“Swolphin”, you have an image problem!

“Hello? Is this the Swan & Dolphin publicity department? My readers are amongst the most knowledgeable Guests on property, and you’re not even a ‘blip’ on their radar. You, my friends, have a serious image problem!”

OK, so one reason I gave each poll on Monday’s post an “escape hatch” – er, an option reading “never visited” – is because I was afraid that this would happen. Let’s face it, I started this series the other day with an admission that we, also, knew very little about the WDW Swan & Dolphin Resorts the first time we stayed there.  In the end, over four polls, with over 54% of the responses, our favorite answer was …

… you guessed it, “never visited”.  Well, the good news is at least almost half of the voters who participated have had a taste of these resorts.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to take the place of the aforementioned publicity department. We’ve only stayed at Dolphin three times.  We have never stayed at the Swan. Frankly, I still don’t know much about the place, myself. Clearly, however, I know enough to know that a lot of us haven’t stayed there, dined there, or even just stopped in to visit there.

Well, what do we like?  Basically, where we did register a “favorite”, we spread some “love” to Todd English’s bluezoo Lounge, Shula’s Lounge, and Kimonos Lounge.  For us, we have only been to bluezoo where we enjoyed a couple of beverages and a very nice serving of gourmet french fries.  Check this out for a 360 view of Chef English’s lounge.

Picabu – the Dolphin’s “grab-n-go” – got the most support when it came to Quick Service options.  An “always-open” cafeteria, “[t]he centerpiece is Picabu – a delightful and adventurous wood-carved and brightly painted animated character who diners will find behind every corner in this unforgettable dining experience.”  One of the few restaurants on property that is open 24 hours a day and seven days a week, if you need some eats, visit Picabu.  You’ll know you’re close when you hear the birds chirping.

When it came to “Casual Restaurants”, Cabana Bar and Beach Club (at the Dolphin) got our support.  It, and The Fountain, are two of our favorites and, for those that responded, two of yours.   Cabana Bar is actually one of our “secret” chilling spots.  And, prior to my burger-feast at Beaches and Cream a few months ago, The Fountain laid claim to my favorite burger in Walt Disney World.

Kimonos and Il Mulino New York Trattoria got a few votes, but it wasn’t surprising to see Todd English’s bluezoo and Shula’s Steak House get the most “love”.  I already told you that they are our family-favorites when it comes to the “Swolphin”.  We’ve eaten at Shula’s once and bluezoo twice.

One comment from Facebook asked, “I heard bluezoo is excellent, but it’s very expensive.  Isn’t it?”  Well, yes, it – and Shula’s – can definitely put a drain on the wallet, but our meals were phenomenal.  Either restaurant is worth, at least, one try.  In support of this, one reader said, “Shula’s and bluezoo are fantastic. It’s a shame more people don’t get over there to check them out.”  Another added, “We really liked Shula’s and bluezoo.”


Interestingly, the most feedback came in with regards to Il Mulino.  Also from Facebook, we heard, “We went to Il Mulinos last November. The restaurant was beautiful [and] very modern, but we were very disappointed with the food – very blah.  We were very surprised [and] thought it was going to be so good.  Maybe it was an off night.”

In addition, we heard, “Il Mulino is a very different Il Mulino than the restaurants in other cities – including N.Y. and Vegas.  Those Il Mulinos are very formal and very nice, and the food is outstanding.  At WDW, the Il Mulino is more of a casual restaurant, and the food is good but not great.”

Finally, I asked you to give me your three overall “Swolphin” favorites, and it comes as no shock that bluezoo and Shula’s head the list.

Folks, Mrs. All in WDW and I would always choose a Disney-run resort when it comes to our trips to The World, but, if the price is right, I’m sure we’ll stay at the Swan or Dolphin again.  In the meantime, even though it’s often-forgotten and you might think it’s a tad bit out of the way, we would encourage you to stop in for a visit.

If you want a refreshment, try one of the lounges or chill by the pool at Cabana Bar.  Do you crave a late-night snack?  Hit Picabu.  Are you celebrating something special?  Reserve a table at bluezoo or Shula’s.  Give the “Swolphin” a try!

Hey, Swan & Dolphin publicity department, gimme’ a job already.  I might be your best advertising!

3 thoughts on ““Swolphin”, you have an image problem!

  1. This was great and I think the biggest issue with Swan & Dolphin is that its not Disney and even tho Disney is a huge corp.. it still has a small feel. Swan & Dolphin are an eyesore to the Boardwalk area and reek of big corporate business hotel.

  2. I have to say I have a soft spot in my heart for the dolphin. 22 years ago I spent my honeymoon there. Back then it was a brand-new hotel, and it was a great place to stay and was running specials that were really affordable for a brand-new couple.

  3. When I read Picabu, I immediately thought of Pikachu! Perhaps they do have an image problem. On our last trip to WDW, we set aside one day for touring resorts and eating at resort restaurants. It won’t surprise you that the “Swolphin” wasn’t on our list of must-sees. Maybe next year we’ll give it shot, but when compared to Art of Animation, Polynesian, and Port Orleans, the swolphin just doesn’t emanate Disney Magic.

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