Summer and swimming go together like peanut butter and jelly, like Mickey and Minnie, like…ok you get the point. When the temperatures heat up the best way to cool down is in the pool! Walt Disney World is home to 2 amazing water parks, which are absolutely worth a visit, but each resort also boasts incredible pools . Some of them are so good, in fact, that it influences where we stay!
While we’ve never been disappointed in a Walt Disney World Resort pool, we’ve definitely enjoyed some better than others. We decided to compile our Disney pool experience to create the ultimate guide so that you know just what to expect and can’t make the best resort choice for your family.
Pool Categories Explained
There are over 34 pools at Disney World Resort Hotels. Each resort has one main feature pool and at least one other “quiet” pool. That means you’ll have plenty of opportunities to chill out and perfect those cannon balls on your next Disney World vacation! The distinction between “feature pool” and “quiet pool” often confuses guests. While the feature pool seems pretty self explanatory, many expect the quiet pool to be, well, quiet!
There are no rules about noise volume at quiet pools, nor are there age limits. These pools are called “quiet pools” because they lack the loud music and boisterous games of the feature pools. They also typically lack theming which means families usually skip these oases for more “fun” options. Quiet pools typically do not have a life gaurd.
The feature pools are where the party is at. You’ll typically find music playing here all day long and throughout the day Cast Members lead guests in games and activities. Each feature pool has a poolside bar and many offer a walk up grill to refuel your sunny day adventuring. These pools are all about fun and incredibly high energy. Feature pools are also where you’ll find water slides (at Deluxe and Moderate resorts only). Contrary to popular belief, all of the best feature pools aren’t at Deluxe Resorts. Disney has spread the pool love across all of their hotel tiers. Would it surprise you to know that one of the best pools at ANY Disney resort worldwide is at a Value Resort? It’s absolutely true! No matter where you stay, you’ll find an incredible feature pool to beat the summer heat.
With so many incredible pools to choose from, many often wonder if you can swim in other hotel pools (a.k a “pool hop”). Sadly, this practice is not allowed. You’ll always find someone with a story that they heard somewhere about someone who “got away with it” but the practice is not only frowned upon, Disney goes out of their way to prevent it from happening.
All Disney pools have a fence around them. This is both for safety purposes and so that only guests are permitted in to swim. Many of the popular pools make you scan your Magic Band or room key to unlock the gate. The most popular pools have a Cast Member at the gate checking who enters. When we were at Disney’s Beach Club last, a Cast Member was issuing wrist bands to guests so that people who didn’t belong were easily identifiable.
As with all things, there are exceptions to this rule. Certain “sister” hotels share feature pool privileges. This means pool Hopping is allowed but only between guests of certain resorts. They are:
- Guests of All-Star Resorts can swim in any of the three All-Star Resort feature pools.
- Guests at Port Orleans French Quarter and Port Orleans Riverside can visit each other’s pools.
- Disney’s Yacht Club and Beach Club share a pool.
Additionally, DVC Members are allowed to Pool Hop to (almost) any resort they like. DVC Pool Hopping is not allowed at:
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
- Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club
- Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
- Disney’s Polynesian Village
If the feature pool at your resort hotel is closed for a lengthy maintenance or refurbishment, you will be able to visit another resort’s pool. The front desk or concierge will let you know which hotel is offering reciprocation in these instances. That’s the only pool you’ll be allowed to “hop” to.
Best Disney World Hotels
The inability to pool hop makes resort choice even more important and I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve stayed at certain resorts just to experience their pool. Let’s discuss some of the best pools on property. These are in no particular order and definitely not an exhaustive list. We tried to include the best of all three hotel tiers so that no matter your budget you can find the perfect sunny day hideaway!
Storm Along Bay- Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club
For a long time, Storm Along Bay was hands down the best pool at Walt Disney World. Many still consider it to be the best and for good reason. This three acre pool is more like a water park than a pool. The pool has a sand bottom which adds to the beach theme and several “islands” scattered around. It also boasts a 230 ft shipwreck themed waterside, water volleyball area and lazy river. This is the only lazy river at a Disney World Resort Hotel. As a personal aside, this is the only pool on Disney Property that I will take a midday break for.
The Dig Site- Coronado Springs
Dive into the The Lost City of Cibola and explore ancient Mayan ruins! This pool is impeccably themed and so fun for everyone the Dig Site also boasts the largest hot tub at Walt Disney World! The centerpiece here is a 50 foot tall Mayan pyramid and a giant wall of cascading water! It’s a truly impressive sight! Adrenaline junkies will love the 123-ft waterside while those wishing to unwind will find no shortage of pool chairs. The pool bar here serves up amazing margaritas so you can kick back and siesta or fiesta whichever your heart desires.
