Serenity Bay Castaway Cay


If you are sailing on a Disney cruise you really need to know about Serenity Bay Castaway Cay. Serenity Bay is the adults only beach on Disney’s private island Castaway Cay. Is it really as idyllic as it sounds?


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Here is our guide to the adults only beach of Castaway Cay. Or if you want a Complete Guide to Castaway Cay CLICK HERE

Serenity Bay Castaway Cay

Many people think that a Disney cruise is just for adults, but Disney has gone to great lengths to create the perfect cruise for all members of the family. Perfect white sand. Inviting blue ocean.

Imagine an idyllic white sandy beach and you will probably be thinking of somewhere that looks pretty much like Serenity Bay Beach Castaway Cay.

The sand may look perfect, but some areas can be pretty painful to walk on with bare feet. We always bring some inexpensive beach shoes with us to Castaway Cay. You can buy them on the ship and the island, but you save money if you bring them with you.

Disney's Castaway Cay Island

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Most of the time Castaway Cay Serenity Beach is much less crowded than the Family Beach. Most people are here with children and tend to go to the family beach.

However, there was one visit we did when it seemed like Serenity Bay was just as busy as the family beach. I guess that was the exception rather than the rule.


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Castaway Cay Serenity Bay is strictly for the over 18s. There isn’t anyone checking your age as you step on the beach, but Cast Members will ask anyone under age to leave.

We like to split our day on Castaway Cay by enjoying part of it on Serenity Bay and some time enjoying the other activities on Castaway Cay.

Getting to Serenity Bay Beach Castaway Cay


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Disney cruises makes everything very easy for you. The Disney cruise ships dock at Castaway Cay. No need for tender boats thank goodness.

Serenity Bay Beach is the furthest beach away from the ship on Castaway Cay. It is right at the end of the old air strip on the island.

Don’t worry. You don’t have to walk very far. When you get off the ship just make your way to the first tram which will take you to the Family Beach. Then you need to catch another tram down the old runway to get to Serenity Beach.


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You can walk, but why waste energy and time when you could be on the sun loungers? Be careful always to bring sun screen. Of course it is available on the island, but at a premium.

Castaway Cay Serenity Bay Cabanas


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There are only four cabanas on Castaway Cay Serenity Bay. Just like all cabanas on Castaway Cay they are very popular. A reservation is pretty much impossible to get unless you are sailing Concierge with Disney.

However, miracles do sometimes happen so you should always keep trying and looking for cancellations. You can also go to Guest Services as soon as you board the ship and ask to be put on a waiting list.

Serenity Bay cabanas cost $399 for up to 6 guests. You can add up to 4 more guests for a charge of $50 per person. The Serenity Bay cabanas are less pricey than the Family Beach cabanas which are $549 for up to 6 guests.

The Castaway Cay Serenity Bay Cabanas are numbers 22 to 25. Number 22 is closest to the barbecue. If you get the choice and want a more secluded Castaway Cay Cabana you should pick number 25.

Castaway Cay Serenity Bay Massage

For the ultimate in pampering you can even book a Serenity Bay massage. These are given in an open air Castaway Cay Cabana. As you would expect, these are very popular, so book as soon as you can.

Castaway Air Bar

Disney Dream Cruise - Castaway Cay

There is always a backstory for Castaway Cay. Legend has it that the Castaway Air Bar was built by a stranded pilot out of materials salvaged from his damaged plane.

The Castaway Air Bar certainly looks the part – made of corrugated tin it has a rustic feel. The bar isn’t very big, and has only limited seating, but it usually isn’t that crowded.

Castaway Air Bar Menu

The classic on the Castaway Air Bar menu is the Castaway Cay Konk Kooler. This is made with rum, coconut cream, pineapple, passion fruit and orange juices. For an extra charge you can even get this in the Souvenir Konk Sipper. The Deep Blue Sea has vodka, rum, gin, blue cararcao, lemon mix sprite and grenadine.

Java Juice is one for the coffee fans. It has coconut rum, pineapple juice, coconut cream and cappuccino. If you prefer a frozen cocktail you should try the Castaway Free with Bacardi rum, fresh strawberries and bananas.

Castaway Cay Serenity Bay Barbecue

Even though I am the first to say that I am not a barbecue fan there is a lot to be said in favor of the Castaway Cay Serenity Bay BBQ. There is something about enjoying some barbecue food at Serenity Bay that you don’t get every day. The view of the ocean. The sand between your toes. Maybe it makes the food taste better Or was that the Deep Blue Sea cocktail from the Castaway Air Bar?

Full disclosure is that I am not keen on barbecues as most concentrate on meat and I am mostly vegetarian with an occasional departure to eat fish. There are veggie burgers at the Castaway Cay Serenity Bay Barbecue, but the meat eaters have a lot more choice.

The Castaway Cay Serenity Bay Barbecue menu is much as you would expect. It includes hamburgers, hot dogs, grilled fish, chicken, rib eye steaks and ribs. The sides usually include corn on the cob, salads, fruit, coleslaw and sauces. The desserts are limited but include cake and cookies. There is also self-serve ice cream.

We think that the food tastes better at Serenity Bay Barbecue than it does at Cookies One and Two which are located close the Family Beach. It is a smaller cook space so maybe it benefits from that.

Beach chair on Serenity Bay

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We think that Serenity Bay Castaway Cay is one of the highlights of the island. Have you visited Castaway Cay adult only beach? Let us know what you thought.

What To Pack For A Disney Cruise – Top 15 Hacks and Tips

Disney Cruise Line DVD

What should be on your Disney Cruise Packing List? One of the most common questions I hear is “What Should we pack for a Disney cruise’? Having been on many Disney and even some cruises with other lines, we have mastered the fine art of packing for a cruise.

There are just some items that will make things even more enjoyable and easier if you pack them to take on your Disney cruise. Our guide makes Disney Cruise Packing easy!

Here we share our Disney cruise packing tips and hacks for some great items to pack and take on board.

What To Pack for a Disney Cruise
Disney Cruise Packing Tips
Disney Cruise Packing Hacks and Tips (1)

Disney Cruise Packing Tip 1

Water Bottle With Spray


A great feature of a Disney cruise is that there is free soda, ice and water available 24/7. The not so great feature is that you have to go to the pool deck to get it. To save you trips up to the pool deck numerous times a day it is a great idea to take your own water bottle.

