FEATURE: A Day at the BoardWalk, Part One

BoardWalk Villas

Even DVC members who have not stayed at Disney's BoardWalk and Beach Club resorts have heard of the popularity of these two properties.  Much of that popularity stems from the fact that this Epcot Resort Area is almost an attraction unto itself. 

Today we present the first in a two-part look into the appeal of the BoardWalk, its neighboring resorts and theme parks.  Guest columnist Marilyn Garfinkel shows us how much the area has to offer guests in "A Day at the BoardWalk."

7:30am:  I wake up to the sound of a phone ringing.  Groggy, I pick up the receiver and say hello.  Stitch is telling me to get up.  He’s a little bit too cheerful for my just-getting-out-of-a-fog brain, but it does the trick.

I get up, scoot over to the curtains, and open them.  I smile as I take in the view.  Throwing on my robe, I step out onto the balcony.  There are few people out this early, the BoardWalk is just “waking up”.  I peer over the balcony, checking out the area from Atlantic Dance Club on my left, around to the ESPN Club to my right.  In between the two are restaurants, and shops.    Across the way I can see the Beach Club and the Yacht Club

A “Friendship” boat glides up Crescent Lake and pulls up to the dock.   A few early risers get on board to head for Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  There are two docks at the BoardWalk—one will get you a boat to the Studios, the other goes to Epcot.  The Epcot boat is direct from the dock to the park while the boat to the Studios makes two other resort stops along the way and can take quite a while. While I rarely ride the boats as I prefer walking to both parks, I find it relaxing to watch the boats from my balcony as they come and go. 

Yawning and stretching I walk back inside and over to the kitchen area of my One Bedroom villa.  While I enjoy cooking in the villa for lunch and dinner, I like to get going early with something fast for breakfast.  So the night before I stopped at the BoardWalk Bakery, which is just a few steps from the front of the resort.  It’s pretty much a nightly ritual for me to choose a pastry or muffin for the next day.  This time I’d bought a simple blueberry muffin. 

I toss my muffin in the microwave to warm it up and pour myself a glass of OJ.  Breakfast follows me out to the balcony where I can enjoy the feeling of the warm sun while surveying the scene on the BoardWalk and eating the yummy muffin. 

OK…teeth brushed…face washed…all dressed up and someplace to go!  Epcot here I come! 

8:30am: I walk down the hallway to the exit door on my floor that I know will exit the building closest to where I want to be on the BoardWalk. I’ve stayed at the BoardWalk Villas twelve times now so I’ve got it down pretty well now.  But I still the challenge of trying to figure out which exit is best for the BoardWalk area and which is best for the bus stop, DHS, Community Hall, etc. 

I turn right once I am out on the boardwalk and start toward Epcot.  There are a number of stores and vendors on the way.  I pass a pin cart, face painter, caricature artist and a DVC sales cart on my left along the railing by the water.  On the right I see Flying Fish Café, an upscale seafood restaurant, Seashore Sweets (super ice cream and fudge as well as other confections), Spoodles (Mediterranean Restaurant) and the afore mentioned bakery. 

Further down to the left is a self service booth where guests can pose and make custom post cards—to the right is Walt Disney World’s ESPN Club. It’s quiet there now, but in the early evenings, especially on nights with big sporting events, the line for tables can snake out the door onto the BoardWalk itself.

Finally there’s a gazebo on my left that juts out into Crescent Lake.  I’ve passed here often and witnessed weddings taking place on numerous occasions.  Last trip there was a coach with footmen waiting to whisk the new bride and groom away.

8:40am: I walk up over the bridge, glancing left at the Beach Club Villas and then turning right to continue the journey to Epcot.  In about 100 feet I join others who have lined up to wait for the CMs to admit us to the park.  There are only a few folks ahead of me.  This entrance, called The International Gateway is sometimes referred to as Epcot’s “back door”.   For the most part guests that enter in the International Gateway are people that are staying or dining at one of the BoardWalk area resort hotels.  The vast majority of guests visiting Epcot come in where the monorail and buses and cars have access—the front of the park near Spaceship Earth.  Many Walt Disney World guests don’t even know the Gateway exists. 

8:50am:  Cast Members let us go through the turnstiles but we have to wait at the end of a wide sloped path for them to drop the rope before we can actually enter the park.

9:00am: We’re in!  The International Gateway leads into the United Kingdom Pavilion of Epcot’s World Showcase.  I turn left and head towards Future World. The World Showcase is not yet open—all I see are a few guests that entered with me and a Cast Member or two scurrying by now and then. The UK and Canada Pavilions look like ghost towns, especially compared to how packed they will be in a few hours. I enjoy the relative solitude as I amble over to Epcot’s Future World.

Having arrived at the park’s opening, visiting most of the key attractions in Future World is no great challenge.  Lines have barely begun to form for Spaceship Earth and Test TrackSoarin’ may still be worthy of a FastPass, but I will only have to wait an hour or so before my ride time arrives. 

With a little luck I will be able to hit all of my favorite Future World attractions before returning to the BoardWalk for lunch!

(To be continued...)