Dog-Friendly Disney World – Hotels, Boarding & More
There’s no denying that dogs today are integral members of the family. For dog parents, our furry friends come with us everywhere, often sleeping in our beds, going with us shopping, joining us for meals on restaurant patios and, of course, going on vacations. However, for folks heading to the Most Magical Place on Earth, should you bring your dog along to Disney World, too? More broadly, are pets even allowed at the Walt Disney World Resort? (Yes, but there are some exceptions and restrictions, which we’ll get into in a bit.)
If you’re pondering bringing your four-legged best friend along on your next Disney vacation, read on for everything you need to know about taking a pet to Disney World, including pet-friendly hotels, doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, local pet resources and important things to keep in mind when making your decision. Armed with this information, you’ll be able to do what’s best for both your vacation and your furry friend.
Bringing Your Pet to Disney World: What You Need to Know
Before planning a magical vacation to Walt Disney World with your pet, it’s important to delve into the particulars of bringing them along for the journey. From finding boarding options and pet-friendly hotels on Disney property to considering if this trip is right for your dog (you want them to be happy while you’re out devouring DOLE Whip and riding on roller coasters, after all), we’ve got you covered. So, grab your Mickey Ears and some doggy treats and leash up Fido as we dig into all the details.
Can I Bring My Dog to Disney World? – Service Animals vs. Pets at Disney World
Ok, let’s get the most important question out of the way. Can you take a dog to Disney World? Yes, but… And that’s a big ‘but.’ First, it’s crucial to understand that there are different rules in place for service animals compared to pets when visiting the Walt Disney World Resort.
What Qualifies as a Service Animal, and Where Can and Can’t They Go at Disney?
According to Disney’s official policy, “a service animal is a dog or miniature horse that is trained to do work or perform tasks for, and to assist, an individual with a disability.” This is in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Due to their integral role in a guest’s life, these amazing creatures are allowed in most areas throughout the theme parks, resorts, water parks (with some exceptions) and even aboard Disney Cruise Line ships.
Additionally, any open outdoor space around the Walt Disney World Resort can be used as a relief area for your service animal as long as you pick up after it and keep the area clean for future guests. There are also designated service animal relief areas located in multiple areas throughout each of the four theme parks. Refer to the My Disney Experience app (look for Service Animals under the Guest Services section) to pull up a map of these locations.
However, due to safety concerns, there are some restricted locations where service animals aren’t allowed. As with the service animal relief areas, these off-limits attractions can also be found on the My Disney Experience app. Should you still like to experience these, simply ask a Cast Member for alternative options, such as Rider Switch. This free service allows a member of your party to wait back with your service animal while you enjoy the attraction.
Are Pets Allowed in Disney World? Yes, But There’s a Catch
Contrastingly, pets (including emotional support animals) do not fall under this category. As a result, their access to various areas of Walt Disney World is much more limited. That said, even though they won’t be able to accompany you inside the theme parks or other guest areas like Disney Springs and the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, there are still ways to include your furry friend in your Disney vacation, from staying at one of the various Disney World pet-friendly hotels to sending them to doggy daycare at Best Friends Pet Care, a top-notch boarding facility located right on Disney property.
How Do I Book a Disney Hotel with My Dog? – Rules, Fees and Restrictions
Each pet-friendly Disney World hotel has its own set of rules and fees. Generally, you can expect a nightly fee for your pet (ranging from $50 to $75) and a limit of two dogs per room, with no breed restrictions. You’ll also want to be aware that even for dog-friendly Disney hotels, your faithful companion isn’t welcome in all areas of the resort. Instead, only particular floors or sections of the Disney World hotels below can be used by guests with pets. This is done for the well-being of those with allergies or other needs. Pups also aren’t permitted in restaurants, merchandise locations or fitness centers, as well as bodies of water or water features like pool areas, fountains or ponds.
Additionally, four-legged guests must be fully vaccinated, and you should be able to provide proper documentation from your vet outlining your dog’s up-to-date inoculations upon request. Your pup is also required to be on a leash at all times, even when utilizing dog rest areas. On the bright side, these designated relief areas are located close to dog-friendly guestrooms. Furry companions may be left unattended in rooms for up to seven hours. However, they are expected to be well-behaved during that time. Should they start barking a lot or be otherwise disruptive, you may get a phone call from the hotel asking you to return to calm them down. You might even want to consider arranging a pet sitter to go and walk your dogs if you are planning on an especially long day.
You’ll also need to keep in mind how you will travel around Disney World during your stay. Dogs are welcome to ride in Minnie Vans and internal buses that serve Disney’s Port Orleans Resort and Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. But unlike service animals, they aren’t permitted on monorails, the Disney Skyliner, watercraft or resort-wide buses. Lastly, be aware that dog-friendly rooms at Disney World are limited, so call (407) 939-7539 as far in advance as possible to make a reservation and secure a spot.
Now that we have all of that out of the way, let’s take a closer look at these fantastic, dog-friendly accommodations.
