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New non-Disney owned hotel coming to Walt Disney World

Is another new hotel heading to Walt Disney World? It would seem like the answer is not if, but when.

Rumors of a new tower coming to the Swan and Dolphin Hotels & Resort at Walt Disney World are gaining in volume with the intent to build confirmed by resort executives. It’s believed that the resort is planning to add 350 rooms and suites in a new boutique hotel tower. The Swan & Dolphin is currently the only non-Disney hotel licensed to operate on Disney property.

According to reports in local media, Tishman, a hotel and real estate company, will build and own the building. Tishman currently owns the Swan and Dolphin, with both hotels branded under Starwood names (The Dolphin is Sheraton and Swan is Westin). Starwood and Marriott recently merged, but no brand changes are expected.

The new tower is likely to have a third brand that represents a unique boutique luxury design. One rumor is it will be a high-end boutique brand like Marriott’s Kessler, but Kessler reps are on record as denying that.

Tishman confirms they are exploring an expansion project, but maintains they have not finalized plans, yet alone which companies will be involved.

There’s not much more to go on now than refusal to comment from hotel management and some balloons that were spotted on property adjacent to the existing Swan and Dolphin property. The balloons are used to check line-of-sight from within nearby Disney theme parks to prevent visual intrusion into the parks. In this case the balloons were first spotted over the Fantasia Gardens tennis courts in 2016. It looks like that will be the location for the new tower.

The two existing towers at the Swan and Dolphin were designed by postmodernist architect Michael Graves, a favorite of then Disney CEO Michael Eisner. Graves passed away in 2015, so any new tower would have to be designed by another architect firm.

Rumors about a new tower comes after the news that the Swan and Dolphin resort is nearly finished with a multi-year remodeling project. Every room has been upgraded and the finishing touches are being done on the Dolphin public spaces with some work coming soon to the smaller Swan lobby as well.

The Swan and Dolphin current does a large convention business hosting many large events throughout the year. It is also a favorite of many Walt Disney World fans who want to be close the magic, but use their Starwood points for the trip. The hotel is also known for its many fine dining establishments and it’s yearly Food and Wine Classic.