Disney World Resort Pool Hopping: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

guide to Disney World pool hopping

Updated July 2016!

People pay a lot of money for accommodations at Walt Disney World, for reasons including proximity to the theme parks, ease of transportation, luxury, and amenities. You know that saying about getting what you pay for?  The larger amount you pay for on-property accommodations at Walt Disney World, the nicer your resort pool will be.

A topic that can make a lot of people get irritated quickly when they talk about a Disney vacation is “Pool Hopping.”  Pool hopping is simply staying at one resort and swimming at another. So how can you pool hop at Disney World and not wind up in hot water? And the water I’m talking about is not bubbling in one of the hot tubs…

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The Boardwalk Resort pool

pool hopping at the Boardwalk Resort Pool at Walt Disney World

Bay Lake Tower Resort pool

can you swim at Disney World Bay Lake Tower pool

Disney World has an “open resort” policy;  you are legally allowed to visit their resorts and enjoy some of their amenities. You can sit in the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa lobby and listen to the pianist. You can stroll through the Animal Kingdom Lodge and learn all about the original African artwork. You can wander through the Cars Land section of the Art of Animation Resort, taking your kid’s photos with Mater and Lightning McQueen. But Cast Members are very swift to say that you cannot swim in the pools if you are just visiting from another resort. This is a big no-no.

Disney Resort rules regarding pools are pretty straight forward. You may use the pool/pools at the specific resort where you are a registered guest.  You may not hop over to another resort and use their pool.  Most Disney Resort pools have signs displaying this information for guests. They usually read something like, “This pool area is for the exclusive use of  (fill in the Disney Resort name here) guests.”

Many of the new pools or refurbished pools have fences and only allow entry using MagicBands. I’m thinking specifically about Bay Lake Tower, which was built with a fence, and Wilderness Lodge, which had a fence added. The Polynesian Village main pool now has a fence with multiple MagicBand gated entrances.  

So how can you swim in Disney pools if you are not a registered, room-key carrying guest at the resort?

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Contemporary Resort Pool

who can pool hop at the Disney Wiorld Resorts

Contemporary Resort Quiet Pool

Contemporary Resort quiet pool at Disney World

There’s only one simple, legal, legitimate (and expensive) answer to that question, and that is for you to join the DVC, the Disney Vacation Club. I have heard occasional stories of people swimming in Disney Resort pools without actually staying on property, but those people are taking the huge gamble of being thrown out when discovered, or worse, arrested for trespassing. Yes, I think an arrest is a pretty far-fetched scenario, but people on vacation have too much to drink all the time and wind up in trouble. I always tell people to imagine what’s the worst that could happen. In this case, I would say arrest is it, no matter how far-fetched this may seem. 

Every so often, swimmers can be asked by a Disney Life Guard to show their room key/MagicBand to verify they are staying at the resort and thus allowed to swim at that specific pool. That was a risk I was not ever willing to take, being escorted out of the pool area. I think people who do take this risk are clearly not thinking about the possible negative outcomes. I realize rule breakers probably won’t be arrested, but I’m not one to take or advocate other people take risks or break rules.

And honestly, swimming in a pool you didn’t pay for is just not fair to the people who paid lots of hard-earned money to stay there.

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Grand Floridian Resort & Spa pool

what pools can I swim in at the Disney World resorts

I am a Vacation Club Member. When we took the DVC tour, our DVC representative explained that pool hopping was not only legal for DVC Members (with some stipulations,) it was encouraged.  This was presented as a big perk of the DVC program. When I heard this, all rational stick-to-the-budget financial thought flew straight out the elegant-curtained windows.  Pool hopping, pool hoppingDisney Pool Hopping!!

I love Disney pools, and while I have not stayed in all the Disney resorts, I have swam in a fair amount of their pools, the pools on the “Pool Hopping is O.K.” list. Truth be told, I’ve swam in more Disney pools than I have actually spent nights in their numerous resorts. Why again was this possible? How do you pool hop without risking possible arrest and public humiliation when you’re caught swimming illegally?  Join the Disney Vacation Club.