It also comes in very handy for shore excursions – no need to purchase the water bottle packages sold on the ship. The water is safe to drink on all Disney ships. You don’t have to spend extra money buying bottled water.

It is a good idea to get a bottle combined with a spray (unless your child insists on using this feature rather too much)! The weather can be humid and hot and it is nice to have a water spray available. It is a great idea to take this to Castaway Cay with you so that you can cool down on the beach!

Check Current Pricing

Disney Cruise Packing Tip 2

Charger For Multiple Devices


We all know how many things you have to charge these days. However, Disney doesn’t seem to have caught up with this and does not provide enough wall sockets. The solution? We bought one of these chargers which means you can charge almost any USB devices quickly using only one socket.

We use it at home all the time now too and are very happy with it.

USB Charger With 4 Ports

Extension cords and surge protectors are not permitted on a Disney cruise. This is a great solution to that socket shortage problem.

Disney Cruise Packing Tip 3

Frogg Toggs Chilly Pad Cooling Towel


It gets hot on a cruise! We found this Frogg Toggs Chilly Pad Cooling Towel invaluable for keeping cool on our latest Disney cruise. We wet them with cold water and took it everywhere with us to cool us down.

It was particularly welcome on Castaway Cay as it was a very hot humid day.

We only bought one as we were trying them out. However we liked them so much ordered more when we got back and will use them in the Disney parks as well. They are easy to wash and dry out easily.

Check Current Prices

Disney Cruise Packing Tip 4

Coffee Mug


The same idea as the water bottle of course but here you can carry hot beverages. Disney has free coffee on the pool deck. It’s not the greatest, but if you need your caffeine fix it does the job. The Disney cruise also has a very large selection of teas available at the drinks dispenser so the mug is useful for this too.

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Disney Cruise Packing Tip 5

Shoe Organizer


The Disney cruise staterooms are well designed but one thing we do have difficulty finding a place for is shoes. You can solve this with a shoe organizer.

We know that some people like to take a Over the Door Hanging Folding Organizer for toiletries.

However, you need to know that over the door organizers are now PROHIBITED on Disney cruise lines. We take the shoe organizer and hang it in the closet. Do not hang things over the door or you will be charged $100 if there is any damage.

Check Current Prices – Shoe Organizer

Disney Cruise Packing Tip 6

Packing Cubes


Packing cubes are, for me, essential to packing and organizing for any Disney trip. It is so much easier to pack certain items all together for each family member so you know where they are as soon as you get your luggage delivered to your stateroom! No more trying to find a pair of socks at the bottom of a suitcase.

This set it also nice as it comes with a laundry bag, but you can also use the plastic laundry bag that will be left in your stateroom.

4 Set Packing Cubes – Travel Organizers with Laundry Bag

Disney Cruise Packing Tip 7

Clothes Pegs


You will have a lot of wet swimming gear on a cruise! There are 2 retractable washing lines over the bath in the stateroom but you will soon fill these up!

If you have some spare space in your suitcase take some washing line pegs and you will find you can fit a lot more on those lines.

Soft Grip Pegs

See also What Not To Forget on A Disney Cruise

Disney Cruise Packing Tip 8

Travel Laundry Detergent and Dryer Sheets


One way to save on the amount of luggage you take on your cruise is to accept that you will do some laundry during the vacation. Disney makes this easy as there are washers and dryers on many of the stateroom decks.

We always prefer to take our own laundry detergent such as Tide Pods Free and Gentle Detergent to save costs and also to save on the chances of being allergic to the cruise washing powder. The pods are easy to put in your luggage. You also don’t run the risk of getting washing powder all over your suitcase if it spills!

These Travelon Laundry Soap Sheets, 50-Count are a great idea as they take up almost no space and can work for quick washes in the sink.

It is also a good idea to take some Dryer Sheets not only to use in the tumble dryer but you can also use them in your laundry bag and suitcase to keep them smelling fresh.

Disney Cruise Packing Tip 9



Your Key to the World is your key to everything on your Disney cruise. It is used for charging everything in the cashless world on board, as well as being your room key. So it is important to keep it safe. Of course you can just keep your key in your pocket. However, we find we change clothes frequently in the day and always seemed to be wondering where we had put our key!

It is just easier to keep them in a lanyard – we then have a rule that everyone’s lanyard is hung up in the stateroom as soon as we walk in. My daughter is the only one who refuses – and she is the one always at Guest Services picking up a new key!

If you are a member of the Castaway Cay Club you will be given a lanyard as you board. However, we like to take our own as these are not very high quality. It can be fun of course to have some Disney themed ones.

Disney Set of 3 Mickey and Friends Lanyards with Detachable Coin Purse

Disney Cruise Tip 10

Clothes Hangers


There is plenty of hanging space in a Disney cruise stateroom but there never seem to be enough hangers. It is a good idea if you have space to take some plastic ones yourself so you don’t have to compete for who gets to hang up all their clothes!

Light-Weight Plastic Hangers

Disney Cruise Tip 10

Sea Bands


No one wants to talk about it but sometimes sailing can mean feeling sea sick. With the modern, very stable Disney ships it is unlikely you will experience it, but if you do you will want to be prepared. We have sailed in storms and very close to hurricanes and no one in our family has ever felt sea sick. However, just in case we do pack sea bands!

Sea-Band Adult Wristband

If you want to follow the more traditional route then pack Dramamine Motion Sickness Relief – Check Current Prices

You might also want to read How To Avoid Getting Sick on a Cruise

Disney Cruise Tip 11



Staterooms on a cruise are dark. If you have a child who has difficulty with this then you may want to bring your own nightlight. An alternative is to prop the bathroom door open with a towel and leave the light on. However, we think having this Disney Frozen themed night light will be a whole lot more popular with the kids!

Projectables Disney Frozen LED Plug-In Night Light

Disney Cruise Tip 12

Highlighter Pen


This sounds like such a simple item but it is something we find so useful. We know that you have the Disney Cruise Navigator App now and we use this a lot. But we still prefer each evening to look at the paper edition of the Navigator and mark out with a highlight pen the things that we want to do for the following day.

We like to have different colors so each family member can have their own.

