Review: Walt Disney World’s Swan and Dolphin Resort

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We have been wanting to get a resort review done for the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort to take a look at the Epcot area resort.  Luckily enough, we were invited to stay at the resort earlier this month and we are going to bring that whole experience to you here.

Located in the backyard of Epcot, the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin are on-site hotels that are within walking distance to both the entrance of Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. In this review, I will show you photos of the resort features, room photos, amenities at both hotels, transportation options, value for money, and how they compare to Disney-owned accommodations.

“Unofficial” Disney Property Resort

When we first arrived at the property we didn’t know what exactly to classify them as. They aren’t technically a Disney property, they are operated by Marriott.  But, they are listed as “Walt Disney World’s Swan & Dolphin Resort” and they are technically on Disney property and offer Disney amenities like the Friendship Boats and Etra Magic Hours. But, they are missing some of the perks of a “Disney” resort hotel like Disney’s Magical Express and Disney Dining Plan(*Disney Dining Plan has been temporarily paused due to COVID-19 and this article will be updated when a dining plan returns).

Even with the few differences in the Disney vs. not really Disney debate, there are some great perks of not being apart of the Disney brand.  Two of the biggest notes to mention are location and price. Aside from Shades of Green, there isn’t another hotel that isn’t Disney-owned that has a location as nice as the Swan & Dolphin.

Location & Transportation Options

Swan and Dolphin or “Swalphin”( as the two-year-old in line for the Friendship Boats said to me) is in a fantastic location. You are steps away from both Disney’s Boardwalk Resort and Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts. There are walkways to both resorts and it took us about 5 mins to walk there. If you are up to it, it’s about a 15-minute walk to both Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot from the resort. There is a great map that breaks down the transportation options for the resort located at the exit to both the Swan and the Dolphin hotel.

Another brilliant feature of the Swan and Dolphin Resorts are the Friendship Boats. If you have ever stayed at either the Boardwalk Resort or the Yacht and Beach Club Resorts you know that there is a complimentary ferry boat that takes you to both Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Or, you can just use the boats to go back and forth between the resorts.

The boat launch is located on the walkway between the Swan and the Dolphin hotels and the ride to the parks was about 12 minutes. We never had to wait more than 15 minutes for a boat any of the times we used it.

Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Transportation Options

Another perk of the resort is the complimentary bus service to the parks. You are able to go to the bus stop location at the resort and get to all four of the Walt Disney World parks. The wait wasn’t too bad either. We were there during a pretty busy week and the wait was about 15-18 minutes on average.

*Notes to mention: the Swan and Dolphin busses are not allowed to drop off at Magic Kingdom. You get dropped off at the Transportation and Ticket Center and then you can take the monorail or the ferry boat to the park. This is the same if you decided to take an Uber, Lyft, or taxi. The drop-off will always be at the Transportation and Ticket Center.

Moderate Price for Deluxe Feeling Resort

Room prices for the Swan and the Dolphin Resort sits around $250/night if you include the resort fee. (I will go over this below).  The room price is substantially less than their neighbors the BoardWalk Inn and Yacht & Beach Club. Unless Disney was running an excellent promotion for either of those resorts, it would be hard to beat the price you get at the Swan and Dolphin.

However, this is a considerable resort fee for the Swan and Dolphin you may not be aware of. The non-optional $35/day + tax resort fee and an additional parking fee, if you plan to drive, are additional fees you need to take into consideration when you shop for prices. That is why it is always the best practice to use a travel agent, like Key to the World Travel, when you are looking at your options.

Even with the resort fee and parking charges, The price per night is still less than the cost of other Crescent Lake resorts. Take a look at what the resort fee covers here:

  • In-room High-Speed Internet Access
  • Unlimited long-distance, local calls and domestic (US mainland) calls are now included.
  • Unlimited access to the Resort’s health club facilities; including 24-hour access to Dolphin Health Club
  • Two bottles of WDW Swan and Dolphin Resort water daily (provided in the room)
  • Complimentary daily scheduled fitness classes
  • Complimentary daily scheduled recreational resort and pool activities
  • $25 off spa services of $100 or more during each day of your visit at Mandara Spa
  • Complimentary Swan Paddle Boat rentals
  • Complimentary S’mores Fun Kit each day of your stay to be used at the evening Campfire & S’mores event
  • Use of the Friendship Boats and the complimentary buses to the parks.

 

Dining

Swan and Dolphin kill it with their dining options. Home to one of the top-rated steakhouses at Walt Disney World, Shula’s Steakhouse, the resorts have an incredible range of dining options to choose from. The Swan and Dolphin share 17 restaurants and lounges between them. There are also all of the eateries at the nearby BoardWalk and Yacht and Beach Clubs. Finally, Epcot’s fabulous restaurants are just a stroll away. All in all, there are more than 40 restaurants within walking distance.

Our first suggestion before you go anywhere or do anything at the resort is to download the Swan and Dolphin app! You can find menus, locations, and information about all of the dining options at the resort. I can not tell you how many times I pulled out the app to look something up.

We didn’t have the luxury of dining at every restaurant in both hotels, but we did try a few and they were exceptional. Our top picks are Shulas Steakhouse, bluezoo, and Java(for the best quick service coffee options).

There are quick-service locations, fine dining options, coffee shops, ice cream and treat shops, and so much more. Some of the table service options are a little pricey, but they are on par with Disney Resort dining and you will not be disappointed in the quality of the meal or the service of the staff. We had dinner at Shula’s the first night and the whole experience was fantastic from the moment we checked in, to the time we rolled out with full bellies.

