The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin hotels are known for their iconic sculptures. According to legend, the 47-foot-tall swan sculptures and 55-foot-tall dolphin sculptures were installed on the wrong hotel buildings—and the paint schemes provide the proof.


Read the full YESTERLAND article HERE: An Urban Legend: Swan and Dolphin Reversed?

When you are done reading, please leave your comments below.

  • eicarr

    Cool story behind the fun architecture. We enjoyed the Disneyland Resort-like closeness of the hotel to Epcot. However, the non-existent burm at EPCOT totally ruined the atmosphere inside the park. My jaw dropped as if I was seeing a nuclear mushroom cloud behind the Eiffel tower the first time I saw the hotel’s obliteration of scale in the World Showcase.

  • lazyboy97O

    There are also public, published contemporary images of drawings and models of the hotels showing the sculptures in their present location.

    • Ravjay12

      You’re right! One of those is in the book “Building a Dream: The Art of Disney Architecture” by Beth Dunlop there is an original concept drawing by Michael Graves that shows the dolphins on top of the pyramid shaped hotel. It also has a great story about the architects in competition for designing the hotels.

  • vnormth

    Kind of reminds me of how the upper half of DLR’s Sleeping Beauty Castle is the reverse of how it was originally designed. When you see original drawings of it, the part that’s now on the back is facing the hub. The story I’ve heard is that when the architectural model of it was made and presented to Walt, he experimented with it and picked up the upper portion of it and flipped it around…and that’s how it was built.

    • Imagineer45

      This story with Sleeping Beauty Castle is true. Most people at Disney also questioned Walt’s decision at the time, but he was right.

  • JiminyCricketFan

    Great story! Like a joke, if you have to explain the “story” behind the design it failed. I guess I think that in any other context the hotels would be a distinctive, innovative design. For me, somehow they fail to “take you to another time or place.” For that reason, they don’t feel like enough like Disney to be at a Disney resort. Also the location behind the beautiful French pavilion was a major design problem. It is a typical mistake made in the regular world who don’t care how a building fits in its surroundings, but for Disney it is a glaring failure.

    • Werner Weiss

      Very well put! I like the whimsical architecture of the Swan and Dolphin. I like how the two hotels interact with each other. The backstory of the design is odd, not at all obvious, and unknown to most hotel employees and guests.

      I don’t like the location of this hotel complex. Part of great architecture is context. Sharing Crescent Lake with the Yacht Club , Beach Club, Boardwalk Inn, and Boardwalk Villa is not the right context.

      • solarnole

        I think they look like giant modern casinos next to a historical area.

        With all the land that WDW has this should had never been allowed. It’s a shame that they destroyed the views in Epcot world showcase.

  • Disneykin Kid

    Sorry, but IMO that back story is just weak, and it just goes to show that you should never hire someone who hates Disney or thinks Disney is dumb or corny. Graves’ designs are different, but that’s the best I can say about them. I could accept them if they weren’t terrible intrusions behind the France pavilion.

  • Instidude

    A long time ago in a galaxy…. sorry, wrong story, however, I did take a Disney Architecture course at the Disney Institute many years ago. We actually got on a bus and too a tour of the Swan & Dolphin and learned the backstory. When you get it explained while standing on the grounds, it is very interesting to see how it comes together.

    It is unique for a Disney resort, but it was really the start of the entire themed-architecture that Eisner brought to the Disney Resorts that still stays with us today.