Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort reviews

Epcot Resort Area
Reader rating Reader rating 7.6 / 10
Average Reader Rating: 7.6  
"Hard to check in"
Reviewed on Jan 04, 2015 by Dxherri
Rating: 7  
I've stayed at the Dolphin three times and the Swan once. The room rates are good for Disney, and the restaurants are excellent. I like having everything in the same building. Some Disney resorts are spread out over hundreds of acres. The lack of the "rah rah Disney" feel is fine with me. I don't like my meals interrupted by Chip, Dale, Goofy, Pluto and the rest of the gang.

The only shortcoming is checking in. I've tried different hours of the day, but there's always a traffic jam at the entrance with no one seemingly in charge. If you don't specifically grab a valet and say very firmly that you're checking in, you will be ignored. On this visit (I'm still here), a valet first ignored me, then later told me he had asked if I needed help, and I had told him no! Really? Are there visitors who have just driven across Florida who take some kind of weird pleasure in turning down offers of help?

I will stay at the Swan in the future. It's much better organized and more professional.
"Walt Disney World Dolphon"
Reviewed on Apr 21, 2014 by HollyAD
Rating: 8  
We booked the Dolphin last minute as a last night of vacation after staying in South Florida with family. I just had to have a little Disney fix if I was driving all the way to Florida! I thought the price was reasonable, even with the added fees. Just make sure to read the fine print. There is a service fee of $20 and a parking fee of $17. Even with those fees it was only $10 more than a value resort. So this was the smarter choice in my eyes. I could stay at All Star Music or the Dolphin on the Boardwalk for about the same price. I signed up to be a Starwood rewards member also so I will collect points for the stay.

The lobby and grounds are beautiful. I loved to sit and take in the architecture and landscaping and the Dolphin and the Swan. The place doesn't have the most "Disney" feel but that was fine because my husband is not a Disney lover. It does have a bit of a business feel but it is still a great looking place. Our room was spacious but the bathroom was small and outdated. It was showing wear and tear and was about the size of a value resort bathroom. They do provide you with bottles of water and starbucks coffee in the room as part of the service charge. Personally I could purchase my own for much cheaper but it was a small perk I guess. There is also a small refrigerator in the room so I could bring my own drinks to the room. No microwave.

The pool area was very spread out and a little bit of a walk from the Dolphin but still beautiful. The beach was full of kids playing in the sand and we even took our son on the swan boats, which are paddle boats. Pool towels are provided outside. There are different places for drinks and the Cabana is located outside for food as well. They provide service to poolside as well.

The location is great. You can quickly walk to the Boardwalk or take the boat. There is also boat service to Epcot and Hollywood studios which can also take you to the other Boardwalk resorts. The bus service to the parks is also a plus but is a little hit or miss. This has been my experience at all Disney resorts.

There are several food choices at the resort. Just make sure to do research to find what you want. I only went to the ice cream place so I can not comment on the food choices.

