Swan vs Dolphin: Which Disney Resort Should You Choose for Your Next Stay?

by | Dec 20, 2023 | Walt Disney World Resorts, WDW Blog

Before you book your next stay at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel, find out how the Swan and Dolphin compare to one another.

Do you need help choosing between Swan or Dolphin for your next Disney resort stay? As someone who has stayed at both resorts this past year, I can provide some perspective!

Swan and Dolphin is an excellent choice for Bonvoy members or those looking for a luxurious resort at an affordable price. If you’re trying to decide whether the Swan or Dolphin is the right fit for you, I’m breaking down the differences between the two below.

Swan: The Cozier Option! 

Walt Disney World Swan Hotel side entrance

The side entrance to the Swan Hotel. Photo by Tatjana Lazar

Swan is the smaller of the two resorts, but this only adds to its charm, making it feel cozy and quaint. One of the first things you will see when you enter, on your right, will be the front desk and bell services. On your left, you will find a small Disney gift shop. 

Mind you, if you’re used to staying at a Disney resort, don’t be alarmed by the difference! The store is smaller and has a standard variety of Disney merchandise.

As you continue down the main hallway, you will be greeted by a beautiful swan fountain. Stop and enjoy a moment of zen; it is stunning.

You can take the East or West elevators to your room or step outside the exit door into a small and colorful courtyard, a great place to have a morning cup of coffee! 

There is a delightful coffee shop, Java; you can get your morning caffeine fix and a pastry before you hit the parks! Swan also hosts the Garden Grove breakfast restaurant!

Rooms at the Swan 

A standard room at the Swan has a modern and immaculate feel, but you’ll notice it lacks the Disney resort ambiance

Typically, a perk of staying at a Deluxe resort is the balconies, but not all rooms at either resort have a balcony; however, if a balcony is important to you, you can upgrade to a guaranteed balcony room for an additional cost!

During my last stay at Swan Resort, I paid extra for an upgraded room with a balcony to enjoy the view. However, keep in mind the additional cost does not guarantee a theme park view from your balcony. In my case, my balcony was located on the rooftop facing away from any of the parks. Although we had a nice view of the Dolphin and some palm trees to the right, I wanted to catch some nighttime fireworks from EPCOT.  

Amenities at the Swan 

The pool is out of this world and one of the nicest on Disney property. Walking to the pool, you are greeted with a beautiful grotto and mesmerizing waterfalls. If you plan a pool day during your trip, this pool will not disappoint; you might not want to leave!

Plus, you can mobile order food and drinks right to your poolside lounge! It’s a huge perk when enjoying a relaxing pool day. The Swan also offers two quieter pool areas, which provide a peaceful environment for those seeking a calmer pool experience.

Dolphin guests also share the pool, but in my experience, there’s always ample seating; it always felt open, not overcrowded.

Dolphin: Did You Say Conference? 

Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel exterior

The exterior of the Dolphin Hotel. Photo by Tatjana Lazar

The Dolphin boasts an impressive lobby, modern vibrancy, and a spacious feel, and it is the larger of the two resorts. Additionally, it serves as a convention resort that hosts many conferences throughout the year. As a result, it has more amenities tailored towards conference attendees.

The front desk and bell services will be on your left when you enter through the revolving doors and walk down the main hallway. On your right, you will find Fuel, a trendy spot where you can grab your morning coffee or a mid-afternoon snack. Directly in front of you is Phins, the classy lobby bar where you can indulge in an evening cocktail after a long park day. 

A beautiful fountain greets you in this expansive lobby setting. Hallways to the left and right will take you to either the lower escalators, where you will find restaurants and boat transportation, or to the gift shop and elevators to your room on the main level.

While the gift shop at the Dolphin has a decent selection of Disney merchandise, for a more extensive and immersive shopping experience, you should take a stroll over to the nearby Boardwalk.

Many convention-goers tend to congregate around the lobby; if you want a quiet place to relax, this space might not be it. A large conference occurred during my last stay here, and the resort was buzzing! It was great for people-watching, but it led to longer waits at Fuel, and there was little to no space to sit and relax in the lobby. 

Rooms at the Dolphin

The rooms in this hotel are similar to those available in the Swan, and you won’t find any significant differences between the two. 

During my last stay at the Dolphin, I chose not to upgrade my room to guarantee a balcony, so I didn’t get a room with one. However, my room faced towards Magic Kingdom, and I could faintly see the castle in the distance. At night, I was able to enjoy the fireworks from my room!

Amenities at the Dolphin

At Dolphin, you can find almost all dining options between both resorts. Shula’s Steak House and Todd English’s Bluezoo are popular restaurants here.

The grotto pool is the main pool shared with the Swan, and on the right day, you might find a live DJ playing the latest hits! Please don’t skip the hot tub; it helps to relax sore Disney muscles after a busy day!  

What Are the Key Differences Between the Swan and Dolphin?

The pool shared by Walt Disney World's Swan and Dolphin Hotels

The pool that’s shared by the Swan and the Dolphin. Photo by Courtney Reynolds

It is important to note that while you can use the My Disney Experience app to reserve and view menus at most of the restaurants on these properties, most will not accept the Disney Dining Plan for payment. You can check the My Disney Experience app for additional information on any food options.

Additionally, before you book, you’ll want to pay attention to these differences that set the Swan and the Dolphin apart: 

  • Size: Dolphin is a much larger and busier conference center resort.
  • Location: both resorts use friendship boats to get to Epcot and Hollywood Studios and bus transportation to Magic and Animal Kingdom. You can walk from either resort to the neighboring hotels, Beach Yacht and Boardwalk. Epcot is also a quick jaunt away if your feet feel up to it!
  • Rooms: They might have different décor, but the standard rooms are similar, and you will not notice much difference in the room selections between hotels. 
  • Dining: Dolphin houses the most dining options for both resorts, with 22 restaurants and lounges combined.
  • Pool and amenities are shared.

Both hotels offer an enchanting experience that will make your trip unforgettable! You will be happy with a stay at either location.

Posts by Jodi Spasovski

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Jodi is an avid Disney enthusiast who has a profound love for all things Magic Kingdom. Her absolute favourite ride is the Haunted Mansion, and watching Happily Ever After, the best nighttime show! It’s the perfect end to any day at Magic Kingdom!
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Authored by
Jodi Spasovski

Jodi is an avid Disney enthusiast who has a profound love for all things Magic Kingdom. Her absolute favourite ride is the Haunted Mansion, and watching Happily Ever After, the best nighttime show! It’s the perfect end to any day at Magic Kingdom!
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