By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2020, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

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Other Hotels in Disney World

By Dave Shute


The best reason to stay in a non-Disney hotel is to save money. (For the Disney-owned hotels, see this.)

The Non-Disney Hotels at Walt Disney World from

Water Play Area at Four Seasons Orlando

Five non-Disney hotels are in the heart of Disney World, and offer deluxe-quality rooms and amenities for typically less than the Disney deluxes (at Shades of Green, much less).

Shades of Green Resort

Shades of Green Resort

Shades of Green Floor Plan

Shades of Green Floor Plan

They are the Swan and Dolphin. Swan Reserve, Four Seasons, and Shades of Green. (I’ve stayed in all these except the Swan Reserve multiple times–the links go to detailed reviews.)

Four Seasons Resort Orlando

Four Seasons Resort Orlando

Floor Plan Four Seasons Orlando from

Four Seasons Floor Plan

All these participate in Disney’s new Early Entry program.

Disney World Dolphin

Disney World Dolphin

Dolphin Floor Plan

All except Four Seasons in addition have early morning access to some components of Disney’s new replacement of its former FastPass+ program.

Also, all but Four Seasons are eligible for Extended Evening Hours.

Swan Floor Plan

Swan Floor Plan

The Swan and Dolphin used to be part of Starwood, but are now part of the Marriott family.

I’m not keen on any of these for first timers.

  • None has any distinctive Disney theming–you could be anywhere.
  • Shades and the Four Seasons have less than great transportation
  • The Swan, Dolphin and Swan Reserve have transportation more comparable to the Disney-owned resorts, but are inconveniently located for a Magic-Kingdom-centered trip–which most first visits are.

They can each be great choices for returning trips–Shades of Green for its prices, The Swan in particular for a lower-priced way to be close to Epcot (the Swan has queen beds and two sinks, making it a better family choice than the Dolphin with its full beds and one sink), and the Four Seasons for its stunning amenities, and in particular its pool complex–the best at Disney World.

Complete reviews:

Another group of hotels in the Disney Springs Resort Area are on Disney property but isolated from the main attractions at Disney World except for the shopping and dining at Disney Springs. All these also participate in Disney’s new Early Entry program, but don’t have access to early booking of ILL nor to Extended Evening Hours.

These have widely varying prices and amenities. Links to reviews are below.

Also at Disney Springs is the Drury Plaza Hotel.  I have not stayed in it since it took over and added a tower to the old Best Western Lake Buena Vista.

Finally, two resorts of the five resorts in the Bonnet Creek area (near Caribbean Beach) also have access to Early Entry.   Reviews of each are at the links:

Which key time-saving perks guests at which hotels are eligible for can be confusing, so I created the table that follows:

There are literally hundreds of other hotels and thousands of condos/villas/homes for rent off the property. The condos/villas/homes for rent will particularly save money for larger families or groups.

Be careful in your price comparisons to include added any incremental rental car costs, resort fees, hotel parking, and theme park parking.

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1 Marianne { 09.06.17 at 10:02 am }

Hi Dave,
Thanks for all your info. We are considering a trip for 2018, but would likely stay off property. Without having the magic bands, how or what is used to make and hold the fast pass and dining reservations?
Thank you,

2 Dave { 09.06.17 at 11:00 am }

Marianne, you book everything in your My Disney Experience account, and make sure your tickets are linked to it as well. Then you use your tickets to link to your reservations.

3 GrumpyDad4 { 06.20.22 at 7:23 pm }

Dave, is the bus transportation from the Swan to the Magic Kingdom, a drop off to the Ticket and Transportation Center, where a transfer is necessary by Monorail or Ferry Boat? And if so, is a schedule available when the uses start running considering the Swan has early morning entry?

4 Dave { 06.24.22 at 12:55 pm }

The Swan/Dolphin/Reserve app–which is on my iPad, which I have temporarily lost–should have daily start and end times. Yes, MK transport is to TTC.

5 GrumpyDad4 { 06.27.22 at 9:27 pm }

Thanks Dave.

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