Overall I was satisfied with my stay. The staff were all very nice and helpful. This is a good place to stay with a Deluxe feel without the price. I am sure we will stay here again in the future.
"Wonderful Resort"
Reviewed on Jun 14, 2013 by DiSnEyF@n
Rating: 9  
This hotel is just like the Disney Deluxe resorts but much more affordable. Our family has stayed here on numerous vacations and will continue to go back. Yes, there are fees that they assess that other Disney resorts do not, but the price is still less than the Deluxe Disney hotels. There are many restaurants to eat at, including Picabu (which is where we ate most of our breakfasts), Garden Grove (that has character breakfast on Saturday and Sundays only), and the Cabana Pool Bar that has wonderful sandwiches that we often ate for lunch and/or dinner. The rooms are large and come with a small refrigerator that came in handy as we stopped at the food store before we checked in. I love the decor of the beautiful lobby, hallways and rooms. The grounds are so lush and beautiful you really feel like you're on an island somewhere. The grotto pool is spectacular and well maintained and it is one of my favorite things about the hotel. All the staff are upbeat and very helpful. I have never had any problems with this hotel. I will always return to the Dolphin, happily :)
"Watch out for fees....."
Reviewed on Jan 28, 2013 by Dave H.
Rating: 4  
My wife and I stayed at the Dophin Resort in Orlando, FL. I was attending a conference there so it made sense to stay there as a guest. I noticed on the flyer that we were gievn at check in that there was a $14.00/day charge for bottled water & coffee in the room, plus use of the fitness center. I checked with the concierge and was informed "no, that is all included in your room fee. There is no added charge". I next noticed that the sign at the gated parking lot entry stated a $15.98/day parking fee. I was assured that this was for hotel visitors and that the fee is included in the hotel room fee. Okay, so my fear of hidden charges was overblown. That is, until check out time when I saw thet there was a $11.50/day service charge attached to my room charge. PLUS a $15.98/day parking charge. Now, I must explain to all that there is NO OTHER OPTION FOR PARKING WHEN STAYING AT THE DOPHIN RESORT than to park in THEIR parking lot. So, to charge a parking fee seems to me to be "highway robbery". The Dophin management DID remove the $11.50/day service fee after I protested for over a half an hour. They would not, however remove the $15.98/ day parking fee. Every hotel I have stayed at in the past included free parking on their lot when staying at their hotel. Every hotel I have stayed at in the past included use of their fitness center, free in-room coffee and/or bottled water. Every hotel I have stayed at in the past also included some type of free breakfast for guests. The room fee has also been a more reasonable $125.00/night max. For a room fee of double that amount I expect to NOT have added fees tacked on every time I turn a corner. I also expect for the DirecTV signal to work on EVERY channel offered, not just 5 of them.....(but that is another story) I WILL NOT be staying at a Disney Resort hotel in the future and I suggest that you also NOT stay at one unless you like having your pockets picked by the management!
"Dolphin Stay 12/10 - Room Issues - I really wanted to enjoy the room as well!"
Reviewed on Jan 06, 2011 by DiannaC
Rating: 5  
My family and I stayed at the Dolphin Resort from December 16th -22nd, leaving the 22nd. We had a few room issues. The first day, I had forgotten my laptop in the car. I used the tv remote, turned on the internet, but when I tried to use the keyboard, nothing would happen. I couldn't get the keyboard to work, so I took off the back to see if it had batteries. They were completely corroded. Well, you couldn't go back to regular TV without turning off the internet from the keyboard. I called the front desk, explained the situation and said they would need a keyboard. She said, "Well, we're in the process of removing all of the keyboards." They have maids in everyday - shouldn't be a big process.

The tech arrived, tried the keyboard, wouldn't work, took the back cover off. He said, "I'll be right back, I need a another keyboard". I explained to him I told them at the front desk it was completely corroded and that whoever came up would need another. He came back within about 10 minutes and fixed the problem.
When the hotel started filling up on the weekend, you had to stand and hold the lever down on the toilet for 11-12 seconds (try actually doing that and see how long that really is). Our shower had a wayward spray that, no matter how tight you tried to get the curtain closed, would spray out onto the floor and the toilet. However, a couple of days later when we started having ants, I called to complain. They had to call me back. They said the only room they had was a king bed room, but there were 4 of us.

They sent up Angel to check out the problem. He brought a bug spray - black and white can. He sprayed the area around the coffee pot and under, near the bathroom, and the beds and desk. That was right before we went to bed. After that my throat became very scratchy, I developed a cough, and was a bit hoarse. My daughter developed a cough as well. It didn't seem to affect the other two.

The morning of our departure, I went to the desk to tell them the ants had come back the day before, but since my daughter and I had developed symptoms after them spraying the room, we didn't call to have them spray again. I wanted to make them aware, that they would probably want to spray since there were ants again, before someone else checked in to that room. I asked if there was something they could do with our bill because of this. The woman at the desk (I didn't get her name), said wait a moment. After waiting, she came back and said I would have to talk to security, which I thought was odd.

I waited in the lobby for approximately 10 minutes before someone Denis from security arrived. I explained the situation, he asked for identification, saying that way he knew who he was actually talking to. I gave him my driver's license and business card. He proceeded to copy down my driver's license information. He kept saying he was just taking the report, and would be turning it over to someone else to handle. He said they would definitely be giving me a call. It's Jan 6th, and I haven't heard a peep.
"I really wanted to like the Dolphin"
Reviewed on Nov 16, 2010 by 
Rating: 5  
I know the Dolphin isn't owned by Disney but, I expected a little more from this hotel than what we got. The rooms are run-down and the service was mediocre. If you are going to run a hotel on Disney property, try a little harder.

