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Around Disney Boardwalk and Crescent Lake
One of our favourite places to relax at Disney World, without using one of those precious Disney Days, is Disney’s Boardwalk. Whether you want an afternoon or evening stroll or just a short break from the hurly burly of Epcot or Hollywood Studios, the boardwalk is the ideal place to relax. Set on Crescent Lake, the Boardwalk faces the resort hotels of the Yacht Club and Beach Club with the Swan and Dolphin Hotels behind and to the side. It was opened in 1996 and built in the style of boardwalks of Coney Island, New York, which existed in the 1920s, 30s and 40s.
Access to the Boardwalk is probably best gained, especially if this is your first visit, by parking at the Boardwalk Inn car park. Head up the slight incline toward the Boardwalk Inn, and as you approach it take the steps down to the Boardwalk rather than going into the hotel itself.
This approach brings you to the ‘heart’ of the Boardwalk. Immediately on your right is the superb ‘Flying Fish Café’, with Seaside Sweets next door. You then pass Spoodles, the Mediterranean restaurant with its pizza takeaway window, the Boardwalk Bakery, full of delicious pastries, and the ESPN club. Technically this leg of the Boardwalk ends here, but continuing along the wide pathway leads you past Seabreeze Point, often used by wedding parties who celebrate under the white gazebo, shaded from the rays of the sun.
The path then slopes upwards as it crosses the canal leading from Crescent Lake to Epcot. Boats travelling between Epcot, Hollywood Studios, the Boardwalk and the Disney hotels around the lake pass under this bridge. This is also a good spot to watch the nightly firework display in Epcot if you don’t want to go into the park itself. Turning left over the bridge, rather than right to Epcot, will continue your stroll around the lake, passing the Beach Club and then the Yacht club.
If you deviate slightly off the main path as it passes the Beach Club hotel, you can pop into ‘Beaches and Cream’, an old fashioned soda shop which serves cones to go, ice cream sundaes and their signature dish the famous " Kitchen Sink Sundae" , enough for two or more!
To work off those extra calories continue past the Yacht Club and along to the Swan and Dolphin hotels, over the canal leading to Hollywood Studios, and then re-join the Boardwalk between the Atlantic Dance Hall, an elegant nightclub, and Jellyrolls, where in the evening visitors will try (generally in vain), to stump the duelling piano players - great night of interactive entertainment. (alternatively continue along the canal to Hollywood Studios and then maybe catch a boat back to the Boardwalk).
Pass the Big River Grille and Brewing Works, or stop for a drink if you wish, and you will soon be back at your starting point. As you approach you will see the bicycle hire where two, four or eight-seater bikes can be hired if you prefer an alternative mode of transport on your next visit. But beware; the bridges over the canals can be steeper than they look!
In the evening the whole of the boardwalk is lit up and entertainers add an extra something to the ambience here. The entertainers; comedians, jugglers, acrobats – sometimes all three rolled into one! – are extremely skilled and well worth watching even if its just for a few minutes while waiting for a table at your restaurant of choice, and being employed by Disney they do not come round with the hat. So you can stay to the end!
It is also worth noting that the boats plying across the lake are for the use of anybody, not just Disney Hotel guests and so if it is a particularly warm day you can always get a boat from in front of the Yacht club to bring you back to the Transportation Dock in front of the Boardwalk Hotel.
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