We got lucky. After feeling rejected, confused and disenfranchised after the Yacht Club’s renovation and discovering that we couldn’t get a reservation for our preferred “water view” even a year in advance, we knew we needed to change things up for the Epcot portion of our vacation. We’d considered Boardwalk Inn a number of times, but we loved the Yacht Club and had a hard time making a change when there was no cost savings, and, admittedly, Amy wasn’t so sure she was okay with the theming, which featured a prominent clown face at the pool, which, for her, was a dominant deterrent. Still, the Yacht Club was forcing our hand, and so this was the perfect opportunity to try something new. It also helped to learn that the “clown pool” view was only available to DVC properties, so there was no chance of seeing it from our balcony. Once we were past that big hurdle, we were all in, and gradually became excited about the adventure to come, come what may.

Arrival

This spacious sitting area between our room and the elevator looks like it’s waiting for a party!

We bypassed check-in at the desk in favor of the online option, which Amy wasn’t in favor of, as it was an opportunity to interact with the desk and have some quality face time—presumably. However, given the choice of checking in at the desk vs. just making the last window to get drinks and small bites at Flying Fish before the restaurant closed for the night, we opted for the latter and couldn’t have been happier.

It was after eleven when we were finally making our way to our room for the very first time, anxious, excited and trepidatious all, while reassuring ourselves that our “water view” had been confirmed. We ran through our encouragement mantras all the same: “Whatever we get, it’ll be something new.” “If we really don’t like it we can ask for something different.” “It’s going to be a new experience.” “At the very least, it’s an adventure.” All the while, we were finding our way through what felt like a Victorian estate, with its parlours, sitting areas, a club with a pub, and wide stairwells with carpeted runners that invite exploration and give a sense of intimacy.

We encountered few others as we disembarked the gold elevator to snappy music and proceeded to our “water view” room.

The Room

As said, we got lucky. Really, really, amazingly, jawdroppingly lucky. A “water view” room can be many things, and the Boardwalk Inn has a lot of different types of waters to view: lagoon, pool (not the clown pool), and canal (the waterway to the Studios). So, OMG, we got this:

We left the light on just to prove to ourselves that was our room!

And this was our view:

Not only that: but the room was huge!

So, needless to say, our first reaction being at the Boardwalk Inn was: ?

And then it got better.

Location, location, location

As much as we loved sitting out on our Yacht Club balcony and watching the fireworks and laser displays from the nearby Illuminations show at Epcot and the more distant display from the Hollywood Studios, and enjoying the activity of the Boardwalk across the lagoon, there was a point where we started to wonder what it would be like to be on the Boardwalk side, looking over at the Yacht Club—and particularly when the boats stopped running at 11pm and the water would become still and black. For Mark, that was a peaceful thing. For Amy, when the colorful lights of the Boardwalk stopped dancing in the ripples made by the boats, it was time to go in—or start watching Country Bear Jamboree videos on her iPhone!

That first night, sitting out on the balcony of our unbelievable Boardwalk Inn room, directly above the bright and lively Boardwalk activities, we were gobsmacked! We were in the heart of things, with a view of the Yacht Club, the colorful lights on the water, and the fireworks and light shows from the parks and even the neighboring Dolphin Hotel. And then, when the boats stopped running and the Boardwalk emptied, the lights from the Yacht Club across the lagoon glowed like a Christmas tree, its luminous reflection mirrored in the dark expanse. In other words, Mark breathed deeply in the sense of stillness, while Amy breathed deeply in colors and shapes and dynamics of light.

We’d traded up.

The next morning, we awoke to the sounds of the Boardwalk coming to life (which was jarring that first morning, but not disturbing) and walked to Epcot for the first time from the other side. Less scenic, but more expedient.

Overall Experience

The Boardwalk Inn is a very different experience from the Yacht Club and Beach Club resorts, not only in its proximity to all the Boardwalk night life, but how it’s integrated within it. A sprawling lawn flanked by walkways and wide white double stairs create a recess of relaxation that invite one to take some time, play, be silly, browse or sit back in a rocker on a veranda and watch the day go by. And that essence continues on the inside with a combination of whimsy and stateliness that encourages curious wanderings with a sense of humor and awe both. It’s easy to get lost—in the hotel and in time—between the 1930s curios and bric-a-brac throughout the hotel and the lounge/bar/breakfast nook, the Belle Vue Lounge, where old-time radio shows can be heard playing in the background and board games can be played at a leisurely pace in a cozy club-style setting.

The lobby itself is part gallery, part homage to the Boardwalk motif, where crazy art pieces and lavish decor mingle like lifelong friends, while a stunning miniature carousel comes to life unexpectedly and an impeccable model of the first wooden roller coaster to feature a loop instantly conjures Coney Island of the late 1800s. This is an experience worthy of spending some time, and the more time you spend, the more delights you’ll discover.

As said, getting lost in the Boardwalk Inn is easy, and particularly for those of us who have an underdeveloped sense of direction. It was therefore very appreciated that the elevators always made their presence known with happy and snappy ’30s-style music that only became audible on approach. This proved a clever and subtle means for navigating the corridors.

Wrap up

As much as we love getting away from it all after a solid, strenuous day at the park, we loved that we could have that feeling at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn even though we were in the hub of things. At the same time, we really loved being in the hub of things! Everything that had been a bit of a walk (for the heels wearer) from the Yacht Club was just steps away from the Boardwalk Inn. Had we been staying at the Yacht Club, we might not have been so lucky getting into Flying Fish that first night after a late arrival. Restaurants, bars, stores, dancing and entertainment are all right there; and being able to enjoy drinks on our balcony while “street performers” entertained guests waiting for their tables or just passing by was right up there with fireworks and light displays.

So yes, in closing, Disney’s Boardwalk Inn proved a fun, fun, fun experience. And while we won’t expect to get so lucky with the room the next time, a next time there will be, and we already can’t wait.