ResortsWalt Disney World (FL)

Frequently Asked Questions About the Disney World Swan and Dolphin

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It seems obvious to me why there are so many questions about the Walt Disney World Swan, Dolphin, and Swan Reserve Hotels. I mean … they have Disney World in the name, but they’re not Disney World resorts? What’s up with that?! Well, if you have a question, maybe we have an answer … and if not, let us know in the comments and we’ll get one!

One thing to note: if I write Swan, Dolphin, and Swan Reserve every single time, my fingers will stumble and so will your brain. Unless I single out the Swan Reserve, you can assume that anywhere I’ve written Swan & Dolphin below it’s shorthand for all three hotels.

Are the Swan and Dolphin part of the official Walt Disney World Resort?

No. The Swan, Dolphin, and Swan Reserve hotels are often considered Good Neighbor Hotels. These are hotels that have Disney World’s stamp of approval for comfort, value, and quality. Good Neighbor Hotels are not owned or operated by Disney, but you can book them on Disney’s website. Many are able to offer some Disney World extras that are normally reserved for “on-site” guests. All offer a Guest Services desk to help with your Disney vacation planning, and transportation to the theme parks.

What makes the Swan and Dolphin special?

I wrote above that they are often considered Good Neighbor Hotels; in fact, they have their own category on Disney’s website: “Other Select Deluxe Hotels”. The Swan, Dolphin, and Swan Reserve offer many more of Disney World’s on-site hotel perks than any other Good Neighbor hotel. Another thing that makes the Swan & Dolphin stand out is their location – smack in the middle of the Crescent Lake resort area. You can easily walk to two of the theme parks, something no other non-Disney Hotel can boast of.

Are the Swan and Dolphin themed like Disney resort hotels?

Nope. Well, maybe. The Swan, Dolphin, and Swan Reserve rooms are not themed; they’ll be similar to Westins and Sheratons everywhere. But the public areas of the hotels are lovely, with nods to the swans and dolphins they’re named for. Does that count as “theming”? You decide. This is one area where the Swan Reserve is noticeably different, as it was built decades later and with a different architectural vision.

It’s a Swan Fountain at the Swan hotel. Is that Disney-resort level theming? You decide.
What are the differences between the Swan, Dolphin, and Swan Reserve?

That’s way more than we could pack in this one article. I’ll refer you to Why You Should Consider the Swolphin Rather Than A Disney Hotel.

“On-Site” Disney World Perks for Swan and Dolphin Guests

When can Swan and Dolphin guests make Individual Lightning Lane reservations?

Swan, Dolphin, and Swan Reserve guests can make Individual Lightning Lane reservations at 7 a.m., the same time as guests of Disney resort hotels. This is one of the perks that is available to those staying at the Swan & Dolphin but not other Good Neighbor Hotels.

Are guests of the Swan and Dolphin eligible for Early Theme Park Entry?

Yes, guests of the Swan, Dolphin, and Swan Reserve get Early Theme Park Entry. This benefit allows guests of the hotel to enter the parks at least half an hour before they open to regular visitors. Our experience is that most guests will be able to do between 1 and 3 attractions during Early Entry with much shorter lines than they’ll find later in the day.

Are guests of the Swan and Dolphin eligible for Extended Evening Theme Park Hours?

Yes, guests of the Swan, Dolphin, and Swan Reserve are eligible for Extended Evening Theme Park Hours. EETPH was announced as part of the Disney World 50th Anniversary and has continued since. These Extended Evening Hours give qualifying guests two extra hours in the parks after they close to day guests.

If you are staying at the Swan and Dolphin, do you get free parking at the theme parks?

Yes, guests of the Swan, Dolphin, and Swan Reserve get free parking at the Disney World theme parks.

When can you make Disney World dining reservations if you’re staying at the Swan and Dolphin?

Guests at the Swan, Dolphin, and Swan Reserve can make reservations starting 60 days from the beginning of their stay. Even better, they qualify for the 60+10 rule. That means they can usually reserve for their entire stay as soon as their dining window opens.

