Welcome to those of you joining me from A Glass Slipper Vacation and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the 4th stop on our Magical Blogorail.
Researchers say that the human sense tied most closely to memory is smell. Scents have meaning for us, transporting us to places in the past, tying us to people, and, perhaps most importantly, evoking emotion. Yet our sense of smell is often the one most neglected; it is far harder to capture the scents that trigger memory and to re-create them. And it is because of that we find smells so thrilling. Talk to riders coming out of Epcot’s Soarin’, and the orange groves and pines will be one of the first things they mention.
Since scents are so important to us, they offer a powerful way to reach out to guests, a way to take us to a place that isn’t so easily accessible through sights or sounds, a place far more emotional than logical. They represent an integral way of transporting guests to the place that Disney parks most want them to go: home.
Disney cast members from ticket booths to resorts welcome guests “home,” but nothing triggers the deep, instinctual sense of comfort that evokes home like the scent of fresh baked goods. Somehow “bakery” says “home” in a visceral, well, Disney way. Imagineers knew that when they pumped chemically created cookie scent onto Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom, and they knew it when they sprinkled baked goods shops around Walt Disney World property. Baked goods mean comfort, well being, and when you’re on vacation, the calories don’t count…right?
Disney bakeries are a beloved part of the Disney dining experience, and although I’ve honestly never found their wares to live up to the promises made by their scents and my imagination, many guests don’t consider their vacation a success until they’ve visited their favorite pastry purveyor.
That allure can, however, be a double-edged sword. The smell that says “home,” coupled with dazzling displays of diabetes-triggering treats, can tend to attract guests in droves. Main Street bakery at the Magic Kingdom frequently requires an extensive wait near park opening, and the Starring Rolls bakery at Hollywood Studios often has a line stretching out its doors into the Florida sun. Those establishments, while busy, have lovely offerings, but for guests wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle of the parks, the Boardwalk Bakery offers a few special treats.
Nestled neatly between Epcot and Hollywood Studios, the Boardwalk resort is a favorite of many guests. After dark, the traditional wooden “boardwalk” comes to life, offering one of Walt Disney World’s few remaining night entertainment spots with great dining, live performers doing their acts, Jellyrolls piano bar, and the Atlantic Dance Hall. During the daylight hours, however, the boardwalk is quiet, largely populated by sparrows and a few guests renting bicycles to ride the circuit around the Epcot resort lake.
In the middle of that quiet space is the Boardwalk Bakery, quietly sporting a golden sheaf of wheat over its glass-plated door. A peek through the large glass window provides a glimpse of the kitchen at work, and cast members are often visible frosting cakes with cool expertise or mixing dough in industrial sized machines usually reserved for Food Network specials. With that preview, the sight that greets guests coming through the main door is unexpected. The Boardwalk bakery is not intended for large crowds or long lines. Inside the door is space for no more than 10 guests…if those guests didn’t mind being very friendly.
But the bakery’s businesslike atmosphere adds to its charm; it’s a bakery…and it focuses on exactly what it advertises.
In the rounded glass cases facing customers, the Boardwalk Bakery offers a variety of sandwiches as well as baked goodies. The sandwiches are hearty offerings on fresh baked bread such as a Turkey, Bacon and Swiss Sandwich on multigrain bread and a wonderful Tomato Mozzarella Sandwich on Focaccia bread. Those offerings provide guests with an offbeat chance for a quick lunch or snack that’s a little different from typical counter service.
But, of course, most people come for the sweets, and sweets the Boardwalk Bakery offers. In addition to a variety of cheesecakes and pies, the Boardwalk Bakery offers an impressive collection of cupcakes. In addition to regular favorites (chocolate, vanilla, oreo cookie), the bakery offers a frequently-changed specialty cupcake that may be anything from S’mores-themed to chocolate covered strawberry. The bakery packages those cupcakes in neat, hard-plastic clamshell cases that are, in my opinion, far superior to the paper-plate delivery common at other bakeries. Instead of having to eat the treat in its entirety immediately, the Boardwalk Bakery packaging allows guests to carry the cupcake with them…and eat it at their leisure.
Although a little off the beaten path, the Boardwalk Bakery remains my favorite of the Walt Disney World bakeries. Its hustle and bustle evokes a different sense of “home” – perhaps not as elegant or as methodically charming as its counterparts in the parks, but a sense of simple workmanship and service that wafts out its door and onto the boardwalk and encourages guests to just follow their noses.
Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is Focused on the Magic
Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard: