Disney Dolphin Hotel Review: Luxury or Letdown?

This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase an item through one of my links, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Read the full disclosure policy.

Are you looking for a magical experience with your family during your next vacation?

This is one of my favorite hotels to stay at! From its resort-style pools to its unbeatable proximity to Walt Disney World Resort, this hotel offers something truly special for every type of traveler.

This Disney Dolphin Hotel review will provide an inside look at what makes this hotel so unique and help you decide if it’s the perfect place for your family’s upcoming getaway.

Key Takeaways:

  • The Disney Dolphin, along with the Swan and Reserve, is a Marriott Hotel on the grounds of Disney’s Boardwalk area.
  • Walk or take the Friendship Boats to both Epcot & Hollywood Studios.
  • Guests receive early entry and extended evening hours.
  • This is a deluxe hotel, but at a moderate price.
  • Does not participate in the Disney Dining Plan or Refillable Mug program.
River view of both the Disney Dolphin and Swan hotels at Walt Disney World in Florida with a friendship boat in the front. Even though on Disney property, this hotel is not Disney owned, making it one of the best Disney World offsite hotels

Just want to book the Disney Dolphin hotel? Click here now!

Disney Dolphin Hotel Review

When can I come back? Those are my first thoughts upon first laying my eyes on this resort complex. It is beautiful, welcoming and so close to all the Disney World action. I kept telling myself that I had been missing so much by not staying here. 

If you are looking for hotels near Disney, I highly suggest you read this Swan and Disney Dolphin review and see if it meets your needs.

In fact, I loved staying at the Disney Dolphin so much the first time, we are staying here again. 🎉

Large pyramid green hotel with orange rooms on the side in front of a small lake and a bright blue sky - this hotel is the focal point of the Disney Dolphin Hotel Review
Disney Dolphin Hotel
Large orange and green hotel with two green concrete swans on top with a small lake in front
Walt Disney Swan Hotel

The Disney World Dolphin hotel is part of the Swan/Dolphin (and also now the Reserve) resort complex located between Epcot and Hollywood Studios in the Disney Boardwalk area. It is NOT a Disney World Resort, but rather part of the Marriott hotel collection.

What makes these hotels unique is that you can use hotel loyalty points to stay for free (or almost free – there is a resort charge) AND they give you several onsite Disney resort benefits as they are official Disney World hotels.

Personally, I prefer the Dolphin or Swan over the Reserve. These two hotels are separated by a walkway, but guests are free to use the facilities at both hotels. The Dolphin Resort resembles more of a larger, conference hotel whereas the Swan is more intimate.

➡️ Check prices, read reviews and book your stay at the Disney Dolphin or Swan right here!

First Impression of the Dolphin Resort

Wow. That was all I could say when we first walked into the Dolphin. The lobby was huge.

Plenty of chairs and couches for relaxing, talking or enjoying a beverage from the lobby lounge. The huge chandelier in the center was gorgeous and made me think of raindrops.

We spent the day at the Magic Kingdom and took the Disney shuttle service to the hotel (we previously were at a different hotel).

It leaves from the same area as all the other Magic Kingdom Disney shuttles do – just in front of and to the right of the park entrance. It was a quick ride since technically we are on Disney property.

At check-in, we were asked if we wanted a paid upgrade to a larger room. It would give us a living area with a couch, 2 chairs and a dining area. At $40 per night, we gladly took it (I love extra space).

Plus, we were with my mom, so this extra space was wonderful for our family.

Interior hotel lobby with a water fountain of dolphins pouring out water from above into a small fountain - not surprising since this is about the Disney Dolphin Hotel review
Dolphin lobby with amazing raindrop chandelier
Round tables with barstools, a water display fountain and an icing chandelier from above
The Lobby Lounge
Bar area with tables and barstools on the left; on the right is a bar with stools
Lobby Bar


The Swan/Dolphin hotels comprise 2,270 rooms. The Swan is definitely smaller compared to the vastness of the Walt Disney World Dolphin.

I also heard the double rooms at the Swan have 2 queen beds whereas the Dolphin has 2 full-size beds – something important to note if you’ll be sharing beds. However, they are both outfitted with Westin’s heavenly beds!


