I’d always heard of it- had always seen the huge building (it’s hard to miss) but honestly never thought of staying there. We stayed several times at the Disney Springs (Downtown Disney) area, once at a Disney moderate hotel and a few times off property. So, I decided to book a trip to Disney 2 months ahead and noticed the Swan and Dolphin as an available and affordable option. My kids and I loved it, and I am very happy we chose to stay there. We booked the Dolphin, the larger of the two, and had an updated room with a fabulous view! Look at this view from our room day and night!
What I liked:
Location Location Location! This hotel is an ideal location, especially if you are not renting a car and want to get to the parks easily. I’m not a fan of the free shuttle busses (though we did take one to Disney Springs one evening) so being able to walk-or take a 5 minute boat ride- to both Epcot and Hollywood Studios was a huge plus for me. How can you beat that? We could meander over to Epcot via the Boardwalk or past the Yacht and Beach Club hotel or walk to HS anytime by a lovely pathway. Both parks could be reached within minutes of their free boats too! As a big bonus, Disney’s Boardwalk is also right there across the bridge from the hotel. We spent three different times on the Boardwalk, and although it is small, it was extremely fun and memorable. Had a great pizza, watched the fireworks from Hollywood studios (amazing view) and saw some very fun magician shows on the boardwalk. They also have those little surrey bikes for rent. A very fun place! You can also see the fireworks right from the hotel area as well.
The property. The pool areas were very nice and the kids loved the lagoon pool with it’s huge waterfall and a small waterslide.They had music by a DJ going so it was like a little party! Five heated pools, two whirlpools and a great beach area around the lake added to the fun. We got to play beach ping pong, beach volleyball and just chill in a hammock or on the many chairs. You can also rent swan shaped paddle boats. The property is on 87 acres so it’s a big place and you are free to use everything whether you stay at the smaller, quieter Swan or the larger Dolphin.
Staying at the Swan and Dolphin offers some Disney benefits too, though the hotels are not “official” Disney hotels. You do get the extra magic hours the parks offer, there’s a free bus to all parks that runs every 20 minutes or so and The Garden Grove restaurant offers character dining. You can also have free delivery of your purchases at the parks right to the hotel and free parking at the parks if you stay here, parking at the hotel does have a fee. They offer a free shuttle bus to all parks.
The hotel has seventeen restaurants! Yeah, it’s that big. We didn’t dine at any sit-down ones but did head into PICABU, their 24 hour cafe to grab snacks, lunch and breakfast.
Another perk is the on site car rental. We reserved a car and drove over the Clearwater area for the day. The valet brings the car right up to you and takes it at the end of the day when you come back. It can’t get easier than that!
Speaking of transportation, instead of the free shuttle bus, I chose to use UBER to get us to the Magic Kingdom. It was a GREAT first time Uber experience and I highly recommend it if you don’t want the hassle or inconvenience of waiting for the bus. Our first ride was free and returning was a peak time so it was about $7 to return to the hotel from the Polynesian where we got off the monorail at. There are really lots of options to get to MK and back but I definitely recommend UBER. Your first ride is free with this code too!
All in all, the driver picked us up 4 minutes after I requested pick up ( they know a lot of guests need a car so there is always a driver nearby) and we were in the MK not long afterwards. It was way quicker and easier than I expected!
The Swan and Dolphin doesn’t offer free shuttles from the airport so keep that in mind. We used Legacy car service which ran $120 round trip in a nice private, clean Ford Expedition.
The hotel is in the middle of updating and remodeling all rooms. This is a quiet undertaking and you don’t know any work is going on. We had an updated room which was super clean and had an extraordinary view of the lake , the boardwalk entrance and the Tower of Terror at Hollywood Studios.It was simple in decor but fine for us. At night, everything is lit up outside and just beautiful! There was a refrigerator and a safe in the room. I’m not sure if you can request a remodeled room but it sure can’t hurt to ask for one when making the reservation.There are over 2200 rooms and suites!!!
All in all, we had a great experience there and I recommend it highly. I know official Disney hotels are wonderful too, but what I liked is this: I saved about $150-$200 a night by booking the Dolphin and it was in the same area as 2 other Disney hotels so all were walkable/boat ride to Epcot and HS and you could see nightly fireworks whichever hotel you stayed at. Check out this view from the Boardwalk: