World Swan and Dolphin Resorts
- Staying with Health
- An In-Depth Review & Description of
Address: 1500 Epcot Resorts
Boulevard, P.O. Box 22653, Lake Buena Vista Boulevard, Florida 32830.
Main Phone: 407-934-3000 or
407-934-4000. Reservations: 888-828-8850 or 800-227-1500. Main fax:
407.934.4884. Reservations fax 407-934-4710.
Considered Epcot area resorts, they are located between Epcot and
Hollywood Studios on Crescent Lake. The Dolphin is situated close to the
Boardwalk, and the Swan is closest to the Boardwalk Inn. Although they
are considered to be within walking distance to Epcot, some will
consider it too far to walk.
General Information: Between the
two resorts there are 2,265 rooms along with a convention center. Though
the resorts are owned by Starwood Resorts and Hotels (they own Sheraton
and Westin) and not by Disney, guests still receive most of the Disney
perks. This includes full use of Disney transportation, Extra Magic
Hours, on-site ticket desks, character dining, package delivery from the
parks, free parking in the parks, guaranteed park admission even if the
parks are full, and advance tee times at the Disney World golf courses.
Guests will not be able to use their room key for charges outside of the
Swan and Dolphin.
As you approach these two resorts it’s
impossible to miss the massive
figures atop both the Swan and Dolphin. Of course the Swan has a swan
sculpture, and the dolphin has a… what is that anyway? It’s certainly
not a "flipper" style dolphin, and though it looks more like the type of
dolphin you can catch and eat for dinner, it doesn’t quite fit that
description either. Nevertheless, it’s still quite amazing. There are
two swans that are each 47 feet tall, and two dolphins that are both 56
feet tall. They are spectacular. Designed by the award-winning
architect, Michael Graves, the architecture of the buildings is
appealing and modern, with sharp angles, attractive shades of coral and
decorative sections of green and turquoise.
The inside and outside fountains
distinguish this resort further. The elegant lobbies have the look of
luxury with beautiful fountains inside. The outdoor fountains are
massive and quite spectacular. The most breathtaking fountain is the
one between the Dolphin and Swan, though closest to the Dolphin. The
water cascades nine stories through five seashells into an imposing 54
foot clam shell. It’s got some very massive dolphins beneath the
The grounds are beautifully landscaped
and decorated with lush tropical foliage, and a small lake that runs
between the two resorts. There are no boat rentals at this resort, but
there is Disney boat transportation available to some locations. See the
transportation section for details.
What appealed to us most about these
resorts was the pool. In our opinion, adults are likely to find that
this is the best pool on Disney property. See the pool section for
details, but if you’re looking for a relaxing getaway with an absolutely
beautiful pool complex that looks like a piece of paradise, the Swan or
Dolphin may be the resort for you. Of course kids will also be thrilled
with the pools.
Another notable stand-out for us was the
bed. It was so incredibly comfortable. At home we have an exceptional
bed, but I have to admit this was even more comfortable. It’s called
the Heavenly Bed®, and indeed it was. The pillow-top mattress really
reduced Sarah’s pain levels. You can view or purchase these beds on
www.westin-hotelsathome.com. This may sound like a commercial, so I’ll
mention that we’re not affiliated in any way with them. We also enjoyed
the very luxurious bedding, which includes a down comforter. If you have
allergies to feathers you can request an alternative. Our room was
relatively quiet so this made for a better nights sleep than we even get
This is a convention resort, and during
our recent stay we saw very few children. Adult visitors may consider
this a plus. Another possible advantage to these two resorts is that
they can offer discounts that Disney doesn’t offer. As you research the
price options, note that there is a fee for parking as well as a
mandatory resort service package fee. It’s currently $10 a day and gives
you the following:
Up to 60 minutes free local telephone
calls, toll free and credit card access calls
20 minutes of domestic long distance
Unlimited access to the resort's
health club facilities
In room high-speed internet access
2 bottles of water daily
The Swan and Dolphin are separate buildings connected by an outdoor
walkway with a canopy overhead. It’s a short walk between the two,
so it’s practical to use the many restaurants and all of the
facilities found in both resorts.
The Dolphin is the larger of the two
high rise buildings with a 27-story main
building as well as four 9-story guestroom wings. The main building
tower is in the shape of an upside-down triangle, coming to a sharp
point at the top. It’s massive and can be seen from a distance. The main
Dolphin lobby has a rather large and striking fountain with dolphins
holding up a shell by their tails. It makes the ambiance special. The
high ceiling is dramatic with billowing fabric and round windows.
