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Inside Disney World's pet hotel, where people can leave their dogs, cats, and other animals in luxury suites while they vacation

A view of the Best Friends Pet Hotel at Disney World.
A view of the Best Friends Pet Hotel at Disney World.Best Friends Pet Care
  • The Best Friends Pet Hotel is a boarding and grooming service for animals on Disney property.

  • The center frequently cares for dogs and cats, but has also housed rabbits, pigs, and ducks.

  • A dog's stay at the hotel can include a flat-screen TV, a bed-time story, and a personal concierge.

Disney World in Orlando, Florida, is home to more than 25 resorts where parkgoers can stay.

People gather at the Magic Kingdom theme park at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
Parkgoers visit Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.Octavio Jones/Reuters

There are luxury spots like the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, value hotels like the All-Star Resorts, and dozens of others in between.

But did you know there's also an on-property hotel where you can leave your pets while you vacation?

A view of the Best Friends Pet Hotel at Disney World.
A view of the Best Friends Pet Hotel at Disney World.Best Friends Pet Care

Disney World has always offered basic pet care. There was a kennel at the Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground when it opened in 1971, and Disney later added additional kennels at each of its four theme parks.

But by the early 2000s, Disney was ready to outsource the task. Best Friends Pet Care took over Disney's kennels in 2008, and it later opened its own facility on Disney property in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, in 2010.

Now, the Best Friends Pet Hotel is a one-stop shop for boarding, grooming, and other services on Disney property.

Insider spoke with Ray Clennell and Leo Reynoso — co-managers of the Best Friends Pet Hotel — about the hotel, the animals they care for, and the services they offer.

Ray Clennell and Leo Reynoso of the Best Friends Pet Hotel.
Ray Clennell and Leo Reynoso, co-managers of the Best Friends Pet Hotel.Best Friends Pet Care

Clennell has spent 10 years working for Best Friends Pet Care, while Reynoso has been with the company for 16 years.

"In the past you'd drop off your dog, and we would take care of them with walks, food, and water, but there was no extra activity — nothing to embellish or enhance their stay," Reynoso said about Disney's former kennels.

But at the current hotel, she said, amenities and activities are plentiful. You can send your pup to Doggy Day Camp, schedule grooming for your cat, board your pet, and more.

Upwards of 100 animals stay at the Disney location of Best Friends Pet Hotel each day — mostly dogs and cats.

Dogs staying at the Best Friends Pet Hotel.
A group of dogs staying at the Best Friends Pet Hotel.Best Friends Pet Care

It had been a "slow day" at the hotel when Insider spoke with Clennell and Reynoso. Still, there were over 100 animals at the facility.

"We'll have 110 pets at the end of the day today, and that's considered very, very, very slow for us," Clennell said.

About 20 of those reservations, Reynoso noted, were made by people evacuating Tampa, Florida, ahead of Hurricane Idalia.

"We're also a hurricane shelter, so during this time of year when we have these storm scares, we can accommodate that and double our occupancy," she said.

But the hotel also welcomes "pocket pets" like hamsters and guinea pigs.

A hamster (left) and guinea pig (right) at the Best Friends Pet Hotel.
A hamster (left) and guinea pig (right) at the Best Friends Pet Hotel.Best Friends Pet Care

Reynoso said those pocket pets often include rabbits, sugar gliders, ferrets, "lots of birds," and turtles. On a few occasions, they've also been asked to care for betta fish.

"We have a turtle that comes to us seven times a year named Mr. Bubbles," Reynoso said. "He's awesome."

And farm animals are welcome, too.

Ducks staying at the Best Friends Pet Hotel.
Ducks staying at the Best Friends Pet Hotel.Best Friends Pet Care

Pot-bellied pigs stay at the facility "all the time," according to Reynoso, and ducks are another frequent guest.

"We have a lady who, every year, she brings her five ducks to us," Clennell said. "They actually take one of our club rooms and lay eggs everywhere."

 

There have even been some exotic animals at the hotel in the past.

A bearded dragon at the Best Friends Pet Hotel.
A bearded dragon at the Best Friends Pet Hotel.Best Friends Pet Care

Reynoso said the hotel's staff can care for any animal that's "non-venomous except for primates." That said, people request to bring exotic animals "all the time."

"We've had tarantulas, hissing cockroaches — crazy, crazy stuff," she said. "And we just had somebody call about having to evacuate during the hurricane and bring their zebra with them."

But on occasion, she noted, exotic animals end up at the hotel in strange ways.

"Sometimes people try to sneak these pets into the parks with them," Reynoso said. "So we end up getting a call from Disney saying, 'Hey, this lady just tried to bring her baby kangaroo into Animal Kingdom. Can you take him for the day?' And that's how we end up with them sometimes."

As far as accommodations go, dogs can stay in one of five places, the smallest and cheapest being the all-indoor room.

A view of the all-indoor room where dogs can stay at the Best Friends Pet Hotel.
A view of the all-indoor room where dogs can stay at the Best Friends Pet Hotel.Best Friends Pet Care

The 4-foot-by-8-foot space costs $53 per day or $60 per overnight stay.

