Dogs at Disney World: Everything You Need to Know

There’s mad excitement in your household about an upcoming vacation to Disney World. Grandma, grandpa, mom, dad, and the kiddos can’t wait to meet Mickey Mouse. But one member of the family may have to miss out on all the fun. If you have a dog in your family, we bet you’re feeling guilty about leaving him at home, with friends, or in a kennel. Wouldn’t it be great if you could take the most beloved member of your household on the trip? But, can dogs go to Disney World?

The good news is yes, you can totally bring your dog to Disney World. Some Disney Resort hotels welcome pets and allow them to stay with their families in the room. What’s more, while you visit the parks in Walt Disney World during the daytime, your dog can enjoy a vacation of their own with a range of activities and first-rate accommodation at Disney’s pet boarding facilities.

But a word of caution here. Traveling with a dog can be a complex process. You need to be aware of the rules regarding bringing your dog to Disney World. You should also get familiar with the options you’ll have, what they include, and how much they’ll cost when you bring a canine guest on your Disney vacation. This guide will tell you everything you need to know about bringing your dog to Disney World so you and your furry friend can have a fantastic trip.

Pet policy at Disney World

In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, all Disney theme parks, resort hotels, and attractions welcome service animals (most commonly these are service dogs, but other animals are welcome too). Your service dog is allowed to stay with you in your hotel room, wait in line with you for the rides, and accompany you on most rides as long as it is not deemed dangerous for the dog or other guests (a notable exception is rollercoasters where there are safety concerns and restraint requirements). Your service dog can also accompany you to food and beverage areas and on all types of Disney transportation. Essentially, a service animal can go wherever you go in Walt Disney World as long as he is on a leash and harness. But Disney is not nearly as welcoming to pet dogs.

Can dogs go to Disney World?

Now, while service animals are permitted throughout Walt Disney World, pets and companion animals, including emotional support animals, are not allowed in all locations.

Disney’s pet policy says that pets are not permitted in the theme parks, water parks, and at most resort hotels. This policy reflects Disney’s need to keep your pets safe and to allow all guests to enjoy the parks safely.

However, much to the joy of animal lovers, in recent years Disney has tweaked this previously strict policy to benefit dog owners. Now, your pet dog can come with you to Disney World. For now, this pilot program only welcomes dogs (cats and other pets are not yet included). If you do bring your dog on your Disney vacation to Orlando, you’ll have two options.

The first is to book a room at one of Walt Disney World’s four dog-friendly hotels. In these hotels, your dog can stay with you in your room and you can spend time together in designated areas of the resort.

The other option is to use a boarding facility for your pet, either onsite at Disney’s Best Friends Pet Care or offsite somewhere in Orlando. The advantage of onsite boarding at Disney World is that your dog will be in a safe, caring environment and can stay with you in your room in the evenings if you wish. Or you can visit your pet at Best Friends which is located near the Port Orleans Riverside Resort. If you choose offsite boarding, you can’t be sure of the level of service. You may also have to drive some distance to the boarding facility whenever you want to see your dog.

Pet-friendly hotels in Disney World

Since 2017, Disney has allowed dogs in four of its resort hotels (other pets like cats, hamsters, and exotic animals like reptiles are not yet permitted and must be housed in a boarding facility). The four dog-friendly hotels in Walt Disney World are:

  • Port Orleans Riverside Resort
  • Art of Animation Resort
  • Yacht Club Resort
  • Cabins at Fort Wilderness

It’s worth noting that only certain areas of these hotels are pet-friendly and other areas remain off-limits to your pet. However, the dog-friendly rooms at these Disney resorts have quick access to outdoor pet walking and relief areas.

Perks of staying at a pet-friendly Disney Resort hotel

If you check in to a Disney resort hotel with your furry companion, you’ll be able to spend time enjoying the designated areas of the resort with them. Your pet will receive Pluto’s Welcome Kit which includes a bandana, food mat, food and water bowls, and maps to dog-friendly walking paths and play areas. You’ll also have access to Best Friends Pet Care, a full-service pet care facility where your dog can enjoy treats, playgroups, exercise, grooming, pampering, and more (extra charges apply).

