Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort: An Honest Review

The Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort is not a typical on property Disney resort, and is often overlooked. The Dolphin resort isn’t owned by Disney, but does have special Disney benefits for guests staying here.

Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort
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Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort

The Swan & Dolphin is my husband’s favorite resort to stay at. We have stayed here many many times over the years, especially since we can pay with points making our trips budget friendly.

There are three hotels at this resort, The Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel, The Walt Disney World Swan Hotel, and the newer Walt Disney World Swan Reserve. All three share the same amenities, though they are separate bookings.

Today we’re going to share with you everything you need to know about staying in either the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort for your next vacation.

Where is the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort?

The official address for the Walt Disney World Swan Resort is 1500 Epcot Resorts Blvd, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830. You can reach the resort by calling 1-888-828-8850. This resort is considered an EPCOT Area Resort.

The Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel is located in the heart of Walt Disney World within easy walking distance of EPCOT. You also have easy access to Disney’s Boardwalk area and the ability to walk to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort Map

Official Disney Map of the Swan and Dolphin Resort
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Is the Dolphin Hotel Considered a Disney Resort?

The Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel is considered a Disney Resort, but keep in mind this property is not owned or operated by the Walt Disney Company. For that reason, you’ll find that many of the classic Disney resort touches are missing, but you can still enjoy the great benefits of staying at an Epcot area resort.

The Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort is considered a Deluxe Resort with the same perks as the other Disney property deluxe resorts.

Is the Dolphin Owned by Disney?

The Walt DIisney World Dolphin is not one of the Disney-owned hotels. Disney’s Dolphin is owned by Tishman Realty & Construction Corporation and MetLife, who also own the Swan Reserve and Swan Resorts. Marriott International, Inc. manages all three of these resorts, and you’ll find that when you are booking the resort online, you can do this directly with Marriott on the Swan & Dolphin website.

Guest Rooms

Rooms at the Dolphin are either 2 Double sized Beds or 1 King Bed + Sofa Bed. The rooms are meant for 2 Adults / 2 Children to sleep comfortably in the room. There is 360 square feet for the standard rooms at the Dolphin.

The guest rooms at the Dolphin are slight bigger to fit your family’s needs, but the beds are doubles instead of queens. If you are looking for two queen beds, check out the Swan or Swan Reserve instead.

Check-in time is 4pm and Check-out time is 11am. Contact the resort to check availability for early check-in or late check-out.

How Much Does it Cost to Stay at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort?

Keep in mind that the rates for staying at the Dolphin will vary depending on the time of the year that you are planning your Disney vacation. Rates are naturally much higher during the holiday season and the peak summer season.

The rates start at about $185 a night, but go up significantly based on what type of room you are looking for. You’ll also need to pay a $35 resort fee for each night of your stay here, so remember to budget for this as well when booking your stay.

The great thing about the Dolphin is that you can use your Marriott account to enjoy various perks when booking a stay here. If you have been collecting points with Marriott Bonvoy, it may be a good way to reduce the cost of your Disney vacation. 

The resort offers five different standard room options, some of which have upgraded views over the Disney theme parks. You’ll also find one junior suite and nine other suite options, which can give families more space when staying at the Dolphin. 

Compared to Disney deluxe resorts, you can sometimes find much lower rates here, but this will vary depending on what’s going on at the time at the resort.

Read Also: How to Redeem Marriott Points Staying at Disney World

All Dolphin rooms include:

  • Hairdryer
  • Internet – Free WiFi Service
  • Alarm Clock
  • Coffee Maker
  • In-Room Safe
  • Phone with voicemail
  • Mini Refrigerator
  • Iron & Ironing Board
  • Shampoo, Conditioner, Body Wash

Standard Rooms

  • Traditional Room
  • Deluxe Room
  • Family Room

Signature Suites

  • Junior Suite
  • Executive Suite
  • Grand Suite
  • Signature Suite
  • Governors Suite
  • Chairman Suite
  • Presidential Suite
Our time lapse of the Swan & Dolphin Resort.

