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Dolphin Resort at Night

There is a reason the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin are a favorite choice for so many visitors. They are seriously two of the most underrated resorts in the entire Disney resort pantheon, often passed over since they are not Disney-owned. We have gushed before about the incredible value of these luxurious resorts, their convenient location, and their phenomenal food. They are also two of the only resorts on Walt Disney World property where—if you are clever enough—you could stay for almost nothing using the right shenanigans (see #6).

While we love the Swan and Dolphin, there are a few catches to staying at these resorts. While some are minor preferences, others caught us by surprise and could make or break a visit (particularly if you are budget-conscious). Before you book your next stay, here are some of the catches to staying at Disney’s Swan and Dolphin, alongside some of the resorts’ best perks.

1. Con: The resort fee

Walt Disney World Dolphin

Image: Chad Sparkes, Flickr (license)

This was the first of a number of hidden costs we ran into during our stay at the Walt Disney World Dolphin. Both the Swan and Dolphin are an excellent value for luxury accommodations on Disney property. We not only found excellent deals for stays on Disney’s website but even better prices on both Sheraton’s website and Hotels.com. At initial glance, it may look like the Swan and Dolphin are a no brainer when it comes to value. The truth isn’t so simple.

The first extra cost of staying at the Swan and Dolphin is a daily resort fee of $25. According to Starwood Hotels, this covers 24 hour access to the resorts’ health clubs, unlimited domestic and long distance calls (time to call the family in Germany!), 2 bottles of water a day, free WiFi, and access to a wide range of resort recreational activities including fitness classes, complimentary paddle boats, a discount at the Mandara Spa, and a S’mores Fun Kit to be used at the nightly campfire. While some of these perks are pretty cool, it is slightly annoying that these extra costs aren’t just rolled into your nightly room costs. It feels less-than-transparent, particularly if you were giddy with excitement over scoring what looked like a slightly better deal on a comparable Disney resort.

If you are going to milk the extra perks for all they’re worth, the resort fee probably won’t bug you. However, if you are planning on spending most of your vacation in the parks rather than puttering around the resort, the extra cost can sting, particularly if you didn’t budget for it.

Swan Fountain in Swan Lobby

Image: Jett Farrell-Vega

Pro: Incomparable value for luxury

The Swan and Dolphin are two seriously amazing resorts, and we have lauded them before for their value as Disney deluxe accommodations at a moderate price. If your budget is tight, you will need to crunch some numbers to see if the resort fee and parking (more on that below) put the costs over a comparable Disney resort. However, considering all the perks of the Swan and Dolphin, from their Heavenly Beds to their luxurious pools, you are going to be hard pressed to find a better value for such luxury.

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