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The reinvention of BoardWalk begins: changes and construction

Walt Disney World has shared more details about changes to BoardWalk Inn as part of its reinvention. Additionally, construction has begun on some aspects of the project. This article shares details of what’s on the horizon, as well as an overview of the work around Crescent Lake.

The latest announcement is that Walt Disney World will reinvent BoardWalk Bakery into a delicatessen inspired by those of the American Northeast. The location will be renamed BoardWalk Deli when it reopens later in the summer of 2022.

Menu highlights will include a warm, stuffed pastrami Reuben and handmade cannoli, in addition to homemade bagels, savory hot sandwiches and a variety of mouth-watering desserts. BoardWalk Deli will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Earlier this year, Walt Disney World announced it would be taking “a seaside dip at Disney’s BoardWalk!” Over the next several years, Walt Disney World will add and reimagine elements of the beloved turn-of-the-century boardwalk and luxury resort interior, including a charming new lobby design, a nearby coffee bar, delicious dining options, refreshed rooms, and other special touches.

Inside Disney’s BoardWalk Inn, light and airy touches will invigorate the lobby, lounge and guest rooms. Just off the lobby, a new coffee bar offering handcrafted drinks and quick snacks will be available to take away or in newly refreshed indoor or outdoor seating areas.

According to Walt Disney World, the first of those major additions to its debut will be sweet treats and dreamy desserts at Gwendolyn Rogers’ The Cake Bake Shop, a new table-service restaurant and bakery that’s sure to delight.

Scheduled to open in 2023, this restaurant will offer savory and dessert menus, as well as afternoon tea service, in a whimsical atmosphere that complements the magic of Disney’s BoardWalk Inn’s idyllic charm that guests know and love. adore.

It’s a good start, as visible construction has finally begun outside of the ESPN club.

ESPN Club never reopened after Walt Disney World closed, and there were rumors as early as late 2020 that it would not return. No word on if anything happened inside the restaurant, though.

Outside, the crews were busy pulling elements of ESPN’s themed designs and branding from the exterior.

Most notably, the first pump iron was lifted from the top of the restaurant marquee. A bit surreal to see them up close on the ground. I never really thought about the size of these things. I guess it’s a bit of a forced reverse perspective!

Here is a preview of the marquee with this element removed. I can’t say I’m upset with the departure of the ESPN club, but I was struck by a bit of nostalgia and memories watching it happen.

It was one of my family’s favorite places at Walt Disney World, and I remember visiting when it was brand new in the late 1990s.

The loss of the ESPN club definitely creates a void. Even with more and more sports bars opening at Walt Disney World, they are almost exclusively at Disney Springs. While most people spend a lot of time watching sports on vacation, some do. (Especially those who book vacation months in advance, and their team makes a surprise run to or during the playoffs. This happens a lot!)

ESPN Club was a good option within walking distance of EPCOT or Disney’s Hollywood Studios that had minimal impact on the rest of the family’s vacation. While not a big loss for me personally, I still think it would have made a lot more sense to replace Big River Grille & Brewing Works. But who knows what the status of the contract with a third party is.

During construction, all other Disney’s BoardWalk Inn locations will remain open. This includes the inventively named BoardWalk Ice Cream. (Hey, at least it’s better than “BoardWalk Ice Cream: An Edy’s Eating EXPERIENCE! ~ at Disney’s BoardWalk Resort.”)

I scoffed at BoardWalk Ice Cream (only because I still miss Ample Hills), but I have Disney to thank – they replaced the temporary signage with beautiful, dimensional one. I don’t know when it happened, but it’s nothing new. I noticed this a few months ago and had nowhere to mention it until now. Didn’t seem worthy of his own position. Also to Disney’s credit, at least this place isn’t empty. (The fall of Ample Hills was not Disney’s fault.)

Construction crews quickly removed all thematic details and ESPN elements from the former club. The first photos were taken on Friday morning, and it was only a few hours later. The walls were erected and work began only the day before.

Since Disney owns ESPN, the fast pace might have to do with brand integrity. Even though the location has been closed for 2 years, the company wants as few average guests as possible to see an ESPN venue shut down and be torn down, essentially.

Two doors down, BoardWalk Bakery is still operating normally.

It will be interesting to see what Actually arrives with BoardWalk Bakery. We’ve been saying for years that luxury hotels in the Crescent Lake area need better counter-service dining options. The newly redone markets at the Yacht & Beach Club are improvements, but really only half measures.

Our hope was that BoardWalk Bakery would be similar in this respect – a flawed solution, but still an upgrade from what currently exists.

However, given that it’s currently still operational and based on the announced changes, it doesn’t look like it will have anything other than a modified menu and a new name. Considering the space constraints and layout alone, this is understandable to some degree. Maybe it’s time for Disney to build BoardWalk, a dedicated counter-service restaurant somewhere else?

There’s also a ton of minor construction going on all around the BoardWalk.

Crews were repainting the railing, AbracadaBar was doing work around it, and more. There’s no reason to believe it’s all about reinvention – it all seemed like routine.

Inside Disney’s BoardWalk Inn, work has yet to begin on the lobby.

Every time we’ve been to the Crescent Lake area lately, I’ve popped into the lobby for one last “just in case” look. I have no idea when work will start here, and I’m hoping notice will be given. From my point of view, it is useless. The BoardWalk lobby is a themed gem with quirky charm and character. Upgrade rooms to appease normal guests, but leave that alone. No matter what Disney is doing here, there’s no way it’s got the same personality.

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

For several months, work has been underway on the facades of the Yacht Club buildings. It’s finally over and we moved on to the iconic lighthouse.

The lighthouse is now behind scaffolding for a similar refresh.

It’s great to see this happening. The exterior of the Yacht Club looks much better, which we really noticed when looking at the progress section by section earlier this year – the completed areas have been a huge improvement. While it’s not something you might actively notice just walking along the boardwalk, it does make a difference overall. Always nice to see Disney do this type of restoration work!

Ultimately, it will be interesting to see how work progresses around the boardwalk and inside the hotel over the next year. We are big fans of Disney’s BoardWalk Inn and hope that its quaint style will be preserved through this reimagining and that whatever modernization it takes won’t be too shocking from a period perspective.

However, we also realize there is plenty of room for improvement, with many spaces that have been stagnant for years and could use a nudge in the arm. It will be nice to see some new food options, and hopefully some more get refreshed. Overall, I’m cautiously optimistic about changes to BoardWalk. Hopefully Imagineering uses a deft touch to bring BoardWalk into the 21st century while retaining its (latest) turn-of-the-century personality.

Planning a trip to Walt Disney World? Learn more about the hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotel Reviews page. To find out where to eat, read our Walt Disney World restaurant reviews. To save money on tickets or figure out which type to buy, read our tips for saving money on Walt Disney World tickets. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips article takes a unique look at smart on-the-go items. To know what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride guides will help you. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Travel Planning Guide for everything you need to know!


What are your thoughts on the construction and upcoming changes at Disney’s BoardWalk Resort? Sad to see ESPN Club axed, or ready for something new? Do you think this reimagining will work with the theme of the hotel, or is it unnecessary? Have you stayed at BoardWalk Inns or Villas in recent years? Do you think the station is old fashioned and tired, or still looks good? Think the lobby, rooms, or both need updating? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Any other thoughts or concerns? Questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback – even when you disagree with us – is both interesting for us and helpful for other readers, so share your thoughts below in the comments!