If you are looking for an on-site Disney hotel to earn or redeem Marriott Bonvoy points at, choose the Dolphin or the Swan hotels at Walt Disney World. But which is best for families? The Dolphin vs. the Swan?
Contact our luxury travel concierge and get a quote at any hotel (Disney hotel or otherwise), as we offer extra free benefits like free breakfast, complimentary room upgrade, VIP gifts, and more at no extra cost. If you are considering other Bonvoy properties, take a look at our best Marriott Bonvoy hotels in Orlando.
When comparing Bonvoy’s Swan and Dolphin Disney World Resorts, the Dolphin is a Sheraton property, and the Swan is a Westin. Both the Swan and Dolphin resorts sit on 87 acres of lakefront property in Disney’s Epcot area, adjacent to Disney’s Boardwalk. There is not much to choose between them in terms of location. Both hotels are located 1.8 miles from Disney and within (long!) walking distance from Epcot. It’s a pleasant walk past the Boardwalk shops and restaurants.
The walk to Epcot or Hollywood studios from the Swan is slightly shorter vs. the Dolphin, and both the Swan and the Dolphin are just across a bridge to Disney’s BoardWalk, with shopping, restaurants, bike rentals, and an arcade. It is a lovely place to while away the evening.
Tip: If you take an Uber van from the airport, expect to pay around $50 USD to get to either.
2. Redemption Cost
Both the Swan and the Dolphin are Marriott Category 6 properties and cost from 50,000 points per night if you are booking on redemption.
A disadvantage of the Dolphin is its size and the huge lobby, which can be overwhelming and full of business travelers attending meetings at the attached conference center, which takes Disney magic away from the stay. The Walt Disney World Dolphin has been fairly recently renovated as has the Walt Disney World Swan.
The rooms at the Dolphin are good, and many have balconies. There are more balconies in this hotel than the Swan. Family rooms at the Dolphin have two double beds, whereas the Swan has 2 larger queens. Crucially, if you are a family of 5, you should go for the Dolphin as it will work out a much better deal as there is a maximum capacity of five per room compared to four at Swan.
The Swan and Dolphin have five heated pools between them, and you can access them all, whichever hotel you stay in, so these are not a dealbreaker. Families will particularly enjoy the large grotto pool at the Dolphin with a waterfall and a water slide, but you should avoid the Dolphin poolside rooms unless you like deep bass from the pool music all day.
All the pools are nestled in an exotic tropical environment, so you can relax in the shade or tan in the sun. The expansive pool area provides the best of both worlds: quiet alcoves for those who prefer a private place to unwind and more lively areas with seasonal disc jockeys and entertainment for those who prefer a little more excitement.
You can also work out in the crystal blue lap pool or take a leisurely ride around Crescent Lake on a swan paddle boat!
There’s a kids’ playground in the grounds, and activities happen most nights, such as entertainers and mores on the beach. The Camp Dolphin kids’ club is free for two kids for two hours when parents are dining at the Swan or Dolphin’s signature restaurants which is a useful facility for families.
If the gym is a dealbreaker, the one at the Dolphin is bigger.
The Swan has a bus advantage vs. the Dolphin, as the Disney bus picks up at the Swan first, so if the resorts are busy, you have a better chance of getting a seat on the bus if you get on at the Swan. If you decide to take the boat to Hollywood or Epcot, be aware that it is very slow.
8. Resort Fee
There is a resort fee of $31.50 USD/night at these hotels, but this is reduced if you are a Platinum Bonvoy member so remember to mention this related to these charges at check-in or check-out.
10. The Best Choice For Families
The Swan is smaller and feels quieter, and the character breakfasts on Saturdays and Sundays at Garden Grove features Chip and Dale, Pluto and Goofy are magical. If you are a family of 4 or under, choose the Swan. If you are a family of 5, you can all share the same room at the Dolphin, so it would be better to choose the Dolphin.
The website description of the Dolphin details features, room numbers etc.:
Located in the center of the Walt Disney World® Resort adjacent to Epcot® and Disney’s Hollywood Studios™, with the Magic Kingdom® Park and Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park nearby, this award-winning resort offers entertainment, activities, dining, and the luxurious Mandara Spa. Enter a world of wonder and enchantment. As our guest, you’re entitled to special Disney benefits, such as Extra Magic Hours in theme parks, complimentary transportation, on-site character dining, and advance tee times on championship golf courses. All of our 1,514 guest rooms and suites feature the Heavenly® Bed, two dual-line telephones with voicemail messaging and data port, high-speed Internet access, color/cable TV, individual climate control, and much more.”
The website description of the Swan also features some useful facts:
Surrounded by all the wonders of the Walt Disney World® Resort, the Walt Disney World Swan offers a truly magical experience. Visit the Magic Kingdom® Park, Epcot®, and other amazing theme parks and attractions with the greatest of ease. Our hotel offers a truly magical experience in the heart of the Walt Disney World® Resort. Take advantage of special Disney benefits, including Extra Magic Hours in theme parks, FastPass+, complimentary transportation, and on-site character dining. Featuring the unique, contemporary designs of world-famous architect Michael Graves and Westin’s signature Heavenly® Bed, our 756 rooms and suites offer a tranquil retreat at the end of an adventure-packed day.
Note: Benefits offered correct at the time of writing but may be amended at discretion of the vendor. Posts may be sponsored by the proprietor or brand being appraised. All opinions remain our own & are in no way influenced.