Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort – Steps Away from the Magic

My family and I took our first trip to Walt Disney World this past June and opted to stay right in the middle of all the fun at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort has three hotels (Walt Disney World Swan Resort, Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort, and the recently-opened Walt Disney World Swan Reserve) located within this extravagant property right in the heart of the Epcot area of Walt Disney World.

My review is mainly for the Walt Disney World Swan Resort since that is where my family stayed, but since these hotels are all part of the same resort, this review will cover portions of the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel, as well. The following review is my honest opinion of the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel.

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Walt Disney World Swan Resort Is a Good Neighbor Hotel

First and foremost, you should know that the Walt Disney World Swan (and Dolphin) Resort is not owned and operated by Disney. This hotel is operated by Marriott International, Inc. This means that you will not be getting some perks that come with staying at a Disney-owned hotel. On the official Walt Disney World website, this hotel is listed under the “Other Deluxe Select Hotels” tab. Meaning you get high-quality accommodations with some Disney perks.

I slowly figured this out only after I booked my trip. For starters, after purchasing my package deal through the official Walt Disney World website, I was given a notice in red stating something to the effect that the Swan and Dolphin Resort had to confirm my reservation, which would take up to three days. This was very frustrating because I was anxious to book my Park reservations, but couldn’t do so until three days after I booked my vacation. And even then, I had to call the Walt Disney World’s help desk for them to work their magic to activate my reservations.

Also, guests flying into Orlando International Airport (MCO) do not have access to Disney’s Magical Express. Although I don’t see this being a problem since this service will be stopped in 2022. My family and I chose to take an Uber from the airport, which was the first time we ever used a ride-share service. The experience was positive and super easy to use!

Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort Review

Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort is in the heart of Walt Disney World and that makes this hotel a much sought-after resort to stay in. Conveniently located between Epot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the Swan and Dolphin allows guests easy access to each Park, including walking pathways and boat transportation to both Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Bus transportation also brings guests to Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and Disney Springs! This resorts’ location was the main factor as to why I booked my family and my vacation here.

Check-In/Check-Out Process

Checking-in My family and I arrived at the hotel at 6:30am. Here is where another perk was missed out on. I could not use the “early check-in” option on the My Disney Experience app. I was not able to use this feature therefore had to physically go to the front desk to check in. This really wasn’t a big deal being we had to check our baggage so that we could explore while our room became ready which the hotel was happy to for us. The gentleman at the Bell Desk was super friendly and provided us with much-needed Disney World tips and tricks.

Java, which is a quick-serve/general store, conveniently located in the lobby of the Swan Resort made for a much-needed option since we were all starving. They serve breakfast items, such as waffles and breakfast sandwiches. The breakfast sandwich was a little bland. And like everything Disney, food and drinks were expensive with water ringing in at $8 a bottle!

Checking-out Checking out was super easy! We had to check-out at 5:30am to catch an early flight out so we basically just dropped our room keys in one of the express check-out boxes located in the lobby of the hotel. There was someone behind the desk in the lobby to assist, if we needed it. When my husband asked her if we needed to check out with the front desk, she told him that the express check-out box was all we needed to use.

Swan and Dolphin Resort Room Accommodations

The Swan and Dolphin Resort offers the following room accommodations:


  • Traditional Room
  • Deluxe Room
  • Family Room


  • Junior Suite
  • Executive Suite
  • Grand Suite
  • Signature Suite
  • Governors Suite
  • Chairman Suite
  • Presidential Suite

My family stayed in a traditional room, which is just a standard room with no upgrades. Although we didn’t have a view, our standard view was pretty cool. We were facing the parking lot/front of the hotel, however, we were able to see the Tower of Terror Hotel and the Disney Skyliner Transportation from our room.

Our room was ready earlier than the 4pm check-in time, which was a relief being that we were exhausted by the afternoon. Although our room was clean, spacious, and newly renovated in 2015, it was a bit neglected in terms of the functionality of the amenities. Our toilet constantly ran on and off throughout our entire 10-day stay, the air conditioning was noisy, our drapes were ripped, the light switch in the bathroom kept triggering the GFI causing the light to snap off once turned on, and the shower had little water pressure, with some issues getting hot water at times. And I know this is just me being picky, but because this isn’t Disney-owned, the bathroom amenities were not the Disney’s H2O body care line (the sea salt lotion is my favorite).

On the plus side, the rooms were well insulated which kept the rooms quiet. The beds were not horrible; although one of our queen beds showed some wear on one side. Housekeeping was fantastic!

