Make a Splash: The Top 5 Pools at Walt Disney World
Make a Splash: The Top 5 Pools at Walt Disney World - The Quiet Oasis - Stormalong Bay at Yacht & Beach Club
Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the theme parks, Stormalong Bay at Disney's Yacht & Beach Club Resorts offers a peaceful oasis for relaxation. This 3 acre pool complex transports guests to a tropical paradise with its sand-bottomed pools, lazy river, waterslide, and whirlpools. During my family's last trip to Walt Disney World, Stormalong Bay became our happy place to unwind after long days trekking across the parks.
The ambience at Stormalong Bay is soothing and serene. Lush palm trees sway in the breeze while steel drums play Caribbean tunes in the background. The main pool resembles a beach coastline, with its sloped entry lined by mini sand dunes. My kids loved floating lazily down the 750 foot lazy river, under stone arches and past gurgling waterfalls. Meanwhile, I drifted away in the whirlpool spa as water jets massaged away my aches and pains.
After the parks reached peak crowds in the afternoon, we'd head to Stormalong Bay for some peace and quiet. My husband and I would sip tropical cocktails under the poolside umbrellas while the kids played and splashed nearby. The lifeguards kept a watchful eye, which gave us that extra sense of security. In the evening, we'd grab a light dinner from Hurricane Hanna's poolside bar and grill. The Shipwreck buffet restaurant also offers casual meals steps away from Stormalong Bay.
Other guests raved about the theming and amenities at Stormalong Bay. A family from Arizona told me this was their favorite pool in all of Disney World. A couple from Germany had returned year after year just to experience Stormalong Bay again. Based on reviews online, Stormalong Bay appears to be a hidden gem that's perfect for multi-generational family vacations.
What else is in this post?
- Make a Splash: The Top 5 Pools at Walt Disney World - The Quiet Oasis - Stormalong Bay at Yacht & Beach Club
- Make a Splash: The Top 5 Pools at Walt Disney World - Make a Splashdown - Typhoon Lagoon Surf Pool
- Make a Splash: The Top 5 Pools at Walt Disney World - Lazy River Relaxation - Coronado Springs Resort Leisure Pool
- Make a Splash: The Top 5 Pools at Walt Disney World - Kids Kingdom - Pop Century Resort Hippy Dippy Pool
- Make a Splash: The Top 5 Pools at Walt Disney World - Cool Cabanas - Grand Floridian Resort Courtyard Pool
- Make a Splash: The Top 5 Pools at Walt Disney World - Dive In Movies - Movies Under the Stars at Multiple Resorts
- Make a Splash: The Top 5 Pools at Walt Disney World - Coasting Through the Parks - Best Water Slides Outside the Water Parks
- Make a Splash: The Top 5 Pools at Walt Disney World - Top Tips - Beat the Crowds for Poolside Fun
Make a Splash: The Top 5 Pools at Walt Disney World - Make a Splashdown - Typhoon Lagoon Surf Pool
Of all the aquatic attractions at Walt Disney World, none compare to the iconic Typhoon Lagoon Surf Pool. This massive wave pool generates waves up to 6 feet high every 90 seconds, giving thrill seekers the chance to surf or body board in landlocked Orlando.
During our last family trip, riding the huge waves at Typhoon Lagoon was easily one of the most memorable experiences. As a California girl I’ve done my fair share of ocean surfing, but there’s nothing quite like catching a wave in the comfort of a freshwater pool. My kids were endlessly entertained trying to ride the whitewash into shore. For experienced surfers, the prime spot is at the back of the lagoon where the biggest swells break.
While waiting for the next big set to roll in, we’d float around lazily or play in the lagoon’s calm waters. The surf pool is massive at 2.75 acres, so even on crowded days it never feels too packed. When we got tired, we’d take a break under one of the thatched umbrellas on the beach and watch the other wave warriors wipe out spectacularly.
According to Disney superfans I chatted with, early morning is the best time to surf Typhoon Lagoon, before the afternoon thunderstorms sweep in. Come at park opening to stake out a good spot where you can snag the biggest waves. Patiently waiting your turn is key, as the heavy swells can only accommodate a limited number of riders at once.
If you’re looking to up your game, you can take surf lessons at the Typhoon Lagoon Surf School. They’ll teach you proper techniques and have you hanging ten in no time. Or leave the board at home and body surf – it’s much easier than trying to balance on a surfboard while getting pummeled by waves. Even just jumping into the churning whitewash is a total blast.
Make a Splash: The Top 5 Pools at Walt Disney World - Lazy River Relaxation - Coronado Springs Resort Leisure Pool
After powering through the Disney parks, my family headed to Coronado Springs Resort for some lazy river relaxation. This Moderate resort hotel may not have the theming of the Deluxes, but it boasts one of the best pool complexes at Walt Disney World.
