Four Walt Disney World resort hotels are now dog-friendly as part of a pilot program that we’d expect will expand to other hotels if successful. In this post, we’ll share details about WDW’s dog-friendly program, fees, and what we think of this change.
August 14, 2018 UPDATE: The one-year pilot program was quietly extended with an email notice yesterday, and Walt Disney World’s FAQ page about this policy now reflects that it is an “ongoing pilot program.” The email contained no new details, and did not elaborate on future plans. As Walt Disney World’s dog-friendly hotel policy has been hugely controversial, we no longer expect this to be expanded to other resorts–at least not in the immediate future.
If the dog-friendly program is expanded, it will likely be done by quietly updating that FAQ and certainly without a splashy press release. From what we’ve heard, Walt Disney World was caught off-guard by the blowback to this policy, and given the low percentage of guests taking advantage of this program, it’s unlikely it was worth the initial blowback. At this point, it’s one of those, “what done is done” kind of things–but not worth reopening that divisive can of worms. In any case, what follows is the original info about the dog-friendly policy, which will remain accurate through 2019…
First, the details. As noted, this is starting at only four Walt Disney World resort hotels, which will each have a number of designated rooms that are dog-friendly. This means that there are still 20+ hotels at Walt Disney World that do not accommodate pets, along with all of the rooms in those 4 hotels that are not dog-friendly. Below is each hotel’s per night/per room pet-cleaning rate is:
- Disney’s Art of Animation Resort – $50/night
- Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort – $50/night
- Disney’s Yacht Club Resort – $75/night
- Cabins at Disney’s Ft. Wilderness Resort – $50/night
A maximum of two dogs per room can be accommodated. Each guest room will have easy access to outdoor pet walkways for exercise and green spaces with pet relief areas. Guests will also receive an amenity at check-in called “Pluto’s Welcome Kit” that includes a mat, bowls, a pet ID tag, courtesy plastic disposable bags, puppy pads, a doggie do not disturb door hanger, and dog walking maps.
There are also rules: while dogs will be allowed to stay in guest rooms, they will be expected to be well behaved, leashed in public resort areas and properly vaccinated. This being a change at Walt Disney World, of course it has been met with some degree of controversy…
As soon as Walt Disney World announced this change on the Disney Parks Blog, social media blew up. To be fair, a lot of the comments were of the positive and excited variety, but a disproportionate (in our estimation) number were outrage over this program.
I was honestly a bit taken aback by the comments expressing intense disapproval. Not because I think anyone who dislikes dogs is a heartless monster, but because it’s only four hotels. Moreover, it really isn’t some ground-breaking program. It was an inevitability given the larger hospitality industry. While I can empathize with those who have pet allergies, this is a growing movement among hoteliers, and the practical reality is that service animals have been staying in hotels for ages, and if you didn’t notice an issue then, you probably won’t going forward.
It’s not as if Walt Disney World is suddenly going to become Canine City, a lawless place overrun with dogs, fleas, and feces. What will prevent this (aside from rules, responsible pet owners, and a cleaning staff) is the fact that bringing a pet on vacation is prohibitively expensive and inconvenient for most guests. For a minority of visitors, that’s not the case, and this represents a nice option for them.
We know this because the concept of a pet-friendly hotel is not something Walt Disney World invented. It has been a growing trend in the hotel industry for the last several years (if not longer) and is a feature that is prominently advertised because people like–even non-owners. In fact, Hotels.com indicates that around 25% of the hotels it lists are pet-friendly. Another report by Fortune shows the number as high as 60%.
This is another reason why the outrage comes as a surprise. A growing number of hotels welcome pets, and not just the ‘run-down’ ones, either. As those articles points out, W Hotels, Loews, Park Hyatt, and Kimpton welcome pets, as do other posh and trendy luxury hotels (an estimated 80% of luxury hotels are pet friendly). It’s also increasingly commonplace among boutique hotels and other segments of the industry, so it should really come as no surprise that Walt Disney World is finally catching up with this industry standard.
This is especially the case given that Walt Disney World has far greater latitude than the average hotel in simultaneously accommodating both pets and those with pet allergies. With each of the four hotels above either having multiple wings or separate satellite buildings, it’s easy for Disney to designate one section pet-friendly, and reserve those rooms for pet owners, while leaving the rest of the hotel ‘normal.’
Walt Disney World has indicated in its FAQ that this separation will occur with “Certain floors or sections of a hotel will be designated as dog-friendly, while the majority of areas will remain canine-free to accommodate Guests with allergies or other concerns.” (Given the ease with which Disney hotels can accommodate dogs while also accommodating others, we would be surprised if this pilot program does not expand to many additional hotels at Walt Disney World.)
That’s how it works at many other hotels in the world who welcome pooches, and the problems are not nearly as dire or widespread as the ‘sky is falling’ crowd on social media is anticipating. We spend a ton of time in pet-friendly hotels every year (never with our own dog, since he’s not exactly…uh…”social”), and we’ve yet to have an issue with a barking dog or pet-soiled room. To the contrary, we rarely even see dogs in hotels, except for in hotels that are aggressively catering to dog owners. (Shorebreak Huntington Beach is a great choice if you want to see plenty of doggos on your vacation.)
Numerous other hotels have managed to figure this out (along with pretty much the entirety of Europe), so there’s already proof of concept on pet-friendly hotels. It can work. Hotels already do offer stays without incident for dog-owners and those who dislike dogs or have allergies. We don’t utter the “trust in Disney” cliche often, but this is probably a scenario where you can safely trust that Walt Disney World will be able to handle something that so many other hoteliers have done just fine with implementing.
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Do you agree or disagree with our take on 4 Walt Disney World hotels becoming pet friendly? Are you concerned about allergies, noise, smell, cleanliness, or some other issue? Excited to see more dogs at Walt Dogsney World? 😉 Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!