It was definitely a walk from the elevator to our room. It seemed like the corridor was never going to end. But, once we got to our room, I completely forgot about the long walk and concentrated on the room in front of me.

From the description, it looks like our room was the Dolphin Premium Studio. After walking in, a wet bar area with a dining table and chairs was on the right while the couch and relaxing chairs were straight ahead.

To the left was the bathroom, however, there was another sink outside the bathroom which definitely helped with getting ready in the morning.

Picture of a living room with blue sofa on the left, yellow chair in back, gold ottoman and on the right is a light oak dresser with a tv on top
Living Room
Bathroom vanity
Shower stall with clear glass doors

I have noticed lately that most hotels have only showers now. While it’s probably easier to clean, it makes it harder for younger children and babies who may be used to taking baths. It was fine for us, however, there are times I like to lounge taking a bubble bath after walking so much.

The bedroom was through an opening in the living area (there was not a door) and had a king-sized bed and plenty of space for unpacking.

We had a great view of the causeway between the Dolphin and Swan and could see the Disney friendship boats that took you to the theme parks.

To me, the extra $40 per night was well worth it for this additional space instead of just one room.

Bedroom with king sized bed with white comforter and pillows, a large headboard against a blue wall and a glass writing table with chair and lamp in the back corner
King Bedroom

Dining Options

Seventeen restaurants. Really. You are not going to go hungry here.

Everything from a coffee cart to a diner to sushi and steak. You name, they have it. I did think the prices were expensive, but again this is Disney.

For a detailed listing and description of each, just go to the Swan/Dolphin restaurant page and browse them.

As one of the tips in How to Save Money at Disney, we took quite a bit of breakfast and snack foods with us because we flew Southwest (and took an extra suitcase for free!).

Here’s a small list of some of the items we packed:

  • fruit cups
  • applesauce
  • granola bars
  • apple juice boxes
  • oatmeal
  • dried fruit
  • coffee/tea supplies

We had a quick breakfast in our room with these just to tie us over for a little while. Yes, a microwave and a sink were part of the wet bar area.

Then, after being in the park for 2 hours, we sat down for something more substantial.

I would have loved to try Garden Grove for a character meal in the Swan. On Saturday and Sunday mornings, it’s a character breakfast featuring Pluto and Goofy with Chip and Dale.

NOTE: Garden Grove’s character meal is still temporarily suspended as of January 20, 2023.

Unfortunately, our flight left early Saturday morning, so we weren’t able to make it. It is also a character dinner every night of the week, but for some reason, I love the character breakfast meals more, so did not plan to do this dinner.

Several times we did carry out from the Fountain Soda shop and ate in our room. Honestly, the kid’s meals were big enough for me. I don’t like to eat too much before going to bed, so this was just the right size.

Room service is also available if you just want to wind down in your room after a long day in the parks.


The Swan/Dolphin share their amenities. The 5 pools are located between the two hotels as is the beach and lagoon area where you can take (wait for it….) Swan boat rides, included with that resort fee! The grotto pool area is enhanced with waterfalls and a water slide.

In addition, there is a kiddie pool where little ones can splash around as well as two lap pools for serious lap swimmers. Four whirlpool hot tubs can also be found.

One of my favorite things about this writing this Disney Dolphin Hotel Review is going around and taking pictures even though I may not get to use all the amenities.

Ping-pong tables, a giant checkers set and a playground area are also available for kids and the young at heart.

Large pool with a waterfall at the left side and a stone bridge in the back with green trees in the background
Swimming pool surrounded by lounge chairs in a park like setting in front of a hotel
White Swan paddleboats in the water in front of a large hotel complex

Unfortunately, we never got to use the pool. We purchased 5-day Disney parks passes (from Get Away Today) and had only left one day free which we spent at Disney Springs.

We did, however, make use of the nightly s’mores campfires. At check-in, we were given tickets for free s’mores making kits for each night of our stay. It was right on the beach at dusk and was never very crowded.

✴️ ➜ NOTE: S’mores making is temporarily suspended.

