Florida summers vary between torrential downpours and heat where you sweat walking to the mailbox. The heat and monsoons really limits the weekend options, but the Disney pools never fail. SB and I left Friday afternoon, amidst 40% chance of rain, for Downtown Disney.
Truthfully – we’re seasoned hoppers. Instead of buying park tickets for the whole family growing up, most of our Disney trips were to a Disney hotel. We hung out in Downtown Disney, with days spent at pools. (Fam favorite is definitely Port Orleans Riverside).
Getting to the Pools
The foolproof approach is through Downtown Disney. Parking is free and a perfect location to grab a quick bite at the end of the day! Shuttles are direct to hotels, with pick-up/drop-off at Marketplace, right by Earl of Sandwich, Pin Trading & Once Upon a Toy. Shuttles run routinely and the wait is rarely long.
Parking at Downtown Disney allows for a little shopping, too :) How cute are the new Oswald hats?
Some hotels have guard gates and others have restricted parking.
+ Fort Wilderness Lodge: We’ve driven in telling the gate guard we were going to lunch at Whispering Canyon Cafe. You could try the same approach with Ohana at Polynesian Resort, 1900 Park Fare at Grand Floridian, or The Mara at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Check out a full list of restaurants at Disney hotels here.
+ ESPN Wide World of Sports: Parking is complimentary. Pool is “hoppable” at all Disney All-Star Resort pools.
Sometimes, you just wanna take the monorail! If you’re craving the nostalgic Disney experience, take the bus to Magic Kingdom from Downtown Disney. You can also park at Magic Kingdom, where parking is $17. The monorail stops at Contemporary Resort, Ticket Center, Polynesian and Grand Floridian.
At the Pool
Most pools offer complimentary towels and are equipped with a bar. Bring your own booze, grab some cups of ice, and you’re set! Certain hotels, like Disney Swan & Dolphin will request a room key to get towels. Sometimes you get a nice pool boy who gives them to you anyways :). Best bet? Bring your own!
Certain pools at Disney are available to hotel guests only. Stormalong Bay, the feature pool for Yacht Club, Beach Club & Beach Club Villas, requires a wristband from hotel guests. “College students from UCF visiting family members” have to be added to the reservation. They know what they’re doing!
Even if you can’t get into the pool – Yacht Club is a beautiful walk-thru. My friend Lynda recommends the Kitchen Sink at Beaches and Cream. (She said you need at least 4 people to finish it!) Sarah and I took the boat from Yacht Club over to Disney Swan & Dolphin, where we spent the majority of our pool day.
It was our first time at Swan & Dolphin, we were really impressed walking through the lobby of Dolphin. The pool was enormous, there must have been 200+ people and it didn’t feel crowded. Fun waterslide, float rentals, and hammocks :)))) Most Disney pools have water slides, which are awesome no matter what age you are. More kid friendly resorts have DJs, activities, and are generally louder than some of the more adult-geared pools. Disney beats out the apartment pool any day, especially when it’s such a quick drive from UCF. More to come at Disney before the move to Tallahassee! :)