Disney Boardwalk Orlando Day Trip Guide

Disney Boardwalk Orlando Day Trip Guide

Perhaps you’re 4 days into your Disney vacation and DONE with character visits. Perhaps you’re sick of the rides, the mickey ice cream, and the stroller parking. But you don’t have to be fed up with your Disney vacation to escape to The Boardwalk right next to Epcot. Heck, you don’t even have to be going to the parks to enjoy the Disney Boardwalk!  You could just go there because it’s amazing.

disney boardwalk

What is the Disney Boardwalk?

Whether you’re hunting down amazing cupcakes, trying to get a closer look at the Swan and Dolphin Hotels, or just trying to avoid the busing between Epcot and Hollywood Studios you’ll be happy you took some time to discover the Boardwalk at Walt Disney World. Stepping into an old seaside picture postcard from the 1920s, The Boardwalk is one of our favorite parts of an Adult Vacation at Walt Disney World. Because it’s simply the quintessential way to get away from it all. 

Is the Disney Boardwalk Free?

Yes. The Disney Boardwalk is FREE. It also doesn’t require that you have a ticket for anywhere! So if you’re visiting Orlando, Florida, and want a little Disney in your day, but don’t want to pay for the tickets, this is a great option. You can park at the overflow lot near the Boardwalk Resorts just go in and explore. Or even park at Hollywood Studios and walk over via the walking path from Hollywood Studios to EPCOT

How to get to Disney’s Boardwalk?

There are many ways to get to the Disney BoardWalk. Accessible by taking the Disney Skyliner to the EPCOT International Gateway, when you disembark, simply turn right instead of left. Or if coming from Hollywood Studios you can take the walking path, or a Friendship Boat over to the BoardWalk. If visiting for the day, we recommend parking at Disney Springs and taking a Disney Bus to Boardwalk Inn. This will drop you off at the resort, and you can simply walk through the lobby out onto the boardwalk. 

If coming through Epcot, the Boardwalk is right outside of Epcot at the back, accessible on the walkway between the UK and France. This is officially called the International Gateway entrance. This is our Epcot entrance of choice for several reasons: smaller security lines, fewer people, and it gets us close to France for early morning breakfast plans.

Last year the Boardwalk was a great way for us to get away from the crazy Epcot Food and Wine crowds and see some fun street shows. But now we visit the boardwalk every time we go to Disney because it’s one of our favorite places. Check out our Top 10 Things to Do at the Disney BoardWalk for more ideas. Once you arrive you’ll notice there are a few places you simply must visit!

Disney Boardwalk Restaurants

One of the main draws of the Disney BoardWalk is the wide array of Disney Restaurants. Not only found on the boardwalk itself, but also inside each Disney Resort. Giving you loads of meal options, from seafood to burgers to Italian, here are all the restaurants on the Disney Boardwalk. 

Boardwalk Deli | Boardwalk Inn

It’s no secret we love cupcakes and the Boardwalk Deli offers up some of the best! Both classic and seasonal, if you’re in need of a dessert break, head here and grab a treat. Some cupcakes are approved on the Disney Dining Plan and big enough to share. You can also grab deli sandwiches, bagels and deluxe sandwiches here. Plus, if you have a Disney Refillable Mug, you can refill your mug here too! 

Trattoria al Forno | Boardwalk Inn

A fancy Italian Pizza Place is always welcome and at Trattoria al Forno if you’re not up for a table-service meal, you can grab a wonderful large pizza from the walk-up window. We love Trattoria al Forno for breakfast! With some amazing avocado toast, omelets, and the best-iced coffee, you will want to stop here on your next vacation. You can even just walk up to the counter to check availability. 

Pizza Window | Boardwalk Inn

This pizza is by far some of the best we’ve had at Disney. It’s a large pie with tons of flavor at an OK cost. Note: You will not get eh same pizza at Trattoria al Forno if you go inside as those are mostly small flatbread/wood-fired pizzas. For the best stuff, in a to-go box, order from the Pizza Window and enjoy it on the boardwalk. 

Crew’s Cup Lounge | Yacht Club

This place has a slightly more budget-friendly and kid-friendly atmosphere as a table service lounge and mock-tails to boot! You can grab rib sliders, cheese dip, and a “yacht dog”! Check out the menu to pick your favorites ahead of time.

Yachtsman’s Steakhouse | Yacht Club

 Considered THE place to get a good steak at Walt Disney World, be prepared to pay a little more. This is your typical steak and fish-type table service restaurant. Not really a vegetarian option here. That said there are delectable sides, desserts, and drinks to add a little flair to your surf and turf meal. Choose your favorites on the menu.

