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 after we stayed there a couple times.
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 and 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 a little cheaper. 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. I can still find rooms for 60k a night in the off season but point value goes during the busier 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 water taxi rides to Disney Hollywood Studios and Epcot.
How do you get from Disney Dolphin to Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom? Unfortunately the answer is a bus which I don’t love at WDW. However it is free transportation and you could always drive to those parks instead.
Theme park parking is also complimentary, simply show your room key at any of the theme park parking lots and you can park for free.
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. We liked Picabu, a cafeteria-style restaurant located inside the Dolphin that offers a variety of hot and cold food options open from early morning to late at night.
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.
There are 23 different dining options at the Dolphin and its sister property, The Swan. These restaurants do not accept WDW dining plans but some do offer AP discounts.
Garden Grove located at the Swan offers character dining experience in the evening and character breakfasts on the weekend. Character dining is currently suspended.
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 accommodate 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 $35 parking fee for Dolphin guests.
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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