Disney Dolphin Or Disney Swan: Which is best?

Disney Dolphin Or Disney Swan: Which is best?

Are you Choosing between the Disney Dolphin Or The Swan Hotels at Walt Disney World? While these two resorts can both be found on Crescent Lake there are some differences that set them apart.  As much as we love them both, they each have their own perks and style. Not sure which suits you better?  Cost, size, availability, and atmosphere are the biggest differences when comparing the two; but many of the differences are really just a matter of personal preference.
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What are the Disney Swan and Dolphin Hotels?

Have you ever strolled the Disney Boardwalk and wondered what’s up with those towering resorts behind it? If you haven’t ventured all the way over to this part of the Disney Boardwalk then you may not have noticed these are sister resorts; one has dolphins on the roof, and the other has swans. While these resorts won’t come with any Disney theme-ing, they do come with all the resort luxuries you could hope for, including pools, beaches, gyms, restaurants, spas, and more! 

walt disney world dolphin

Are the Swan and Dolphin a Disney Resort?

Yes and no. Technically, no they are not traditional Walt Disney World hotels. The Dolphin is managed by Sheraton and The Swan is managed by Westin, both of which fall under the Marriott Bonvoy Umbrella of brands.  This is actually great news for those who participate in Marriott Bonvoy’s hotel loyalty program because you can earn and redeem points by staying in one of these hotels.  But they are considered Walt Disney World hotels in the deluxe category. 

But they are technically Walt Disney World hotels. Both the Swan and Dolphin offer many of the same perks as a traditional Walt Disney World resort though. They both offer transportation to and from the Parks and allow you to take advantage of extra magic hours in the Parks.  There is even a character breakfast at The Swan on Saturdays and Sundays featuring some of our favorite classic Disney characters.  Both resorts offer the option to book a vacation package with them, Early Theme Park Entry, 60-day Advanced Dining Reservations, and Disney Genie+ Lightning Lane 7 am booking. 

How are the Swan and Dolphin Hotels Different from Disney Resorts?

The big difference between true Walt Disney World resorts and the Swan and Dolphin is basically just a couple of things.  Disney MagicBands don’t work as room keys at the Swan and Dolphin resorts as they do at Walt Disney World resorts. They’re also not available for guests to purchase at a discount prior to their stay. So if you’ve had a Walt Disney World trip before, you’ll want to reuse your magic band or you’ll have to purchase one separately if you plan to use it in the Parks. Swan and Dolphin guests also cannot make changes to their Magic Bands.

And the Bus Transportation is NOT run by Walt Disney World. This goes for the Dolphin, Swan, and Swan Reserve.  That said, the buses still show up and bring you to each park, but they sometimes take a little longer than typical Disney buses, and they don’t travel to and from the resorts as often. As a Disney Hack, we tend to be fine just walking to the Disney BoardWalk Resorts to catch the buses there instead. Especially as you can check bus arrival times in the Disney app for each resort to help manage your morning or evening plans. Both the Disney Boardwalk Inn and Disney’s Yacht Club are nearby resort bus options to consider if you don’t want to wait for transportation at Dolphin, Swan, or Swan Reserve.  

How Much Do the Swan and Dolphin Hotels Cost?

The Disney Swan and Dolphin Hotels are considered Disney Deluxe Resorts, but priced at a moderate resort level pricing. As such we can usually grab rooms for under 300/ night. However, we HIGHLY recommend you check hotels.com against the Disney website pricing before booking. Since you can get almost all the same perks as booking direct with Disney, why not save some money? And if you’re part of the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program or hotels.com you can even use your free nights on your stay.  As with all the hotels we recommend as part of third-party booking, you can easily connect your resort to your My Disney Experience account, once the reservation is made. Thus getting you perks like access to transportation from the airport with Mears Connect Driven by Sunshine, Early Morning Entry, and Extended Evening Hours too! Check out the prices for your vacation dates. 

Disney Swan and Dolphin

What is the theme of the Swan and Dolphin?

Neither the Swan nor Dolphin hotels have the theming you’re probably used to seeing at a Disney Resort. For some people, it’s a nice departure from Disney all day every day while on vacation; and for others, that may not be the case. It’s always good to be aware! 

The decor at the Dolphin is a bit grander, while the theming at the Swan is more toned down and elegant.  They’re both nice hotels, just not Disney-themed.

Where are the Disney Swan and Dolphin Hotels Located?

The Disney Dolphin and Swan are actually located in one of our favorite spots in all of Walt Disney World, right off of the Disney Boardwalk! While the hotels are both very nice, we think the main reason you should stay here is the location. Not only is Disney’s Boardwalk a fabulous destination all on its own; but it’s also within walking distance to Epcot and Hollywood Studios. This is a great perk as it’s only about a 10-minute walk to Epcot or the Disney Skyliner and about 15-20 minutes from Hollywood Studios. 

Disney Swan and Dolphin
Disney Swan and Dolphin
walt disney world dolphin

Walt Disney World Dolphin

The Dolphin Hotel at Walt Disney World is all about luxury. With a grand entrance, fountains, classy bars, and resort shops, this place gives you the feeling of vacation, but definitely different from what you would find at a standard Disney Resort. 

What is the atmosphere like at Disney’s Dolphin? 

The Dolphin is really quite a grand hotel. It’s large in size, it has a gorgeous standout lobby and beautiful, modern decor. The atmosphere is fun and almost always feels like a party. From the bar in the lobby to the music being played to the light-up palm tree show outside at night, The Dolphin is definitely the more exciting and fun of the two hotels. It’s also a bit loud. 

walt disney world dolphin

What are the Dining Options at Disney’s Dolphin?

Walt Disney World Dolphin has several dining options, including signature restaurants like Shula’s Steakhouse and Todd English’s Blue Zoo, a super fun soda shop called Fountain and Fuel, which has all sorts of coffee drinks, pastries, sandwiches, wine and beer, and even dole whip! You can learn all about the dining options at the Dolphin here

Walt Disney World Dolphin rooms

What are the rooms like at The Dolphin? 

The rooms at Disney’s Dolphin are clean, spacious, and comfortable and a standard room sleeps up to 5.  There is a wider variety of rooms at the Dolphin and while both resorts offer luxurious presidential suites, The Dolphin is home to their grand two-level suite. We love the rooms with a view and a balcony!

walt disney world swan, disney swan and dolphin, where to stay at disney, disney deluxe resort, staying on the boardwalk disney, disney boardwalk, disney resort reviews, disney hotels
Disney Swan and Dolphin
Disney Swan and Dolphin

Walt Disney World Swan

The Swan Hotel is just as beautiful. If you’re looking for something a little more classy, that’s close to both Epcot and Hollywood Studios, via one of Disney’s secret walking paths, then the Swan may be just the ticket. It’s smaller and elegant but with a welcoming feel. 

What is the atmosphere like at The Swan? 

The Swan is a much more intimate, boutique-like setting and although they’re sister hotels, it just feels a bit more expensive. It’s a lot smaller and you can tell from the moment you walk inside. While The Dolphin often feels like a party, The Swan keeps it much more low-key and feels more personal and quiet. The decor is still beautiful, but much more quaint and simple than its sister, The Dolphin. 

coffee at walt disney world

What are the Dining Options at Disney’s Swan?

Disney’s Swan is home to several restaurants onsite, including signature restaurants like Il Mulino Trattoria and Kimonos as well as the guest-loved character breakfast spot, Garden Grove, and their newly renovated coffee bar, Java which is perfect for grabbing your morning latte on the way out to the Parks.  Dining is open to guests at both resorts, so feel free to resort-hop for food options.  You can learn all about dining options at the Swan here.

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What are the rooms like at Disney’s Swan?

The rooms at The Swan are pretty similar to those at The Dolphin with a few differences.  In contrast to the 2-bed standard rooms at The Dolphin, they have queen beds instead of double beds. If we are traveling with more than two people, we always opt for the Swan since the beds are larger. You will find Westin’s famous Heavenly bed at The Swan as well and the rooms at The Swan also have a small couch. They have the option of resort views and balconies at an additional cost. 

If you’re familiar with the Westin brand, then you’ll also likely notice they have the Heavenly showers. The rooms are just a slight bit more luxurious due to these things and if you have brand loyalty to Westin, then the Swan is the resort for you. 

walt disney world swan

Comparing The Swan and Dolphin Hotels

Okay, so now let’s get to the real point of this post! If you’re trying to decide between these two resorts, know that for the most part, they are very much alike. But you will also see differences in atmosphere and prices. 

Are The Disney Dolphin and the Disney Swan Hotel the Same Resort?

No, they are not the same! While they do share most of the same perks, they do have small differences, and well, they just feel different. As mentioned before, they are under the Marriott Bonvoy name but managed by different brands. They are also technically different locations, being across from one another. 

How are the Disney Dolphin and the Disney Swan similar? 

The Disney Swan and Dolphin are located right across from one another right off of the Boardwalk; so although they may be a little different, they share our favorite quality of these hotels in their location.  They both offer the same perks as official Walt Disney World resorts and can be linked to your My Disney Experience account.

And as we mentioned before, they are both under the Marriot Bonvoy loyalty program, so they offer similar perks and will both earn you points toward the hotel program and points can also be redeemed at both hotels as well. 

They both offer the same transportation options; including buses to and from the Parks, transportation via the ferry boat, and walking access to the Skyliner, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios. 

Both the Swan and Dolphin share pools and the sandy beach at The Dolphin is available to everyone. They actually share all amenities, so you can use the fitness centers and pools at both locations regardless of where you are staying. 

What are the differences between The Dolphin and The Swan?

The biggest difference, in our opinion, between The Dolphin and The Swan is the atmosphere. The bed size in the rooms also comes into play, but if you need more space, both resorts have a variety of room types to accommodate what you need.  Aside from that, important things to know include size and cost.  The Dolphin, since it is larger, is also the home to laundry facilities for both resorts, Mandara Spa, the kids club, and the 24-hour convenience store, Picabu. All of these amenities are available to guests at both resorts.

The Dolphin is almost twice the size of The Swan. While that may not seem like a big deal, we like to mention it. Size matters here for a couple of reasons and again it’s really mostly about personal preference. If you love a big, high-energy hotel, then The Dolphin is where that’s at. And if you prefer the smaller, personal feel of a boutique resort, The Swan is going to be a better match for you. 

Size is also important here because most of the time, The Dolphin will usually have more availability because it has more rooms; and more available rooms usually mean less money. This isn’t always the case, and you can definitely find a great deal at The Swan, but more often than not, The Dolphin will be the less expensive option between the two.  If you’re using Marriott Bonvoy points, both are tiered at a level 6 and cost the same amount of points to stay on property. 

Since The Dolphin is larger and does have more rooms to fill, it’s usually easier to find a room through a third party there too. We’ve talked about this before and you can read about it here

Can you book the Swan and Dolphin through Disney?

Yes, you can! This is a relatively new option.  You can book both room-only options as well as packages for the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin through Walt Disney World’s website. Rooms may be a little more limited on their website, so if you’re not seeing what you’re looking for, you can always book room-only reservations through Mariott Bonvoy or a third party like hotels.com

Do the Swan and Dolphin get Disney perks?

Yes! As I previously mentioned guests of the Swan and Dolphin do get Disney perks. You can reserve dining 60 days ahead of time and take advantage of Early Theme Park Entry.  Guests at the Swan and Dolphin also are included in Extended Evening Hours, which are available to select deluxe resort guests. Just make sure your resort information is linked to your My Disney Experience account!

Should You Stay at the Disney Dolphin OR Swan?

You really can’t go wrong with either option! If you’re looking for larger beds and somewhere to come back and relax after a long Park day, the Swan is where you’ll want to stay. If you’re looking for a more fun atmosphere with high energy, The Dolphin is for you. Both resorts are a great choice at a moderate price. And if you’re looking for something similar, but slightly more upscale, you can head to the Walt Disney World Swan Reserve. Be sure to read our Swan Reserve Review for all the details. As these hotels are part of a suite of Marriott Bonvoy Hotels near the Disney BoardWalk, you can’t go wrong with any choice! 

The Real Differences between the Swan and Dolphin Hotels at Walt Disney World

Co-Founder and Director at Polka Dot Pixie Co LLC | Website | + posts

Melanie Renee is a photographer, writer, designer and mom. Visiting Disney destinations since 2010, she is also an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. When she's not creating her next coffee recipe, or designing apparel at Polka Dot Pixie Shop, she's seeking beautiful sunsets and planning her next trip .

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1 thought on “Disney Dolphin Or Disney Swan: Which is best?”

  • We stayed at The Dolphin July 2022. The price, quality, and location is great. It’s an easy boat ride or walk to Epcot, a quick boat ride to HS. The bus transportation for the Swan/Dolphin is not Disney transportation. It’s managed by Mears. And they are punctual and reliable. However the drop off location for MK is the transportation center. From there, you need to stand in line again for a boat or monorail to take you to MK. The boat to Epcot is fabulous and drops you off between France and Germany. The boat to HS takes you to a good location, just a short walk to the entrance. Getting dropped off at Disney Springs puts you in the corner by Cirque de Sole, while the Disney busses take guests to a more central location of Disney Springs. The bussing system was a little disappointing, because it is not the same as Disney transportation and you end up taking longer time to get where you need to go. But the rooms are very nice. We were able to see fireworks from Epcot every night, from our room at the Dolphin. Not every room will be able to offer this and we were just lucky.