If Disney's Grand Floridian is a 5-star resort, Boardwalk is a 4-star. The lobby décor / ambience / atmosphere is out of a fairy tale and the boardwalk itself is a great replica of the East Coast shore. Our trip was during spring break and with two kids (ages nine and eight). During this trip we stayed at a Universal Studios property (Loews Royal Pacific) and the Disney experience is far superior: absolutely will return to Disney and not likely to return to Universal/Loews.
Location is ideal with a short walk to Epcot, boat to Hollywood Studios and prompt bus service to rest of WDW (buses seem to be more frequent than those at less expensive Disney resorts). It is easy to be at any of the parks at opening, return to the pool without wasting time on a bus or in a car, clean up before dinner, and quickly get to some of the nicer restaurants in the area (Flying Fish is by far one of the best fish restaurants in WDW).
Service standards are always the among highest in the hospitality industry. At arrival, a cast member greeted the children by name and escorted us to a seating area in the lobby (**use on-line check-in**). While seated on a couch (no line/no waiting), the cast member gave us a folder with room keys, assorted maps and other information about the boardwalk area. The cast member entertained our kids while a concierge assisted us with ticket concerns. Since the ticket concerns took several minutes to resolve, the concierge gave us a pass to skip to the front of the line at any ride and apologized repeatedly for the inconvenience. Always communicate concerns/problems.
Amusements for younger kids include a good pool (small water slide the kids love) and entertainers on the boardwalk (juggling, card tricks, etc) provide a great alternative to the parks after running hard all day.
Extra Magic Hours. Disney hotel guests are admitted to the parks an hour before the general public. During the busy seasons, it's the difference between accomplishing everything you want in a park during one day or having to return a second day because most of your time is spent waiting in lines.
No kid's club (Beach Club resort is across the lake, just a nice, and has a kids club).
Rooms showing signs of age. Rooms are not as spacious as a 5-star hotel but lay out is functional, bed/couch is comfortable, and very clean (even in bathroom corners and grout). That being said, the volume of guests is taking its toll on woodwork/doors and will need more than just fresh paint in the near future.
In short, Disney has calculated the cost of happiness and it is expensive (I would not spend $500/night to go to WDW at any resort). If you do your homework, plan everything in advance, and make the most of every minute, it will be worth it. Having averaged a week at a Disney resort every other year for the past ten years, our experience has been consistently favorable with any issues (inevitable at a 500-room hotel) dealt with quickly and favorably.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC