Accommodations and Theming at Disney’s BoardWalk Villas
By Dave Shute
(For the first page of this review of Disney’s BoardWalk Villas, see this.)
ACCOMMODATIONS AT DISNEY’S BOARDWALK VILLAS
Disney’s BoardWalk Villas is one of ten official Disney Vacation Club resorts at Walt Disney World.
Because the two sets of options at the Wilderness Lodge, Animal Kingdom Lodge and Saratoga Springs are so different, and the Polynesian offering is so distinctive, for review purposes I count a total of twelve resorts, but rank only eleven.
Their overall ranking for first time family visitors is as follows:
- Copper Creek Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge (after 7/17)
- Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge (after 7/17)
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas–Jambo House
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas–Kidani Village
- Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
- The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
- Disney’s Beach Club Villas
- Disney’s Boardwalk Villas
- Disney’s Old Key West Resort
- Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa, main resort
- Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort, Treehouse Villas area
(My rankings exclude the Polynesian Villas and Bungalows, as the offerings there–except Studios–are so different from all the rest. Ranking solely among Studios, the Poly Studios would come near the top of the list.)
These resorts are available to anyone to reserve through the regular Walt Disney World website or the resort reservations phone number at 407-939-7675.
They also are available to the general public at great discounts through renting points from a Disney Vacation Club member.
THE THEMING OF DISNEY’S BOARDWALK VILLAS
Disney’s BoardWalk Villas are described on Walt Disney World’s website as capturing
“…the charm, whimsy and elegance of turn-of-the-century Atlantic City. These Villas, along with adjacent hotel Disney’s Boardwalk Inn, put Guests in a prime location to enjoy the carnival sights and ragtime sounds of the BoardWalk, along with the glittering waters and recreation of Crescent Lake.”
This “Atlantic City” claim is a bit of a crock.
The BoardWalk complex has multiple theming points, unified by the concept of “eastern resort town.”
The BoardWalk entertainment area perfectly matches the Atlantic City theme.
But the BoardWalk Inn, according to its architect Robert A. M. Stern, “takes its architectural cue from rambling colonial revival-style hotels of New England.”
And the Villas, again per Stern, bring to the “resort town” concept the Bungalow Style:
“The Disney Vacation Club [BoardWalk Villas], in keeping with the sense of the BoardWalk as a resort town, consists of a series of interconnected small scale buildings facing the [BoardWalk] lakefront.
Beyond the lakefront, where the vacation club faces a canal, the building takes on a larger scale with wide roof overhangs and bold horizontals reflecting the early 20th century American tradition that combined classicism with vernacular cottage architecture to create the Bungalow Style.
Here the historical timeline of the resort town’s development is brought to its conclusion by an architecture that suggests the incipient modernism of the early twentieth century.”
The overall theming of the BoardWalk complex as a “resort town” is a tour de force, with fun on the BoardWalk itself, and true loveliness in the BoardWalk Inn.
The theming and architecture of the Villas are neither so fun nor so lovely, but work well enough.
The BoardWalk Villas opened in July 1996 as the second of the Disney Vacation Club (“DVC”) resorts. Its floor plans set the basic pattern for the group of DVC offerings that followed–the Villas at the Wilderness Lodge, Beach Club Villas, and Saratoga Springs.
Much smaller than the spaces at Disney’s Old Key West Resort, its floor plans are still larger than most of the next group of DVC resorts.
Disney’s BoardWalk Villas’ strengths for first time visitors are livability (which carries over into all of its room types except Two Bedroom Villas with more than six people), and its convenience to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Disney’s BoardWalk Villas principal negative is the absence of any real kid appeal compared to alternatives like The Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas–Jambo House.
ACCOMMODATIONS AT DISNEY’S BOARDWALK VILLAS
STUDIOS AT DISNEY’S BOARDWALK VILLAS
At Disney’s BoardWalk Villas, Studios sleep five and have a microwave and mini fridge. See the Studio photo tour here.
The microwave is one of several ways Studios are different from regular rooms at the BoardWalk Inn.
- A second distinction is that the second bed is a full fold-out couch, rather than a queen. This couch isn’t as suitable for adults as the queens at the Inn.
- A third distinction is that when the fifth sleeping spot is down you lose the dining table, while in the Inn the fifth sleeping spot loses the couch
- The studios have about 40 more square feet than standard rooms at the BoardWalk Inn, but most of this extra space comes in the entryway and bath area (because of the choice of where to put the closet, which lengthens this area by a couple of feet), not the bedroom.
