Walt Disney World Dolphin & Swan Hotels
Walt Disney World Dolphin & Swan Hotels
Lake Buena Vista, Florida

Walt Disney World Dolphin & Swan Hotels

Lake Buena Vista, Florida

Entertainment Architecture

The Walt Disney World Dolphin and Swan Hotels were the first projects to embody Disney’s interest in “entertainment architecture.” Charged with creating a decorative themed environment without using Disney characters, MGA&D designed the architecture, interiors, furnishings, signage and graphics to delight and entertain guests of all ages.  Because of the size of the hotels (the Dolphin is the equivalent of 20 stories), Disney also requested that portions of the buildings projecting above the treetops be bold and iconic, reflected in the shape of the buildings and the signature dolphin and swan sculptures.

Making the Most of a Watery Site

Prior to designing the two hotels, MGA&D prepared a master plan for the extensive Disney property between the EPCOT World Showcase and the MGM Studio Tour, siting several future hotels on stable ground around areas of high water.  While operated by separate hotel brands, the Dolphin and Swan Hotels (both named for water-going creatures) were designed as an ensemble facing each other across a crescent lake spanned by a pedestrian causeway. Water taxis cruise the waterways around the complex, which is interspersed with water features, fountains and pools.

Project Details

Project Market(s):


Project Service(s):

Master Planning


Interior Design

Custom furniture, furnishings, decorative elements

Artworks & Signage

Professional Credits:

Associate Architect – Alan Lapidus


Lake Buena Vista, Florida


Dolphin: 1.4 million SF, 1,510 keys, 57,000 SF ballroom, 50,000 SF exhibit hall

Swan: 615,000 SF, 758 keys, 23,000 SF ballroom

One of largest convention sites in the Southeast

Completion Date:


Project Lead(s):

Patrick Burke, AIA


AIA New Jersey Design Awards 1988 and 1990

AIA Mid-Florida Design Award 1989

Progressive Architecture Design Award 1989

#70 on AIA’s list of top 150 best architecture projects in America

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