Do you enjoy Downtown Disney (soon to be Disney Springs)? There is certainly much to do at this dining/shopping/entertainment area. Unfortunately, at night, the crowds can be overwhelming. Are you aware that there is a second (albeit smaller) dining/shopping/entertainment venue at Disney World? If you’ve never been, you should check out Disney’s Boardwalk area. Located on Crescent Lake, the Boardwalk is reminiscent of turn-of-the-century seaside towns in the Mid-Atlantic and New England. Think Jersey-shore or Coney Island. This fun area is surrounded by several deluxe hotels including The Boardwalk Inn & Villas, The Yacht & Beach Club, and the Swan & Dolphin. It’s also within walking distance of Epcot’s International Gateway and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. On your next trip, check out these 8 hidden gems at Disney’s boardwalk.
1) ESPN Club – Got any sports fans in your group? The ESPN Club is nirvana for sports enthusiasts! How about 100 televisions (some even in the restrooms!) and a 108-square-foot screen, with live games and classics. The menu includes typical American fare, including pasta, sandwiches, salads and hamburgers. The atmosphere is fun and inviting to families for lunch and dinner, but beware, it can get noisy!
2) Flying Fish Café – A Coney Island roller coaster inspired the design and the name of the restaurant, which specializes in seafood, but also features game and vegetarian dishes, and some of the most fantastic desserts in Walt Disney World! This beautifully appointed restaurant serves up some of the freshest, most inventively prepared seafood you’ll ever try. You can also enjoy a wine tasting experience or dine with a Disney imagineer.
3) Shopping – Along the Boardwalk you’ll find the Screen Door General Store, with a variety of Disney merchandise, as well as sundries and some grocery items. Disney’s Character Carnival features adult and golf apparel plus Disney character merchandise for all ages. Thimbles & Threads has ladies, children and infant apparel, plus Disney character plush, toys and accessories. The unique Wyland Galleries, located near the entrance of the BoardWalk Inn, features internationally renowned artist Wyland and others. The Yard, next to the ESPN Club, has authentic ESPN merchandise. Plus, the BoardWalk features a well-stocked Pin Station to satisfy even the most avid collector.
4) Jellyrolls – A sing-along bar, with dueling piano players who take requests. Weekends can be SRO, so try to get there no later than 9:00! Jellyrolls is open from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. nightly. There’s a cover charge, but no drink minimum.
5) Live entertainment – The whole family will enjoy Boardwalk Buskers, an assortment of live entertainers who perform 6:30 – 10:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturdays outdoors on the Boardwalk. You’re likely to see everything from sword swallowers and jugglers to magicians and strolling musicians!
6) Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf – Just a short walk from the boardwalk area (near the Swan & Dolphin resorts) is Fantasia Gardens, 18 holes of whimsical miniature golf for the whole family, with a dancing hippo and xylophone stairs. Or, if you’re looking for a more challenging experience, there’s Disney’s Fairways — 18 holes that will test your skill a bit more with hazards, traps and roughs.
7) Water activities – One of the most fun things I’ve ever done at Disney World is an Illuminations Cruise. Boats sit under the International Gateway bridge for viewing IllumiNations, so you feel like you’re having a private viewing. You have a wonderful view of the show! You can also rent Sea Raycers or go on a Fishing excursion. Kids can try the Albatross Treasure Cruise, where they search Crescent Lake and Epcot’s World Showcase lagoon for map clues while learning “The Legend of the Albatross.” The cruise concludes near the resort’s pirate ship themed pool where your little pirate snags a goodie bag of beads, rings, “gold” coins and other trinkets. For children aged 4-10.
8) Big River Grille & Brewing Works – A must for any ale or micro-brew fan! Big River has tempting selections of beer breads, sausages, burgers and salads. A lighthearted atmosphere for a casual meal. Open 11:30 a.m. to midnight. When the weather is nice, consider sitting out on the boardwalk.
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