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 Wilderness Lodge Resort Pool

how to swim at Wilderness Lodge Resort pool at Disney World

swimming at Wilderness Lodge resort

Once you’re in the DVC, or The Club as I call it, when you use your membership to stay at a WDW DVC or Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, you and any guests staying with you are allowed to pool hop to certain Disney resort pools when they are not at full capacity. There is your answer, my friends: this is how you legally pool hop.

Membership has its privileges, but there are certain blackout dates, usually around holidays, for members when resort occupancy is high. There are also pools even DVC members can never pool hop at while they are staying at another resort.

  • Uzima Pool and Samawati Springs Pools at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
  • Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
  • Bay Cove Pool at Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
  • the leisure pool at Disney’s Beach Club Villas
  • Stormalong Bay at Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts
  • the pool at the Disneyland Resort in California

This list right here should be my bucket list for future Disney hotel stays.

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Stormalong Bay pool, Beach Club Resort

can you pool hop at Stormalong bay at Disney World

Stormalong Bay kid's pool

Vacationers pay a ton of money to go to Disney World.  It’s morally unethical to swim in a resort pool you did not pay to swim in. It’s also embarrassing if you get caught there illegally, so don’t take the risk.  Let the people who paid for those pool privileges enjoy them. As for the people who paid for DVC privileges, you will really enjoy the pool hopping option.

The summer after we joined the DVC, we used our new points to stay at Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. I’ll be honest, I was so broke from paying that membership down-payment, we decided not to charge park tickets to our Disney Visa. We used a set of one-day tickets from a prior trip, and we spent the next five days pool hopping.  I called it the GREAT 2008 DISNEY POOL TOUR. It was absolutely, positively fabulous. It was so great, it took the sting out of my DVC bill each month, at least for a little while.

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Grand Floridian Resort & Spa Quiet pool

pool hopping at the Grand Floridian Resort pool

Animal Kingdom Resort pool

can I swim at other Disney World resort pools

Without a DVC membership, you can tour the resorts and decide which pools you like, and then save your money for accommodations there. That way, no one has to call the  Cheapskate Princess for bail money.

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I know, I know, you don’t need to sleep in a fancy resort when you stay at the parks all day anyway. I realize it’s expensive. I said the exact things before we joined DVC, and we still stay at inexpensive hotels on Disney trips when the points have run out, because they go fast. But when I hear people say that the DVC isn’t worth the money, I am the first one to pull up photos of my kids swimming in multiple Disney Deluxe Resorts and say…join The Club.

Would you like more information about the Disney Vacation Club pool hopping option? Call one of my favorite people in the (Disney) World, our personal DVC representative. His name is Aldemar Ramirez, he has the most amazing accent, and his number is 800-501-8669. Be sure to tell him Amanda Major referred you, because they frequently have DVC incentives if you know the name of a current member.

Coronado Springs Resort Pool

how to pool hop at Disney World

Thanks for stopping by, and just maybe we’ll see you in the red van on the way to the DVC headquarters at Saratoga Springs to take the DVC tour.

How to Pool hop at Disney World

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Amanda Major CheapskatePrincess.comAmanda Major is the creator of cheapskateprincess.com. She remembers her first visit to Magic Kingdom like it was yesterday, because she had a ham sandwich tucked in her shorts pocket. The whole family snuck in their lunch; you can’t make that kinda stuff up. 40 years worth of trips to Orlando later, she is still trying to save money on vacations.

Amanda is a Disney Vacation Club Member and Annual Pass holder. Her amazing husband, band director Carl Major, plus three teen children and two dogs keep her busy. Amanda teaches Leadership to high school seniors in the almost-coastal town of Foley, Alabama. Read about her cheapskating local vacations with this link. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, walking somewhere, or paddling a kayak. Life is indeed a blast. 

We hope we can help save you some money too. Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from our Princess Travel Experts with Destinations in Florida travel, Julie, Elizabeth, and Erin. You can also e-mail them at cp@destinationsinflorida.com.


  1. Thomas Valley says:

    So, you’re saying the beach at the Polynesian is open to DVC members? Damn. Sold.

  2. L says:

    We are new members! We will be staying at BCV in May. I cannot wait!! This will be a busy trip (family coming too), but we will be back for a girl trip in July! I’m thinking we may do some pool hopping then! 🙂 Great article!

