Pools & Recreation at the Deluxe Resorts, Part 2
A final round-up of the pools of WDW
Friday, October 8, 2004
By Sue Holland , staff writer
Photo by Sue Holland.
This time, we will explore the pools and recreation available at the
deluxe resorts in the Epcot and Animal Kingdom areas. Just like the Magic
Kingdom area resorts, these pool areas are elaborately themed and provide
a gorgeous setting for a relaxing day or afternoon away from the theme
parks. Access is restricted to people who are registered guests at each
resort, and Disney strictly enforces this at the Yacht Club and Beach
Club resorts in particular. Even Disney Vacation Club members are not
permitted to use the pools at most of these resorts, except Boardwalk,
unless staying there.
Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge has one thing that sets it apart from the
other Disney resorts, as well as most other resorts in the world. It was
built to overlook a 33-acre savanna that features free-roaming animals
and birds. Animal or bird lovers can spend simply watching the activity
on the savanna, and talking with cast members stationed to answer questions
and share information about Africa and the species seen at the resort.
When the resort first opened, Disney limited access to only guests staying
there, but today anyone is welcome to visit the public areas (excluding
the pool), including the savanna viewing areas.
Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge just has a single swimming pool, which
is named Uzima Pool. Uzima means clear water, and the pool is 11,000 square
feet with a 67-foot water slide. The sides and bottom of the pool make
the water appear less blue than most pools, but that is in keeping with
the theme of a watering hole in Africa. The pool is quite large, and includes
a section that does not require using steps to walk into the water Ð similar
to the pools at the Polynesian and Grand Floridian resorts.
The water slide has been criticized by some as not having any decorative
appeal, at least not at the level expected at a deluxe resort. It is a
simple slide, which may have been Disney's intention. There is also a
Jacuzzi-type spa located near the slide, and the Uzima Springs Pool Bar
serves a wide selection of beverages from the other side of the pool.
No drinking straws are permitted at this resort, in order to keep the
animals safe from guests who may not dispose of the straws properly.
Animal Kingdom Lodge's Uzima Pool. Photo by Sue Holland.
Also near the pool is the Zahanati Massage and Fitness Center, which
is open from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m. for fitness, and from 8 a.m. for spa
services. A playground for the children (Hakuna Matata Playground) is
located in this area as well, although it is not visible to parents in
the pool or spa. An arcade is located on the ground floor under the lobby,
with the child-care facility (Simba's Cub House) located right next door.
This resort offers several recreational and educational programs, with
a schedule available from the front desk while checking in. Each evening
they have storytelling at one of the large firepits, with guests enjoying
the rocking chairs pulled around the fire. Other offerings in the past
have included cookie decorating, animal tracking, Lodge tours, pool games,
and some evening activities. It would be very possible to have a fun-filled
vacation at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge without ever leaving the resort,
so do allow some time to enjoy what will be offered during your stay.
Stormalong Bay. Photo by Sue Holland.
Without question, the biggest and best pool area at Walt Disney World
is Stormalong Bay, which is shared by Disney's Yacht & Beach Club Resorts.
Sprawled over 3 acres and containing 750,000 gallons of water, this pool
must be seen to be believed. Due to its obvious popularity, cast members
stationed at each of the few entry points tightly control access. Without
resort identification to prove you are registered at the Yacht Club or
Beach Club (including Beach Club Villas), you will be asked to leave.
The one drawback to Stormalong Bay is its size, which can also be an
attractive point depending on your situation. Families with both young
and older children may be torn, as the area for young children is far
from the water slide and other areas enjoyed by school-age children. Lifeguards
are plentiful, but cannot substitute for absent parents. Fortunately,
there are many areas where families can enjoy the pool together regardless
Kiddie Pool area of Stormalong Bay. Photo by Sue Holland.
The Kiddie Pool area is larger than any other one I have ever seen! It
has a sand bottom, and a large sandy area outside of the water, which
is perfect for the type of beach play tots tend to love. Lounge chairs
can be hard to come by in this area, as it is very popular with families.
There is even a lifeguard stationed to keep an eye on things, which generally
is unheard of at the other kiddie pool areas.
The rest of Stormalong Bay consists of a number of sprawling pools, with
attractive bridges providing access from one area to another. The pools
feature whirlpools, bubbling jets, an area with a sandy bottom, a quiet
area, a small lazy river and an exciting water slide. The slide is accessed
from outside Stormalong Bay, by climbing up the mast of a shipwrecked
boat. The slide is partially enclosed, and quite longdefinitely
a popular spot for both children and adults. A number of Jacuzzi-type
spas are located throughout Stormalong Bay, including one with cool water
rather than hot. Inner tubes are available for hourly or daily rental,
and are quite popular in the lazy river section of the pool. In this area
the water gets quite deepup to 8 feet.
Lazy river section of Stormalong Bay. Photo by Sue Holland.
In addition to Stormalong Bay, these resorts share three other quiet
pools. These pools do not feature lifeguards or water slides, but they
are a great place to escape for a less crowded and quieter swimming pool
experience. There is one at the Yacht Club end, one at the Beach Club,
and also the Dunes Cove pool at the Beach Club Villas.
Fitness buffs will enjoy the Ship Shape Health Club, which is located
near Stormalong Bay. Besides fitness equipment, they also offer a spa,
steam room, sauna and massage therapy. A small arcade is nearby, and Beaches
and Cream is a popular ice cream parlor in the same area.
For other outdoor recreation, there is a tennis court available, along
with a volleyball area. Bayside Marina is the place to rent pontoon boats
or the small water mouse speedboats. The speed of the water mouse boats
are kept lower at this location, howeverto get the maximum enjoyment
these are best rented from any of the Magic Kingdom resorts.
Boardwalk Inn and Boardwalk Villas' main pool. Photo by Mark Anderson.
Across the lake from Disney's Yacht Club and Beach Club Resorts are the
Boardwalk Inn and Boardwalk Villas Resorts. These two resorts share the
public areas, in the same fashion as Yacht Club and Beach Club. The Boardwalk
Inn is considered a deluxe resort, while the Boardwalk Villas
falls into the home away from home category as a Disney Vacation
The main pool is shared by both resorts, and features a water slide built
to resemble a roller coaster. Named the Keister Coaster, this pool area
is one of the more heavily themed in all of Walt Disney World. The water
slide deposits riders into the pool through the mouth of a large clown
face. People seem to either love or hate that clown, but nobody will miss
it! Statues of circus animals are found around the pool, and the pool
bar, named Leaping Horse Libations, is designed to resemble a carousel/merry-
Clown water slide at the Boardwalk main pool. Photo by Mark Anderson.
In addition to the themed pool, there are quiet pools located on both
the Villas side and the Inn side of the resort. At Boardwalk Villas, Community
Hall is located at the quiet pool and is home to recreation activities
throughout the day. A schedule can be obtained there or at the front desk.
A large fitness center is located on the ground floor near the themed
pool, and the arcade is also nearby.
Surrey bikes seating four to six people can be rented by the half-hour
from either side of the lake (Boardwalk or Yacht & Beach Club), with most
people being able to make several loops in a half-hour's time. These look
like great fun, but they require some real physical effort to clear some
of the hilly sections. Tennis courts are located next to Boardwalk Villas,
and boats are available for rent from the marina. During the evening hours
the boardwalk comes to life with games of chance, street entertainers,
and other activities depending on the season.
This concludes the tour of the deluxe resorts. Hopefully looking at the
pools at the value, moderate and deluxe resorts has helped with the decision
on which resort would be the best fit for your next trip to Walt Disney
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.