Is It Really Just for Dogs?
Sorry Figaro! At this time, the policy only applies to dogs–not cats, birds, ferrets, gerbils, snakes, miniature horses, potbellied pigs, or other pet members of families. There are no breed or weight restrictions when it comes to the dogs permitted, but only two dogs per room will be allowed in the special dog-friendly rooms.
This doesn’t mean that the entire resort is a dog-accessible area, however. Pools (and pool bars), gift shops, restaurants, recreational areas, and most other public spaces are still dog-free zones.
How Much Does This Cost and Where Is It Provided?
During the test period, only four hotels are offering this service and it does come at an added cost: Art of Animation ($50/night), The Cabins at Fort Wilderness ($50/night), Port Orleans Riverside ($50/night), and Yacht Club ($75/night).
What All Is Included?
The nightly cost covers the additional cleaning needed for a dog-friendly room, but you do get a few extras as well. At check-in you receive a mat, bowls, courtesy waste bags, puppy pads, walking maps (showing you where you can take your dogs at that resort), a pet ID tag, and a dog-specific Do Not Disturb sign.
Does My Dog Need to be Leashed?
Yes–any time your dog is not in the room, the dog must be leashed or kept in a carrier. If your dog is off-leash, or if your dog is not well-behaved, your dog will not be allowed to stay.
What Paperwork/Vaccinations Do I Need for My Dog?
Although Disney will likely not check your dog’s paperwork at check in, they can ask for your paperwork at any time. Florida state law requires a current rabies certificate for each dog. In addition, if you are traveling in from another state, you MUST have an Official Certificate of Veterinary Inspection issued no more than 30 days before your date of travel. You can get those from your current vet in your home state. Also, if you are traveling through other states on the way here, you’ll need to check each state’s requirements for documentation to bring your dog across state lines. For instance, some states require the certificate of inspection be issued no more than 10 days before your trip. Many people do not get this paperwork, and generally, nothing happens. However, if there is an incident for your dog and you do not have your paperwork in order, you may be fined or your dog may be seized for quarantine. It’s just a good idea to have the papers in order, even though you hopefully won’t need them.
If you are flying, you’ll want to check with the individual airline for the requirements for the transport of pets.
Aside from required papers and the rabies vaccine, Florida is currently in an H3N Canine Influenza outbreak–it is in your dog’s best interest to be vaccinated for that potentially deadly virus. I’d also recommend making sure that your dog has been vaccinated for parvo, as the parvo virus can last on surfaces for up to a year. Additionally, you’ll want to ask your vet about the kennel cough vaccine to see if that is a recommendation for your pooch. And if you’re coming from a place without mosquitoes, talk to your doctor about heartworm preventative for your dog if your dog is not already on it, as heartworms are a year-round issue in Florida.
Finally, if you have not had your dog microchipped, you’ll want to do that and make sure that your contact information is correct in the system in case your dog gets loose.
What If My Dog Does Get Lost or Sick?
There are no on-site veterinary services at Walt Disney World, however the area does have veterinary clinics within an easy drive. For after-hours emergencies, I have used Veterinary Emergency Services of Central Florida, 2080 Principal Row, Orlando (407-644-4449). For lost dogs, contact Orange County Animal Services and Osceola County Animal Services.
Who is Liable If My Dog Injures Someone/Is Injured By Someone or Damages Something?
Faster than you can say Disney Legal, you can be certain that Disney will have themselves covered by waivers of liability. If your dog injures someone, you will be responsible for the liability. If you/your dog is injured by someone else’s dog, you will have to seek damages from them. Check with your homeowner’s insurance policy to see if you are covered when you travel, as well as any travel insurance you are carrying. You will also be financially responsible for any damage done to the room by your pet above and beyond normal use and wear.
Are There Any Other Rules?
Aside from the rules mentioned above, Disney has some additional rules. Your pets are not allowed on lobby furniture during check-in. Your dogs can be left unattended in your hotel room, but you must go to your room once every seven hours to provide care for your dog. Your dog will be expected to be quiet in the room–if your dog begins barking, you are required to address the issue within 30 minutes. If your dog is in the room, you must display the special dog door tag on your door. During this time, housekeeping services will not be provided. Disney has not stated whether after-hours housekeeping service would be an option, but my guess is that housekeeping service outside of normal hours would be limited to drop off of towels and toiletries. If housekeeping service is important to you, you’ll want to coordinate with the front desk for a time when you can be at the room so services can be provided.
When it comes to dog waste, you are required to pick up after your pet. In Orange County, fines for not picking up dog waste range from $84-$110 per instance, and these fines can be levied even on private property.
What On-Site Services Are Available?
