One of the most important aspects of planning a Walt Disney World vacation is choosing where to stay. We usually recommend staying onsite in one of Disney’s resort hotels for their convenience, service, and number of perks available for onsite guests. One of our favorite aspects of a Disney resort stay is the fun themed pools located at all onsite hotels. For many families, the hotel pool is a major factor in vacation planning, so let’s take a look at what they have to offer and their rules for operation.
Feature Pools and Leisure Pools
Each Walt Disney World Resort hotel has multiple pool areas available only to resort guests. These pools are usually divided into “Feature” pools and “Leisure” pools. All pools at Walt Disney World are located in fenced-in, outdoor areas and are heated during colder months. Feature pools are the main pool areas for each hotel and are usually the largest pools available. While all pools at Walt Disney World have some level of Disney theming to them, the Feature pools are usually the most elaborate. Leisure pools are smaller and designated as quiet pool areas perfect for relaxing. Hotel guests of all ages are welcome at both pools, but children will find more fun and freedom at the Feature pools.
Feature pools are usually open from 9 AM to 9 PM daily while Leisure pools tend to be open 24 hours a day.
Waterslides and Hot Tubs
Waterslides and hot tubs are only available at Moderate, Deluxe, and Disney Vacation Club resorts. This means that if you’re staying at a Value resort like Pop Century or any of the All-Star resorts, you’ll only have pools and splash areas. Each Moderate and above hotel has at least one waterslide and hot tub. Waterslides are usually found in the Feature pool area. Hot tub locations can vary by hotel and are open to guests of all ages.
Pool hopping (or the act of visiting pools at hotels you aren’t staying in) is, for the most part, not allowed at Walt Disney World. Guests staying at a Disney hotel are only able to visit the pools at their hotel. The one exception to this rule is for Disney Vacation Club members. As a Disney Vacation Club guest, you are permitted to take advantage of complimentary alternative pool use, which provides access to the pool or pools at the resort where you are staying as well as select pools at Disney Vacation Club Resorts and select pools at Walt Disney World Resort hotels. This perk isn’t available though if the hotel pool you wish to visit has reached capacity and there are certain blackout dates where pool hopping is not allowed.
Younger guests who aren’t able to swim yet, or just want to blow off steam have access to water play areas, or splash zones, at many Walt Disney World hotels. These splash pads are small water-based playground areas usually near the Feature pool that offer very shallow water with spray features and of course, Disney theming. Many pools at the resort also offer “zero-entry” pools where smaller guests can wade into the shallow water safely.
Guests visiting a Walt Disney World hotel pool have a few perks available to make their experience more enjoyable. There’s no need to remember to bring a towel from your room as all pools have readily available towels nearby. Each pool area is also equipped with multiple showers. There are outdoor showers for rinsing off and more private shower options and changing areas located in the pool bathrooms.
All Walt Disney World Resort hotels have a pool bar. These are usually located near the Feature pool and serve drinks and snacks throughout the day and usually after pool closing. The offerings vary, but you can expect the menus to feature smaller snackable items. Hotel pool bars also tend to feature specialty themed cocktails you can only find at those locations. Most pool bars offer outdoor seating with views of the pool areas.
At this time, Walt Disney World is requiring all guests ages 2 and above to wear a face mask while in public areas of the resort. This rule does not, however, apply while swimming. Guests may remove their mask while in the pool areas but must have them on when traveling to and from the pool. This exception also applies to eating and drinking, so if you’re visiting a pool bar within the fenced-in pool area, you can remove it as well. Be aware though that if the pool bar is located outside of the pool area gates, you will need to wear it until you sit at the bar or seating area.
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