Make a Splash in Your Resort’s Pool

Photo by Deanna Simmons

With the official start of summer kicking off this weekend I thought I’d take this week’s post to talk about a topic essential to summer fun: resort pools.  While these facilities provide a lot of fun, they can also be used as a great tool to keep your sanity while touring in the Florida heat.  Here at Touring Plans and the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World we highly recommend taking an afternoon break from the parks.  The midday hours are often the busiest and hottest so it really pays to high tail it out for there for a few hours.  Many folks may opt for a leisurely lunch or a nap, but many seek relief at their resort’s pool.  Each Disney resort has multiple pools for their guests so take advantage and cool off before you head back to a park for the evening hours!

So with that in mind, I wanted to point out some of the stars in the Disney pool line up.  Let’s take a look at what I consider to be the best swimming holes of the deluxe, moderate, and value resorts.  I’m going to discuss the feature pools at these resorts below, but also keep in mind each of them also has at least one “quiet pool.”  These may come with less fanfare, but should also be less crowded.  If you are looking to have a peaceful break from the usual Disney World run around they could be a great option for you.

Stormalong Bay Photo by Deanna Simmons

Since many of the deluxe resorts go all out to bring fun swimming areas to their guests it is hard to pick one favorite!  So I narrowed my choices down to three.  Before I get into my picks, it is good to know each of the deluxe resorts’ signature pools feature a water slide and guests may get pool toys and towels free of charge poolside.  These are also usually the most heavily themed pools on property so they are a lot of fun even if you can only swing by to check them out for a few minutes.

The most well known deluxe resort pool is shared by the Beach and Yacht Club Resorts.  Stormalong Bay sits between these two hotels and is so popular cast members check room keys before allowing guests into the area.  It is also the only resort pool to get a five star rating from the readers of the Unofficial Guide to WDW!   There are several sand bottom pools to pick from as well as a slide built to look as if its the remains of a ship wreck.  There is even a kids’ area which is shallow and has areas for them to build sandcastles.  The complex is huge so be sure to keep and eye on your kids and maybe pick a set of lounge chairs to keep as a home base.

Keister Coaster Photo by Betsy Bates

Across the lagoon The Boardwalk Inn also has a fun pool made to look like an amusement park’s wooden roller coaster thus giving it its name: the keister coaster.  This pool only gets 3.5 stars in the Unofficial Guide, but I think its adorable.  I may be biased since the Boardwalk is my favorite resort, but I think you’ll have fun if you give it a shot.  The bar here called Leaping Libations is also one of my favorites on property.

To round out my top deluxe resort picks I’ll swing over to the monorail loop to

Polynesian Pool by Ashley Simmons

discuss the volcano pool at the Polynesian.  Not only does the volcano house the resort’s water slide, but it steams as if its active!  A fun feature of this pool is music is piped into speakers in the water so you can enjoy Hawaiian tunes even under water.  The added bonus of using the Polynesian’s pool is the view of the Magic Kingdom across the Seven Seas Lagoon.  If you really want to take advantage of this location, you can take a break from your evening swim to watch Wishes! from the beach.

Dig Site Pool Photo by Betsy Bates

The moderate resorts also have nicely themed pools complete with water slides, but you will have to supply your own towels, etc.  I must confess I’ve only stayed at one moderate resort and I did not take a dip in their pool.  However, I took to twitter to find out which ones people loved most.  I got the most votes for Coronado Springs’ Dig Site pool.  It has received a four star ranking from our readers.  The feature of this pool is a 46 foot tall Mayan temple which is meant to be the subject of an archeological study.  A water slide, hot tub, and kids area round out the wet fun here.

The value resorts’ pools are a bit less showy, but can be equally relaxing.   There

Hippy Dippy Pool Photo by Betsy Bates

are no slides at these resorts, and guests must supply their own towels.  All of the value resorts’ pools rank with three stars in the Unofficial Guide to WDW.  My favorite pool at the value resorts is the Hippy Dippy Pool at Pop Century.  Since it is located between the buildings depicting the 1960s this flower shaped pool rolls along with the theme of the decade.  Bright colors adorn the area and flower shaped fountains spray swimmers.

If getting wet isn’t your thing don’t fret.  All of these pools have plenty of lounge chairs where you can take a nap or read a book while your kids (or friends) play.  There is also an outdoor bar close to all of the pools in case you feel the need to sip a fruity drink while you relax poolside.  However, you may be surprised how great a swim will sound when the heat index is over 100 degrees this summer!

I hope my favorites have inspired you to take some time out from you busy touring schedule to check out your resort’s pool.  Try to remember that a trip to Walt Disney World is actually a vacation and you should carve out some time to relax!

I haven’t stayed at every resort so I may have left your favorite off my list.  Tell me all about which resort pools you like most in the comments!

