There is a great place at Disney that is often missed or overlooked by the average guest. Unless they are staying at the resort there or one of its close neighbors, many never think of paying a visit to the Boardwalk .
Many times if I am at the studios or at World Showcase and the lines are long, I take a Friend Ship or more often walk the short distance to the Boardwalk for some quiet time. During the day, the Boardwalk is usually very quiet as most guests are in the parks. This is an excellent time to grab a slice of pizza and a cold beer at the window and just relax waterside. (For some reason, lowest beer prices I’ve found on property)
There are a number of restaurant offerings there with varying price ranges. My particular favorite is what is now Cat Cora’s Kouzzina. The food and service are great, although like most Disney restaurants, it’s a bit loud inside. Kouzzina is scheduled to close this September to make way for a new Italian themed eatery so do try to get there before they close. The lamb shank is superb.
If you’re into architecture, spend some time in the lobbies of The Boardwalk Resort, the Swan and the Dolphin, particularly the latter. Renowned designer Michael Graves (think Target’s ergonomic line of doo dads and toilet brushes) created the Dolphin and Swan for the Tishman construction company. For the longest time, these two monolithic resort hotels were the only hotels on Disney property that were operated by an outside company, Starwood Hotels.
The lobbies are vast as are most common areas and are worth a look see. I’ve stayed at the Dolphin and can say the hotel cast members are some of the best and the restaurants are very good. The non Disney themed pool areas are a great respite from the parks and other Disney locations.
The Boardwalk comes to life in the evening. Many walk up kiosks offer drinks, snacks and the typical boardwalk kitsch you would find along any waterfront venue. Jellyrolls offers dueling pianos with sing-along style entertainment. At one time this was a popular spot for Disney cast members but I’m not sure if that’s still the case.
The Atlantic Dance Hall is a must see, just to walk in and walk out. This is an amazing yet sadly underused venue. The massive interior with stage and dance floor could accommodate hundreds but any time I have been in there I may have counted 50 or so guests. Bar service is deplorable, by the way. Originally there was live, big band and other types of music offered but more recently it’s a video DJ showing 80’s-90’s dance tunes. Wedding parties often take over the place and bring some life into what is largely a deserted space on most nights.
At the opposite end the ESPN Sports Club offers up traditional bar food, games and lots and lots of video screens to watch sports. I had a sandwich here once and it was fine, but there was nothing special about the place to make me want to go back.
The ambience on the Boardwalk is relaxing and at a slower pace. I highly recommend you take an hour or two to unwind there and enjoy a space that reflects another time and place.