Location, Location, Location. Location is the reason I wanted to try Walt Disney World’s Dolphin Resort in the first place and it’s the number one reason why I would recommend you should consider it too. It’s also tough to beat the value the Dolphin offers as an on property hotel with some Disney perks.
There are many reasons to consider staying at the Walt Disney World Dolphin on your next trip to Orlando. I’m sharing my thoughts below, including why it isn’t the perfect resort option. But let’s be honest, is there a perfect one out there? The Dolphin is still a really great option and I can’t wait to try out their sister property, the Walt Disney World Swan, on another trip.
The Dolphin’s location is the number one reason to stay there. It’s located in the Epcot area and is within walking distance of both Epcot and Disney Hollywood Studios. If you want to save your legs for walking around the parks, catch a boat ride to either park or Disney’s Boardwalk with dining, shopping, and entertainment options.
Our room had a clean, contemporary feel and featured The Westin Heavenly Beds. They were very comfortable and welcome at the end of a long day in the park. The rooms also featured plenty of storage space in the closet, dresser and corners to stash our luggage and purchases. I totally appreciated the desk and mini fridge in our room. I tend to do a little work in the evenings and who doesn’t want a place for leftovers or cold drinks?
Some rooms feature views of Epcot, the pools or the beach with glimpses of Disney fireworks in the distance. Deluxe family rooms with extra space and suites are also available and might be worth the additional cost when traveling with older kids.
One of my favorite amenities of staying at the Dolphin is access to Disney perks. This includes official transportation to the parks including boat rides to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It often shares a bus with the Swan for transportation to the Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingom and Disney Springs. You also have access to Magic Hours in the parks which definitely adds extra value to your trip! Theme park parking is also complimentary and guests can have theme park purchases delivered to their hotel room. We took advantage of complimentary luggage transfer between resorts when we moved from The Grand Floridian Resort to the Dolphin.
My mom and I were very Disney park focused during our 2 night stay, so we didn’t take advantage of any additional on site recreation. I did notice a large beachfront playground, multiple pools and other outdoor recreation options like basketball, checkers, and volleyball. Camp Dolphin is a kids camp offered in the evening hours from 5 p.m. to midnight with supervised activities including movies, arts & crafts, and video games.
Disney’s Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf Course is located right in front of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resorts. The close proximity to this extra activity along with all the on site activities and access to Disney’s Boardwalk make it easy to spend a day outside of the parks.
The Dolphin features more than 1,500 rooms and we found the hotel to be a little confusing at first when trying to find our room from various entrances or dining areas. Almost like there was different towers or wings added on after the fact, they just didn’t seem to be logically laid out. We did manage to figure it out after 2 days though.
You will find quick service, casual and signature dining experience at the Dolphin and its sister property, the Swan. Garden Grove, located at the Swan, offers character dining experience in the evening and character breakfasts on the weekend. My mom and I really liked Picabu, a cafeteria-style restaurant located inside the Dolphin. It offers a variety of hot and cold food options, 24 hours a day. My mom and I enjoyed the tacos we had one night and loved the convenience of picking up snacks and drinks to bring back to our room. Plus don’t forget about all the dining options at Disney’s BoardWalk!
What Works For Families
- The location is awesome for visiting Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. I love avoiding bus transportation.
- Better room rates compare to the official Disney hotels in the area. Disney’s Boardwalk, Beach Club and Yacht Club are all deluxe resorts and on average $200+ more a night. The Dolphin seems priced more along with moderate Disney resorts.
- Save money by using Starpoints from the Starwood Preferred Guests (SPG) program to book rooms.
- Lots of dining options on site and nearby including a 24-hour cafeteria and food market.
What Doesn’t Work For Families
- The theming isn’t that exciting, sort of a tropical hotel vibe. It’s not terrible, it’s just very Disney-esque.
- Guest do not have access to Disney’s Magical Express transportation. You will need to book a shuttle or rent a car when you stay here.
- There are extra fees to consider when comparing room rates with other hotels. There is a resort fee and a parking fee at the Dolphin.