I was so excited to have recently stayed at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort with my children during our last visit to Orlando. We were only going to be down there for a few days so I wanted to stay in a convenient location to maximize our time but also wanted to watch my wallet. The Dolphin is in the Boardwalk area of Disney, so you can walk right over to Epcot as well as Hollywood Studios or utilize their water ferry, so the convenience was excellent. It was less expensive, actually almost half of the price of the others in that area, so we decided to book our stay.
We arrived at night when it was dark and I have to say, this is one of the most breathtaking resorts we have stayed at (and we have stayed at many onsite properties). The lightening walking up among the palm trees is so pretty, the colors changing on the fountain are spectacular, and the building itself is almost overwhelming. There was even a light show that played music as seen below.
The room was very clean and pretty updated, reminded me somewhat of one of the Beach Club rooms. Typically there is a resort fee of $25 per day that covers amenities such as pool and health club, fitness center, internet access, phone calls and in room bottled water. We were able to snag a deal that excluded the $25 per day by utilizing a non refundable room rate, which is not a rate for everyone. It shaves a few dollars off of the price and usually excludes the daily resort fee but if you have to make changes or cancel your reservation you will lose your money. They have a nice assortment of restaurants anywhere from character to upscale to grab and go. They share grounds with the Swan and in total have 17 different food options to choose from.
The Dolphin is a five minute walk from Disney's Boardwalk resort which was a nice benefit when we wanted to enjoy something different for dinner outside of our resort without going far. There is a bridge connecting the properties with an option to continue on towards the Yacht and Beach Club and ultimately Epcot. In the other direction is Hollywood Studios, but to be honest it was a much longer walk and way to far for my taste, so when we visited Hollywood Studios we utilized the water ferry.
There are many great dining options between the two resorts, The Dolphin and The Swan, Unfortunately during our stay we only had time to stop into the Picabu which is a grab and go style dining facility. One of the neat features in this area is that they sell things a smaller market may sell such as regular sized cereal boxes as well as one time use cereal cups, snacks, fruit, prepared sandwiches, etc. They also have an area with a microwave and toaster oven, this way you can come down and use this area if you have bagels to toast or food to heat up. Just a few of the other awesome places in this resort are Todd English's Bluezoo and The Fountain.
The grounds of the resort are well kept and very clean. There is a lot to due here. You can walk over to Disney's Fantasia miniature golf area, play basketball, tennis, hang at the pool, get your hair braided, face painting and tattoos, sand art for the kids, rent a swan boat and more. It is also one of the only on property resorts that does not have a fence up on their beach now and that is probably because it is really owned by Starwood Resorts and not by Disney (although Disney owns the land). The pool is very large and has a great amount of lounge chairs available in the sun and the shade. There is also a grotto behind the waterfall for those looking for a dark cool place to hang. There is a DJ playing music and staff around doing activities with the kids. One of the down sides is this pool is a swim at your own risk pool. There is no life guard on duty.