Transportation

One of the biggest benefits for the Walt Disney World Dolphin is the easy access to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and EPCOT. Both Disney parks are a short walk or ride on the friendship boat making early theme park entry and after fireworks transportation very convenient. 

There is complimentary transportation provided to all the Disney parks and Disney Springs from the Dolphin. The buses are no longer managed by Walt Disney World Resort and are now managed by the Swan & Dolphin which comes with a few changes.

There is a parking fee for the Swan & Dolphin Resort, but the great news is that you get free parking at the Disney Theme Parks.

Swan and Dolphin, Swan Reserve Bus
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Swan and Dolphin, Swan Reserve Bus

How to get to each Disney Park and Disney Springs

Hollywood Studios: Walk, Friendship Boats

EPCOT: Walk, Friendship Boats

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park: The Dolphin Bus will actually take you closer to the entrance than the Disney buses.

Magic Kingdom Park: The Dolphin bus will take you to the TTC. You will need to take the Monorail or the Ferry from the TTC to Magic Kingdom. Many people opt to walk to Disney’s Boardwalk Resort or Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club instead to take a bus directly to Disney’s Magic Kingdom.

Disney Springs: The shuttle bus will drop you off at the West Side bus depot near Cirque de Soleil. Uber/Lyft will drop you off on the opposite side, near Rainforest Cafe. You can also walk to Disney’s Boardwalk Resort or Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club to be dropped off at the regular place with the Disney buses. 

Buses and Friendship Boats begin running an hour before park open and 45 minutes after park close. They run every 20-25 minutes similar to the Disney property buses. Walking or taking the friendship boats will drop you off at the World Showcase Entrance to EPCOT. If you want to enter the main entrance at the front, you will need to drive and park in the EPCOT parking lot, or take an Uber/Lyft.

How long does it take to walk to Disney’s Hollywood Studios from the Dolphin?

The walk is about 15-20 minutes depending on how fast you walk. As one of the Epcot area resorts, you’ll be able to walk directly from the Dolphin to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Just follow the path from the Boardwalk along the water.

How long is the boat ride from Swan to Hollywood Studios?

The Friendship boats take about 10-15 minutes to get from the Swan & Dolphin to Hollywood Studios. You may have to wait 20-25 minutes for a boat. Unless the boat is docked, it is quicker to walk.

Friendship boat about to dock in between the Swan and Dolphin Hotel
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Friendship boat about to dock in between the Swan and Dolphin Hotel

Can You Walk from the Dolphin to EPCOT?

You can also walk from the Dolphin to EPCOT, via the World Showcase entrance that comes in between the United Kingdom and France pavilions. It is a very short walk to EPCOT taking about 10 minutes. Walking is usually much faster than the friendship boat.

Following the fireworks at the end of the evening, you’ll be able to exit here and avoid the crowds that are waiting for the Disney resort buses or the Skyliner.

What’s the Parking Situation at the Dolphin?

If you are driving to Orlando or hiring a car here, remember to factor in parking costs when staying at any Disney resort. As with the other resorts on property, you’ll be charged for parking each day. Self-parking at the Dolphin is $29 a day, but you could upgrade to use the valet service for $39 a day. The self-parking here isn’t too far away from the entrance to the resort, so you may want to save on the upgrade and take care of this yourself.

You’ll also be able to use the free Disney buses when you are staying here, which is why many people opt out of hiring a car. We love that you can walk to two of the four theme parks from this resort, making driving unnecessary for many guests. Of course, this is a very personal decision, so you’ll want to decide what is best for you and your family during your vacation.

Dining and Shopping

The Dolphin has a Disney gift shop where you can find official Disney Parks merchandise including Magic Bands.

You’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to dining experiences in this area. As well as the on-site restaurants, you can head to one of the many restaurants in the Swan and Dolphin, or walk around and enjoy those at the Boardwalk or Yacht and Beach Club resorts. 