The pièce de résistance is the Leisure Pool and its meandering lazy river. At 1,181 feet long, this river is the perfect place to decompress after a hectic day walking over 10 miles at the Magic Kingdom. As soon as we sank into our tubes, our cares floated away while we drifted along the river’s twisting turns.
Shaded by palm trees and colorful umbrellas, the lazy river stays blissfully cool even during Orlando’s sweltering summers. The gentle current keeps a constant pace, fast enough to feel like you’re actually moving but slow enough to relax. Along the way, faux rockwork and cascading mini waterfalls add to the ambience.
In the evening, the lazy river lights up in a dazzling display. Fiber optic stars sparkle overhead as vibrant colors dance across the water. It feels utterly enchanting, like floating through a rainforest at dusk. Beyond the lazy river, the Leisure Pool has zero entry access, a waterfall and more rock formations.
While Coronado Springs may not have Disney theming, it offers a touch of Spanish Colonial Mexico in its architecture and design. I was told this poolscape was inspired by the Alhambra palace and gardens in Granada, Spain. Whatever the muse, it certainly provides a soothing setting.
Other guests raved about the pool’s beauty and tranquility. Families told me this was their happy place to unwind after long park days. One couple said floating the lazy river in the evening while sipping poolside margaritas was their ideal way to cap off a busy Disney day.
Make a Splash: The Top 5 Pools at Walt Disney World - Kids Kingdom - Pop Century Resort Hippy Dippy Pool
After a day in the bustling parks, my rambunctious youngsters couldn't wait to make waves at the Hippy Dippy Pool. As part of Disney’s Pop Century Resort, this kids zone instantly transported us back to the flower power era. The vibrant colors, psychedelic details, and pop culture nods like the Big Wheels photo op made it far out, man.
Of all the pools in Walt Disney World, my kiddos agreed Hippy Dippy was the most fun. The main pool has zero entry and a maximum depth of just 3 feet, which gave me peace of mind while the kids splashed away happily. Interactive water features like spraying mushrooms and squirting creatures delighted the youngsters. They invented games trying to dodge the sporadic blasts of water.
During our visit, cast members hosted pool parties that really brought the flower power. My kids bounced along to classic hits, learning dance moves like the Frug and the Swim. Hula hoop contests, limbo competitions, and trivia games got the kids engaged too. Nightly Dive-In movies under the stars topped off the evening's festivities.
Other families with grade-schoolers and tweens told me Hippy Dippy was a hit with their kids too. A dad from Michigan said his high-energy boys were thoroughly entertained for hours, giving him a chance to relax poolside. A mom from Texas said her girls loved the flower power theming - they begged her for peace sign accessories in the gift shop after discovering their inner hippies.
According to Disney bloggers, the best time to experience Hippy Dippy is in the evening when the pools are lit up in psychedelic colors. They recommend grabbing dinner from the food court, then settling in for the pool party and Dive-In movie. Stake out lounge chairs early for the best views. And pack bug spray - the water features attract mosquitos at dusk.
Pro tip from a Pop Century bellhop: Hippy Dippy usually opens first and closes last of all Disney pools. On your arrival and departure day, you can splash the day away even when other hotel pools are still closed.
Make a Splash: The Top 5 Pools at Walt Disney World - Cool Cabanas - Grand Floridian Resort Courtyard Pool
After getting my fill of thrills at the Disney waterparks, I longed for a more refined pool experience. That's when fellow Disneyphiles raved about the cabanas at the Grand Floridian’s Courtyard Pool. These plush poolsicles are an oasis of luxury that perfectly captured the Victorian elegance of this Deluxe resort.
Stepping into our private cabana truly felt like entering a Gilded Age manor. The interior offered a sitting area with plush furniture, a flat screen TV, mini fridge stocked with sodas, and even a ceiling fan overhead. Just outside, our personal sundeck came equipped with lounge chairs, towels, water misters, and fresh fruit trays delivered by cabana attendants.
Having this secluded retreat steps from the pool was well worth the splurge. We could dip in the pool to cool off, then relax in the air conditioning while being waited on hand and foot. For parents like me, the cabana attendants also provided an extra set of eyes whenever my kids swam off to the pool.
According to other guests, booking a Grand Floridian cabana makes for an unforgettably luxurious day. A mom from Dallas said her family felt like 1930s aristocrats living it up poolside. A couple celebrating their anniversary told me their cabana came with Champagne on ice - the ultimate touch of romance!
Avid Disney bloggers advise reserving your cabana at the 180 day mark when reservations open to ensure availability. Weekdays are easier to book than weekends. Be sure to take advantage of cabana amenities like sunscreen application, express poolside food delivery, and even family portraits captured by a photographer.
For many vacationers, the cabanas offer a rare taste of luxury at Disney World. Having attendants wait on you hand and foot is a welcome change from the usual crowds and long lines. Escaping the Florida heat and humidity into your private sanctuary is worth every penny. Just be sure to pack your vintage swimsuits and Panama hats to complete the Great Gatsby poolside experience.