Check Current Deals

Disney Cruise Tip 13

EBook Reader


Yes we know it isn’t essential but it is so nice to have – and with the Kindle Fire now often priced at less than $50 it just too good a deal to pass up. There is so much to do on a Disney cruise, but you will want to find some time for relaxation. We now just bring our Kindle. It saves on packing heavy books as well as allowing us to access the internet and email.

Kindle Fire, 7″ Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB $49.99

Disney Cruise Tip 14

Pirate Costume And Accessories


Every Disney cruise has a Pirate Night. It is a lot of fun to channel your inner Jack Sparrow. They do sell pirate costumes for the kids on board. However, they are priced pretty highly so you may want to be prepared and take something pirate themed with you. Not everyone dresses up but it is a whole lot of fun if you do!

You can find inexpensive accessories right up to deluxe pirate costumes for all members of the family.

Disney Pirate Costume Ideas

Disney Cruise Packing Tip 15

Magnetic White Board


A white board is really useful to put on your stateroom door so that you can leave messages for the rest of your party. There is now the Disney Cruise App which allows you to text on board which is very useful but not everyone either has, or wants to carry their phone around with them all the time. It’s sometimes just a good idea to go back to the no technology option and use a white board!

White Magnetic Marker Board

Do you have any tips and hacks for packing for a Disney cruise?

This post contains affiliate links – see our Disclosure Policy

Disney Monorail Hotels – Which Should You Avoid?


The Disney Monorail hotels are some of the most sought after on the Walt Disney World resort. If you are looking for the perfect hotel resort location for your Walt Disney World vacation then you should take a look at the monorail hotels.

The Disney World Monorail Hotels are among the most desirable and sought after of all the hotels on Disney property. However, we think that there is one which is seriously over rated considering the cost.

Read our guide to find out which one of the Disney World Hotels on monorail we think just isn’t worth the cost.

Disney World Monorail Hotels

The Disney monorail hotels are all deluxe resorts which are located on the loop around the Seven Seas Lagoon between the Magic Kingdom and the Transport and Ticket Center (TTC). This makes them the ideal location for visiting all of the Disney World parks.

Not only can you walk out of your hotel room and step on the monorail to be transported to Disney’s Magic Kingdom but you also have very easy access to the other parks and resorts via the Transport and Ticket Center. You can also easily travel to Epcot on the monorail if you change lines at the TTC.

Disney World Monorail Hotels Which One is the Best_

Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, Disney Contemporary Resort and Disney’s Polynesian Resort are all Disney monorail hotels. Each has a very different character so take a closer look at each before you decide which one is best for you. These hotels were all part of Walt Disney’s original vision for his new theme park.

There are four Disney World monorail stops on the Magic Kingdom loop. The monorail has stations at the Transport and Ticket Center, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Disney’s Polynesian Resort.

Photo by expressmonorail

Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort Hotel and Spa

The Disney World Grand Floridian is Disney’s premier hotel. This is the obvious choice for those looking for absolute luxury and elegance.

On the surface it would seem to be a very ‘grown up’ hotel but this is Disney after all and families are made very welcome. You will feel just as at home in Mouse Mouse Ears and a Goofy shirt as you would in evening dress.

Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa has 867 rooms including 25 suites. The views from the rooms include Magic Kingdom views. The rooms are a generous 440 square feet and most have a balcony. The price that you pay will depend upon the room type and the view.

Disney’s Grand Floridian has two excellent swimming pools, a beautiful sandy beach, a Wedding Pavillion, numerous restaurant choices, and of course all the convenience of being steps away from the monorail. Your journey from this Disney Monorail Hotel to Magic Kingdom is quick and easy.

Without doubt, the Grand Floridian is a beautiful hotel. Great rooms, beautiful grounds and excellent service and amenities. However, as we know, magic comes at a price. It is no surprise that the Grand Floridian Hotel resort has the highest rate of any Disney World hotel.

What does the Grand Floridian cost? The rack rate in the cheapest Value Season starts at $646 for the Garden View rooms in the outer buildings. The same room at the Christmas Holidays in 2018 is $934 per night. The lowest rate for a Theme Park View Room at the Grand Floridian is $770. This rises to $1217 at Christmas.

Disney World Deals! Click Here to See the Latest Pricing

Disney’s Contemporary Hotel Resort

Contemporary Resort

There can’t be many hotels in the world which have a monorail track running right through the lobby but Disney Contemporary Resort does!

The Contemporary was one of the original Walt Disney World resort hotels and has been extensively refurbished to offer modern, very comfortable rooms. The modern design is not to everyone’s taste and some may think it just not Disney enough. However, if you are looking for a high standard, exceptionally located Disney hotel then you may want to give the Contemporary a closer look.

Disney’s Contemporary Resort has two distinct sections. The main building with the monorail track running through it, the main lobby and the restaurants. This is the Tower building. The second, separate building is The Garden Wing. There are various view choices including the most popular – a Magic Kingdom View.

The Contemporary is one of our favorite Disney Monorail Hotels. The only thing which really does need improving is the Contemporary hotel pool. It just isn’t up to par with the other Disney deluxe hotel resorts.

The standard rooms at Disney’s Contemporary Resort are 394 square feet. Each room will sleep up to 5 guests and also accommodate a child under 3 in a crib. The resort also offers suites and concierge level rooms.

Click Here to See the Latest Pricing

There is plenty to keep you occupied in the resort. Disney’s Contemporary is home to a number of restaurants including the ever popular character buffer Chef Mickey’s and the fine dining favorite California Grill.

There are two swimming pools at the Contemporary but they are probably the least themed and most disappointing of all the resorts at Disney. If this is an important aspect of your stay then you would probably do best to consider the Grand Floridian and Disney’s Polynesian which both have excellent pools.

If the swimming pool is important to you then you will want to read our guide at:

Top 10 Disney World Hotel Resort Pools

What does it cost to stay at Disney’s Contemporary Resort Hotel? The lowest rack rates for the Disney Contemporary Resort are $450 for a Garden Wing Standard View Room. Want to stay in the same room over the Holidays? You are looking at a rack rate of $708 per night.

The lowest rate for a Contemporary Resort Bay Lake View? In Value Season the lowest rack rate is $741. Stay in the highest price Season and you will pay $867 for that room.

Disney Polynesian Resort Hotel

Daily Disney

Photo by expressmonorail

The Polynesian Resort Disney World Florida is ideally located on the monorail system just minutes away from Magic Kingdom.

