The Top 10 Best Pools at Disney World for Kids with Autism
Every year, we dish out a ton of cash to visit Walt Disney World, yet our kids would be content to play in the pool the entire time. If you are anything like us, bringing your children near water gives you palpitations as it stands. For a family with autism, we have unique fears regarding keeping our kids safe and happy. There is so much to consider when looking at the best pools at Disney World for kids with autism.
Cannon Ball! Since we can provide the first-hand experience, we included a note for potential sensory pitfalls at each pool. These pools are not your ordinary chlorinated cement pond, they include water play areas and splash pads.
We find the best pools at Disney World for kids with Autism through careful research. Our family definitely enjoyed the pursuit of this assignment. Without further ado, the top ten best pools at Disney World for kids with Autism.
10. Fuentes del Morro Pool at Disney’s Caribbean Beach
This playful pool at the Caribbean Beach resembles an old Spanish fortress. There is a pirate-themed splash pad, two water slides, a zero-depth entry for tiny children, and water cannons. Pro tip: If you ask the lifeguards, they will help you find hidden mickeys throughout the pool area!
Sensory tips: The Autism/sensory concern is that it is very crowded and the lifeguards seemed overwhelmed near the chaos of the pirate ship. The height requirement (48 inches or shorter) is strictly enforced in the splash pad to the extent that the lifeguard was shouting at my autistic son to stand still to measure him. He got scared, began flapping, and tried to run away and she yelled louder. This pool area would rank higher if it wasn’t for my concerns about cast member attitude, patience, and acceptance.
9. Sandcastle Pool at Disney’s Old Key West Resort
This is a pool that channels the ambiance of the Florida Keys with a twisting sandcastle water slide to a peaceful pool and a sandy beach. In the background, dolphins spout water, spas send for you with their siren song, and the lighthouse sauna call you at the end of a long Disney day.
Sensory tips: Our specific sensory concerns involve the water slide because the slide seems to back up to a long queue. This long line of kids push past the other children and shout quite often. We spent time relaxing by the babypool when the slide and main pool became overwhelming.
Here is a gratuitous shot of our baby in the pool.
8. Samawati Springs Pool at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Kidani Village
The gorgeous theming of Animal Kingdom Resort continues throughout the Samawati Springs pool.This is a zero-entry pool with two water slides that lives up to Disney expectations. The spas are plentiful and relaxing. However, the best part is the Uwanja Camp, a splash pad that is water playland! It’s hard to resist water cannon wars or splashing in the mask’s water mist.
Sensory tips: Our biggest issue was not the pool itself, but was having to walk past the pool for each meal to the Mara. Our son would have emotional breakdowns to swim every time we walked him past. It eventually became easier to send one adult to bring meals back to the room!
7. Boardwalk Clown Pool at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort
What’s not to enjoy about creepy clowns? I kid, I kid. However, nostalgia is a compelling emotion and the wooden roller coasters, brave little elephants, and creepy clowns invoke a nod to the past. The bar even looks like a carousel. I love bars, and I love carousels. This pool resembles a now-defunct seaside amusement park on Coney Island, named Luna park.
Sensory tips: If your child (or you) have a fear of clowns, this is an epic fail pool. Since my family is, this pool only makes the list because of the twisting, turning fun you have on the slide.
6. Big Blue Pool at Art of Animation
Since it’s opening in 2012, this pool is often touted for its size. It’s the largest pool in Walt Disney World. The Big Blue Pool features festive underwater music, the splash area, and its fun Finding Nemo decor. There is also a Cars and Little Mermaid pool for their respective sections. However, the Big Blue Pool is the best pool at any of the Walt Disney World Value Resort pools.
Sensory tips: The Art of Animation resort is large and the Big Blue Pool area attracts huge crowds. For our family and our son’s sensory issues, this is overstimulating. We often duck out to one of the less crowded pools at the other sections.
5. Paddock Pool at Saratoga Springs Resorts
Our children played again and again and again at the Paddock Pool Splashpad at the Saratoga Springs Resort. This pool features a twisting slide, an entertaining splash pad, a hot tub, and a pool bar. The other pools at Saratoga Springs Resort are quiet for when you need a tranquil escape.
Sensory tips: Unless crowded, this is a great pool for our autistic son. He enjoys splashing in the splash pad and riding down the mild water slide.
4. The Lost City of Cibola Pool at Coronado Springs
The lost city of Cibola Pool at Coronado Springs features a gorgeous water slide settled in Mayan temple ruins. There is also an arcade, play area, and a large pyramid. For adults, there’s the large pool bar, volleyball court, and the largest hot tub at Walt Disney World featuring a capacity up to 22 people!
Sensory tips: I can’t think of any drawbacks to this pool. By far, my son has enjoyed this pool the most of any of the Walt Disney World pools at which we have spent time.
3. Silver Creek Springs Pool at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Follow the gorgeous Copper Creek in the spacious Wilderness Lodge lobby and walk out the back doors towards the pool area. Also, this is a gorgeous and relaxing area to fetch a cocktail from the poolside bar. Looking for more excitement? There’s a children’s water play area. The pool slide twists through rocks, boulders, and pine trees. The pool features views of Bay Lake and the hotel’s “Old Faithful” geyser in the distance. Still not enough? Relax in one of the hot or cold whirlpool tubs.
2. The Lava Pool at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
The volcano pool slide was recently rebuilt and the remodel features a new splash pad. The pool area also has a festive poolside bar, gorgeous walking bridge, waterfalls, and a secluded hot tub. You can relax and check out the views of Seven Seas Lagoon here in this relaxed, sundrenched atmosphere. With brightly colored flowers and tropical music, it truly feels like a slice of paradise for families.
Sensory tips: This pool top area gets hot for sensitive little toes. The pool is also loud and crowded. My children enjoyed checking out the sandy beach when they became overwhlmed.
What is number one on our list of the best pools at Disney World for kids with Autism?
1. Stormalong Bay at Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club
The best Walt Disney World pool for kids is Stormalong Bay, a three-acre expanse of beach fun. Stormalong Bay is located throughout Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club with different themed swimming areas, such as a sandy-bottom swimming hole and a lazy river. There are several hot tubs nestled along the bustling pool. If you are looking for sand for your kiddos, there is a sandy “beach” on the shore of the shallow portion of the pool.
Finally, the long pirate ship slide is set off away from the main pool and allows you to shoot over the cement walkway on the ship’s mast into the large pool. The large slide area also features a smaller slide area with tot-sized slides and a warm water pool.
Sensory tips: It is very large and even when busy, we can usually find a place to be away from the crowds. If your child is sensory seeking, the sandy beach along the pool provided hours of digging and active play. Our son also enjoyed floating along the lazy river when he became overstimulated but became agitated when other inflatables “crashed” into his pool float.
If you’re looking for more ways to do Disney World with a child with Autism, we blog about what works for our family! We have some preferred areas of Walt Disney World, includig Autism-friendly restaurants, rides, and quiet places that we have experienced for each Disney park.