WDW Entrance Sign Brings Joy!
Peering through the Uber windscreen, we spy one of the most iconic images in the world: Welcome to Walt Disney World with Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and Donald Duck ready and waiting for us. My Uber driver, Tywan Wade, agrees, "I love working here. Every time I see the sign it just makes me happy."
If you're part of a Disney Family, as I am, staying on site at one of the Walt Disney World Resort hotels offers benefits beyond proximity and early park entrance. Staying at the WDW Swan Reserve Hotel, the newest property on the Swan & Dolphin complex, is an experience all to itself.
Arriving at the property is an event. This 14-story, 349-room hotel towers over the miniature golf course nearby. The smiling face of Lucky greets me as I exit the car. He organizes my luggage for me, even finding space for my groceries in the limited valet refrigerator space. My hard-boiled eggs received their very own valet tag. How's that for service?
Dyshawn WDW Swan Reserve Front Desk
Visiting as part of a press trip, courtesy of Visit Orlando, I was pleased to learn this resort is part of the Marriott family of hotels. Better still, you receive enhanced benefits by staying here, including an increase in the number of points awarded per stay (yet can still reserve a visit using your Bonvoy points).
chess pieces from Alice in wonderlan
Entering the lobby up the escalators from the arrival portico, the chandeliers add to the excitement as you see Alice in Wonderland style design before you'll spot the front desk or concierge desk off to the right. Look behind you and you'll spot some Disney ears over a desk just waiting for a purpose. I suspect it's used for conventions and special events.
Stay in Epcot or Hollywood Studio facing rooms, starting on Floor 7, and get a bird's eye view of your favorite Disney World Park.
Or reserve the 15th floor Vue for events, especially popular with weddings with not only the best view in town, but the highest point in all of Walt Disney World. The concierge and Director allowed us a sneak peek at this space, and it is well worth a visit.
WDW Swan Reserve Amare Wine Rack Wall
In addition to sumptuous rooms, with either a king or two queen beds, or suites, with two connecting rooms to allow more space for the family, there's a breakfast area and coffee bar on the main level with an outstanding new restaurant, Amare, ready for any of your meal requirements.
Breakfast offerings at amare include mini -Mickey waffles
We had the opportunity to meet with one of their young chefs of the Amare Restaurant
, Chef Maurizio, a rising star from New York via Italy and France, who continues his culinary journey under the tutelage of Executive Chef Dan, whom he speaks of with great respect and admiration. With young chefs like this on board, Disney attracts locals as well as visitors and travelers to their resorts. The great food is one of the many things I appreciate about Disney now compared to Disney when I was a child. They've come a long way from burgers and fries.
But let's talk about the delicious rooms. We were welcomed, as loyal guests, with an option of cookies, alcohol, a tower of nuts, or breakfast for two at Amare during our stay. Because of allergies and knowing I was there for the press trip where we'd be fed regularly, I requested the nuts. Before I arrived in my room, porter Douglas, had already placed a three-tiered tree tower filled with pistachios, sugared walnuts, and spicy almonds on the counter of the bureau. It's a lovely way to feel welcomed.
Bar entry reminds me of chess pieces from Alice in Wonderland
There's a stunning piece of art over the bed and a sofa beyond. I didn't sleep well the first night because I was too stubborn to call the front desk and ask how to turn the art light off. Don't do that. When I called at 4 am, I learned it was on the four-switch unit behind the telephone, to the left of the bed (facing it). The black light switch blends in too well with the wall.
The bathrooms don't have bathtubs, but that's the only amenity I missed during our oh-too-short-stay. The shampoo and conditioner work better with the Florida water than my home hair products do so they were especially helpful. The two robes and slipper sets await you in the closet, where the luggage rack resides with extra bedding in case someone is using the sofa.
The rooms have coffee makers and mini-fridges, especially helpful with all the restaurants nearby. Make reservations at Disney Springs' Morimoto Asia restaurant, for example, and chances are you'll be returning with extra. I found the coffee people were especially helpful in re-warming food since they don't offer microwaves in the rooms.
View of Swan Reserve from the pool at 6am
The view from my 6th-floor room was the 90-foot long outdoor pool. Heated, it's probably in the 70s based on a brisk walk on my first morning. But it's beautiful from above and other guests told me the food service is quick and efficient. Order a drink there and it's only minutes for it to arrive. Great service is the primary goal of every Disney employee and each one I met, from Lucky at the entrance, to Douglas, to Dyshawn at the front desk, to the Concierge, exceeded my needs and expectations.
WDW swan Reserve king size bed room w sofa
So… you're probably wondering about the most important aspect of recovery following those extended days of walking through the parks and experiencing each ride… the bed. The linens are luxurious, white, and sparkling clean. The mattresses are appropriately soft, not so much that you fall in and can't get out, but adequate support without feeling like you're laying on a slab of concrete.
I asked the Director of Rooms, Jason Cabrera, about the choice of names. It seemed like it would be confusing with the Swan so close. Turns out, this hotel was built on the Swan and Dolphin's original tennis courts which just weren't being used. Since it's part of this complex, rescued from dis-use, the Swan Reserve became the obvious choice. When you reserve a room, just make certain you know which hotel to pull into when you arrive.
Swan hotel entry
When you're ready to explore the complex, you can walk to Epcot, entering around the United Kingdom portion of the International Village, or over to the Swan and Dolphin and check out their facilities, bars, and restaurants. We were impressed with all of them. I'm looking forward to exploring the other hotels as it's been years since we stayed on the property.
Mickey Sorcerer - Disney Springs Lego Store
You can take a shuttle bus to the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, or Disney Springs. They run regularly so the staff can maintain Walt Disney's "Happiest Place on Earth."
Sugar free Orange slice lollipops Swan Reserve
And when you return, don't be surprised if you find a little treat. Sugar-free paper-thin orange slice lollipops and a variety of towel creatures might just greet you upon your return.
While I'm always sad to leave, it's reassuring to know they'll be there when we can return with new experiences to enjoy.