One of the things many guests always look forward to on their Disney vacation is swimming. Disney really does all things water and fun really well!
Every Walt Disney World Resort has at least one basic pool, and some have even more elaborate theming along with what seems like mini water parks with slides, sand, play areas, and even a lazy river.
How do Disney guests decide which resort hotel to choose when considering the pool options, and what are some things you need to know about the pool rules?
I’m here to answer all of your Disney pool-related questions!
Should I let the pool options contribute to my resort hotel decision?
This is really for you to decide, but if you plan to spend any time in the pool, my easy answer would be yes. You should consider a few things to help you decide how much it contributes to your decision.
If you are planning a non-park day in exchange for a pool day, you might want to consider upgrading your resort hotel to either a moderate or deluxe resort so you get a better pool experience, though the value resorts still have some great pools. Disney’s Art of Animation, for example, has an amazing pool, complete with underwater speakers! Also, if you like water slides, hot tubs, and recreation in water without swimming, different resort pools can better accommodate your likes and dislikes. (See the recreation question below.)
If you like to swim for exercise, you might want to consider staying off-site since only the Swan and Dolphin hotels have lap pools on site. There are also several other hotels in the area, but off of Disney property, that have lap pools.
Of course, you’ll also need to consider the time of year. In the winter, the pool may not be as important to you as it is in the summer. Do keep in mind, though, that all Disney pools are heated to 82°F all year round.
Finally, you’ll want to consider whether you plan to visit the water parks. If you do, then having a nice resort pool may not be as important to you. However, if you don’t plan to visit the water parks either because of the cost or you’re not sure if your young kids are ready for it, there are some excellent pools on Disney property that can easily replace a day at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon or Disney’s Blizzard Beach. Specifically, Disney’s Yacht Club’s Stormalong Bay is incredible!
What are the pools’ hours?
Pool hours vary depending on resort, time of year, weather, and many other factors. Typical hours are from 9:00AM to 8:00PM, but hours can extend in both directions to as early as 7:00AM and as late as 11:00PM.
The pools hardly ever close due to weather, but if there is a lightning strike in the area or a major weather event like hurricane warnings, Disney will close the pool. Also, if temperatures are chilly and struggle to get beyond the 40s, the pools will not open. As a general rule, if the pool is closed, you wouldn’t want to be swimming at that time anyways.
Are the Disney pools safe?
Anytime the feature pools are open, there are several lifeguards on duty. Every lifeguard has extensive training and certification in water safety and rescue, and they are stationed at the bottom of water slides and at several points around the perimeter of the pool.
Disney is working to add fencing around every pool, but this is not currently a safety precaution. If you have young children, be sure to watch that they don’t run to the pools especially when a lifeguard isn’t on duty.
However, Disney pools are not very deep. Although this too varies, most pools are only about 4.5 feet deep, and there isn’t really a “deep end.” What’s more, although there are water slides, there are no diving boards at any of the Disney pools.
Are the Disney pools handicapped accessible?
Yes! Some of the pools have a zero entry, which means that you walk right in with no steps. These pools start out very shallow and progressively get deeper. Disney also installed chair lifts in every resort pool. These lifts will lower a handicapped guest into the pool without having to step down at all.
Will my toddler enjoy the Disney pools?
In short, yes! All resort pools have shallow areas for young children whether this is a low-depth area of the main pool or an actual baby pool.
If your child isn’t a strong swimmer, you may want to use a flotation device. (More on this below.)
My baby wears diapers. Is there an age limit on pool guests?
No, but if your child wears diapers, you’ll have to use swim diapers. You can bring your own from home, or you can have them delivered to your resort hotel room from gardengrocer.com or turnerdrug.com.
My child enjoys the water but isn’t a strong swimmer. Can we use flotation devices?
In general, yes. Many children wear water wings or use pool noodles. You can bring your own from home, or you can buy them in the resort’s store for a few dollars. If you’re flying and you can’t take the pool noodles home with you, consider paying it forward by posting on the of the Disney blogs what you have to pass on and where you are staying or just going to the pool and offering them to another family.
Every resort also has life vests for children from infant up to 90lbs. If you need an adult-sized life vest, this can be a little harder but it can be accommodated. If you’re staying at a hotel with a marina, you can go over and borrow one usually for a small deposit or collateral like your driver’s license. If your resort doesn’t have a marina, the front desk can arrange to have a vest delivered for you.
Can I bring other pool toys?
Again, the answer is usually yes. Children often have rubber ducks, buckets, shovels, balls, etc. Goggles that cover just the eyes are also permitted, but those that cover the whole face are not. You also are not allowed to wear goggles on the water slides. As long as your pool toy doesn’t disrupt other guests, it shouldn’t be a problem.
If you have an only child and want them to make friends while they’re there, consider providing them with pool toys. Kids with toys usually make friends pretty easily.
I’m flying and I can’t bring all this stuff on the plane. Can I buy it somewhere?
Yes! Disney will always capitalize on this truth! Shops at the resorts sell an array of pool items including goggles, swim diapers, sunscreen, cover-ups, flip-flops, and even swim suits. However, they don’t have as many options as the water parks’ stores, which especially have a larger selection of swimsuit sizes including plus sizes. Admission is required to get into these stores, so if you aren’t visiting the water parks, ask the front desk to call over and have a few suits sent over for you to try. They will usually accommodate your request.
Am I allowed to pool-hop?