Disney Swan and Dolphin In-Room Amenities

All rooms at the Swan and Dolphin Resort have the following amenities:

  • Pillow top mattress
  • High thread count sheets
  • Make-up mirror
  • Hair dryer
  • Safe
  • Iron / Ironing Board
  • Single serve brew coffee makers
  • In-room mini refrigerators
  • Clock radio with dual USB charging stations
  • Individual climate control
  • High speed internet access
  • Hulu, Netflix, YouTube, HBO, Showtime, Pandora
  • 49” Flat Screen TV
  • 55”-65” flat screen TV

Disney Swan Hotel Amenities

  • 756 luxurious guest rooms, including 55 well-appointed suites
  • Guest rooms feature the renowned all-white, Heavenly Bed®
  • Open-air pool area with private cabanas
  • State-of-the-art Fitness Center
  • Full-service Concierge
  • Over 58,000 sq. ft. of function space, including 2 ballrooms and 12 meeting rooms
  • 128,200 sq. ft. of tropical outdoor event space
  • Business Center
  • Unique Walt Disney World® Resort benefits

Disney Dolphin Hotel Amenities

  • 349 luxurious guest rooms, including 149 distinctive suites
  • Signature Mediterranean restaurant
  • Grab-n-go Cafe
  • Scenic pool area with elevated deck and fire pit
  • Exclusive rooftop event space boasting breathtaking views of the Walt Disney World® Resort
  • 15,711 sq. ft. of meeting space, including 2 ballrooms and 12 meeting rooms
  • 13,835 sq. f.t of outdoor event space
  • Business Center
  • Unique Walt Disney World® Resort benefits
  • State-of-the-art Fitness Center

Swan Reserve

  • 349 luxurious guest rooms, including 149 distinctive suites
  • Signature Mediterranean restaurant
  • Grab-n-go Cafe
  • Scenic pool area with elevated deck and fire pit
  • Exclusive rooftop event space boasting breathtaking views of the Walt Disney World® Resort
  • 15,711 sq. ft. of meeting space, including 2 ballrooms and 12 meeting rooms
  • 13,835 sq. f.t of outdoor event space
  • Business Center
  • Unique Walt Disney World® Resort benefits
  • State-of-the-art Fitness Center

Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Restaurants

  • 8 restaurants and lounges, including Mulino New York Trattoria, Kimonos, Todd English’s Bluezoo, Shula’s, The Fountain, Garden Grove, Fuel, Phins, Java, Chill Frozen Drinks, Cabana Bar and Beach Club, Fresh Mediterranean Market, Picab, and Splash Pool, Bar, and Grill

Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort Amenities 

  • In-room celebrations
  • Disney watercraft transportation
  • Disney bus transportation
  • Parking
  • ATM
  • Car rental services
  • Laundry and dry cleaning services
  • Mail services
  • Mandara Spa
  • Merchandise delivery and pickup
  • Resort concierge
  • Disney planning center
  • Spa and fitness
  • Disney signature services

My husband and I took full advantage of the 24-hour, self-serve laundry room at this resort. The major drawback for us was the laundry room’s location. Located on the first floor of the Dolphin Hotel was a bit challenging, as I am sure it was for anyone staying at the Swan Hotel. We had to lug our dirty laundry through the Swan’s first floor, passing the restaurants on our way, and right down the outside corridor of both resorts, where we took a back entry into the Dolphin to avoid restaurants on the first floor of the Dolphin Hotel. Now this resort is huge and by that I mean, there are 2,270 rooms between the Swan and Dolphin Hotel. But there were only eight washing machines and twelve dryers. On most days we did our laundry, my husband and I did have to wait for a machine to become available. Guests would leave their laundry in the machines and not return to empty out the washer for some time.

My family ate at Kimonos, which serves fresh seafood and a wide selection of sushi rolls and sashimi. Kimonos is located on the first floor of the Swan Hotel. When planning our vacation, we knew Kimonos was definitely on our to-do dine list. However, guests cannot book a reservation through Disney Dining. On the night we were going to dine there, I even tried calling to make a reservation, however, no one answered the phone. Your only option is to walk in. We had no trouble getting a table, though. Service and food were excellent.

My family also treated ourselves to cold treats at The Fountain, which is located on the first floor of the Dolphin Hotel. The Fountain is a sit-down/casual restaurant that serves American cuisine, however, it also has a sweet treat dessert counter for walkups. After a long day in the Florida heat and humidity, it was nice to come back to the hotel and chill out with an ice cream, which we did on numerous occasions.

Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort: Great Location

After doing hours of research on where to stay when visiting Disney World, I couldn’t resist the Swan and Dolphin Hotel because of its prime location. Now trust me when I say, I was absolutely clueless as to the enormity of Disney World, but I have to say that the Disney Swan and Dolphin Hotel really did meet my expectations with its central location. The hotel is situated between Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. When I looked on my itty-bitty map of the hotel grounds on the Swan and Dolphin Resort app (I highly recommend downloading this app before your trip), I noticed that not only was there boat transport to and from both of these Parks, there were walking trails. I was pleasantly surprised to experience them and use them on occasion. From the hotel, the walking distance to the Epcot’s International Gateway entrance is about a 15-minute walk. What I loved about walking this way was how guests can walk through the Boardwalk Hotel which has some great dining and shopping options. What’s also convenient is that there is a Disney Skyliner substation located at the Epcot International Gateway!

A walk to Hollywood Studios took us about 20-25 minutes. It was a nice walk, but after walking in the Park all day, we opted for the boat taxis whenever we could.

