Pools & Recreation at the Deluxe Resorts, Part 1
Amenity-filled facilities provide perfect getaway
Friday, September 24, 2004
By Sue Holland , staff writer
Photo by Sue Holland.
Disney's deluxe category of resorts can be vacation destinations in
and of themselves, with many amenities and services not found at the value
or moderate resorts. Swimming pools here tend to be more elaborate and
more visually impressive. Using the swimming pool is generally not permitted
unless you are a registered guest at that specific resort, and at the
deluxe resorts Disney is more likely to be checking identification cards
to ensure no unauthorized people are present.
In this first segment of a two-part series, we look at the resorts located
in the Magic Kingdom area. The second part will focus on the resorts in
the Epcot and Animal Kingdom areas.
The Contemporary Resort is one of the original resorts to open in 1971
when Walt Disney World opened to the public. It was themed to the 1970s
idea of the future, and to this day remains a uniquely styled hotel. The
original main pool here was a rather boring rectangle, which was good
for swimming laps but not terribly innovative or attractive. Eventually,
it was redone in the shape of a somewhat free-form Mickey Mouse head.
Contemporary Resort's Main Pool. Photo by Sue Holland.
A good-sized water slide was added, along with a number of fountains
that spray water onto people enjoying the pool. One very nice feature
about this pool is the abundance of deck space, which ensures it never
seems crowded because there is more than enough room for all of the lounge
chairs. A number of trees also provide some needed shade, and during busy
times there might be organized activities or games at the poolpossibly
even a character appearance. The schedule of any planned events can be
obtained when checking in.
The Contemporary Resort also has a quiet pool, which extends out over
Bay Lake and is called the Bay Pool. This circular pool is shallower at
the edges and gets deeper at the center. This pool is generally uncrowded,
and is a great choice for any Contemporary Resort guest just wanting to
relax while feeling far away from the hustle and bustle of Walt Disney
Contemporary Resort's Bay Pool. Photo by Sue Holland.
Next to the swimming pool area is the large marina, where a wide variety
of boats are available for rent by the half-hour or longer. Parasailing
is also an option here, as is fishing with a guide. The best place to
rent the small two-person Water Mouse boats is any of the Magic Kingdom
resorts' marinas, because the vastness of Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon
provides the most area to cover. The boats here are not idled down to
a slower speed, as they are at the Epcot resorts and Downtown Disney.
Young children can enjoy the playground, located next to the north garden
wing (the wing closest to the Magic Kingdom). Children of all ages are
welcome in one of the largest arcades at Walt Disney World, located on
the ground floor of the Contemporary tower. This resort also has a number
of tennis courts available, along with a pro shop for merchandise, rentals,
and assistance with your game.
The Polynesian Resort is another deluxe resort in existence since Walt
Disney World opened 33 years ago. This resort obviously has a Polynesian
theme, and has always been very popular with repeat visitors. Surprisingly,
this is the only deluxe resort without any hot tub/spa facilities.
Polynesian Resort's Volcano Pool. Photo by Sue Holland.
The Polynesian Resort's pool is themed to a volcano, providing an impressive
icon that fits the theme of the resort quite well. The water slide is
built into the side of the volcano, and twists around before dumping riders
into the swimming pool below. The pool is somewhat free form, which allows
smaller, somewhat quieter nooks and crannies in addition to the more crowded
sections. A waterfall is located in one such corner, which is popular
with most children.
One feature Disney has started including in their swimming pools is called
zero entry. Rather than walking down steps or climbing down
a ladder, swimmers walk into the pool just as if they were on a beach
and entering the ocean. There is no step downinstead, the pool entrance
slopes until the normal pool depth is reached. Families traveling with
young children in particular enjoy this feature, as those children seem
to enjoy playing at the water's edge.
Zero-entry section of the Polynesian Resort's Volcano Pool. Photo by Sue
The Polynesian Resort also has a full marina, with most of the same options
available at the Contemporary Resort. They also have an arcade (Moana
Mickey's) and a jogging path. White-sand beaches are also available at
all of the Magic Kingdom resorts, although swimming in the lake is not
Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa is the flagship resort in Disney's
collection, and is strikingly beautiful. With a Victorian theme, the elegance
is unmistakable yet the resort is warm and inviting. When it opened, the
Grand Floridian had a single pool. Today, that pool serves as the quiet
pool and another more elaborate pool was built near the beach.
Grand Floridian's main pool. Photo by Sue Holland.
The main pool is similar to the one at the Polynesian Resort in that
it has a zero-entry section, waterfall cascading down a rock wall, and
water slides that are very much alike. Instead of a volcano, this pool
has a large rock as the focal point of the pool area. The pool is a good
size, with room for many guests. The beach is right next door, which may
help ease the crowding.
On the beach there are some bench swings, which can be relaxing at any
hour of the day, but especially romantic in the evening. Several chaise
lounges are available, some with a cabana to provide shade during the
heat of the day. The quiet pool is very large as compared to other quiet
pools. At the Grand Floridian, it is located in the center of the resort.
The Jacuzzi/spa is located in this area as well, along with an 18-inch
deep children's pool.
Grand Floridian's quiet pool area. Photo by Sue Holland.
As at the other resorts mentioned here, the Grand Floridian has a full
marina, jogging path and a video arcade. There are also tennis courts
shuttles to nearby Disney golf courses throughout the day. The Grand Floridian
Spa is one of the most complete at Walt Disney World, with a wide variety
of spa treatments available.
The final Magic Kingdom resort is Disney's Wilderness Lodge. Technically
it is both a deluxe resort and a home away from home resort
now that the Disney Vacation Club section (Villas at Wilderness Lodge)
is open. The two resorts share the public areas, although the accommodations
are completely different.
Wilderness Lodge's main pool. Photo by Sue Holland.
The main pool is located at the original Wilderness Lodge Resort, and
begins as a hot spring pool in the lobby. The water flows under the window
wall to become Silver Creek, widening as it develops into a rushing waterfall
into the swimming pool. In addition, there is a quiet pool located at
the Villas at Wilderness Lodge.
Opportunities for recreation abound at Wilderness Lodge. In addition
to the full marina (similar to the other Magic Kingdom resorts) there
is a very nice fitness center located in the Villas building. Hayrides
can be taken in the evening, and bicycles are rented during the daylight
hours. From Wilderness Lodge it is a short bicycle ride to Fort Wilderness,
where there are many miles of paved paths for riding. There is a small
but attractive white-sand beach near the marina, which can be used for
sunbathing but not swimming. A playground for children is located on the
beach as well.
Thanks to the pools and recreation offerings at the deluxe resorts, taking
a day (or longer) off from visiting the theme parks can be one of the
most enjoyable parts of any family's Walt Disney World vacation. Next
time, we will explore the remaining deluxe resorts.
Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Sue here.
Sue has been hooked on Walt Disney World since
her first visit in 1972 with her parents and younger brother. She kept returning
more frequently until she moved to Florida in 1986.
After joining the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) in
1997, she now visits almost monthly. She also spends time at
the DVC's non-WDW locations, and is experienced with the Disney cruise ships.
She takes many of these trips on her own, but
she's also toured WDW with large groups of people, including families, the elderly,
and people with disabilities.
She works as the Administrative Services Division Head
for a large residential facility administered by the Florida Department of Children
and Families. She currently resides in Southwest Florida with her teenage son.
Sue is one of our most prolific trip report writers.
Read her trip report archive here.
You can contact Sue here.
Get the latest info about the resort at Park
Update: Walt Disney World.