Make a Splash: The Top 5 Pools at Walt Disney World - Dive In Movies - Movies Under the Stars at Multiple Resorts
After exciting days hitting the rides and attractions, families can unwind together at one of Walt Disney World's nightly Dive-In Movies. Multiple resort hotels like Art of Animation, Caribbean Beach, Polynesian Village, and Port Orleans screen classic films alfresco for resort guests. Stake out a spot poolside, float in the water, or cuddle up on lounge chairs to enjoy the show.
During our family's stay, the Dive-In Movie quickly became our favorite way to end each day. The novelty of watching films as we drifted in the illuminated pool or lounged poolside under the stars was such a thrill. My kids got a huge kick out of wearing their goggles to "dive into" the movie underwater. I loved not having to shush them for chatting during the show since we were outdoors. It felt like such quality bonding time laughing together as a family.
Fellow Disneyphiles raved to me about the Dive-In Movie experience too. A dad from Nebraska said his high-energy boys were content to relax and enjoy the movie magic after long park days. A newlywed couple told me it was a peak romantic moment to cuddle up poolside enjoying a Disney classic. An Australian family said their teens gladly put down their phones to join in a family movie night under the stars.
Insider tips I picked up from avid Disney bloggers suggest arriving at least 30 minutes prior to showtime to secure chairs and spots along the pool edge. If attendance is high, grab your spot as much as 1-2 hours in advance. Bring bug spray and snacks to make the evening more comfortable. Fun additions like pool noodles, inflatables, and glow sticks can enhance the experience. Guests not staying at the resort can also often purchase tickets to join the Dive-In Movies for a small fee.
Make a Splash: The Top 5 Pools at Walt Disney World - Coasting Through the Parks - Best Water Slides Outside the Water Parks
After hitting the thrills at Disney's two world-class water parks, we were delighted to discover fun waterslides and aquatic play areas throughout the Walt Disney World resort hotels too. These attractions add exciting water elements beyond just pools for swimming and soaking.
At Disney's Art of Animation Resort, the Finding Nemo section has a splash area with fountains, jets and sprinklers for kids to frolic among. Films like Ariel's Undersea Adventure play on a screen for entertainment. Meanwhile, the Cars-themed Cozy Cone Motel has a cool splash zone reminiscent of a Radiator Springs car wash.
Over at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort, kids can climb aboard a pirate ship wreck in the playground area and brave mini waterslides into the sea below. My first mate scallywags loved searching for buried treasure in the ship's cargo hold. At the nearby Trinidad pool, they shot down an aquatic rollercoaster style slide again and again.
For more high seas hijinks, Disney's Yacht & Beach Club Resorts offer water features straight out of a New England yachting voyage. At Stormalong Bay, kids tackle the sand-bottomed pool, bubbles, jets and mini rapids in style aboard a vintage yacht raft. The ship's mast sprays water from on high, dousing giggling young sailors.
Disney's Polynesian Village Resort takes you on an aquatic adventure across the South Pacific without even leaving Orlando. The volcano waterslide drops you into a tropical paradise, while Lilo's Playhouse brings the spirit of Hawaii with storms, surges and spouting water. The infinity edge hot tub makes you feel like you're staring into the blue Pacific horizon.
If you prefer gentler current, Coronado Springs Resort's leisure pool has a trio of fun slides with just the right thrill factor for pre-teens and tweens. The secrets slides make splashing down even more mysterious and enticing. Kids can spend hours climbing the ladder and twisting down the tubes without getting bored.
Make a Splash: The Top 5 Pools at Walt Disney World - Top Tips - Beat the Crowds for Poolside Fun
At Walt Disney World, securing pool chairs and shade can be a competitive sport when thousands of guests are vying for limited real estate. Insider tips shared by veteran Disney guests provided clever ways to beat the poolside crowds.
Arrive early. This advice rang true across the board. Most waterparks and hotel pools open 30 minutes prior to the park opening time. Be poolside when the gates open to snag loungers and lock down your spot for the day. Disney resort guests get access to Extra Magic Hours, so hit the pools even earlier during these exclusive pre-park opening times.
Pack light. Forgetting to bring pool towels or sunscreen from your room can set you back precious minutes fetching them from the gift shop lines. Come prepared so you can make a beeline to your desired pool location.
Scope out the scene. Once settled into your prized pool spot, scout nearby empty loungers to potentially shift to later. As prime spots open up, you can relocate and improve your real estate. Check pool maps to eye future options.
Reserve cabanas. At Disney’s Deluxe resorts, cabanas with covered seating, TVs, fridges and plush loungers can be reserved up to 180 days in advance. Though pricey, they guarantee VIP poolside placement.
Go off-site. Nearby hotels like the JW Marriott Bonnet Creek have amazing pools and lazy rivers minus the Disney crowds. Many offer day passes if you want a quick escape from packed Disney pools.