At the end of a long day of park touring, sometimes the only thing you have the energy for is kicking back and watching a movie. Sure you can do that in your hotel room on the TV or your trusty iPad, but it can feel a bit more vacationy to watch a movie under the stars. And wouldn’t you know, Disney has you covered. Here’s everything you need to know about outdoor movie viewing at Walt Disney World.
Does every Disney hotel show outdoor movies?
In general, yes. There may be situations where construction or refurbishment temporarily halts the movies at that particular hotel.
There is one case where sister resorts, the Yacht & Beach Clubs, share a movie location. One resort, the Animal Kingdom Lodge, has two movie locations.
Is there a charge for the outdoor movies?
Nope, the cost is included with your resort stay.
Do I have to stay for the whole movie? Is it weird to leave in the middle?
Not at all. Since most of the movies are near the pools, guest will often pop in and out of viewing, alternating a few minutes of screen time with a few minutes of swim time.
I will often stop and watch just a few minutes of a film if I pass one while walking back to my hotel room in the evening.
Are movies shown every night?
Usually yes. Some resorts have experimented with twice-a-week movies in the off season, but for the most part you can expect that your hotel will show an outdoor movie every night, weather permitting.
Where will the movies be shown?
Most outdoor movie locations are near the resort’s beach or pool. Here’s a full list of locations:
- All Star Movies: At the Fantasia pool.
- All Star Music: At the Calypso pool.
- All Star Sports: At the Surfboard pool.
- Animal Kingdom Lodge: Two locations, at the Jambo pool and at the Kidani pool.
- Art of Animation: At the Big Blue pool.
- Beach Club (and Villas): On the beach between the Yacht & Beach Clubs.
- Boardwalk (and Villas): At the Community Hall pool.
- Caribbean Beach: At the Banana Cabana.
- Contemporary (and Bay Lake Tower): Under the sky bridge linking the main Contemporary and Bay Lake Tower buildings.
- Coronado Springs: At the Dig Site pool.
- Fort Wilderness: At the theater near the bike barn.
- Grand Floridian (and Villas): On the Courtyard lawn.
- Old Key West: At the main pool.
- Polynesian: At the beach.
- Pop Century: At the Hippy Dippy pool.
- Port Orleans French Quarter: On the lawn between buildings 5 and 6.
- Port Orleans Riverside: On the lawn near Oak Manor building 90.
- Saratoga Springs: At the High Springs pool.
- Wilderness Lodge (and Villas): On the beach, near the bike rental shack.
- Yacht Club: On the beach between the Yacht & Beach Clubs.
How do I know which movie is playing?
When you check in, you’ll be given a weekly schedule of resort activities. This will include the movies being shown that week. There are also signs posted near most resort pools and in the lobby.
What time do the movies start?
This varies seasonally. The movies typically start at dusk, which could mean a 7:00pm start in the winter and a 9:00pm start during the summer. The resort schedule will tell you the exact show time for your visit. The start times are usually the same at all resorts.
Can I watch the outdoor movie at another resort?
Usually yes. Since there are no tickets needed and no charge, it’s easy to stop by the outdoor movie at any resort. For example, if you’re having dinner at a hotel, it’s perfectly fine to stop and watch the movie after your meal. One resort, Fort Wilderness, actively encourages guests to visit from other resorts. Also, the clustered hotels (the three All Stars and the two Port Orleans branches) routinely tell guests to watch movies at any of the sister resorts.
The one hotel where you may run into issues if you’re not a guest of that hotel is Art of Animation. The AoA movie is shown at the Big Blue pool area, which is gated. The gate only unlocks by using the MagicBand or Key to the World Card of a registered guest.
How do I know what movies are playing at the other hotels?
The concierge desks at all the hotels as well as all the park Guest Relations desks have access to this information. Feel free to stop by and ask. You’re also welcome to call the hotel directly.
Is the same movie shown at every resort?
No, each hotel has its own schedule.
Is the movie experience the same at every resort?
Generally yes, with one exception, Fort Wilderness.
At all other resorts, there is an inflatable screen. Cast members pull beach/pool chairs around the screen to create an ad hoc viewing area.
The Fort Wilderness movies take place in a permanent outdoor amphitheater-style setting. There are benches with backs as well as some bleacher seating. Weather permitting, there is a campfire (with supplies available for purchase) and a half-hour sing-along with live musicians and Chip & Dale in attendance. All are welcome, even if you’re staying at off-site accommodations. In my opinion, this is one of the best deals going at Walt Disney World.
What types of movies are shown?
Not surprisingly, you’ll see Disney and Pixar movies at the Disney hotels. All the outdoor movies are rated G or PG. Many of the films shown are animated Disney classics. Cinderella, Beauty & the Beast, and Dumbo all show up with some regularity. However, you’ll sometimes see backlist live action films, Disney Channel original movies, or holiday themed features.
In flipping through some resort schedules from the past year, some of the off-canon films shown poolside have included Cool Runnings, Frankenweenie, Freaky Friday, and The Odd Life of Timothy Green.
Will my child be frightened at the movie?
You know your child best. Many Disney films do have some scary moments. SPOILER ALERT: Bambi’s mother dies. Malificent has a nasty cackle. Townsfolk try to kill the Beast. And that’s just the tame stuff.
Even a movie that your child has no problem watching on your home DVR may become overwhelming in an unfamiliar environment, in the dark, when he’s exhausted from a day of park touring. The good news is that you’re probably pretty close to your hotel room. If your child begins to implode during the film, just take him back for bedtime.
Is the movie always chosen in advance?
Typically yes. Some resorts do have a “guest choice” night once a week or so. When this happens, there will usually be two or three options presented and guests vote. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to choose from the Disney catalog at large.
What happens if it rains?
Most resorts have an alternative indoor location that’s used in case of rain or extremely cold weather.
Are there snacks/popcorn available?
Several resorts will have a free campfire within the hour before the movie. The campfire will distribute free s’mores making materials.
There are typically not any snacks provided by Disney at the outdoor movies themselves, but you’re welcome to bring your own. The resort gift shops and food courts are well stocked with packaged treats you could enjoy during the film. At the resorts where the movie is at the pool, you’ll have easy access to the pool bar.
Are the outdoor movies too noisy? Will I actually be able to watch the film?
This varies considerably depending on the circumstances. The poolside films are generally a bit more active than the ones that take place on lawns or beaches. Films shown earlier in the evening tend to be busier than later shows. But it’s really a roll of the dice as to who shows up on any given night. If you want to really watch the movie, I suggest sitting fairly close to the screen and speaker.
What have your experiences been with the outdoor movies at Walt Disney World? Is this a must-do for your family? Have you seen any odd movies poolside? Let us know in the comments below.