The Swan and Dolphin are among the most centrally located resorts in Walt Disney World. Though these resorts are located inside the World and Disney handles their reservations, they’re owned by Sheraton (Dolphin) and Westin (Swan) and can be booked directly through their parent companies too.
Both hotels are massive yet whimsical. Designed by Michael Graves, they’re excellent examples of “entertainment architecture” and feature art of different styles and eras, from Henri Matisse to Roy Lichtenstein.
The resorts feature five pools, two health clubs, tennis, nearby golf, a child-care center (Camp Dolphin), and complimentary transportation throughout Walt Disney World.
Opened in 1990, the resorts face each other on either side of an inlet of Crescent Lake. The Dolphin is a 27-story triangular turquoise building. On its roof are two 56-foot-tall dolphins balanced with their tails in the air. The Swan has a 12-story main building flanked by two 7-story towers. Two 47-foot-tall swans adorn its roof, paralleling their marine counterparts across the way.
Located between Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the resorts are served by Disney transportation to the theme parks and participate in Extra Magic Hours and FastPass+, but neither offer Disney’s Magical Express bus service to and from the airport nor participate in the Disney Dining Plan. The Swan and Dolphin are within a 5- to 15-minute walk of the International Gateway, the World Showcase entrance to Epcot. The hotels are also linked to Epcot and the Studios via boats.
The two hotels collectively house more than a dozen restaurants and lounges and are within easy walking distance from the BoardWalk, adding a huge number of dining opportunities.
I stayed at the Swan on the sixth floor in an east-facing room with a balcony overlooking a canal and the BoardWalk, with Epcot in the distance. It is a very relaxing way to enjoy the IllumiNations fireworks at Epcot.
Santa, Mrs. Claus, and their favorite elf, Kandy Kane, have taken up residence at the Swan and Dolphin
Families will enjoy the holiday entertainment offered throughout December. The lobby of the Dolphin features a 45-foot-tall Christmas tree surrounded by a train set. On select nights guests can enjoy the lighting of the tree starting at 6 p.m. The ceremony is spearheaded by Mrs. Claus and includes a Florida snowfall, as well as hot holiday beverages and crafts for kids at Santa’s Tiki Hut.
A Florida Christmas complete with palm trees and flamingos
Decked out in their Florida vacation attire, Santa, Mrs. Claus, and Kandy Kane meet guests in Santa’s customized tiki hut, with reindeer, palm trees, flamingos, and all.
Over at the Swan a life-size chocolate holiday Santa scene is showcased in the lobby. The sculpture, created by the resort’s executive pastry chef Laurent Branlard, a two-time world pastry champion, weighs approximately 2,000 pounds.
This year Santa’s elves will be working even harder during the holiday season to bring joy to the children staying at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin resorts. On select nights, starting December 2 and lasting throughout the holiday season, after Santa’s helpers have finished making presents, they will deliver milk, cookies, a plush toy, and a storybook to resort rooms and even read a bedtime story and tuck children into bed, in full costume. This premium service ranges from $35 to $59 for one child and $20 to $35 for each additional child, with prices varying by date. A service charge of 20% is added, in addition to tax. Reservations are required and space is limited. To book, call 407-934-4206.
Magic keys for Santa
In case your children wonder how Santa will deliver presents to the guest rooms without a chimney, fear not—there is a magic key. Children can hang a magic key on their door to help Santa find his way on Christmas Eve. Magic keys are available free of charge at the concierge desk.
On select nights, guests can catch entertainment by carolers, choirs, and musicians in the resort lobbies, on the causeway, and in other public areas throughout the resort.
For more details about all the holiday excitement at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin resorts, including a full schedule of activities, or to make room reservations, please visit www.santasfavoriteresort.com or call 1-800-227-1500.
Rates start at $189 per night. There is also a $23-per-day resort fee and another $16-per-day fee for self-parking. More information and deals can be found here: www.santasfavoriteresort.com.
If you are planning your vacation to Walt Disney World check out The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids.
Have you ever stayed at the Swan or Dolphin? What were your thoughts? Share in the comments.