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Review: The Fountain: Dolphin Resort

A dining experience at the Fountain is curiously as inconsistent as the restaurant’s theme and décor. It runs the gamut from delightful to disappointing, from exciting to bland, from upbeat to boring. And my endeavor to merely get to this forgettable restaurant was an odyssey in itself.

It is unfortunate that the Dolphin Hotel now seems to discourage visits from anyone other than hotel guests. When one attempts to park there, you are led erroneously by the “guest parking” signs in and out of the main lot and then subsequently into a secondary lot where you encounter a gate and are presented with the fact that the fee for guest parking is $15. Yes, $15 to park your own car. And no, the restaurant will not validate the parking if you choose to dine within their confines.

Not wanting to give up, we decided to park at the Boardwalk and walk over to the Dolphin. Thankfully the journey was a beautiful one in which we were able to delight in the glorious weather and sights of pontoon boats sailing in and out of the marina.

The Dolphin’s décor seems rather random and disconnected and that feeling is carried into the Fountain, a basic if not glorified diner. While it looked quaint and almost nostalgic upon first view, it lacked any real ambiance or theme. Once a 50’s themed restaurant (a la’ Johnny Rockets), it now seems to be unable to decide what it wants to be: a jazz lounge, a 1960’s hangout, a modern art gallery. The décor and artwork adorning the walls range from cubism to Van Gogh-inspired sunflowers to the kitchen sink.

We were greeted with slight annoyance it seemed from the host who had left his stand to casually converse with fellow staff. Upon seeing us (and the line now forming behind us), he made no effort in hurrying his pace to return. And with a sigh, he announced with minor frustration that we were all free to choose our own tables.

Thankfully, our server Sean was cordial and pleasant enough to redeem our first impressions.

The menu is not extensive as their focus seems to be more the “fountain” offerings of ice cream and shakes. They pride themselves on their “build-your-own” burgers and hot dogs. Because I tend to sample signature dishes (or specialties of the house) we placed an order for the soft pretzel bites as a starter with a build-your-own burger and hot dog.

While we didn’t think the bites could be anything too special, we were happily mistaken. Hot, soft and bakery fresh, they were accompanied by a plain yellow mustard dip and a zesty cheese dip. The cheese dip was fresh and velvety and not processed, as I had imagined it might be. Perhaps the bites were a tad too salty but a very nice start to the meal.

The hot dog (with chili) was plump and tender with a fresh, crispy roll. The chili had a slight spicy kick but was not too hot and tasted, I dare say, homemade. Again, a nice surprise. The burger was ordered medium and cooked perfectly to my partner’s specifications. He raved about the bacon he had requested on it because it also was cooked so that it was crisp and lean and not soggy or greasy in the least. The burger was thick and juicy and proved to be another winning choice.

During the meal, Sean checked back several times to ask if we needed beverage refills or if we were saving room for dessert

While we did want to sample the ice cream, both meals were so filling (and perhaps not the healthiest choices) that we didn’t have the room nor the heart to order a rich,, gooey concoction buried in fudge and marshmallow. Instead, we both paid a visit to the glass display of bakery selections and opted for the key lime pie and the caramel apple tart. Mistakes number one and two. The key lime pie had no hint of key lime and lacked the familiar zest. Instead it tasted like a watered down cheesecake. Not too appealing. The apple tart was far worse. The crust was as dry as sawdust. And while the crust was room temperature, the apple filling (which was minimal at best) was cold. Cold and bland, bland, bland. I wouldn’t have known it was apple if you had blindfolded me. And there was no usual hint of cinnamon let alone any trace of caramel. A very disenchanting way to end a rather good dinner.

The Fountain may be a good choice for hotel guests who want a convenient place to dine at a moderate price. The sandwiches are good and the menu boasts basic diner staples. But to venture out to the Dolphin merely to dine at the Fountain? There are too many other restaurants on Disney property more worthy of your time.

Food: The sandwiches are good and fairly priced. The bakery selections are pitiful. If you are craving desert, opt for the ice cream confections.

Service: Host gets a thumbs down while the server gets a thumbs up.

Atmosphere: I suppose one might interpret this restaurant as cozy because of its size. But I think it was constructed from odds and ends left over from other restaurants on property.

Tips: Park at the Boardwalk. Your self parking fee will be more than your meal. Skip the bakery items. And unless you are a hotel guest, the Fountain is really not worth the trip.

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About ChristineD

Christine is a former Magic Kingdom entertainment cast member. Hailing originally from New Jersey, she has called Florida home since college graduation. Her passions are animals (especially dolphins, horses and dogs) cinema and the performing arts. Currently working as an Orlando real estate agent, she devotes much of her time to raising funds/awareness for Children's Hospice.