Kristen Helmstetter

Kristen Helmstetter is an Unofficial Guide researcher who will share her 20-something perspective of all things Walt Disney World with blog readers. Kristen’s email address is You can also follow her on Twitter: @khelmstetter.

41 thoughts on “Make a Splash in Your Resort’s Pool

  • May 25, 2011 at 8:42 am

    Second the Poly recommendation – my wife and I stayed there for our honeymoon last fall and taking the afternoon break at the Volcano Pool there was quite possibly the best decision we made! ‘Course, now I *really* want to go check out Yacht and Beach! =)

    • May 25, 2011 at 1:47 pm

      I’m glad you and your wife enjoyed it on your honeymoon! Sounds like an excellent time to relax by the pool. Stormalong is pretty great you’ll have to stay there sometime and carve out some time for it. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  • May 25, 2011 at 8:46 am

    We have loved the Beach Club pool. You can buy tubes or pool noodles (little costly). We brought tubes from home and gave them to other guest when we were leaving.

    • May 25, 2011 at 1:48 pm

      That was really nice of you to give away items you no longer needed! It looks like the kids have a blast at stormalong bay every time I’ve been there. Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • June 1, 2011 at 9:15 am

      We’re heading there for Labor Day weekend, and I wondered about bringing pool toys. Sounds like we should add them to the list. Also – do they charge for the lazy river tubes?

  • May 25, 2011 at 8:59 am

    The Beach Club pool is great, but for my family nothing can beat the Poly’s lava slide and that fantastic underwater hula music. A runner up for us is actually the “quiet” pool at the Wilderness Lodge with its bubbling springs- very relaxing and fun!

    • May 25, 2011 at 1:50 pm

      Thanks for the comment, Katherine! Its good to know that a quiet pool can be just as fun as one of the feature pools. I’m glad your family has enjoyed so many of the pools around property!

  • May 25, 2011 at 9:02 am

    Thanks, Kristen! I would have a difficult time picking my favorite pool too. To add to your list, Wilderness Lodge also has a great pool for the deluxes and Caribbean Beach for the moderates. Wish I was there right now….with a nice “beverage” from the pool bar….. 🙂

    • May 25, 2011 at 1:51 pm

      The pool at Wilderness Lodge is pretty neat, plus the fun of the nearby geyser! Thanks for the tips about the other pools. I think we could all use a little time by the pool with a beverage, don’t you? Thanks for reading and commenting!

  • May 25, 2011 at 9:44 am

    Nice write up! Just a note that you do not have to supply your own towels at the moderates, or at least you don’t at the Caribbean Beach feature pool.

    • May 25, 2011 at 1:52 pm

      I was curious about this topic so I did a little research and a usually great source said guests had to provide their own towels at the moderates. It looks like they got this one wrong, but we all make mistakes. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  • May 25, 2011 at 10:33 am

    Are you sure you have to bring your own towels to the moderate resorts’ pools? I’ve stayed at three different moderates (2000, 2004, and 2008) and there were towels provided poolside at each of them. Has this changed?

    • May 25, 2011 at 1:54 pm

      Like I mentioned to Craig I wasn’t sure about the towels at the moderates when I wrote this post so I checked it out. A usually great source flubbed on this one so sorry for the misinformation! It appears from other people’s comments that towels are, indeed, provided at the moderates. Thanks for the comment!

  • May 25, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    Even just hanging out by these pools with a tasty cocktail is a great way to waste away the afternoon! (I’m pretty much a pro at that!) 🙂

    • May 25, 2011 at 1:54 pm

      I completely agree, Jeni! I like to hang out there at night as well on my more leisurely trips. Thanks for the comment!

  • May 25, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    I have yet to find a pool at WDW that disappoints. I love the setting of the WL pool, the sheer size of the GF pool, and the tranquility of the “rogue pools” at the value resorts. By the way, just reading this post brought me to a more relaxing place in my day!

    • May 25, 2011 at 12:10 pm

      Me too, Betsy…..I really need a vacation…and a pool and a margarita! 🙂

      • May 25, 2011 at 1:55 pm

        Thanks for the comment, Betsy! I’m glad I could bring a little serenity to your day!

  • May 25, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    Also stayed at Port Orleans French Quarter last year, towels were provided – thanks for the article Kristen! Keep the info coming.

    • May 25, 2011 at 1:56 pm

      Thanks for letting me know, Joe! It looks like my little bit of research didn’t come up with the right answer this time. Thanks for the compliments and for reading!

  • May 25, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    We stayed at ASMusic last October. They had towel carts near the pool there, by the elevators.

    • May 25, 2011 at 1:57 pm

      Interesting, I’ve never seen that before at a value! I just got back from a stay at Pop Century and towels were definitely not provided by the pool. Most people bring the towels from their rooms.

  • May 25, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    Currently my Disney travel crowd consists only of adults, so we spend our days at the parks and not at the pool. But I remember as a kid how the pools were equally, if not more important, than the parks. I think I rode down the water slide at Caribbean Beach a hundred times over the course of my childhood!