Step into the lobby of Disney’s Polynesian Resort Hotel and you will be transported to a different world. This South Seas themed Disney resort has a lot to offer and is a great choice of Disney World monorail hotel.

The rooms are large by Disney deluxe hotel standards. At between 410 to 476 square feet some of them are larger than Disney’s Grand Floridan hotel. All of the rooms were refurbished in 2006. Prices vary according to room type and of course the view. Magic Kingdom and Lagoon views are the most popular and highest priced.

There are 2 swimming pools at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. The most popular pool is the Nanea Volcano Pool complete with water falls and a slide. This is not a particularly large pool for the size of the resort and it does tend to get crowded at peak times. Guests can use the fitness facility at The Grand Floridian if they wish.

Walt Disney World Polynesian Hotel also offers a good choice of restaurants – well worth a look even if you are not a guest of the hotel. It is home to the very popular dinner show Spirit of Aloha Polynesian Luau .

All of the Disney Monorail hotels are excellent choices for a stay at the resort. The ease of traveling to Magic Kingdom really does make a huge difference as you can so quickly get to and from the park from your hotel. This is particularly important if you are traveling with young children and want to center your stay around visits to the Magic Kingdom.

Disney World Deals! Click Here to See the Latest Pricing

Each Disney monorail hotel has it’s own theme and it really is a question of personal choice as to which one would be the perfect destination for your Walt Disney World vacation.

However, the Disney World Monorail hotel which is most definitely in last place on our list is the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. Of all the Disney World Hotels on monorail this is the one which we would place last on our list.

Whilst we know that this is Disney’s most expensive hotel resort we actually think that it is not worth the expense. If we were deciding between the Grand Floridian and the other monorail hotel resorts, the Floridian would definitely be last on our last. The location is not significantly better than the Contemporary Resort or the Polynesian. We just don’t think it is worth the premium price that you pay over the other two Disney monorail hotels.

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Polynesian Resort Disney World Florida

The Pros and Cons of Every Disney World Deluxe Resort

Disneyland Hotel Resort Benefits – Are They Worth It?



Disneyland Hotel Resort Benefits

What are the Disneyland Hotel Resort Benefits? There are so many choices of where to stay close to the Disneyland and California Adventure parks. Is staying at a Disneyland Hotel Resort worth it for the benefits?

Here we talk about the Disneyland Hotel options that you have, how much they cost and the benefits that you get as a guest.

Disneyland Resort Hotels
There are only 3 Disneyland Resort hotels. Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel has a California Boardwalk theme. It is the lowest priced of all of the Disneyland hotels.

Disneyland Hotel is a modern hotel with classic Disney touches.

Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa is a beautiful hotel which has it’s own entrance into California Adventure Park. The theme is Craftsman style, and the hotel exudes luxury and elegance.

All of the Disneyland Hotels are located on Disney property and are a short walk from the theme parks.

Disneyland Resort Hotel Prices and Rates

Disneyland Resort Hotel Benefits

Demand for the Disneyland Hotels far exceeds supply which of course leads to high prices.

Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel is the lowest priced of all the Disneyland Hotels. Rack rates for 2017 start at $269 for a Standard View, $327 for a Premium View, $380 for Concierge Level, $426 for Concierge Level Premium. Suites start at $662 per night.

Disneyland Hotel is the mid priced hotel of the three available. This is our favorite Disneyland Hotel as it has a great mix of location, comfort and just the right amount of Disney themeing. Standard View rooms start at $360, Deluxe View $398, Premium View $430, Premium Downtown Disney View $449. Standard View Concierge Rooms start at $586, with Premium View Club Level Rooms starting at $625. The Suites are a minimum of $722 per night.

The Disney Grand Californian Hotel is the highest priced and most luxurious of all of the Disneyland Hotels. Standard Rooms start at $417 per night, Courtyard View $445, Partial View $481, Downtown Disney View $507, Premium View $520.

If you want to stay at the Club Level at Disney’s Grand Californian prices per night start at $694 for a Standard View and $782 for a Premium View at Club Level. If you want a Suite at Disney’s Grand Californian you won’t get much change out of $1,000 per night. Suites start at $983 per night.

As you will see, you pay a high price for staying at a Disneyland Resort Hotel.

Disneyland hotel

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What Are The Disneyland Hotel Resort Benefits?

The major benefit of staying on Disney property is to get access to the Extra Magic Hour. This means that Disneyland Resorts guests have access to the theme parks on certain days an hour earlier than the general public.

Disneyland Park: Tuesdays,Thursdays and Saturdays
Disney California Adventure Park : Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays

Disneyland Extra Magic Hours are a huge benefit. If you are sure that your family can all be up and ready at the parks early in the morning you will be able to go on several rides before the park is open to everyone else. This is particularly helpful if you want to ride Radiator Springs Racers in California Adventure Park. This is an extremely popular ride. If you use early entry to the park you will be able to ride it up to three times before the general public even get to be inside the park.

Another advantage is the location of the Disneyland Hotels. This is particularly true of Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel, which has it’s own entrance into the park. All of the Disneyland Resort hotels are an easy walk to the theme parks. However, this is not a major benefit if you take into account that there are many hotels in Anaheim which are also close to the theme park entrance.

A nice feature is the Disney Character Wake Up Calls. Really this is nothing more than a cute extra if you have young kids.

Disneyland Hotel guests also get Preferred Access Reservations to Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique or Anna and Elsa’s Boutique. These are difficult to get reservations, so if these are important to you it is a good perk. However, most guests won’t need this benefit.

Key to the Magic and Package Express are also Disneyland Hotel Resort Benefits benefits. You can charge everything to your room. Again, this is a pretty limited perk as it’s pretty easy to just hand over your credit card! Package Express is a nice feature which means if you buy anything in the parks you can have it delivered to your room. A nice feature, but not a must have.

Disneyland Hotel

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The intangible thing is the benefit of actually staying at a Disney hotel. Disney does an amazing job of making guests feel welcome and the Cast Members are usually extremely good. Some are exceptional. Somehow staying at one of the Disney hotels just makes your stay more special. It is up to you whether or not you think the prices of staying at a Disney resort justify this special feeling!

Are Disneyland Resort Hotels Really Worth It?