We requested a down-free room and all the pillows were down-filled. The desk assured us the pillows were switched. I took them out of the pillow cases to check. We had to call twice to get them switched. Included in the resort fee are two bottles of water. The person who delivered the water (separate from housekeeping) walked into the room without knocking while my husband was in the bathroom.

Housekeeping was fabulous.

The prices in the Picabu 'buffeteria' were obnoxiously expensive. I expect high prices in hotels but this went beyond. The food was low-quality and not worth the price. It was cheaper to eat in the park. Picabu is open 24 hours but only bagged items are available after 11pm. Two sandwiches, a kid's hot dog and french fries and 3 drinks cost $40+. On the day we went to the airport, we went down to grab a quick bite. The 'made-to-order' waffles were reheated and the bacon was thin and limp.

The Swan and Dolphin act like one big hotel rather than two separate hotels. Make sure you look at the location of a restaurant before choosing so you know where you need to go. Sometimes, it is difficult to tell because they have advertisements for all the restaurants in both hotels. The people taking reservations don't mention their location when you call.

The Character breakfast on Sunday morning in the Garden Grove (Swan) was nice. Expensive, but nice. $22 for an adult buffet. The bacon was really good! The characters are Disney employees and they did a great job of making sure they spent time at every table. Pluto was fabulous. If you go during a peak season, make sure you get reservations. We went during an off season at 8:30am and were seated immediately but, there was a huge wait around 10 am.

The buses to the rest of the Disney property run at decent intervals but, make sure you get off at the correct hotel. The stops for both hotels are labeled the "Swan & Dolphin". You can also take a boat from Epcot to the hotels.

We are a family of 3 and stayed at the Dolphin for a conference. My husband travels often for business and is a Marriott platinum member. I've been going to Walt Disney World since the mid-70s.
"Great hotel"
Reviewed on Aug 04, 2010 by Jaytrod
Rating: 9  
My wife and I both love the Dolphin, it is actually my wife's favorite hotel on the property . The food choices and rooms are both great. The boats are a relaxing alternative to the buses to get to HS and Epcot and its a reasonable walk to the Boardwalk area. It's definitely not as "Disney" as the more themed resorts but sometimes it's nice to get away from that every once and a while. You still get free parking at the parks and EMH , however I wish you could use your room key to charge purchases around the world to your room like the other resorts. They run specials many times throughout the year which make this resort a bargain at times so keep your eye out.
"Great for adults who don't need everything to be Disney"
Reviewed on Jan 26, 2010 by Juliaz3
Rating: 9  
My husband and I will soon be staying at the Dolphin for the fourth time. I'm a Starwood member and we get great rates there. We enjoy the rooms, views, and being near the Boardwalk area, plus easy (and free) access to Disney parks via the boats or buses. I've stayed in a few Disney resorts and really enjoyed them, especially the Wilderness Lodge at Christmas, but for two adults, the Dolphin is a great option. We don't need to be immersed in Disney 24/7, so the hotel has just enough Disney to make us aware of where we are, and we spend hours in the parks anyway. Also, the spa at the Swan, just steps from the Dolphin is one of the nicest I've ever visited, and I've been to MANY spas. We also like the many restaurant options in the Dolphin, Swan, and the Boardwalk area.

As others say, it depends on your needs and preferences. If you have kids and you want 100% Disney, then the Dolphin and Swan aren't for you.
Reviewed on Nov 01, 2008 by BrownDerby07
Rating: 8  
I like both the Swan and Dolphin. (I think the Swan is a little bit better) The only real problem is that some features in other Disney hotels are missing here. (Dining Plan isn't accepted and there really isn't any sign of Disney at all) but it's very nice on the inside. The rooms are nice and it's within walking distance of DHS/Epcot. IMO the architecture is really ugly on both (mainly the Dolphin) but the inside more than makes up for it. Overall it's a nice hotel if you don't mind the lack of Disney.

