The Boardwalk Ballyhoo Tour at Boardwalk Inn & Villas is a new offering in Walt Disney World Resort Tours. We read about it on allears.net (here), when we took the tour it was still in “test mode;” in fact, we took the fifth test tour.
There were fifteen guests for this free tour and two tour guides, Tiffany & Bill. We met in the Belle Vue Room at 2:00 to start the tour…
WARNING – THERE ARE A LOT OF SPOILERS IN THIS BLOG POST – WARNING
WARNING – THERE’S A LOT OF LEARNING IN THIS BLOG POST – WARNING
The guides started by saying “Ballyhoo!” and asking if any of us knew what it meant… According to Tiffany, in the 1920s ballyhoo meant a loud commotion and was used as an exclamation to get attention. According to wikipedia, ballyhoo is a kind of bait fish (oh well). According to my dictionary, ballyhoo is an extravagant publicity or fuss, and praising or publicizing extravagantly.
The next question, “anyone know what families did for entertainment in the 1920s?” Nora said “boardgames” (without thinking about where we were standing) – she was right! The theming of the Belle Vue Room is boardgames and radios – these were the two most popular at home entertainments during the 1920s.
And now the primary design influence was introduced… The Boardwalks of the 1920s (specifically Atlantic City, New Jersey and Coney Island, New Jersey).
As you leave the Belle Vue Room and head towards the Lobby, you pass though a hallway that contains some standing games and two large paintings (it also contains two restrooms, with great wallpaper by the way). The paintings (done by architect Robert Stern) are the IDEAL of how the Boardwalk looked in the 1920s. Robert Stern (a renowned architect of hotels) designed three resort hotels at Walt Disney World (the Boardwalk Inn & Villas and the Yacht and Beach Club [two resort hotels connected to each other]), two resort hotels in Disneyland Paris (the Hotel Cheyenne and Disney’s Newport Bay Club), and one resort hotel in Tokyo Disney Resort (the Disney Ambassador Hotel); AND he created the master plan for Celebration, Florida and Celebration Hospital. Wow!
The large “electrilier” (a term from Thomas Edison, meaning an electric ceiling fixture as opposed to a candle based ceiling fixture called a “chandelier”) in the entrance foyer has four hippocampus (half horse, half sea creature -wiki, it’s also the name of a very important brain structure – wiki). It was installed on January 4, 1996, it is covered with 14K gold leaf, it weighs 3000 pounds, and the glass baubles are from Austria.
The carousel model is from the 1800s. In 1995 Disney bought it and restored it. It plays every hour and lights up!
There are three rounding boards above the Registration area. Rounding boards are the decorative boards that are placed on the upper portion of the outside of the carousel, below the canopy, and often carved and brightly painted. The rounding boards hide the mechanical workings of the carousel. (more Carousel History & Terms). The ones at Boardwalk Inn & Villas aren’t actual rounding boards, they’re reproductions created for the resort. Each one contains the image of a different Disney Castle, left to right: Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland, Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland Paris, and “our castle” Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.
The opposite side of the lobby has some nice seating areas and quite a bit of Boardwalk history.
There is a model of the Flip Flap Railway from Coney Island, an all wooden roller-coaster, 1920s era, and the first to have a complete inversion.
There is a model of Lucy over the fireplace, she’s the resident elephant. The original Lucy is still in New Jersey, Hurricane Sandy did not destroy it.
And the last item…. dum dum dum! The weird scary chairs – if they hadn’t told us what these were, nick was going to make sure that he found out! They’re Nanny Chairs, the idea is that nannies or other ladies accompanying small children would sit in them to wait for the children to enjoy their ride. The two at the Boardwalk Inn and Villas have names! Paul and Todd… they’re just creepy.
As we walked down the hall to the elevators, Tiffany pointed out the carpeting… Hidden Mickeys and “hidden” Tinkerbells.
We took the elevators downstairs and headed out to Luna Park Pool, first passing by “Muscles and Bustles” health club (the name reflects the idea of the strongman and strongwoman sideshows).
The Luna Park Pool gets its name from the original Luna Park in Coney Island, New Jersey (wiki), in the 1920s it was one of the most popular parks – especially popular was the “Fly Me to the Moon” (couldn’t find more detail on the internet).
Why are there elephants around the pool? Because elephants used to be taken to the beach to drum up business, as an attraction; they’d actually swim in the Atlantic ocean!
So, we’re seen the Scary Nanny Chairs, now it’s time for the Scary Clown Slide! The Kiester Coaster slide dumps you into the pool, shooting you through a scary clown mouth.
Finally in the pool area, we have Leaping Libations (the pool bar!)… Why Leaping Libations? Well, of course libations refers to drinks, but its really referring to Atlantic City’s very popular show on Steel Pier – horses would dive into a pool of water, with a rider, sometimes from as high as 60 feet (wow!) and contrary to what we were told, the horses dove into a pool, not into a smaller container of water (wiki).
Next, we went out onto the boardwalk. Did you know that the large green space in the back is intentional? People used to meet up at “the green” so it is a critical design feature. In the 1920s, the boardwalks provided shopping, entertainment, and dining – the Boardwalk Inn & Villas at Walt Disney World do the same (here Tiffany went through a list of these options along the boardwalk).
If you’re standing on the boardwalk facing the hotel, you have the Disney Vacation Club Villas to your right, they are styled after Coney Island, and on your left you have the Boardwalk Inn, it is styled as a beachy hotel.
Last stop was Seashore Sweets. The theming in here is very much Miss America Pageant. The Miss America Pageant was held in Atlantic City from 1921 to 2007, and there are photos of all the Miss Americas during that period.
We noted that there was a single portrait with two year… 1922-23. Mary Catherine Campbel won the pageant twice – the only woman to do so (here).
Also, there were no photos from 1928 to 1932… we thought that maybe it was because of the Great Depression… wrong, there was no pageant those years because of popular pressure.
Finally at 2:30, we received a small sample of vanilla ice cream and it was good!