Can you use MagicBands to charge to your room at the Swan & Dolphin?

No. Guests staying at the Swan, Dolphin, and Swan Reserve do not have resort-wide charging privileges at Disney World. Thus, neither MagicBands nor MagicMobile can be used to charge to your room. However, you can charge to your room from the restaurants and shops at the Swolphin complex itself, like any other hotel.

If you’re doing a Disney World split stay with the Swan & Dolphin as one of the resorts, will Disney transfer your luggage?

No. Disney will only transfer your luggage between hotels that Disney owns and operates. That doesn’t include the Swan, Dolphin, and Swan Reserve.

Questions About Transportation

Do the Disney buses go to the Swan and Dolphin?

No. For many years the Swan & Dolphin used the same buses as the Disney-owned hotels, but that changed in 2020. This matters most at the Magic Kingdom, where Swan & Dolphin buses go to the Transportation & Ticket Center instead of directly to the front of the theme park. The TTC is the main parking lot for the Magic Kingdom; from there, you’ll need to take the monorail or a ferry boat to reach the park entrance.

However, guests of the Swan, Dolphin, and Swan Reserve can walk to both EPCOT and Hollywood Studios. They also have access to the Disney-operated Friendship Boats that serve EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and the other Crescent Lake area resorts.

Finally, guests of the Swan, Dolphin, and Swan Reserve who drive to Disney World will have to pay for parking at their hotel. But they get complimentary parking at the theme parks.

The Crescent Lake Friendship Boats stop at the Swan, Dolphin, and Swan Reserve – and also at EPCOT and Hollywood Studios
Does the Sunshine Flyer or Mears Connect go to the Swan and Dolphin?

Yes. These two services have now merged to a single service, Mears Connect Driven by Sunshine, and it does offer service  to and from the airport to the Swan, Dolphin, or Swan Reserve.

Can you use Minnie Van service at the Swan and Dolphin?

Yes, Minnie Vans will both pick up and drop off at the Swan, Dolphin, and Swan Reserve hotels.

Questions About Reservations and Fees

How can you make a reservation at the Swan and Dolphin?

Reservations at the Swan, Dolphin, and Swan Reserve can be made in any of the following ways:

Can you link your Swan and Dolphin reservation to My Disney Experience?

Yes.

Making a reservation on the Disney World website will automatically link the reservation to your My Disney Experience account. If you make the reservation through the Swan & Dolphin website, you’ll need to link it yourself using your confirmation number. However, Disney has made that process very easy: your Swan, Dolphin, or Swan Reserve reservation confirmation number can be entered directly into MDE to link your reservation. There’s no real advantage to booking on Disney’s website.

Can you stay at the Swan and Dolphin using reward points?

Yes. You can use Marriott Bonvoy rewards to reserve a stay at any of the Swan, Dolphin, or Swan Reserve. Stays at these resorts that are reserved with cash also earn Marriott Bonvoy points.

Is there a resort fee at the Swan and Dolphin?

Yes, the Swan, Dolphin, and Swan Reserve all charge a resort fee. This fee doesn’t include parking, which is an extra charge if you drive. You need to pay the resort fee even if you reserve your room using Marriott Bonvoy reward points.

Do you have to pay for parking at the Swan and Dolphin?

Yes. Guests staying at the Swan, Dolphin, and Swan Reserve need to pay for parking. Guests who are just visiting also need to pay for parking, although some of the restaurants will validate parking. The restaurants that validate parking are Il Mulino, Kimonos, Shula’s Steak House, and bluezoo.

How do prices at the Swan and Dolphin compare to official Disney resorts?

Prices at the Swan, Dolphin, and Swan Reserve are often much lower than comparable Deluxe resorts, as much as 50% lower. However, those rates are highly dependent on the season and at more popular times of the year the gap can narrow considerably. Don’t forget to factor in the resort and parking fees when comparing prices.

Can you get the Disney Dining Plan if you’re staying at the Swan and Dolphin?

