The Swan and Dolphin resorts are Starwood hotels located on-property at Walt Disney World. These resorts are not technically “Disney resorts” but do share similar amenities, including extra magic hours. Compared to a Disney resort, these would likely fit into Disney’s Deluxe resort category. There is an interesting article on AllEars.net about the history of these hotels and their confusing Disney-but not Disney-status. The Swan and Dolphin are located in the Epcot area close to Beach and Yacht Club and the Boardwalk.
This is the most important and greatest benefit of Swan and Dolphin. While they are not technically Disney resorts, their location is about as ideal as can be on Disney property. These hotels are less than a five minute walk from the Boardwalk, which has an excellent general store for small grocery items. The resorts are about a 15 minute walk from either Epcot’s International Gateway or Hollywood Studios. They are also located on the boat path that travels from Epcot to Hollywood Studios. The ability to walk to two theme parks, with easy access to Magic Kingdom via the monorail from Epcot, is the best selling point for Swan and Dolphin.
Seeing as they would qualify as a “Deluxe” Disney resort, the prices for the Swan and Dolphin are appropriately deluxe. Rates can be found as low as $200/night, or even lower with their many discount offerings for AAA/Teachers/Military/Nurses. While those low rates are there, they aren’t easy to find and prices for standard rooms can go as high as $349/night. One benefit that these hotels have being a Starwood hotel is that they can be booked using Starwood Preferred Guest points from SPG’s loyalty program. This loyalty program does make these resorts more frequent travel locations for business and conference visitors. On top of the room, Swan and Dolphin also charge a not-so-magical $25/night resort fee. So add that in when factoring in the price of a room at these resorts.
Our room at the Swan was great. These rooms are certainly a notch above the Value and even Moderate Disney resorts. The bed was excellent even if the pillows were a bit fluffy for my tastes. The bathroom was the real star of the rooms with two sinks and a great walk-in shower. Our room also had a balcony with a lovely view of… the Swan hotel. So the view wasn’t excellent but a balcony is always nice for the first four minutes. Each room featured free Dasani water and a quick coffeemaker (thanks resort fee!).
If you lump the Swan and Dolphin as one resort, their grounds and amenities would have to be among the best on Disney property. We aren’t hotel pool people, but the Swan and Dolphin have two “lap” pools and one massive Grotto pool area. The resort also has tennis courts, jogging trails, convention spaces, and spas. Additionally, Disney’s Fantasia Gardens mini-golf is a short walk away.
Dining offerings between the Swan and Dolphin are top notch. For fine dining, there are Todd English’s bluezoo, Shula’s Steakhouse, Kimono, and Il Mulino. There is also The Fountain, an ice cream diner, and Picabu, a 24 hour quick service at the Swan. We stopped at Picabu every night on our trip and there was a line for their tacos even at 2 a.m. They also carry Nesquik and Red Bull, our Disney World staples.
Bus Service and Resort Transportation
Considering you can walk or take a boat to Epcot and Hollywood Studios, the Swan and Dolphins already earn convenience points in the transportation category. Bus service to Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom were fairly standard. It may have just been us, but the ride from Magic Kingdom back to the Dolphin seems very long. Most bus rides we took did stop at both the Swan and Dolphin, so factor in an extra few minutes there. During busy times, the buses were always full by the time they stopped at both resorts. When traveling to Magic Kingdom, we walked through Epcot to the Monorail and rode that way to the Magic Kingdom. As we are typically coming back very late from Magic Kingdom, the bus back was fine. We even got a bus to ourselves one night traveling back from Magic Kingdom.
We did book our trip to Dolphin using Starwood points from our Starwood Preferred American Express card so we didn’t pay the normal rate. We did love our stay though, and will certainly return in the future.
Have you stayed at Swan or Dolphin? Let us know!