  3. Katie says:

    I guess I always thought there were some pools you couldn’t hop to but the rest you could even if you weren’t DVC. We are staying at Art of Animation, but had hoped to hangout with friends at the Riverside Pool area since we didn’t figure that would be an issue. I had no idea that wasn’t allowed. Thanks for the information!

    • Amanda says:

      I think if your friends are guests there, it wouldn’t be an issue. Thanks for reading!

      • Katie says:

        Correct – they are staying at the Riverside and I knew they couldn’t come to us, so I thought perhaps we could come to their pool. Thanks!

  4. Penny says:

    Can you put captions on your pool pictures? I would love to know which pools are which picture. I was thinking about booking at Boardwalk and pool hopping to Beach Club pool… but it is on your list of off limits to pool hop?? DARN IT! It just seems the Boardwalk Studios would be easier with a 5th person (since there is a couch) than the Beach Club… (Love 1 BR Villa’s, but theirs are listed as sleeping 4 also-so much as well save the points.

    • Amanda says:

      Done! Sorry I didn’t think to do that earlier. Stormalong Bay at the Beach Club is indeed off limits unless you are a registered guest, and it’s really fabulous, so I can see why. Good luck with your decision, and thanks for reading!~A.

  5. Patricia says:

    What is the web address to find out about dvc?

  6. Marie says:

    I am new and on a strict budget for a Disney vacation in June.
    I am not sure if you could help me answer this, we are 5 and we can not afford the Family suite in the All Star Resort. It is very difficult for us to pay $150 extra / per night for a 5 year old.
    Is there a mandatory way to identify Disney Hotel guests while on the hotel premises (like a wrist band or something like that?)

    • Amanda says:

      You are not currently required to wear any sort of identification wrist band while on property, though I have heard they are scanning Magic Bands at certain pools at the entry point.

  7. Anonymous says:

    It is a nice perk indeed for DVC members. But here is the harsh reality. Disney willingly turns a blind eye to illegal pool hoppers (otherwise known as trespassers).

    Take my June trip to the Boardwalk, for example. Every single time I went to the feature pool with my family there were dozens – literally dozens – of people in the water who were clearly not guests. Many had simply walked over from Epcot and were swimming in their clothes (gym shorts w/underwear visible etc.), no magic bands, no Rapid Fill mugs visible. I saw one family of eight people walk in right off the Boardwalk take off their shoes and socks and hang out for over two hours in the pool. Another day while parking my rental car, I saw a young couple and their baby (again no Magic Bands) park walk up to the resort lobby in their swim wear and then bewilderedly look around until they found the pool. Think they were guests really?

    Point the trespassers out to a lifeguard – get a knowing shrug. They can see it – just not do anything about it. Walk up to the front desk and they say “one day there may be a fence like the Beach Club,” but today I’m out of luck. Really?

    This same trip, while walking to Beaches and Cream, I couldn’t help notice two things about the Beach Club pool: First, it was fenced off with Disney personnel swiping Magic Bands at the gate. Second, the pool had far far fewer people in it. Gee, I wonder if that has anything to do with the fact you just can’t walk in off the street and hop in the water?

    I envy the Beach Club pool not because it’s “nicer” than the Boardwalk, but simply because it wasn’t packed shoulder to shoulder with people.

    I envy the Beach Club guests because the management there actually cares about their guests. To my eye, the BC fence isn’t about protecting the unique pool, it’s about protecting the rights that their guests have so richly paid for. By the way, when someone gets caught trying to sneak into the Beach Club pool, where do you think they go next, back to Epcot? Or do they walk an extra three minutes and jump in the pool I’m spending hundreds of DVC points to stay at.

    When you build a hotel next to a major tourist draw like BW, and within walking distance of two major theme parks, how about making a half an effort to preserve the priviliges you’re charging your guests to enjoy?

    Or, if you honestly don’t care about this abuse of pool rights then let people know on your web site. *Guests should understand that the feature pool at the Boardwalk Resort is open to the general public and therefore congested to the point of claustrophobia. Guests should be advised that is unlikely they will be able to find a chair, and that you will be forced to simply stand in the water and not actually swim. Further, because of our open pool policy, your children will very likely never get a chance to play any of the poolside games. If you want to enjoy a pool actually reserved for guests may we suggest sating at the Beach Club.”