Columns adorn the lobby. There are groupings of brightly colored
couches and chairs to relax on.
Swan is made up of a 12 story main building and two seven story wings.
It houses 758 rooms. The exterior is also made up of shades of coral,
decorated with giant curling waves of pale turquoise. A graceful swan
water fountain greets guests in the front. The main lobby is much
smaller and more intimate than the Dolphins’. It has a swan water
fountain that is beautiful, but smaller and less dramatic than the
Dolphins’ fountain primarily because of the size difference. There are
groupings of chairs and couches to sit in.
Both resorts offer some retail outlets
including a number of fine dining options. The Dolphin is closer to the
main pool areas and has the greater number of restaurants, shops and
amenities. It even has an art gallery. It has the feeling of a busier
place, and the lobby seems more upscale to us. The Swan seems less busy,
more casual and generally quieter.
Both resort lobbies have undergone
renovations, and the Swan rooms have been completely renovated. The
Dolphin rooms are currently in the process of being renovated. If
you’re staying in the Dolphin, you may wish to request a renovated room,
but of course there’s no guarantee that you’ll be assigned one.
Elevators have braille and a voice that
announces the direction you're heading and the floor. We have to mention
that these elevators are so fast that Sarah was actually experiencing
the ear clogging that you get with pressure changes. We were joking
about the G-forces. On a good note, she hates elevators after being
trapped in one many years ago, and these were so fast that the
experience of riding was always over quickly.
Reservations and special room requests:
Let the reservationist know of your needs during the reservation process
to ensure an accessible room is available during the requested dates.
The resort is also willing to accommodate special requests. Some common
requests include deep cleaning for allergies, no fragrances in the room,
and replacement of the down comforter and pillows. Just let the agent
know when you make your reservation.
We requested no fragrances and the room
seemed fine. In our experience the room and the resort as a whole did
not seem to have strong fragrances throughout. Our special requests
were consistently honored.
The resort does have a limited number of
“air purifying” units available.
The hotel does not offer guests wheelchairs, but the Concierge will
arrange rentals for guests. Let them know in advance if you wish the
hotel to help you with this, so that they can have it there when you
entrances can be found at the main entrance of both hotels, the
convention area entrances and the causeway entrances to both hotels.
Check-in is 3 PM and
check-out is 11 AM. In our experience, check in was simple and quick.
The bell person took our luggage from the car, storing it until our room
was ready. We went right to the front desk where there was very little
wait. However this can change depending upon crowd conditions. When we
were finished checking in, we went to the bell area. They retrieved the
scooter we had arranged to have delivered from an outside company. They
also retrieved our luggage and escorted us up to our room.
The lobbies do not have special
children’s waiting areas as in the Disney resorts. The check-in
counters do not have low counters for wheelchairs.
The front door is a large automatic
revolving glass door. Those with claustrophobia might find it
uncomfortable, because once you’re inside, you have no choice but to
follow it around until your out. If you wish to bypass the revolving
door, you can use the regular side door. There is a button that those
in wheelchairs can press to have the door automatically open for them.
You’ll find these doors throughout the resort.
Though late check-out may be available,
there may be a fee. Late check-out fees are currently as follows: Noon –
2:00 PM $40.00; 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM ½ of daily rate; after 5:00 PM the
full daily rate is charged. We were able to get a late check-out time
of 12 noon with no additional charge, but that’s not guaranteed.
Dolphin standard rooms have an occupancy limit of 4 per room. The
Dolphin rooms have a limit of 5 per room. The guest rooms are all off
interior hallways. The Swan rooms have recently been redecorated with
modern furnishings, and a color scheme of earth tones and warm hues. The
Dolphin guest room enhancements are currently in process, but the room
we were in appeared to be upgraded already with the new furniture and
color scheme. All rooms are non-smoking.
Swan has 756 rooms and 55 suites. The Dolphin has 1,509 rooms and 136
suites. The standard rooms in the Swan and Dolphin are approximately 350
square feet. Standard accessible rooms are approximately 360 square
feet. Suites have approximately 260 square feet more than standard
rooms, and seem quite huge! At this time they don’t have any accessible
suites with accommodations such as roll-in showers. We were told that
they do have future plans to convert some suites.
