Reimagining BoardWalk begins: Changes and builds

Walt Disney World has shared more details about the upcoming changes to the BoardWalk Inn as part of its reimagining. In addition, construction has begun on some aspects of the project. This post shares details of what’s on the horizon, as well as a look at the work around Crescent Lake.

The latest announcement is that Walt Disney World will reimagine Boardwalk bakery into a deli inspired by those of the American Northeast. The site will be renamed the BoardWalk Deli when it reopens later in the summer of 2022.

The menu will feature warm reuben pastrami stuffed with oil and handmade cannoli, as well as home-baked bread, delicious warm sandwiches and a variety of delicious desserts. BoardWalk Deli serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Earlier this year, Walt Disney World announced that they would be having a “seaside party at Disney’s BoardWalk!” Over the next few years, Walt Disney World will add and reimagine elements of the beloved Turn of the Century boardwalk and luxury resort interiors, including a charming new lobby design, a nearby café, delicious dining options, refreshed guestrooms, and other special touches.

Inside the Disney’s BoardWalk Inn, light and airy touches will enliven the lobby, lounge, and guest rooms. Just off the lobby, a new coffee shop with craft drinks and fast food is available to go or in freshly made seating inside or outside.

In Walt Disney World, the first of these major additions to make their debut will be the sweet storybook desserts and the dreamy desserts at The Cake Bake Shop by Gwendolyn Rogers, a new table service restaurant and bakery.

Expected to open in 2023, this restaurant will serve delicious menus and desserts, along with afternoon tea service, in an eccentric atmosphere that complements the perfect charm of Disney’s BoardWalk Inn guests know and love.

This is a good place to start, as visible construction has finally begun on the exterior of the ESPN Club.

The ESPN Club never reopened after Walt Disney World closed, and there were rumors going back to late 2020 that it wouldn’t. However, there is no information on whether anything happened inside the restaurant.

On the outside, the crews were busy removing the themed design elements and ESPN branding on the outside.

In particular, a pumping iron fist was lifted from the top of the restaurant marquee. Kind of surreal seeing this up close on the ground. I never thought about how big these things were. I think this is a bit of a reverse compulsive perspective!

Here’s a look at the marquee with this item removed. I can’t say I’m upset about leaving the ESPN club, but I did have some nostalgia and memories of what I was watching.

This used to be one of the locations my family went to at Walt Disney World, and I remember visiting when it was brand new in the late ’90s.

The loss of ESPN Club certainly creates a void. Even as more and more sports bars open at Walt Disney World, they are almost exclusively in Disney Springs. While most people devote a significant amount of time to watching sports on vacation, some do. (Especially those who booked a vacation months in advance, and their team is making a surprise run in the playoffs or the playoffs. This happens a lot!)

The ESPN Club was a great option within walking distance of EPCOT or Disney’s Hollywood Studios which had little impact on the rest of the family vacation. Although it’s not a huge loss for me personally, I still think it would make sense to replace Big River Grille & Brewing Works. But who knows what state of third party contract there is.

During construction, all other venues at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn remain open. This includes BoardWalk ice cream with an innovative name. (Hey, at least it’s better than “BoardWalk Ice Cream: An Edy’s Eating EXPERIENCE!~ at Disney’s BoardWalk Resort.”)

I mocked the Ice Cream Boardwalk (only because I still miss Amble Hills), but I have to give Disney credit – they’ve replaced the makeshift banners with a cute, dimensional banner. I’m not sure when this happened, but it’s not new. I noticed it a few months ago and had nowhere to mention it yet. It doesn’t seem worthy of its own post. Thanks also to Disney, at least this place isn’t empty. (The fall of Amble Hills wasn’t Disney’s fault.)

The build crews did a quick job of removing all the thematic details and ESPN elements from the former club. The first pictures were taken on Friday morning, and it was only a few hours later. The walls just rose and work began the day before.

Since Disney owns ESPN, the fast pace may be about brand integrity. Despite the site being closed for two years, the company wants as few regular guests as possible to see the ESPN venue go out of business and be demolished, basically.

Two doors down, Boardwalk Bakery is still operating as usual.

It would be fun to see what In fact Happening with Boardwalk Bakery. We’ve said for years that luxury resorts in the Crescent Lake area need better counter service restaurant options. The recently reconstructed markets of the Yacht & Beach Club are improvements, but are really only half-measures.

Our hope was that BoardWalk Bakery would be similar in this respect – a not-so-perfect solution, but still an upgrade from what exists now.

However, since it’s currently still running and based on the announced changes, it doesn’t look like it will have anything but a modified list and a new name. Given the limitations of space and layout alone, this is somewhat understandable. Maybe it’s time for Disney BoardWalk to build a dedicated counter-service restaurant elsewhere?

There is also a lot of small business happening all over BoardWalk.

Crews have been repainting the fence, AbracadaBar doing work around it, and more. There’s no reason to believe any of this is connected to re-imagining – it all seemed so routine.

Inside Disney’s BoardWalk Inn, work on the lobby has not yet begun.

Every time we’ve been to the Crescent Lake area recently, I’ve walked into the lobby to take one last look “just in case”. I have no idea when to start working here Hopes Some advance notice will be given. In my view, this is not necessary. The BoardWalk lobby is a thematic gem with charm and quirky personality. Update the rooms to please regular guests, but leave that alone. No matter what Disney does here, there’s no way they’ll have the same character.

In addition to building on BoardWalk, there is also works across Crescent Lake at Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts.

For the past several months, there has been work on the building facades at the Yacht Club. This finally ended, and he moved to the famous lighthouse.

The lighthouse is now behind the scaffolding for a similar update.

It’s great to see this accomplished. The Yacht Club’s exterior looks much better, which we really noticed when watching the progress of work on each section earlier this year – the completed areas were a huge improvement. Although it’s not something you might actively notice while strolling along the Corniche, it does make a difference overall. It’s always nice to see Disney do this kind of restorative work!

In the end, it will be interesting to watch the progress of the work around the corniche and inside the hotel over the next year or so. We are big fans of Disney’s BoardWalk Inn and hope that its compelling style is maintained by this re-imagining and that any update that occurs isn’t too contradictory from a time period perspective.

However, we also recognize that there is plenty of room for improvement, with plenty of spaces that have been stagnant for years and could use a bullet to the arm. It would be great to see some of the new dining options, and hopefully some to be updated. In general, I’m cautiously optimistic about the changes in BoardWalk. We hope Imagineering will use her ingenious touch to bring BoardWalk into the 21st century while keeping her (last) century personality.

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your thoughts

What do you think of the upcoming construction and changes to Disney’s Boardwalk Resort? Is it sad to see the ESPN Club removed, or are you ready for something new? Do you think this reimagining would work with the hotel theme, or is it unnecessary? Have you stayed at the BoardWalk Inn or Villas in the past few years? Do you think the resort is old and tired or still good looking? Do you think the lobby, guest rooms, or both need an overhaul? Do you agree or disagree with our evaluation? Other thoughts or concerns? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback – even when you don’t agree with us – is interesting to us and useful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!

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