Cooling Off at Disney and Universal: Our Favorite Pools in Orlando


Orlando is hot, and nothing feels better after a day at the theme parks than a pool. When we plan a vacation to Walt Disney World or Universal Orlando, we always plan in a day at the pool. It is a much needed rest between several open-to-close park days. So, when we are looking for a resort to book, we consider the pool just as much as we do room accommodations, and in Orlando, you can swim almost year round. Here are six of our favorites; three Disney pools and three Universal pools and at different levels of resorts for every vacationer.

Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort     

At this Universal value resort, you get two large pool areas instead of one, and one comes with a lazy river! The Cabana Courtyard and Pool area has a spacious pool and a large dive tower-themed water slide. The slide is the centerpiece of the pool and a lot of fun to experience. Be careful! Last time I went down this slide, a man tried to catch me at the bottom. He thought I was his young child coming down. It was awkward for us both! The pool area also offers the Atomic Tonic Bar, picnic tables, cabanas for rent, and a fire pit.

The second pool area is the Lazy River Courtyard and Pool area. This area also has a spacious pool and a separate lazy river to float around with views of Volcano Bay’s colorful and active volcano. You can bring your own float or purchase one at the resort for about $5 to $15, depending on the float you want to purchase. We love our floats! The resort deflated them for us before we left. We brought them home and use them at our neighborhood pool. They also have a cute retro theme and make great souvenirs.   

In addition to the pool and lazy river, The Lazy River Courtyard and Pool area has two fire pits, a sand beach, a hot tub, plenty of seating, and The Hideaway Bar and Grill. If you eat at the grill, I highly recommend The Original Honolulu Hot Dog and the Turkey Club Wrap.

Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort

At this pool, located at one of Disney’s moderate resorts, you get to swim like a pirate! The main pool, the Fuentes del Morro pool, is themed like a colonial Spanish fortress complete with towers to explore and water cannons to shoot. My boys had a great time both inside and outside the pool here! To complete the theming even more, you can stay in a pirate-themed room. We were in character our entire stay!

There are not one but two slides at the main pool, including one that is 102 feet long. There is also a shipwreck play area for the little pirates. Adults can enjoy the 12-person spa pool along with drinks from the Banana Cabana Pool Bar. If you want to get away from the business at the main pool, there are five other leisure pools throughout the resort.

Loews Sapphire Falls Resort

This pool, located at one of Universal’s two preferred hotels, is gorgeous and massive. It has 16,000 square feet of watery fun and relaxation. The pool area also features a beautiful sand beach, a waterslide, a hot tub, a kids’ play area, a fire pit, and cabanas for rent.

My husband’s favorite part of this pool area can be found on the poolside Drhum Club Kantine menu. He ate the best nachos he’s ever had relaxing by the pool here. The Tampico Nachos are loaded with all kinds of yummy toppings and served on a lunchroom tray. They are as big as the pool!

My favorite part of the pool area is its beautiful Caribbean theming. If you are stressed going into vacation, you won’t be after a day at this pool.  

Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort

Perhaps the most impressive pool visually at Walt Disney World is the main pool or Dig Site, as it is called, at this moderate resort. The Lost City of Cibola pool is themed with Mayan ruins and has a 50-foot pyramid as its centerpiece. Guests can sit on the pyramid’s stone steps and cool off with the water that continuously flows down it. It is beautiful to just look at as you relax inside or outside the pool as well.

The pool’s other impressive feature is its water slide. The 123-foot water slide winds its way through lush vegetation and under a spitting jaguar before dumping you into the water. My boys did this slide at least a hundred times while we watched from the hot tub. Speaking of hot tubs, the hot tub in this pool area is the largest on Walt Disney World property with the capacity for 22 guests!  

Not digging this pool? The resort has three other leisure pools located in each resort settlement.

Loews Portofino Bay Hotel

This pool is my personal favorite in all of Orlando, and it is also located at my favorite Universal resort. Loews Portofino Bay Hotel is a Universal premier hotel themed to Portofino, Italy. Its main pool is as beautiful as the resort itself. The Beach Pool as a Roman aqueduct-themed water slide, a large sandy beach with zero-entry pool access, an adjacent children’s pool, cabanas for rent, and two hot tubs. The hot tubs are large and away from the pool just enough to feel somewhat private.

My family loved our pool days here! We all enjoyed the slide. My husband enjoyed a nap by the pool, my youngest son enjoyed playing with other kids in the sand, and my oldest son and I enjoyed the poolside water balloon and hula hooping contests.

If you desire a quieter pool in “Italy,” there are two smaller pools on property – The Villa Pool and The Hillside Pool. The Villa Pool also offers cabanas for rent and upgraded lounge chairs.

Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

The Lava Pool at this Disney deluxe resort gets the award for the most beautiful views. Imagine sitting in the hot tub while looking out at the Seven Seas Lagoon and the Magic Kingdom. Sounds wonderful, right?!

The pool area also offers one of the best water slides on property. The 142-foot water slide winds its way through a volcano before landing guests in the waters below. Want more fun? A waterfall and a multi-level children’s play area is nearby the slide.

If you get hungry at the pool, you have some of the best eats at Disney available. Snack on a Dole Whip from Pineapple Lanai or order lunch from Captain Cook’s. I would recommend the Pulled Pork Nachos. They are a different and delicious take on nachos. Can you tell my family enjoys nachos by the pool?

If you desire a quieter swim, the resort also has the Oasis Pool. This pool is located in a verdant garden and is an ideal place is relax.

Whether you are staying at Disney or Universal or a moderate or a deluxe resort, there is a pool for you! This is our list of favorites so far, but we have so many more to try! Let me know if your favorite is not on the list. I would love to check it out on our next Orlando vacation!


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