Sometimes. Guests at the All-Star Resorts including Disney’s All-Star Sports, Disney’s All-Star Music, and Disney’s All-Star Movies Resorts are allowed to visit any pools in the trio of hotels. Disney’s Port Orleans Resort guests of the Riverside and French Quarters may visit pools in either section, and DVC members can hop to other DVC hotel pools excluding Yacht & Beach Club, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Disney’s Contemporary Bay Lake Tower, and Disney’s Polynesian Resort.
Although Disney technically says that guests aren’t allowed to pool hop, if you’re riding the Disney transportation, they really can’t tell if you’re a guest at that hotel or not. You should be aware, however, that some of the more popular resort pools like Stormalong Bay are surrounded by fences, and you have to scan your MagicBand to enter the pool area. This ensures that the pools don’t get too crowded for paying guests.
What if I don’t want to deal with the noise of the feature pool?
Most moderate and deluxe resorts have hot tubs or “spas” as Disney calls them. They are kept at 104°F, and there isn’t an age limit on who can enter. However, children under 12 years of age must have adult supervision.
There are also “quiet pools” which don’t allow music, ball playing, or any rambunctious games. Although you don’t have to be silent at these pools, they’re not as exciting as the feature pools, so guests don’t frequent them as often as the main pools. If you want to relax and even take a pool-side nap, this is the place to go!
Are there any other recreational activities at the pool areas?
Yes! Wonderful Cast Members are normally stationed at every feature pool from about 12:30 or 1PM to 5PM. They run scheduled activities including contests, games, chalk art, and dance parties.
There are also playgrounds nearby many of the pool areas along with Ping-Pong tables and beach volleyball courts.
Another favorite activity around the pool area is water slides. Many of the moderate and deluxe resorts (but none of the value resorts) have water slides both big and small. A few rules will apply though for your safety. All guests have to go down individually; no lap riding is allowed. If your child isn’t comfortable going down by him or herself, use the two adult rule: one adult stands at the bottom of the slide functioning as the catcher while the other adult walks up the slide with the child as the escort. This will prevent any unseen meltdowns at the top of the slide and any fear at the bottom of the slide. Though the dump point is usually only 3.5 feet deep, kids who aren’t strong swimmers will feel much more comfortable knowing you’re there to intercept them. All riders must go down feet first and in the upright or laying down position. As soon as you reach the bottom, you must clear the area. If you’re an adult waiting at the bottom for your child, you can stand a few feet to the side as the child comes down. Be careful because they can get going pretty fast!
Are there restaurants at the Disney pools?
Yes! All of the Disney pools have food and drinks nearby, and the selection varies based on location. Usually these are in the form of pool bars. My favorite is the Siestas Cantina at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. Their loaded nachos are amazing! Some pool-area quick service locations serve hot food like burgers and fries but others only serve cold options like salads, sandwiches, and chips. If you really want a meal, though, and you’re staying at a hotel with room service, you can order room service to the pool area.
Are there towels at the resort pools?
Value Resorts don’t usually provide towels, although I’ve seen some that do, but all Moderate and Deluxe Resorts do have a towel service.
I’m planning a day at the pool. Do you have any suggestions?
I always have suggestions! Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa have amazing cabanas complete with comfy chairs, TV, video and music hook-ups, a ceiling fan, a free wet bar with sodas and water, towels, a waiter, and even a fruit basket! Although this is quite a splurge, it might be worth it if you really want to relax.
If you’re not staying at one of these resorts, I recommend that you get to the pool early and snag some lounge chairs for your family. These can fill up pretty quickly! Be sure to bring your sunscreen with you because nothing can ruin a good pool day like a bad sunburn!
I noticed that some of the resorts have beautiful lakes. Can I swim in them?
No. Anyone who knows a bit of history about the now defunct River Country Water Park, as well as the tragic gator attack near the Polynesian, can make assumptions. Algae, gators, snakes, and boat traffic along with no lifeguard as the reasoning behind this rule.
I’d like to lock my bag while I’m swimming. Are there lockers?
Though there are coin-operated lockers, I would suggest leaving as much as you can, especially any valuables, in your room. Your MagicBand functions as your room key and can work as a credit card if you’ve linked one to your MyDisneyExperience account. You shouldn’t need much else. Cell phones and water don’t go well together, so leave that in the room.
Are there showers in the pool area?
Yes! There are shower spouts at every pool area, and there are a few real showers in each restroom with privacy curtains and soap dispensers mounted on the walls. I’ve been told the women’s restrooms even have hairdryers.
These showers are great for several purposes. Obviously, if you were playing in the sand volleyball and need to rinse off the sand before getting into the pool, they work for that. Also, many people will check out of their hotel rooms around 11AM but not actually leave the resort until later especially if they’re flying. So go ahead: check out then take a dip. The Bell Service at your resort will be happy to store your luggage. You’ll have somewhere to clean up before you hop on the Magical Express back to Orlando International Airport.
Some of my friends from the area are visiting me at my hotel. Can they swim with me?
Maybe. It’s never a problem for guests to visit you at the resort, but they may or may not be able to use the amenities like the pool. If your guests are using Disney transportation, it’s no problem at resorts without a check-in procedure like scanning your MagicBands since the Cast Members really have no way of knowing who is a resort guest and who isn’t. This is a harder thing to pull off when Cast Members are stationed to scan MagicBands upon entrance to the pool (I’m looking at you, Stormalong Bay). It can be even more difficult if your guests are driving. However, it can happen. I would suggest talking to the front desk. They may be willing to issue your guests a temporary ID or pool pass. You’ll also have to get permission for your guests to park in the resort lot.
Do you use the Disney Resort pools when you are on vacation?