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- Swan and Dolphin
- 1. Marriott Bonvoy points!
- 2. It's visually breathtaking
- 3. Transportation to the parks is a snap
- 4. Camp Dolphin
- 5. Spa time
- 6. Pools and activities for days
- 7. Eat all day (and all night) with a whole lot of options
- 8. Character dining on site
- 9. Fireworks to Heavenly Bed in minutes
- 10. More to come
- Need to know:
The Swan and Dolphin Disney World hotels offer the best of both worlds: Disney on-property benefits and Marriott Bonvoy™ points. Here are 10 reasons why this luxe pair of properties are a good choice for a Disney vacation.
Disclosure: Brands mentioned provided some consideration.
Swan and Dolphin
When I was planning my son’s first Disney trip, the sheer number of hotel options was overwhelming. Do I stay on Disney property, or off? What’s our park schedule? What are our top priorities? It’s enough to make even the most ardent Mickey Mouse fan wish for a fairy godmother to come along and simply make it happen.
I whispered a Bibbity Bobbity Boo, and found my perfect match: the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin resort. Elegant, upscale, and with a plethora of Disney and non-Disney themed amenities, it has a lot going for it. Here are my Top 10 reasons to love it:
1. Marriott Bonvoy points!
Here’s a secret you may not know: this luxe pair of properties offers the best of both worlds: Disney benefits and Marriott Bonvoy™ points. I’m a frequent traveler with Marriott Bonvoy™ points to use, so having the option to redeem them at the Swan & Dolphin is a thrill for me. The Swan and Dolphin are legacy Starwood hotels; the Swan is a Westin and the Dolphin a Sheraton (Westin and Sheraton are now owned by Marriott International), and they run about 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy™ points per night. So save up.
2. It’s visually breathtaking
The Michael Graves & Associates-designed 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. I remember finding it to be quiet and serene at night for good sleeping but also super fun for us.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. Spa time
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.
6. Pools and activities for days
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.
7. Eat all day (and all night) with a whole lot of options
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.
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 has 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.)
8. 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 last Christmas, 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.
9. Fireworks to Heavenly Bed in minutes
The fireworks is also one of my top priorities, 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.
10. More to come
In the next two years, The Cove hotel will join the Swan & Dolphin, currently under construction on Epcot Resorts Boulevard, near the Fantasia Garden miniature golf course. I’m looking forward to seeing the new rooftop venue for weddings and events. That’s going to be the hotspot for fireworks viewing, I’m predicting. Can you imagine the wedding photographs that will come from that site?
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? The game room beckons, or 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.
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.
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.
About the Sponsor
Merging with Starwood Hotels and Resorts made Marriott International the second largest hotel company in the world, with more than 7,000 hotels in 131 countries. That means Marriott International has a hotel for just about every type of family vacation, from budget brands like Springhill Suites to the uber luxurious Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis and JW Marriott. Even better, combining the two companies’ rewards programs into Marriott Bonvoy™ points means more opportunities for reward travel. Don’t miss a chance to sign up — there’s no fee and joining provides access to member-only room rates, free wifi and an app that allows you to use your phone as a room key.