Ale and Compass | Yacht Club

 This is by far the poshest new bar we’ve found. The Lounge of Ale and Compass has an excellent atmosphere with gorgeous blue decor, consider this your grown-up escape. If you long for days gone past where you could sit in a velvet chair in front of a servant-cleaned fireplace and sip your favorite scotch, then you’ve found heaven. The menu is budget-friendly with options in the lowest price bracket of 14.99-34.99. You can grab salads, flatbreads and heartier dishes too. Read our review of Ale and Compass. 

Cape May Cafe | Beach Club

Cape May is a casual dining experience in a seaside-like atmosphere. You can get all three meals of the day here but be aware it is a seafood-heavy buffet dining experience. Check out the menu. 

Beaches and Cream Soda Shop | Beach Club

 Beaches and Cream is one of those hidden gem restaurants that only the locals seem to know about. Hidden behind the pool at the Yacht Club this ice cream shop serves your typical burgers and fries lunch, and shakes and has a to-go option too. Check out the menu.

Hurricane Hanna’s Waterside Bar and Grill | Beach Club

This is a fine option for a quick lunch on the go. As a quick-service restaurant, you can grab salads, sandwiches, and fries here. With views of the boardwalk. Check out the menu. 

trattoria al forno disney world boardwalk at epcot

Shopping on the Disney Boardwalk

Another draw of the Disney Boardwalk is the chance to get out of the Disney crowds and explore. And nothing is better than finding Disney gift shops that aren’t crowded. It gives you a great chance to see the merchandise and take your time. 

Thimbles and Threads and Screen Door

Done up in the retro style of the Boardwalk these two shops are connected on the inside and offer everything from groceries to wine to pins and apparel. Often this little shop has items you can’t find anywhere else. Apparel, pins, toys, mugs, everything. We love this shop, particularly because it’s a wonderful browsing shop and we don’t have to contend with the crowds. It’s also an amazing escape from the heat.

disneys yacht club at the boardwalk

Disney Boardwalk Area Resorts

If you’re having a Disney BoardWalk Day, be sure to pop into some of the resorts on the walking path. Each has its own unique feel and theme and offers gift shops, specialty restaurants, and places to relax. The Beach Club, The Yacht Club, and the Disney Boardwalk Inn and Villas are the resorts you will find at the Boardwalk. Given Epcot’s sky-high standing because of easy monorail access, these resorts are Deluxe Resorts. Meaning they’re in the highest pricing tier before you reach villa standing. So what do you get at these Deluxe Resorts? Beaches, Ferry Access to Hollywood Studios, Skyliner Access,  Walking distance to Epcot and Hollywood Studios, and Bus service to everywhere else you need to go. Truly, you are paying for access and convenience. We also love that no matter what Disney resort you are staying at you can still visit these resorts for a Movie Night Under the Stars or Campfire and S’mores. Here’s the lineup of Disney BoardWalk Resorts. 

Beach Club

Disney’s Beach Club Resort is a Disney Deluxe Resort, known for its amazing-smelling lobby. And while you should definitely check it out, we also like some of the other amenities here! With a nice gift shop off the main lobby, you can browse merchandise, order a coffee, and grab to-go food items. If you’re settling into your Disney BoardWalk Day Trip and wonder where to start, you can head to the beach and settle into a lounger. Watching the crowds, clouds, and boats go by always makes for a nice start to the day. 

Yacht Club

Next, you’ll come upon Disney’s Yacht Club resort. Sharing a gigantic pool with Disney’s Beach Club, as a day visitor you may not be able to use the pools, but you can definitely head to the Beaches and Cream Soda Shop tucked behind them for a milkshake or some lunch. This resort is also home to one of our favorite restaurants, Ale and Compass. We like it for breakfast, and drinks at the lounge. Ale and Compass offers flatbreads, chocolate waffles, specialty to-go meals, Disney mocktails, and beautiful decor. 

Boardwalk Inn

By far one of our favorite resorts, Disney’s BoardWalk Inn has an old-time feel with an old radio playing in the Belle Vue Lounge, and classic carousel horses decorating the lobby. This is a great resort to visit in the evening for the movie on the front lawn, or in the mornings you can head to Carousel Coffee, just off the lobby for a specialty coffee and to-go foods. 

