Walt Disney World Swan Reserve Review

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If you want to stay on-site at Disney World and use points, the Walt Disney World Swan Reserve is one of your top choices. Not only can you use your Marriott Bonvoy points to book a room, but it’s also within walking distance to Epcot and Hollywood Studios.

I knew I wanted to stay at an on-site Disney property during my recent visit to Orlando since it gave me early access to the theme parks. Considering how busy Disney World is these days, the extra 30 minutes you get as an on-site hotel guest makes a huge difference.

As a Marriott Bonvoy Titanium member, one minor thing bothered me. That said, my only complaint will have no relevance to paying guests or anyone without Platinum or Titanium status. Check out my Walt Disney World Swan Reserve review for complete details. 

Walt Disney World Swan Reserve Review
Walt Disney World Swan Reserve exterior

Walt Disney World Swan Reserve – Location  

The Walt Disney World Swan Reserve is the newest property in the Epcot Resort Area. It’s located at 1255 Epcot Resorts Blvd, Lake Buena Vista, FL. That puts it across the street from the Walt Disney World Swan and Reserve hotels. Admittedly, the Walt Disney World Swan Reserve is the furthest hotel in the area from Epcot’s International Gateway (the back entrance), but it’s only a 15-minute walk. That said, you’re about equal walking distance to the entrance of Hollywood Studios, so it’s still in a very excellent location.

Disney’s Skyliner at Epcot’s International Gateway

All of the hotels in the Epcot Resort area are designed to keep you on Disney property. You can easily access the parks, Disney’s Boardwalk, dining options, amenities, and Disney Springs. The hotel even provides free shuttles to Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and Disney Springs. If you don’t feel like walking, you can take the free water taxi to Epcot and Hollywood Studios.

Disney’s Boardwalk

Since all Disney-related things are nearby, you could get away without a rental car. Even if you plan on doing things like outlet shopping and visiting Universal Studios, you may not need a rental car since booking rideshares will be cheaper than paying for your vehicle and daily parking ($34 U.S.).

Walt Disney World Swan Reserve transportation area

Walt Disney World Swan Reserve – Room type

The Walt Disney World Swan Reserve has 349 guest rooms. This is significant because its sister properties, Swan and Dolphin, have 756 and 1,514 rooms, respectively. This makes the Reserve a much more intimate property, which is no surprise since it’s part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection.

I stayed in the traditional guest room with two queen beds and an Epcot view. While some view hotels as just a place to sleep, I consider them as part of the vacation experience. So, while it may cost you more in cash or points, the views are epic if you’re on a higher floor.

Walt Disney World Swan review – Epcot view

Another reason this view is worth it is because it allows you to see the fireworks at both Epcot and Magic Kingdom. I let my daughter stay up every night to watch the shows, and she was mesmorized.

Epcot fireworks at 9:30PM

The room itself is a standard hotel size. So while not spacious, it does the job. I liked that the beds have a natural spot built into the bed frame so you can store your luggage. There were also more than enough charging ports, including USB-A and USB-C ports.

Walt Disney World Swan – Two queens Epcot view
Walt Disney World Swan – Two queens

A giant TV is in the room, which can be easily seen when sitting on either bed. Directly below is a cabinet with storage, a safe, and a mini fridge. There’s also a desk with a comfortable chair if you need to work.

Walt Disney World Swan – Two queens, desk, TV, mini fridge, sage, coffee machine

The spacious washroom features a huge standup shower with a rain shower and massage head. There’s even a little step for people who need to shave their legs. The shower features refillable body wash, shampoo and conditioner. You have individual bottles of body lotion, body wash and conditioner at the vanity. One thing I found lacking was towel hooks. There was only one in the washroom, so we had to hang our towels on coat hangers throughout the room.

Walt Disney World Swan Reserve review bathroom
Walt Disney World Swan Reserve shower
Walt Disney World Swan Reserve body wash

Housekeeping and turndown service is provided each day. You’ll also be given two bottles of water each day by default. You can always request additional water bottles for free, but I just went to the gym and used the refill station to minimize waste. There’s an ice machine located on each floor by the elevators.

In case you’re wondering, I asked about a room upgrade as the suites looked amazing, but since three weddings were happening during my stay, no suites were available.

Walt Disney World Swan Reserve – Amenities

The amenities are where my Walt Disney World Swan Reserve review gets interesting. On the property, you can access a gym, pool, jogging tracks, lounge areas (no Marriott lounge), and shuttles to Disney attractions. In addition, since this hotel is part of the Walt Disney World Swan/Dolphin complex, you get access to all shared amenities too.

Let’s start with the Reserve’s pool. I personally think this pool is highly underrated. While it may not be as “fun” as other pools on the resort grounds, it’s heated. This was significant since I visited the property in December when temperatures could drop. Also, since there aren’t as many rooms at this hotel, fewer people use the pool.

Walt Disney World Swan Reserve – pool
Walt Disney World Swan Reserve – Outdoor heated pool

The health club on the second floor is open 24 hours a day and has just about everything you need for a complete workout. You have weights, treadmills, stationary bikes, and more. They also have fruit for a post-workout snack (or a free breakfast).

Walt Disney World Swan Reserve – Gym
Walt Disney World Swan Reserve – Gym weights
Walt Disney World Swan Reserve Review - Gym
Walt Disney World Swan Reserve – Bikes

The lounge area is technically part of the bar, but it wasn’t very busy when I visited. I hung out here during the mornings doing work while my wife and daughter slept in the room. 