  8. Anonymous says:

    Also, you should note that pool hopping privileges are narrowing more and more even for DVC members.

    From the DVC site:

    Pool hopping is not available at Bay Cove Pool at Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Uzima Pool and Samawati Springs Pool at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Stormalong Bay at Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts, the leisure pool at Disney’s Beach Club Villas, and the pools at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. There are no exceptions to this policy.

  9. Chelsea says:

    Can guests who are non DVC members use DVC pools? For example can guests who are staying at the wilderness lodge use the “quiet pool” near the villas at wilderness lodge? Or is the “quiet pool” at the villas only for DVC members?

    • Amanda says:

      As far as my understanding, if you paid to stay on property, you can use that pool. Never hurts to double check, but that’s what I’ve been told. Hope you have a great vacation, and thanks for reading! ~A.

  10. Jessica Cruz says:

    Hi there,
    We are new DVC members!!! Is there anything we need to do or person we notify to pool hop? Could we simply drive from our resort to another resort, park and walk to the pool? Is it that simple? Or do we schedule it?

  11. Brianna says:

    Would it be socially acceptable to pool hop within your resort category? For instance, would it be frowned upon if a guest of Pop walked over and used the AoA pool for an hour during a resort day? Or for a POR guest to check out the pool at CSR? Just wondering. We’ve never even thought to pool hop! Resort hop, yes; pool, no. I highly approve of magic band scanning for the deluxes as I can imagine there are a ton of offsite park patrons who take advantage of their proximity to the parks. Thanks for this great article!

    • Amanda says:

      Well, socially acceptable and within Disney rules are probably differing concepts. (Out of the box thinking!) According to their posted rules, unless you are DVC, no. And from what I understand, scanning is happening at more and more pools. As it probably should, because those moderate pools are pretty nice as well! Thanks for reading! ~A.

  12. Chris says:

    Hi Amanda, my fiance and I are renting from a DVC member for trip in April of 2016. We will be staying at BLT. We are using this as a test drive as to whether or not we would like to buy into DVC. I called your guy, dropped your name, but I was afraid to ask about pool hopping since we are not members lol. Will we relceve magic bands, and would we be able to go over to the Poly beach, or maybe Grand Floridian pools. Everything over there looks really awesome. We want to tour those spots anyways.

  13. Michael says:

    Don’t count on pool hopping staying around. In 1991-1992 pool hopping was a selling feature and was for all current and future Disney resort pools (they were marketing to the high end Disney Properties and especially those who stayed at multiple resorts). It was bundled with free Disney passes until the millennium. I know visiting pools like the Poly was a deal breaker for many initial OKW buyers. I know a number of initial buyers who are disturbed by a “selling feature” being converted to a selective perk. The quality has definitely dropped after the first five years and the lack of historical knowledge of the selling staff. This will happen in time for buyers who buy today (10 years from now buses and use of the monorail may be considered a perk)- might sound strange but the rooms use to come with oversized peach beach towels but now have standard white hotel room towels.

  14. Christie causey says:

    I recently stayed at art of animation and my husband and I noticed lots of people coming through the parkingother with Goggles aND beach towels..no magic bands and heading to pool to swim..mostly on weekends and there were also several people coming to children’s birthday parties..and I mean 10 to 13 children at the party. Are these employees or do they allow people to swim for the day?

  15. Kate says:

    We are staying at Port Orleans Riverside, would it be ok to check out and swim at Port Orealns French Quarter? My Mom really wants to but after reading this article I’m not sure if we are allowed to, thanks for the help!

    • Kate says:

      Haha, not check out of the hotel, just look around the pool

      • Amanda says:

        I think it’s fine to look around the pool areas as long as you don’t hop in without a room reservation. Many of the pools now are adding fencing, so you might have to do your looking from outside the fence, depending on the location. Now with Riverside and Orleans so close together, you may be able to swim at both, but I kinda doubt it. I would ask upon check in. Thanks for reading! ~A

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