Sandy beach with a small lake in the back, a volleyball net and lounge chairs on the beach with an orange and green hotel and palm trees in the back
S'mores kit at the Disney Dolphin hotel

Activity list at the Dolphin/Swan:

  • Mandara Spa
  • Health clubs (the one at the Dolphin is open 24 hours)
  • Complimentary instructor led fitness classes
  • Tennis courts
  • Basketball
  • 3-mile jogging trail
  • Karaoke
  • Wellness concierge
  • 5 pools
  • Swan boats

I don’t know where people find the time to use all this! The Dolphin, though, has extensive conference facilities, so not everyone here is going to the parks.

Want to be a mermaid? Well, you can at their Mermaid Academy! Learn to swim like a mermaid or a dolphin. Costume and instructions provided. A fee applies and you need to set an appointment.

✴️ ➜As I’m updating this post in January 2023, I can no longer find any information on the Mermaid Academy, except for data prior to 2020. Please inquire at the hotel if this activity still exists if you are interested.

We stayed here in December and the hotel goes all out for the holidays. Their theme is ‘Santa’s favorite resort’. I plan to write a separate post just about their holiday activities and decorations. Stay tuned!

Disney World Transportation

Epcot and Hollywood Studios

Boat ride, anyone? Yes, you can take the Disney Friendship boat transportation to both Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot. The boats travel back and forth on Crescent Lake making stops at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort, Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts and the Swan/Dolphin Resorts on their way to both theme parks.

You can walk if you prefer. A beautiful, 15-minute walk is all it takes to get to Epcot’s International Gateway. This is the area in the back of the park where the France Pavilion is as well as the Disney Skyliner.

Headed to Hollywood Studios? Cross over to the Boardwalk hotel and take the walkway to Hollywood Studios. While a little longer, it’s only a 20-minute walk.

We opted for the boats since my mom couldn’t walk that far. The dock is on the causeway between the Swan and Dolphin. Boats start operating one hour before the park opens and run continuously every 20-25 minutes. Make sure you get on the right boat – they are separate ones running for both theme parks.

Large hotel with concrete swans on the top and a pier leading to a friendship boat in the water with people getting on and off
Friendship boat dock at the Swan and Dolphin Hotels

Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom

Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom busses run from the front of each hotel every 20-25 minutes. There is clear signage telling you where the next bus is going and when to expect it. If you have ever stayed at an onsite Disney Hotels, the bus service works the same way.

Disney Springs, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach

Both Disney Springs and Typhoon Lagoon share a bus, however, there is a separate one for Blizzard Beach.

Disney transportation was one of the highlights of staying at the Dolphin for me. I have always stayed off Disney property and never realized the convenience of not having a car. I loved taking the boats to the parks and the shuttle to the Magic Kingdom – and you get to bypass the Ticket and Transportation Center!

➡️ Ready to book? Click here check rates for the Disney Dolphin or Swan Resort.

Official Disney World Hotel Benefits

Disney transportation isn’t the only Disney Park benefit.

From their brochure, here is the full list:

  1. Free parking at Disney theme parks
  2. Early theme park entry – just like at Disney resorts, guests of the Dolphin/Swan/Reserve can participate in early morning hours where you can enter any Disney theme park 30 minutes early everyday.
  3. Package delivery from the Parks to the hotel – temporarily suspended
  4. Complimentary transportation
  5. Advanced tee times at Disney’s 3 championship golf courses
  6. On-site Disney ticketing desks

Resort Fee

Even if paying on points, the daily resort fee still has to be paid. It is currently $40 plus tax per night (as of January 23, 2023). It includes the following:

  1. Unlimited access to the health club (including on-demand Peloton spin classes)
  2. Unlimited local, long-distance and toll-free calls
  3. In-room wireless high-speed internet
  4. Complimentary water is provided at the front desk
  5. Complimentary daily fitness and recreational activities
  6. Complimentary Swan paddle boat rentals
  7. S’mores kit for each night of your stay – temporarily suspended
  8. $30 off a $175 purchase of spa services at Mandara Spa (except hair and nails)

➡️ Click here now to check rates at Disney’s Dolphin or Swan Resort

Disney Swan and Dolphin Pricing

Cash rates are between $275-$350 per night, depending on the time of year for 2-bed standard rooms. Remember, anytime kids are IN school, rates are lower.

Compare this to Disney deluxe resorts costing $450-$800 per night and you get away a little cheaper with many of the same amenities.

