This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at BEST FRIENDS PET HOTEL at Walt Disney World! For those families who travel with pets, there are several options available for your Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando vacations. Over at Universal, several of onsite hotels are part of the Loews Loves Pets program, and you can bring your dogs (or cats) to Royal Pacific, Sapphire Falls, or Portofino Bay. The Hard Rock Hotel has its own Unleashed program for pet owners. Meanwhile, over at Disney you have dog-friendly hotels Yacht Club, Port Orleans Riverside, and Art of Animation along with the cabins at Fort Wilderness. While it is great having your four legged friend with you onsite, our family has found our favorite option for either a WDW or Universal say is Best Friends Pet Hotel, and here’s why…
# 6 – Where is Best Friends Pet Hotel?
Best Friends is located on Walt Disney World property (off Bonnet Creek Parkway) and is directly across the street from Port Orleans Riverside. It is easy to get to for anyone staying onsite at Disney, and not that far a drive down I-4 from the Universal Orlando Resort.
Here is the signage outside of Best Friends, and in the background you can see the main entrance to Port Orleans Riverside.
There is artwork on the building for both Lady & the Tramp along with the Siamese cats. Reminder that the few Disney hotels that accept pets only allow dogs, but Best Friends accepts dogs, cats, and pocket pets (guinea pigs, hamsters, sugar gliders etc).
# 5 – Check in
Once entering Best Friends, the very first room you enter is the lobby where you check in your pets. Not only are their various room options (which you can see HERE) but also an à la carte menu with other things to plus your pets experience.
Like I’m going to be the Doggy Daddy who doesn’t get his pup an ice cream?!!
On the other side of the lobby you can peek into the room with the pups enrolled into the Doggy Day Camp.
Elsewhere in the lobby you’ll see this fun board with the Campers of the Month.
The lobby has better Disney branded snacks than any other onsite WDW hotel.
Is this incredible or what?!
The selection of pet toys is absolutely wonderful.
Bacini loves the toys we got from Best Friends so much I can’t even get a picture of him sitting still with one nearby. Here is him attacking me to get me to throw this Pups Blue Ribbon “Big Boy” toy.
Loved these snack based plush.
These toys go harder than they had to and I respect that.
# 4 – Outdoor Grounds
The lobby also connects to the Best Friends dog park area. This is a very large fenced in area where you can let your dogs run around and play.
You can come by Best Friends to check on your pet and enjoy some time in this area.
There is also a very long Dog Walk section that is separated from the Dog Park area.
#3 – Vacation Villas and Luxury Suites
When we first discovered Best Friends several years ago, we had our dog boarding overnight using the “Indoor/Outdoor” package. It was reasonably priced, had a photo update with our dogs, and overall we were really satisfied with the experience. Our dog was at an advanced age at the time, and we felt he was being treated great by the Best Friends staff. For those concerned, Best Friends also separates the puppies and senior dogs from the others. While he didn’t look it, our Yorkshire Terrier was 16 years old and was boarded with the puppies and senior dogs. The staff seemed to have meticulous notes on our dog’s behavior during his stay, and there always seemed to be plenty of employees around.
When Bacini came into our lives in 2019, we wanted to try out a Vacation Villa. For the Villas, after guests check in you get to accompany your dog to their room.
Each Vacation Villa is 72 square feet in size and air conditioned. Each Villa includes: a Welcome Freely Bone Broth Pop, 1 Potty Walk, 1 Playtime or Play & Stay, Bed Time Story, Flat Screen TV, PetChatz Webcam Unit, Premium Bedding & Bowls, and a Private Outdoor Patio.
On his first trip, we had to coax Bacini to check out the outdoor patio of his Villa.
The TVs in the rooms play a variety of programs including Disney animated films, live action films based around animals (such as Garfield) and the Bob Barker years of The Price is Right.
If you go back to an earlier photo in this section, you’ll see that back in 2019 the Vacation Villa hallway was the end of the Best Friends Pet Hotel at the time. In the time since, Best Friends have added on an huge addition to the property which features more Vacation Villas along with some Luxury Suites.
The wall on the left side of this photo below was the former end of Best Friends Pet Hotel. Everything past it is new. There are two Club Suites, which are the rooms you see at on the left hand side of this hallway.
Walking past the two Club Suites leads to this new wing at Best Friends which has about 20 or so Luxury Suites.
