Disney’s Swan and Dolphin Resort Review

Disney’s Swan and Dolphin Hotels are located in the Epcot Resorts area. The hotels are within walking distance of Epcot and Hollywood Studios.

These sister hotels are owned and operated by Marriott International. However, guests of the resorts receive some of the same benefits as Disney Resort guests.

In this Swan and Dolphin Hotel review, we’ll discuss those benefits along with the pros and cons of staying here. Additionally, we’ll preview the rooms, dining, recreation, transportation, and other amenities offered between the resorts.

The Swan and Dolphin Resort is one of the most distinctive buildings in the Walt Disney World skyline. The large triangular structure is highly recognizable from most viewpoints on the property.

The resort is home to three hotels. The original hotels are the Swan and the Dolphin, which are connected by an outdoor breezeway.

In addition, a newer hotel, The Swan Reserve, recently opened. However, we’ll specifically look at the Swan and Dolphin Hotel for this article.

There is a separate photo tour of The Swan Reserve if you want to learn more.

Related: Disney World’s Newest Hotel

This article was updated on March 26, 2022.

Swan and Dolphin Review

While the Swan and Dolphin hotels are not owned and operated by Walt Disney World, they fall under the category of a deluxe resort. Therefore, we include the pair in our rankings for the best deluxe resorts.

Related: Best Deluxe Resorts at Disney World

Over the past few years, there have been a number of changes at the Walt Disney World Resort. Some changes have affected the offerings available at the resort hotels.

For example, one of the former negatives of staying at Swan and Dolphin was that they didn’t offer Disney’s Magical Express service to and from the airport. However, this is no longer a negative factor since the Magical Express service ended.

So I felt it was essential to begin this review by going over the benefits of staying at the Swan and Dolphin Resort.

Benefits of Staying at the Swan and Dolphin Hotel

When you stay at Disney’s Swan and Dolphin Hotel, you’ll enjoy a variety of benefits. These benefits are comparable to what you would receive at a neighboring Disney Resort Hotel, like Disney’s Beach Club.

For starters, Disney’s Swan and Dolphin guests can take advantage of the early theme park entry benefit. This benefit gives you a 30-minute head start in the parks over guests visiting from off-property.

While an extra thirty minutes might not sound like much, you’ll at least be able to head straight to one of the more popular rides and get it out of the way before long lines begin to form.

Related: Resorts with Early Theme Park Benefits

In addition, you’ll receive access to extended theme park hours on select evenings at select theme parks. Typically, these nights are held twice per week and last for two hours after park close. You can view the extended hour’s schedule here on Disney’s site.

Another benefit available to guests of the Swan and Dolphin is purchasing Disney Genie+ individual Lightning Lane selections starting at 7:00 a.m.

Per Disney, guests of Disney Resort Hotels and other select hotels can make their first individual Lightning Lane purchase starting at 7:00 a.m. on the day of their visit. (This includes Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotels.)

All other guests can begin making selections for individual Lightning Lane at park open. Therefore, you’ll likely be able to secure your two individual Lightning Lanes for desired times than guests who have to wait until the park opens.

In addition, guests of the Swan and Dolphin have access to complimentary transportation, special offers, on-site planning concierge, and complimentary parking at the theme parks.

We’ll look at how transportation works at the resorts further below. You can preview all the benefits of staying at the Swan or Dolphin here on their site.

Rooms

Disney’s Swan and Dolphin offer a variety of rooms between the two hotels. First, you’ll likely want to decide which building you prefer and then look at the room choices.

The Swan is the boutique side of the resort. While the Dolphin is more extensive and where you’ll find most of the resort’s amenities. Over the years, we’ve stayed at both hotels multiple times.

Budget is typically the deciding factor for our travel party regarding what type of room we reserve. That often translates to picking the least expensive room available on our travel dates.

The following room types are available between the Swan and Dolphin Resorts:

  • Traditional Room
  • Deluxe Room
  • Family Room

Additionally, there are several suites available:

  • Junior Suite
  • Executive Suite
  • Grand Suite
  • Signature Suite
  • Governor’s Suite
  • Chairman’s Suite
  • Presidential Suite

If you compare the standard rooms at the Dolphin and Swan, there is one significant factor you’ll want to consider. The standard Swan room has two queen-size beds, while the Dolphin has two double beds or full-size.

