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I have two large complaints about The Swan and Dolphin Hotel at Walt Disney World. First, they charge a lot of money for parking, which makes it difficult to just drop by and enjoy some of their fabulous restaurants. Second, they were built just a tad too close to EPCOT, so they tend to loom in the background of photos. On the other hand, that also means they’re perfectly situated between EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Making them a popular resort destination since they opened 25 years ago.
I’m also a fan of the architecture style brought by architect Michael Graves. Did you know that the Dolphin hotel actually represents a volcano that rose out of the ocean and that the Swan hotel was splashed with the water from the rising volcano. Check it out next time you visit. You’ll see that the causeway between the two hotels represents the water.
It was just announced that the Swan and Dolphin Hotel will be getting the largest makeover in its history. The hotel has launched a multi-phase, multi-year, $125 million redesign project that will transform every guest room in the 758-room Swan Hotel and the 1,509-room Dolphin Hotel.
“As we celebrate the hotel’s 25th anniversary, it is appropriate that we mark the occasion with a renaissance of our room product,” said General Manager Fred Sawyers. “Our guests will continue to receive the level of service and hospitality that comes with a quarter century of experience while enjoying a modern new guest room.”
The transformation, it is promised, will occur without disruption to the guest experience as the majority of guest rooms will be available throughout the process. The hotel’s public spaces, restaurants, meeting rooms, shops, pools and recreational areas will not be impacted and remain fully operational throughout the renovation.
I went to the Magic Kingdom on Sunday to test how the FastPass+ (FP+) experience would work for someone who has time for a mid-day 4 hour visit. I’m still building back up to theme park conditioning, so anything more than that exhausts me. I’m a local and haven’t yet booked a night at at Disney resort, so I don’t own a MagicBand. Even though FP+ has been running in place of the paper (aka legacy) Fastpass system at Disney’s Animal Kingdom since before Christmas, this was my first experience with FP+.
Given that the FP+ system had been live for a few days already, I made sure to read various discussion boards about other people’s experiences and tried to determine an optimal strategy for myself and my son. Unfortunately, almost nothing turned out the way I thought it would.
My first attempt at accessing FP+ was a strikeout. I had read a few accounts of how guests were able to make FP+ reservations at the TTC via Guest Relations cast members armed with tablets. When we arrived at the TTC via the parking lot tram around 10:45AM there were no Guest Relations cast members to be found. Disney might have just been experimenting with that service earlier in the week. In theory, almost everyone arriving at the TTC is on the way to the Magic Kingdom, but you don’t really know until they’ve actually swiped their cards at the front gate. So I can see why they pulled that option.
After a quick ride on the monorail to the main gate, we immediately headed to the Main Street Opera House to score our FP+ reservations. I entered and went right to the MyMagic+ terminals, which would let me make a FP+ reservation if I was a Disney resort guest, but apparently not if I was a day-guest. There was a separate queue for that. A queue with a long-line as it turns out.
Note: Don’t have much time other than to get this press release up, but in general I think this will be seen as a good for both fans of the parks and cast members. That does not mean everything will be smooth sailing and ponies will come with every Disney vacation, but I like the idea of this leadership change.
Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Tom Staggs today announced key leadership changes across one of the world’s leading providers of family travel and leisure experiences to better position the organization for growth. Effective Feb. 1, Meg Crofton will fully assume her global role as president, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Operations, U.S. and France – a position she has held since July 2011 – while concurrently serving as president of Walt Disney World. With Meg’s transition complete, George A. Kalogridis is named president of the Walt Disney World Resort, and Michael Colglazier is named president of the Disneyland Resort. Both Kalogridis and Colglazier’s roles are also effective Feb. 1.
“With all that we currently have in flight across our resort destinations in the U.S. and France, the time is right to move forward with this leadership transition,” said Staggs. “This group of Disney veterans has the knowledge and expertise needed to continue delivering on our legacy of creating unforgettable experiences that our guests have come to know and expect. I would like to thank Meg for her tireless devotion and the extraordinary contributions serving in both positions, and wish George and Michael the best of luck in their new roles. They both bring a wealth of operational expertise, leadership and passion to these roles, which will contribute to the success of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.”
With the appointment of a Walt Disney World president, Crofton will focus all of her attention to providing strategic oversight of the broader initiatives that impact Disney destinations in the U.S. and France.
Kalogridis brings a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise to his new role at Walt Disney World, including more than 40 years of experience at Disney parks in a number of positions around the world. Most recently as president of the Disneyland Resort, he oversaw one of the most extensive expansion projects in the Resort’s history — including the immensely successful transformation of Disney California Adventure. Throughout his career, Kalogridis also has proven himself to be a leader in the travel and leisure industry, as well as a respected partner in the community.