10 Reasons to Stay at the Swan and Dolphin Disney World Hotels

Kristin Shaw Avatar
exterior disney world swan and dolphin

The magic of Walt Disney World is often celebrated in the park itself: the fireworks, the characters, the rides, and the sheer scope of joy captured in a wonder-filled 42 and a half acres. At the end of a WDW day, you and your family want to lay down your heads in a nice place to stay that makes it easy for you to relax. Sometimes you might even want to schedule in a day of pure relaxation by the pool between park hopping.

For me, the perfect match is the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin resort. It offers a beautiful balance of stunning architecture designed by the award-winning firm Michael Graves & Associates, complimentary transportation to all four theme parks, six pools, a spa, and 20 restaurants with a variety of cuisine. And the opening of the 14-story Swan Reserve boutique hotel adds another jewel to its crown. Here are my top 10 reasons you’ll feel the same way too.

swan and dolphin disney world
Nighttime view of the Swan and Dolphin Resort area. Photo credit: Marriott International

Use Marriott Bonvoy Points! 

One of the major benefits of staying at the Swan and Dolphin is that they are both part of the Disney family and the Marriott Bonvoy™ family. If you’re a frequent traveler and Marriott hotels are your go-to set, then you’ll have a head start for a stay already. Prepare to redeem about 50,000-60,000 Marriott Bonvoy™ points per night for a room at the Dolphin, Swan, or Swan Reserve, and it’s well worth the time it takes to save up.

Marriott fans will appreciate the predictably lovely customer service and luxe furnishings along with nearby golf courses and walking access to many of the attractions of Walt Disney World. The charming Disney Boardwalk area is right next door, and each time I stay there I’m awestruck by the quiet serenity of the Swan and Dolphin. Having the ability to pay for my stay with Marriott Bonvoy™ wraps up the whole package with a Minnie Mouse-style bow. 

The Swan and Dolphin are Visually Breathtaking

The stunning Swan and Dolphin hotel complex was recognized with a Progressive Architecture Award by Architect Magazine upon its completion in 1989. You’ll see why as you drive up. I have stayed at this deluxe resort, which includes a shared convention space, for both business and pleasure. In fact, the very first time I took my son to Disney Springs – which was still called Downtown Disney, at the time – he was just 6 months old. As he’s grown, there are plenty of amenities for us to enjoy together and he especially appreciates the intuitive layout of the complex.

swan and dolphin disney world
View of Epcot from the Swan and Dolphin Resorts. Photo credit: Marriott International

Transportation to the Parks is a Snap

The Swan & Dolphin is within walking distance of Epcot, or a convenient (and free) water taxi or bus ride to the rest of the theme parks, including Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and Disney Springs. Any time I can walk somewhere and not have to deal with parking or waiting, I’ll do it. Note to self (and you): always, always, always wear comfortable shoes at Disney.

Camp Dolphin

I have an only child, so there’s one amenity that I am especially grateful for at the Swan and Dolphin resorts: Camp Dolphin. My son is thrilled to hang out with other kids for fun programs, so he’s happy while I put my feet up.

Spa Time at the Swan and Dolphin Disney World!

I highly recommend an appointment at the luxuriously-appointed Balinese-style Mandara Spa. Just listen to the description of the hand and foot treatment and you’ll want to go right this instant: “citrus, coconut, and lotus flower milk are used to treat the hands and feet to an invigorating cleansing, signature exfoliation, soothing bamboo massage, and conditioning body butter application, followed by a traditional manicure, pedicure and polish.”

Oh yes. That’s my kind of vacation.

Now, the facials are pretty pricey at the Mandara, but the average pedicure and manicure treatments are on par with other resort prices, $65 and $40, respectively.

swan and dolphin disney world
One of the many pools on site at the Swan and Dolphin Resorts. Photo credit: Marriott International

Pools and Activities at the Swan and Dolphin

On the days between Disney parks visits, you and your family have the option to hang out at the grotto pool, take the opportunity to get fit in the lap pool or beach volleyball courts, or just put on your sunscreen and hat and lie poolside at one of the many water features or hot tubs while sipping a fruity beverage from the cabana bar. I’m a big fan of taking a whole day just to listen to the sounds of the waterfall and enjoying quality time. If you’ve scheduled a whole week in the Orlando/Lake Buena Vista area, take the time to enjoy your resort as well as the parks. I don’t golf, but I can appreciate that active guests can reserve an advance tee time with the concierge and grab the family for golf at one of four nearby championship WDW golf courses.

swan and dolphin disney world
Dining at the Dolphin Resort. Photo credit: Marriott International

Eat All Day (and Night!)

Know that the Swan & Dolphin are not part of the Disney Meal Plan. For some, that’s a deal breaker. For us, we like to keep our options open and eat on the go, spending as much time as we can enjoying the sights and sounds of Disney.

