Are you thinking about staying at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort? I am sharing the reasons we loved staying at the WDW Dolphin Resort and one reason we didn’t.
The Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort is not quite an official Disney Resort but it is considered on property and has extra benefits worth exploring. Keep reading to find out what we thought when we stayed there on two different ocassions.
Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort Review
I’ve stayed at several different Walt Disney World Resorts over the past few years but I recently ventured off property… sort of. My mom and I spent a few nights at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort in April.
It’s not owned by Disney but it is still located on the Walt Disney World grounds. In fact, it’s location near Disney’s Yacht Club Resort and Disney’s BoardWalk Dining area, makes it part of the Epcot area hotels and the number one reason I wanted to stay there.
Why We Love The WDW Dolphin Resort
I haven’t stayed at every Walt Disney World Resort but I have stayed at several Epcot area hotels, and I know their proximity to both Epcot and Disney Hollywood Studios is tough to beat. Short boat rides and reasonable walking distance makes it easy to get to both parks when you stay in this area.
Staying near Epcot and Disney Hollywood Studios means you can rope drop easier and possibly beat the crowd for super popular attractions like Frozen Ever After in Epcot or Slinky Dog Dash or Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney Hollywood Studios.
The official Disney properties in this area are all deluxe properties, which means they start around $400+ in my experience. The Walt Disney World Dolphin (and its sister property the Swan) seem to run $200 cheaper a night. They sometimes have special offers for AAA, first responders and teachers.
Plus if you are a member of the Marriott Bonvoy reward program, you can book the Swan and Dolphin with points. The rooms range from 40-60k points per night depending upon the season. I think a free hotel at Walt Disney World is worth working the travel rewards/points game.
3. Disney Perks
The Walt Disney World Dolphin is not a Disney owned property but it is considered an official resort which means guests also have access to Extra Magic Hours which is awesome if you are willing to get up early or stay up late.
Plus Dolphin guests have access to official Disney park transportation. That means boat rides to Disney Hollywood Studios and Epcot and buses to the Magic Kingdom and the Animal Kingdom. Theme park parking is also complimentary and guests can have theme park purchases delivered to their hotel room.
We also took advantage of complimentary luggage transfer between resorts when we moved from The Grand Floridian Resort to the Dolphin.
4. Dining Options
There are plenty of dining options at The Walt Disney World Dolphin and its sister property The Swan including the only 24-hour restaurant in the BoardWalk area. Picabu is a cafeteria-style restaurant located inside the Dolphin that offers a variety of hot and cold food options, 24 hours a day.
My mom and I split an order of tacos one night and thought they were pretty good. You can also pick up snacks and drinks to bring back to your room.
You will find several 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.
Plus one of the perks of being an Epcot area hotel is the easy access to Disney’s BoardWalk with more dining options.
5. Comfortable Guest Rooms
We stayed in one of the renovated rooms and found them to be modern and stylish. The rooms feature Westin Heavenly Beds and were quite comfy. There was plenty of room to spread out with our luggage, plus a small desk and full bathroom. We also had a fireworks view. You can ask for a rollaway (an additional fee) and the double rooms will accomodate a family of 5.
Don’t just take my word for it. Check out these reviews for the WDW Dolphin at TripAdvisor.
3 Reasons You Might Not Love Disney World Dolphin Resort
There isn’t any Disney theming within the hotel. It’s aquatically themed and isn’t terrible, just not magical. It gives off a tropical, business hotel vibe to me. Kids won’t be enchanted but adults will think it’s just fine.
2. Transportation to Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom
Buses are the only complimentary transportation option from the WDW Dolphin to the Magic Kingdom park or Animal Kingdom theme park. I sort of hate buses at WDW because they take forever. Plus these buses are not official Disney buses, they are operated by Mears so when headed to the Magic Kingdom they will drop you off at the Ticket and Transportation center instead of the front gate like official Walt Disney World Resort buses. If you opt to bring a car and drive to each park, be aware there is a parking fee of $27 per night for self parking.
3. Extra Fees
Unfortunately, the Walt Disney World Dolphin does charge both a resort fee and parking fee. You can bypass the parking fee if you don’t bring a car and just Uber/Taxi to the resort. You can’t skip the resort fee of $35 though. Keep these in mind when comparing hotel costs.
I’ve heard that more people like the Dolphin’s sister property, the Walt Disney World Swan. Hopefully, we will have the opportunity to check it out on another trip to Orlando.
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