There are some connecting rooms
available in both resorts. The standard Swan rooms offer King or two
queen-bedded rooms. Every Swan room has a refrigerator. For a fee, you
use their “A La Carte” menu to order refreshments such as drinks,
candies, juices, cookies and pretzels, which will be stocked in your
The standard Dolphin rooms offer King or
two double-bedded rooms. Dolphin rooms have a “refreshment center.” This
includes a cooler type appliance that the resort pre-stocks with snacks
which may include drinks, candies, juices, pretzels and cookies. When
you check in, you’re offered a key to this cooler, which you can accept
or decline. If you accept, you are charged only for what you use.
Please note that this cooler is not a
refrigerator. Although we’re told that it cools, it does not cool to the
temperature necessary to store food such as milk, meat or medications.
You can request a refrigerator be added to your room for $12 per day. If
you need this because of medical reasons, let them know when you make
your reservation and they’ll waive the fee.
In both resorts, some standard king
rooms offer a pullout sleeper for extra guests, and double rooms offer a
lounge chair and ottoman. There are in-room safes. The Swan safes will
accommodate lap top computers. The Dolphin safes are currently smaller.
There are also in-house movies for a fee. Every room has two dual-line
telephones, including one that is cordless. Phones have voice mail
messaging and a data port. There are some rooms with balconies, but most
don’t have them. In the Dolphin only, there is a separate vanity and
Disability accessible rooms are
available upon request. Provisions available include: Roll-in showers,
lower sinks, a bed shaker alarm for those with hearing impairments,
telephone amplifiers, strobe door knockers, strobe smoke alarms, TDD
equipment. Shower benches and bed rails are also available upon request.
Most ECV’s and wheelchairs should fit
through the door of any standard room; however the non-accessible rooms
will be a tight fit.
We found the room to be very quiet
compared to most other hotels. It’s hard to say whether this was typical
or not, but there was no sounds coming from other rooms. Rarely, we
could hear vacuuming or guests out in the hallway. Perhaps because we
were on the far end, that was infrequent. We did not hear toilets
flushing or plumbing. Between the luxurious bed, bedding and the lack of
noise, we were really able to rest well, which we find to be unusual for
Rooms can be a long walk from the lobby
and elevator. If you have mobility issues, you might want to request a
room near the elevator. If you are looking for quiet, a room at the end
of the hall may be your best bet.
Tip: In the Dolphin, the West wing rooms
are the closest to the bus stop, pools and some restaurants including
Picabu, The Fountain and the Fresh Mediterranean Market.
Each standard room has a desk with
connection to high-speed internet. You’ll find a 32 inch LCD flat screen
TV with remote. Our suite had a 42 inch LCD flat screen TV with remote.
There are light switches on the side of each of the head boards that
turn on a small overhead reading lamp. In our suite there was also an
ergonomic desk chair that we found very comfortable and supportive.
The temperature is controlled by the
guest, but the system has a motion detector that turns itself off when
guests leave the room. There is a coffee maker with tea and Starbucks
coffee. The soaps in the bathroom are fragrant, and as with most
hotels, they don’t have unscented products. Free newspaper delivery and
irons with boards are included.
With 17 venues within both of the resorts, there are certainly a lot of
options. You could dine in the resorts for a week and not grow tired of
it. There is also 24 hour room service available at both resorts. The
majority of the restaurant choices are more on the upscale side, with a
The least expensive option for meals is
Picabu, a 24-hour cafeteria located in
the Dolphin. You can also find snacks and sundries there. The swan does
not have a quick food or 24-hour alternative. Those who want closer
access to Picabu should consider staying in the Dolphin.
If you have special dietary needs,
contact the restaurant in advance of your visit. We have been told by
the resort representatives that given enough advance notice, all of the
dining outlets will try to accommodate special dietary needs. They will
even provide alternative items such as gluten free foods. Of course most
of the restaurants are independently run, such as Shula’s. This means
they will go to different lengths to support customer requests.
If you need kosher meals, you must
request them at least 72 hours in advance.
For an in-depth description of the
restaurants along with the special dietary needs policies, please refer
to the Dining
Section for specifics.
There are a number of shops in the Swan and Dolphinincluding a fine art
gallery, clothing store, Disney goods stores, sundries, and even a
poolside kiosk that sells items such as sun tan lotion and other related
We took one look at the pool area and we knew we were where we wanted to
be! It’s really beautiful, and adults will find it a pleasant way to
pass the day. Kids will enjoy the choices here as well. Situated between
and behind the Swan and Dolphin are five different pools all in the same
area. Surrounded by lush tropical gardens, there are a wide range of
atmospheres you can choose to enjoy. Look towards the main pool and
you’ll see waterfalls, caves, woods, large rock faces and bridges. Look
the other way and you’ll see a small lake with the splendor of the Swan
and Dolphin on either side. There’s even a water volleyball area.
