Calling All Dogs!

Big news from Walt Disney World Resorts: Starting October 15, select hotels on property will allow dogs to stay with their families!

I’ll give you some deets before I defend the policy against the (surprisingly many) haters out there.

First, there is one hotel in each tier that will allow up to 2 dogs (puppers only, right now–no cats) per room: Art of Animation ($50/night), Port Orleans Riverside ($50/night), Yacht Club ($75/night) and the Cabins at Fort Wilderness ($50/night). This means that whatever your vacation budget, if you’re willing to add the extra cost for your dog, all you have to do is request a pet-friendly room at one of these 4 resorts. And, for the record, dogs are always allowed at Fort Wilderness Campgrounds and of course, service dogs are always welcome regardless of where you stay.

Disney has stated that this is a TRIAL, so if there are those who abuse the policies in any way, it becomes an on-going issue for non-dog toting guests or in any way is not beneficial for the company (i.e., potential lawsuits, overall cost, etc), it’s likely that Disney will not continue with allowing dogs. However, if it proves to be a fantastic venture, they could potentially expand the pet policies to more resorts. (I don’t work for Disney. Don’t hold me accountable for any of that. 😉)

As for the cost, as with an pet-friendly hotel, it usually covers the extra cleaning required after a stay (which will be thorough, because duh, it’s Disney) and, in this case, covers the cost of Pluto’s Welcome Kit. Upon check-in, guests will pick up a mat, bowls, an ID tag, poop bags, puppy pads and a special door tag that indicates to housekeeping that there are dogs inside. Though the nightly cost does not cover any services specific to the dogs (walks, day care, etc) Best Friends Pet Care is available for doggy day care for those long park days that your buds might not be able to withstand an extended period in a hotel room.

There are also no breed or size restrictions but each room is limited to only 2 dogs.

So, the policies stated, here’s some responses to the negative comments I’ve read. (There are a LOT of negative comments.)

For some, the cost of boarding a dog for a long vacation is more than the charges at Disney World. True, you now have to think about getting your dog to your resort (which, if they’re in a carrier, isn’t that hard since they will be allowed on Magical Express buses to and from the airport), but if you drive to Disney, your only additional expense is the per night charge. We have 2 dogs and could not board them for less than $50 a night and while we don’t often have the need to take them on vacation with us, it’s nice to know the option is there.

Despite what many seem to think, pet owners are overall very responsible. Okay, fine. There are the occasional pet owners that don’t clean up poop or use effective restraints or couldn’t care less that their dog barks at everything or jumps on strangers. The ones that care enough to want to have their dogs on vacation with them will obey the stated policies and take care of their animal. They will clean up, ensure their pals are taken care of in their absence, hell, they’ll probably even go back to the resort midday to take their dogs out and probably have well-behaved pets that have no issue being in a hotel room for an extended period of time.

And, yes, I understand severe pet allergies exist. I understand that in rare instances, they can even be life-threatening. Disney is ensuring only a small portion of each resort will be used for families traveling with dogs. For those with these severe allergies, ensuring their own safety and well-being is as simple as a phone call upon booking your room that you need to stay away from the pet-friendly rooms. And if it’s that much of a problem, there are dozens of other resorts to choose from for your stay. Any time there is a service animal on a Magical Express bus or a monorail car or a ferry boat, you don’t necessarily know. Hell, if you sit next to me on a ride, chances are I’m covered in dog hair. At least Disney is making it very clear which resorts will allow dogs and letting you know ahead of time that it is only a portion of the resort that will be used. True, dogs will be walking around the resort grounds but if you think that dogs don’t walk everywhere else in the public areas of the world, this policy being your wakeup call is kind of astonishing.

And not all dogs mind being inside all day. We own two very active breeds (Australian Shepherd and Border Collie) that are surprisingly inactive. They are very much indoor dogs because of being raised by adults who have full-time jobs. It was taught very early on that they need to be kenneled or stay in a bedroom while we were gone for 8 or 9 hours at a time and that’s the lifestyle they have gotten accustomed to. Sure, they love their walks and trips to the dog park but I’m sure that if we left them in a hotel room for a day, they would be just fine. In the event that we had an extra long day planned, gone at 7am for rope drop and a late dinner show after the full park day, for example, then we would try to get back for a midday walk or utilize the doggy day care. Pet owners are responsible like that, despite what so many people seem to think.

It also seems that people are upset they will now need to watch for dog poop while walking around the resorts. What??? I haven’t visited any of the 4 resorts that will allow dogs, but if they’re anything like the campgrounds, there will be clear signage letting you know where dogs are allowed to walk and where they are not. Either avoid those paths or, I don’t know, avoid those resorts altogether if you can’t be bothered to be around dogs. People clean up after their dogs. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t. Disney is giving poop bags to the guests! My guess is they might even set up waste stations if this becomes a permanent accommodation. And, again, if you love your pet enough to want them on vacation with you, you probably already take the precautions of, I don’t know, bringing your own poop bags? This argument is ridiculous.

I have also read that people are concerned about bites and attacks. This should also be an all day, everyday worry for them if they really think leashed pets in designated areas will somehow become vicious attack dogs. I get it. Even the best of dogs can snap. But maybe stay away from the dogs if this is a valid concern of yours. One of my dogs will love every touch she gets from anyone, one of mine is pretty reserved and doesn’t like strangers. Guess which one I keep on a shorter leash and don’t let people pet? I know my dogs. And, as a stranger, you should know enough to A) ask for permission if you want to approach my animals and B) trust that I will keep my pets controlled because I know them best.

Honestly, I think this is a fantastic pilot program for Disney. The ones who have all the concerns seem to be the entitled ones that think because they’ve spent money to enjoy a vacation, that no one else did. (My biggest peeve of Disney are those that think they are deserving of everything because “they paid for the experience.” Guess what? We all paid for it!) If someone chooses to bring a dog to Disney World, that is their choice and I have faith in the dog-owning community that we are responsible and loving and will take care to not bother those that don’t have dogs with them. If we choose to bring our pets, we will act accordingly with the policies set forth and make sure that everyone, including those that hate on Disney for this, can enjoy themselves.

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I will fight anyone that thinks these two would cause you to enjoy your vacation less. So sweet. So lazy. 

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