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  1. #1

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    March 26, 2010: Urban Legend: Swan and Dolphin

    There's an urban legend that the statues on the tops of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin were installed backwards. Why else would the Swan hotel have ocean waves painted on it, while the Dolphin hotel has leaves? Shouldn't it be the other around?

    What's the real story?


    Please discuss it here.
    Werner Weiss
    Curator of Yesterland, featuring discontinued Disneyland attractions

  2. #2

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    Re: March 26, 2010: Urban Legend: Swan and Dolphin

    Does anyone have interior pictures to show the original story line. Or property pictures from before the renovations? I was here the year it opened and remember loving it but have no pictures of the hotel

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    Stern & Graves

    Thanks for the article, Werner!

    The shot of the hotel from EPCOT
    reminded me that Robert Graves' buildings for Disney Chair and architect patron, Michael Eisner,
    were the strike outs (see also Burbank's Team Disney building) of Eisner's daring swings for home runs. I think many of Graves' buildings are slightly ugly and so boring that not even giant statues of animals or the seven dwarfs can save them.

    Yet maybe some risky failures were necessary to also get the wonderful Disney buildings of Robert A. M. Stern, one of the all-time great Disney artists. (View the moderately priced Hotel Cheyenne at Disneyland Paris to see what I mean.)
    Last edited by jcruise86; 03-26-2010 at 06:08 AM.

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    Thumbs up Re: March 26, 2010: Urban Legend: Swan and Dolphin

    I just wanted to say thanks for a great story! That is one of the most interesting new (or old) pieces of trivia I have read in a long time! Keep them coming Werner. I learn something new (or old) from you all the time. This is a story I am looking forward to telling people next time we are at Epcot and can see the hotels.

  5. #5

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    Re: March 26, 2010: Urban Legend: Swan and Dolphin

    I never really liked either hotel and the "back story" really doesn't help. Still its good to know!

  6. #6

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    Re: March 26, 2010: Urban Legend: Swan and Dolphin

    I would really like the hotel, except that the last picture, showing the hotel from Epcot, illustrates how poorly conceived it was. The fact it was built behind the France, no less, is such a shame, because it really destroys the Eiffel Tower illusion. But I actually kind of like the look of the hotel itself, though.

    But I must say, as another poster noted, that the antiquated look of Robert Stern is really a much better style for Disney.


  7. #7

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    Re: March 26, 2010: Urban Legend: Swan and Dolphin

    What a great article. I want to be Jim Korkis when I grow up.

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    Re: March 26, 2010: Urban Legend: Swan and Dolphin

    Very nice article. I enjoyed Jim K. in one of the WDW promotional videos - I think it was the one that talked about Walt's 100th birthday. And I've also totally disagreed with those who say that the hotels don't fit with the Epcot skyline. I think they fit just as much as a big honkin' golf ball fits! The Epcot skyline is totally unique unto itself. I never stand in Italy, look towards France, and think "hey, I'm really there AND THERE'S THE EIFFEL TOWER!!!" I just enjoy the skyline for what it is.

  9. #9

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    Smile Re: March 26, 2010: Urban Legend: Swan and Dolphin

    For those of you who love architecture as I do, check out ther Michael Graves books on Amazon. There are 3 books each spanning several years. I honestly forget the one I have, but many of his Disney projects, including the Swan and Dolphin are in there.
    He also did the Disney "Snow White" corporate buidling in Burbank, as well as one of the buildings in Celebration. I've also been to a couple of his projects up in Napa at a some wineries. I love his stuff!

    I can remember years ago my friend and I were visiting WDW and went over to see these new hotels one night. We went up to the top-most accessible floor on the Dolphin and the roof access doors could be opened, so we went out. There we were at night looking at these huge Dolphins all lit up at the tips of these sloping roofs in the darkness. Very eerire!

  10. #10

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    Re: March 26, 2010: Urban Legend: Swan and Dolphin

    Disney needs to hire Jim Korkis to be part of the D23 team. Think of the panel descussion he could take part in. He could also do a "Ask Jim" article in D23 magazine based on subscriber-submitted questions.

  11. #11

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    Re: March 26, 2010: Urban Legend: Swan and Dolphin

    Werner, thanks to you and Jim Korkis, the facts will now be known to thousands of people!

    Thanks to you both!
    "Not Carnegie, Vanderbilt, and Astor together could have
    raised money enough to buy a quarter share in my little dog."

    Ernest Thompson Seton

  12. #12

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    Re: March 26, 2010: Urban Legend: Swan and Dolphin

    Okay time to get a bit geeky. One of the hallmarks of Postmodern architecture (Which Graves was considered one of the Gods) is pulled from Robert Venturi's book "Learning from Las Vegas." In the end, it is all about the decorated shed. That is, modern architecture uses standardize building elements to house the functions and then you plop whatever image you want to convey on the outside. Officially known as "wit, ornament and reference." Or as Charles Moore once said, "Place is the projection of the image of civilization onto the environment." If you look closely, the hotels are really boring buildings when it comes to their core massing and four-sided architecture. Having a detailed backstory is not uncommon with this style. That may be why Eisner was a huge fan of Postmodern architects and used them frequently.

    I agree that Jim needs to be a speaker at a D23 event. What a treasure. I have always wanted to meet the man and hold him as the gold standard for making the story of the parks come alive.

    Sam
    SamLand's Disney Adventures

  13. #13

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    Re: March 26, 2010: Urban Legend: Swan and Dolphin

    If there's one thing that Eisner did consistently right throughout his tenure at Disney, it would be architecture. The man just had an eye for design and even in a cement-infested park like DCA, the hotel that came out of it is just simply stunning. Now, he did turn the Disneyland Hotel from a classic and beautiful marina into a cartoonish eyesore fit for a 5-year old, but overall the level of architecture and design throughout his tenure was some of the best ever created. Gotta give credit where credit is due.

  14. #14

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    Re: March 26, 2010: Urban Legend: Swan and Dolphin

    Eisner did like his Starchitects. Robert AM Stern, Frank Gehry, Isozaki, Peter Dominick, Stanley Tigerman, Robert Venturi, and others.

  15. #15

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    Re: March 26, 2010: Urban Legend: Swan and Dolphin

    Quote Originally Posted by Athlonacon View Post
    If there's one thing that Eisner did consistently right throughout his tenure at Disney, it would be architecture.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mousecat View Post
    Eisner did like his Starchitects. Robert AM Stern, Frank Gehry, Isozaki, Peter Dominick, Stanley Tigerman, Robert Venturi, and others.
    Michael Eisner enjoyed being a patron of big-name architects -- or rather he enjoyed having The Walt Disney Company be a patron of big-name architects.

    The results were sometimes very good. I really like Robert A.M. Stern's BoardWalk and Yacht & Beach Clubs. Peter Dominick's Wilderness Lodge and Animal Kingdom Lodge are great. But I can't say I love Frank Gehry's Team Disney Anaheim building or Martha Schwartz's "Christmas Tree Lot" transportation center at Disneyland.

    When it comes to themed, guest-facing architecture, here's a big difference between designs that "tell a story" by skillfully taking guests to another place and time, and designs whose claim to fame is the they are IMPORTANT works (and whose "story" is a just a convoluted backstory such as that of the Swan and Dolphin).

    Some of Eisner's big-names understood this. Some did not.

    Apparently Eisner didn't know the difference either.
    Werner Weiss
    Curator of Yesterland, featuring discontinued Disneyland attractions

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