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October 20, 2012

Parents can enjoy night out while kids have fun at Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin's Camp Dolphin

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Walt Disney World Swan


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Walt Disney World Dolphin

Parents visiting the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin can enjoy an evening to themselves while their children have their own special kind of fun. Camp Dolphin, located on the lower level of the Dolphin building, is designed just for kids ages 4 to 12.

The concept of a kids club in a large resort is not foreign to my own kids, who have enjoyed themselves at The Sandcastle Club at Disney's Beach Club on several occasions. Until recently, they had yet to visit Camp Dolphin, though. Their opportunity came last weekend when my husband and I attended the Food and Wine Classic at the resort.

Camp Dolphin operates a little differently than kids clubs in other Disney World hotels. That's because the Swan and Dolphin belongs to the Westin hotel chain, even though it is located on Walt Disney World property.

There are similarities, though. Both experiences begin with parents making reservations for their children, though the clubs will take walk-ups if space is available. Camp Dolphin opens at 5:30 p.m. each day, an hour later than the Disney World clubs, but they all close when Cinderella's coach turns into a pumpkin (which we all know is midnight).

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Miss Thelma

Perhaps the most obvious comparison comes when families see the physical size of Camp Dolphin -- it's quite small compared to The Sandcastle Club. Camp Dolphin can accommodate up to 18 children with two counselors present. Thelma, who has been a camp coordinator at the Dolphin for 19 years, explained that during busy periods, such as holidays, the camp moves to one of the ballrooms.

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Still, Camp Dolphin has all the basic components for kid fun: Video games, movies, crafts and counselors who will supervise and entertain youngsters in an environment where parents will not worry about their well-being. On the night my children visited, the theme for the crafts was "A Very Merry Unbirthday," which included card-making and birthday tiaras for the participants. Blackout Bingo was played for prizes, and when we arrived to pick up our children, they were just settling down with a mound of pillows for movie time.

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Dinner at Picabu

Dinner is included for children who are in Camp Dolphin from 7 to 8 p.m. Counselors take the kids to nearby Picabu (Peek-A-Boo) restaurant, where the meals they have pre-selected from a menu of traditional kid favorites, such as cheeseburgers, mac and cheese, chicken fingers and hot dogs, are served. Then, they are treated to ice cream from The Fountain ice cream shop. (At The Sandcastle Club, parents help children place dinner orders when they are dropped off and the meals are served in the club. They are served cookies and milk later in the evening.)

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Ice cream from The Fountain

Pricing varies slightly between the five Disney World kids clubs and Camp Dolphin, as well. At The Sandcastle Club, parents pay $11.50 per child per hour, with a two-hour minimum. At Camp Dolphin, the price is $10 per child per hour with no minimum. Plus, each adult who orders an entree at Shula's Steak House, Todd English's bluezoo or Il Mulino New York Trattoria in the hotel earns two complimentary hours for a child at Camp Dolphin. This offers also applies to an adult who purchases a spa service at Mandara Spa.

Our children enjoyed Camp Dolphin, and my husband and I appreciated the ease of checking them into a safe environment so nearby as we enjoyed what the resort had to offer. It's not hard to imagine that we will return, giving the kids a night out and enjoying the same ourselves.


August 2, 2012

Take a peek inside a kids club at Disney World

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Making memories at Walt Disney World often is a family endeavor, but there are some magical experiences designed just for kids and others just for adults. The folks at Disney have come up with solutions that allow parents to have a guilt-free night out while the kids are fully entertained and supervised.

Located inside most of the deluxe resorts are children's activity centers, which are designed for kids ages 3 to 12. Children have to be potty-trained to attend. You do not have to be staying at a particular hotel to use the activity center, though. I'd suggest selecting one of the six sites that is closest to your destination. That way, pick-up is easy and, if you need to pop in for a visit, you are nearby.

Your choices include:

** Simba's Clubhouse at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

** Never Land Club at Disney's Polynesian Resort

** Cub's Den at Disney's Wilderness Lodge

** Sandcastle Club at Disney's Yacht and Beach clubs

** Mouseketeer Club at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

** Camp Dolphin at Walt Disney World Dolphin and Swan resorts

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My children spent a couple hours at the Sandcastle Club and enjoyed their time so much that they didn't want to leave when we arrived to pick them up. While in the Club, they could choose to play video and board games, participate in arts and crafts, color, read, play with a variety of toys and watch Disney movies.

When I saw everything that was available, I was sure my kids would have fun. I also felt comfortable leaving my children in the cast members' care because there were security measures to ensure no one else could pick up my children, and doors to the center were monitored. Parents also can request pagers if they want another communication tool besides their cell phones. In addition, the ratio of adults to children in the center was better than average. There were two adults and four kids in the center when we arrived. When we returned, there were three adults and about a dozen children.

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Most of the kids clubs are open daily from 4:30 p.m. to midnight. Dinner is included for children in the centers between 6 and 8 p.m. My kids loved getting to "order" their dinners. Choices included a hot dog with fries and fruit; macaroni and cheese with fruit; chicken tenders with fries and fruit; fish nuggets with fries and fruit; cheese pizza; and grilled cheese with fries and fruit. At the end of the evening, kids will be offered cookies and milk.

The cost is $11.50 per hour per child with a two-hour minimum. Call 407-WDW-DINE to make reservations, which are strongly encouraged. Walk-ups are welcome, based on availability.

If you'd prefer to have a babysitter come to your room, Disney recommends Kid's Nite Out caregivers. Get all the details on the AllEars.Net page.

Let us know what your experiences have been and read what others have to say in our Childcare Rate and Review Section!

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About Never Land Club

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to A Mom and The Magic in the Never Land Club category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Mouseketeer Club is the previous category.

Sandcastle Club is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.