On Sept. 1, Walt Disney World replaced its existing kennels with a new luxury pet resort from Best Friends Pet Care. It’s located on Bonnet Creek Parkway, across from Disney’s Port Orleans Resort Riverside, roughly 10 minutes from the Magic Kingdom and Epcot theme parks.
The 50,000-square foot facility features 17,000 square feet of air-conditioned indoor space as well as a 25,000-square-foot dog park, used exclusively by pets boarded there. Best Friends Pet Care at Walt Disney World can accomodate up to 300 dogs, cats, and smaller “pocket pets” (birds, hamsters, guinea pigs – anything with a cage that’s not venomous). Each of these three types of pets has its own area of the facility devoted to that type, so cats won’t come into contact with dogs and birds aren’t concerned about cats.
Prior to the Best Friends Pet Care grand opening, I asked Inside the Magic followers and pet owners what questions and concerns you’d like to know most about for the new facility.
But before we get to those answers to help you decide if boarding your pet here is right for you, let’s take a video tour of the facility on grand opening day:
The first questions everyone seems to have surround the cost of boarding a pet at a “luxury pet resort.” Best Friends Pet Care offers varying levels of accommodations and not all are as luxurious as others. Pets can be cared for either during the day only (daycare) or boarded for overnight stays. Daycare pricing ranges from $16 for indoor pets up to 6 hours to $69 inside a private, VIP (Very Important Pet) Luxury Suite for dogs for more than 6 hours. An overnight stay in the same VIP Suite for a single dog is regularly $76 per night, with a $7 discount available for Walt Disney World hotel guests (additional dogs can be housed in the same suite for a discounted cost). The least expensive overnight option for dogs is $37 per night standard, $34 for hotel guests.
“Kitty City” is available for cats in a totally separate area from the rest of the facility. Very little outside noise makes it into Kitty City, as it is separated via thick glass and a double set of doors. Meowing and purring aside, it’s nearly silent in there. Cats can have either a two-level or four-level “condo” (glassed-enclosed cages), ranging from $23 – $32 per night, with a $2 discount available for hotel guests.
Smaller “pocket pets” must arrive to Best Friends Pet Care in their own cages and will all be placed on shelves in the same room together. Prices here range from $12 for small pets to $23 for extra large (more $2 discounts are available for hotel guests).
With pricing out of the way, another popular concern among pet owners is knowing how they will be able to be sure their pet is safe and happy while they’re boarded at Best Friends Pet Care. There is a full-service, 24-hour staff that is always just a phone call away to check on your pet. In addition, the luxury options feature webcams that update every 30-60 seconds, allowing pet owners to check in any time. Owners of pets staying overnight in the VIP suites will also receive a photo of their pet via e-mail during the night.
During their stay, pets are fed, walked, and cared for as per owners’ instructions. If treats are allowed, they’ll be given. Additional amenities can be purchased a la carte, including playtime, toys, special meals, extra-comfy bedding, and even bedtime stories. But guests are free to stop by the facility at any time to spend time with their own pet as they wish.
Indoor and outdoor play areas are available for dogs. The outdoor dog park has a large water feature for active dogs looking to cool off. The air-conditioned indoor day camp allows dogs to run and play in supervised comfort.
Another popular question is what the availability of food is at Best Friends Pet Care – and if they still serve doggy ice cream. Yes, special ice cream is still available as a treat, as is a wide variety of food. However, I was told most guests bring their own food for their pets to eat.
Guests without transportation will be out of luck in getting their pets to the facility, however, as Best Friends Pet Care does not currently provide pick-up or drop-off services and Disney’s buses do not allow pets onboard. Pet owners will need a car in order to bring their pet to and from the facility.
Locals can take advantage of Best Friends Pet Care’s grooming salon at any time. Pets can be groomed there without having to be dropped off for daycare or overnight boarding.
Some non-pet owners have expressed concerns about Disney’s nearby Port Orleans resort becoming home to the sound of dogs barking and the smell of, well, pet odors. But the Best Friends Pet Care facility is far enough away to prevent smells from reaching the resort, though it is possible that dogs being walked outside will occasionally be faintly heard in the distance from the resort.
To find out more about Best Friends Pet Care, listen to Show 283 of the Inside the Magic podcast, available on Sunday, Sept. 5 at this link, during which I interview Best Friends Pet Care president and CEO Dennis Dolan and Phil Bernard, vice president of Walt Disney World Operating Participants.
More photos from the grand opening of Best Friends Pet Care at Walt Disney World: