The month of September brings with it the Epcot Food and Wine festival and my birthday. Since I have never been to this festival before I decided I would be celebrating my birthday there this year. Nothing better than traveling the world all in one day while tasting different foods and drinks. The decision to attend the festival this year was easy but coming up with the right hotel to stay at is a different story. Orlando is not lacking in hotel options but this time we wanted to stay as close to Epcot as possible so we booked our stay at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel.
Overview of the Dolphin hotel
The Walt Disney World Dolphin hotel and its sister hotel the Swan are Starwood properties so they are technically not owned by Disney despite their name. However as a Starwood hotel you can use your Starwood points to book a room and you will still enjoy many (but not all) of the benefits of staying at other Disney owned properties.
If you were to compare to a Disney owned hotel then I would consider this one to be a Deluxe hotel with a better value and less of a theme. While the design of the hotel seems right out of the 90’s with the coral and turquoise exterior and the dolphin fountains, the redesigned rooms are modern and comfortable.
One of the best things about this hotel is the LOCATION. No other non Disney owned hotel will have as good as a location as this one. It is next to Disney’s Boardwalk and within walking distance to Epcot and Hollywood studios.
The Dolphin hotel is a 27 story hotel with more than 1,500 rooms including 112 suites. Standard guestrooms contain two double beds or a king size bed and sleep up to four. With an optional rollaway bed for an extra fee so you could potentially accommodate 5.
The remodeled guest rooms at the Dolphin hotel are modern and comfortable. They feature heavenly beds with pillow top mattresses and down comforters. Several type of pillows to chose from and comfortable bedding. They have a mini fridge and a single serving coffee or tea machine with Starbucks coffee and 2 different tea options. They also provide 2 complimentary bottles of water each day. A small in-room safe is included so you can store any valuables.
The bathrooms are also modern and clean. They provide the standard kits of soap, shampoo, conditioner and lotion. We forgot our toothpaste and the front desk was happy to provide me with one free of charge. The shower had good amount of water pressure. The toilet is inside the bathroom with the shower but there is a sink outside and the lighting there is nice and bright.
Our room at the Dolphin hotel was on the 17th floor and had a great view and at night we could see the fireworks from both Epcot and Hollywood studios.
Swan and Dolphin hotels have three pools, including a lap pool and the Grotto pool with a waterfall and a water slide. There’s also a kids’ playground and activities scheduled for most nights, as well as a kids club.
The restaurant selection is quite good with fine dining options such as Shula’s steak house, casual dining by the pool, several bars and room service. However if you are looking for a character breakfast you will have to walk to The Swan. You can check out all of the Dolphin hotel food options here.
The Dolphin hotel also has a full service spa and your resort fee entitles you to its use and a $25 credit towards a $100 service each day of your stay. Click here for reservations and a list of offerings.
As I mentioned before you will have access to some of the Disney on-property benefits while staying at Swan/Dolphin:
- Transportation to the theme parks, including the water taxi to Epcot and Hollywood Studios
- Free parking at all theme parks (although you are paying for parking at the hotel)
- Extended access to the theme parks during Extra Magic Hours
- Extra days to book your Fast Pass rides
I would consider the Dolphin hotel a Deluxe hotel and compared to the other Disney hotels in the area (Boardwalk Inn and Yacht and Beach Club) the Dolphin hotel is quite reasonably priced. My only gripe with their pricing is their fees. First off you will be charged a resort-fee and taxed on that resort fee, and then you will be charged to park your car. But even with the fees the price comes around $200 a night on most occasions and this is still less expensive than Disney’s Deluxe hotel options.
For the location and amenities I believe the Dolphin hotel provides a great value. You get a luxury experience, excellent amenities and proximity to the parks. And even though I hate being charged all those added fees the cost is still better than the comparable Disney owned hotels without giving up much of the benefits.