Walt Disney World Swan Reserve – Stir lounge area

As for the shared amenities, they did not disappoint. Since my daughter is still young, she loves playgrounds. Having a good-sized one available was great as we spent our downtime there when she had energy. The playground is located right beside one of their man-made beaches with hammocks.

Walt Disney World Swan Reserve – Shared playground
“Beach” view

I also visited the grotto pool, which is located on the Dolphin side of the resort. There’s also a lap pool and hot tub in the area. To access the pools, you’d cross the street from the Reserve and follow the path to the left. It takes less than three minutes to get there. You just need to show your room key to get towels.

The grotto pool located at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel
Overhead shot of the pools at the Dolphin Hotel

Other amenities you can access include Camp Dolphin, a supervised Children’s play area for kids aged 4 to 12, an arcade in the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel, and Swan paddle boats. The Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf is found beside the parking lot of the Reserve Hotel, but you have to pay to play.

Walt Disney World Swan Reserve – Dining

The Walt Disney World Swan Reserve has four dining options available for guests:

  • Amare – This is the main restaurant that has a Middle Eastern theme and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • Tangerine – A poolside restaurant that serves small bites. Some menu items are the same as Amare.
  • Grounds – A grab-and-go spot that serves typical sandwiches, pastries, beverages, and alcohol.
  • Stir – The lobby bar. 

As a Titanium member, I chose complimentary breakfast as my welcome gift. The hotel provided me with vouchers for each day I was staying. Typically, these vouchers cover the full buffet and include tips, but these ones clearly stated that only continental breakfast was included. I personally have no problem with this, but it was disappointing nonetheless. Fortunately, the continental breakfast was still good, as I had access to pastries, fruit, juice, coffee, tea, cereal, and parfaits. I could have upgraded to the full breakfast for an additional US $16, but I decided against that.

Walt Disney World Swan Reserve – Amare restaurant
Amare breakfast buffet
Tangerine poolside bar
Grounds – Grab-and-go food and drinks
Stir lobby bar
Stir lounge area

I also booked a dinner at Rosa Mexicano located in the Dolphin Hotel. I love Mexican food, so I was not disappointed by this upscale joint. It’s not traditional Mexican food, but it was perfect for our last meal. Since all these dining options are located on hotel grounds, expect hotel prices.

Rosa Mexicano dining room
Rosa Mexicano – Birria tacos, enchilads, and quesadillas

It’s worth mentioning that you can book any Disney restaurant 60 days in advance. I highly recommend doing this as many restaurants will be booked fully and have long walk-in times. There are a few fast-casual spots, but even those can have waits of 30 minutes.

Walt Disney World Swan Reserve – Cost

A quick check of the Walt Disney World Swan Reserve shows rooms for US$450ish per night during non-peak periods. However, that price can easily jump up to US$650+ per night during busy periods. You’ll need to pay even more if you want a nicer room, like the Epcot facing ones.

In addition, there’s a mandatory US$40+ taxes per night resort fee, which provides the following:

  • In-room high-speed internet
  • Daily instructor led fitness classes
  • Swan paddle boat rides
  • Parking at Disney parks

Although resort fees in Orlando are standard, I think they’re ridiculous. Hotels should add this charge right into the cost of the room instead of advertising lower prices and then charging travellers extra later. Like really, is free daily internet supposed to be some kind of a deal when you’re charging me US$40 a day? Free parking at the theme parks is not a big deal either since you can walk or get free transportation just by being a guest.

Water taxi to Epcot and Hollywood Studios

As mentioned, the Walt Disney World Swan Reserve is a Marriott property so you can use your Marriott Bonvoy points to book a room. Depending on the room, rates are anywhere from 50,000 – 85,000 points per night. That means it’s not hard to get a value of 1 cent per point when making a redemption, which is a good return for your points.

The Canadian American Express Marriott Bonvoy Card only gives you a free night certificate worth 35,000 points, with the option to top it up with an additional 15,000 points. This may not be enough for a free night at the Reserve, but you could get something at Swan or Dolphin. 

Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card

Welcome bonus: 55,000 Marriott Bonvoy points

Annual fee: $120

I should also mention that I tried using a Marriott gift card, but the staff could not apply it. To be fair, they tried their hardest and even contacted accounting but had no luck. The issue is that even though it’s a Marriott property, it’s also Disney. That made the back-end stuff a bit complicated. Plus, I was using a Canadian gift card, adding an extra layer due to the currency exchange.

Final thoughts

My Walt Disney World Swan Reserve review is positive. This was my first time staying on-site at a Disney property, and it did not disappoint. All the staff I encountered were very friendly, and many remembered my name after my first interaction with them. 

Since this hotel opened in November 2021, it’s not dated or showing any signs of wear and tear. I also liked that the hotel never felt busy, even though they were at 90% occupancy.

For some people, the cost of the hotel (points and cash) may seem a bit high compared to off-site properties, but you’re staying here if you want luxury and easy access to the parks. I would stay here again, but I’m also tempted to try out the Swan or Dolphin hotels to see how they compare.

About Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who frequently makes media appearances. His blog Money We Have is one of Canada’s most trusted sources when it comes to money and travel. You can find him on Twitter:@barrychoi

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