(You do get Disney Transportation and Extra Magic Hours however)
"The best hotel"
Reviewed on May 27, 2008 by Jeany031
Rating: 10  
I really love the Dolphin. Because our
family are staying in this hotel for $179.00. The
Best deal.
Reviewed on Dec 24, 2007 by richarduk
Rating: 10  
Our family are from England we had a great 16 nights in the dolphin in April and we are looking to come back as soon as we can, we all loved it
For me I loved the setup and bar my wife lived the restaurants and our 12 year old daughter loved the boat ride and exploring the hotel

If we had one complaint it was that because of the large amount of conference people we could not use some of the area as we are use to

But in the main as magical as the rest of the holiday

I am new to this site and would like to thank its founders for a great portal to link us all to a place we love to visit

for us here in the k the holidays we take is made more magical because of the way we are treated my these who work and live within the area so many thanks to the Florida people for making us feel so welcome time after time

Richard, Deborah and Lauren Moles
"We loved our stay at the Dolphin 8/7-8/12/2007"
Reviewed on Aug 26, 2007 by ask!
Rating: 10  
I am writing this review to help anyone who is thinking about staying at the Dolphin and feels confused or unsure because of the mixed reviews on this forum and Trip Advisor. When I booked the Dolphin, it seemed people either loved it or hated it and this caused me some concern until check-in.....so I want to add my honest opinion to help others decide.

We are a family of four..my daughter is 17 and my son 16. Cost was a major factor in making our decision. I got a AAA rate of $179 and then discovered a govt. worker/nurse/teacher rate of $149. We also signed up for the free Starwood Plus membership rthat provided us with a free upgrade to a balcony, water-view room and late 4 pm check-out (ithis is based on availibility). We did not have a car so the parking fee was not an additional cost for us.

I was extremely impressed as we pulled up to the Dolphin. The pyramid shape and colors of the resort made it visually stunning.... hwever, we agreed that the dolphin sculptures are dolphin fish not dolphin mammals.

The lobby is bright, expansive and visually appealing. The staff were polite and very helpful. We were early and our room was not yet ready, so we ate at the Cabanna Grille by the pool. As we walked outside, i was very impressed by the immaculate and beautiful landscape and grounds. The pool area was gorgeous....I fet like I had arrived at a wonderful, beautiful resort.

After lunch, our room was ready and I could not exhale completely until I saw the room. We were in the East wing, room 6030. There were no smells in the elevator or lobby. As we entered the room, it was bright, clean and odor-free. I was delighted with the view. We could see Tower of Terror and Mickey's hat from the balcony. The beds are heavenly...more comfortable than my own bed! The bathroom is small, but since the vanity is located outside the bathroom it was not a problem at all. There is another small alcove that provides additional counter space. I was delighted with the room as well as the lobby, grounds and pool area.

However, the best was yet to come...the location of this property is amazing! It is one ferry stop away from MGM on the very slow-moving Friendship boat. It is a very short stroll to all the amenties at the Boardwalk and a short 10-15 minute walk to EPCOT or get a Friendship boat to EPCOT at the Clamshell walkway. It is also walking distance to the Fantasia Gardens and Fantasia Fairways...excellent mini-golf. The fairways are challenging....my DH and DS loved it!

We ate at Fresh twice for breakfast....pricey, but delicious! The bagels and fruit at the lobby coffee shop was good for the grab and go breakfasts...again, not cheap. We really liked The Fountain....really good food, great service and delicious ice-cream! The Cabanna bar and Grill had great food, good comapny and yummy drinks.

We loved the Dolphin! Everything was truly wonderful! However, this is my caution.....you have to know yourself and your family. Because of the conventioneers, it does have an adult atmosphere...the atmosphere of a really nice hotel in any city or vacation destination. It is not Disney oriented although there is Disney merchandise in the gift shop. Having visited other Disney properties, there is definitely a different energy....in these other properties, there are definitely more little kids, young families...the noise level and crowd levels were higher at the Disney resort pools and the lobbies. I think that if you have younger children, this is something to consider. This is where you need to know yourself and what you want......it was perfect for our family yet I do understand that others what something diferent when they are at disney.

The only other caution is that although you do have access to Extra-magic hours, you are not able to get the Dining Plan.....sit down meals at Disney are very, very expensive. For us, it was not a problem as our teens are not "into" dining but if this is a part of your pleasure on vacation, it is something to consider.

In the end, we loved the Dolphin abd absolutley loved the vacation. Hopefully, we will go back next year and I will definitely stay at the Dolphin again...and BTW, I prefer the Dolphin to the Swan.

Reviewed on Aug 13, 2007 by I-4Warrior
Rating: 8  
We stayed at the Dolphin in March during ESPN weekend. While yes, there are more spectacular and better all-around resorts on WDW property, the Dolphin is good enough where it belongs in the discussion (and exceeds in some cases... I'm looking at you Wilderness Resort.).

The only complaints I have about the resort is the large, neverending layout (You could walk forever to get to the pool depending on where your room is) and the in-room furnishings (a little dated), and the parking fee. But none of these things should ruin your stay (unless you're just a miserable person anyway).

The beds are incredible and gave me the best sleep I've had in years. Depending on your room, there are some great views to be had (we got a nice view of the Boardwalk). The dining is excellent: Shulas for those who want to commit financial suicide. Fresh, which is a modern-style buffet, has become one of my new on-property favorites (open only for breakfast and lunch) for those who want to put a hit on their wallet but not let it hemmorage. And there are some quick, counter-service options too. A walk over to the Swan gives you some cool nightlife at Kimonos... a sushi bar with karaoke: Excellent food and spirits and exceptional decor.

What sells the Dolphin is the location. Epcot and MGM...err, DHS, are both @10 minutes away, the Boardwalk is right next door. Its location in regards to DHS was extemely helpful when getting to the park early for ESPN Weekend. You also have Extra Magic Hours when staying at the Dolphin which is another huge perk. One would think that Disney is still irate at giving Sheraton and Westin hotels with some of the most prime real estate on property (equidistant walking distance to 2 parks). Not exactly to the purchasing Manhattan for beads level, but still has to make them feel a little sick.

My favorite resort, no. Recommended, certainly.
"Dolphin June 2007"
Reviewed on Jun 26, 2007 by nile6000
Rating: 6  
This was my 1st time staying at the Dolphin rather than a "disney" resort. You do not feel like you are at disney at all. It is more like a conference/business hotel than a disney resort. My son who is 6 was at the hotel for an hour and still had no idea we were in Disney.

The lobby is very nice, but I was disappointed within 20 minutes. We had our room and it smelled like a cat. Had to move to another room on the opposite side of the building and could not get the bed we requested because of the move. New room was nice and clean with an OK view. Beds were VERY comfy.

Paid cash at check in only to find a day later that my credit card had been charged for the entire amount of the stay. Took over and hour to have that taken care of, very disappointing.

Pools are beautiful, food is very over priced. Be prepared to pay to park every night. Valet is $16 a day. Overall an ok place to stay but if you want to know your in Disney this isnt the place to be.

"Dolphin stay 5/06"
Reviewed on Jun 23, 2007 by Tiggersgreat
Rating: 9  
I know this is late getting on here, but after reading some poor reviews, I thought I would tell about our awesome time there! Upon checking in the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, we were upgraded to a room with a balcony facing Epcot. Every night we could watch Illuminations for the most part. It was also pretty looking at Boardwalk all lit up, and nice to see boats passing by. Room service and bell people were excellent. I got the teacher discount so the rate was excellent for a deluxe resort.

Many times we walked to and from Epcot. We walked once to MGM - a little far. We also took the boats. I don't think they are much longer than other Disney transportation. The busses were also right on par with other resorts we have stayed in. We also had our car and just drove to some places like the water park. We were not charged to park at the Dolphin or the parks.

I did not like the restaurant for breakfast/lunch. It is a walk through line, but very over priced. The ice cream shop was good. The pool was nice. There are lots of options. I didn't like that we couldn't see thes pool well from the hot tub to keep an eye on the kids.

