Planning your vacation to Walt Disney World Resort? If so, you may be trying to decide where to stay. There are so many amazing lodging options in Orlando and the surrounding areas — including on the Disney World property.
One of the places we’ve stayed is the Swan and Dolphin Resort — and we cannot say enough good things about it. Even though it may not be “officially Disney,” with all of the wonderful Disney perks — this is a great place to stay during your Disney vacation.
We loved staying in the Dolphin Hotel so much, that if we’re ever visiting Central Florida again, this is where we’ll lay our heads. Here are 9+ reasons you should consider staying at the Swan and Dolphin Resort the next time you’re headed to the Walt Disney World Theme Parks.
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STAY AT THE SWAN AND DOLPHIN RESORTS
- Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort: The Dolphin is the largest of the three and features rooms and suites. The Dolphin is home to most of the resort amenities like the laundry facilities, spa, and Club Dolphin — their amazing kids club! You’ll love the pools and restaurants offered here too!
- Walt Disney World Swan Resort: Located right next to the Dolphin Resort near EPCOT and Hollywood Studios, The Swan is a Westin-branded hotel with Westin amenities. You’ll find great restaurants and pools here too, along with recently-remodeled rooms and an amazing lobby area.
- Walt Disney World Swan Reserve: The Swan Reserve is smaller than the other two, and is a little further away from the Disney parks, but still offers so many great perks. This hotel was finished in late 2021, so you’ll find modern amenities, natural light, plenty of electrical outlets, and beautiful details. You’ll find plenty of suites here, which is a big draw. The pools and restaurants offered here are great!
THE SWAN AND DOLPHIN RESORTS…AND THE SWAN RESERVE
The Swan and Dolphin Resort is a massive property with two resorts next to each other — The Walt Disney World Swan Resort and The Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort. These hotels are adjacent to Disney’s BoardWalk and offer a combined 2,270 hotel rooms in Disney’s EPCOT and Hollywood Studios Area.
In 2021, Walt Disney World Swan Reserve was added to the mix. It’s located just down the road from the Swan and Dolphin, and offers almost 350 rooms, with a lot of them being suites.
We mentioned above that The Swan and Dolphin Resort isn’t “officially Disney,” and what we mean by that is that it’s not owned by Disney. The Swan and Dolphin Resort, and the new Swan Reserve, are Marriott properties — which means, you can use or earn Marriott Bonvoy points for stays at these Disney-esque properties.
These properties are comparable to the amenities offered at Disney Deluxe Hotel properties, but a stay here is usually cheaper than the Disney Deluxe hotel prices.
And the best news? A lot of the perks you get for staying on Disney property…you get here. Maybe that’s because they’re located on Disney property! That’s right — the Swan Hotel, Dolphin Hotel, and The Swan Reserve are all located on Disney property, close to the action at EPCOT and Hollywood Studios.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
We’ve already mentioned that Swan and Dolphin Resorts and the Swan Reserve is on Disney property, but that’s just part of the equation.
The resorts can be found alongside Disney’s BoardWalk Inn and near the Yacht & Beach Club. It’s also just a bridge away from Disney’s BoardWalk. Here, you’ll find everything from shops and restaurants to live music, dancing, an arcade, Surrey bike rentals and more.
You’ll also find Disney’s Fantasia Fairways Miniature Golf Course right across the street from the Swan.
But the absolute best part about the Swan and Dolphin location? It’s within walking distance of both EPCOT and Disney Hollywood Studios! To get to these parks, you can take a 15-minute walk. (More on transportation below.) Note that the Swan Reserve is a little further out of the way, and therefore not as convenient.
Read More: THE ULTIMATE DISNEY MINI GOLF GUIDE
Looking for more fun things to do in Orlando? We’ve got some great options!
- Reach for the stars at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Bring out your inner astronaut and enjoy a full day of unique experiences at the world’s most authentic space attraction – NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
- Attend the Pirates Adventure Dinner Show with Drinks. Join the world’s largest interactive dinner show and board an 18th-century Spanish galleon for some family fun. Make the most of your time in Orlando and enjoy some pirate action, music, and stunts.
- Take in the views from The Wheel at ICON Park Observation Wheel. Observe Orlando’s most famous landmarks from a height of 400 feet during one full rotation around The Wheel at ICON Park.
DISNEY TRANSPORTATION FROM SWAN AND DOLPHIN
In addition to walked to two of the parks at Walt Disney World, there are other modes of transportation included in your stay at the Swan and Dolphin Resorts.
A water taxi will take you between EPCOT, the Swan and Dolphin, and Hollywood Studios. This means you can easily get to either of those locations from the hotel.
If you need to get to Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, or Disney Springs, you can take the complimentary bus offered here.
One thing to note — if you take the bus from these resorts to the Magic Kingdom, the bus will drop you off at the Ticketing and Transportation Center, where you’ll need to either take the monorail or ferry boat to the park. This is different than if you took a Disney bus from one of the Disney-owned resorts that goes straight to the MK entrance. (Honestly, my kids LOVE the monorail and would be disappointed if we skipped it!)
