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So You Want to Bring Your Pet on a Walt Disney World Vacation...

Woman reading 101 Dalmatians to English Bulldog at Best Friends Pet Care

Pets are part of our families. Having a beloved pet can feel like having kids, and who doesn’t want to take their kids to Walt Disney World?

Unfortunately, walking our dog down Main Street or riding Pirates of the Caribbean with our real parrot isn’t really a viable option. Other than service dogs, pets are not allowed within Walt Disney World parks or in common areas, and yes, we do ask you resist any temptation to sneak your little bundle of joy in with you. Disney security probably won’t find your sugar gliders nearly as cute as you do.

Visits to the parks aside, there are plenty of reasons why a family may want to bring their pets on a Walt Disney World vacation, and the good news is it isn’t impossible. In truth, Walt Disney World is now more pet friendly than ever before with some boundaries. Planning on bringing your furry or feathered friend with you on a Walt Disney World vacation? Here’s what you need to know.

Should you bring your pet?

Perplexed Boxer with an Underbite

Image: Cuatrok77, Flickr (license)

It’s a difficult question but one that must be asked: is it really a good idea to bring a pet on a Walt Disney World vacation?

For Florida locals and annual passholders, this isn’t as problematic. Is your pet comfortable with a few hours of driving? Being local to Florida takes long road trips or flights mostly out of the equation unless you’re coming from Miami or the far panhandle (for all visitors, remember it is illegal to leave an animal unattended in a vehicle in Florida—don’t do it even once). Annual passholders also have access to discounts at Best Friends Pet Care at Walt Disney World, and having a car means you can drive over to visit your pet throughout your vacation if you want. A lot of the options we are going to explore are ideal for Florida locals, so keep that in mind if you don’t have a good caretaker in your hometown area.

For those travelling from abroad, the situation becomes more complicated. Travel can be very stressful on pets, and Walt Disney World days tend to be long and busy. It’s likely that no matter what, your pet won’t be getting the level of attention they are used to at home. With that in mind, it may not be worth the stress and extra costs to bring your pet on a Walt Disney World vacation. If you have a family member or friend who has a good rapport with your pet, that is always the best option. A quality pet resort in your area would be the second choice as even an expensive one will prove cheaper than some of the travel costs of bringing your pet to Walt Disney World.

Cat snuggling with WALL-E

Image: HarshLight, Flickr (license)

If you do still decide to bring your pet to Walt Disney World, there are a few things you will need to make sure you have in order. Most airlines and pet friendly options in and around Walt Disney World have vaccination and veterinarian requirements for pets. These can get expensive as can airline fees, particularly if you are hoping to carry-on your animal in the cabin or will be bringing an exotic pet like a bird (on a side note, both Delta and American Airlines allow small parrots on some flights with some restrictions and fees. We found this out during our move to Florida).

Other questions to consider: is your pet comfortable with kenneling, which might affect how they will fare at a pet resort? Are they noisy or destructive, which might limit options with pet friendly rooms? These are all things to weigh carefully before deciding to bring a pet on a Disney vacation. With these in mind, Disney visitors have a few options.

1. Pet-friendly Disney resort rooms

Boy with Mickey Ears and Mickey Ice Cream with Dog

Image: Disney

Previously, the only pet-friendly accommodations at Walt Disney World were found at Disney’s Fort Wilderness campground, specifically for guests with RV’s (unfortunately, Florida’s intense heat means that pets are not allowed in tents or pop-ups). Fort Wilderness (not to be confused with Wilderness Lodge) remains Disney’s most versatile option for pet owners. Disney charges an extra $5 for RV campers who bring pets so they can camp in a pet-friendly loop. You can get a look at a version of the pet disclosure here, which clarifies restrictions on both dogs and cats. For cat owners, this is one of the only options on Disney property that doesn’t involve a stay at the pet resort. Fort Wilderness is a gorgeous campground, so this is an ideal option for dog owners as well.

In 2017, Disney started a pilot program to open up dog-friendly rooms at several of its resorts. For an extra $50 a night, guests at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Port Orleans Riverside, or the Cabins at Fort Wilderness can bring up to two well-behaved dogs to stay in pet-friendly rooms. For an extra $75 a night, this option is also available at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort. Don’t worry if you have allergies—these rooms are separate from the rest of the resort (it’s still smart to let Disney know about your concern so they can guarantee you a dog-free room in a dog-free area). Visitors with dogs get a special Pluto’s Welcome Kit and can be taken out of the room in specified areas of the resort. Check with your resort to see which areas are dog-friendly and which are off-limits.

If you have the funds, the Four Seasons Orlando is also dog friendly, allowing well-behaved dogs up to 40 lbs. for no extra charge. We’ve gushed about the Four Seasons before, so this is an outstanding option if it is in your price range. You may not want to bother going to the parks while visiting this insanely luxurious resort.

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