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It was a quintessential Atlantic shoreline moment: The sun was setting, and the boardwalk was coming to life.

Kids ran into an ice cream parlor as music and laughter wafted out the open door of a dueling piano bar. A juggler plied his trade near a row of shops, as a carnival barker tempted passers-by with games of chance. Lights strung from street lamps began to blink on, illumination a now-bustling nightlife along this quaint boardwalk.

Only this wasn’t the Jersey shore. It was Walt Disney World’s Boardwalk Resort — one of 32 resorts throughout the vacation kingdom’s 47-square-mile property. Still think of Walt Disney World as some theme parks and a few characters? Maybe a few years ago, but resort expansion that began in the 1990s has created an entirely new way of spending a vacation in central Florida.
With 31,000 guest rooms and 784 camp sites, there is an almost limitless roster of activities to keep visitors busy — all the while never setting foot in a theme park. Disney divides its resorts into three categories: Value, moderate and deluxe — each reflecting different levels of quality and convenience.