Disney Swan, Swan Reserve, and Dolphin Resorts

Right outside the Boardwalk entrance, you can also find the Swan,  Dolphin, and Swan Reserve Hotels. Watch the palm trees light up with colors and music, or visit one of the award-winning restaurants inside the resorts. If you stay here you also get access to a 3-acre pool, complete with hot tubs, caves, and slides. The Swan and Dolphin Hotels share all amenities, so staying at any one of the resorts gets you access to everything. 

Miniature Golf at Disney World

Disney Boardwalk Entertainment

In the late afternoons and evenings, you’ll see magicians, illusionists, and comedians perfect for the little ones. The Disney Boardwalk is wonderful at night and if you’re looking for an alternate route to get home, you can beat the crowds by taking the ferry at the Boardwalk to take you to the Hollywood Studios entrance.

Street Performers

From hula hoopers to singers, jugglers, and dancers, you can find them all along the BoardWalk intermittently throughout the day. Usually in front of the Boardwalk Inn, these performers add a little Disney magic to the day and are well worth the watch! Be sure to stop for a spell if you see them during your visit. 

Midway Games

Whether you’re trying to shoot a soda can off a ledge or make the basket at the midway game, there is plenty of fun to be handed and prizes to be won at the carnival games on the boardwalk. There is a small cost to play these, but they’re so much fun and worth it on a day trip to the BoardWalk.  

Surrey Bike Rental

One of the most popular activities on the Disney BoardWalk is the Surrey bike rental. Typically seating 4, you can grab one for $25 per half hour, and start making the rounds. With so much ground to cover visiting all the resorts, this bike is fun to drive around and around and around. 

Movies Under the Stars

Shown on the front lawn of the BoardWalk Inn Resort and on the beach at the Beach Club, you can visit the BoardWalk with plans of staying for the evening movie. Typically shown just after the dinner hour, be sure to check the resort for the movie title and time the day of your visit. Many people just bring a blanket and sit on the lawn. Be sure to refill your refillable mug inside the resort, or at BoardWalk Deli, so you can be ready for the movie!

Campfire Activities

Another mainstay at Disney Resorts is the campfire activities. Often including a s’more kit for purchase, you can join a cast member at the fire pit and roast marshmallows. Be sure to check at whichever resort you choose for times.

Mini Golf at Disney World Fantasia Gardens and Fairways

And if you’re ready to play some mini-golf, there is the Fantasia Gardens and Fairways Miniature Golf course right next to the Swan Reserve Hotel. Perfect for an hour or two of slow gameplay and relaxing activity. You can reserve a time for your best bet, or just add your name to the waiting list when you arrive. Fantasia Gardens is family-friendly. Or if you’re looking for a challenge, Fairways may be more your style. 

disney boardwalk from hollywood studios path

Adult Things to Do at Disney Boardwalk

Walt Disney World is filled with things to do for Adults. From the Best Disney Lounges to fancy restaurants, the Disney Boardwalk has it all. Here are a few things to consider for your Boardwalk Night out! 

Atlantic City Dance Hall

If you’re ready to dance the night away, you can add an evening at Atlantic City Dance Hall to your calendar. This nightclub includes music from the 80’s 90’s and today. 

Jellyrolls Dueling Piano Bar

Open 7 pm to 1:45 pm this dueling piano bar is for guests 21 and over, and offers a variety of drinks, snacks, and more. Get ready to listen to these piano players put on a show! Be there early to get a seat, this place fills up fast. 

view from the yacht club wdw

Disney Boardwalk Day Trip

So whatever you’re up for on your next Disney Vacation keep the Disney Boardwalk in mind. It’s full of little gems and a culture that’s laid back, fun, and removed from everything else.  Whether it’s discovering the rocking chairs at the Yacht Club or that you’re super good at the funfair games on the Boardwalk. There is always something to do. Check out even more in our Disney Boardwalk Guide. Let us know what you love about the Boardwalk!

The Disney Boardwalk. All the reasons you should head to the boardwalk at Walt Disney World for eats, resort crawls and more. #disneyboardwalk #disneytips #polkadotpixies

Co-Founder and Director at Polka Dot Pixie Co LLC | Website | + posts

Rochelle Mariah is a writer, designer and photographer with an MLIS in Information Science and a B.S. in Arch and Design. Determined to make Planning a DIY Disney Vacation easier she makes lots of lists and drinks lots of coffee. When not designing apparel at Polka Dot Pixie Shop, she's watching old movies and planning the holidays. She has been traveling to Disney destinations since 2010.

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