The rise of pet-friendly hotels, pampering experiences and luxurious pet care centers make it easier than ever to take your pet to Orlando — but only you can tell if this is a good idea. Some pets naturally travel better than others, so you should take your pet’s temperament and comfort level in mind. You should also consider where your pet will stay and what your pet will do while you visit the theme parks and attractions (only working service animals are permitted in the theme parks).
We love our pets, so we’ve pulled together this toadally comprehensive guide to bringing your furry companion to Orlando, with all the details you need to determine if this option is right for your family.
Service Dogs Are Always Welcome in Orlando
Before we hop into the reasons to bring your pet to Orlando, and other considerations if you do, we should talk about service animals since they fall into a different category. Service animals are working companions that are welcome in any Orlando theme park, hotel or public place. Usually dogs, these animals are official working pets and help you or a loved one with a disability navigate the parks or perform the tasks of daily life.
Since service animals are welcome in any resort and almost anywhere in the theme parks (you can’t take your pup on Expedition Everest for safety reasons, but he can accompany you in line, right to the point of boarding), you should bring this important pet along for your Orlando vacation. True service animals have few exceptions and should be accommodated anywhere you go. Read our frogtastic guide to bringing your service dog to Disney World.
Considerations When Bringing Your Pet to Orlando
You can have a blast with your pet in Orlando — provided that pet likes to travel and you choose the right places to stay. Some circumstances are better than others when it comes to traveling with your dog or cat — consider these factors when you decide to bring a furry companion along and when to leave him home.
Emotional Support Animals Could Improve your Trip
While your emotional support dog (or other type of pet) can help you enjoy your trip, he can’t join you in the theme parks and restaurants in Orlando, so proceed with caution. If you have an emotional support animal that helps you destress or sleep in comfort after a long day, that you need to have around you during leisure time or otherwise need to be in contact with, then you should consider bringing him along for the trip.
If you would be too worried or stressed to leave this important companion at home, then bringing him could allow you to enjoy your trip and time away from home. Since this is not a true service animal, you’ll need to choose a pet-friendly hotel and come up with a plan for him each day as well. You can learn more about bringing a pet to the Universal resort here.
Pets and Companion Animals May (or May Not) Enjoy the Experience
If you can find accommodations for your pet at home — that he will enjoy and that will allow you to travel without worry — then this is often the better, more affordable choice. Pet sitters, local, reliable boarding and other options allow you to leave your pet at home in a familiar setting and are usually less expensive than boarding your dog or cat in Orlando.
Tips for Bringing Your Pet to Orlando
Book Your Pet-Friendly Hotel Early and Don't Froget the Added Costs!
When you decide to bring your pet to Orlando, consider both your potential nightly hotel costs (pet fees at Disney or Universal range from $25 to $50 per night, most other hotels charge rates in this range as well) and your daily accommodation or daycare costs (about $30 per day at most locations). For most travelers, these fees exceed what you would pay to board a pet at home. There are exceptions — Disney World’s Fort Wilderness is toadally pet-friendly, so if you travel in an RV, your pets can easily come along for the ride.
Some, but not all Disney World and Universal Orlando hotels are pet-friendly, so select a resort that welcomes and celebrates companion pets. Some of our most hoppenin’ favorites include:
- Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
- The Cabins at Disney's Fort Wilderness
- Loews Portofino Bay at Universal Resort
- Loews Royal Pacific Hotel at Universal Orlando
- Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort (pets under 25 lbs. only)
Not sure if your resort or destination is pet-friendly? Learn more about bringing your pet to Disney and Universal Orlando. These frogtastic resources have everything you need to know about bringing your pets to the major theme park resorts and are an ideal starting point for your planning.
Make Sure Your Unconventional Pet Is Welcome
We love pets of all kinds — from dogs and cats to scaly friends and even birds — but not all hotels feel the same way. Even the most pet-friendly hotels in Orlando may have restrictions against unusual pets, so if you have anything other than a cat or dog, you should check with your target hotel before booking. Snakes and other reptiles, pigs and parrots may not be able to be accommodated on-site, in hotels or in daycare facilities, so if you have one of these pets, you may have to make other arrangements before you leave home.
While most hotels do not accept unusual animals, true service animals are an exception. Your mini-horse service animal is welcome at any hotel or destination, but you may get better service and attention if you let the hotel know about any special needs or accommodations your horse needs in advance!
Book Pet Daycare and Boarding Early
Make daycare reservations in advance. While there are plenty of facilities in the area, they do book up quickly. When you make a reservation before you arrive, you can be sure your pet will have a fun place to stay and pass the time when you visit the theme parks.
Don't Froget Shot Records and Other Required Items
You should book a pet-friendly room when you make your reservation, and be prepared to show proof that your pet is fully vaccinated when you arrive. If you plan on using Disney World’s Best Friends Pet Center for boarding or daycare, you’ll need to bring along proof of vaccinations to be allowed to access the property, so head to your vet before your trip date arrives. Most other daycare and boarding facilities will require this information as well.
While it is not required, you should make sure your pet has identification and your contact information on a secure collar, just in case you become separated. A sturdy leash is also needed, since you’ll have to walk your pet for restroom breaks and in parking areas.
Consider Renting a Car If You Are Traveling with a Pet in Orlando
Your well-trained, leashed companion animal is welcome in the lobby and in select, designated pet areas in the pet-friendly hotels in Orlando. While service dogs are welcome on all shuttles and resort transportation, from Disney World’s monorails to Lyft, Uber and other forms of transportation, a pet might not be. Inquire in advance before assuming your pet can board a hotel shuttle or other semi-private form of transportation. Getting around is easier if you have a rental car or your own vehicle. If you are flying, your companion animal will need to be in a secure crate.
Special Circumstances and Emergencies for Florida Residents
If you are a Florida resident, know that most area resorts accept pets in times of emergency. If a hurricane is targeting the area — or anywhere in Florida, Disney and Universal (and most other hotels) open their doors to include pets as well as people. Your pet must be up to date on shots and able to walk on a leash (or be carried in a pet carrier) to be allowed into the resort along with you during a state of emergency.
Should I Bring My Pet to Orlando?
Once you’ve reviewed all your options, the decision is yours. Consider your costs (boarding, daycare) and convenience (getting around) and how you feel about separation when you decide if bringing a pet to Orlando is a good idea. It is best to make this decision well in advance — before you make your hotel reservations — so you can plan ahead and know what to expect.
Your pet’s personality should be considered as well. A prickly cat that does not like to travel and that does not enjoy new surroundings may feel more comfortable at home with a sitter, even if you are not at home. A friendly dog that loves new surroundings and that travels well makes a good companion for your vacation, provided you choose the right resort for your trip.
Whether you bring your companion pet along — or leave him home — you’ll make the right choice for you both and get the most out of your trip when you plan ahead and consider all your options. We’d love to hear from you! Have you had a frogtastic trip with your pet? Do you have a favorite Orlando hotel for traveling with a pet? Share tips in comments below!
Related: Tips for Traveling with Pets at Universal Orlando