Grand Californian Hotel Lobby

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We have stayed at all of the Disneyland hotels many times and we still have this as our first choice. For us the Extra Magic Hours are the best Disneyland Hotel Resort Benefits. There is also that extra special thing which can’t be defined Disney magic just makes it worth it for us. However, the hotels are expensive. There are offers from time to time and we always let you know about these. Annual Passholders usually qualify for about 10% off rack rates.

There is no question that there are many good choices of hotels close to Disneyland which are much less pricey that hotels on Disney property. Some are half the price of Paradise Pier and have much nicer rooms. However, that Extra Magic Hour means you get to save a lot of time spent in line. Only you can decide if it is worth it.

Have you stayed at a Disneyland Resort Hotel? Did you think that the Disneyland Hotel Resort Benefits were worth it.

Strategies For Getting Difficult FastPass+ Reservations at Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World Ride and Attraction Closures October 2015

How to Make Difficult To Get FastPass+ Reservations

One of the things that you will first notice when you start planning your Disney World FastPass+ choices is that some are more difficult to get than others. Just as some Advance Dining Reservations seem impossible to get, you will soon discover that not all FastPass+ are in equal demand either.

How to Make Difficult To Get FastPass+ ReservationsPin

FastPass+ can seem impossible to get for those sought after rides. Frozen Ever After is one of the hottest FastPass+ tickets in the whole of Walt Disney World.

However, before you give up on the quest for the most elusive of FastPass+, let us share with you our very best strategies, tips and tricks for snagging the ones that you want.

When Can You Make FastPass+ Selections?

Disney - This is Your World Now Mickey (Explored)

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The FastPass+ allows the general public to make selections up to 30 days prior to the day they want to experience the attraction.

However, if you are staying at a Disney World Hotel Resort you have a very big advantage. Really the only way to get some of the more popular FastPass+ selections, if you are visiting at a popular time, is if you stay at a Disney World Hotel. If you are staying at one of the Walt Disney World Hotels you can make your selections up to 60 days prior to your stay. It gets better.

Once you have reached that magic 60 days prior date, you can make your FastPass+ selections for your entire stay. For example if you are staying for 7 nights you will be able to make FastPass+ selections for all of those days as soon as the 60 day prior mark is reached.

How Do You Make FastPass+ Selections?

Daily Disney - Daytime Fireworks at the Castle (Explored)

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You can make FastPass+ selections using the MyDisneyExperience App or Website. You will have to sign up for a MyDisneyExperience account, but this is easy and necessary if you want to secure those difficult to get FastPass+ choices.

You can also make FastPass+ selections at a kiosk in any of the Disney Parks. We do not suggest waiting until you are in the parks to do this. Many of the popular FastPass+ simply will not be available if you leave it this late. Also, you have to wait in line at the FastPass+ kiosk. It seems a little ironic that you have to wait in line in order to avoid waiting in line.

How Many FastPass+ Selections Can You Make?

Disney - Waiting for SpectroMagic... (Explored)

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You can make 3 FastPass+ selections per day. Once you have used these selections on the day, or the final FastPass+ time arrival window has passed, you can make another one.

When you are eligible to make another FastPass+ selection you can do this at a kiosk on on your mobile device. We recommend the mobile device, unless you are having connectivity issues. You will have to stand in line if you use a kiosk.

Tips To Get Those Difficult FastPass+ Selections

Disney - Monorail Coral Future World (Explored)

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There are some FastPass+ selections which are very difficult to get. These include:

Frozen Ever After
Test Track
Toy Story Midway Mania
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

We suggest that you prioritize these. If you want to ride Frozen Ever After it is essential that you make this FastPass+ selection first. It is by far the most difficult to get FastPass+.

There are many others which are worth getting, but these are the most popular and difficult to get.

The first step is to get online as soon as you can to make those difficult to get FastPass+ selections. The selections reset at 7 am Eastern Time.

This is pretty bad news for those not on Eastern Time! If you are on the West Coast it means starting at 4am! However, if you are making FastPass+ selections from the UK or the rest of Europe you have an advantage. The time difference works to your benefit as you will be making FastPass+ reservations around noon when it opens.

You can get online at 6.55 am. and log in. You can either refresh your screen or log out and log back in again exactly at 7 am.

If you are staying at a Disney World Hotel your FastPass+ selections will become available 60 days prior to your arrival – for your whole stay. Your odds are much better of snagging a difficult to get FastPass+ at the end of the stay. This is simply because this time frame is open to less people. If you know that you are going to Epcot on Day 5 and you want that Frozen Ever After FastPass+ we suggest you target that first as your odds will be increased.

Go for the most difficult to get FastPass+ first. There are some which are easy. You really don’t need to prioritize these. You can do those once you have secured the difficult ones.

Sometimes if you can’t get FastPass+ for all of your group you can try again for just one person. If the FastPass+ then shows up you can try using the copy feature to add the other people in your party. This may work better than trying to add all of your party at one time.

What Time Should You Book FastPass+ Selections For?

Daily Disney (Explored)

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The aim of FastPass+ is to save you the most time possible spent in line. The logical thing to do is to try and get your Fast Pass+ selections at the time when the park is busiest. We suggest that you try and aim for FastPass+ selections between 10 am and 3 pm. This will give you a chance to ride the busiest attractions with the longest lines at peak times.

Remember too that once you have finished your 3 FastPass+ selections you can get another one. Ideally you would want to be finished mid afternoon so that you have a chance of getting another one. It is true that it is unlikely that you will get a difficult to achieve selection this late in the day. However, it does mean that you get a chance of getting another FastPass+.

Check Again and Again

Disney - Sharing the Magic at Night

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People do change and cancel their FastPass+ reservations. It does happen, but you will have to persevere.

Disney also do not release the entire FastPass+ allocation for every ride on the first day that the selections are open. This means that if you keep checking back you could get lucky and snag one of those hard to get FastPass+ selections.

We are not suggesting that you keep checking every day for 60 or 30 days. This could border on slightly obsessive even for those of us who really must get a FastPass+ for Frozen Ever After.

When is the best time to check again? We cannot say for sure, but we seem to have had the most success early in the mornings. We have even successfully got an elusive Test Track FastPass+ on the same day. It is always worth checking – just don’t let it take over your life!