We found the lounge chairs to on the
comfortable side, and far more comfortable than the chairs at most
Disney resorts. There were umbrellas scattered around, but they are not
movable. Many chairs are in direct sunlight, but there are a huge number
of chairs to pick from. You can even sit on the white sand beach that
borders the small lake.
main pool is called the Grotto Pool. It’s 3 acres and made up of three
large, connected pools separated by walk-over bridges. A huge two tier
waterfall that tumbles over a faux rock face is the centerpiece of the
pool, with other smaller waterfalls all around. You can claim a
recliner in the cave under the waterfall for some extra privacy and
shade. The restrooms are also under the waterfall, so we found that very
convenient. Bring ear plugs along if you’re planning on sitting under or
near the waterfall. It’s so large and powerful that the sound is
The Grotto pool ranges from 3 (.91 m)
feet to 5 (1.5 m) feet deep. The side pools have gradual stairs into the
pool, while the center pool only has vertical metal steps with hand
rails along the sides. There is no zero entry in any of the pools.
If you’re looking for a workout, there
are two lap pools with marked lanes for serious exercisers. There are
chairs surrounding the pools. The depth goes from 3 feet 6 inches (1.1m)
to 5 feet (1.5 m).
The kiddie pool is 3 feet deep (.91 m),
and it’s situated between a lap pool and the main pool.
There are 4 whirlpools scattered about,
and a waterslide.
The official pool hours are 9 AM to 9
PM. The Grotto water slide is open from 10 AM to 7 PM. Towels were not
available when we were there until 10 AM. There are life guards on duty
usually until approximately 7 PM. This may vary. The pools are heated
to 78 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer and 82 degrees Fahrenheit in the
winter. We were there in October and it felt much colder than 82
degrees. The life guard explained that the water from the waterfall
chills the water, so the Grotto pool is usually cooler.
Seasonally you’ll find a disc jockey,
but during other times there’s music being piped in throughout the
grounds. If you do not enjoy rock music, you may be able to find seat
locations that minimized the sound. When there’s a DJ, kids will love
the group games they organize.
There is a bar and restaurant called
Cabana Bar & Beach Club in the pool complex near the Dolphin. There are
also restrooms on the side of the building, by the way. A server from
this restaurant will take your order poolside if the restaurant is not
too busy. With the pool complex as large as it is, we found that it was
a very long wait to place an order with the poolside server, and an
equally long wait for the delivery of our order. We found it more
convenient to go to the restaurant or bar ourselves. If you’re on a
budget you’ll find that the Picabu restaurant in the Dolphin is a
reasonable walk or scooter ride. There are more choices and the prices
are a bit lower than the outdoor restaurant offers.
The Cabana Beach Hut is a little store
by the pool. You can check out an unlimited number of beach towels there
with your room key, but you must return them or there may be a charge.
Life vests are issued there and they’re complimentary. You can also
purchase skin care products, sunscreen, sunglasses and other goodies.
Tubes and rafts are available for rental for a fee. Volley balls and
basketballs are available in the health clubs of either resort.
Wheelchairs can get just about
everywhere but have to take some long routes to get to some places. We
found that the ground is often uneven, so it’s important to ride
scooters slowly to avoid tipping.
Although this is not a Disney owned resort, the transportation is Disney
run. Please refer to the section on transportation for information on
the specifics of the boats and buses. The monorail does not come to this
Buses are the only form of
transportation available from the Swan and Dolphin to Animal Kingdom,
Magic Kingdom, Downtown Disney and the water parks.
We found that the buses for the Magic
Kingdom and Animal Kingdom came at least every 20 minutes, but the
Downtown Disney bus was less frequent. Both bus stops have a resort
phone in the area, and we called and requested a bus after waiting over
20 minutes. It arrived around 10 minutes later. Of course this can
change day to day.
The two resorts share a boat dock, but
they have separate bus stops. Each bus stop is just off of the main
lobby. The Swan and Dolphin share bus service with each other and three
other resorts. This means that most buses will stop at the Dolphin,
Swan, Yacht Club, Beach Club and Boardwalk Inn. You may experience very
long rides and crowded buses at times. We chalk it up to high gas prices
and Disney saving money. The upside is that you can catch a bus to those
resorts to enjoy their restaurants or the Boardwalk.