This is without a doubt the best area in the resort to stay in if you are a foodie, as you could eat somewhere different for every meal for a week without trying too hard. You can make reservations for the table service restaurants, though we rarely find we need one. If you have a large party or are visiting at a busy time of year such as Christmas time, you may want to make a reservation.

Shula’s Steak House

One of the Dolphin’s signature restaurants open for dinner from 5pm to 11pm. Reservations are encouraged for Shula’s Steak House. Private and group dining are available here.

There is a dress code as this is one of the nicer restaurants at the Dolphin, though it is pretty relaxed. Jeans are allowed for both men and women “in good condition”. Swimsuits, coverups, tank tops, hats, and offensive t-shirts are not allowed. Park attire is fine, but it is not uncommon to see diners dressed up.

Todd's English Bluezoo at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort
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Todd’s English Bluezoo at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort

Todd English’s Bluezoo

Another of the Dolphin’s signature restaurants open for dinner from 5pm to 10pm. Reservations are encouraged for Bluezoo. Private and group dining are available here.

There is a dress code as this is one of the nicer restaurants at the Dolphin, though it is pretty relaxed. Jeans are allowed for both men and women “in good condition”. Swimsuits, coverups, tank tops, hats, and offensive t-shirts are not allowed. Park attire is fine, but it is not uncommon to see diners dressed up.

Bluezoo is a seafood restaurant, though there are some delicious non seafood options as well.

Rosa Mexicano

An authentic Mexican cuisine restaurant open for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner. This is the newest restaurant at the Swan & Dolphin that replaced the Fresh Mediterranean restaurant.

The Fountain at Walt Disney World Dolphin
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The Fountain at Walt Disney World Dolphin

The Fountain

Open from 11am to 11pm, The Fountain is a very casual restaurant at the Dolphin. You’ll find burgers, salads, and ice cream here. 

PICABU

Picabu is a cafeteria style dining location in the bottom of the Dolphin near the fitness center and laundry rooms. It is very easy to miss this dining option. Picabu is no longer open 24/7 like they were before 2020. They are now open for breakfast and dinner and close at 12am. We have found the food quality has gone down significantly since 2020.

Fuel

Open from 6am to 11pm Fuel has convenience store type offerings as well as coffee and bakery items. They also have sandwiches and pizza as well. This is a great grab-and-go meal, snack, and drink option.

Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort, Phins Bar
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Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort, Phins Bar

PHINS

Phins is a bar in the Dolphin lobby open from 3pm to 12am. They serve cocktails only, there aren’t food options. My husband is a big dan of the signature bear, Phins and Feathers that you can find here.

Cabana Bar and Beach Club

If you are looking for poolside dining at the Dolphin grotto pool, the Cabana Bar is an excellent choice. You can order from your phone right from your poolside chair and drinks and food will be delivered to you.

You can also sit at the bar or the outdoor tables to enjoy as well and is open from 11am to 8pm.

The Swan and Swan Reserve are also a short walk away so be sure to check out the available dining options at both of these resorts as well. This includes Kimonos, IL Mulino, and Garden Grove.

Does Walt Disney World Dolphin resort have free breakfast?

The Dolphin does not have free breakfast. Marriott rewards members do receive a $20 voucher for breakfast daily while staying here that can be used at any of the three resorts. You can use the voucher at the grab-and-go breakfasts or the table service breakfasts though there is an up charge at the sit down options.

Activities and Amenities

There is a wide array of activities available at the Swan & Dolphin Resort. Your resort fee covers the rental of Swan Boats on the lake which are a lot of fun. There is also a game room and children’s activity centers at the Dolphin. There is also a 24 hour business center available to guests.

Swimming Pool

The Dolphin Grotto Pool is the largest pool at this property and includes a waterfall. There is also a kid-sized pool behind the Cabana Bar and Beach Club. You will also find a waterslide and hot tubs at the Dolphin pool. 

Chairs tend to be taken fairly early in the day at the Dolphin Grotto Pool as it’s very popular and available to guests of all 3 resorts. The pool area for the lap pool and Swan pool tend to be a lot quieter.