You should definitely check if Disney World announces an extension to park hours. This sometimes happens and then new FastPass+ are released.

Strategies if you Don’t Get Your Favorite FastPass+

Disney - A Look at the Hollywood Tower Hotel Down Sunset BLVD in HDR

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Sometimes it just doesn’t work out. That elusive FastPass+ just isn’t going to be yours. You have checked and rechecked (even in the park on the day) and it just isn’t going to happen.

Fortunately all is not lost. You can still experience the rides.

If you are a Disney World Resort guest you can use the Extra Magic Hours and prioritize the ride that you must experience.

Some very popular rides have Single Rider Lines which you should use. Test Track is one of those attractions which you really should consider using the Single Rider Line.

Another tactic is to get the park for rope drop. You will be there before most guests. Make your way as quickly as possible to the chosen attraction and get in line. Or target your chosen attraction when many others are doing something else – during a parade, fireworks, or peak meal times.

Get in line just before the park closes. Just as long as you are in line prior to closing time you will be able to experience the ride.

Good luck getting those difficult FastPass+ selections!

Disney Fantasy Deluxe Family Oceanview Stateroom With Verandah Review

Disney Fantasy Deluxe Family Oceanview Stateroom Review

Disney Fantasy Deluxe Family Oceanview Stateroom Review

What are the Disney Fantasy Deluxe Family Oceanview Staterooms with Verandah really like? We have stayed in the same type of stateroom on the Disney Wonder many times but we found that the Disney Fantasy staterooms are even better!

The Disney Fantasy Deluxe Family Oceanview Staterooms with Verandah are our first choice if the price is right.

The Deluxe Family Oceanview Staterooms on the Disney Fantasy are a very spacious 299 square feet. This includes the verandah, but it is still a generous size for a cruise ship cabin.

The Disney cruise ships staterooms are large for the industry standard. They are also incredibly well designed with plenty of storage, a split bathroom and are very spacious even for a family of 5.

The Disney Fantasy Deluxe Family Oceanview Stateroom with Verandah is classified as Categories 4A – 4E.

They are located Midship of Decks 6 – 10. Usually the higher the deck, the more you pay. We were on Deck 8 mid ships this time and found it to be a good location. We prefer to be mid ships on the Disney Fantasy as it is a larger ship than the Magic and the Wonder. There can be a lot of walking to be done, but being mid ship makes it more, well, central!

Disney Fantasy Round Bath

Each Deluxe Family Oceanview stateroom has a Queen sized bed in the bedroom. There is also a separate living area with a sofa.

At night the living area magically transforms into sleeping space for 3, with bunk beds and a bed which pulls down from the wall. The living and sleeping areas can be separated with a curtain. This actually does a pretty good job of keeping the two spaces separate.

The decor in the stateroom is understated Disney. Lots of nice wood and tasteful colors.

Disney cruise ships are famous for the split bath concept. Most of the staterooms on the Disney ships have this split bath design.

There is one room which has the toilet and the sink, and another which has the bath, shower and an additional sink. This is a great design, particularly for families with children.

Another tip if you want to speed up the time it takes for everyone to get ready in the morning, is that the adults can use the showers in the Spa. They are really nice and have free spa products to use. We do this particularly when we have a Rainforest Room Pass, but you don’t have to have one to use the spa showers.

The verandah has enough space to fit two chairs and a small side table. It was nicer on this cruise as it is the first that we have taken since the non smoking policy came into play. When we were on the Wonder last year it was often not pleasant to sit out on the verandah as our neighbor always seemed to be out there smoking cigars. It was great to be able to take in the ocean breeze without the fumes!

The Disney Fantasy does have some improvements to the design on the Fantasy over the Disney Wonder staterooms. We love the Disney Wonder but have to admit that the Fantasy rooms are quite a bit nicer. You can see our review at Disney Wonder Deluxe Family Oceanview Stateroom Review

There is plenty of storage space in the Disney Fantasy Deluxe Family Oceanview Staterooms with Verandah. The place that is often overlooked is the huge amount of storage space under the beds on the Disney Fantasy. You can easily store your suitcases under the bed.


There is another feature on the Disney Fantasy that we liked more than the Wonder. We are not big fans of the steamer storage trunk which is next to the verandah door. It is fine in the day but you can’t open it when the 5th bed is made up. On the Disney Fantasy the look of the room is a lot more streamlined and seems to have more storage space as the built-in cabinets go the whole length of the living area wall.

There is also storage on the Fantasy in the table. We didn’t use this in our stateroom this time though. I did think about using it but was concerned I would actually forget I had put things in there!

I really liked the addition of the night lights too. The kids don’t like to sleep with the light off completely but the night-light gave the right level of illumination to please them but not be too bright so the grown ups were kept awake.

The round tub in the bathroom is another interesting feature. Not sure what I thought of this really, except my youngest loved the concept of a round bath. The shower is a very nice upgrade from the Wonder though as it has a rain shower and the usual shower spray. It is a decent sized shower. You aren’t fighting to keep the shower curtain from touching you as you are on some other cruise ships!

Have you stayed in a Disney Fantasy Deluxe Family Oceanview Stateroom With Verandah? What did you think of it?

You may also like:

Disney Fantasy Palo Brunch Review

Disney Cruise Castaway Cay Stingray Adventure

Best Disneyland Rides for Toddlers

Win a Disneyland Vacation

If you are visiting Disneyland in California with a toddler there are so many rides and attractions to make them, and you, happy. Disneyland is a magical place for anyone, but especially for the 5 and under set.

Surviving Disneyland with toddlers does present it’s own unique challenges. From diaper changes to the need to NOT be stuck in line, to potentially coping with tantrums. After many years of experience of taking my kids to Disneyland here is my take on which rides and attractions will keep your toddler happy.

It’s a Small World

It’s A Small World

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Whether your 3 or 93, this is a perfect ride for your toddler and family to do together. The It’s A Small World boats have recently been updated and are bigger and more comfortable, so your family can ride in style.

In addition, they’ve added Disney characters to several of the countries, so your toddler will love looking for new and familiar characters along the way. They will love to Find Nemo and look out for the Disney Princesses.

Tip: Get in the far right line. It may look longer, but fewer people take it so it’s often much quicker. The left line is also for those with mobility issues, which may slow the pace down a bit.