The size and accommodations of the new Luxury Suites are the same as the Vacation Villas, but the raised concrete block has been removed. The Villas include 1 walk and 1 activity while the Luxury Suites include 2 walks and 2 activities. To see pricing on Vacation Villas, Luxury Suites, and Club Suites CLICK HERE.
Let’s backtrack a quick moment. In early April when I was planning a trip to Walt Disney World with the family, I looked into booking Bacini into a Vacation Villa because we loved the experience so much. On the Best Friends website, the following pop up appeared…
The Club Suites at Best Friends are a whopping 182 square feet in size. To put that size in perspective. a standard human room at a Disney Value Resort is 260 sq ft, while a standard inside cabin on the Disney Cruise Line is 169 sq ft.
Each Club Suite includes: Personal Concierge, Welcome Freely Bone Broth Pop, 2 Potty Walks, 2 (15 min) Playtimes or Play & Stay, Bed Time Story, Flat Screen TV, PetChatz Webcam Unit, Premium Bedding & Bowls, Private Outdoor Patio, Daily/Nightly Pet Updates with Photo, and a Best Friends Tote w/ Seasonal Gifts.
Here is a peek into a Club Suite upon opening the door. The toys and t-shirt on the floor were items that we brought from home for Bacini to have during his stay.
Here is another view, which shows the room from the other end of the Club Suite.
For this trip, Bacini IMMEDIATELY ran to the outdoor patio and continued to go in and out of it during the time we were with him in the room.
Bacini peeking in to see if we were still around.
The outdoor patio includes an area for dogs to do their business.
Outside every Vacation Villa and Suite is this mailbox where you can store items for your dog, including leashes, harness, special treats, etc.
# 2 – PetChatz
The biggest determining factor for us originally booking a Vacation Villa at Best friends was the PetChatz Webcam in each unit. When checking in, you are given a pamphlet that goes over which app to download and credentials to access the Webcam in your unit. The Webcam is located directly under the TV in each room.
When we first experienced the PetChatz feature at a Vacation Villa, I downloaded the app while in the room to see how everything worked before we even left Best Friends. It was easy and worked great, much better than I could have ever hoped.
For us, even when we stay onsite at hotels that are dog friendly, when we are at the theme parks we are constantly wondering how our dog is doing back in the room. For places like Royal Pacific and Hard Rock Hotel, you can get back to your room relatively fast no matter which Universal park you are in, so we would do routine check ins with Bacini at the room. At Walt Disney World, that is just not as practical. There is no fast way to get from the Magic Kingdom to the Yacht Club, or even our cabin at Fort Wilderness. Being able to access PetChatz was a complete game changer for us because it allowed us to get a live view of Bacini at any time.
The PetChatz offers a “chat mode” where you can talk to your dog through the Webcam, and a “silent mode” where you are basically just looking into the room. In the chat mode, you are essentially FaceTiming your pet. In the photo below, I was checking in on Bacini while getting ready to go to bed in our room at Disney’s Caribbean Beach. I didn’t realize I had the chat mode on and accidentally woke Bacini up from his sleep.
I tried again a little while later and Bacini was back snoozing. For us, this brought a peace of mind that made the Vacation Villa well worth the cost.
From that point on, we always booked Bacini into a Vacation Villa so that we could have the PetChatz feature. The screencap below was taken from another trip while we were in line to rope drop Volcano Bay.
For our most recent WDW trip, when Bacini stayed in the Club Suite, we accessed the PetChatz throughout our park days. Here we are at the TTC as a monorail arrives .
Another time we were in a Skyliner cabin above Caribbean Beach.
# 1 – Benefits of the Club Suite
For Bacini, the differences between a Vacation Villa and a Club Suite are: 1) size of room 2) an extra potty walk and an extra playtime. For us Pet Parents, the benefits of a Club Suite include this fantastic Best Friends bag which was loaded with items. This was by far and away the highest quality bag we have ever received.
Items in the bag included a high intensity flashlight (which you could put on your keychain.)
A Best Friends Pet Hotel “chip clip”…
…which we use at home to seal up his Bark Box treats (I told you this dog was spoiled rotten, right?)
This Best Friends branded item was a flashing light, which will be great for our outdoor walks at night.
A Best Friends poop bag container was put immediately onto His Majesty’s stroller once we got home.
Best Friends branded frisbee.
I’m not 100% sure what this item is, but I feel pretty confident it is a foldable water bowl.
Here it is unfolded.
Best Friends 2022 charm.
We also got a couple magnets. The one on the right would most likely be put on a guest’s vehicle, but since we don’t put magnets on our cars…
…it joins the collection on our fridge.
