My sister and I recently had the opportunity to spend a weekend visiting Walt Disney World. We weren’t sure where we wanted to stay at first but knew we wanted something close to or on Disney property. We ended up finding a great deal (just under $200 a night including fees) on the Walt Disney World Dolphin hotel, so even though we had never stayed and it wasn’t technically a Disney hotel (I can totally be an on-property hotel snob sometimes), we decided to give it a try.
And I have to say, I am really glad we did.
We stayed in a standard double room and were able to get our request for a top floor in a wing room, giving us a good view of Epcot and a partial view of fireworks at night. The rooms themselves were nicely appointed (including a fridge which came in handy for storing all our Disney treats) and surprisingly roomy, which was a nice change for us from a stay in a smaller value room — which is where we typically would stay on such a short, last minute trip. And, the value and moderate resorts, including my favorite, Pop Century, would have actually ended up being similarly priced this time of year, so it was definitely worth the trade-off in my opinion.
Two things I really liked about the room were the two mirrored areas (which helped us feel like we each had our own space to get ready in the morning) and the beds. The beds, most accurately referred to on the Swan and Dolphin official website as “Heavenly” beds, were indeed very much that. They were super soft and comfy — which is so nice after a long day at the parks!
Although we didn’t have many particularly notable interactions with staff while visiting, all of the staff we encountered were very courteous, friendly and helpful; the level of service was up to standard with what you would expect from a four-star hotel.
The resort itself is very large and boasts a sprawling lobby with stores, a gift shop, restaurants, and check-in all surrounding a large fountain. I could see this as feeling overwhelming or busy to some, but I really liked the contemporary vibe, and it helped me feel more connected to the action. I also felt that if I didn’t want to venture out of the resort, there would be plenty to check out and see.
During our visit, we enjoyed dinner and drinks at Kimonos, a sushi bar (located just across the walkway at the Swan) and got to experience the karaoke there (dinner and entertainment!). I also had the opportunity to get a manicure and check out the resort’s Mandara Spa. I found the spa atmosphere really relaxing and enjoyed the Bali-themed decor. Although we didn’t swim this trip, we did get to check out the pool and beach area and loved the vibe and atmosphere of these as well. Of course, when staying at the Dolphin you lose out on all the little Disney touches you’d find at a Disney resort, but the Boardwalk, Yacht, and Beach Club Disney resorts are just a short walk away.
The Convenience Factor
I absolutely loved the convenience of being so close to Epcot and Hollywood Studios without also having the larger Disney price tag of staying at the Disney-owned Epcot area resorts. We were able to walk to Hollywood Studios and ride the boat to Epcot several times during our short trip! The proximity of the Swan and Dolphin to the parks allowed us to be more spontaneous than we would typically, allowing us to pop into Epcot for a couple quick visits just to grab some treats in World Showcase. (School bread anyone? Or how about some macarons from the French bakery?) And, I personally think there’s just something special about a Disney boat ride that adds to the magic of a trip, so having access to these throughout the trip really added an extra special something to our weekend.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed our stay and even though we’ve only been back for a few weeks, I am already scheming and planning to figure out how I can go back again! I can’t wait to return again and am really looking forward to experiencing it with my whole family — especially my little one. (Can you imagine not having to fold the stroller on your way to not just one but two parks?) And as a WDW veteran, it was really nice to have a new experience to add some excitement and fresh magic to the trip. Although there are not as many Disney touches throughout the resort as there are at those owned by Disney, I think the convenience and price tag are enough to convince me to stay again in the future.
Interested in learning more or staying at the Walt Disney World Dolphin or Swan? Check out the DIS info page here.