We’re back from Disney World, and first up our Disney’s Swan & Dolphin Resort review! What an amazing resort!
Walt Disney’s Swan & Dolphin Resort is as close as one can get to staying on property, without technically staying in an official Walt Disney World hotel/resort. It’s managed by Marriott and considered part of the collection of Walt Disney World resorts. It’s a step above (in terms of being “on property”) than staying at, for example, any other non-branded Disney hotel/resort in the Disney Springs area. You’re within the Walt Disney World gates here. While guests don’t receive quite ALL of the onsite perks, they get most of them, like OFFICIAL Disney Park transportation and extra magic hours.
The Swan & Dolphin Resort (official site) is located in the Disney Epcot Resorts area. It’s a short walk to Disney’s Boardwalk Resort, Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios. The resort shares a boat with the hotels and two parks mentioned above. Bus service to Animal Kingdom, the water parks, and Disney Springs is shared with Disney’s Boardwalk Resort, and the bus to Magic Kingdom services the Swan & Dolphin only. There is no bus service to Epcot or Hollywood Studios because of the options to either walk or take a friendship boat.
Things you won’t get? Magical Express (the transportation to/from the airport), the option to add the Disney dining plan, and Magic Band charging privileges. Side note: we still used our magic bands, because it was easier to manage our park tickets and fast passes with them, but we couldn’t, for example, open our hotel room door or use them to charge to our room. None of it was a big deal, except… we missed Disney’s Magical Express. I never thought I liked it as much as I did until I didn’t have it anymore. Instead we hired a car service that stopped at a grocery store so we could grab some stuff. It was $170 round trip (with tips), and our driver was a really nice guy, but it was a meh van that felt like it needed a deep clean, and was overall very… unmagical.
Although the Swan & Dolphin are typically mentioned together, they are actually two separate resorts that share amenities (and charging privileges).
We stayed at the Swan, which has a sophisticated flare smack in the middle of the Walt Disney World Resort, that quite frankly, most of the other official Disney hotels are missing. As an adult it’s nice to be “in the middle of it all,” without having Mickey ears shoved in your face. But alternatively, if you’re used to that, and enjoy it, you may feel left out here. There aren’t any Disney touches incorporated into the carpets, or lamps, and maybe you’ll miss it, or maybe you’ll think this place is so comfortable, chic, peaceful and calm that you won’t care. I mean, what a break from a busy day and such a soothing place to return to!
Nevertheless, there is a small Disney store onsite, which can get anyone in trouble.
The staff is what you’d expect to find at any Marriott hotel. When we arrived at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, as soon as we stepped off the magical express someone welcomed us by name. As soon as our car service dropped us off here, we had to ask for help with our bags. It was a bit different from Disney, but not necessarily a bad thing. It definitely has convention vibes, which again, isn’t bad. One thing that happened was regarding room availability at check-in. We usually luck out with our room always being ready, despite it being hours before check-in. So of course the one time we felt we really needed our room STAT, it wasn’t available – or so we thought. We were up since 2:30am, Baby A needed some time to relax – we all needed to change – and I asked for a downgrade, anything – just to have a place to unwind for a bit. The lady at the front desk wasn’t rude, nor was she exactly accommodating. We had booked through a third party, so it wasn’t until we handed over our elite status card to add our member number to the reservation that she was suddenly able to check with a manager… and guess what? A room was magically ready. So there’s a little update to this previous post. Sometimes, it does matter.
Anyway, like I said, you cannot get the Disney dining plan here, but you can share charging privileges with the Dolphin, earn Marriott points, and there’s still a slew of restaurant options to choose from. There’s also all the restaurants at Boardwalk and Beach & Yacht Club at your finger tips, but you cannot charge those to your room.
As far as getting to the parks, we of course loved taking the boat to Hollywood Studios and Epcot. We never had to wait long, and the ride was quick and scenic. As far as the buses go, we had a long wait ONCE, but it was at an off time. Overall, we really lucked out with basically no waits for any buses and the best drivers! Baby A loved all the stickers she got from them. They were never packed either, which is a problem we faced in the past, especially going to/from Disney’s Animal Kingdom Resort.
The Swan is on par (and maybe even a bit above, if you ask me) with any of the Disney deluxe hotels. The pool complex rivals most of the other onsite resorts (except maybe I’ll let you argue Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club’s Stormalong Bay, because that’s fair), and poolside service is prompt, and it’s GOOD FOOD. You can spend over a day exploring all the different pools, and as a hotel guest I always find that exciting!
We had a resort view, and it was the best. Just look at it (pictured above)! Baby A was obsessed, but to be honest we all were. It was so fun watching the Epcot and Hollywood Studios boats pull up.
We thought the room was a tad on the small side, but very comfortable. We had a king bed (baby A is still in her baby bjorn travel crib, because if it’s not broke don’t fix it), and she sleeps SO WELL in it when we travel. There’s a mini-fridge in the room. The bathroom is family friendly, with a sink both in and just outside the toilet/shower area, and the shower feels so luxurious with both a rain shower head and removable spray. The best part of the room was by far the bed! It was so comfortable, and really, that’s all you can ask for after a long days in the parks!
We utilized room service two days for breakfast before hitting the parks. It was prompt, and the food was excellent. On park days, when we weren’t hustling to get to a character breakfast, it was so easy to have it delivered to our room and eat as we got ready. We always ordered the night before, and designated our desired delivery time. Then we placed the door hanger menu outside before we went to sleep and breakfast was magically our wakeup call every morning.
Unlike the other Walt Disney World Resort hotels, there is a daily resort fee here that REALLY adds up. Things that are included are a little annoying, (for example Marriott reward members always get free internet anyway), and the 2 bottles of water daily, although a really nice touch, don’t exactly add up to be worth it. Free local calls, which I’m not sure who uses that anymore with cell phones are also included, as is a Swan boat rental, which seems cute but is not something we did nor does it substitute the high resort fee.
Still, at the end of the day, it’s hard to beat the Swan & Dolphin’s location. The Epcot resort area is such a fun place to stay, and chances are you’re going to get a much better deal here than any Disney resort. I promise you it’s worth it. You literally have everything at your finger tips. It’s so awesome that a hotel like this exists right on Disney’s grounds, especially for Marriott reward members. The transportation options, like walking or taking a boat to two of the parks is what sold us. Same with the fact that it’s actual Disney transpiration – so you get dropped off at all the official points along with the rest of the Disney Resorts. It’s such a great home away from home, and we would definitely return!
*We received a complimentary room type and view upgrade for review purposes.