The Swan and Dolphin – Our Home Hotel
The Swan and Dolphin Resort is the hotel we stay at the most when we visit Disney World. Though some may not view the Swan and Dolphin as the best Disney hotel for adults, we provide some details on why we personally love staying here. The Swan and Dolphin are two separate hotels, with a similar design to the Yacht and Beach Club. Situated on the same property, these two hotels are connected by a short covered walkway. The Swan is smaller while the Dolphin has a larger lobby and the spa. Fortunately, both hotels are only a few hundred yards from each other as seen in the below picture.
This hotel is unique in that it is not a Disney owned hotel (it is a Marriott), but it is located on property (Boardwalk Area hotel). Although not a Disney hotel, you get most of the perks that you would get if you were staying at a Disney property. The included perks consist of: making FastPasses 60 days in advance, Disney park transportation (boats and buses to the parks and Disney Springs), extra magic hours, and delivery of in park purchases to the hotel.
The things that are not included are: free transportation to your hotel from the airport on the Disney Magical Express (we usually take an Uber) and magic bands (you can purchase one separately if you want, but it will not allow charging to your hotel room). If you have Marriott hotel points, this can be a great way to save some money and be in the middle of the magic.
What are the benefits of this hotel?
The thing that we love the most about this hotel is that it is located just off of the Disney boardwalk. If you look at a map of this area, you have the Disney Boardwalk hotel, the Yacht & Beach Club, and the Swan and Dolphin. One huge advantage about this area is that you can walk or boat to both Epcot and Hollywood Studios. Also, if you go through Epcot, you can get to Magic Kingdom by monorail. That means you only need the bus get to Animal Kingdom and Disney Spring (which is a major plus for us). If walking isn’t you thing, there is still a bus option to Magic Kingdom.
If you go back to the hotel frequently, this hotel is very convenient because you can quickly walk back or take a short boat ride. Most on property Deluxe Disney resorts have room options that provide a view of the parks. That’s available here as well. Options include rooms with a view of Hollywood Studios or rooms with a view of the Boardwalk and Epcot area.
The Boardwalk area has a ton of great food and drinks (which are an easy walk away). Luckily the Swan and Dolphin have great dining options too! The Swan has Il Mulino for Italian in a lively environment, and the Dolphin has Blue Zoo for great seafood. There is a karaoke bar, lots of quick service dining, sushi, and many other choices. The bar in the lobby of the Dolphin is also large, recently renovated, and very nice. If you need some time to relax, the Dolphin has a great spa.
Lastly, there is a very large main pool with a water slide and two relatively large side pools located between the Swan and Dolphin. If swimming matters to you, this resort is a good option. Because this hotel is a Marriott, you can also use and earn points with your stay here. Also, as we mentioned above, you get most of the Disney park-related perks that you would get if you stayed at a Disney World hotel.
Our personal experience at true Disney hotels has been great, but one downside is we rarely get to check into our room early and if we can get checkout pushed back by even 30 minutes we consider it a win. That is almost never true of the Swan and Dolphin! When we go to Disney, we fly very early in the morning. This usually gets us to the hotel sometime around 10am, when official hotel checkin is not until 4pm. Despite this, we often find ourselves able to get access to our room as soon as we arrive at the resort. Though this is not a guarantee, I would guess it happens at least 75% of the time.
The same goes for late checkouts. Official checkout time is 11am, though we often can get 1pm or even later. This might not sound like a huge benefit, but a late checkout allows us to spend the morning in a park then return to the hotel before going back out for the afternoon. On a hot and humid Florida day, this can be a huge benefit! The bag check at both resorts is excellent and easy to use as well, making it easy to store bags while heading back out for the afternoon.
What are the downsides of this hotel?
The biggest downside is that it is a Marriott, not a Disney hotel. What we mean by this that there is not any special theming. When you walk into Animal Kingdom Lodge, you’re transported to a different world. That type of experience does not occur here. The hotel is also a conference hotel, which means there is a chance that when you are staying here, there will be a bunch of conference people walking around. This doesn’t bother us (we prefer more adults), but for some it may take away from the magic.
There is a quick service dining location in each of the hotel lobbies. While Disney food and drinks are expensive, certain items at the Swan and Dolphin are insanely overpriced. Enjoy a simple hot coffee in the mornings? That will set you back around $4. However, not everything about the hotel is overpriced. We would price this hotel similarly to the deluxe Disney World hotels (though we have gotten great deals here), so the room price at certain times of the year can be a downside. One thing to be aware of is that these hotels charge a resort fee of $32. This might seem like a lot, but we usually find the room rates are lower than other Boardwalk area hotels. They become comparable after you include the resort fee. We don’t think this should deter you from staying here, it is just something to be aware of.
Making FastPasses and Disney-related information on site:
You can make FastPasses 60 days out when staying at the Swan or Dolphin. When booking a Disney World hotel, it is usually automatic that your hotel is linked to your My Disney Experience account. At the Swan and Dolphin, we recommend making sure you book your room for the right number of guests. This makes it easier when you link the hotel reservation to your My Disney Experience account. When you are at the hotels, both the Dolphin and Swan have Disney-specific customer service desks with cast members. These locations can help with questions, get you park tickets (usually can pick up your ticket there instead of at the park), and help make dining reservations.
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Information about booking and prices can be found here: Swan and Dolphin