As big of a game changer as the PetChatz Webcam was for us, the Club Level included “Daily/Night pet updates with photo” that would be sent via text. This would be the realization of what we have wanted from every Doggy Day Care/Pet Boarding place we have ever used over the years. At home, we use a fantastic place for Doggy Day Care, however getting any actual updates on Bacini would fall into the category of “little to none.” All pet owners are at the whim of whatever their social media person decides to post on Facebook or Instagram. Sometimes we’ll see Bacini in a post. Sometimes we’ll see him in the background of a photo. But most days I drop him off in the morning, pick him up after work, and there is zero knowledge of what he actually did during the day (other than his huge smile picking him up letting me know he had a great time). When staying in a Club Suite at Best Friends, you get updates.
We dropped Bacini off at Best Friends between noon and 1PM. We then went directly to Pop Century to check into our room. Shortly after 2PM we already recieved our first text update and photo from Best Friends letting us know that Bacini had already had a walk outside and was enjoying some ice cream.
We received updates consistently throughout our vacation. Here we are the next morning rope dropping Animal Kingdom and getting an update on Bacini’s morning at Best Friends.
At EPCOT in the afternoon we received an update on Bacini enjoying a walk outside.
While waiting for Enchantment to begin at the Magic Kingdom, we got an update on Bacini getting ready for bed.
The pictures sent by the staff at Best Friends were wonderful.
The staff at Best Friends would also text me any questions they had.
One of the amenities that comes with a Vacation Villa, Luxury Suite, and Club Suite stay is a bed time story for your dog. When we checked Bacini out of Best Friends, the employee talked to us about how Bacini enjoyed this part of this stay and how relaxed he was. I asked Best Friends if they could send a photo of what the bed time story experience looks like…
Is this adorable or what? Laying on his back sprawled out is exactly how Bacini is at home when he is comfortable too.
With the rooms, PetChatz Webcam, and photo updates, I can not recommend a Club Suite at Best Friends highly enough. This stay was like someone took all the ideas I have wanted for pet boarding and implemented them. The experience was better than we could have ever hoped for. Because Disney’s onsite hotels that are dog friendly weren’t built dog friendly, there is not many reasons to recommend them to dog owners. Unlike Universal, which has large grounds dedicated to dogs and built with them in mind, Disney just shoe horned pet areas into already existing hotels. Best Friends is a much better option to bring you pet to, and several of the rates are cheaper than the pet fee you have to pay at a Disney hotel anyway (when we stayed years ago it was $50 a night at AoA/Port Orleans and $75 a night at Yacht Club. Something tells me given the state of Disney pricing those haven’t gone down and if anything are even more expensive now.) The staff taking care of pets at Best Friends are wonderful, your four legged friend is going to have a great time, and you get to enjoy a Disney vacation with less stress. That’s a classic Michael Scott win-win-win scenario.
For more information on Best Friends Pet Hotel, check out their website: www.BestFriendsPetCare.com
So there you have it: The SATURDAY SIX Goes to BEST FRIENDS PET HOTEL at Walt Disney World! See you next weekend for the latest installment of the SATURDAY SIX, where we’ll look at something fun from the world of Disney and Universal. If you enjoyed yourself, be sure to check out the THEME PARK ENJOYMENT INDEX, giving a monthly recap of all the theme park news you need to know (and a lot more you don’t need to know, but we’re gonna tell you anyway). You can also follow Your Humble Author on Twitter (@derekburgan).
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Special Thanks to The Elite Brandon Glover, Digital Maestro Scott Walker, the bio-est of all reconstructs @bioreconstruct, Captain Cruiseline Scott Sanders of the world famous Disney Cruise Line Blog, my personal protege Hunter “Elvey” Underwood, artist @SonderQuest, the mighty maven of merchandise Hedgehog’s Corner, the SAT SIX Fun Squad of Parkscope Joe and “the Dadalorian” Nick, hot shot Michael Carelli, charter member of the Universal Four @Nitro230, the permit princess Alicia Stella, master cartographer Tommy Hawkins, and Hermione Granger’s tutor Megan Stump for their invaluable assistance with this article. Absolutely no help was added by SeaWorld Influencer @SuperWeenieHtJr. The SAT SIX is inspired each week by goofballs Aengus Mackenzie and LitemAndHyde and you Potterheads will enjoy Meg’s other blog work over at the Central Florida Slug Club.