Dumbo the Flying Elephant


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Yes the line for Dumbo can get long, but toddlers love it. Each rider is given a “magic feather” when they get close to the front of the line, which is then handed to the conductor.

You get to control the movement on Dumbo and how high you fly, so with younger children you can stay at a lower level. The ride does jerk up or down when you change levels. However, this seems to be much scarier for the parents than the kids. Dunbo is always a favorite with the little ones.

Tip: Go on the Dumbo ride first thing in the morning or wait until the evening. During the parade is a great time. Once the wait time goes past 20 minutes, it won’t go down until much later in the day. For a similar ride, check out Flik’s Flyers in California Adventure’s “A Bug’s Life”. The wait time is often less than 10 minutes.

King Arthur’s Carousel


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King Arthur’s Carousel is an authentic antique carousel located at Disneyland Park. It features 68 galloping white horses. The ride recreates the great charge of the legendary Knights of the Round Table and their brave leader, King Arthur of Camelot.

The wait is usually short, which means you can ride it again and again.

Tip: A similar carousel, King Triton’s carousel, is located in California Adventure Park, and features sea animals (dolphins, sea otters, whales) and is even more colorful. It’s next to California Screamin’ and is a perfect spot to hang out while the older kids in your group are enjoying one of the scariest Disney rides of all!

Note: Many of the rides in Fantasyland are quite “dark” and can be too intense for little ones. This includes Snow White, Alice in Wonderland, Pinocchio, and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. Peter Pan is fine, but often has a huge line, which is why it’s not in my Top 10.

Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters

Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters Status Board

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All kids love Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters and I confess it is one of my favorites too. You’ll find the ride in Tomorrowland, across from Star Tours.

The wait is usually less than 15 minutes, and once inside you see Buzz bigger than life, urging you to help him in his quest to fight the evil Zurg. You and your child get to spin around shooting Zurg and his evil robots.

WHen my eldest son was a toddler he no idea that he was actually meant to shoot at the targets, but he loved the bright lights and sounds. At the end of Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters you can email a picture of yourself to your home.

Tip: If you want to get a higher score, concentrate on the triangles and diamonds. They’re worth 5,000-10,000 points. If you can get Zurg himself, he’s worth 100,000 points! I find Toy Story Mania in CA Adventure even more fun. However, you need to get there first thing in the morning or it’s a huge wait.

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

Disney - Silly Old Bear

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Winnie the Pooh, that huggable, loveable bear, is a toddler favorite. Sandwiched near the Splash Mountain entrance and the Hungry Bear Restaurant, it’s a perfect place to hang out while waiting for others to finish their rides.

You climb aboard a beehive dripping with honey and ride off into the Hundred-Acre Wood for four minutes of hijinks and fun.

Tip: Wear something white and during the dark portions of the ride your clothes will glow in the dark. This is a terrific distraction if the darkness seems too intense for the little ones. Also, if you walk to the right of the exit you’ll find Pooh, Eeyore or Tigger. The meet and greet line isn’t as long as some other areas. However, if your toddler’s shy they can just happily wave to the Disney characters from the fence.

Disneyland Railroad


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Whether your feet are tired, or you just want to take a break, hitch a ride on the Disneyland Train. An old fashioned Victorian locomotive, it goes completely around the park. The Disneyland Railroad stops on Main Street and in New Orleans Square, Mickey’s Toontown, and Tomorrowland.

Walt Disney loved trains and was often found riding in the conductor’s seat. Sometimes the line can be long but if you walk pass the main car, you can usually find a seat in a car further down. The Disneyland Railroad is a great place to take a rest. With any luck your toddler may have a nap.

The Enchanted Tiki Room

The Enchanted Tiki Room Gardens

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Unless it’s August and 100 degrees outside, this attraction rarely has a long wait. You’re ushered into a small, air conditioned room filled with enchanted birds, plants, and tiki torches. The birds come to life right in front of you and your toddler is completely enthralled, or asleep, which often happens. Either outcome is fine with me! The songs are a little corny, but it’s so pleasant and comfortable inside that you just don’t care.

Disney Princess Fantasy Faire

Many little princesses come to Disneyland for the express purpose of meeting one of their own. Rather than be spread out throughout the park, all the princesses now come together in the Royal Hall to meet their little fans. The Royal Hall is located in Fantasyland.

You can never guarantee that a certain Disney Princess will appear. However, Princesses who are known to spend some time here are Snow White, Cinderella, Ariel, Aurora, Rapunzel, Jasmine, and Belle

Tip: Check the times before you go. During the off season the Disney Princess Fantasy Faire is closed on some dates. Sometimes the lines can be very long, but try and go during a parade as sometimes the lines are much shorter.

There are so many things to do with your toddler in Disneyland. What is your favorite ride for toddlers in Disneyland? Leave me a Comment below!

Top 10 Disney World Hotel Resort Pools



What are the Top 10 Disney Word Resort Hotel Pools? When you stay at a Disney World resort the swimming pool can be a big factor in your enjoyment of the hotel.

You will probably spend more time at your resort pool than you think – they provide a welcome break from the Disney parks, particularly around the middle of the day.

Disney World Hotel Resort Best Pools

We have spent many happy hours in Disney resort pools, and often it is one of the highlights of the trip.

This is our choice of the Top 10 Disney World Hotel Resort Pools. We decided not to put them in any particular order as picking 10 was difficult, but putting them in order is almost impossible!

Disney World Value Hotel Resort Best Pools

You do not have to stay at the most expensive Disney World hotels to benefit from a great resort pool. The value resort pools can also be a lot of fun!

Disney Art of Animation Nemo Big Blue Pool

Finding Nemo pool

The Big Blue Pool at the Disney Art of Animation Resort is one of the best in the Disney Value Resorts. It also has the distinction of being the largest pool of any Disney World Resort. A lot of the time it also feels as if it is the most crowded – with so many small children in the pool, this is not a relaxing place to hang out for the grown ups. It is a lot of fun for the little ones though.

It is also the only Disney World Resort pool with underwater speakers. Now we are not quite convinced of what a great feature this is – they also have this at the Universal Orlando Hard Rock Hotel where we have stayed a number of times, and really we think we are missing the point. A nice gimmick, but really it doesn’t add much to the enjoyment of the pool.

