Luxury Pet Resort at Disney Unimpressive for Guinea Pigs

best friends exeriorGuinea Pig Today

The front entrance of Best Friends Pet Care has dog walks and cat decor prominently displayed.

While recently visiting Florida, I decided to drop by the new luxury pet resort built last year. I imagined my guinea pigs spending their days with perfect manicures popcorning through fresh salads while I spent the day at the amusement park. It is Disney so add some magic sound effects and fairy dust to that vision as well. Best Friends Pet Care was unfortunately, not the luxury pet resort I was hoping for when it came to guinea pig care.

Upon arriving, I found the exterior to be dog and cat focused. This is not unusual for most places that mention pets on the sign. While they expressed the very best in dog and cat care and shared photos of puppies and kitties being read bedtime stories and allowed to watch television – Disney cartoons, I’m sure – this was not the case for guinea pigs.

I was turned off by a brochure I was handed at the start that listed guinea pigs under “pocket pets.” Many of us with small animals have grown tired of this label. While it wasn’t unusual or surprising, it’s not the best way to make a small pet owner feel the “luxury” expected of this facility. Small animals staying here are priced per habitat so if you have a couple guinea pigs, you will only pay for cage space. I was told a 2×4 foot cage would be considered medium sized. The prices were much less than I expected.

best friends brochureGuinea Pig Today
I was shown the small animal room – a clean, classroom sized space lined with red adjustable shelving, a sink, and a refrigerator. An employee explained this is where all small pets are kept. They didn’t see many guinea pigs. A regular traveler had her guinea pig there quite regularly. Beyond that there had only been a couple others visiting the grounds. I was lucky enough to see a guinea pig visiting at that time. They didn’t know the pet’s name but told me he/she was visited at least twice a day for handling and exercise.

I was concerned that a 2×4 foot cage would not be able to fit on the shelving if my guinea pigs were there on an extended stay. The employees told me space would be found if needed and it wasn’t a problem. The staff had not heard of a C&C cage so they couldn’t give me any details about any challenges that might present. They were interested in hearing information I presented to them about larger cages for guinea pigs.

I asked what type of paperwork was required to prove my pets were healthy. Dogs and cats staying there needed to provide paperwork from a qualified veterinarian. The employees at Best Friends explained since so many small animals don’t regularly see a vet, they don’t require paperwork, but they check all animals prior to submission. I expressed concern that my healthy pets would share space with pets that had not been checked by a veterinarian. While the staff seemed to know how to administer medications to guinea pigs, they didn’t pass my personal standards when I inquired about signs of illness other than a pet not eating or drinking.

guinea pig shelfGuinea Pig Today

A cute, skirted Abyssinian guinea pig was staying at the facility for day care.

Next we discussed food options. I would provide them with the necessary hay and pellets and water would be given fresh daily. I told them salad portions are served twice a day approximately 12 hours apart. They were fine with these instructions and had a refrigerator near the cages to store these supplies. They were happy to cut fresh vegetables each feeding time so I did not have to pre-cut and be concerned about spoilage. If I were to stay for an extended period, say two weeks, I would be required to seek out additional fresh vegetables for the week’s feedings and keep them in stock. Note to self: Find a supermarket near DisneyWorld.

When it came to routine medication, they impressed me. They had no problem giving a daily vitamin tablet or allergy medication and knew how to get the job done. I should have asked about grooming. Would be nice if my guinea pigs got a trim while I was visiting.

If my pet were staying there, I would be free to come and go during any hours the facility was open to the public. This was usually one hour beyond the seasonal theme park opening and closing. I was told the dogs and cats had playrooms where owners could sit and visit. The small pet room was all there was for guinea pigs. They told me I would be allowed in the room to sit on the floor if I wanted. I was encouraged to bring my own blanket as the floor was slick and tiled. There was no radio or television in the room.

best friends signageGuinea Pig Today

Best Friends Pet Care is located on the Disney property and clearly visable from the roadside.

On the plus side, they did say they could send me photos of my guinea pigs throughout the day so I could see what they were doing and know they were safe and happy. Any guinea pig owner who has left their cavies alone for a time knows that is a sure comfort.

There was no talk of a bedtime story for my pet although I’m sure if one was shared, it would be about dogs and cats. No mention of any special treats or experiences except anything I might bring to the facility when I drop them off. Considering the price for guinea pigs seemed low, I would have gladly paid more if more services and options were offered and the pets were given exams by veterinarians before being checked in. While I was glad they accepted guinea pigs, as many other shelters and boarding facilities in the area did not, this was certainly not a luxury experience for my cavies. I spoil them significantly more at home. Maybe that says more about me than it does them.

This experience demonstrates that you can not leave your guinea pigs with just anyone. When a facility says they accept small animals, make sure they understand your pets. Just because “pets” is on the sign, don’t assume that means they are qualified for all animals. Ask the tough questions. Learn what is available. Offer advice if you can. Tell them what you’re looking for and use the opportunity to educate people on the proper care of small animals for the benefit of future pets left in their care.


If you have a great idea for an article about guinea pigs, please let us know. Guinea Pig Today is a network of guinea pig lovers and we’re always looking for the next great story. View our submissions page for more information on how to submit your idea.

Angela, Editor-in-Chief, GPT

Angela founded Guinea Pig Today and guest writes for CavyMadness. She volunteers with Metropolitan Guinea Pig Rescue and supports the ROUS Foundation. Her guinea pig, Papua, is the star of WHEK-TV/DT.

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Comments
2 Responses to “Luxury Pet Resort at Disney Unimpressive for Guinea Pigs”
  1. Alena Loiselle says:

    It looks cold and clinical. I thought at first I was looking at an examination room! Sit on the floor or on that cold, unhappy metal folding chair? Wow, what a treat! I’m glad they allowed that. (sorry for the sarcasm).

  2. Karine Jans says:

    That is not great piggie daycare indeed. I think they would better think about having a pet hotel for small animals, where the pet can be kept with the owner in the room.

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