Which Disney Resorts Allow Dogs? – Pet-Friendly Hotels Near Disney World
Luckily for our four-legged friends, there are currently five paw-some hotels at Disney World that welcome dogs, four operated directly by Disney as well as a third-party partner resort. (And yes, notice how we specified dogs. No other companion animals are welcome at these pet-friendly hotels. Our apologies to your fluffy feline, Simba.) Each hotel offers a range of amenities and services for you and your pooch, like designated outdoor walking paths to let each of you get in some exercise and grassy pet relief areas, ensuring a comfortable stay for everyone involved.
For those staying at one of the Disney-operated dog-friendly hotels, your furry companion will even receive Pluto’s Welcome Kit upon your arrival, which typically comes with everything you need to make your stay a success, such as bowls, a food mat, a roll of poop bags and a holder, a pet ID tag and a door hanger, as well as a guide to the hotel’s dog-friendly areas and pet policies.
As for each of the hotels, dog-friendly hotels at Disney World are available in a variety of price ranges, from cheaper options to more expensive stays. They include:
Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, which is located in the Epcot and Hollywood Studios Hotel Area, is a vibrant value hotel that celebrates some of Disney’s most beloved animated films. Here, you and your dog will feel as if you’ve walked directly into a scene from your favorite Disney movie as you explore this fun-filled (and relatively affordable) resort. The pet fee for the Art of Animation Resort is $50 per night plus tax.
Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground
If you prefer the great outdoors (and who doesn’t when traveling with a furry friend?), then look no further than the rustic charm of Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. Part of the Magic Kingdom Resort Area, this sprawling resort surrounded by nature is perfect for those who enjoy the serene escape of camping but still want modern amenities close by.
In our opinion, Fort Wilderness is our pick for the best pet-friendly Disney resort hotel. With pet relief areas located in each of the campsite and cabin loops throughout the resort, abundant natural space to explore and even its very own Waggin’ Trails Dog Park, there are plenty of places your pooch can enjoy. Plus, if you’re traveling with an RV, this is also the cheapest option for staying at Disney World with a dog. Pet fees for Fort Wilderness Resort are $50 per night plus tax for guests staying in a cabin or $5 per night plus tax for those staying on a campsite with water, electricity and sewer hookups.
Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside
The charming Southern ambiance of Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside makes it an ideal spot for guests traveling with pets who enjoy leisurely strolls along picturesque riverbanks or exploring lush gardens. Ideally situated in the Disney Springs Resort Area, this sprawling moderate hotel offers a balance of excellent amenities and reasonable rates. For those who would like to take their pooch to doggy daycare during the day, it’s also conveniently located right across the street from Best Friends Pet Care. The pet fee for the Port Orleans Riverside Resort is $50 per night plus tax.
Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
For a touch of New England elegance, consider staying at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort. Part of the Yacht and Beach Club complex, just a short walk from Disney’s BoardWalk, this nautical-themed deluxe hotel offers luxurious accommodations and easy access to both Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The pet fee for the Yacht Club is $75 per night plus tax.
Four Seasons Resort Orlando
Also located in the Magic Kingdom Resort Area, Four Seasons Resort Orlando is the only pet-friendly hotel at Disney World not operated by Disney. Easily the grandest resort on property (sorry, Grand Floridian), this luxury hotel touts Michelin-starred dining, elegantly appointed guest rooms, a water park, spa, kids’ club and a host of other next-level amenities.
Keep in mind that as this is a non-Disney resort, things work a little bit differently here when it comes to furry friends. No pet fee is required; however, guests are limited to only one pet (either a dog or cat) that weighs up to 25 pounds. On the downside, they are not allowed to be left unattended in your guestroom. That said, four-legged guests do receive bowls, a bed and treats upon their arrival.
Best Friends Pet Care – Doggy Daycare, Grooming and Pet Hotel
If you’re not staying at one of the pet-friendly Disney hotels, prefer to have your furry friend stay in a dedicated boarding facility or are simply looking for a place for them to hang out during the day while you have fun in the theme parks, Best Friends Pet Care is an excellent option located right on Walt Disney World property across from Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside. This doggy daycare and pet hotel offers comprehensive services and accommodations for dogs, as well as cats and even some smaller animals like birds and hamsters.
The facility itself is massive, with 17,000 square feet of air-conditioned indoor space, 10,000 square feet of covered outdoor play areas, a 25,000 square-foot dog park and enough space to accommodate as many as 300 pets. There are also more than 75 staff members on hand, ensuring that your beloved pet gets all the attention they deserve. Just like the theme parks, operating hours for Best Friends Pet Care vary seasonally. However, it typically opens an hour before the parks open until an hour following park close, allowing you plenty of time to drop them off and pick them up.
Amenities Galore for Your Furry Friend
Depending on your furry or feathered friend’s needs, your pet will be pampered with amenities such as climate-controlled indoor rooms, expansive outdoor play areas, grooming services like haircuts and nail trims, flat-screen TVs, bone-broth pops, bedtime stories (yes, really!) and much, much more. Several options are available depending on your requirements and budget:
Doggy Day Camp: Around $50 per day – Offering supervised playtime by certified camp counselors, this is the perfect option for socializing with other dogs during the day while you enjoy the parks.
