When booking any holiday, deciding where to stay is a major part of the planning process. While some want that five-star feeling, others are happy as long as they have somewhere to lay their head at night. Now, If you’ve read any of my back-packing tales you’ll know I’m not averse to a cheap and cheerful hostel on my travels. However, a Disney holiday is a different kettle of fish and for me, spending a little more to fully embrace the magic is definitely worth it. This year was our first time staying on-site at Disney’s Coronado Springs so I figured I would write a review to aid all you lovely people who may be considering it for your next Disney holiday, or for those of you who’ve already booked it and are currently down some internet wormhole trying to find out the good, the bad and the ugly. For those of you still contemplating whether to stay in a Disney resort, I have a full post on the advantages and disadvantages of staying on-site vs off-site coming soon, but today I’m going to focus on the Coronado Springs Resort itself.
So, without further ado, here’s my review…
Coronado Springs is in the moderate category of Disney Resorts meaning in terms of cost, the pricing is mid-range (sorry, I appreciate how ambiguous that is but unfortunately, prices are always changing so it’s best just to look up current prices at the time of booking). For those of you who are unsure what a “Moderate Resort” means, Disney has its own categorisation system for their resorts. The cheapest hotels fall into the value category, followed by moderate which is mid-range for price and luxury and finally the most expensive and luxurious hotels fall into the deluxe category.
Coronado Springs, as mentioned above is in the moderate category, but despite this, it was certainly one of the nicest hotels I’ve ever stayed in! This may have a lot to do with the fact it has recently undergone a large-scale renovation project centring around the building of Gran Destino Tower, a sleek, modern hub making the hotel more suited to conferences.
Aesthetic and Atmosphere
There is no denying the renovation has given Coronado Springs a sparkling, new aesthetic while still in keeping with the American Southwest and Mexican theming. The hotel lobby now resides within the Gran Destino Tower, and despite being a moderate resort, it definitely has a five-star vibe with sleek and sweeping marble, floor to ceiling glass and tasteful decoration. We loved this swanky architectural greeting, however, to say we were in a Disney resort, it wasn’t the most child-friendly… While queuing to check-in, we were witness to a deafening crash after curious little fingers had slipped while examining a large glass ornament, whoops!
One slight criticism was the number of staff stationed at reception. The new lobby did seem to have all the glitz and glamour but maybe not so much practicality as it was commonplace to see a long queue of weary travellers waiting to be checked in. We noticed in the old lobby, which though admittedly is much less grand, had far more check-in desks which likely meant shorter queues.
Coronado Springs is split into 6 main areas (Gran Destino Tower, El Centro, Cabanas, Casitas, Ranchos and The Dig Site Pool area) centred around a large lake. It is a huge resort, we had no idea the extent until we got there. We were lucky to be situated close to most of the action (A top tip here would be to ring 60 days in advance of your holiday and request one of the rooms closest to Gran Destino and El Centro as this is where the food, shops and lobby are all situated. There is obviously no guarantee but we asked and it paid off for us!), but some of the hotel rooms are quite a distance from the main hub which I imagine could be very annoying having to trek to get to the food court etc every day, especially with little ones. However, if you like a walk, Coronado Springs is very easy on the eye, with lots of foliage, artificial beaches with hammocks and at night a litter of tasteful lighting feeding into that tropical holiday vibe.
Coronado Springs had a very bustling atmosphere. As it’s a conference hotel you did regularly encounter a hoard of well-dressed business people marching through the hotel in addition to the standard Disney vacation-goers, but we didn’t find this bothered us. Once again if you’re travelling with little ones it may detract from the Disney magic a touch, so something to bear in mind.
The rooms have also benefited from a glow up and we were incredibly pleased with the results. We had a standard view Cabana room (which you can pay to upgrade if you want a more aesthetically pleasing view) just to the side of Gran Destino Tower. The rooms were light and airy with two queen-sized beds, a large mounted flat-screen TV, plenty of storage space in homey dark wooden dressers and a long marble side which doubled as a desk. In keeping with the Disney and southwest theming, there were tasteful pieces of art on the walls featuring ‘The Three Caballeros’ and Mickey-shaped towel art sat waiting on the beds as we entered. The connecting bathroom had twin sinks decorated by the sought after Disney toiletries and a large shower-bath. Everything was shiny, crisp and new and we were definitely appreciative. Once again, for kids the room didn’t scream Disney, if you want some “in your face” character theming, I’d probably recommend the art of animation or pop century resorts. However, as adults we appreciated the subtle Disney nod while the room still remained classy.
The rooms had more or less everything you could want including coffee machine, mini-fridge, hairdryer, an abundance of plug sockets and USB charging points, a safe, shampoo, conditioner and body wash in the pre-installed dispensers in the shower and an iron should you need one. As big caffeine drinkers, we found they could be a little stingy with the tea and coffee, but we just asked a passing maid who would always happily provide us with more. We found the TV was a nice touch, it was pre-programmed with all the Disney channels, Disney movies on download and Disney park information channels. We were also excited to discover it was linked to our reservation so it greeted us with our family name as the home screen and uploaded all our memory maker photos each day so we could view them when we got back from the parks each evening which was a nice personal touch.
Overall we found the rooms were great and provided everything we could want and need during our stay. After all, at Disney, the hotels are merely a place to wind down and rest your head at night (and I have to say, the beds were exceptionally comfortable!) as most days you’re out and about exploring the parks.