No. This is one of the few ways in which these hotels are truly different from an official Disney Resort hotel. You cannot add the Dining Plan to a reservation at the Swan, Dolphin, or Swan Reserve.

Do Disney World discount offers include the Swan and Dolphin?

No. When Disney World releases offers and promotions, they don’t include these hotels since they are not Disney-operated. But the Swan, Dolphin, and Swan Reserve run their own promotions and they may coincide with discounts on Disney World resorts. It never hurts to check.

Questions About Paying at the Swan & Dolphin

Can you use Disney Gift Cards at the Swan & Dolphin?

Mostly no. The Swan, Dolphin, and Swan Reserve are not Disney-owned properties and don’t have agreements with Disney that commit them to accept Disney Gift Cards. Although there may be a few random exceptions, you generally can’t use Disney Gift cards at the restaurants or shops in these hotels, nor can you use them to pay your bill.

Can you use MagicBands to pay at the Swan & Dolphin?

No. The stores and restaurants at the Swan, Dolphin, and Swan Reserve aren’t on Disney’s payment system. If you’re staying at another Disney World resort, you can’t pay for things at the Swan and Dolphin hotels using either MagicBand or MagicMobile.

Can you use the Disney Dining Plan at the Swan and Dolphin restaurants?

No. The Swan, Dolphin, & Swan Reserve restaurants don’t participate in the Disney Dining Plan. You can’t use Table Service, Quick Service, or Snack credits in the eateries at these hotels.

Miscellaneous Questions

Is there pool hopping at the Swan and Dolphin?

Kinda. Guests of the Swan, Dolphin, and Swan Reserve are all able to use the pools at the complex no matter which hotel they are staying in. But they are not eligible to use the pools at other Disney World resort hotels. If it’s any consolation, that perk doesn’t come standard with a Disney resort hotel stay either. And even Disney Vacation Club members who do qualify for pool hopping can’t use the pools at the Swolphin.

The Swan & Dolphin complex has some lovely pools. You can only use them if you’re staying at one of the three hotels.
Can you see fireworks from the Swan and Dolphin?

Yes. The hotels are located about midway between EPCOT and Hollywood Studios. All three hotels offer at least a few rooms with views of fireworks. Several public spaces such as restaurants or lounges also have excellent fireworks viewing.

Can you buy theme park tickets at the Swan and Dolphin?

Yes. The vacation planning desk at the Swan, Dolphin, and Swan Reserve can help you with tickets and other aspects of your Disney World vacation.

I’m sure we missed something. Was it your question? Let us know in the comments!

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Jennifer Heymont

Jennifer has a background in math and biology, so she ended up in Data Science where she gets to do both. She lives just north of Boston with her husband, kids, and assorted animal members of the family. Although it took three visits for the Disney bug to "take", she now really wishes she lived a lot closer to the Parks.

5 thoughts on “Frequently Asked Questions About the Disney World Swan and Dolphin

  • We stayed at the swan hotel starting March 28 and checking out April I. What was the total charge for parking for this length of time? If you can’t answer who should I contact? Thanks

    Reply
    • Hello, you’ll need to contact the hotel to inquire about the specific parking charges.

      Reply
    • Current cost for parking is $36/day for self park and $44/day for valet parking.

      Reply
  • Thank you for this insightful post. One question about transportation: you mentioned about the third party bus service now at these resorts and the impact on a trip to the Magic Kingdom. Do they offer service to other Disney properties: Animal Kingdom, water parks, or Disney Springs? Or for those do we need to go to Boardwalk, Yacht, Beach?

    Reply
    • Hi Michael, I’m happy to let you know that the Swan & Dolphin does also offer bus service to the Animal Kingdom and Disney Springs. As for the water parks, Blizzard Beach is currently closed and even from Disney Resorts you must go to Disney Springs and then from Disney Springs to Typhoon Lagoon, so your process would be similar except that you’d be on the Swolphin bus to Disney Springs and the Disney bus from the Springs to the waterpark.

      Have a great trip!

      Reply

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