Top 5 Pool Bars at Walt Disney World

Friday, May 11, 2012

One of the things I look forward to most before arriving to Walt Disney World is the resort’s pool bar.  Because we usually stay at DVC or deluxe resort accommodations we like to take advantage of the resort’s pool.  Part of the pool area is a well themed and relaxing pool bar with seats at the bar and tables and chairs around it for guests to enjoy a refreshing alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage. 

When I’m not lying on a lounge chair catching some rays you can usually find me sitting at the pool bar with a refreshing drink and enjoying the themed scenery around the pool.  For whatever reason a pool bar screams “VACATION” to me. 

The pool bars at Disney World are pretty nice; however they aren’t what I consider elaborate by any means.  They typically carry a great selection of mixed drinks and beers, but usually don’t have much of a selection when it comes to food.  Most of the food you purchase at the pool bars is pre-packaged like potato chips, sandwiches, fruit, and other side items, but there are some that carry hot food choices.  Additionally, when it comes to food and beverages discounts they are few and far between.  Tables in Wonderland cards, annual passes, and DVC discounts don’t exist at Disney World pool bars. 

Each pool bar is setup a bit differently.  You’ll find some pool bars have a semi-circular configuration while others offer a more traditional straight line tavern bar setup.  Some of the bars have drink refill stations for your resort refillable mugs while others do not.  The food choices can vary greatly as well.  I’ve seen some pool bars offer a menu of sandwich and hot food choices while others only offer snack options.  Some of the pool bars accept the Disney Dining Plan (1 counter service credit) while others do not.  Be sure to consult the Disney Dining Plan guide for specific locations. 

So, where are the best resort pool bars on property?  I look at a number of factors when I relax at a resort’s pool bar.  When we visit a resort for lunch or dinner I’ll typically walk out to the pool bar just to relax prior to our meal.  I look at the atmosphere, food and beverage choices, the friendliness of the bartenders, available seating, and the overall comfort during my visit.  With these factors in mind here are the top 5 resort pool bars at Walt Disney World. 

Number 5 – Petals at Disney’s Pop Century Resort

Although this pool bar is part of a value resort you wouldn’t know it.  It’s colorful and vibrant atmosphere can turn a frown upside down in no time.  The staff is friendly and ready to serve you a themed drink from the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, or 90s.  If the bar is full of patrons there’s plenty of additional seating around the fully matured palm trees.  Don’t forget your shades because it’s bright out there. 

Number 4 – Siesta’s at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort

A spacious and inviting pool bar awaits guests at the Dig Site; the resort’s main pool area.  What I find very appealing at this pool bar is the selection of hot and cold foods to choose from.  There is a grill onsite that will serve you basic fare like hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, and even nachos.  Some of the bartenders are very talented and can mix you a drink in one hand and twirl a tequila bottle in another.  A refillable mug soda station is nearby.   

Number 3 – Leaping Horse Libations at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort

Don’t ask me why, but I really enjoy the setup and appearance of this resort's pool bar.  It’s made to look like a turn-of-the-century carousel.  It’s semi-circular in shape and very colorful.  What makes this pool bar very unique are some of the specialty drinks you’ll find there like the Super Fruit Sangria and the Tropical Mojito.  You’ll also find Yuengling.  One of the oldest micro brews in the U.S.

Number 2 – The Barefoot Pool Bar at Disney’s Polynesian Resort

Most of my love for this pool bar comes from the awesome sights and sounds it provides during the day.  As you sit at the semi-circular bar or at a nearby table and chairs you can’t help but notice a great view of Cinderella’s Castle just over your shoulder.  Also part of the experience is great Polynesian and luau inspired music playing around the pool area.  Don’t forget!  A terrific white sandy beach with benches and swings is only steps away from the bar area. 

Number 1 – Uzima Springs and Maji Pool Bars at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas

Our family spends a lot of time at the Animal Kingdom Villas.  These two pool bars (Uzima Springs at Jambo House & Maji at Kidani Village) have a huge advantage over the others.  They both have neighboring animal savannas right behind them.  Ordering a drink and taking a short stroll to check out the animals on the savanna is a pretty magical experience.  Both bars offer a wide selection of frozen drinks for adults and children. 

At the Maji Pool Bar there is a refillable mug soft drink station next to the bar.  You can also purchase grab and go food items as well as a variety of hot food items.  You place your order at the bar and the food is brought out to you in a Bento box.  This is a great option if your children wish to swim while waiting for your food to be prepared. 

Over at the Uzima Springs pool bar there is a limited amount of finger foods available; however, you can purchase a wide selection of hot and cold foods and refill your resort mug at the nearby Mara quick service restaurant. 

Honorable Mention

Here are a couple of pool bars that didn’t make the list, but are worth visiting.

Cabana Bar & Beach Club – Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort – Well shaded and simply a great place to hang out.  An upscale pool bar experience awaits although a bit on the expensive side. 

Banana Cabana Pool Bar – Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort – A brightly colored atmosphere with plenty of seating and a lot of space.  This pool bar offers 18 varieties of beer and a nice selection of frozen drinks that are sure to have you visualizing the Caribbean islands. 

Conclusion

The pool bars at Walt Disney World are a vacation component I don’t think a lot of people consider when making their resort choice.  I don’t necessarily make my family’s resort decision based on the pool bar, but I do give it some thought.  Consider it an accessory to your vacation experience.  You’ll more than likely spend some time there, especially in the summer when the afternoon temperatures in Orlando can approach 100 degrees. 

Each resort has their own version of a pool bar, but there are certain aspects of each that set them apart.  I know my list may not match up with yours so please let us know what pool bars you enjoy.  What factors do you look for that make a pool bar exceptional, or what pool bars are your least favorite?  Please let us know your opinions and experiences in the comments section below or on the Studios Central Facebook page

Considering all there is to do at Walt Disney World why would a pool bar be important.  Put the alcoholic beverages, food, and even Cast Members aside for a second and consider it part of the vacation experience.  A pool bar, more than anything else, is a place that screams “I’M ON VACATION!!!”  Don’t forget, the next time you visit your resort’s pool bar ask your bartender to stick one of those fancy umbrellas in your drink because……YOU ARE ON VACATION!

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About this column

Aaron DelPrince looks at the various activities you and your family can experience at Walt Disney World


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