Disneyworld (FL) experts: Need some on-site hotel vs. Swan/Dolphin advice, please

<p>H, D and I are going to Disneyworld for Christmas. Back in August, I booked the Animal Kingdom Lodge - we stayed there our last trip and loved it (I know it is not for everyone, but all three of us thought it was a great place to stay). When we have gone to DIsney in the past, I have somehow always ended up with some kind of discount code, and in August I figured I would get some kind of discount between then and now. But two weeks before our trip, no discounts!</p>

<p>So now my question is, keep the AKL reservation or switch? The primary complicating factor is that H is a hotel snob. If it were just D and I, we probably would be almost as happy in one of the value places. But even the Disney "moderate" hotels have a "motel feel" to H - so if we stay on-site, it needs to be one of the deluxe hotels. Which are all as expensive as AKL.</p>

<p>My one other possibility is the Swan or Dolphin. I think either of these would be posh enough to suit H, and we would save about $100 - $200 a night. For six nights. </p>

<p>So my question is, is AKL worth $1,000+? I know this is a subjective sort of thing, but I am hoping especially to hear from people who have stayed at the Swan or Dolphin. Did you like it? If not, what didn't you like about it?</p>

<p>Do you still get access to early entry from Swan and Dolphin?</p>

<p>I stayed at the Dolphin last year, and it was fine, but nothing special. I’m not a “Disney” person, and went for a specific purpose, hosted at the Dolphin, that we tacked a short vacation on to. Our room was large and pleasant. I wasn’t too impressed by the food there - everything very pricy. One night we went to the very expensive onsite Shula steakhouse, which was good, but way overpriced. None of the other restaurants made much of an impression. I didn’t think of the Dolphin as particularly posh, but I’ve never stayed at the Disney moderate hotels so don’t have a real comparison. I travel a lot for business though, and have stayed at a lot of hotels in my life. (On a business trip in the far east as I type this, and should be sleeping, but am jet lagged.)</p>

<p>We had dinner one night at AKL, and I thought it was really cool. In a whole different league than the Dolphin. I told myself that if/when I ever went back to Disney, AKL is where I would want to stay.</p>

<p>Although it’s been a while, we’ve stayed at both the Swan and Dolphin. I think they’re in between the WDW moderate and deluxe hotels in appearance, size, etc. You will get the early entry perk staying at those hotels, which I think is a big plus. For us, the savings would be worthwhile. We spend more time at EPCOT than the other parks, so the ease of getting there (very short boat ride) makes up for the less posh atmosphere.</p>

<p>My last time there I was at the Grand Floridian and it was very nice (appealing to your hotel snob husband) but the time before that we were at the Beach Club, just a short stroll from the Dolphin/Swan properties if memory serves me correctly. On my very first visit to DW, we stayed at the Swan, which was a little smaller and lower key than the Dolphin. The boat ride to Epcot is very quick from all the hotels I mentioned. Our kids loved the outdoor pool/beach with shipwreck and water slide at the Beach Club so that may be appealing to your D.</p>

<p>The Swan is one of my favorites! Last trip we stayed at Port Orleans French Quarter and while it was very nice, I did miss the Swan. We love the location - you can walk to 2 parks or you have the option of the boats. And if you go to Epcot, you can easily get to Magic Kingdom by monorail. We didn’t eat at the Swan or Dolphin as there are so many other options available both on the Boardwalk and in Epcot. We were able to get great rates at the Swan for teachers which made it much less expensive than many other hotels.</p>

<p>One downside is that you cannot use Magical Express or the dining plan, neither of which bothered us. There is a $10 resort fee per day and you have to pay for parking. Since we would take a town car from the airport, we did not incur a parking fee.</p>

<p>We visited AKL also to eat at Boma. It is an impressive place, but I still prefer the Boardwalk area.</p>

<p>Have stayed at all three, I like AKL but I don’t think it’s worth more $ especially with all there is to do at the boardwalk and walking distance to Epcot. So yes i would go with the Swan.</p>

<p>The Yacht club is our favorite, for many reasons…The access to Epcot and great restaurants is #1… The nightlife along thr Boardwalk is another reason…The Grand Floridian is very good, but after dark, you are confined to its space…having stayed at the Carribean Beach resorts(twice)the Contemporary(twice) and the Yacht club the last 4 times,it is the best place in Disney…Now if you have young kids, maybe its not the place…</p>

<p>Well the yacht and beach club is going to be more expensive than AKL. The op seemed to be interested in saving money. The Swan is a Westin and IMO it’s very nice, and it’s still an official wdw hotel. It doesn’t scream “theme” though like many of the Disney resorts.</p>