The theming is excellent though and this is what the main appeal of the pool is. This one really is for the kids though so if you are looking for a quiet place to relax by the pool at a Disney Resort you would be best bypassing this one!

Disney World Best Moderate Hotel Resort Pools

There are some excellent swimming pools at the Disney Moderate Resorts.

Disney Coronado Springs Resort Lost City of Cibola Pool and Dig Site

Deep Blue Mayan Afternoon

Whilst we remember this as one of the coldest Disney World Resort Hotel pools which we have ever experienced (during a very cold January), it is also one of our favorites.

The theming is spectacular, particularly for a Disney World Moderate Hotel Resort. The center piece of the pool is the huge Mayan Temple Ruin which towers over the pool. The pool is large and it has to be pretty busy to feel crowded. There is a very small kids pool with a fountain feature – not very exciting, but toddlers seem to love it.

For the kids the highlight is the 123 foot water slide. The only problem with this is that the stair way is concealed so you can’t see your kids until the moment they actually hit the water, but it is a whole lot of fun for the younger ones.

There is plenty to keep the adults happy too. There is a large snack bar as well as a licensed bar. Plenty of pool loungers, including some with a decent amount of shade. The Coronado Springs Resort also has the distinction of having the largest hot tub of any Disney World Hotel. You can invite up to 21 friends to join you in the hot tub!

Disney’s Caribbean Beach Hotel Resort Fuentes del Morro Pool

Pool at Walt Disney World Caribbean Beach Club Resort

Disney’s Caribbean Beach Hotel Resort pool is a whole lot of fun. There are a lot of pools to choose from at the Disney Caribbean Beach Resort, but the main Fuentes del Morro Pool is the place to be. How can you go wrong with a pirate theme and two water slides? This pool does get crowded on busy days and the one downside is that there isn’t really enough seating – but the fun theme still make this a great Disney pool for a moderate resort.

Disney Port Orleans French Quarter Doubloon Lagoon

The Doubloon Lagoon Pool at Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter is one of the most strangely themed of all the resort pools. It is a Mardi Gras theme, which is pretty difficult to achieve in swimming pool design! There is a serpent themed water slide which is the focal point of the pool. The serpent is affectionately named Scales.

There is a giant King Neptune and lots of water features disguised as Mardi Gras figures. It is certainly colorful and eclectic!

There is a new Aquatic Play Area which is a lot of fun for small children.The Mardi Grogs Pool Bar keeps the adults happy.

Disney World Best Deluxe Hotel Resort Pools

Disney Yacht and Beach Club Stormalong Bay

Daily Disney - Storm Along Bay at Night

Stormalong Bay, the pool which is shared between the Disney Beach Club Resort and the Disney Yacht Club Resort Hotel is widely accepted as the very best pool at any of the Disney World Hotel Resorts.

The pool is huge – at 3 acres there is a huge amount of space. Perhaps the best feature is the lazy river, or perhaps it is the 230 foot water slide.

This swimming pool also has one of the best locations on Disney property as it is the Epcot Resort area. This makes it very easy to follow the advice to avoid the middle of the day in the parks and go back to your resort to relax and swim. Stormalong Bay is a very short walk from the International Gateway entrance to Epcot – so you can easily go back to your resort to have a mid day swim and then go back to the park in the late afternoon when the heat and the crowds are reduced.

Disney Polynesian Resort Hotel Lava Pool

Polynesian Pool

The Disney Polynesian Resort Hotel has always had a good pool since the Lava pool was first upgraded in 2001. However, it is now even better since the expansion of 2015. The setting of the Polynesian pool is gorgeous as it is surrounded by luscious tropical planting, and is a sort distance away from the Seven Seas Lagoon.

The center piece of the Lava pool is the volcano which houses a 142 foot water slide. The recent changes have seen a new hot tub with an infinity edge – a first for a Disney World hotel. There is also a lot more seating around the pool than there used to be. The zero entry pool is one of the nicest in Disney World.

The Kikis Tiki Splash Pool is also a great hit with the younger crowd and it one of the best water play areas in a Disney World Resort Hotel.

Disney’s Grand Floridian Hotel Beach Pool

Grand Floridian Beach Pool

You would expect Disney’s most expensive hotel to have a great pool, and you will not be disappointed. The Beach Pool is the best of the Grand Floridian Pools. You have a magnificent view over the Seven Seas Lagoon towards Magic Kingdom. This is a large pool even by Disney Resort standards, and also seems to be one of the least crowded and relaxing.

The pool is zero entry, and it has a water slide and a very impressive waterfall. For adults there is a nice bar at the pool side, and for kids there is the Alice in Wonderland water play area.

Photo by expressmonorail

The Boardwalk Inn is a much overlooked resort in our opinion. It has a great location, beautiful decor and a wonderfully themed pool. Luna Park has one of the best water slides in Disney World. The Keister Coaster water slide is 200 feet long, and a whole lot of fun.

There are hot tubs, a pool bar and a children’s splash pool area.

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Hotel Resort Silver Creek Springs Pool

Walt Disney World - Disney's Wilderness Lodge - Silver Creek Springs Pool

Disney Wilderness Resort is one of our favorite Deluxe Disney Hotel Resorts. Like the rest of the Wilderness Resort, the pool really does promote relaxation and a calm oasis away from the theme parks.

The source of the pool actually starts in the lobby of the Wilderness Lodge Resort. The hot spring that you see as you are inside the hotel actually runs down to the Sliver Creek Pool. The setting of the pool is beautiful. The landscaping of this hotel is one of the best on Disney property, and the pool is set at the side of Bay Lake.

Wilderness Lodge Pool

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There is a water slide, two hot tubs, and the Trout Pass Pool Bar is close by. One other excellent feature of the pool is the Fire Rock Geyser which erupts every hour from 7am until 10pm.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Uzima Springs Pool

Florida Tour, August 2006

Animal Kingdom Lodge is one of our favorite Deluxe Disney Resorts. Just like the Wilderness Resort, Animal Kingdom seems a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of the theme parks.

The Uzima Pool is a great place to relax. It is a zero entry pool, has a water slide and a kid’s pool. The Uzima Springs Pool Bar is close by. The one downside is that there really isn’t enough seating around the pool.

We particularly like to use one of the two hot tubs around the pool at night. Animal Kingdom Lodge seems particularly tranquil in the evening.