Today In Disney History: The Dolphin Resort Opened in 1990

by | Jun 5, 2020 | Disney History, EPCOT, WDW Blog, WDW News

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29 years ago today, on June 4th, 1990 The Dolphin opened its doors for the first time on Walt Disney World Property. The Dolphin is one half of the Swan & Dolphin Resort, EPCOT area resorts at Disney.

If you are a connoisseur of luxury hotels on Disney property, chances are you’ve enjoyed your fair share of stays at the Swan & Dolphin Resort.

These resorts, though on Disney property, are owned by Starwood Hotels. However, guests of the resorts will enjoy all the same perks as if they were staying in a Disney-owned hotel.

The Dolphin opened seven months prior to its sister hotel, the Swan (which would open in January 1991).

The Swan & Dolphin Resort present a twenty-seven story building with four nine story wings, over 1,500 guest rooms including luxury suites. Here, designer Michale Graves had the chance to pursue his own imagination with some big (literally!) ideas.

Swan & Dolphin Resort

The Swan & Dolphin Resort has a truly beautiful interior. Photo by Cliff Wang

He mounted two fifty-six feet tall dolphins in the lobby and designed the entire structure with only his passion to guide him. As a result, this iconic hotel is nothing short of extravagant and exudes elegance at every turn, and also represents the best of EPCOT. 

Let’s take a look at the Swan & Dolphin Resort and why it might be the perfect place for your next stay at Walt Disney World!

A Pioneer in Resort Vacations

Long before BoardWalk Inn and Yacht and Beach Club came to be, the Swan & Dolphin was the first resort to open on EPCOT property.

Elevated Magic Kingdom resorts such as the Contemporary, Polynesian, and Grand Floridian were available to guests for a bit of grandeur sprinkled in their Disney holiday, but there wasn’t anything EPCOT could truly claim.

The very idea of Disney is that you are home again, so this wouldn’t do! Enter the Swan and Dolphin.

Having a resort to call its own meant EPCOT lovers could rejoice—they were not only a step closer to EPCOT, but they were in the luxury of Disney just as visitors to the aforementioned resorts at Magic Kingdom had been! 

Swan & Dolphin Resort

The Swan & Dolphin allows quick access to EPCOT. Photo by Laurie Sapp

Swan and Dolphin was specifically placed with close access to EPCOT, and built with intentional design similar to imagineering a visitor would find at EPCOT (think: SpaceShip Earth and the gorgeous fountains!). This gives visitors a sneak preview of the elegance they were about to experience.

Michael Graves was given free reign to create a hotel he could love, which is at the very heart of two things Disney holds dear: follow your dreams, and let your imagination be your guide. Graves did just this.

EPCOT holds its own atmosphere and is a favorite park to many guests. Having such a special hotel added convenience, comfort and the feeling of never really having to bid farewell what you value most while on vacation—home. 

Amenities Galore!

Boat at Swan & Dolphin

There are so many amenities at this great resort! Photo by Cliff Wang

The feel of breathtaking Disney imagineering is alive and well at the Dolphin Resort, but the fabulous amenities make it easy to escape the theme park experience if you so choose.

In the event you don’t want to travel via monorail or decide to venture off property, car services are just a smart phone click (or concierge chat) away.

And if you just want to stay in the hotel for a day (or a couple hours) and relax, you don’t need to approach it the same way you might the Floridian or even one of the value resorts. Experience a spa day right outside the parks, just a short distance away, after visiting one of EPCOT’s festivals!

The Mandara Spa in the Swan and Dolphin hotel offers relaxing services such as massage, facial, and even acupuncture.There are health clubs, fitness locations, swimming pools (including their own water slides), and a small beach and paddle boat rentals!

Self care, culture, and top tier service: it’s almost like taking a Disney cruise without leaving land! 

But when you consider amenities, you would expect to be wowed by the food, right? You can expect it here even more so.

bluezoo interior

Todd English’s bluezoo at the resort. Photo by Cliff Wang

Swan and Dolphin is home to Todd English’s bluezoo (coastal cuisine), Shula’s Steak House (beef and seafood),Il Mulino (Italian), Kimonos (sushi and karaoke) , Garden Grove (where you can experience character dining), as well as several quick dining locations which samplings of all the above, plus a few traditional classics.

After a nice meal, be sure to take advantage of the quick walk over to the BoardWalk and enjoy a scenic and relaxing evening!

Is Swan & Dolphin Resort the Right Resort For You?

How do you know if making the plunge in your budget  to stay at one of Walt Disney World’s most sophisticated resorts is the right choice? Ask yourself one very important question:

What do you value in a Walt Disney World resort? 

Your Disney vacation is all based on value, and value is not necessarily synonymous with frugal.

It is all based on the things you and your family value over the things that aren’t deal breakers.

Dolphin entrance

Ready to be welcomed to the Swan & Dolphin? Photo by Cliff Wang

If you love being surrounded by beautiful architecture, spacious suites with a view of the water, and most importantly, easy access to EPCOT and the BoardWalk, the Swan and Dolphin might just be the perfect resort for you and your family.

Additional convenience to the Yacht and Beach Club turns an EPCOT resort tour day into the perfect way to break up your time at the parks, restaurants and even off property. 

The Swan and Dolphin Resorts have been a staple of Walt Disney World Resort since EPCOT was less than a decade old, and have added a great deal of elegance to an already mesmerizing plot of Disney real estate.

Families, business folk, and guests from across the pond travel to Walt Disney World to enjoy all that the Swan and Dolphin has to offer in way of comfort, relaxation and convenience.

As we take a peek at what was happening on this day in Disney history, we can reminisce on the Swan fixture turned stunning fountain, or even plan a holiday vacation in order to catch a glimpse of the largest chocolate Santa on the planet!

Nothing says Florida elegance and the heart and soul of EPCOT like the sophistication of the Swan & Dolphin Resort!

Are you ready to book your next vacation at the Swan & Dolphin Resort? Contact our friends over at Destinations To Travel today for quick and easy reservations!

Written by Britta Stephens

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Britta Stephens is a contributing writer for WDW Magazine, Disney blogger, hairstylist, and dog mom x2. The first book she ever read was Hans Christan Anderson’s The Little Mermaid and she's been a fan of Disney endings ever since. When she’s not fostering kittens, she can be found reading literature from a dog’s perspective and singing the opening of The Lion King to her greenhouse plants.
Britta Stephens

Written by Britta Stephens

Britta Stephens is a contributing writer for WDW Magazine, Disney blogger, hairstylist, and dog mom x2. The first book she ever read was Hans Christan Anderson’s The Little Mermaid and she's been a fan of Disney endings ever since. When she’s not fostering kittens, she can be found reading literature from a dog’s perspective and singing the opening of The Lion King to her greenhouse plants.