A Solid Middle: A Review of Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
Disney World teases guests with more than 20 resorts from which to choose. They’re divided into categories with names like Value, Moderate and Deluxe. The Value designation is exactly what it sounds like: a cheap place to lay your head close to Disney World (though you can find better “value” at certain value resorts). Deluxe resorts generally offer well-appointed rooms, better restaurants and an overall nicer experience.
Merriam-Webster defines moderate as “having average or less than average quality” and that fits Coronado Springs. The property is middle-of-the-road in many respects. Let’s dig into that in more detail.
There are a number of ways to book Disney hotel rooms. It used to be possible to use your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to redeem for Disney World Resorts. Alas, that option is gone. Many folks book directly through Disney, purchasing theme park tickets and other extras as part of a package. Including your park tickets with your room reservation means that you’ll earn bonus points for those park tickets as a travel purchase when using credit cards like Chase Sapphire Reserve (offering 3x points for each dollar spent travel) or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (offering 2x points for each dollar spent on travel). There are other ways to save money on Disney World tickets, but, if you’re looking for the streamlined approach, use a card that earns bonus points for travel spending.
For our off-peak stay of four nights, our rate varied from $156 to $238 per night with an annual passholder discount promotion.
Disney’s Coronado Springs is centrally located less than 10 minutes from each of the Disney World theme parks. What makes it slightly less convenient is that you really can’t walk to any of the parks. Coronado Springs isn’t a monorail resort and won’t be served by the new Disney Skyliner. With no waterways nearby, that leaves buses as the only free method of transportation to various Disney World attractions.
If you’re willing to spend a few bucks, Minnie Vans are a great option for families that aren’t on a tight budget. You may find taxi cabs or a regular Lyft a bit cheaper, though potentially without multiple car seats for children at your disposal. The other benefit of Minnie Vans is that they’re the only paid method of transportation that can pick you up and drop you off from right in front of the Magic Kingdom as opposed to the Ticketing and Transportation Center.
All guests of a Disney World Resort can take advantage of the free Magical Express service to and from Orlando Airport (MCO). The bus to/from Coronado Springs doesn’t usually make other stops so it’s not as bad an option as some other properties. You can also take an Uber or Lyft to/from the airport for a cost of between $30 and $90, depending on which level of service you choose.
If you choose to rent a car, Disney’s Coronado Springs charges $19 per night for parking. However, we weren’t charged that during our stay (maybe because of confusion with construction and temporary entrances).
Coronado Springs is a resort spread out among a number of buildings. With the opening of the new Gran Destino Tower, all guests are checking in there. It won’t be hard to miss when you arrive on site, it’s the tallest building by far in the complex.
The lines for check-in at Disney World resorts always feel like they move more slowly than they should. Between Magic Bands and lots of property questions for first-timers, each group takes a bit longer at the front desk than at your typical Hampton Inn.
Gran Destino Tower does stretch out the distance a bit for some of the outlier buildings. If you’re staying at one of the nearby units in Casitas or Cabanas, you may be able to walk to your room. However, parts of those complexes are a pretty far walk. And, if you’re staying in Ranchos, you’ll definitely want to drive your rental car or hop on one of the buses that stops around the complex.
The guest rooms at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort have all been recently refurbished. With the exception of the new hotel tower, the property consists of a number of two- to four-story buildings with exterior corridors. That’s a popular style for some of Disney World’s older resorts, especially in the Moderate and Value resorts.
Our stay was in a standard guest room with two queen beds. Standard rooms at this property have either one king or two queen beds. If you’re looking for heavy Disney theming, these rooms are not the right fit for you. You won’t find a lot of references to Disney characters in the room unless you turn on the TV and watch some of the free Disney content playing all day long.
There isn’t a ton of space to lounge in the room, but we found a bright, clean-feeling room with amenities laid out in a thoughtful manner. The room makes great use of space, by using a cruise ship tactic: raising the beds so suitcases can be stored beneath them. This was a good thing since there isn’t a ton of closet space. The two queen beds were very comfortable.
Another cruise ship tradition found its way to our bed in the shape of some Mickey Mouse towel art. Other than that, and a few ducks on the wall, there wasn’t much in the way of Disney themes.
As part of the recent renovation, Disney installed two electrical outlets and two USB ports beside each bed for easy charging of electronics. There are also small reading lamps mounted on the headboard. Small technology upgrades like this make a noticeable difference.
Our room had a long counter that doubled as a desk and a set of drawers. A Keurig machine was a pleasant surprise, stocked with coffee and tea. Underneath is a mini refrigerator big enough to store some baby formula or groceries. A flat-screen TV is mounted on the wall above the counter.