There are no in-room dog-sitting services currently at Walt Disney World, however there is an on-site pet resort. Located across from Port Orleans, Best Friends offers boarding, doggy daycare, doggy day camp, and activities for your pets (and they do board cats and pocket pets as well). If your dog is staying at Best Friends for the day or for overnight boarding, you are allowed to use their outdoor dog park facility, which is delightfully themed and fun for animals and humans alike. I’ve boarded my animals there before and have been very thrilled with the level of care. Please note that Best Friends does require vaccination records at check-in (Best Friends has very specific rules about vaccinations, even for doggy daycare and doggy day camp, which you can read about here). Reservations at Best Friends for boarding, doggy daycare, and doggy day camp are highly encouraged as the facility can fill up.
Where Can I Get Food For My Dog?
Don’t expect Walt Disney resort hotels to start stocking dog food any time soon. If you want to pick up food, treats, or other supplies for your dogs, the usual off-site grocery stores and super centers (Target, Walmart) offer a decent selection. You can also have dog food delivered by services like Garden Grocer, Amazon Prime, or Instacart. For general pet supplies, the closest PetSmart is located in Winter Garden, FL (about a 25-minute drive up 429).
Can I Take My Dog To…?
The short answer is no. You cannot take your pet to a Walt Disney World Theme Park, Disney Springs, Disney water parks, Disney golf courses, or anywhere in the resort that is not a designated dog path or designated dog-friendly hotel room. And please, please, please do not leave your dog in a car even for a few minutes. Even on a cloudy or cool day, and even if you leave a window cracked, temperatures in cars can rise quickly, leading to serious injury or death.
Is There a Dog Park?
Yes, sort of. Walt Disney World has two dog parks on property–One is at Best Friends Pet Resort, but is only for the use of registered Best Friends guests. The other is at Fort Wilderness, however due to parking restrictions, you will not be guaranteed to be allowed to park at Fort Wilderness, and you cannot take a Disney transportation bus to get there with your dog. Your only option would be to take a Minnie Van (which can drop you off at that location) or an Uber/taxi, which may drop you off at the Outpost and require you to walk to the dog park, which is located near Loop 300.
What Are Some Other Considerations?
Certainly, the cost is prohibitive for many people who are thinking about bringing their dogs on vacation, but there are some other considerations to keep in mind. My pets are used to the nightly sound of fireworks, but our neighbor’s dog still cowers in terror at its home every night. The sound of the fireworks can be rather loud at these resorts, and so if you know your dog is afraid of loud noises (fireworks, thunderstorms, etc.), you will want to have someone with the dog for the dog’s comfort each evening during fireworks. Also, like people, animals do behave differently when they are on vacation compared with when they are at home. You might consider bringing a webcam/security camera to be able to check in on your dog throughout the day to make sure your dog is having a quiet and restful day alone in the room. Alternatively, you can book doggy daycare or doggy day camp at Best Friends and have them do the work of making sure your dog has fun while you’re having fun.
Travel can be stressful on pets, so you may want to do a trial run by booking a hotel at home and leaving your dog there for a day (if their rules permit it) to see how your dog reacts. Like people, some dogs are fantastic travelers. Others may be less excited about the vacation experience.
I’m Allergic to/Afraid of Dogs–Will There Be A Disney Hotel I Can Stay At?
As someone with allergies that can trigger an anaphylaxis reaction, I absolutely understand the concerns about allergies. Disney has stated that only certain rooms/areas/buildings will be dog-friendly and the rest of the rooms will remain pet-free. If you have allergy or sensitivity concerns, make sure to note this at check-in and Disney will work with you to keep you far, far away from the dog-friendly rooms of the resort and can even let you know where the dog walking paths are so you can avoid them.
Will This Expand to Other Disney Resort Hotels or Theme Parks?
It is almost certain that Disney will not expand this to allow dogs in the theme parks–the safety issues caused by dogs in theme parks are significant, as attractions aren’t designed for dogs. If the program is successful, it may expand to other resort hotels, however in line with industry standards, there will be only certain areas in certain parts of a resort hotel that will be dog-friendly. The majority of rooms in Disney resort hotels will remain pet-free.
Why Is Disney Doing This Now?
Short answer, people have asked for it and it is a way to make money. But it also is the trend in the hotel industry to become more dog-friendly over the years. Universal has had dog-friendly options for a while, for instance. You can read our review of it here. In reality, there will be some people who want to make use of this service, but I doubt you’ll see the resorts overrun with Great Danes any time soon. The cost is prohibitive, and although it is nice to have your dog stay with you, if you’re planning to spend a lot of time in the parks, you’ll still be paying and taking time to get your dog off to doggy daycare or day camp as an added expense. Plus, having traveled with animals before, the logistics are much more challenging than even traveling with a young child. Once the novelty wears off, I doubt you’ll see too many people doing extended stay with Fido and Fluffy, but I do expect that the option will continue going forward for those who want to make use of it.
Have any additional questions about this new service? Let us know in the comments.