Accommodation Options

The resort has four types of rooms, and several types of suites, with a variety of views:

  • Traditional Room – 340 square feet, with two queen beds or one king-size bed and a sleeper sofa. Connecting rooms are available. According to the Swan website, these rooms have “no views”. Standard accessible rooms and those with accessible showers are available.
  • Resort View Room – also 340 square feet, with the same amenities as the Traditional Room, but with a variety of views. Starting with the least expensive, the Courtyard View overlooks the resort’s interior garden and sitting area, and/or has partial views of the resort’s landscape. The pricier Disney Resort View offers views of the wooded landscape plus partial views of the Boardwalk Resort area or the Hollywood Studios Tower of Terror. The Crescent Lake View rooms are the most expensive in this class, and said to have “breathtaking vistas” of the lake.
  • Grand Deluxe Room – 340 square feet, has the same amenities and view choices as the Resort View room, but includes a private balcony, with a table and two chairs.
  • Deluxe Family Room – 500 square feet, L-shaped and located in the corners of the building, providing a variety of views depending on location.

*All the rooms include a coffee maker, mini-fridge, sleeper sofa, desk with a chair

The resort has four types of suites, and several types of suites, with a variety of views:

  • The Grand Suite has a 680 square foot parlor, with a capacity of 50 to 75 people. It includes a wet bar and conference table for ten. The parlor connects to both one and two bedroom guest rooms and can be rented in a variety of configurations. Secondary guest rooms can be booked.
  • The Executive Suite has a 600 square foot parlor with distinct living and sleeping areas. It includes a conference table for six and a sleeper sofa. Connecting rooms are available. This suite can be rented as part of a one or two bedroom suite.
  • The Governor’s Suite has a 680 square foot parlor as well as an adjacent bedroom with a private sitting area. Its upscale furnishings include a conference table for six, a wet bar, two lounge chairs and floor lamps. Also included are balconies overlooking Crescent Lake.
  • There are four Presidential Suites, each with a 1000 square foot parlor, that has an entertainment center with a 55″ LCD TV, plenty of seating, a grand piano, an extra full bath, a full kitchen with wet bar, and a conference table for eight. An optional secondary guest room is available. The two suites located on the uppermost floor offer balconies with dramatic views of Crescent Lake.

 

The best part about our room was the view. It never got old and at night it was breathtaking. I can’t wait to come back when there are fireworks back at Epcot and watch them from our bed at night!

What is there to do at the Resort?

Honestly, there is so much to do at the resort as well as nearby, that you have no reason to be bored when you are at Swant and Dolphin. The two hotels share a magnificent swimming complex. You’ll have your choice of two lap pools or the tropical “Grotto” to satisfy all of the water lovers. One lap pool is located near the Dolphin and the other is located near the Swan. Both have hot tubs, away from the liveliness of the “Grotto”.

The Grotto is a 3-acre water playground complete with waterfalls, slides, water volleyball, and hot tubs. Tropical foliage surrounds the Grotto area, and the white sand beach nearby make it a perfect place to relax or have fun. DJ’s are on hand to help keep the area lively and fun by playing great music and starting group games. A kiddie pool is near the Grotto for the little guys. Pool toys are also available for rent. The pools are open daily 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. The water slide is open daily 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Towels are provided poolside or are available at the health clubs.

While it is under construction right now for the new tower going in next door, there is a beautiful white sand beach with Swan paddleboat rentals seasonally. The beach is quiet and peaceful in the hours after dark, which makes for a romantic spot. There are 4 tennis courts and a basketball court that are kept lighted throughout the night, for those that still have energy left over after a day at the parks. A large play area for children is located near the Grotto. A jogging and walking path winds around the Dolphin and Swan. Add to that the boardwalk around Crescent Lake (near the Yacht & Beach Clubs and the BoardWalk), and you’ll have quite an extensive walk or jog.

There are two health clubs servicing the complex — one at the Dolphin and one at the Swan. Massage therapy and Body Treatments are available for a fee at the health clubs.

The Mandara Spa is a 12,000 sq. foot ancient Asian-inspired retreat. There are 13 treatment rooms, two couple’s suites, a steam room, Tea Garden and Meditation Garden.

For those who like their indoor activities a little less strenuous, there is a video game room on the lower level.

Fantasia Gardens is a few minutes walk away. This miniature golf adventure opened in the spring of 1996, and includes two 18-hole courses. There is something for everyone– fun and Disney magic on the Fantasia Gardens course and a more challenging game on Fantasia Fairways.

Don’t forget to explore activities offered at the nearby BoardWalk and Yacht & Beach Clubs.

 

Merchandise from the Walt Disney World Resort, as well as sundries can be found at the Dolphin. A boutique offering resort wear, swimwear accessories, and unique gifts from Quicksilver, Vera Bradley, and others is located in the Dolphin.

Want to get a head start on your laundry? There is a very large coin-operated guest laundromat located on the property as well. You can run down your last night and get it all done to pack up clean laundry to make less work when you get home. There is a machine for laundry soap, fabric softener, and other items you may need.

Final Thoughts

Our final thoughts on the resort are positive ones. We were blown away by the front desk staff, the accommodations, the amenities, and the location. The price just sealed the deal for us that this is a resort you can’t pass up when you are considering a trip to Walt Disney World. So, make the leap… Contact your Key to the World Travel Advisor today to book your next stay at Walt Disney World’s Swan and Dolphin Resort today.

To book contact your Key to the World Travel Advisor today!

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