Well this year we ARE going back, so I have tell you about a gem on WDW’s property – the Swan and Dolphin Resort.
Here’s what I love about the Swan/Dolphin:
First and foremost…
PRICE: OMG, I’ve never spent more than $200/night at this resort thanks to an ongoing nurse/teacher discount program, corporate discounts, holiday discounts, group discounts… you get the idea. In comparison, all of the other EPCOT hotels are classified Deluxe (read: expensive) and I’ve rarely seen Epcot’s rooms advertised for less than $315/night to the general public. Now you could stay at the Boardwalk or the Yacht/Beach Club, but the money you’d save by staying at the Swan/Dolphin instead almost covers the cost of tickets and meals over a weeklong trip. Trust me I’ve stayed at the Beach Club and while I LOVED it, I’d trade those Mickey soaps and towel animals on my bed for $$$ any day.
BFF's @ another Deluxe Resort (Grand Floridian) on our way to Afternoon Tea
Location, Location, Location: Again, the Swan/Dolphin is in the Epcot Resort Area, which means you can walk to Epcot or to MGM if you wanted to from your hotel. You can take your mid-day rest or decompress after a long day in the parks and not have to always wait on bus/boat lines with the masses. And you have great restaurants like Il Mulino & Shula’s at your hotel and loads more restaurants, entertainment, and shopping within very close walking distance.
Disney Resort Benefits: You get VIP perks like free transportation to the parks from your hotel, purchases made in the parks delivered to the front desk, and Extra Magic Hours (extra hours in the park on for Disney Resort Guests). The only thing you don’t get is Magical Express (free transport to/from airport) and charging privileges in the parks to your room. The resort also has things like character breakfasts so you don’t miss out just cuz you’re not at a “deluxe” resort.
Great Brand: These hotels are actually Westin properties – that’s right hotel fans, HEAVENLY BED here we come! Also, they’re not as aggressively themed as Disney hotels, which may appeal to some. And, you can use your Starwood points to stay here.
Last day & the BFF can't leave the HEAVENLY Bed!
This will be our 3rd or 4th time at the Swan/Dolphin. And while I’ve stayed at both hotels on the resort and they’re both nice, the Swan is always my 1st choice as it’s a little smaller and more intimate than the Dolphin.
My "TripTip" -
If you have an obsession (like me) always scope books, discussion forums, websites, etc for discounts. Disney lovers have it easy with the huge number of quality publications, podcasts, blogs and user groups out there. I’ve learned so much about having fun and saving $$$ while enjoying VIP perks from sites like the DIS and MouseSavers, podcasts like WDW Today and travel guides like the Unofficial Guide to WDW.
Also, don’t forget to use points for travel! I’m using a free Starwood night for this trip.