Since we are usually a party of two, this is not a huge factor. However, if we were traveling as a party of four, where everyone had to share a bed, those few extra inches might be considered.

We’ll look at a traditional room at Disney’s Dolphin Resort for this review.

Below are a few photos of an updated guest room at the Walt Disney World Dolphin. Other than the size of the beds, there won’t be any significant differences between the rooms.

However, there might be a few nuances in the overall decor. Both hotels provide the same amenities you would expect to find in a standard guest room.

Our room had a Keurig-style coffee maker with better-than-average coffee options. Additionally, you’ll find an ice bucket, bottled water, toiletries, hairdryer, private vanity, makeup mirror, iron with ironing board, and mini-fridge.

Here’s a look at the bath. It had a walk-in shower with a glass door.

While it wasn’t as nice as the fancy guest bathrooms in our deluxe studio at the Riviera Resort, there weren’t any complaints.

Related: Disney’s Riviera Resort Review

We have been guests of the Swan and Dolphin many times. On one particular visit, we received a complimentary resort view, which offered a theme park view.

This particular room didn’t have a balcony, but that upgrade is available if you prefer one.

We enjoyed waking up every morning to see the Hollywood Studios Tower of Terror in the distance. And in the evening, we could see fireworks from our room.

Below is a resort view room we had on a different stay. While I don’t have any quality pictures taken in the evening, this was another pleasant room view.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not always in a position where I can afford to upgrade to a room with a view. And I don’t typically recommend paying the extra expense.

But looking back, I remember both of these trips more fondly than others. Those memories are likely due to the room views we received.

So if you know you might enjoy a few meals in your room or plan to spend a decent amount of time relaxing at the resort, you might benefit from an upgraded room view.

Recreation

Perhaps, my favorite thing about staying at the Swan and Dolphin is the serene outdoor setting offered at the resort. The resort’s luscious green landscaping and unique backdrop make you feel like you’re staying somewhere special.

Outdoor amenities include swimming pools, sports courts, and a white sand beach.

Continuing the calm retreat-feel of the Swan and Dolphin is the Grotto Pool. This sizable pool area comes in near the top of our list of the best resort pools at Disney World.

Like its name, the pool has a large grotto area underneath a waterfall. If you’re looking for a place to sit on a hot Florida day, this area is hard to beat. But be warned, the space fills up quickly.

Related: The Swan and Dolphin Hotel Pools

The Grotto Pool is expansive with a waterslide and several water features.

Additionally, there’s a long lap pool toward the end of the Dolphin’s pool.

And a secondary lap pool on the Swan side of the resort. If you’re looking for a quiet pool, this pool at the Swan will suffice.

Additionally, there are four whirlpool spas spread out between the two resorts.

You’ll find a kiddie pool toward the back of the Grotto Pool area.

A significant white sand beach fronts the pool areas. This area provides two volleyball courts, loungers, a beachside playground, and rentals.

Here is a photo of the large sports court area behind the pool.

And below, we see the outdoor playground.

Anyone who enjoys jogging can take advantage of the trail around Crescent Lake. It’s a wonderful place to run at Disney World.

Related: The Best Places to Jog at Disney World

A few other activities at the Swan and Dolphin include:

  • Camp Dolphin
  • Health Club
  • Arcade
  • Mandara Spa

Camp Dolphin is a kids’ club for children ages 5-12 years old. It’s open in the evenings from 4:00 p.m. until 11:00 p.m. You can read more about the club here on the hotel’s site.

Dining

Disney’s Swan and Dolphin has numerous dining options. So many that we have a separate restaurant guide for dining at the resort.

For this review, we’ll briefly preview the restaurants at the resort. But I recommend checking out the full article for specifics on dining.

Related: Disney’s Swan and Dolphin Restaurants Guide

For those interested in signature dining at Disney World, you’ll likely want to plan at least one meal here. The resort is home to several signature dining locations.

The first of those signature restaurants is Shula’s Steak House. This restaurant is located on the Dolphin side of the resort.

Shula’s Orlando location has a lengthy list of awards and is well-worth seeking a reservation. You can preview the Shula’s Steakhouse menu here.

Todd English’s Bluezoo, another fine dining location, is located on the Dolphin portion of the resort. Bluezoo has a long list of accolades and is predominately a seafood restaurant. Preview their menu here.

On the Swan side, there’s Il Mulino, which offers Italian cuisine. While I don’t have a current review, we’ve dined at Il Mulino in the past and look forward to returning.

