Room Tour: Swan Reserve at Disney World
Another new on-site hotel is opening soon at Walt Disney World, continuing the expansion of the last few years that has included Gran Destino Tower, Riviera Resort, plus Disney Vacation Club expansion, room reimaginings, and additions at Bonnet Creek, Disney Springs, and beyond.
We’ve witnessed a lot of this first hand, driving past Flamingo Crossings every day and seeing about a half-dozen hotels quickly sprout up over the last couple years. (Side note: signage just went up at Five Guys, and in news that is probably far more exciting to me than it is you, it looks like Five Guys will open very soon!)
Further fueling this expansion is Walt Disney World’s Disappearing On-Site Advantage. Disney has been eroding these benefits for a few years, but that has accelerated post-reopening and will kick into even higher gear next year with the elimination of the Disney’s Magical Express airport shuttle service. That makes it easier to justify staying off-site, or on-site in third party hotels.
With that in mind, we’ve been anxiously awaiting the opening of the Swan Reserve for a while now. I’ve also poked fun at its exterior for looking like an office building in Scranton and its name for evoking all the “grandeur” of a rehabilitation center for waterfowl, but we are actually looking forward to it.
The Swan Reserve, along with the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resorts, occupy something of a “sweet spot.” They are the only third party hotels bookable by the general public that participate in Early Theme Park Entry every day and Extended Evening Hours on select nights at Epcot and Magic Kingdom. That’s better Beach Club caliber perks at Pop pricing!
On top of that, Walt Disney World isn’t offering discounts between now and the end of this year, save for 12 days during peak season right before Christmas. The totality of the perk and pricing situation has resulted in many readers asking about alternative accommodations, including the Swan & Dolphin, Flamingo Crossings, and Universal Orlando. (More reviews from the last category coming soon–still digging out from under all the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary coverage!)
Anyway, when the hotel invited us out for a media tour of the new Swan Reserve, we took advantage of the opportunity to bring you a sneak peek inside…
We walked over from the Swan, and I was surprised by just how close the Swan Reserve is to the Swan & Dolphin. This shouldn’t be a huge revelation since we walk around Crescent Lake and drive along Epcot Resorts Blvd all the time. I guess I have low spatial awareness?
In any case, the Swan Reserve is only a couple minutes from the Grotto Pool–it’s likely a shorter walk to that pool from many rooms at the Swan Reserve than from those at the Swan & Dolphin. This is significant, as what we saw of the pool at the Swan Reserve looked fairly underwhelming. (No photos, but it’s definitely more of a smaller adult area, featuring fountains and cabanas.)
My favorite area of the Swan Reserve that we saw is the lounge. Lots of cool colors, nice uses of texture, and an upscale yet relaxed vibe. One particular detail I really like is the planters above the bar area. There are also a number of booths off to the sides with some vibrant art in each, but those tables and chairs were still bubble-wrapped, so I didn’t take any photos.
We both remarked after the tour that despite the exterior of the building lacking in personality, the interiors are well done. Lots of high-quality finishes, furniture, lighting, etc. Definitely not the bland tower hotel you might expect if all you’ve seen is the exterior concept art or photos.
Also on the second floor is Amare Mediterranean Restaurant, which will be open for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
To my recollection, these are the only dining options in the Swan Reserve, but there are something like two-dozen between the Swan & Dolphin, so no shortage nearby.
Now let’s turn to the guest rooms, starting with a look inside the standard or traditional guest room.
This felt very similar in size to a regular room at the Swan & Dolphin. Main difference is the floor to ceiling windows.
As someone who loves balconies, the lack of that is pretty significant for me, but so many rooms at the Swan & Dolphin don’t have balconies. Ditto all Value and Moderate Resorts at Walt Disney World.
So I guess at this price point, floor to ceiling windows is pretty much the best case scenario.
The huge windows definitely make for a brighter room than you’ll find at Walt Disney World’s Value and Moderate Resorts.
One of the challenges Disney has had with those rooms is striking the right balance between dark/dingy and white/sterile. I personally think Disney has done a great job with the Pop Century and All Star rooms, but many fans seem to disagree with that.
In any case, the Swan Reserve rooms allow in abundant amounts of natural light, and that plus a blue and white color scheme really pops.
The headboards, bedside tables, lamps, carpet, and even the dresser drawers also give the rooms some personality. Even the otherwise all-white bedding has a bit of texture to it.
I’m not sure why, but every room has pool art. I like these paintings. They’re unique and not simply the type of nondescript modern art that’s ubiquitous in chained-brand hotels.
The crow (?) statues, on the other hand, do absolutely nothing for me. Hardly a dealbreaker, but I’m not sure anyone has ever said, “you know what would enhance this relaxed aquatic setting? SOME CROWS!”
Speaking of things that didn’t do much for me, we’ll turn to the Junior Suite.
The room itself is fine–a bit more spacious than a standard room.
The added seating area, which is behind the yellow chair in the previous photo, is what I found a bit underwhelming.
Don’t get me wrong–I’d take this extra space over a standard room. It just doesn’t move the needle a ton for me in terms of practical space.
If I were considering a suite, it’s probably going to make more sense to book the Signature Suite.
For the dates I checked, there was only a $20 to $40 price difference between the two. The Signature Suite is 610 square feet, versus 425 to 590 square feet for the Junior (I realize that’s a huge range, but it’s what the Marriott site indicates).
The big difference between the Junior and Signature Suites is that the latter has a separate living room, with its own television. This is an increasingly popular style of room among real world hotels (pretty much all of the new ones in Anaheim are this style), but is incredibly difficult to find on-site at Walt Disney World.
On a side note, the picture above the couch is titled “Poolside Gossip” and it’s one of my all-time favorite photos of one of my all-time favorite homes, the Kaufmann Desert House. You’ve undoubtedly seen it before if you’ve ever watched television, movies, or looked at clothing advertisements. Its inclusion alone makes the Swan Reserve a winner in my book!
We also saw a variety of bathrooms. Not much of a surprise as these are usually (always?) a feature of hotel rooms.
I don’t have much to say about these. They seem fine. I’m a little surprised the mirrors don’t have more “high powered” lighting around them.
Following the room tour, we headed up to the top floor for a look at the event space.
Enamored with what was outside the windows, I didn’t take any photos of the space itself. I recall it having nice chandeliers. In my defense, those views are what’s going to sell weddings/meetings/whatever on this venue. The floor to ceiling windows plus expansive views of pretty much everywhere on Walt Disney World property is what makes this space.
There was a lot that I did not photograph, but my general impression is that the Swan Reserve is pretty similar to Gran Destino Tower.
The main differences are that the Swan Reserve has even more windows so it’s even lighter and airier, more suites, and instead of being reminiscent of a Las Vegas hotel, this is like one along the California coast.
Hotel reps indicated that a Marriott-record number of nights have already been booked for the Swan Reserve (I believe the number was 25,000 but am not 100% sure of that). This is interesting, but also unsurprising given the lack of availability all around Walt Disney World for the end of the year.
The Walt Disney World Swan Reserve is a Category 6 property. Using Marriott points, you’ll need 40,000 points for an off-peak stay, 50,000 points for a standard stay, or 60,000 points per night for peak season. This is on par with the JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort or regular Swan & Dolphin.
Which of these hotels is right for you will depend upon what you’re after. Location-wise, it’s farther from Epcot and Hollywood Studios than the Swan & Dolphin. The in-building amenities are also more scaled back, so if you want a wealth of dining options under the same roof, one of those will likely be your better bet. However, the main pool is about the same distance from the main buildings, and even those lobbies aren’t much of a walk.
Beyond that, the rooms at the Swan Reserve seem nicer across the board. While the Swan & Dolphin did undergo a room overhauls not long ago, these are still newer and more modernized. Not to mention the variety of room layouts, which will be huge for families or anyone wanting more space.
Those Signature Suites, in particular, should be appealing to a lot of families. That’s a room layout that Sarah and I have really come to appreciate in our non-Walt Disney World travels, as it’s very useful even for just the two of us. Hopefully this type of room becomes more prevalent at and around Walt Disney World, as the extra space (and privacy for adults with kids!) is fantastic. We’d anticipate these rooms being hot tickets that book up quickly.
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
Have you stayed at the Swan and/or Dolphin? What did you think of those hotels? Looking forward to checking out the Swan Reserve? Do these accommodations look appealing to you, or is this not to your tastes, preferences, or needs? Do you agree or disagree with our early assessment? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!
HI Tom!! Love the blog- question, did you guys happen to see the chairman suite or get pictures of it?
Just stayed at the Swan for 2 nights on points. Best location. Good hotel. As a Marriott Platinum was give coupons for free Continental Breakfast (anything cold- it was just OK as far as the selection went). But we was charged 29.95/day for self parking and when I asked for 4 PM check out, was given only 1 PM and told to come back and ask tomorrow. I spoke to the Concierge who told me in no uncertain terms that “Nobody gets 4PM”. He then gave us a 2 PM check out.
All in all, if you have the points and/or free nights, the Swan and Dolphin are the best places for us to stay. Note that we are Florida residents with about a 90 minute drive to them.
I recently returned from a lovely stay at the Dolphin. My room had an extended balcony and faced the SwanReserve. I was able to watch the workers putting on the finishing touches. In my opinion, it doesn’t seem like it’s that far away from the Dolphin or Swan, but the dealbreaker for me is is the fact that you need to cross a road to get over to the Swan/Dolphin area…..can’t believe they didn’t put up some sort of overhead walkway for safety’s sake!
After reading your review of the swan reserve, I called Marriott to book it in February for President’s week (unfortunately, we need to go during school break). I thought I’d book the swan reserve over the swan (the dolphin is sold out already). I was informed the main grotto pool is a 1.1 mile walk from the swan reserve lobby (vs a .1 mile walk from the swan). I was also the told you have to cross a busy road to get there? Based on your posting, I am wondering if this is true? The pool (and hot tubs) are a huge draw for us, as we like to come back from the parks mid-day. The swan reserve pool doesn’t look like anything special and there is no hot tub, so we plan to use the main grotto pool. Thoughts on the distance? I booked the swan because of this, but would rather have a brand new hotel room at the swan reserve. I just don’t want to add 2.2 miles of walking a day….
When will The Swan Reserve open?
Do you know if you can book 7am Lightning Lane selections w Swan Reserve (like Swan and Dolphin)?
The only problem with your article is there are numerous third-party hotels that are granted Early Access, not just the swan dolphin and the reserves…..
Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel
Walt Disney World Swan Hotel
Walt Disney World Swan Reserve
Shades of GreenÂ® on Walt Disney WorldÂ® Resort
B Resort & Spa Lake Buena Vista
DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Orlando
Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace
Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista
Holiday Inn Orlando
Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista
Wyndham Lake Buena Vista
Four Seasons Resort Orlando
Signia by Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek
Waldorf Astoria Orlando
*and Extended Evening Hours*
Hi Tom! We went for our “once in a lifetime” trip in 2015 and have returned almost yearly since, initially staying at all star resorts, then pop century for a few more dollars for the “direct bussing,” and now have to do moderates due to now being a family of 5. We would prefer the cheapest room possible as we are in the parks all day anyway. After reading this article, I went to price Swan hotels and don’t see any times when it would be “pop prices” as you suggest? For our preferred visit days in Feb/March, we can get Caribbean Beach for just under $6K (10 nights, 6 day park ticket) but the swan ones are at least $8K. Can you help me understand?
We have stayed at every WDW deluxe resort multiple times, including the Swan. It is hard to beat the Swan/Dolphin location and price…..walk to two theme parks, and some of the best dining at Disney World.