If you’ve been reading our blog for any amount of time, you guys know how we love a good deal. When we first started traveling to Walt Disney World, we always stayed at the All Stars Resorts simply because they were the cheapest.
Now that we are on a mission to stay at every Walt Disney World Resort, we have still been trying to accomplish this feat by doing so on a budget. Something a lot of people don’t know is that you can save money on Walt Disney World Resorts by booking through a third party. We like hotels.com because you can use and earn free nights.
We actually were very lucky and were able to find a 4 day weekend available in November at the Walt Disney Dolphin for a very reasonable price and were so excited because we’ve never stayed on the Boardwalk!
And let me tell you guys, it is seriously magical. Ok, but more on that later. Here’s what you need to know about the Dolphin.
First if all, the Walt Disney Dolphin isn’t actually managed by Walt Disney World. Although it is technically considered a WDW hotel, it is managed by Starwood Hotels. It is a sister hotel to the Walt Disney Swan and is the larger and usually the less expensive of the two.
That being said, this hotel is not themed, like other hotels on WDW property. Its a very nice hotel, but there is no theme. Also unlike other WDW hotels, there is no food court or drink refill stations. We just walked over to Hurricane Hannah’s at the Beach and Yacht Club and used their refill station, but if you have small kids, that might be a bit of a hike for you. So this isn’t going to feel like your typical Disney hotel, which may or may not be a good thing.
My absolute favorite part of the Dolphin was the location. Guys, if you’ve never stayed on the Boardwalk, it needs to go on your bucket list. Like two minutes ago.
You cannot truly understand how magical staying on the Boardwalk is until you’ve actually done it. Being able to walk to Epcot and Hollywood Studios and take the monorail to Magic Kingdom is amazing and really a huge time saver. I don’t think I have ever realized how much time I have spent waiting for buses until I stayed here!
Ok, but back to the hotel. The rooms are clean and comfortable. We stayed in two different rooms, and depending on your price point, you can get anything from a standard size room to a full, very large, high end suite. You can also choose a room with a view for extra cost as well.
The hotel has a great pool, complete with an amazing poolside bar. It also has a large sand beach, with volleyball nets and lounge chairs. And they do s’mores on the beach most nights, weather permitting.
We got vouchers for free s’mores kits at check in. I am not sure if that’s standard, but if you don’t get them, the kits are $5 each.
There are a variety of onsite restaurants between the Swan and Dolphin. You can see all they have to offer here. We only ate at Fuel, which is an extremely expensive coffee shop inside the Dolphin. Definitely overpriced, but if you’re in need of coffee, and can’t wait until you get to Epcot, then it works.
We were told Garden Grove(at the Swan), which is character dining, was very good but we didn’t have the opportunity to try it.
Transportation is really easy at the Swan and Dolphin. You can walk right to International Gateway(back entrance) of Epcot. The lines are short and it brings you right to the World Showcase. Once inside Epcot, you can walk to the front and take the monorail to the TTC to get to Magic Kingdom.
To get to Hollywood Studios, there is a walking path that will take you about 20 or so minutes if you’d like to walk. Or you can take the Friendship Ferry to Hollywood Studios and the dock isn’t far at all.
Or you can take the buses to any of the Parks.
One thing to keep in mind about the Dolphin is that you won’t have access to the Magical Express, so if you’re used to having that perk with Walt Disney World hotels and are flying in, you’ll need to arrange transportation from the airport. We just used Uber and it was about $30 each way. You can also take a Mears shuttle, but it was much more expensive when we compared prices.
Other than that, you’ll get all of the regular perks from WDW that you normally would, including ADRs at 180 days and 60 day fast pass bookings.
So is the Dolphin for you? If you don’t mind the lack of Disney theming and the fact that they hold a lot of conferences there(think lots of people wearing business attire), then the Dolphin is a great place to stay.
If you prefer the Disney theming, must have the convenience of the Magical Express and really need that drink refill station in the food court, you might be better off going with a different hotel.
Overall, we loved the Dolphin and found the location to be potentially our new favorite area to stay! If you can find it for a reasonable price, then the location alone is worth spending a little extra on. Have you stayed at the Dolphin? Tell us what you thought about it!
Need more info on these resorts and all the perks involved? Check out the Swan and Dolphin Resort Report.