Lastly, as far as fine dining goes, there’s Kimonos, also located on the Swan side of the resort. Kimonos serves a menu predominately made up of high-end sushi offerings and other Asian cuisines.

Related: The Best Sushi at Disney World

The Swan is home to Garden Grove, formerly a popular character dining location at Walt Disney World. Unfortunately, this location does not offer characters at this time.

You might consider having breakfast here at some point during your stay. This is a great location to pick up an order of Mickey waffles, among other things. Preview the menu for Garden Grove here.

The Fountain is a casual table service located on the ground level of the Dolphin. This restaurant is one of our favorite hidden gems at Disney World.

Expect casual, diner-style food along with a few healthy options. Preview the menu here.

One of the things I love about The Fountain is that it’s usually open until 11:00 p.m. This restaurant provides a great late-night spot to grab a meal after a busy park day.

Additionally, Fresh Mediterranean Market is located on the lower level of the Dolphin. This location offers a daily breakfast buffet with a variety of options. You can preview the list of items available on the buffet here.

Those looking to spend a day or evening out at the pool will want to have a meal at the Cabana Bar and Beach Club. This location is perfect for enjoying an alfresco meal, and they have several unique menu items.

Toward the Swan side, the Splash pool bar serves up cocktails and snacks.

If you have ever stayed at Disney’s Swan and Dolphin, you have probably wound up at Picabu during your visit.

Picabu doesn’t have an online menu. Instead, expect an old-fashioned cafeteria with various grab-and-go items and a few cook-to-order selections.

Lastly, there are three quick-service options between the Swan and Dolphin. Each location is set up similar to a convenience store offering deli-style options.

They are Java, Chill, and Fuel.

And if these choices weren’t enough, you can walk over to the Disney Boardwalk or Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club to enjoy their dining choices. The following articles will help with those selections.

Additionally, those with park hopper tickets and theme park reservations can visit Epcot or Hollywood Studios for dining. I prefer the pizza at Via Napoli, and don’t forget dessert!

And the Disney Skyliner makes it possible for guests to easily access choices like the superb breakfast with characters at Riviera’s Topolino’s Terrace.

Speaking of transportation options, let’s look at what to expect when staying at the Swan or Dolphin.

Transportation

Disney’s Swan and Dolphin Resorts offer multiple transportation options to the theme parks, water parks, and Disney Springs. You can walk, boat, or bus from either resort to specific locations.

For starters, you can walk from Disney’s Swan and Dolphin to Epcot and Hollywood Studios. The walk to either park will average about 15 minutes at a steady pace.

Related: Disney Resorts Within Walking Distance to Theme Parks

Additionally, Disney’s Friendship Boat services the Swan and Dolphin Resorts. If you don’t care to walk, you can always catch a boat. The Friendship Boats travel back and forth in this order to the following locations:

  • Epcot
  • Disney’s Boardwalk Inn
  • Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club
  • Disney’s Swan and Dolphin
  • Hollywood Studios

To learn more about timing and other details for the boats, check out our complete guide.

Related: Disney’s Friendship Boat Service

When traveling to other parks and Disney Springs, you’ll likely want to take advantage of the bus transportation offered at the resort. Formerly, these resorts utilized Disney’s bus service.

However, the Swan and Dolphin now provide Mears bus service to and from the following locations:

  • Magic Kingdom
  • Animal Kingdom
  • Disney Springs
  • Typhoon Lagoon
  • Blizzard Beach

Both the Swan and the Dolphin have their own bus stops but share bus service. Guests of the resort are welcome to use which bus stop is more convenient.

I mention this because I nearly always get off the bus at the Swan and walk back over to the Dolphin when I’m staying there.

Since the Swan and Dolphin bus service changed, there are a few differences you’ll want to be aware of in advance. For instance, when you visit Magic Kingdom, you are now dropped off at the Transportation and Ticket Center.

Therefore, you’ll have to take the monorail to Magic Kingdom, or you can take the ferry. Unfortunately, this change will add 15-30 minutes to your arrival time for Magic Kingdom.

It will also add an extra hassle when leaving in the evening.

While it’s frowned upon by some, there are a few ways you can circumvent this issue. For instance, you can take a bus from Magic Kingdom back to Beach Club, Yacht Club, Boardwalk Inn, or vice-versa.

Then you’ll have to walk back over to the Swan and Dolphin. I’m in several forums and groups where I often see people mention this tip only to be shot down by others who disagree.

