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Sunday Brunch

Sunday Brunch: BoardWalk Bakery Problems Solved!

by Reuben Gutierrez

28 April 2013

Author's Note: As a former Board Walk Bakery cast member, there are hundreds of things to be excited about with the new Bakery expansion. To fairly address all topics for discussion, this article has been split into two parts, with part one for you to enjoy here!

Opening with the resort on July 1, 1996, the Board Walk Bakery has an ever changing history, which while not necessarily recorded for all of posterity, carried on through the memories of its cast and frequent guests. As some of you may remember, I had done my college program at the Board Walk Bakery, part of the BoardWalk resort, themed to 1920's seaside escapes of the New Jersey shore such as Atlantic City and Ocean City. I always thought Disney's Casting team was clever in my placement as I was on the program as a pastry student from Atlantic City's culinary academy. During my program, I had the pleasure to mostly serve, and at times bake the delicious treats, but I also got the chance to meet some great people and learn about the dozens of changes the bakery has seen over the years.

Baker Reuben
Here I am representing the real Atlantic City

Over time, the pastry chefs in charge change and move from place to place, each adding their own specific tastes and niches to the menu. In addition to chef's personal tastes, other social matters such as the food, diet, and health concerns of the new millennium caused things like Board Walk's infamous doughnuts to fade away with time. The food though is not the only thing to change with the bakery.

This past Friday, April 26th, 2013, the Board Walk Bakery reopened after an expansive, major, and much needed renovation. The original Board Walk Bakery was primarily a kitchen, creating desserts and baked goods for the restaurants on Disney's BoardWalk and the guests staying at the BoardWalk Inn. A small corner of the bakery was devoted to retail space in which bakery items were displayed and sold for guests with barely enough room for at most three or four families. Though inefficient and compressed for Disney standards, this worked well in matching the theme of a bakery storefront on the shoreline in a time when vacation crowds were not nearly as large as they are today. As people, times, and attitudes change, unfortunately theme was sacrificed in order to better accommodate the Walt Disney World guests. Now, the bakery has been enhanced by creating a new kitchen in the space previously occupied by one half of the neighboring Arcade and reimagining the original bakery to expand the guest accessible retail area threefold.

The original Boardwalk Bakery
The original Board Walk Bakery, compared to the new one below

New Boardwalk Bakery
Notice there are now two entrances to the bakery

The new, left side entrance to the bakery takes guests to now a long winding queue one would expect to find for a theme park attraction. What was once the entire bakery kitchen is now the queue and a brand new, enormous retail display case. The new queue and just merely having space for one helps a lot with controlling crowds as the bakery often had a line out the door, sometimes blocking the walkway. The out-the-door line was often deceptive since there wasn't much room inside to begin with, so now less guests will be turned off by the apparent crowd. The new display case fixes several things as well. With the longer counter, more cast members can assist guests at one time and more food options are made available. We'll get into the new food next week, but for now, I'd like to conclude with a moment to appreciate the efficiency the new entrance, queue, and counter create.

New Boardwalk Bakery

New Boardwalk Bakery Disney

The second entrance on the right is the original entrance to the bakery. This serves as an exit from the long queue and registers and also as (a blatantly marked) an entrance to the soda fountain for the resort refillable mug. While it used to be a main entrance, it's reassignment as an exit and entrance for the new soda fountain helps with the flow of guest traffic going in and out of the bakery.

Boardwalk Bakery Disney

Boardwalk Bakery Disney New

The new 'Bakery Fountain' fixes a lot of problems the bakery and the entire resort had with the refillable mugs. The Board Walk resort was conclusively the worst of the Disney Deluxe resort hotels in providing a functional Quick Service restaurant location (there essentially wasn't one) and maximizing the guest's use of the refillable resort mug. While the majority of the resorts featured a walk-up soda fountain guests could use at their leisure (e.g. the Contempo Caf' has a large seating area with multiple soda fountains), the Board Walk never had such a feature. Guests could only refill their mugs themselves from the self-serve coffee dispenser at Board Walk Joe's coffee stand across the way. Otherwise, they received 'refill' by receiving a standard Disney paper soda cup of their choice of beverage from a variety of locations (such as the bakery) in the resort, thereby completely negating the purpose and convenience of a refillable mug. I usually directed guests across Crescent Lake to use the self-serve soda fountain at the Beach Club's Marketplace. On top of that, the bakery had a limited hot and cold beverage selection and no non-bottled iced or sweet iced tea (which can be argued was thematic, as iced tea is not quite as popular up North as it is down South). We eventually did get freshly brewed iced tea a few months after I started working there. Finally, with the bakery expansion, the beautiful, new, inspiring, and guest self-serve soda and beverage fountain includes all these things and more.

Boardwalk Bakery
More choices and multiple fountains will surely please guests with more selection and efficiency

Boardwalk Bakery
Four Flavors of Iced Tea! As well as Hot Chocolate and Coffee

While the expansion has brought in many fixes to the bakery, there are also a few losses. As with any small, quaint, endearing establishment, the very purpose of an expansion causes all those qualities to disappear. For one thing, one of the best parts of the old BoardWalk Bakery was its intimate setting of the bakery kitchen in such proximity to the guest. When I worked as pastry cook, it was fantastic to be close to the guests in such a way that they could see, hear, smell, and interact with everything around me. As a cast member, it was great to chat with the pastry cooks and be able to directly link them to the guests and the food we were serving. The new bakery kitchen is in a completely separate space. While still connected to the new retail space, it is out of view when inside. Luckily, large windows allow guests strolling on the Board Walk to peer in and see the bakers at work, though it is quite a difference between the excitement of interacting with the bakers in the old bakery and the walk-by bakers exhibit.

Boardwalk Bakery Disney

Still a window allows for other methods of communication besides speech, as I had done this past Friday to see some old friends and co-workers at my former Disney location. While a lot was lost by separating the kitchen and the retail space, a lot was gained by just the mere expansion. Cast Members strive to achieve happiness for the guests and while the intimacy of the original bakery was lost, I foresee more guest happiness and satisfaction from an efficient bakery offering a wide selection of food and beverage in an environment expected for a fantastic and beautiful resort.

Boardwalk Bakery

 

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