Staying at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin: the Pros and the Cons

When you are looking for a convenient and less expensive alternative hotel to the Walt Disney World resorts, the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin is an excellent choice. We’ve chosen to stay at the Swan and Dolphin a handful of times. They’ve all been short, adult only stays. In fact, for one of the stays we were in the room only to drop a bag, sleep for 7ish hours, shower and get back to our adventures. For the convenience, it really is a great resort. In this post, I discuss the resorts (they’re actually two separate resorts: the Dolphin and the Swan. Despite being two separate resorts they share charging privileges, the main pool, and some other features. We will discuss the pros and cons of staying here for your next Walt Disney World vacation.

As compared to official owned and operated Walt Disney World resorts, the Swan and Dolphin have some advantages as well as some disadvantages.

Advantages/Pros of Staying at the Swan and Dolphin (versus a Disney Resort):

  • Location and price!! Typically much cheaper than its Disney deluxe resort counterparts;
  • Many Disney Onsite perks: Early Morning entry, Extended evening hours (this is huge), ability to make dining reservations at 60 days plus 10,transportation to the parks;
  • Marriott Bonvoy Rewards points can be earned or redeemed and status privileges can be utilized;
  • Have I mentioned location?! You can easily walk to the Boardwalk area and to Disney’s Beach and Yacht Club to take advantage of their dining choices. In addition to the easy access to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot.
The Boardwalk Area map from within the Walt Disney World App

Disadvantages/Cons of Staying at the Swan and Dolphin (versus a Disney Resort):

  • No bus drop off at the Magic Kingdom, you are instead dropped off at the Ticket and Transportation Center where you will need to take the monorail or boat to the theme park;
  • No magic Bands;
  • Not able to purchase the Disney Dining Plan when this is available at WDW (not important to everyone);
  • Fees: Resort fee, separate parking fee, a service fee in addition to the gratuity in their restaurants;
  • Lacks Disney’s magical and immersive theming.

Staying at the Swan & Dolphin

Onsite Benefits

In order to obtain the Walt Disney World advantages of the Swan and Dolphin resort (like Dining before non-Disney resort guests), you link your hotel in My Disney Experience  the same as you would any official Disney resort. You will need your hotel confirmation number and check-in date. Note, it does take between 24-48 hours from the time you book the resort to when you can link the reservation online. After linking the reservation, you will have access to your dining reservations 60 days in advance for your whole resort stay. (For stays up to 10 days.)

To utilize Early Morning Entry as well as Extra Evening hours at WDW you need to bring your room key to the parks. The Swolphin (as it’s sometimes called), along with their new sister resort the Swan Reserve are the only non-Disney resort besides the Shades of Green with access to Extra Evening hours.

The Resort Amenities

The pool at the Swan and Dolphin is very nice. Much like the rest of the hotel, it is does not have that immersive special Disney theming. But it is nice. They also provide a schedule of the recreation activities offered throughout the day, including movies at the pool on the weekends. The property has extensive dining. Between the Swan, Dolphin and Swan Reserve, they offer 5 signature restaurants including Il Mulino and Shula’s Steak House, 11 casual and/or quick service locations, and 6 lounges.

Disney's Swan and Dolphin
The courtyard at night is absolutely gorgeous.

One of my favorite “features” of this property is their dancing lights. The Dancing Light Spectacular takes place in their courtyard between the two resorts. (The dancing lights remind me of the fountains at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.)  They play music and use light effects to move with the music. It’s beautiful and something we stumbled upon one night. According to their daily schedule of events, it’s a nightly activity from sunset until 10 p.m. To this day if we are in the area in the evening we will make a stop to the courtyard to sit on a bench and take in the lights and music.

My final thoughts on the Swan and Dolphin

The Swan and Dolphin is just a short walk to Epcot
Date Night at the Swan and Dolphin. (In the elevator!)

We really do love this hotel for a quicker trip. It’s close to all the action, but without the larger cost of a Disney Deluxe hotel. Seriously, have I mentioned how great the location is?! We especially love it for Epcot International Food & Wine Festival trips. You spend so much time at the parks, you just need a place to sleep at night, and perhaps a quick nap during the day. Its location is fantastic and it’s price is very reasonable. I would not hesitate to recommend this hotel to others.

Read about how we plan our dining and meals at WDW here. Until next time, safe travels and don’t forget to Pack your Pixie Dust✨! 

When I’m traveling, I always have a solid meal replacement bar and other snacks available in case I am in a situation where I’m unable to eat. These bars are a good meal alternative when I’m in a pinch.
[Pack Your Pixie Dust

Author: Christy P

Christy is a Mom, Wife, Travel Planner, Attorney, Podcast Enthusiast & Co-Host (DCL Podcast) and a sometimes blogger. She writes about family travel, gluten free travel, and life as a travel addict. Her motto is "work hard to play harder!" Whatever you do, don't forget to Pack Your Pixie Dust.

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