Objectively, I can see why it’s unfair to resort guests when a non-resort guest uses their bus. On the flip side, Disney’s transportation is accessible to all who visit.

It’s one of the few extras available to anyone staying on or off-property. I wouldn’t hesitate to take a Disney bus to a theme park to shop, dine, or explore a resort where I’m not staying.

Anyway, you can keep that tip in mind and use it at your discretion.

When visiting Animal Kingdom, Disney Springs, or the water parks, I don’t see where there’s a convenience issue with the bus. Actually, the bus stop at Animal Kingdom is closer to the park entrance than Disney’s bus stop.

Other Amenities at the Swan and Dolphin

When you stay at the Swan and Dolphin, there are many amenities at the resort and surrounding area. From shopping on the Boardwalk to swinging on the artificial beach along the shores of Crescent Lake, there’s plenty to do.

The following resort reviews offer details for each resort:

Additionally, Swan and Dolphin offer several gift shops and specialty stores. Disney Cabanas is located on the Swan side of the resort, off the lobby.

The Cabanas gift shop is a great place to pick up anything from a pair of Minnie Mouse Ears to a pair of sunglasses you might have forgotten to bring. In my case, that would be a pair of broken sunglasses.

The Disney Gift Shop is located on the Dolphin side of the resort and carries comparable merchandise to Cabanas.

Of all the shops, I enjoy browsing Accents the most. Accents is a boutique store offering higher-end merchandise.

Next door to the Swan Reserve, you’ll find Fantasia Gardens, a mini-golf course. Mini-golf is an extra cost experience, but might be worth a visit on a more laid-back vacation.

Lastly, one of my favorites is the nightly light show on the causeway between the Swan and Dolphin. Each evening, the walkway between the row of palm trees lights up in pretty colors while inviting music plays in the background.

And it’s those kinds of little things that make me love this resort so dearly.

Pros and Cons of Staying at the Swan and Dolphin

Overall, the Swan and Dolphin have a lot of pros and a few cons. Unfortunately, those cons include a daily resort fee of $35.00.

While resort fees are typical at nearly every off-property resort, Disney Resort Hotels do not have them. So you’ll want to factor this extra cost in when comparing the price of rooms at on-property resorts.

Additionally, the Swan and Dolphin charge $32.00 per day for self-parking. So while you can take advantage of complimentary parking at the theme parks, you’ll still have this daily charge at the resort.

For comparison, Disney deluxe hotels charge $25.00 per day for self-parking. When I stay at the Swan or Dolphin, I usually drive my car.

Valet-parking runs $42.00 per day at the Swan and Dolphin. So in the event of heavy rain or if we’re just exhausted, I will elect to valet park from time to time.

You don’t have to leave your car with the valet for the entirety of your stay. Often I’ve found that using the service as needed is worth the extra expense.

Overall, the Swan and Dolphin Resorts offer pleasant rooms, plenty of dining, a perfect location, and a superb recreation area.

No, the resorts are not Disney-themed. The only alternatives where you’ll find extreme Disney-theming are the value resorts.

The Dolphin is geared more toward conventions and has a large attached convention center. So this side of the resort will always feel more congested than the Swan.

However, the Dolphin is a few steps closer to the majority of dining and recreation. Either way, it’s hard to go wrong.

If you love the outdoors, you’ll quickly fall in love with the entire resort area.

Related: Epcot Resorts Area

Final Thoughts on this Swan and Dolphin Review

Hopefully, this Swan and Dolphin review provided you with enough information to decide whether a stay here is suitable for your group. Like every other resort at Disney, it has a lot of positives and a few negatives.

I have always enjoyed our stays here with minor complaints. And I’ve been fortunate enough to stay here many times since the resort initially opened.

Whatever you decide, you can hardly beat a Disney vacation at any resort, including the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin.

Are you planning a Disney World vacation? All of our articles related to Disney’s Swan and Dolphin Hotel are available here.

Or you might be interested in some of these other Disney World Resort Reviews:

Browse our complete list of Disney Restaurant Reviews, and Disney Character Meets.

If you enjoy staying at Marriott hotels, we have a complete guide to the best Marriotts near Disney World. It includes budget-friendly to high-end accommodations that are actually near Disney World.

In the comments: Did you find this Swan and Dolphin review helpful? What are your thoughts on planning a stay here?

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