Rules for dogs at Disney resort hotels

As noted, service animals can accompany you to the theme parks, everywhere in the resort hotels, and at most attractions. For pets and companion animals the following rules apply:

  • Your dog should be vaccinated and more than 4 months of age.
  • Your dog cannot roam the grounds of the resort hotel unrestricted. The majority of common areas, even at the pet-friendly Disney resorts, are off-limits to dogs (except service animals).
  • There are designated pet relief areas and walking trails close to the dog-friendly rooms at each of the four Disney resorts, and you must restrict your pet to these areas.
  • Your dog must be on a leash at all times.
  • Your dog is not permitted to enter lakes, ponds, or fountains in the resort.
  • Your dog is not allowed in food and beverage areas or the pool and fitness areas.
  • Your dog is not allowed on furniture in public areas.
  • A maximum of two dogs per room is permitted.
  • There are no breed restrictions or weight limits on canine guests at Disney.
  • There’s no Disney dog shuttle as yet. Pet dogs are allowed on some of Disney’s transportation services such as motorcoaches and minivans. However, only service animals are permitted on the monorail, boats, and (possibly) the Disney Skyliner.

Restrictions on dogs at Disney World

Even at a dog-friendly resort in Disney World, there are some restrictions on where you can stay with your pet. These resorts only allow pets on select floors to protect other guests who may have allergies. From the 28,000 rooms on Disney properties in Orlando, only 250 rooms are dog-friendly. The availability of pet-friendly rooms is, therefore, limited. So, if you’re bringing a canine guest to Disney World, it’s a good idea to book your room as early as possible. Also remember, there are no pet services available at the resorts themselves, such as having someone come to your room to feed or walk your dog. For that, you’ll have to take advantage of Best Friends Pet Care on Disney grounds.

Best Friends Pet Care at Walt Disney World

On the days you’re hanging out at your Disney hotel, your dog can spend the day with you – in your room or the designated dog-friendly areas of the resort. But on most days, you’ll be heading out to the theme parks. On such days, it’s no fun for your pet to stay alone in the hotel room all day.

Instead, consider using the onsite Disney boarding facility called Best Friends Pet Care. It’s a fun place for your dog to spend the day in a supervised setting. Your pet can stay for a few hours, one day, or a whole week or more. If you board your pet overnight at Best Friends Pet Care, you can visit her after your day at the theme park, play or walk the grounds with her, or just spend time together.

There are 75 highly trained staff members at this “pet resort” who are all animal lovers. They will shower your dog with love and attention and ensure he has plenty of fun. The impressive 50,000-square feet facility includes a sprawling dog park for outdoor fun, covered outdoor running and play areas, as well as airconditioned indoor spaces for comfort. All pet suites are safe and undergo thorough cleaning daily.

If you want to spoil your dog silly, there are VIP Vacation Villas at Best Friends Pet Care where your dog will enjoy a large tiled bedroom with flatscreen television, private patio, playgroup session, walk, and turndown service.

But that’s not all. You can sign your dog up for some pampering and grooming (cats and other small animals are also welcome here). Grooming packages include everything from a standard bath to tooth cleaning, ear cleaning, nail clipping, shed reduction treatments, hypoallergenic shampoo and massage, and full spa pampering treatments.

Best Friends Pet Care operates all days of the week. It opens one hour before the theme parks and closes one hour after the parks close. Checkout time is 12 noon for overnight canine guests.

Cost of bringing your dog to Disney World

When you stay at a dog-friendly Disney Resort hotel and bring your dog with you, a pet cleaning fee is applicable per room per night, starting from $5/night at the Fort Wilderness campsite to $50/night at the Art of Animation Resort, Port Orleans Riverside Resort, and Cabins at Fort Wilderness. The pet cleaning fee is $75/night at the Yacht Club Resort. (Rates subject to change).

If you board your dog at Best Friends Pet Care, rates for resort guests start at $41/night for an indoor suite and go all the way up to $83/night for a VIP Luxury Suite. If you choose to leave your pet at Doggie Day Camp during the day and have him stay with you in your hotel room at night, expect to pay $27 per day. Doggie Day Camp has its own webcam so you can check in on your pet while you’re in the theme park.

