There’s a new line to wait in at Disney World you probably don’t expect

Apr 30, 2021

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If you’re heading to Disney World this year, you probably know to expect to wait for a ride down Splash Mountain, to hop on the new Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway attraction or even to order the hottest new treat: a half-pound cookie from Gideon’s Bakehouse in Disney Springs.

Hopefully, you also know to make a Park Pass reservation when you buy your ticket so you aren’t stuck on the outside of the theme park gates looking in.

But there’s one line you may not know to expect that could be awaiting you at your Disney resort hotel — a line to get in the pool.

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Disney World has done very well with social distancing rules and procedures throughout the pandemic since its reopening in July of 2020. The park’s efforts to keep guests physically separate from each other carries over to the pool deck, which translates to fewer available chairs and reduced capacity.

And while this wasn’t a huge issue on my two previous pandemic-era visits to Disney World, now that both the outdoor temperatures and visitor numbers have inched higher, so too has the demand for the hotel pools. 

Related: 11 changes to expect at Disney World in 2021

(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

We recently completed a weekend stay at what is arguably the Disney resort with the best pool, the Disney Yacht Club.

A full review of the property and its amenities is forthcoming, but for context, this resort shares a pretty incredible three-acre pool complex called Stormalong Bay with the adjacent Disney Beach Club.

On the afternoon we had devoted to enjoying the resort pool, we rounded the corner to the entrance only to find … a line.

Related: These are the best Disney World hotel resorts 

The line to get in the pool (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

When it comes to Disney, I’m used to waiting (and strategizing about waiting). I’ve stood in a crowd before dawn to get into Hollywood Studios in the old days of competing for boarding passes for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and spent three hours getting psyched for the Pandora: Flight of Passage ride.

But waiting in line to access a Disney pool was an entirely new experience.

Once a Disney pool reaches capacity (and some are more likely to hit capacity than others), one of two things will happen.

Either you’ll wait in an old-fashioned line where a group can only enter when another exits, with the tables and chairs sanitized between guests, or there will be a virtual queue. Our wait to get into the pool was of the old-fashioned variety in a physical line.

Fortunately, I knew this was a possibility thanks to the Disney Food Blog and prepped the kids to pack patience with their flip-flops.

Related: How I booked a trip to Disney using no cash and only points and perks

Multiple groups who joined the line around us, or walked up and decided it wasn’t worth it, verbally expressed their shock.

Our wait was no more than about 15 minutes, but I’ve heard of longer waits — especially during recent school spring and February breaks. And, this may get worse at this particular pool during the summer if the capacity doesn’t increase, as the hotel portion of the adjacent Disney Beach Club is set to reopen on May 30.

That means more guests looking to cool off in the same space.

If you do end up needing to join a virtual queue, our understanding is that you’ll receive a text message when it is your turn to return to the pool area within a certain timeframe. This is similar to how Disney restaurants manage their waitlists.

Related: 5 changes made at Disney World we hope will become permanent

(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

Once the pool hits capacity, you’ll be assigned chairs for your party by a Disney cast member when it’s your turn to enter — and they may not be what you had in mind. Our assigned area at Stormalong Bay was a table with no umbrella, no shade and just regular upright chairs with no loungers.

The table was fine for storing our shoes and towels while we swam, but wasn’t at all where you’d want to hang out for an afternoon by the pool.

If all of that sounds like more trouble than it’s worth, there are other options.

Our visits to the same pool both early in the day (between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m.) and late at night (after 9 p.m.) were met with no crowds and our pick of seats.

The pool around 10:30 a.m. (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

If you’re going during the busy season, I highly recommend penciling in your pool time either earlier or later in the day. Typical pool usage patterns are often highest in the afternoon hours as people take a break from the parks, so if you avoid those timeframes you’re more likely to avoid waiting in line.

If that early or late strategy doesn’t work for you, just mentally prepare yourself that there may be a wait to get in the pool, and be pleasantly surprised if you luck out and get to walk right in.

Another way to secure a prime spot by the pool without a wait is to book a cabana, but unfortunately, those are often in short supply.

Related: Why you should book your next Disney trip through a vacation planner

(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

My attempt to secure a pool cabana in advance of our trip to the Yacht Club to thwart any potential lines was met with a three-hour wait on the phone and an ultimate strikeout, as there are only four at Stormalong Bay and all were fully booked.

If you want a cabana, it’s best to try by calling (407)-939-7529 at the 60-day mark before your trip starts. Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort also both have pool cabanas available for advance reservation.

(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

Another alternative is to seek out your hotel’s tranquil pool that’s often less utilized and potentially off the beaten path. It probably won’t have the bells and whistles of the main pool, but it may have seats available when the activity pool does not.

The tranquil pool at Disney’s Polynesian Village (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

Waits and lines are nothing new at Disney World.

As higher demand runs straight into capacity controls and still limited offerings, however, some new issues are emerging that we haven’t yet encountered. If you’re looking forward to a cool afternoon dip in the Disney resort pool this summer, just be ready for a potential delay.

But once it’s your turn, the good news is that you shouldn’t have an overcrowded pool experience waiting for you on the other side.

All images by Summer Hull / The Points Guy.

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