First, you might want to check out Part 1: The Animal Kingdom
The day after we went to the Animal Kingdom we enjoyed a rather relaxing morning at our resort. We tried our best to sleep in (which meant sleeping until around 7:30 a.m.), and later had a big breakfast with the whole family. Then we relaxed by the pool and lazy river for the rest of the morning. I highly recommend having some downtime if you’re going to Disney with small children. If you try going to the different Disney parks all day long, day after day, you’re asking for trouble. Your kids will undoubtedly be miserable, which will in turn cause you to be miserable. So, do everyone a favor and schedule some relaxation time by the pool.
After lunch Ashley dropped her dad and brother off at a golf course nearby so that we still had the van in case we decided to go anywhere later. That turned out to be a great decision, because after Charlotte’s nap we decided to head to Disney’s Boardwalk. Ashley had studied her Disney guide thoroughly and read about a great ice cream parlor there. That was our primary basis for going, but it turned out to be my favorite place in all of Disney.
The Boardwalk Inn was less than two miles from our Wyndham Resort. Ashley had read that the boardwalk area is a bit of an undiscovered gem within the sprawling Disney landscape. It is home to resort hotels, shopping, restaurants, and entertainment. Disney Springs, a couple miles down the road, has far more options for eating, drinking, shopping, and entertainment. As a result, that area attracts far more tourists.
When we first arrived we entered through the Boardwalk Inn. The grand hotel was elegant and stately. It had an early 20th century feel to it with striped awnings and a colorful façade, like we were in old time Atlantic City. The large lobby inside was impressive. There were horses from a carousel hanging above a circular sofa. It also had an intricate ceiling, sophisticated furniture, and plenty of molding throughout. There was a scale model of a roller coaster reminiscent of Coney Island. The interior of the lobby and the hotel in general seemed to be perfectly clean.
After looking around for a couple minutes we found an elevator to take us down to the boardwalk level and then we headed outside. It was like a whole other world behind the hotel. The boardwalk itself was extremely wide and spanned about a quarter mile beside Crescent Lake. The buildings were connected and maintained the early 1900’s Atlantic City theme. There were several restaurants, shops, and more. The enormous Atlantic Dance Hall is on one end of the boardwalk. The ESPN Club, a huge restaurant and sports bar, is at the opposite end. Jellyrolls, a dueling piano bar, and several other restaurants and shops line the boardwalk in between them.
We stuck to our initial plan and made our way to Ample Hills Creamery. There were some very unique flavors of ice cream there. I went with the Chocolate Milk and Cookies option. It was amazing. Ashley and her mom loved their ice cream choices, too. I wanted to go back for more.
We ate our ice cream outside and then strolled along the boardwalk for a bit. There were some carnival games set up and street performers attracting small crowds. We noticed a beach on the other side of the small lake and decided to make our way over there. Noah and Charlotte love beaches and this was the first time we had seen any sand on our trip.
We made our way past the ESPN Club, crossed over a short bridge, and before we knew it, we arrived at the beach in front of Disney’s Beach Club Resort. I’m not sure if beach access is normally restricted to people staying at the resort, but it wasn’t the case when we were there. But, it was late afternoon and there were only a handful of people on the beach. There was a fence at the lakeshore to show that the water was off limits (probably since a child was killed by an alligator at a different Disney resort last year). Fence or no fence, I watched our kids like a hawk on that beach at kept them far from the water’s edge.
The atmosphere at the beach was utterly sublime. The sand was soft and it was the perfect temperature as the sun began to drop toward the horizon. Ashley and I sat on a swinging bench and our children played in the sand with cups and spoons my mother-in-law grabbed from the nearby bar.
We stayed there a while. It was so peaceful. Our kids were happy as could be and we didn’t have a care in the world. Noah even said “I want to stay here forever.” It was adorable.
Once the sun went down we noticed there was a small area farther down the beach with a fire pit surrounded by benches. I’m pretty sure this was another perk for people staying at the resort, but there were only a few people there at sunset, so they happily welcomed us. The Disney Resort employees gave us marshmallows and long sticks. We roasted marshmallows at the fire until Ashley’s dad and brother met arrived.
Then Disney’s Beach Club Resort (where we weren’t staying) continued to treat our kids like guests. They were allowed to go into the hotel’s incredible pool area. The pools were surrounded by sand, which actually formed the bottom of the pool. There was an abundance of pales and shovels available for children. Noah and Charlotte loved playing in the sand there.
After a little while we walked along the opposite side of the lake and made our way back to the boardwalk. I returned to the best ice cream parlor in the world (Ample Hills Creamery) to get a milkshake for the kids to share. Then we headed back to the condos at our own resort for a late dinner.
The following day we went to Disney Springs. The busy area is kind of like the boardwalk area except that it is much larger, way more crowded, and far less charming. There are a lot of restaurants, stores, bars, Cirque du Soleil, a small indoor theme park, and much more. We walked around in the largest World of Disney store I’ve ever seen. We also passed through a big Lego Store. Noah played with Legos for a couple minutes before moving on. The kids picked out little dinosaur toys at the T-Rex Café, but the robot T-Rex was loud enough to make Noah want to get out of there in a hurry. We walked around for a bit before having a delicious lunch at the House of Blues. I would recommend eating there. We didn’t have too many tasty meals on our vacation, but that was a good one. After lunch we returned to our resort to relax by the pools and in the lazy rivers.
I liked Disney’s Boardwalk much more than Disney Springs. I appreciated the quiet and more relaxed atmosphere. Disney Springs was pretty nice, though. I liked it much more than the Outlet Mall we visited the next day.