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…
The Boardwalk Resort pool
Bay Lake Tower Resort 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?
Contemporary Resort Pool
Contemporary Resort Quiet Pool
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.
Grand Floridian Resort & Spa pool
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 hopping, Disney 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.
Wilderness Lodge Resort Pool
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.
Stormalong Bay pool, Beach Club Resort
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.
Grand Floridian Resort & Spa Quiet pool
Animal Kingdom Resort pool
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.
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
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.
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Amanda 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.
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