Walt Disney World Swan Reserve exterior
Walt Disney World Swan Reserve

Look Inside Walt Disney World's Swan Reserve Hotel

In early 1990, when Florida's Walt Disney World cut the ribbons on the 1,509-room Dolphin and the 756-room Swan hotels, the resort made architecture history. The two towering properties, which were crowned with gargantuan fish and bird sculptures that can still be seen from miles away, instantly became landmarks in American "entertainment architecture" and poster buildings for late-'80s bombast.

In 2021, the Swan and Dolphin finally added a little sibling, the Swan Reserve. This time, befitting a hotel that has only 349 rooms, no bold decorative statements are made. The new Walt Disney World Swan Reserve, which takes the place of the resort's former tennis courts, is virtually boutique by contrast—a little glassy hotel, conventionally but tastefully designed, almost as if it aims to be an antidote to theme park overload. 

Take a look inside to see how the Walt Disney World Swan Reserve simultaneously elevates and simplifies Disney World's usual oversized tendencies.

Pictured above: The Walt Disney World Swan Reserve as seen from the freshwater beach at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin
Epcot view
The first thing to know is that although the Swan Reserve operates as its own hotel, it's considered an extension of both the Dolphin and the Swan (seen here from a sixth-floor guest room of the Swan Reserve—all windows are floor-to-ceiling). Guests at the Swan Reserve are permitted to use the amenities of the larger two hotels across the street—a "grotto" pool with waterfalls, an expansive pool area geared more to adults, a spa, and more than a dozen restaurants serving everything from seafood to steak.

Choosing the Swan Reserve allows guests to walk or take ferries to two of the four Disney theme parks—with some calorie burning if they choose to foot it. A 20-minute walk east, beyond the Swan/Dolphin/Reserve hotel trio, guests pass Disney's Yacht and Beach Club resorts to reach the International Gateway, which is the side entrance of Epcot that connects the Epcot Resort Area with World Showcase.

Disney's Hollywood Studios can be reached on foot (a 20-minute walk along a lake and canal) or a water shuttle that must be boarded on the causeway that connects the Swan and Dolphin; the dock is a 5-minute walk from the Swan Reserve.

You'll pay more for a room that faces Epcot. At night, Epcot's lagoon show can be seen from those rooms, partly obscured by the Swan. The famous fireworks of Magic Kingdom can also be seen, distantly, from the rooms that also face Epcot.
Disney's Hollywood Studios view

The western side of the hotel overlooks Disney's Hollywood Studios from a distance. Here's the view from the top floor (lower floors will obviously see less).

Many people choose to stay on Walt Disney World property so they can use the special benefits that come with that. Guests at the Walt Disney World Swan Reserve may enter the theme parks 30 minutes before they open to the general public, and hotel guests will occasionally be permitted to stay an extra two hours after closing. 

Regular buses take guests to the four Disney theme parks—but unlike the buses from Disney-owned hotels, the buses that go to Magic Kingdom from the Swan, Dolphin, and Swan Reserve deposit guests at the Transportation & Ticket Center (TTC), where they must finish their journey with a ferry or monorail ride.

Parking at the hotel costs $29 (self-park) and $39 (valet), which are the same prices as at the sister hotels. But once you pay that, you can park at the Disney theme parks for free. Also, the Fantasia Gardens miniature golf course (separate fee) shares the hotel's parking lot, so that's almost like an extra amenity.

The resort fee is $35 a night.

Walt Disney World Swan Reserve: Stir lobby bar
Walt Disney World Swan Reserve
Stir lobby bar
The lobby is located on the third floor (which isn't unusual in Orlando), accessible by elevator or escalator. Most of the area is taken up by Stir, the main bar. It also has a short menu of food, like burgers and flatbreads.

Bonus points after a long day of hunching over your Disney World app: There are power outlets at nearly every seat at the bar, and they're built into the banquettes.
Grounds grab-and-go
No theme park hotel would be complete without the coffee-and-sandwich bar where visitors stop before tackling the rides. Here, it's Grounds
Walt Disney World Swan Reserve: Amare restaurant
Walt Disney World Swan Reserve
Amare restaurant
The only true table-service restaurant at Swan Reserve is Amare, which does Mediterranean cuisine (and for the sit-down crowd, big breakfasts).
Unlike most Disney-property hotels, the Swan Reserve doesn't ramble in a tangle of confusing corridors—after all, it was built on the limited space left behind by the Swan and Dolphin's old tennis courts. The lobby is small, so kids are unlikely to get lost. But there are a few nooks for chilling out. This inviting passageway connects the bar with Grounds.

If you're looking for a big Disney-style hotel with lots of places to eat and lots to see and do, the Reserve isn't it. But you can easily roam across the road and avail yourself of anything at the Swan or the Dolphin, because Swan Reserve guests get full privileges there.

The western-facing swimming pool isn't elaborate either—perhaps because this hotel is part of Marriott's upscale Autograph Collection, its appeal is grown-up.

There are no slides or gimmicks to delight kids. For those, they can head directly across the street (there's a crosswalk with a signal), to the much more Orlando-fied pool complex between the Dolphin and the Swan, parts of which can be seen from the eastern-facing rooms of the Reserve.

Pool bar
The pool bar, Tangerine, closes around the time the theme parks do (there's a fire pit that's lit on chilly evenings), but it's easygoing and not usually noisy.
Double queen room
Here's what a double queen bedroom looks like. Happily, there are lots of outlets, including USB charging ports, placed everywhere from the desk to the nightstand. Unlike in some older hotels, it'll be easy to charge up your stuff. 
A typical bathroom
The WC is separate from the basin area.

And sorry, parents, but don't expect a tub for your child, because shower/tub combos are only available upon request and if there's availability. It seems like most newly built corporate hotels have abandoned baths as a standard offering.
Suite sitting room
Fully 151 of the 349 units in the Swan Reserve are one-bedroom suites (or "Studios," some of which can be connected with a standard "Traditional" room to make a two-bedroom suite). The couch converts into an extra bed.

Here's the sitting room in a suite. At the interior end, there's a dining room table, a mini-fridge, microwave, and an extra closet. 

All rooms, no matter the category, allow you to stream your own Netflix and YouTube accounts to the TVs, and your data is automatically expunged when you check out.
King room

Here's a king-bed room of a Studio (one-bedroom suite).

Room service

We ordered room service to test it out. To find the menu, we had to download the free app for the Swan and Dolphin resort (as of this writing, Swan Reserve is not in the app's name), navigate to Mobile Dining, and build a digital order. Even though we did all the work to order our meal, the hotel charged a "Delivery Fee" of $5, which isn't ideal, especially since it's in addition to the optional tip for the person who brought the tray.

But the food came within 30 minutes, it was still warm and looked good, and it tasted much better than lots of room service deliveries we've had.

No Disney cheese, please

If there's one aspect of the hotel that will frustrate you, it's that the spectacular double-height penthouse space, which has what might be the best rooftop view in all of Walt Disney World, is off-limits to casual guests. It could have been opened as a destination lounge or restaurant, but for some reason the hotel elected to turn it into an events space—so unless you've been invited, you may not enjoy it. 

When you're inside the Swan Reserve, it can feel almost as if you're not at Disney at all. That's very much by design—from its manageable size to its lack of a souvenir shop, this hotel is targeted at adults and meeting attendees, so Mouse fans will have to content themselves with trying to find the very few Disney-inflected touches, such as these hallway mirrors arranged in the shape of a Hidden Mickey set of mouse ears.

1255 Epcot Resorts Blvd.; 800/227-1500
Website: Walt Disney World Swan Reserve