<p>Kitty56 is slightly underestimating the effort it takes to get from the Swan/ Beach Club Epcot entrance to the Magic Kingdom monorail–you basically have to walk A LOT (think miles, not yards). Just as with AKL, there ARE buses to MK and AK from the Swan. MGM and Epcot are walkable or accessible from the Swan by boat. I think it’s a very good option, if you plan to spend most of your time @ parks and Boardwalk, etc., instead of the room itself. Plus you get Starwood points.</p>

<p>We have always stayed at the Swan. The boat ride is a nice way to get to where you’re going in the morning. It is walking distance from Epcot, so if you are going there for dinner or the fireworks, you don’t have to deal with the traffic jam of getting back to your hotel. Granted, it’s been awhile since I’ve been there.</p>



<p>I didn’t mean that it was the optimal way to go - I meant that if you are already in Epcot, you have the connection by monorail to MK. Maybe I shouldn’t have said “easily”, but if you spend the morning at Epcot, you can ride over to MK for the afternoon. It’s another transportation option available. If MK is your main destination, it would be less physically demanding (not necessarily faster) to take the bus from the Swan. And I should have mentioned that when taking the Epcot monorail, it will go to the TTC and you need to change to an MK monorail.</p>

<p>As for distance, according the wdwmagic website [Walking</a> Distances and Times](<a href=“http://www.wdwmagic.com/Walking-Distances.htm]Walking”>Walking Distances and Times), it is just a hair over a mile (1.02) to walk from the Swan/Dolphin via the Boardwalk to International Gateway and then to the monorail station. From the Swan/Beach Club Epcot entrance you mentioned (I assume you mean the International Gateway) it is just over 1/2 mile to the monorail station, although I agree it may seem like more!</p>

<p>Just got back from Disney. We had a family wedding at the Floridian. That’s really nice, but most expensive!
We stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge and really liked it.
Last time we stayed at Beach and Yacht Club which was also very nice but I would suspect all the other hotels besides AKL feel like hotels whereas AKL felt like we were in the Serengeti!
We were told that Beach/Yacht had the best pool. Not just a large pool like AKL, which was great, but great slide, sandy beach and built in whirlpools.
Hard choice, I know. We got discounts from Disney in the mail which we used and were better than those offered to the wedding guests.</p>

<p>What time do you arrive? If it’s fairly late and you just need a place to sleep, how about a value resort on the first night to save $? The All Stars are just down the road from AKL.</p>

<p>Any of the Magic Kingdom monorail hotels (Grand Floridian, Polynesian, or Contemporary) woud be my first choice. Despite their themes, the Poly and Contemporary are successful in maintaining a Deluxe level of accomdation. Yacht Club second choice, then AKL third (it’s so far off the beaten path). </p>

<p>Swan and Dolphin would let you avoid the “motel” feel of the Moderate and Value resorts. But, you’d miss out on a complete Disney experience…if you’re into that.</p>

<p>Yacht club is much better then Beach club, they are sorta like sister hotels, one being a little more attractive, ;)</p>

<p>Yacht Club is less likley to have young children running around compared to Beach Club</p>

<p>A lot depends on where you plan to spend much of your time, and whether children are involved and their ages…</p>

<p>I don’t care for AKL as mentioned above, it is too far away…Having stayed in Magic Kingdom resorts when kids where young, i wouldn’t stay there now, as kids are now much older, and they love the ease of getting to Epcot and walking to MGM, and at night walking the boardwalk area…</p>

<p>We stayed at the Yacht Club and really enjoyed it. Our Maine kids loved the water park there. It was November, and the lifeguards were wearing PARKAS! It was plenty warm for us, though.</p>

<p>I love AKL. On our last trip, though, we stayed at Saratoga Springs, which was less than AKL. It was lovely. But it does have outdoor corridors, even though all the rooms do have balconies.</p>

<p>Swan and Dolphin do get access to Extra Magic Hours. So does the Hilton in Downtown Disney.</p>

<p>OP, are you sure that the Swan and Dolphin have availability? You’re going at the most popular time of year.</p>

<p>Thanks for all of the thoughts. Right now I am leaning towards keeping the AKL reservation. The trip is our Christmas present to each other and I don’t want to chance a big disappointment with the resort. </p>

<p>Chedva, so far as I can tell from my searches on Kayak and Expedia, all of the Disney properties and a lot of the non-Disney properties have availability. I understand why Disney has availability - they have offered few discounts, so far as I can tell. Why places like the Swan and Dolphin have availability, even when their prices are not as extreme as Disney’s, I really don’t know. And the rest of the world must have discovered AKL - for our dates, AKL is the exact same price as the Yacht Club.</p>