Disney Springs vs Disney Boardwalk: Is There a Difference?

Walt Disney World has some fantastic shopping, dining, and entertainment destinations, including Disney Springs and Disney Boardwalk. What is the difference between the two? Which one is better? Are Disney Springs and Disney Boardwalk the same?

Disney Springs and Disney Boardwalk are not the same. The former is a large dining, entertainment, and shopping destination. The latter is a more intimate area with a limited selection of dining and live entertainment options. Think of Disney Springs as a promenade mall with a bunch of restaurants and entertainment activities and of Disney’s Boardwalk as a charming resort boardwalk with water frontage.

Continue reading to learn more about Disney Springs and Disney Boardwalk, including the entertainment highlights and dining options at both.

What is Disney Springs?

What used to be Downtown Disney underwent a name change a few years ago and is now called Disney Springs. It has a wide variety of entertainment, dining, and shopping. Disney Springs is large enough that you can spend an entire day here. There are massive chain stores, specialty shops and boutiques, and more, including the largest World of Disney store. If you want to pick up a Disney souvenir, Disney Springs is where you’ll get the widest choice.

What is Disney Boardwalk?

Like Disney Springs, Disney Boardwalk is an area that has restaurants, shops, and live entertainment. It is located in the Epcot area and is close to Disney’s Boardwalk Inn. Disney’s Swan and Dolphin Hotels and Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts are also in the vicinity.

Is Disney Springs the same as Disney Boardwalk?

They are not the same. However, both offer plenty of restaurants, shopping, and activities. Also, both have free admission. If you are in Orlando for a longer trip, it is well worth your while going to both Disney Springs and Disney’s Boardwalk on different days of your vacation. However, if you’re only in town for a handful of days, then it depends on what you’re looking for. A quiet, romantic dinner for mom and dad? A fine dining restaurant at Disney’s Boardwalk will make for an intimate setting. Fun for the whole family? Disney Springs will give you more choices for both kids and adults.

Is Disney Boardwalk free? Can anyone go to Disney Boardwalk?

It is free to walk around in Disney’s Boardwalk. There is no admission fee. Anyone can go – you do not have to be a guest at any of Disney’s resort hotels to access the Boardwalk. You don’t need a park ticket or Magic Band and you are under no obligation to purchase anything or eat at any of the restaurants.

Is Disney Boardwalk worth visiting?

Disney’s Boardwalk is absolutely amazing and definitely worth a visit. It’s a nice smaller area to walk around, especially when it’s cooler in the evenings. You’ll have fewer choices in terms of dining and entertainment and shopping, but the Boardwalk does have a charm that is unparalleled.

Which has more restaurants: Disney Springs or Disney Boardwalk?

Dining at Disney’s Boardwalk includes American fast food (pizza, hot dogs, cheeseburgers), an Italian trattoria, a bakery, and a funnel cake cart.

Disney Springs has more restaurants. In fact, there are more than 60 dining venues at Disney Springs, ranging from waterfront dining at The Boathouse to fine dining at Morimoto Asia. There’s an Irish pub, the Earl of Sandwich, Paddlefish for seafood, and the Rainforest Café where you can dine amidst the sounds of the Amazonian rainforest. Besides sit-down restaurants, there are many quick-service restaurants, food trucks, and kiosks scattered throughout the complex.

Which has more entertainment?

Entertainment at Disney’s Boardwalk includes an arcade, carnival games, and street performers in the evening. Guests age 21+ can head to the Atlantic Dance Hall for 80s and 90s music. The ESPN Club is perfect if there’s a game on TV. Surrey Bike Rentals give guests a unique way to explore the Boardwalk.

Entertainment at Disney Springs has more variety and includes AMC theaters, a bowling alley, living statues, an open-air venue with nightly live performances, an NBA experience, virtual reality experiences, Aerophiles balloon flights, a Cirque du Soleil show, the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, and carousal and train rides for small children, among others.

Shopping at Disney Springs vs Disney Boardwalk: Which is better?

Shopping at Disney Boardwalk includes stores selling everything from fine art to character apparel for kids, souvenirs, housewares, jewelry, and specialty Boardwalk Resort merchandise.

If you’re going to Disney Springs, keep your credit card handy. There are over 100 stores here, including The Lego Store and The World of Disney. You can browse everything from natural bath and body products to pearls, feel like a kid in a candy store or a fashionista in a trendy apparel store.

Which is more convenient to get to: Disney Springs or Disney Boardwalk?

It depends on where you are and where you’re going. For guests at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn, Swan and Dolphin Resorts, and Yacht and Beach Club, the Boardwalk is a short walk away. The Boardwalk is also walking distance from both Hollywood Studios and Epcot. And if your feet are killing you after a whole day at these two theme parks, friendship boats take guests from Hollywood Studios and Epcot to the Boardwalk. Note that parking at the Boardwalk can be iffy because it’s very limited. So, if you’re not staying at one of the nearby resorts, then it might be easier to use Disney transportation or Uber it.

Disney Springs is not close to any of the theme parks, but it is universally accessible to all the parks. If you have your own car, you can drive to Disney Springs – there is plenty of free parking available. Or there are the Disney transportation buses. Besides buses, guests staying at Saratoga Springs, Old Key West, and Disney’s Port Orleans resorts can take a boat to Disney Springs.

How far is Disney Boardwalk from Disney Springs?

If you’re at the Boardwalk, you can head over to Disney’s Boardwalk Inn, which is walking distance. There is a complimentary bus service from this resort to Disney Springs. The trip from Disney’s Boardwalk Inn to Disney Springs typically takes 30 minutes (the bus stops to pick up guests from other resorts in the area including the Swan and Dolphin and the Yacht and Beach Club). The buses are available throughout the day and typically run up to one hour past Disney Springs closing time.

If you’re looking for a quicker way to get from Disney Boardwalk to Disney Springs, consider using the Minnie Van Service, which can be accessed via the Lyft app. It’s a great option for quick trips to the theme parks, Disney Springs, or any of the resort hotels if you have dining reservations. The nominal fee is well worth it, in our opinion, given that it’s so convenient and saves so much time.

The bottom line: Which one is better: Disney Springs or Disney Boardwalk?

Disney Springs is by far the larger of the two destinations. If you are a party of mixed ages, then we would suggest head over to Disney Springs – there is bound to be something here to keep folks in every age group entertained.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a smaller area to browse some lovely stores and enjoy a relaxed meal with live entertainment, then Disney’s Boardwalk is ideal. If you’re staying in one of the nearby resorts, you can simply walk over in the evenings.

Of course, if you’re in Orlando for a longer vacation, it is well worth going to both Disney Springs and Disney’s Boardwalk, as each has something special to offer.

Dustin Baier

Hey, I'm Dustin a Dad of 4 and married to Sweet Pea Chef for over 15 years now :) We got engaged at the Disneyland Hotel way back when and love a vacation at Disney World, Universal Studios, really anywhere with theme parks!

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