The bathroom is separated from the room with a set of sliding doors. The toilet and shower are in a separate room beyond that. The sliding doors make it easy for a parent to get ready for bed or grab a shower while little ones are sleeping. And, the double vanity is also helpful for a family of four. The bathroom isn’t overly spacious but there is a small area for hanging items and a cabinet to store toiletries. An extra perk is a bit of an extended amenity package, with aloe gel and mouthwash.
Our bathroom had a tub with a sliding-glass door, suitable for bathing younger children. In a practice common at many Disney World resorts, the toiletries are in larger containers bolted to the wall.
Food and Beverage
Up until recently, the dining options at Coronado Springs had been fairly meager. The hotel opened some new restaurants that show promise shortly after our stay. Three Bridges Bar & Grill will overlook the large lagoon in the center of the property and serve small plates and drinks.
Toledo looks like it should be on your radar. It’s a new tapas restaurant that sits atop the new Gran Destino Tower at Coronado Springs. The restaurant features a Spanish and California wine list and plenty of Spanish cuisine to satisfy. I’ve definitely got my eye on this for a future visit.
El Mercado de Coronado is the main restaurant families will gravitate to for a quick bite. Divided into stations, we found a variety of common breakfast items, including omelets, fruit, pancakes, French toast and Mickey waffles (or course).
The lines moved slowly both times we ate breakfast in El Mercado. In both cases, we needed to wait an additional 5 to 10 minutes for a manager to approve our Disney Vacation Club dining discount. The food was average; none of the hot food was really hot unless you wanted to wait in the omelet line. Unless you need to start your day there, you’re better off hitting the grocery store or Chef Mickey’s, one of our favorite restaurants at Disney World.
There’s a full-service restaurant called Maya Grill that looked mildly interesting. If you were at the hotel for a convention, it might be worth considering, but based on pictures and reviews, I’d probably bypass it for the new Toledo. There are also a handful of lounges around the property if you just want a drink and a snack.
If you need a light breakfast, there’s a grab-and-go around the corner from El Mercado with coffee, pastries, cereal and other breakfast items.
Even though Coronado Springs is spread out, you don’t necessarily need to walk far to find a pool to jump into. Each cluster of buildings has its own small pool.
The Dig Site is where your kids will prefer hanging out. A pyramid looms over the larger pool complex and the waterslide should be a hit with children. Alas, the waterslide doesn’t descend the temple. If it did, the coolness factor would multiply.
You’ll also find a small splash pad for the littlest ones.
The Dig Site also has a playground, ping pong tables, video games and a volleyball pit.
If you’re looking to squeeze in a workout (because racing around the theme parks really isn’t enough), you’ll find a well-equipped gym at the back of the Casitas near the pool. Also, the trail that runs around the lake is just about a mile in length if you feel the need for a humid jog.
At night, Coronado Springs offers campfires and movies under the stars, which are free.
For something a little more relaxing, you’ll find hammocks situated throughout the resort. There are plenty of places to play outside, including some sand pits and themed creatures to climb on.
Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort feels like a “solid double” on the baseball diamond of Disney World resorts. The theming certainly isn’t at the level of Deluxe resorts like Polynesian Village Resort. Heck, even the Value resort Art of Animation had lots more Disney characters adorning various parts of our hotel room.
The newly renovated rooms make up for some of the lack of theming with the updated amenities. And, our kids did enjoy walking around the property and seeing various “Mayan ruins.” In the end, it doesn’t feel like they disliked the resort because of the lack of Disney magic. Rather, it was unremarkable and they haven’t asked about going back since, something we found them doing at Art of Animation, Animal Kingdom Lodge and many other of the Disney World resorts.
The addition of Gran Destino, the large tower next to the main building, truly changes the landscape of Coronado Springs Resort. The low-rise buildings that ring the lake are now dwarfed by the tower. The additional 500+ rooms takes the property to more than 2,300 total. That makes it the second largest behind the 2,800-room behemoth Pop Century.
If you’re traveling with your family, the reasons to stay at Coronado Springs are its central location and (sometimes) affordable price, compared to other Disney World resorts. It probably wouldn’t be our first choice again unless the price was low.
Read on to learn more about maximizing your time, points and money at Disney World:
- TPG Ultimate Guide to Walt Disney World
- Review of Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
- Review of Disney’s Contemporary Resort
- Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
- The 10 Best Disney Thrill Rides Around the World
- How to Use Points for Disney Tickets
- How to Ride Every Disney World Ride in One Day
- Eating Healthy at Disney World
- Best $69 You Can Spend at Disney World
This article has been updated to reflect the recent change to Gran Destino Tower as the check-in location.
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