We definitely couldn’t complain about the amenities offered at Coronado Springs. It has the largest pool on Disney property at ‘The Dig site’ which is fashioned like an ancient Mayan temple with a large pyramid cascading water and it’s own small water slide. This is the main pool area at Coronado Springs but can get quite crowded so each of the three accommodation sections (Ranchos, Cabanas and Casitas) has its own personal pool which we found was a lot quieter, especially if you were keen to get a bit of exercise and swim lengths without getting dive-bombed by a child donned in water inflatables. The pools were open until 11pm which was a nice touch as after getting back from the parks, it’s nice to take the opportunity for a cooling dip before turning in for the night. However, the pools didn’t open until 9am so any hopes of an early morning swim before the parks was unfortunately out of the question.
If you feel the need to work off more calories than racing around the parks already burns, then you’re in luck! Within the Gran Destino Tower is a fully equipped gym with weights, treadmills, cross-trainers and everything a self-respecting gym bunny (or whatever the male equivalent is) could ask for. The gym space is light and clean with large glass windows looking out onto the lake and has complimentary fruit, water and energy bars to keep thirsts and appetites quenched while working out.
Another great addition with the building of the Gran Destino Tower is the rooftop bar, Dahlia Lounge. In the day it’s pretty quiet but you should find the time to go up there and check out the stunning view. You can see the Epcot ball, Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom and the Summit Plummet at Blizzard Beach. At night Dahlia Lounge becomes a hub of activity as people come up for a drink and to sit out on the balcony and watch the fireworks from Epcot and Hollywood Studios. We did this one night and although the idea seemed great, the reality for us wasn’t as impressive. The cocktails are expensive and we sent our drinks back twice because they tasted awful. I mean maybe this was just our pallets but I don’t want to pay $18 for a cocktail that just tastes like someone has thrown neat vodka and burnt coffee in a tiny glass, it could have honestly been confused with paint stripper. However, the second cocktail was admittedly better and they were very good about swapping it. The other thing which spoilt it a little for us was the hoard of guests who tramped up the stairs, didn’t buy a drink and obscured our view by standing right in front of our table on the balcony when the fireworks started. I think it would have been nice if they’d made a rule that you had to buy a drink if you wanted to come and utilise the bar’s view. We anticipated a unique firework viewing experience and felt to an extent we’d paid for that privilege, instead, it felt like we were back in the clamour of the parks trying to fight for a good view which was a little disappointing.
Coronado Springs has its own resort shop selling a selection of Disney Merchandise in addition to some resort specific souvenirs. It was nice to have an on-site shop which was much less crowded than those in the Disney parks and it did sell a good selection of merchandise which I spent an obscene amount of money on during our final day.
There are a decent variety of restaurants available, with price ranges to suit all budgets at Coronado Springs. Cafe Rix in El Centro has everything you could want for a grab and go snack including coffee, ice cream and pastries. We utilised this a lot for breakfast as it’s open from 6am and we are that family who likes to get to the parks for opening time. Just next door is the food court which houses the Rix sports bar which has a table service grill menu, in addition to the El Mercado de Coronado which is your main go-to for quick service meals. At the Dig Site, there is the Siestas Cantina to grab a quick-service bite by the pool. If you fancy splashing out or are on the deluxe dining plans you can try out the new Toledo tapas, seafood and steak restaurant with a rooftop view or the Maya Grill. The Villa Del Lago is also on the deluxe dining plan and has the pleasant uniqueness of sitting out overlooking the lake.
One criticism we found with the food was the lack of variety. We were on the quick service dining plan which when we booked for September 2019, was the one offered free with the Coronado Springs Resort so we could eat at Cafe Rix, the Siestas Cantina and El Mercado De Coronado. Throughout our two week stay the offerings at El Mercardo were the same every single day and some of the items on offer for a quick service snack credit didn’t seem to match up e.g. you could get a full meal of fries, salad and a burger or one slice of pizza with no extras for one meal credit. We also found the offerings to be quite unhealthy with no options for a side salad or equivalent to lighten up a very heavy, carby meal. In short, the food offered on the quick service dining plan was OK, but nothing to write home about and could definitely have been improved greatly with a few small changes.
Coronado Springs, due to it’s large size has four bus stops, one outside the main entrance of Gran Destino Tower and then one at each of the accommodation areas so there’s little need to make your way to the main bus stop. We found the Disney transportation to get to the parks very efficient, the main bus stop outside Gran Destino had a large screen showing an up to date bus schedule which you could also access on the My Disney Experience App on your phone. The accommodation bus stops don’t have a screen but the app does seem to be pretty accurate so you can track your next bus easily. The one time you will be required to head to the main bus stop is to get to Disney Springs or the Winter Summerland Minature Golf Course, as these buses do not go to the accommodation bus stops. The longest we waited for a bus to get to the parks was 10 minutes and we almost always got a seat.
Returning from the parks after the fireworks, however, was a different story… We often had to wait half an hour for a bus back to the resort which seemed like an eternity when we were tired and sticky from a long day at the parks. I don’t think they quite had a handle on bus requirement for Coronado Springs when we were there as it’s now one of the biggest resorts at Disney and the bus quota did not seem to match this. We regularly saw several buses come for other resorts with hardly anyone waiting for them while we had a huge queue of people with no bus in sight. This will hopefully be improved shortly but for us, this was a slight annoyance and one you should be prepared for if staying at Coronado Springs. That being said I would still 100% recommend using Disney transport, if you want to know more about this, check out my blog post reviewing our experience here.
For our first Disney stay we thought the Coronado Springs Resort reflected excellently on the company and truly converted us into staying on property for our future Disney stays. Despite the few little areas for improvement we loved the luxury, fun and freedom staying at the Coronado gave us and we would definitely recommend it to anyone considering it as an option. I hope this review has given you a good, honest insight into how we found the resort to help you decide if it’s right for you on your next Disney trip, or put your mind at ease if you’ve already booked it!
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