Beginning Oct. 15, guests will be allowed to bring dogs if they stay at select hotels at Walt Disney World DIS, +0.46% the company announced Friday. Travelers will be limited to two dogs per room, and dogs will be required to be leashed in public areas and have the proper vaccinations.
Guests who choose to bring their furry companions will pay a $50 fee per night at three of the hotels (Art of Animation Resort, Port Orleans Riverside Resort and the cabins at Ft. Wilderness Resort) and $75 nightly fee at the Yacht Club Resort. The fee will go towards extra cleaning for the rooms.
To make dogs’ stay more comfortable, Disney provide amenities for their four-legged guests, including a mat, bowls for food and water, an ID tag and puppy pads. Guests will also receive plastic disposable bags and maps of green spaces for dogs to walk around. The rooms will also come with a specific “Do Not Disturb” sign to alert hotel staff if a dog is in the room.
The move was likely driven by Disney’s competition with other Orlando-area resorts, said Melissa Halliburton, president and founder of pet-travel website BringFido.com. In particular, three on-site hotels at nearby Universal Studios CMCSA, +0.17% are owned by Loews Hotels L, -0.02% which is pet-friendly. Halliburton said Orlando is in the top five most-searched destinations on her site.
“For years, families have struggled with the decision whether to bring their four-legged companions along on vacation to the Most Magical Place on Earth,” Halliburton said. Previously, visitors who wanted to stay on Walt Disney World property could bring dogs to the campgrounds at its Ft. Wilderness Resort. Service dogs are also allowed in the parks, and there are pet rest stations throughout.
The news was met with mixed reactions. Dog-lovers celebrated the change, while those with allergies and aversions to dogs were concerned about the implications.
Nightly fees make it cost-prohibitive for most guests to bring pets to hotels. I’d expect that trend to also carry over to WDW hotels.
Though Disney did not specify its plans, Halliburton said it’s likely the company will take precautions to ensure other guests are comfortable. “Most hotels set up a particular floor for pets, so people with allergies are never assigned a room on that floor and don’t deal with any residual dander,” she said.
Pet-friendly accommodations are a growing trend in the travel industry. Some 53% of travelers vacation with their pets, according to travel news site Skift, citing a TripAdvisor survey.
Millennials are driving this trend, Halliburton said. “They are choosing to have children later in life — but their dogs have taken that spot in their hearts, and they want to travel with them,” she said. For those looking to travel to Walt Disney World with their animals, Halliburton recommended they plan ahead to ensure they get a pet-friendly room and bring a copy of their vet’s records and a photo of their animal in case it gets sick or goes missing.