A reservation includes the private space, a dog bed, and two "potty walks" for your dog.

 

There's also an indoor room with a small outdoor patio.

An indoor-outdoor room where dogs can stay at the Best Friends Pet Hotel.
An indoor-outdoor room where dogs can stay at the Best Friends Pet Hotel.Best Friends Pet Care

This option is set up the same as the all-indoor room but with more space, measuring 4-feet-by-4-feet inside and 4-by-8 feet outside. It costs $56 per day or $65 per overnight.

Next is the Villa Suite, which comes with a TV for your dog.

Inside a Villa Suite where dogs can stay at the Best Friends Pet Hotel.
Inside a Villa Suite where dogs can stay at the Best Friends Pet Hotel.Best Friends Pet Care

For a rate of $113 per day, your dog can enjoy a "welcome broth pop," one "potty walk," one play time, premium bedding and towels, a private outdoor patio, a flatscreen TV, and a webcam for their owners to check in on them.

The Luxury Suite is similar, but with a few extra perks.

Inside a Luxury Suite where dogs can stay at the Best Friends Pet Hotel.
Inside a Luxury Suite where dogs can stay at the Best Friends Pet Hotel.Best Friends Pet Care

This reservation includes the same perks as the lower-tier room, but with double the walks and play times. The outdoor patio attached to this room is also turfed.

It costs $138 per day to lodge your dog here.

Finally, there's the Club Suite, which Reynoso describes as a "New York City apartment" for dogs.

Inside a Club Suite where dogs can stay at the Best Friends Pet Hotel.
Inside a Club Suite where dogs can stay at the Best Friends Pet Hotel.Best Friends Pet Care

Amenities that come with this $311 reservation include a tote bag with seasonal gifts, updates sent to pet owners throughout the day, a bedtime story, and a personal concierge for your dog.

"It's the pinnacle of what you can get," Reynoso said. "But all of them come with activities. It just depends on the level that you want your pet to participate in while they're on vacation with you."

Cats can stay in either a two-level condo or a four-level town home.

A view of the cat condos at the Best Friends Pet Hotel.
A view of the cat condos at the Best Friends Pet Hotel.Best Friends Pet Care

The two-level boarding spot costs $34 for an overnight stay, while the four-level option costs $46 per night.

You can also add a $5 toy, $8 deluxe cat bed, or $12 playtime between your cat and staff.

Pocket pets, on the other hand, stay in the comfort of their own carriers.

Rabbits staying at the Best Friends Pet Hotel.
Rabbits staying at the Best Friends Pet Hotel.Best Friends Pet Care

"It just depends on what habitat the owners are bringing to us," Reynoso said. "We don't have specifics. We just need to know how big the habitat is going to be."

It costs $16 to board a small pocket pet, $20 for a medium-sized animal, $25 for large ones, and $28 for extra-large creatures.

Though the center is on Disney World property, you don't need to be visiting the theme park to leave your pet there.

A cat at the Best Friends Pet Hotel.
A cat at the Best Friends Pet Hotel.Best Friends Pet Care

"The common misconception is that we are exclusive to Disney," Reynoso said. "But you don't need to be staying on Disney property in order to use us for grooming or any other services. We're on Disney property and we're sponsored by Disney, so to speak, but we see people who are going to Busch Gardens in Tampa or to Universal in Orlando."

If you are visiting Disney World, though, you'll find that the hotel's hours line up perfectly with those of the theme park.

"We're open with the hours of the park," Clennell said. "So we're open an hour before the first park opens and we close an hour after the last park closes. And there's staff here 24/7 as well."

Animals come from all over the US to stay at the Best Friends Pet Hotel.

A staff member reads a bed-time story to a dog at the Best Friends Pet Hotel.
A staff member reads a bed-time story to a dog at the Best Friends Pet Hotel.Best Friends Pet Care

Even "local" guests don't exactly live nearby.

"Anybody in Florida is considered a local here," Reynoso said. "We have people from Miami and Jacksonville who bring their dogs. There's also the Disney cruise line an hour and a half away. So people — going not just on Disney cruises, but any cruise — drop off their pets here."

"We have people from Canada who are snowbirds that come down," she continued. "I mean, we really get people from all over the world here."

Even Disney employees sometimes leave their pets at the hotel when they go on vacation, she said.

But most importantly, according to Clennell and Reynoso, the Best Friends Pet Hotel is flexible and willing to do anything it can to care for your pet.

Dogs staying at the Best Friends Pet Hotel.
Dogs staying at the Best Friends Pet Hotel.Best Friends Pet Care

"If Fluffy needs to have their meal chopped up into little pieces, heated up at 5 o'clock, and spoon-fed to them, we can do it," Clennell said.

They can also administer select medications. Some need to be administered by pet owners, but they're welcome to visit as often as they'd like.

"Everybody here is definitely passionate about animals," Clennell said. "The animals come first and we make sure that the people who we bring on board to work for us are putting the animals first."

 

Read the original article on Insider