I have to start out by saying that I made (ok, still make) fun of the endearingly nicknamed Swolphin. The Swan and Dolphin resorts are big, unsightly and ruin the skylines in and around the Epcot resort area. However, the Dolphin had some amazing teacher discounts at the end of last summer, so I found myself booked there for three nights during my not-so-solo solo trip in August 2012. I admit, if you’re inside the hotels, you can’t see the outside, and they’re not so bad. In fact, I really enjoyed my stay at the Walt Disney World Dolphin, and I would recommend it for anyone wanting to stay in a great location at a nice price.
Walt Disney World Dolphin
1500 Epcot Resorts Blvd.
Lake Buena Vista,FL 32830
Rates: See the offers page
Room Occupancy: 4/5 (standard), 4+ (suites)
Transportation: FriendShip Boats/Foot (Epcot, Boardwalk, Hollywood Studios)
Bus (Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, water parks, Downtown Disney)
The Dolphin offers quite a bit in the way of shopping, but I didn’t spend much time in the stores, so here is the lowdown from the official site:
The Galleriá Sottil – An art gallery featuring exquisite original paintings and sculptures by noted artist Luis Sottil, as well as several other world-renowned artists. The glass-encased facility provides a unique venue for browsing, featuring artwork from three-dimensional sculptures to abstract paintings. The gallery also features two private viewing rooms for art connoisseurs to more carefully observe desired pieces. Guests can easily charge their purchases to their rooms. Shipping can also be arranged.
Lamont’s –An upscale boutique offering resort wear such as Tommy Bahama, Quicksilver, Lilly Pulitzer, and swimwear by Ralph Lauren. Ladies will discover leather bags, sunglasses, and handmade jewelry from Brighton. Unique gifts, as well as items such as film, candles, lotion, and Florida souvenirs are readily available for shoppers.
Daisy’s Garden –An entertaining Disney store with merchandise from the Walt Disney World Resort, as well as sundries.
Cabana Beach Hut – A convenient poolside kiosk, providing all of the essentials for a day of sun-drenched fun. Located in between the Dolphin lap pool and the Grotto Pool.
Mandara Spa – Take a little piece of heaven home with professional spa products from European skin and hair care brands: Elemis, LaTherapie, Ionithermie and Steiner.
Sugar3 – A candy store where cravings for sweets are satisfied in a creative, exciting and totally cool environment.
All guest rooms feature Westin Heavenly Bed® (and they ARE!!), with its custom-designed pillow-top mattress set, cozy down blanket, three crisp sheets, duvet comforter, and four fluffy pillows; Custom-designed carpeting and draperies, with Graves-designed insignia, and complementary designer wall coverings; sleek, maple wood bureau with frosted glass accents provides ample drawer space for all your belongings; 32″ flat panel TV with 30 channels of your favorite HD programming including Showtime® and ESPN®; oversized desk and work area; some king rooms offer a pullout sleeper for extra guests, while the double/double rooms offer a customized lounge chair and ottoman; high-speed Internet service is available in every guest room
If you’re looking for some fun at the hotel, the Swan and Dolphin have a plethora of recreational activities from which to choose. I have to admit, this is one of the best pool spots of property despite the lack of Disney theming. I’d definitely be in love with it anywhere else, but Disney has the bar set high for its properties.
If you’re looing for a place to wind down mid-trip, look no further than the Mandara Spa. Bonus: guests can usually find discounted spa service offers in their rooms!