And speaking of the boat taxis, the dock is conveniently located between the Swan Hotel and the Dolphin Hotel and transports guests to Epcot’s International Gateway and Disney’s Hollywood Studios with stops at The Boardwalk and The Yacht Club. It took about 6-8 minutes to get to Disney’s Hollywood Studios on the boat taxi because there are no stops in between and about 10 minutes to get to Epcot’s International Gateway due to stops at The Boardwalk and The Yacht Club.

The bus pickup location for the Swan Hotel is located in the front of the hotel. My family and I were really worried about missing busses and overcrowding, but did not experience any of this on any of the buses we took. Buses began operating exactly 45 minutes before Park opening. I’m not sure if there were any other stops for our Magic Kingdom bus because the three days we visited and took the bus, the bus was practically empty and was nonstop to Magic Kingdom. The only semi-full bus was the bus transporting guests to Animal Kingdom.

Both the water taxi and bus pickup locations had plenty of signage with great coverage from the hot Florida sun and the occasional rain.

Final Thoughts on the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort

Pros for staying at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort:

  • Prime Location – This resort is conveniently located between Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios with plenty of options to get to and from both Parks, like boat taxis, walking trails, and buses.
  • Transportation Access – I can’t boast enough about the transportation offered at this resort. Guests have so many options. Buses come every 15-20 to whisk guests off to Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, or Disney Springs. Water taxis were out every 15-20 minutes (however, they came much more frequent on our visit).
  • Disney Perks – Disney perks were, unfortunately, not available during our stay due to Covid restrictions. But starting October 2021, some perks are returning, like Extra Magic Hours. Other perks that are still suspended, but offered by this resort are character dining, package delivery from Disney Parks, complimentary theme park parking, advance tee times, and Disney planning center accommodations.
  • Variety of Onsite Restaurants – If we chose to dine onsite at the Swan and Dolphin, we had a variety of options! I recommend Kimonos!
  • Housekeeping was excellent – Housekeeping was excellent at this hotel! I opted to have housekeeping come every other day. When I called the lobby to request housekeeping, my family and I always returned to a clean room. Even better, guests are given free bottled water per person per day. When housekeeping did not clean our room, all we had to do was ask at the front desk!
  • Check-in/Check-Out was fast, convenient, and super easy! The hotel will hold your luggage if you arrive earlier than check-in, too!
  • Resort Cleanliness – The grounds were excellently maintained as you would expect from any Disney Resort.
  • Safe – If you are like me, safety has to make the list when researching hotels. I felt safe at this hotel!
  • Refrigerator in room allowed us to store our leftovers and keep our water cold!
  • Pool/Spa – My family and I did not take advantage of the numerous pools onsite between the Swan and the Dolphin Hotels. The weather was too wet and we chose to spend the majority of our time in the Parks. But judging by their appearance (we did go look), they were well-kept, clean, and spacious!

Cons for staying at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort:

  • Not Disney-Owned and Operated – Because this hotel is not Disney owned and operated, the level of service is a bit lacking as seen with all the issues with the functionality of the amenities in our room.
  • High Price to stay at a non-Disney owned and operated hotel.
  • Magic Bands do not work here – My family purchased Magic Bands and attempted to use them to get access to our hotel room, but since this is not a Disney-owned resort, they did not work. Nor could we take advantage of making purchases in the Park using our Magic Bands because, that too, does not work with this resort.
  • Disney Tickets Must Be Activated – When I received our Disney theme park tickets from the front desk at the Swan Hotel, I thought, as any guest would, that the tickets were good to go. But they were not. On our first day at Magic Kingdom, we lost valuable time because our tickets did not work when we scanned them at the gate. We had to go to Guest Relations for them to activate our tickets. Guests should really question the front desk at the resort about activation of their tickets because ours were not linked.
  • Booking Reservations – Swan and Dolphin Resort guests must wait for their reservations to be processed through the Swan and Dolphin Resort which takes up to three days.
  • No Magical Express service to and from hotel.
  • Room Maintenance Needed – Although rooms were renovated in 2015, rooms are showing wear and tear.
  • Not Enough Washers and Dryers in Laundry Room – Not only was the location of the laundry room an inconvenience, so was the fact they only offer guests eight washers and twelve dryers for the entire resort.
  • No Grocery Delivery Allowed – After I booked our vacation, I began to research grocery delivery services because many WDW Resort Hotels allow guest to have groceries delivered. The Swan and Dolphin Resort do not allow grocery delivery. There are ways around this, I’m sure, but I was a bit disappointed that this wasn’t an option for my family.

Would I stay at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort again?

Overall, I think this hotel’s prime central location has still won me over. So much so, that I’ve overlooked all the inconveniences at this resort. I would definitely stay at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort again!

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About Kim Schultz

Kim has her Bachelor's Degree in English Literature with a minor in Technical and Professional Writing from San Francisco State University. She received her editing certificate from University of Berkeley Extension and won numerous awards for fiction writing from the San Mateo County Fair Literary Stage.

One thing she loves most in life besides family and writing is Disneyland! Kim and her family are season pass holders and travel to Disneyland numerous times a year (between 10-15 times to be exact!).

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