Want to stay inside Disney World and get a ton of value for your money? Consider the popular Swan and Dolphin Resort, which is having a $125-million face lift, the largest makeover in the property's 25-year history.
Many in-the-know families love this resort because of its wonderful location. Part of Westin Hotels & Resorts, which in turn is owned by the Starwood Group, the Swan and Dolphin sister properties are situated inside Disney World between Epcot and Hollywood Studios. Guests can take advantage of Disney World's complimentary water taxi service to nearby Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios and bus shuttles to the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, as well as to Downtown Disney and the water parks.
Families can also take advantage of many other benefits available to guests at Disney-owned properties, including Extra Magic Hours, MyMagic+, and the FastPass+ service, which lets you reserve up to three select theme park experiences up to 60 days in advance of your visit.
Besides the great location, the Swan and Dolphin offers a beautiful and relaxing place to relax after a day in the parks. There's a large grotto pool with waterfalls and a waterslide, plus two lap pools, a spring pool, and a kiddie pool. There are also tennis, volleyball and basketball courts, a playground, Ping Pong, and a giant checkers game. Just steps from the resort, there's a mini golf course called Disney's Fantasia Gardens. And finally, there's a game room with video games, air hockey, pinball and more.
If you'd like a romantic dinner without the kids, the resort offers a supervised evening club for kids ages 4 to 12. Camp Dolphin is available 5pm to midnight, offering a program includes arts and crafts, board games, video and arcade games, nightly themed activities with prizes and souvenirs, and a Disney movie. The camp is free as long as parents dine at one of the resort's restaurants or get a spa treatment. (If not, the charge is $12 per hour, per child.)
Best rooms: The resort offers many room and suite categories, including L-shaped family rooms that feel like suites, with their sitting areas and extra space. Every guest room in the 758-room Swan Hotel and 1,509-room Dolphin Hotel is receiving a makeover with a new sleek room design and cool color palette inspired by the resort’s water-themed architecture, and rooms received a technological lift with large HD TVs and additional power outlets.
Best season: Rates at the resort follow the seasonal pricing at Disney resorts, with higher prices during school holidays and lower prices when kids are in school.
Visited: April 2016
Disclaimer: As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary services for review purposes. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our Ethics Policy.