    • May 25, 2011 at 1:59 pm

      My WDW travel crowd consists of adults most of the time too, but we’ve been trying to relax a little more on our trips lately. Its hard to tear yourself away from the parks, but its really beneficial to take a breather from time to time. I’ll have to check out the Caribbean Beach pool on one of my next visits! Thanks for reading and commenting!

  • May 25, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    We just got back from a weekend at the Dolphin. The “Grotto Pool” is wonderful! It’s a very long free form pool with waterfalls and a slide. There are lots of shady spots for hanging out and reading. We spent the better part of Saturday mid-day there. We just sort of do leisurely side-stroked up and back the length of the pool. It’s really long! There is an adjacent lap-pool which is nice for those who want to be more serious about taking a swim.

    • May 25, 2011 at 2:00 pm

      Oh cool! Thanks for letting us know about another great pool option. I’ve been wanting to stay at the Swan/Dolphin for a while now and you’re just making it even better. Thanks for reading and commenting!

      • May 31, 2011 at 12:18 pm

        You’re welcome, Kristen! Don’t hesitate about the Swan/Dolphin. There’s just one got-ya. The Swan has pairs of Queen-sized beds, and the Dolphin has Full-sized, which is odd for a “deluxe” hotel in the US in this day and age. Something to remember.

    • May 25, 2011 at 2:19 pm

      I stayed at the Swan when I was younger and my dad was at a conference…I remember loving the pools and water slide there. The S & D also have a lap pool if you haven’t gotten enough exercise trekking around the parks!

  • May 25, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    After reading this post, I really want to go swimming now. But it’s 9:30 at night, I live in NJ, and I don’t have a pool. This is a fail. But your post was a win!

  • May 25, 2011 at 10:44 pm

    We stayed at Bay Lake Tower last year and will do so again this year. The kids (ages 1,7,and 10) love the pool and slide. They have a small slide there that was perfect for our one year old last year. He also loved the splash fountains. We could watch him splash in the fountains with a great view of Bay Lake in the background. Another great thing they do is have games for the kids in the afternoon — trivia games, a pool version of musical chairs, hula hoop games and sending rubber ducks down the water slide. It is awesome to not only relax by the pool but also have help in entertaining our kids. We plan carefully to make sure we have time at the pool every day. Thanks to Touring Plans for all the information that makes that easier.

    • June 1, 2011 at 7:17 pm

      Oh good! I’m glad your family enjoyed Bay Lake’s pool. It always looked sort of plain in pictures and just walking by, but I guess we should know better than to judge something before experiencing by now. Thanks for letting me know about this great pool!

  • May 26, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    I like the Coronado Springs pool vs. some others as you can find shade there!! The Pop-Century pool(s) lacked any/much vegetation, so… no shade.

    • June 1, 2011 at 7:18 pm

      That is a good point. It can be hard to find shade at some of the pools, especially at the values since there isn’t as much landscaping. Thanks for pointing that out!

  • May 29, 2011 at 6:57 am

    We loved the pool area at Coronado but found the concrete deck incredibly hot in the summer. Might want to keep water shoes handy there.

    • June 1, 2011 at 7:19 pm

      Yes, the concrete can get hot around all of the pools and it is a good idea to keep your flip flops or water shoes handy. Thanks for pointing that out!

  • June 1, 2011 at 9:12 am

    We’re big fans of the quiet pools in the Magnolia Bend section of POR. Towels are not supplied at the quiet pools, so we either bring them from our room (and call mousekeeping for more towels) or go get them at the large pool on Ol’ Man Island. The large pool is fun, but too crowded for us. We bring our own pool toys, and always have a blast at the quiet pool.

    We stayed at CBR pre Thanksgiving in 2009 and, while the quiet pool was wonderful, I found the larger pool to be FREEZING!! I know they’re supposed to be heated, but I could not swim in it. We stayed at the Contemporary in January 2010 and the main pool was freezing too. Maybe I’m a wimpy southerner but, seriously, a cold pool affects how I feel about a resort. POR FQ has a lovely pool, which has a fun slide (and towels). CS looks like fun, but we have not stayed there. On a recent non-Disney park trip to Orlando, we found ourselves on Disney property every day to eat. We visited the pools at AKL and Poly, and have vowed to stay at both. They look like so much fun! Poly is ideally located, and the beach is a kid magnet. Can’t wait until our schedule and a good discount align.

    • June 1, 2011 at 7:21 pm

      Thanks for the comments, Teresa! Yes, the quiet pools are often a great option when you are looking to avoid the crowds. The few times I’ve been down to WDW in the winter there is often a chill in the air so I rarely want to go swimming so I’ll have to take your word for it on the water temp! The Poly pool is a lot of fun and I’ve heard good things about AKL so I’m sure you’ll enjoy them!

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