The Beach Pool- Grand Floridian
This pool is one of our favorites but you won’t find any giant pyramids or volcanos here. Nothing “gimicky” about this pool (don’t get me wrong, i love a good gimmick, this pool simply doesn’t need it). This beach oasis themed pool exudes luxury and class. The nearby Alice in Wonderland themed children’s splash area oddly doesn’t detract from that either. The pool here has cabana rentals if you really want to indulge in a luxurious pool day. Additionally, this pool features a hot tub and slide for a well round day in the water.
Fantasia Pool- All-Star Movies
Call me crazy but I adore this pool. As discussed above, value resort pools do not have hot tubs or water slides, but this pool has Disney Magic! The pool features the Sorcerer Mickey fountain and the resort buildings nearby have the giant broomsticks from fantasia on them. It’s one of the most cohesively themed pools for those who want a touch of Disney in every part of their vacation. While there’s no hot tub or slide, this pool does have a pool bar that serves up deliciously summary cocktails.
Uzima Springs Pool- Animal Kingdom Lodge
While both Kidani Village and Jambo House have great pools, it’s Jambo House that I think is truly spectacular. This zero entry pool is huge and features a 67 foot water slide. It’s one of the smallest water slides, but this pool is more about chills than thrills. Surrounded by natural landscaping and African architecture, you’ll feel as if you’ve found a watering hole in the midst of the African savanna. With views of the Uzima Savanna and the animals that call it home just beyond the pool, this is one of the most unique experiences you’ll ever have!
Fuentes del Morro Pool- Caribbean Beach Resort
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort is home to the most swashbuckling pool at Disney (and maybe anywhere). Have you ever wanted to jump off your boat and play pirate while riding Pirates of the Caribbean (please don’t do this)? A dip in Fuentes del Morro Pool is the next best thing. Themed after a colonial Spanish fort complete with water cannons, this pool will have you pretending to be a pirate no matter how old you are.
Big Blue Pool-Art of Animation
This pool is huge! The pool at this value resort is the largest hotel pool at Walt Disney World. This zero entry pool holds over 308,527 gallons of water! The jellyfish statues that decorate the pool give the whole thing a whimsical ocean vibe. The reason it makes the list though is not for its theming (which is a little underwhelming to be honest) or its size. It’s what happens under the water! Speakers play music and ocean sounds underwater and if you listen carefully you may even hear Nemo, Dory, and friends! This is one of my favorite things to ever happen to a pool and I love to see the look on first timers faces when they discover that yes, they DID actually hear something underwater!
Lava Pool-Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
Say “aloha” to this Fantastic pool! The pool at the Polynesian is a fan-favorite. The pools centerpiece features a towering volcano and a 142-foot “Lava ruins”water slide. This slide is unique because on your way down you’ll journey into the volcano where you’ll hear the sound of erupting Lava and see special effects.
The pool, which sits at the center of the resort, has incredible views of the Seven Seas Lagoon and offers a unique way to view Cinderella’s Castle. Pro-tip: if the hours link up, try watching Magic Kingdom’s fireworks from the pool for a once in a lifetime experience. At night, there is a tiki torch lighting ceremony that is really fun to see.
Cozy Cone Pool- Art of Animation
Aet of Animation gets not one but two pools on the list! The Cozy Cone pool is a quiet pool so it also earns the distraction of being the only pool on the list that isn’t a feature pool. This pool is semicircle and features.life size.models of your favorite Cars characters which is nice if you’re a Cars fan. While this pool likes the fun of other pools, it does have something no other pool has: traffic cone shaped cabanas. Best part? They’re free! These cabanas are first come first serve unlike the cabanas at other resorts that cost upward of $100.
Hours and Rules
Pool hours vary resort by resort. Depending on the time of year. They typically open at 8:00 or 9:00 am. During the summer, you’ll find many of the feature pools open until 11:00 pm. In the winter months they usually close around 9:00 pm. Pool? Winter? Yes. Though it doesn’t stay hot year round, it does stay warm for most of the year. Winter decides to randomly show up for a week at a time here and there between November and February but for the most part the average temperature in the winter is 72° (F). Did I mention the pools are heated? That means even when temps dip to the upper 60s you can enjoy a swim. I’ve comfortably swam outdoors on New Year’s Day at Disney before.
Pool rules are more or less standard and include all of the ones you’d expect: no unattended children, no food or drink in the water, no running etc. If you need a refresher, you’ll find the rules posted on a sign at every pool on property.
No matter which pool you find yourself in, you’ll have a blast. There’s not a bad pool sy Walt Disney World. But do yourself and familiarize yourself with what to expect to avoid any potential disappointment. And remember to “just keep swimming…”