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Swan and Dolphin transforms with a $140 million makeover

Posted on Wednesday, October 4, 2017 at 10:48 am




By Peter Covino

A&E Editor

The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort has always been a favorite destination for both locals and residents, with its two hotels, five swimming pools, award-winning restaurants, white sand beach and ideal location to the Disney theme parks.

But if you are planning a fall weekend getaway or longer, the resort has just gotten a lot more enticing with the completion of the hotels largest transformation ever — a $140 million project that included a redesign of all guest rooms, complete transformation of the Dolphin Resort Lobby and renovation of all meeting space.

Even if you don’t have a getaway in mind, a trip to that all-new Dolphin lobby, featuring a new bar, named Phins, is worth the trip when you are looking for something to do on a fall Saturday night.

Note: Don’t forget the Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic returns to the resort, Oct. 27-28. The weekend of food and paired wine, has become one of the favorite events of the fall in Central Florida. Causeway event tickets are $115, with an optional beer garden upgrade available for $25.  Go to for tickets and more information.

Area media got a close-up look at some of the new features, particularly that all-new lobby at the Dolphin.

Designed by ICRAVE, it is highlighted by a geometric ceiling. Make sure you check out the geometric 3D patterned floor at Phins, especially after a few signature cocktails. It’s a good thing this isn’t a dance floor.

If you have stayed at the Dolphin before, the old lobby was nice, but this one is a place you probably will want to take a seat and linger awhile, and certainly grab a photo or two of the grand chandelier that stretches 20 feet from the ceiling with nearly 1,000 strands and about 10,000 individual crystals suspended above the iconic Dolphin fountain.

Phins is right next to the chandelier, and can seat up to 150 guests. I tried a few of the signature cocktails during the preview event and really liked the  Pineapple Crush ($15), made with housemade pineapple and vanilla infused vodka, muddled lime and simple syrup. It was just the right combination sorta sweet and sorta sour.

Other signature drink offerings include Barrel Aged Negroni (Plymouth gin, Campari, Carpano Antica Vermouth), $16; and Keys Margarita, featuring Herradura Reposado Tequila, Combier, orange juice, Key lime juice, $16.

The new bar also serves up lots of food offerings, mostly of the appetizer variety. If you like beer, you definitely need to try the resort’s own craft brew, Phin & Feathers.  Also looking pretty good, is the Sunday morning, brunch-themed beverages, that include a variety of bloody marys and sparkling options.

If you are looking for something sweet to eat, or maybe a sandwich or more, Fuel is a completely new dining venue, of the grab-and-go variety, but there is lots of seating, and the desserts are so much more than you would expect from a fast food encounter. They even make their own moon pies. World-champion Pastry Chef Laurent Braniard is behind all of those good-looking pastries and some of the other desserts.

Fuel has varieties of frozen yogurt as well and their own chocolates.

Coming soon to the resort will be new private poolside cabanas, furnished with lounge seating, tables, fans, refrigerators and televisions for rental. Each cabana will include food and beverage service. Sounds like a bit of paradise.

If you are planning on spending a day or two or more, all 2,267 guest rooms have a new look that reflects the water-themed architecture. Noted interior design and architecture firm Garcia Stromberg/GS4 Studios designed the rooms, drawing inspiration from the renowned late Michael Graves, the resorts original designer.

The resort is within walking distance of Disney Hollywood Studios, which will be the center of attention at Disney with the openings of Toy Story Land (2018) and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge (2019).

“This is both a huge accomplishment for our team and a significant moment for our guests, “ said Walt Disney World Swan and Resort Manager Fred Sawyers.

“With the transformation now complete, our guests can enjoy a stylish look, new amenities, the latest in technology, an operation with more than a quarter century of excellence in serving guests and a prime location at Walt Disney World, all in one property.”

For more about the resort, including vacation packages and specials, go to