Do you know why the ESPN Club on Disney’s BoardWalk is shaped like an octagon? Do you know where the hidden Tinker Bell is near the elevators of Disney’s BoardWalk Villas? By taking the free BoardWalk Ballyhoo Guided Tour, you will learn these and many more interesting details about Disney’s BoardWalk Inn and Villas resort area.
Before describing the experience that my wife and I had on the tour, here are the tour basics:
What does the tour entail? The tour covers many of the design choices that the Imagineers made when constructing Disney’s BoardWalk Resort area. The walking, informational tour begins at the Bellevue Lounge, continues through the main floor of Disney’s BoardWalk Inn, and eventually ends up on the boardwalk outside of the Boardwalk Bakery.
When? Wednesday through Saturday at 9:00 AM. Disney recommends that you arrive at 8:45 AM.
Where? The tour begins at the Bellevue Lounge of Disney’s Boardwalk Inn and Villas. If you are entering through the main entrance from the parking lot, just head to the right.
How long is the tour? Approximately 45 minutes.
Price? Free. There’s also no signup or reservation necessary – just show up!
Who can go on the tour? Everyone. There are no age restrictions, and you do not need to be staying at a resort.
My wife, Kelly, and I arrived at the Bellevue Lounge at 8:40 AM. The lounge is comfortable, quiet, and as it turns out, delicious. A friendly cast member sells baked goods from the BoardWalk Bakery along with a variety of coffees. It seemed no coincidence that Disney would start this free tour by tempting its guests with baked goods to purchase at the beginning and end of the tour (we ended outside the bakery).
Our tour guide was Tyler, who was a native North Easterner excited to share the BoardWalk’s connection to his hometown region. Kelly and I were his only tourgoers, and all indications were that guests rarely took the tour. Tyler explained that a “ballyhoo” was usually a grand publicity stunt to attract costumers. Ironically, there was no “ballyhoo” for this tour, as there was not even a sign for the tour in the lounge. This lack of publicity probably explains the tour’s lack of guests.
We started touring in the lounge itself. Tyler explained the different decorative choices made for this space, including the original board games and antique radios along the walls that would have been popular during Atlantic City’s heyday. Tyler had a nice energy and kept the tour moving swiftly from place to place. One of the spots we were to examine was right next to the coffee area, so guests were literally ducking out of our line of sight to avoid interrupting our tour.
A good Disney tour guide causes me to closely look at details that I’d otherwise walk past, such as framed postcards and an antique phone. I could tell that Tyler was a Disney geek at heart and was excited to share Walt Disney World mythologies and complex explanations for the presence of those details.
Tyler walked us through the beautiful lobby and explained the inclusion of each large showpiece as well as some smaller design choices. We snapped some pictures of the Hippocampus Electrolier and the creepy nanny chairs by the fireplace while Tyler talked to us about their histories.
Each spot on tour included some cool “Aha!” moments that kept us interested. We looked at details around the pool area, on the BoardWalk itself, and we toured the Flying Fish-BoardWalk Bakery-Kouzzina passthrough. The tour felt a little front-loaded, as those moments of epiphany got more spread out by the end. Kouzzina looked great as always, but we learned little more than a general description of the restaurant.
Kelly and I honeymooned at the Boardwalk Inn and have visited several times since then. We love to walk around the grounds, and we appreciate all of the decorative nuances of the resort. The tour gave us a fuller appreciation of those details that we talk about often, as well as those we never gave a second look.
In terms of value, the Boardwalk Ballyhoo Guided Tour can’t be beat! It’s free, informative, short, and fun. If you’re thinking about taking a Walt Disney World tour and you’re not sure that you’ll be into geeky Imagineering details or that your child will be able to handle a long walking tour, consider the BoardWalk Ballyhoo Guided Tour as your introductory experience for those reasons.
Please welcome Scott Morgan to the TouringPlans blog team. Scott lives in Winter Haven, FL, and is back in the fold after his stint on the fact check team for the 2013 Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World.