These studios go for the same price or a even few dollars less than regular standard view BoardWalk Inn rooms, but even at those prices, I’d prefer the rooms at the Inn, unless you really need the microwave. The increased comfort of the second queen bed, and the greater charm of the Inn, outweigh the microwave.
ONE-BEDROOM VILLAS AT DISNEY’S BOARDWALK VILLAS
One-Bedroom Villas at the BoardWalk have a master bedroom with a king bed. See the photo tour of a One Bedroom Villa that begins here.
They have as well a full kitchen/dining/ living space, a washer/dryer, and sleep 4 in about twice the space of a studio.
The two additional sleeping spots are on a fold-out queen-sized couch in the living room space.
The bath is shared, with access to it from both sleeping spaces. The kids don’t need to enter the master bedroom to get to this bath.
One-Bedroom Villas are among the most comfortable ways to stay at Walt Disney World.
The additional space, full kitchens, and living and dining furniture are hard to beat, even though if you are following one of this site’s itineraries you won’t be in your room much to enjoy them!
Depending on the price season, these villas are only 25-40% more expensive than a standard BoardWalk Inn room, for twice the space.
They aren’t for everyone…but the value is there if you can afford it.
TWO-BEDROOM VILLAS AT DISNEY’S BOARDWALK VILLAS
Two-Bedroom Villas add a second bedroom with a queen, a full sleeper sofa, and a fold-down bed, and another balcony–in other words, a Studio–to the amenities of a One-Bedroom, and sleep 8-9.
Two-Bedroom Villas can be either cramped or comfortable, depending both on how you use them and what you are comparing them to.
Like many DVC Two-Bedroom Villas, in Disney’s BoardWalk Villas Two-Bedrooms there isn’t enough seating space in either the living room or in the dining spaces for all the people these rooms will fit.
The living room chairs will seat four to five people, with two more chairs available at the dining table, and two more at the kitchen’s breakfast bar.
The dining table will seat at most four, taking the two chairs from the breakfast bar and adding them to the two chairs the table comes with.
So if you are filling a two bedroom with 8 or 9 people, things can get awkward, especially compared to the ease with which One-Bedroom Villas fit the people they can sleep.
Moreover, these two bedroom villas at the BoardWalk share a design problem with the same room type in The Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.
The connecting door between the four-person bedroom and the central shared space is deep in the living room. This can create some awkwardness for people leaving and entering the bedroom if others are sleeping on the fold-out couch. More recent DVC villas have corrected this flaw, and moved the connecting door to the other end of the kitchen space., near the room entry.
These space and circulation issues are part of the reason why these rooms are only about 40-75% more expensive than One Bedroom Villas, even though they have double the sleeping capacity.
On the other hand, depending on the price season, a Two-Bedroom is between the same price and $170 more than two standard BoardWalk Inn rooms, but provides 50% more space, and, compared to those rooms, all that extra kitchen/dining/living space and furniture.
If your family’s sleeping needs will fit in the bedrooms–that is, if you don’t need to use the fold-out bed in the living space–Two-Bedrooms are a particularly comfortable option.
(To each of the capacity figures above, you can add one more kid under 3 at time of check in who sleeps in a crib.)
GRAND VILLAS AT DISNEY’S BOARDWALK VILLAS
They have three bedrooms (one with a king, and two with two queens) plus a sleeper sofa.
They also have a kitchen, dining room, living room, balconies, and 3 baths.
There are seven Grand Villas at the BoardWalk. Five of them have the single-story layout shown in the above floor plan, and those five are what this review discusses.
Going right to left, the first two spaces are bedrooms, each with a private bath, two queen beds and balcony access. Each of these rooms is about the size of a “normal” hotel room–though note that the hall to the right-most room means the other bedroom is smaller.
Note also in this hall the additional door to the hotel hallway.
Next comes the kitchen and dining space, and after, a living space almost twice as large as that found in two-story Grand Villas, with a stately entry hall.
Off of the living room space you’ll find a small hallway with a door to the laundry room, another to the master bath, and a third door to the master bedroom.
The master bath serves both the master bedroom and those who may be sleeping on the living room couch, or visiting, and can be entered from the master bedroom as well as the hallway.
The master bedroom includes a king bed and an expansive divided bath, with a large whirlpool tub.
These single story Grand Villas at the BoardWalk Villas have the second-best floor plan of any Disney World Grand Villa, bettered only by those in the Villas at the Grand Floridian. (For an extensive discussion of Grand Villa design choices, see this.)
This is because the BoardWalk single story Grand Villas are unique in offering a single living room space large enough to seat all the guests they will sleep.
(To the capacity of 12, you can add one more kid under 3 at time of check in who sleeps in a crib.)
This review continues here.