Recently we had some issues booking a Disney resort for our latest trip, so we began to consider off property options. We looked at the Downtown Disney resort area, Celebration, and the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resorts. Ultimately, we just couldn’t bring ourselves to be outside the 47 square miles.
We have always been lucky enough to stay on property at Walt Disney World. When we were kids, it was all we knew. It was a given that we would stay at a Walt Disney World Resort, and our parents didn’t even consider staying off property. We love the Disney magic 24/7 and all the perks that come with staying at a WDW Resort. The Swan and Dolphin are not technically off property, but they are operated by Westin and Sheraton respectively. So while they are “on property,” they are not managed by Disney.
We’ve always eyed these resorts due to their convenient location and architecture, but we were under the impression that they would be out of our price range due to resort fees and parking fees. Surprisingly, we were able to secure a great rate at the Dolphin and were finally booked and ready to countdown the days. We have stayed at almost every resort at Walt Disney World, so we looked forward to exploring a new resort! The final rate, including resort fees and parking, ended up being very similar to one at a Moderate Resort – such as Port Orleans Riverside.
Highlights of Our Stay at the Dolphin:
- The staff was phenomenal! Every single staff member from the front desk, to housekeeping, valet and the pool were positive and smiling the entire stay.
- The rooms were spacious, quiet and very comfortable. The towels and the toiletries were a higher quality than what you get at a WDW resort. We often giggle at the poor quality of towels even at the deluxe resorts, but the Dolphin’s towels were soft and plush. The beds were much more comfortable than ones at a Value Resort. In room coffee is provided by Starbucks-yay!
- Location, Location – LOCATION! You can literally walk to EPCOT and The Studios, need we say more?
- All the perks of staying at a WDW Resort are included, such as Extra Magic Hour Benefits, Disney Transportation, and free Theme Park parking.
- It’s worth noting that all fitness classes are included in the resort fee. Use of the fitness club and bottled water is included as well. The beach yoga class is something we would love to try on a future trip.
- A wide variety of food options – 17 different restaurant and lounges to be exact – and their ice cream was the best we have tasted at WDW.
- A kids’ club so that parents can enjoy a night out on their own.
- The Pool area was huge, relaxing, and full of friendly staff and towels, and rivals the size and caliber of Stormalong Bay – minus the huge slide.
- Swan Boat rentals, where else can you ride on a Swan Boat in Disney?!
When staying at these resorts, you don’t get the typical Disney theming. Rather, you become immersed in modern style and architecture. We particularly enjoyed the lobby of the Dolphin at night and the outdoor area linking the Swan and Dolphin. Check out these short videos of the evening ambiance:
We were pleasantly surprised by our stay and, if the price is right, we will be back for another Beyond Neverland adventure, so that we have the time to relax and further explore the resort. If you are a Disney geek like we are, be sure to check out this fascinating blog post that outlines many of the architectural features of the resort.