Boarding: Between $56-$302 per night for dogs, $34-$46 per night for cats and $16-$28 per night for “pocket pets” – Ranging from basic accommodations to high-end suites with tons of extras, there’s something to suit companion animals of all kinds.
Paperwork and Reservations: What You Need Before Check-In
Just like at the hotels, there are certain requirements that must be met before check-in to ensure the safety of all pets staying at Best Friends Pet Care. These include up-to-date vaccinations (Rabies/DHPP/Bordetella) provided by a licensed veterinarian within specific timeframes prior to arrival.
Even though Best Friends Pet Care has space for tons of animals, it’s highly recommended that you make a reservation for your pet well in advance, especially during peak travel seasons. You can book online or call the facility directly at (407) 209-3126.
Other Pet Resources Near Walt Disney World
Depending on how much time you plan to spend in the area and how you choose to travel, you and your pup may want to do some exploring outside of Walt Disney World. If you have a vehicle and you want to treat your furry friend to something tasty to eat, we highly recommend checking out Rock & Brews near Margaritaville Resort Orlando in Kissimmee. Located just a short 11-minute drive away, this easy-going restaurant not only allows your pet to join you on its outdoor patio, but it even offers a special dog menu just for your pooch, complete with dog beer.
I don’t know about you, but my Boston Terrier, Charlie, loves making new friends at a dog park. As we previously mentioned, four-legged guests staying at Fort Wilderness Campground have access to Waggin’ Trails Dog Park. For everyone else, however, there are still plenty of other dog parks in the area that typically play host to a great group of pups.
Mine and Charlie’s personal favorite is the dog park located at Dr. P. Phillips Community Park. Just a 12-minute drive from Disney World, this welcoming park offers some nice walking paths, as well as fenced-in areas for both large and small dogs. If you don’t mind driving further afield, the Lake Baldwin Dog Park in Winter Park is the most popular in the area. While it is a bit of a drive from Disney (not far from downtown Orlando), this sprawling dog park features a lake to splash in and several trails lined with trees dripping in Spanish moss.
The last thing anyone wants is to have to take their beloved pet to the veterinarian, especially on vacation. Unfortunately, there isn’t an on-site vet at the Walt Disney World Resort. In the unlikely event that something should happen, there are emergency vet clinics in the area that do accept walk-ins. Yelp and Google are both great resources. However, I highly recommend Dr. Phillips Animal Hospital, which is about a 14-minute drive from Disney World and offers extended emergency hours seven days a week. I have personally taken Charlie here when we needed to see someone in a pinch, and they were kind, thorough and reasonably affordable.
Is Traveling to Disney World Right for Your Dog?
Deciding whether to take your pup on your Disney World vacation is not a decision you should take lightly. To help you make the best choice, keep in mind these factors:
Safety Concerns to Consider
Just like guest safety is top of mind for all Disney cast members, your dog’s safety should be your number one priority when considering a trip to Disney World with them in tow. While Best Friends Pet Care and dog-friendly hotels provide excellent accommodations, it’s important to remember that theme parks can be overwhelming environments for pets.
Temperature:Central Florida heat can be intense during certain times of the year. So, ensure that you’re prepared with plenty of water and access to shade for your pup while traveling around Orlando.
Noise Levels: Depending on where you choose to stay, loud noises from fireworks can cause anxiety in some dogs.
Separation Anxiety: Since you’ll most likely plan on spending most of your time in the theme parks away from your pet (after all, that is why you’re going to Disney World in the first place, right?), this could cause your furry friend a great deal of stress, especially with the added anxiety of being in a brand-new place.
Pet Comfort Level in Unfamiliar Surroundings
Dogs have unique personalities, just like humans do. Some pups might thrive on new adventures, while others prefer their familiar home environment. Consider how well-adjusted your dog is when faced with new situations before deciding if they would enjoy joining you at Disney World. The last thing you want to deal with is having to leave the theme parks early because your pup is barking up a storm back at the hotel room or, worse yet, having to unexpectedly pay to board them because they weren’t behaving.
The Impact on Your Vacation Experience
Balancing time between park visits and caring for your pet requires careful planning. Ask yourself these questions as part of the decision-making process:
If I need doggy daycare services during park visits, am I comfortable leaving my dog at the Best Friends Pet Care facility?
Will I be able to fully enjoy the parks knowing that my pet is waiting for me back at the hotel or daycare center?
Am I prepared to adjust my vacation plans if necessary to accommodate my dog’s needs and comfort level?
Will my dog be stressed out and possibly disruptive in this new, unfamiliar environment?
Is my dog healthy enough for this vacation?
Taking these factors into account will help you determine whether a trip to Disney World with your furry friend in tow is truly magical or better suited for another time. After all, you aren’t the only one that deserves a vacation. Fido does, too.
Well, pet owners, that concludes our guide to traveling with a dog to Disney World. If you keep everything here in mind, you and your pooch are sure to have a paw-sitively amazing time. Have you ever taken your pet to Disney World? Let us know in the comments! Then, learn how you can make it more affordable to bring your pup along with our discount Disney tickets.