Marriott Bonvoy Loyalty Program

However, we stayed using my Marriott points. It now varies how many points per night it costs due to variable award prices, but the 5th night is free on points bookings. With its variable pricing, the Dolphin and Swan are between 40K – 60K per night.

Want to earn Marriott points for a free stay at the Disney Swan or Dolphin? There are several credit cards that will help you get there!

First, check out the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card. While it does have a large annual fee, consider all the travel benefits that come with it like travel interruption and travel delay.

Plus, after your first card anniversary, receive a free night award for hotels with a point value up to 60,000.

In addition, one of the best benefits in my opinion, is the Platinum Elite status you are granted for as long as you hold the card. This entitles you to free lounge access (for 2 people) in certain Marriott hotels or free breakfast (for 2) in those without.

Disney is undoubtedly an expensive place to visit, so a free breaksfast is definitely welcomed!

Parking Fees

While you do receive complimentary parking at the Disney theme parks if you are a registered guest of the Dolphin/Swan, there is still a parking fee associated with this hotel.

As of February 2023:

  • Self-parking – $32 plus tax
  • Valet parking – $42 plus tax

Don’t forget you need to provide your own transportation to and from the hotel if you are arriving from Orlando International airport. Our Uber fare was $43 plus tip for each direction.

Pet Policy

Unfortunately, pets are not permitted at the Disney World Dolphin and Swan hotels.

Swan and Dolphin Hotel Address

1500 Epcot Resorts Blvd, Orlando, FL 32830

Swan and Dolphin Hotel phone number

Main Number 407-934-4000
Reservations 888-828-8850

Disney Dolphin Hotel FAQs

Is the Dolphin a Disney deluxe hotel?

The Dolphin is not part of the Disney Resort Collection – it’s a Marriott Hotel. However, it compares favorably to Disney deluxe hotels in terms of amenities, inside corridors and proximity to the parks. The only thing is doesn’t compare to is the price! It is definitely less expensive than the Disney deluxe hotels.

Do guests of the Disney Dolphin and Swan get early entry?

Yes, guests of the Disney Dolphin and Swan receive early entry just like those staying at a Disney resort. This entitles you to enter the theme parks 30 minutes prior to the stated opening time. Remember to link your hotel reservation to My Disney Experience and scan your magic band or room key.

Is the Dolphin a nice hotel?

Absolutely. I would stay there again in a heartbeat. It’s clean, has several pools, an unending supply of restaurants and is priced as a moderate Disney hotel. The close proximity to the parks is an advantage, too.

Is there a resort fee at the Disney Dolphin and Swan?

Unfortunately, yes there is a resort fee at the Disney Dolphin and Swan. As of January 2023, it is a $40 nightly charge which includes complimentary transportation to the parks, instructor-led fitness workouts, free swan boat rental, high-speed internet and more.

Nearby popular attractions

Maybe you don’t want to spend all your time at the theme parks. That’s understandable.

We’ve taken the top Orlando airboat tour as well as a spin on the Orlando Eye (that was not my cup of tea, but my family loved it).

Red and yellow seats in an airboat on the water with a little girl in yellow life vest and man in aqua tshirt on the boat
Taking an airboat tour in the Florida Everglades

Check out some of the available Orlando attractions that do not include amusement parks. Next time, we plan on heading to the coast to visit Kennedy Space Center.

🔷 Click here for available Orlando attractions and tours

Disney Dolphin Hotel Review Summary

Hands down I would stay here again in a heartbeat. I loved the proximity to the parks and the upgraded room. The Swan and Dolphin hotels do not have all the Disney paraphernalia, so if you are looking for the hotel to be ‘Disneyized’ (yes, I made that word up), this is not the one for you.

After reading this Disney Dolphin Hotel review, I hope you’ll give it a try next time you’re planning your Orlando vacation.

They give you some benefits of a Disney onsite resort, they are close to the parks so you don’t need a car, they have a ton of amenities and they are priced lower than a Deluxe Disney resort.

What do you think? Would you stay here?

Interested in other Disney World accomodations? Read this Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Review for another look at staying offsite.

Please PIN this if you learned something from this post – thank you!

Disney Dolphin resort with rooms overlooking the causeway amid a deep blue sky

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *