It’s often confusing for guests how the Swan & Dolphin Resorts at Walt Disney World differ from other Disney resorts. They have many of the advantages of staying on-property, but many differences too. Understanding if the Swan or the Dolphin are good choices comes down to knowing what makes them different than your typical “on property” resorts.
Disney does not own the Swan & The Dolphin, MARRIOTT owns them. This means people who are part of Marriott hotel points programs can use their points to stay at Disney World.
HOW ARE THEY LIKE DISNEY RESORTS?
Like the Disney Resorts at the Deluxe, Moderate, and Value Resorts levels, the Swan & Dolphin have Merchandise Delivery & Pick Up. You can book fast passes up to 60 days in advance, and there is free bus (or boat) transport between the Disney theme parks. Not to mention if you stay here, you can take advantage of EXTRA MAGIC HOURS at the parks! All of these are huge advantages unique to Disney properties only except for these properties. You will have access to a large pool, many restaurants and lounges, laundry & dry Cleaning, a health club, and the Concierge where you can buy park tickets.
The most important reason to stay at the Swan & Dolphin Resort is that you are very close to Epcot and Hollywood Studios. To get this benefit from Disney, you have to be staying at one of their Deluxe Resorts, such as the Boardwalk, Yacht, and Beach Club.
HOW ARE THEY DIFFERENT THAN DISNEY RESORTS?
However, there are many ways that the resort is different than the Disney Resorts that you should be aware of before booking.
In my opinion, the most significant difference is that Magic Band’s are not provided and do not serve as the room key for the Swan & Dolphin Resort rooms. You can buy a magic band to serve as your park ticket and to charge items in the park, but it doesn’t sync up with your room as it does in Disney resorts. Swan and Dolphin also don’t have online check-in like other Disney resorts.
You cannot ride the Disney Magical Express from the Orlando airport to the Swan and Dolphin. You can either take the Mears shuttle from MCO airport to the Swan & Dolphin for $37 per person round trip or rent a car and check it back in through the car rental places.
The Swan and Dolphin also offer on-site childcare. Camp Dolphin is a supervised childcare center for 4-12-year-olds $10/hr/ per child. On Disney properties, your only option for childcare is to hire in-room babysitting. If you book at Mandara Spa, the Shula steak house, the Bluezoo, or the Trattoria at the Swan and Dolphin, you’ll get TWO HOURS of FREE CAMP DOLPHIN. (One child free per adult entree or spa treatment of 75 min or more). Since many people stay at the Swan & Dolphin as a part of a convention, this is a huge perk.