The outdoor bus stops are covered and
there are a small number of benches with backs. When it’s crowded most
people will have to stand. There is no ramp for wheelchairs to get down
to the street level to board the bus, but the buses will drop their
access ramps or lifts on top of the curb so that you can ride on
smoothly. There is a fairly steep wheelchair ramp down to the bus stop
To get to Hollywood Studios or Epcot,
the only form of transportation offered is a water taxi. The Friendship
boats can be picked up at the dock between the two resorts approximately
every 20 minutes. As with the buses, the boats at the Dolphin and Swan
share a route with the Yacht Club, Beach Club and Boardwalk Inn. This
can mean crowded boats and long waits at times, especially during peak
seasons and high crowd times such as park openings and closings.
Although some people will prefer to walk to Hollywood Studios or Epcot
from the Swan and Dolphin, the walk is long enough (approximately 15-20
minutes) to make most people choose to take a boat.
Disney’s Magical Express does not serve
the Swan or Dolphin.
Concerning the transfer of luggage from
the Swan or Dolphin to a Disney owned resort; the official word seems to
be that they don’t do this. However when we were there they told us they
would do it. We have also heard from others who said that they received
this service. With this in mind, we would say that it may or may not be
available, but it’s worth requesting this service.
There is a fee for self-parking ($10 per day plus tax) and valet parking
($16 per day n plus tax). Handicapped parking is quite a distance away,
and it’s not a convenient route for a wheelchair. If someone in your
party is using an ECV or wheelchair we would advise dropping them off at
the front door before self-parking. The other option is to use the valet
service. Disabled guests can get valet parking for the same charge as
self-parking. They do require a valid state issued disability sign.
The Dolphin resort houses the Mandara Spa. In Sarah’s experience it’s
the most beautiful spa she’s ever seen. It’s decorated in Balinese
fashion with intricately carved wood and art pieces everywhere. It has
beautiful sitting areas with fresh fruit, snacks, citrus water and tea
for guests. The waiting areas have men and women together. There’s an
extensive menu of services to choose from which you can find on the
official site at
The spa does not offer a sauna or
whirlpool as a part of the experience, however you can book and pay for
services that includes a private tub with jets. There is a co-ed steam
room. The spa is not located near the pool.
Although you will be unable to get a
scooter through the door to enter the spa, it appears a standard
wheelchair will fit. Richard Johnson, the manager of the spa, borrowed a
standard wheel chair and was able to navigate through all the doorways
in the Spa. This included Men’s and Ladies’ Locker rooms as well as both
relaxation rooms and the treatment rooms. We certainly appreciated his
The massage therapists have varying
levels of experience. If you require someone with a lot of experience we
would suggest you request this when you make your appointment.
The spa has products to accommodate
those with allergies including a fragrance free massage oil, as well as
citrus free and seaweed free formulas.
There is a fairly good size fitness center in both the Swan and Dolphin.
They seemed quite well equipped. Both the men’s and women’s locker rooms
have a dry sauna, and there is one whirlpool which is shared by both men
and women. Check the current schedule for a variety of exercise
classes. Those with back issues will enjoy the recumbent bikes and
elliptical machines. There’s also a very nice walking or jogging trail
that winds around the two resorts.
Options include a good size arcade room,
tennis, basketball, volleyball, jogging trails, health club and an art
gallery. There is a ping-pong table in the pool complex next to the bar
and restaurant building. Guests have access to advance tee times on the
four championship Disney golf courses. The resorts are also quite close
to the Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf Course.
Kids from four to twelve years old can
participate in Camp Dolphin, which is held every evening from 5:30 PM to
12 AM. The fully supervised program features arts and crafts, movies,
video arcade time and a special dinner program.
If you’re visiting the spa or dining at
Todd English’s Bluezoo or Il Mulino New York Tratoria, you can drop off
your child at Camp Dolphin at no charge. Some rules apply, such as one
child admitted for each adult entrée purchased.
Pest Management in the Swan and Dolphin:
Here is the resorts’ description of their program:
“A professional company (currently
Ecolab) is contracted to perform pest control maintenance in the resort.
Rooms are inspected on a daily, rotational basis and preventive
maintenance is performed. If reports of pests are reported by the hotel
team or a guest the Ecolab representative is dispatched to the area
where appropriate measures are taken to eliminate the pest. Guests can
request no spraying before and during their visit.”
Other amenities: There
is a coin operated launderette on the first floor of the Dolphin
resort. It has top loading washers and front loading dryers on the walls
above the washers. The area is accessible.
You’ll also find business centers,
National and Alamo car rental desk, ATM machines, concierge services and
airline boarding pass kiosks.
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