The Swan and Dolphin are a strange anomaly when it comes to property at Disney World. They are physically on Disney resort property and are adjacent to Disney-owned resorts, but they are not actually owned by Disney. They sit over near the Boardwalk, within walking distance to Epcot – the boats that Disney runs to Epcot from the Boardwalk-area resorts even stop at them!
If you are eyeing an off-property option, this is one I strongly recommend. The hotels are owned and operated by Starwood, so they feel more like a regular hotel and are not Disney-themed. You can also rack up and redeem those SPG rewards points!
The Swan is run by Westin, and the Dolphin is run by Sheraton. Given that, expect a higher luxury factor at the Swan. (And oohhhh those Heavenly Beds. Be still my heart.)
This makes things a little confusing, because by all outward appearances these would have all the same perks as a Disney resort. But…they don’t.
Swan and Dolphin vs. a Disney Hotel
There are some things that you get like you would a Disney resort:
- Transportation is provided by Disney, unlike other off-property options where the shuttle is run by the hotel. This usually means buses are more readily available.
- You can walk to Epcot or Hollywood Studios
- You can still do Extra Magic Hours
- You can still book your FastPass+ choices 60 days out
But, there are some differences:
- You do not get the Magical Express
- You do not get Magic Bands automatically – you have to buy them
- You cannot make room charges to your Magic Band
- You cannot do any of the Disney Dining Plans
Why the Swan and Dolphin Are Great for Adult Disney Visitors
This hotel set strikes a great balance of giving you the benefits of staying on-property, but avoids the Disney theme if that’s not your thing.
Being within walking distance to Epcot puts you in a super-convenient spot for restaurant options at the park and also the Epcot-area hotels. But even better news: hotel itself has good restaurants that are better than the standard hotel fare at the Disney Springs resorts:
- Il Mulino
- Todd english’s Bluezoo
- Garden Grove
Their commitment to culinary prowess extends to a weekend they have every year called the Food and Wine Classic. It runs for one weekend during the same time Epcot has its Food and Wine Festival.