending on length of stay, you can purchase a Disney mug, good for unlimited refills on coffee, tea and soft drinks at BoardWalk Bakery, Leaping Horse Libations, Seashore Sweets and BoardWalk Pizza Window.
Order essentials before you arrive, and save time as well as trouble. Local grocery delivery options include Gardengrocer.com, WeGoShop.com and Goodings.com, and limited groceries and baby and child essentials be found at Screen Door General Store.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
For families, the reasons to stay here are comfort and kid-friendly conveniences. Besides the ability to travel to Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios by foot or boat (and boats are enclosed, so no need to collapse your stroller), family visitors enjoy all-day access to Community Hall, where there are a multitude of diversions for toddlers to teens.
For those enjoying an extended stay, the resort's proximity to Epcot, the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort and Disney's Yacht & Beach Club Resort allows for expanded dining opportunities.
Overnight guests enjoy a number of special perks, like early-entry and late-stay theme park privileges (Extra Magic Hours), free onsite transportation, free parking, the ability to make FASTPASS+ reservations 60 days in advance and the opportunity to participate in a Disney Dining Plan with a Magic Your Way Package. Additional family-friendly privileges include online room check-in (up to 10 days in advance), resort airline check-in and airport transportation service via Disney's Magical Express.
Muscles and Bustles Health Club offers some of the latest in exercise equipment, as well as a sauna and massages (by appointment). An attendant is on duty 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily and access is available 24 hours with a venue activated resort key card or Magic Band.
Baby and Toddler Equipment
If you're planning an extended stay, baby and toddler equipment, like full-size cribs, can bring peace of mind, as well as added comfort. OrlandoCribRental.com is a good source for crib and equipment delivery. AllAboutKids.com is another option.
Guests can utilize the Sandcastle Club, the childcare center located at the Beach Club Resort nearby (ages 3 to 12; open 4:30 to midnight: Reservations, 407-939-3463). Kids' Nite Out, an independent agency, provides in-room resort childcare. Rates are $16 per hour for the first child, with a four-hour minimum and a $10 caregiver transportation fee.
The Art of Smart Timing
When traveling to Walt Disney World Resort, it's best to avoid peak travel periods. Generally, these times include holidays and the summer months -- in other words, any time schools are out of session. If you do opt to visit in summertime, pack sunscreen, hydrate frequently and, unless you want to squander your souvenir money on ponchos at the parks, don't forget your raingear.
Fortunately for travelers on a budget, the least expensive times to visit Walt Disney World theme parks (Value Season) tend to coordinate with dates when crowds are the lightest. If your kids aren't in school yet, September is a great time to visit. Another prime time is after Thanksgiving through early December, when parks and resorts are decked out in holiday splendor. A visit to the BoardWalk Inn Lobby to see the spectacular Gingerbread Workshop is a longtime guest tradition.
From Orlando International Airport (MCO): Free roundtrip airport transportation via motorcoach is available to guests (advance reservation required; limited hours) via Disney's Magical Express. To reach the resort by car, take the South Exit Road from Orlando International Airport to SR 417 Toll Road (GreeneWay) West and follow signs to Walt Disney World/Disney's BoardWalk Resort.
You can reach Epcot (five to 10 minutes) and Disney's Hollywood Studios (15 to 20 minutes) via walkway (a stroller is a must), and complimentary daily boat service is provided to and from these parks, as well. Free transportation to and from the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, Disney waterparks and Downtown Disney is provided by bus.
For Mom and Dad
Enjoy a kids-free dinner at Flying Fish CafÃ© (advance reservations are key). Afterwards, head over to Jellyrolls dueling piano bar for a drink and some side-splitting fun.