When Disney World added Epcot in the early 1980’s, they left a “back door” to a sizable lake around which they’ve since built five hotels: Disney’s Beach and Yacht Clubs (billed as two resorts, but really more like one big resort, beach-themed closer to Epcot, yacht-themed further away), the Swan and the Dolphin resorts (two distinctly different hotels), and the Boardwalk. The neat thing is that all five of the resorts are connected by a walkway all the way around, offering a great evening or half day of free (no admission fee) fun.
Getting into the boardwalk area might not be easily apparent. If you’ve been visiting Epcot for the day, you can exit through the World Showcase’s “International Gateway”: as you walk past the United Kingdom pavilion, just keep bearing right instead of going over the bridge toward France. If you’re walking from the France pavilion, continue over the bridge, but take a sharp left before you get to the UK pavilion.
If you want to visit Disney’s Boardwalk on a day you’re not at Epcot, simply park at one of the five hotels. As you drive up to the hotel, just tell the guard you’re going to walk around the Boardwalk. We usually park at either the Beach Club or Yacht Club, and we tell the guard we’re going to eat at “Beaches and Cream”…because we always do, or at least we always try to.
Wherever you park, head through the hotel, enjoying the Disney sights along the way, and continue on through to the lake. Ask any Disney cast member for directions if you need to, and ask where they’re from: they’re famously conversant and cheery. Once you approach the lake, pick your direction–left or right–and start walking.
All along the area in front of the Boardwalk (it actually resembles a Boardwalk) you’ll find shops and restaurants. Don’t miss the Wyland Galleries. You’ll also find lots of midway snack booths, and if you’re there in the evenings you’ll find fun-to-watch street performers.
Walking by the Beach Club and Yacht Club, check out the awesome pool area shared by both hotels: on a hot day, you’ll wish you were staying there so you could take a dip. If you like diner fare and ice cream (who doesn’t), then nestled between “the Club’s” you’ll find “Beaches and Cream”. This is one of our favorite places in all of Disney World: we always try to drop in for burgers and some ice cream, but lately they’ve gotten so popular you almost have to have reservations unless you stop in at untraditional hours (like 3pm). If there are no tables to be had and you’re starving, step up to the pool bar, Hurricane Hanna’s, for dinner then try Beaches and Cream’s walk-up counter for desert.
If you dance, try the Atlantic Dance Hall. If you’re into karaoke, check out Kimonos at the Swan. Try to be out by the lake at 9:00pm when Epcot’s fireworks can be seen and heard from spots all around the lake.
|A Sundae at Beaches and Cream|