Although this resort is inside the World and Disney handles its reservations, it's owned by Westin and can be booked directly through its parent company, too. The Swan and Dolphin face each other on either side of an inlet of Crescent Lake. The Swan has a 12-story main building flanked by two seven-story towers. Two 47-foot-tall swans adorn its roof, paralleling their marine counterparts across the way. Both the Swan and the Dolphin have been described as bizarre and stylistically disjointed. At the very least, they're eclectic in their theming. Disney says you'll step into a "fantasy world." We think the experience is more akin to Art Deco gone haywire. The giant swans look swanlike, but the Dolphin's fish are more like catfish from outer space. The atmosphere at these properties could be described as adventurous or confusing, depending on how much you value the work of a good interior decorator. Both resorts feature art of wildly different styles and eras (from Matisse to Roy Lichtenstein). The Swan's pool is a conventional rectangle.
The Swan's guest rooms were redecorated in 2003 and 2004; soft goods and televisions were updated in 2008. The once eye-poppingly bold colors have given way to restful earth-tone pastels and handsome Scandinavian-modern blond bedsteads and dressers. Westin's Heavenly Beds make for ultracomfy sleeping. The rooms have great light for reading, in or out of bed. A huge, round mirror framed in blond wood hangs above the dresser. The bath, though small for a Disney World hotel, is elegantly appointed.
Because the Swan and the Dolphin aren't run by Disney, service is less sugarcoated than at other Disney resorts. The two hotels collectively house more than a dozen restaurants and lounges and are within easy walking distance of Epcot and the BoardWalk. They're also connected to other destinations by bus and boat. Walking time from the most remote rooms to the transportation loading areas is 7-9 minutes.
Reader comments about the Swan and Dolphin touch on the same several themes. The following remarks from an El Paso, Texas, reader are representative:
I had heard the Swan and Dolphin were pretty much convention hotels, but since I was able to score a really great deal through mouse savers.com, we gave the Swan a try. There were a lot of businesspeople, but there were a lot of families, too. The swimming-pool setup was super, and our room was beautiful and had a great view looking toward Epcot. Taking the two hotels together, the restaurant selection was the best I've seen in or out of the World. On the downside, both hotels are really spread out, and it was quite a hike from self-parking to the entrance of the Swan.
|Hotel||Definitely (+/- since last year)|
|Swan at Walt Disney World||33% (-47%)|
|Average for WDW hotels||76% (+0%)|
|Average for off-site hotels||57% (+0%)|
|Hotel||Definitely (+/- since last year)|
|Swan at Walt Disney World||100% (+0%)|
|Average for WDW hotels||92% (+2%)|
|Average for off-site hotels||79% (-7%)|
Good (and Not-So-Good) Rooms at Swan at Walt Disney World
This sprawling hotel is configured very differently, and its irregular shape means it's easier to discuss groups of rooms in relation to exterior landmarks and compass directions rather than by room numbers. When speaking with a Disney reservationist, use our tips to ask for a particular view or area.
East-facing rooms offer prime views, particularly in the upper half of the seven-story wing above the Il Mulino New York Trattoria. From this vantage point, guests overlook a canal and the Board- Walk, with Epcot in the distance. IllumiNations fireworks enliven the view nightly. Balcony rooms are available on floors five, six, and seven. However, rooms in the wing nearest the hotel's main section have the southern portion of their view obscured by the building's easternmost portion, which juts east beyond the seven-story wing. There are some east-facing rooms on that portion of the main section, sans balconies. Lofty palm trees obscure the view from east-facing rooms below the fourth floor. The best rooms with an Epcot view are 626 and 726.
North-facing rooms afford views of the Dolphin and (generally) of the courtyard. Exceptions are the north-facing rooms on the easternmost portion of the main section, which look across Crescent Terrace to the BoardWalk. These afford angled views of Epcot and are buffered by palms on the lowest three floors. The few north-facing rooms at the end of the Swan's two eight-story wings directly overlook Crescent Lake. However, the bulk of north-facing rooms are in the main section and overlook the courtyard, with greenery, fountains, and an indoor cafe in its center. Courtyard-facing rooms are subject to noise from below, though never much.
Above the eighth floor, north-facing rooms in the main section overlook roofs of the shorter wings. In these rooms, height enhances the vista from your window, but only near the center of the hotel is the view not seriously marred by rooftops below.
North-facing main-section rooms have a more direct view of the Dolphin across the lake than the courtyard-facing rooms in either eight-story wing. However, most wing rooms can view the lake at an angle. Those on the northern edge of the western wing also view the BoardWalk at an angle.
Most courtyard-facing rooms have balconies; 224 rooms are so equipped, and these balconies offer panoramic 180-degree views. Of course, from most rooms at the Swan, part of any 180-degree view will include another section of the hotel.
The Swan's worst views are from west-facing rooms above the fourth floor, which overlook the unsightly roof of the hotel's western wing. The northernmost rooms in the wing directly above Kimonos restaurant are an exception to this, as their balconies overlook the pool and the beach on Crescent Lake's western shore. Rooms 680â€“691 offer nice pool views.
Above the Swan's main entrance, south-facing rooms overlook the parking lot, with forest and Disney's Hollywood Studios in the distance. However, the canal is also visible to the east. These rooms lack balconies.
|Exotic architecture||Confusing layout|
|Extremely nice guest rooms||No transportation to Epcot main entrance|
|Good on-site and nearly dining||Self-parking distant, requites daily fee|
|Health and fitness center||Resort doesn't qualify for Disney's Magical Express service|
|Excellent beach, swimming complex|
|Best WDW resort for business travellers|
|On-site child care|
|Children's programs, character meals|
|Varied recreational offerings|
|View from guest rooms|
|10-minute walk to Boardwalk nightlife|
|Boat service to Disney's Hollywood Studios and Epcot|
|Participates in Extra Magic Hours program|
Swan at Walt Disney World Dining
- Garden Grove (Table Service)
- Il Mulino New York Trattoria (Table Service)
- Java Bar (Counter Service)
- Kimonos (Table Service)
- Splash Terrace (Table Service)
|Magic Kingdom||20 minutes|
|Disney's Hollywood Studios||22 minutes|
|Disney's Animal Kingdom||23 minutes|
|Quietness of Room||C|
|Shuttle to Parks||Yes|