Even though the Swan and Dolphin trio of properties aren’t owned by Disney, you still get some of the amazing perks you’d get if you were staying at a Disney Resort hotel.
First, you’ll receive access to the parks 30 minutes early each morning — the same as Disney resort guests. This is an amazing perk, and allows you and your crew to knock out some popular rides early.
With your stay at the Swan and Dolphin Resorts, you’ll also have access to Extended Evening Hours (previously known as Extra Magic Hours). Extended Evening Hours are just for Disney Deluxe Resort guests, and guests at the Swan and Dolphin properties — so it’s a significant perk. The Extended Evening Hours allow you extra access to a select park on select nights for two extra hours after official park closing.
Another perk you’ll receive is free parking at the Disney World theme parks. Just show your keycard and you don’t have to pay out of pocket for parking.
Finally, guests of the Swan and Dolphin properties also have the ability to purchase individual Lightning Lane rides beginning at 7 a.m. — just like Disney resort guests. Other guests staying off property have to wait until the park opens (and on busy days, those Lightning Lanes can be sold out by then).
THREE HOTEL AMENITIES FOR THE PRICE OF ONE
We’ve mentioned the Swan Hotel and the Dolphin Hotel interchangeably here; let me explain. These are two hotels within the same resort…and they play well together.
The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin hotels are situated directly across from each other and are connected by a canopied walkway that leads to the boat launch we mentioned earlier. The Swan Reserve is located just one-fifth mile down the road.
They have all different types and styles of rooms including traditional rooms, deluxe rooms, and family rooms, as well as 169 suites of different sizes and layouts.
Guess what? You get to enjoy the restaurants, bars, gift shops, amenities and everything from all three hotels!
The biggest differences? I think of the Dolphin more for families because it “feels” a little more busy and fun in that hotel. You’ll also find laundry facilities, a kids club play area and a 24-hour cafeteria with great kiddo snacks – treats and healthy options, too.
Bigger families will absolutely want to stay at the Dolphin or the Swan Reserve — the offer rooms and suites for more people.
A FEAST FOR FOODIES
Come Hungry! Featuring 22 restaurants and lounges, this resort offers something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a foodie-friendly sit-down meal, or just want to grab something quickly — the Swan and Dolphin Resorts have it!
There’s the prestigious Todd English’s Bluezoo restaurant serving seafood and coastal cuisine. Even if you don’t eat here, stick your head in to see the architecture. It was designed by Jeffrey Beers who is well-known in his own right, but you might know the man he studied with – Dale Chihuly.
Don Shula’s nationally acclaimed steakhouse is here, as well as award-winning Kimonos with Asian delights.
Rosa Mexicano will open its first Orlando-area location in the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin in early 2023. The menu showcases a contemporary interpretation of authentic Mexican cuisine, including beloved classics and innovative dishes that pay tribute to Mexico’s richly varied culinary regions. The restaurant will feature an extensive beverage program boasting over 100 varieties of tequila and agave-based spirits.
There is a Cabana Bar and Beach Club with super service and great meals…Fuel is where we grabbed breakfast each day… and Phins is where we liked to unwind with a drink while the boys ate one of their HUGE pretzels.
Finally, after a jump in the pool, treat yourself and the kids to something from The Fountain. Enjoy homemade ice cream and sensational malts.
No matter which restaurant or lounge you visit — at either of the three properties — you can charge it to your room.
AMAZING POOLS AND MORE
SIX…I repeat SIX pools grace this resort.
You’ll find a slide, a waterfall, a hot tub, a lap pool, a kiddo pool….something for everyone! It’s called the Pool Grotto – and it is glorious.
There is a health club, tennis courts, jogging trails, a spa, a game room, Swan boat rentals (you must do this!), a full art gallery (which is really cool), a sandy beach (with hammocks!), a playground….and much more!
Want to up your pool game? Rent a cabana!
The private cabanas here provide extra shade and space, comfortable lounge areas, stylish daybeds, HDTV, mini-refrigerators (stocked with soda and bottled water), seasonal fruit, and more!
It’s a great way to relax and enjoy everything the amazing pools have to offer.
You may not associate “relaxation” with “trip to Disney World” — but a visit to Mandara Spa at Swan and Dolphin Resort will change that.
Mandara Spa offers 10,500 square feet of relaxation. Here you’ll find plenty of amazing treatments like massages, facials, wraps, salt glows, manicures, pedicures, and more. You’ll also love the internal gardens, like their intimate Tea Garden or the Meditation Garden.
You may have heard; there is a mandatory resort fee at the Swan and Dolphin. It’s currently $35 per day (NOT per person). If you bring a car with you, an additional $29 self-parking fee applies per day too. This ruffles feathers for some…not so much for us.
So what’s the fee for?
It covers the basics like the Health Center, unlimited calling, a fitness class and some scheduled pool and resort activities.
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO FLORIDA
- YOUR FLORIDA VACATION
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- PHOTOS: Disney PhotoPass VS Disney Memory Maker (+ Tips And Tricks You Need To Know)
- FIREWORKS: Your Complete Guide To Disney Fireworks At WDW
- DISNEY FOR ADULTS: 17+ Fun Things You’ll Love As Must As The Cast Members Do
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