It was not Disney themed, but I felt a very relaxed atmosphere. There is a nice spa available if you want that type of service. If you are considering the Boardwalk or Yacht and Beach, I would consider the Dolphin.
"Waste of Money!"
Reviewed on Jan 06, 2006 by beachclub1
Rating: Not rated  
This Resort dosen't deserve to be on the WDW properity.
It's not owned by Disney, AND IT SHOWS! If you going to take a WDW Vacation, atleast stay at a WDW resort.
Reviewed on Jan 03, 2006 by scbb11Sketch
Rating: Not rated  
Well, where to begin. The boats take a ridiculous amount of time, and not having a bus option is asinine. Even when a boat does come they fill it half way and leave behind a lot of people. There is no free internet in the hotel. I can get free internet in a $40/night Days' Inn and a $300 resort can't provide anything? Horrible. The elevators are poorly located and the walks from them to your room can be 10 minutes. This is a horrible design and fire hazard. You have to pay to park which is ridiculous since they're already getting a ton of money from you for the room. Finally, the beds are normal and not as amazing as everyone hypes them to be.
All in all, a horrible deal for the price. All you get for $300 is a bed, sink, and shower. Find a different resort.
"In the Middle of it All"
Reviewed on Apr 04, 2005 by dave2822
Rating: Not rated  
I've stayed at the WDW Dolphin in 2001 & 2004.
The Walt Disney World Dolphin is a great resort, much more good than bad. It's located in the middle of the EPCOT Resort Area, which is right in the middle of WDW. Take buses to MK, AK, etc, and boats/walkways to EPCOT and MGM. The pool is terrific, a short distance from the resort. "Interesting" decorating outside, but very beautiful inside, and the views from every room are great (most with SE, ToT views, & Illuminations can be seen too). Very low-key in terms of Disney themes (it's not really a Disney owned hotel).

As far as dining goes, a lot of options for kids. Tubbi's and the Dolphin Fountain are both very kid friendly, however the prices are steep.

A few cons: (1) walkways can be tiring, and not to be done a lot for the average person. Even a brisk walk would take at least 10 mins to either park. (2) Though the boating is nice, it's a long journey, because the boats hit up every EPCOT Resort Hotel, and the Swan/Dolphin is the first to be picked up, as they pick up everyone else afterwards, and the last to be dropped off.

Other than that, a great option, and it comes highly recomended!
Reviewed on Oct 04, 2004 by HANTAVIRU
Rating: Not rated  
"The best"
Reviewed on Jul 07, 2004 by mcconkey
Rating: Not rated  
I can only say excellent. We spent 2 weeks in WDW for our honeymoon at the Dolphin. Arrived and was immediately upgraded to a club room for the duration. Everyone was friendly and the service was great. Pool great and the position for the parks was spot on. Well done Disney this was the best ever.
Reviewed on Feb 23, 2004 by BoboJacks
Rating: Not rated  
Best hotel ever. Its so queit and an amazing thing to be in
"Nice place to stay"
Reviewed on Jan 09, 2004 by all41
Rating: Not rated  
Dolphin is a nice place to stay. Great soft bed with a large room and nice view. I think it is better for adults than kids since its easier to get to Epcot by walking and the boats can take a little longer. Not exactly a "Disney" feel but close. Not sure about the bus service to other parks since we spent most of our time at Epcot/Studios. If I wanted to stay in the Epcot/Studios/Boardwalk area, Dolphin is a good choice.
Reviewed on Jan 09, 2004 by DisneyJoey
Rating: Not rated  
I absolutely loves the Dolphin hotel! I went in with low expectations because of the lack of Disney-eqse, but it totally reconciles itself with the incredible views and convenience to the Boardwalk and Epcot. My only complaint is that I did not like that our only options to get to MGM or Epcot was boat or walk. The bus waits were also extraordinarily long (30 mins+) for the ride to AK, MK, or Downtown Disney. I highly reccomend staying at the Dolphin!
"I was impressed"
Reviewed on Aug 30, 2002 by Daannzzz
Rating: Not rated  
I had a great stay here. We got a good price and were upgraded to a nicer location with my Starwoods card. We had a view of Epcot, the Boardwalk, The Swan and the Tower of terror through windows on two different walls. We had a large balcony as well. The themeing in the public areas is colorful and fun. Location of the hotel is great.
Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort
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