Disney’s Swan and Dolphin hotels are part of the Starwood hotel group, now owned by Marriott. The story of how these properties came to be is actually quite interesting. Imagine Disney today needing an infusion of cash.
Trip Advisor and FlyerTalk both offer plenty of information on the quality of these properties and endless discussions on trip reports, good experiences, bad experiences, etc. While they don’t enjoy the same spirit of Disney owned properties and perhaps not the same level of Disney cast member service, over the years I’ve found the staff to be friendly and caring (and much improved in 2017 compared to past years).
The property does have some advantages exclusive to Disney owned properties – including use of the Disney transportation network, the ability to book Fast Passes 60-days out with reservations and use of Extra Magic Hour privileges for early park admission or later hours in the evening. Guests on property can also show their room key to park for free at Disney Parks.
But there are two groups who I think can really benefit from staying at the Swan or Dolphin. Those include:
- Members of Starwood Preferred Guest or Marriott Rewards programs
- Employees of Companies with Corporate Rates at Starwood or Marriott Properties
SPG & Marriott Rewards
These are great properties for using Reward Points. Both offer member only options for preferred rates and Hotel Category slotting that makes them a good use of points, including cash and point options.
The properties have a large convention center and accept corporate rates. Rates can go below $200, which is significantly below the Disney resort hotel rates.
What’s the Difference – Swan or Dolphin?
For SPG fans – basically the Swan is a Westin and Dolphin is a Sheraton.
Beyond that – not much. Guests of both properties can enjoy shared pool and outdoor amenities as well as charging privileges. The Swan has fewer rooms, a smaller lobby area and in general, seems less busy. The Dolphin lobby area actually has several options for quick meals, whereas the Swan has a small coffee bar. Rates are typically a little lower at the Dolphin.
Convenient to Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Disney Boardwalk
As mentioned, Swan and Dolphin guests can use their room key to park for free at Disney Parks. Even better, you can walk or take a boat to Epcot and Hollywood Studios. Disney’s Boardwalk area also has restaurants, nightclubs, an ESPN restaurant and sports bar, boardwalk games and nightly street entertainers.