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 a Disney hotel, we provide details on why we personally love staying here for our Disney World vacations. 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. Both hotels are only a few hundred yards from each other, so it is an easy walk between the resorts. This post covers the pros and cons of staying at the Swan and Dolphin hotel for your Disney vacation. We also have linked to our room tours of most of the room options available at this resort.
Hotel Room Options
There are a lot of different room types offered at both the Swan and Dolphin, ranging from a simple bedroom with no view, to a beautiful balcony room with views of the Boardwalk or Hollywood Studios. There are also a number of suites and larger family style rooms available for guests. All rooms have a refrigerator and coffee machine. A couple of bottles of water are also provided. 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. Rather than describe each room in detail, we have a bunch of our room tours below. The general setup of the rooms are similar at both hotels, with the exception that the Dolphin has double sized beds and the Swan has queen sized beds.
Standard Room at the Dolphin
Standard Room at the Dolphin with Resort View
Alcove Room at the Swan
King Premium Suite at the Dolphin
Grand Suite at the Dolphin Hotel
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?
There are numerous benefits to staying at the Swan and Dolphin hotel. We will go through each of the main items in detail below. Because this hotel is a Marriott, you can also use and earn points with your stay here. This is a huge benefit for us because if we use points then we are able to get our Disney hotel pretty much for free! 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.
Location, Location, Location
One of the biggest perks of the Swan and Dolphin hotel is the location. 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. The Swan and Dolphin hotel typically is the best price of these hotel options and it gives you the perk of the awesome location.
Why is this location so great? Because Epcot is a very short walk and Hollywood Studios is a bit longer, but still an enjoyable walk. If you don’t want to walk to Hollywood Studios, there is also a boat that is very convenient (more on this below). The location allows you to easily pop over to these parks for a little bit and then be able to come back to the hotel and relax. For us, this location removes a lot of the stress that goes with dealing with Disney transportation.
Transportation To Disney Theme Parks
As we mentioned above, one huge advantage of the Swan and Dolphin 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, Disney Spring, and the water parks. This is a major plus for us.
If walking isn’t you thing, there is a bus option to Magic Kingdom and the boat is very convenient. There is a bus pick up location at each hotel (one at the Swan and one at the Dolphin). The bus locations for each of the hotels are just off of the main lobby. The boat pickup and drop-off is located between the Swan and Dolphin hotel. The boat queue has two separate lines, one for Epcot and one for Hollywood Studios.
Pro Tip: Anytime you go to Epcot from the Swan and Dolphin, we recommend walking. The walk is pretty short. Also, if you take the boat, you have to stop at the Yacht & Beach Club and the Boardwalk prior to arriving at Epcot. This makes for a pretty long boat ride given the short walking distance. When going to Hollywood Studios, the boat stop at the Swan and Dolphin is the last stop. This means it is a quick, direct boat ride to Hollywood Studios. We always walk to Epcot. We may take the boat to Hollywood Studios depending on how hot it is and if the boat is there when we are leaving the hotel.
If swimming matters to you, this resort is a great option. There is a very large main pool with a water slide and two relatively large lap pools. The pools are located in the middle area between the Swan and Dolphin. Guests from both resorts have access to this area. The two large lap pools are on the sides and the huge pool area is in the back. The third pool area is very large and includes a waterfall, water slide, and a grotto. When we swim, we prefer the large pool in the back with the waterfall.
There are several things that we love about the pools at the Swan and Dolphin. First, the pools are open first thing in the morning. We have gotten up at sunrise and taken a quick swim in the pool before going to the theme parks. There are also good food and drink options near the pool. These include the Splash Pool Bar and Grill and the Cabana Bar and Beach Club. Note that these locations are open seasonally. If they are open, they are a great option to eat and relax poolside. The pool area also has basketball hoops, ping pong tables, and a playgroup.
You have a ton of food options when staying at the Swan and Dolphin hotel. Not only does the Swan and Dolphin have a variety of dining options, the location of the hotel also allows guests to easily enjoy dining options at Disney’s Boardwalk or Yacht & Beach Club.
Dining On Swan and Dolphin Property
Picabu at the Dolphin hotel is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This restaurant is cafeteria style, so it is easy to pop in a grab something quick. The food here is decent and having an onsite 24-hour food option is awesome. Picabu is located on the ground floor (not the lobby floor).
For breakfast, the Swan and Dolphin each have their own quick service options. Fuel in the Dolphin is the bigger of the two and has a variety of pastries, breakfast sandwiches, and coffee options. In the Swan, there is a small location near the lobby which serves coffee and bagels in the mornings. Both the Swan and the Dolphin have sit-down breakfast dining options. Fresh Mediterranean Market at the Dolphin has buffet breakfast as well as a full breakfast menu. For us, the best part about Fresh Mediterranean Market is the fresh squeezed orange juice.
Garden Grove is a sit-down restaurant at the Swan. This restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Dinner and breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays are character dining experiences. We often see Chip and Dale at breakfast. We have only eaten at Garden Grove for breakfast. For breakfast you can choose something from the menu or there is a full buffet. The food here is pretty good and it is very convenient.
Bars and Signature Dining
Il Mulino at the Swan has great Italian food and often will have lively environment in the bar. At the Dolphin you have Blue Zoo which focuses on seafood and the recently remodeled Shula’s Steak Houses. The bar in the lobby of the Dolphin is large and recently renovated. This bar is very popular at night and usually has people hanging out and drinking into the wee hours haha.
Spa and Karaoke
Kimonos at the Swan hotel has nightly karaoke. If you need some time to relax, the Dolphin has a great spa. I have gotten a pedicure there and family members have gotten massages. We highly recommend the bar if you need some time to relax on your vacation.
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, while 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 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).
One thing to be aware of is that these hotels charge a resort fee. Currently the resort fee is $28/day. When booking your hotel, be sure to factor in the resort fee to your overall hotel cost. Even with the resort fee, we usually find the room rates are still lower than the Boardwalk or Yacht and Beach Club.Similar to Disney-owned hotels, the Swan and Dolphin also charges for parking.
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