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We had a hard time deciding on what to eat, overall; there are so many restaurant choices. Just a few options include Shula’s Steak House for an upscale continental experience or Todd English’s bluezoo for seafood, Italian at Il Mulino New York Trattoria, or fresh sushi (I may or may not have joined them for karaoke) at Kimonos. On more casual days, the Garden Grove, the Fountain, Fresh Mediterranean Market, Picabu, or Splash Pool Bar and Grill have all the snacks and meals we need. And honestly, after a few days I just didn’t want to get out of bed. Happily, the resort offers 24-hour room service.

(By the way, ice cream totally counts as a meal when you’re on vacation. At least, that’s what I say. I like to spoil myself and get ice cream delivered to the room and bask in a cloud of decadence.)

Character Dining on Site

Character dining onsite is a major benefit of staying at a Disney resort. At the Swan & Dolphin, kids can meet their favorite Disney characters nightly and for breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays. We took our 9-year-old son to a character breakfast at Christmastime, and I’m so glad we did. I wasn’t sure if he would be “too old” to enjoy it, but I was proven wrong when the magic lit up his face.

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Room view of the Dolphin Resort. Photo credit: Marriott International

Fireworks to Heavenly Bed in Minutes

The fireworks shows are also a top priority, so we like to head to the bridge between the Boardwalk Hotel and the Swan & Dolphin property. Epcot, Magic Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios fireworks are all around from this location, which means you can take in the light show and then sink right into a Heavenly Bath, followed by a signature Heavenly Bed without having to fight the crowds back to the hotel.

rendering of new pool at Disney Swan Reserve in Orlando
The pool at the Swan Reserve in Disney World will be a luxe oasis. Photo credit: Marriott

Welcome to the New Swan Reserve!

Opening on September 1, the Swan Reserve hotel will join the Swan & Dolphin, in its location on Epcot Resorts Boulevard, near the Fantasia Garden miniature golf course. Now that the evening fireworks shows are back (yahoo!) booking a room at the Swan Reserve means you’ll have floor-to-ceiling windows to view them in comfort. Or if you book one of the 149 suites, you’ll have an even more majestic panoramic view of the light shows that illuminate the night skies. 

The new suites can hold six to ten people, which is great news for large families or parties traveling together. On the rooftop, an exclusive space aptly named Vue is the ideal place for family reunions, dream trips, weddings and other landmark events. At Vue, you’ll get incredible views of Walt Disney World, the fireworks, and all of the magic around you. All three of the hotels – the Swan, Dolphin, and Swan Reserve – will be included in the early entry and late night programs at Walt Disney World effective October. 1.

What You Need to Know:

  • A nightly resort fee includes wi-fi internet access, two bottles of water per day, health club access, fitness classes, and local/long distance calls.
  • Rainy day? Head to the game room or one of the state-of-the-art fitness centers, or relax with room service and a movie in your guest room.
  • All major credit cards accepted.
  • Need to print? The hotel business center has you covered.

A new welcome app can answer all of your questions, help you with check-in, and give you the latest information on theme park hours, resort recreational activities, dining options, transportation, and hotel maps.

Disney Perks Included

  • Extra Magic Hours: each day, one of the four WDW theme parks opens one hour early or remains open up to two hours after regular park closing time
  • Up to 60 days in advance, as a Disney resort guest, you get the chance to register for Disney’s FASTPASS+ service, which  allows you to reserve access to your first-choice, can’t-miss attractions, shows, parades, Disney character experiences and more.
  • On-site Disney Planning Centers
  • Priority seating at select table service restaurants and dinner shows within the resort, on a space-available basis.
  • Complimentary parking at all Disney theme parks (just show your room key)
  • Complimentary package delivery of purchases made in Disney gift stores and shops back to the resort. So if you buy something gorgeous and fragile at the Arribas Brothers’ glass shop, Disney people will whisk it away and deliver it, unharmed, to your room.
swan and dolphin disney world
Room view at the Swan Resort. Photo credit: Marriott International

If you are a teacher, nurse, or member of the military, the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resorts have special appreciation discounts for you. Click on these links below or call 1-888-828-8850 and ask for the special rate that corresponds to your profession.

  • Teacher and school staff discount
  • Nurse discount
  • Military discount

If you live in Orlando or anywhere in Florida, you’ll benefit from the in-state discount, which is about 10%. AAA, CAA, AARP, and government discounts are also available.

Kristin Shaw is a freelance writer, adventurer, and motorsports competitor with bylines at Popular Science, Edmunds, The Drive, Motor1, Road & Track, Car and Driver, Forbes Wheels, U.S. News and World Report, GearJunkie, and more. Her work on parenting and relationships has been featured often at The Washington Post and the TODAY show site. Follow Kristin on these channels: Instagram Facebook LinkedIn TikTok
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