This was our first trip back to DW since COVID. In other words, it had been over 2 years and we were so excited to come back! I was a little apprehensive about Spring Break crowds (we missed the Florida schools’ Spring Break but went when pretty much the entire Northeast had theirs) but I was looking forward to experiencing mild weather. We usually went to DW during late August (for the better discounts and lower crowds). However, I was terrified that an August 2022 trip would be canceled due to hurricanes (we narrowly avoided them on TWO previous August trips) and I wasn’t taking the chance that our first trip back would be canceled by bad weather.
DH, DMIL, DD13, DS10, and I started our glorious 10 day trip by flying into MCO on an early flight from NYC. No more Magical Express meant we were relying on Lyft for airport transportation (and lugging our own luggage! ). Another first: we stayed at a non-Disney hotel since there was a laughable lack of discounts (or even hotel availability) for the days we wanted.
Pros of the Dolphin Hotel:
- Great location with regards to HS, Epcot, and the Skyliner.
- The Deluxe Room with Balcony was decently sized. Even with the rollaway bed, we didn’t feel cramped. Granted, I wish the beds had been Queens instead of Doubles but we made do. Not sure those beds will work though once the kids are bigger.
- Heavenly indeed were the beds, just like their ads.
- Good shower pressure! No flat Kramer hair here!
- The counter service, Fuel, felt like a small high end grocery store. Plenty of both basic and more interesting food options.
- The pool complex is pretty nice. The crowds were spread out so we didn’t feel like people were on top of each other. I even scored a coveted Grotto pool chair towards the end of the trip.
- The Chat feature on the Marriott Bonvoy app made it easy to communicate with the Front Desk.
- Decent Wifi that came “free” (as part of the Resort fee as a Marriot Bonvoy member). All I cared about with regards to the Wifi was that it be fast enough to let me score LLs with early morning return times. It did so I was content.
Cons of the Dolphin Hotel:
- Pretty tiny toilet/shower compartment and only 1 bathroom sink.
- We only wanted the trash emptied and towels/toilet paper replenished but even getting that level of minimal housekeeping was hard. I read in the fine print somewhere that housekeeping will stop by every 4 days but that’s a long time to wait when our towels are constantly damp/soggy and our garbage is almost overflowing (and we’re already pretty good about taking the food trash out with us when we head to the parks). The first time I requested housekeeping for the above, the front desk told us that Housekeeping indicated it had already been done (it wasn’t). A few days later, when we requested trash pick up and towel replenishment again, they came and took our trash and used towels…and then left them right outside our door??? Um, we could’ve done that and saved ourselves the tip we gave you for your “service”.
- No lifeguards for the pool. At all. This one shocked me. There was just a pool attendant to monitor the slide line.
- Speaking of the slide, it’s pretty basic and short.
- Dude, can the shuttle service drop-off point at DS be any further from actual DS?? We were joking that we had forgotten where we were headed by the time we finally arrived at Security in the parking lot.
- I paid $8-9 for a vanilla ice cream cone from the Fountain counter service. I know that Disney prices are insane but that seemed especially stupid.
Onto the actual trip!
We entered Epcot around noon and made a beeline for Regal Eagle Smokehouse as I placed the order enroute. Final verdict? All of us thought Flame Tree BBQ is better. Regal Eagle isn’t bad, just not as tasty, in our humble opinion.
Memphis Dry Rub Pork Ribs, BBQ Chicken Leg, BBQ Burger (bland and dry), North Carolina Chopped Pork Butt (my favorite of the bunch), Kansas City Smoked Half Chicken, Berry Punch, Tennessee Lemonade, and Banana Pudding
DH also grabbed a beer flight from the nearby Magnolia Terrace:
For dessert, we grabbed Kaki-Gori from the nearby Kabuki Cafe in Japan:
…and a sake and Tokyo Sunset for DH and myself:
As soon as we had landed in MCO, I had been steadily stacking LLs every 2 hours. And with the helpful drop info listed in this awesome forum, I had these beauties lined up:
As we walked through World Showcase towards Future World (sorry, I will always call it that instead of World Discovery/Nature/Celebration), we also tried to spot Spike the Bee for the Scavenger Hunt and Eggs for the Eggstravaganza. We also picked up a few more treats from the Flower and Garden kiosks along the way:
Grapefruit Tart (grapefruit curd, lychee jam, ginger mousse, and yuzu cream) and a beer flight from Citrus Blossom.
We also got the Orange Lemon Smoothie in the souvenir sipper cup. The sipper doesn’t look very big but it took us forever to finish before heading to Soarin. We really wanted to avoid having the sipper spill during the ride and dumping it on an unsuspecting passenger under us.
“Huh, the water spray during Soarin smells like orange this year.”
At the 3:32 drop, I was able to grab a LL for FEA for 5:10pm. It later converted to an anytime LL because it was down during our return time. That turned out well as it gave us more leeway on when to redeem it.
After Soarin, TT went offline (of course). We did MS and then had a Mickey Pretzel and smoothies as we waited for TT to come back on-line. We basically gave up and were about to walk away when eagle-eyed DD13 noted streams of people were suddenly pouring into TT.
After we redeemed our anytime TT, we got some more food and drinks (notice a trend here?). DS10 got a giant vanilla donut while the rest of us had the Pink Paradise Refresher (Dragon Fruit-Lychee Juice with Strawberries and Blueberries) from the Joffrey’s near the entrance to World Showcase.
After we rode FEA with the converted LL, I tortured my kids with a few more posed shots in front of various topiaries and 50th golden statues before we headed back to our hotel. Grabbing our grocery order (of water, milk, snacks, and some fruit) via Amazon Fresh from Bell Services was easy and we spent the rest of the night settling into the hotel room.
And oh, we grabbed some dinner from Fuel.