You can also sign your dog up for activities like play and stay (4 hours of play with other dogs) for $22 or Walk and Explore for $8. (Check the official website for the latest rates). There are other activities available a la carte as well.

Keeping your dog in your Disney Resort room

You may be bringing your dog to Disney World, but you may not be too excited about shelling out extra bucks on facilities like Best Friends Pet Care. When you’re staying at the pet-friendly Disney hotels, you are allowed to leave your dog in the room while you visit the theme parks. Whether you should do this depends on your dog’s temperament. If she’s used to staying alone for several hours and is happy in a quiet environment, then this is certainly an option while you’re out exploring the parks.

However, this solution is less likely to work for dogs who can’t handle long periods unsupervised, especially in a new environment. If you leave your dog in your hotel room, they are expected to remain silent. If your dog is barking or otherwise being disruptive, you can expect a call from the hotel asking you to return to your room within 30 minutes and calm your pup down. Disney does not recommend leaving pets unattended in resort rooms for more than 7 hours a day.

Also, you should be aware that housekeeping will not clean your room if your pet is inside alone. You’ll have to ask them to come around when you’re in the room or are taking your dog out for a walk. Your pet’s welcome kit will include a “Do Not Disturb” door sign that tells hotel staff that your dog is in the room.

Checklist of things to bring with your dog to Disney World

Any time you check into a pet-friendly resort at Disney World with your dog, you’ll need to bring some things along to make the stay safe and comfortable for your furry companion.

  • Sturdy leash and collar.
  • Tag and ID.
  • Proof of vaccinations (send it to the hotel in advance and bring a copy with you just in case).
  • Pet food (dog food and treats are available for purchase at the four pet-friendly Disney resorts but your dog will likely be happiest with familiar foods) – you can have packages delivered to your Disney Resort hotel up to a week before your arrival, so it may not be a bad idea to order your dog’s favorite treats and food brands from an online pet supply store and have them delivered to your hotel ahead of your arrival.
  • Bedding and toys (again, you can always purchase toys and gear if you need them from the onsite shops at the resort, but it’s best to come prepared).

Also, don’t forget that there are no vets on-site in Disney World. That’s why it’s a good idea to look up emergency veterinary care in Orlando before you leave home and have those numbers on hand.

Should I bring my dog to Disney World?

A Disney vacation for your furry companion sounds like a great idea, but it comes with its complexities and costs. It’s not a decision to be made impulsively, but it’s something to chew on.

While it’s wonderful to bring your dog to Disney World and spend time together, you have to be prepared to spend more money than you would boarding your pet in a kennel, leaving him with friends, or hiring a pet sitter. Nonetheless, the idea of visiting Disney World with your dog and enjoying a beautiful resort together is an enticing one. It would certainly be a memorable trip, provided your dog is a good candidate for a Disney vacation.

Confused about whether you should bring your dog to Disney World? You can consider bringing your dog with you if:

  • She is healthy, active, friendly, and well behaved. She loves meeting other people and playing with other dogs.
  • You’re keen to spend time with your dog outside your home environment and enjoy a Disney resort and other places in Orlando with your pet.
  • You’re on a longer trip and don’t want to leave your pet alone for an extended period.

On the other hand, you’ll be better off leaving your dog at home if:

  • He is comfortable staying at home and/or familiar with the pet sitter or kennel.
  • He is elderly or unwell and will find travel and a new place stressful.
  • He is afraid of other dogs and people, overly aggressive, or generally does not travel well.
  • The cost of bringing your dog to Disney World is prohibitive and not worth the extra hassle.

Of course, you also have to factor in how you’re getting to Disney World. If you’re flying to Orlando, then there’s the additional cost of your pet’s transportation. This will most definitely be more expensive than boarding them back home. If you’re driving to Orlando, then bringing your dog to Disney World may work out to be cost-effective.

Dogs can have a wonderful time at Disney World and make your vacation all the more memorable. Just make sure you choose the right resort, come prepared, book well in advance, and follow all the rules to ensure your pet’s safety and comfort.

Dustin Baier

Hey, I'm Dustin a Dad of 4 and married to Sweet Pea Chef for over 15 years now :) We got engaged at the Disneyland Hotel way back when and love a vacation at Disney World, Universal Studios, really anywhere with theme parks!

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