Resort: Coronado Springs Resort
Last week I started my “Resorts Unwrapped” series with Port Orleans French Quarters. I mentioned that the resort’s size makes it perfect during Christmas. I decided to do Coronado next, as it furthers my argument. French Quarters has 1,089 rooms, compared to Coronado Springs, which as 1,967 rooms. With nearly 900 more rooms, Coronado is a much larger resort with a far higher occupancy.
In my opinion, Coronado is a Deluxe Resort with Moderate pricing. Because it has a business convention center, the resort offers more amenities than your normal Moderate resort. Coronado Springs has both a health club and spa, which is normally a feature found at Deluxe resorts. Of course, these amenities don’t matter to guests who wish to spend their entire vacation at the parks. What separates Coronado Springs from a Deluxe resort is its proximity to the parks. What separates Coronado from the Deluxe resorts is its pricing (obviously) and its proximity to the parks. Coronado is at least a bus ride away from each of the parks and with its size and occupancy, getting a bus during popular travel dates can be very tedious.
Coronado Springs transports guests to the southwest. It’s beautiful, both inside and out, and very well maintained. The room lacks any true Disney “flair” but it certainly feels like you’re staying at a resort within Mexico or the southwest.
The pool is hands down the best of any Moderate resort. The “Dig Site” pool features a 5-story Mayan pyramid and play area themed like an archaeological dig. Water trickles down the ceremonial stone steps and a water slide twists out from the side of the pyramid. The area also has a volleyball court as well as an archaeological dig site for kids.
Overall, between the decor, the landscaping, the pool and the walkways, Coronado Springs has a fantastic theme that remains consistent throughout. It may not be the most interesting and fun theme at Disney World, but it certainly engrosses you within the motif. You truly feel as if you’re staying in the southwest.
Christmas Decorations & Theming: 4/10
Coronado Springs really lacks any Christmas decorations. Like the other moderates, it does have a tree decorated based on its theme and a few poinsettias scattered throughout the resort. The French Quarters always seems more decorated than Coronado. This may be due to the fact that you’re so close to the lobby and often pass through it. At Coronado, you can almost go an entire trip without stopping in the lobby if you really wanted to. If you’re going for the Christmas decorations then Coronado Springs is not the resort for you.
The biggest complaint about Coronado Springs is its size. Coronado Springs is a convention resort. It’s often very crowded and extremely spaced apart. Many rooms are very far away from the lobby and food courts. I remember our first trip when we were placed at the back of the resort. It was a 10-15 minute walk each morning to get breakfast at the food court. Of course, guests can request a room closer to the lobby. As the only moderate with business class and “preferred rooms,” guests can pay a little extra for a larger room and a closer walk to the lobby and food courts.
All things considered, the size of the resort should be the least of your worries. You spend 90% of your day walking at Disney. I’m sure there are concerns for guests who are physically handicapped or unable to walk. A few years ago I broke my foot and sprained my ankle around 10 days before the trip. I was in a walking boot and forced to use an EMV. I had no problem navigating the resort. In fact, it was kind of fun riding over the bridge and through the paths. Those who are handicapped should not be deterred by the resort’s size.
Here’s another comparison to French Quarters. At French Quarters, there is one bus stop. At Coronado, there are five. Because of the size of the resort, getting on the first (or even second) bus is often difficult.
We would often wake up early and head to breakfast, then wait at the bus stop in front of the lobby. This was a mistake. The lobby bus stop, or “El Centro” is often the last bus stop on the way to the parks. The buses were packed by the time the bus arrived. Plus, everyone had the same idea. Guests would dine at the Pepper Market for breakfast then head to the front of the lobby to grab a bus. We’d often wait for the second or third bus before getting one to the park. Even then, we’d be standing.
The Casitas is actually the first stop on the bus. It’s fairly close to the food court and lobby, so I recommend heading there after eating. You may wait a bit for a bus—as I’m pretty sure this has become a well known thing—but you’ll most likely get a seat.
Coronado Springs has some fantastic food. Of course, a lot of the dishes have a southwestern and Mexican flair, but it truly has one of the better food courts on property.
The Pepper Market is a large food court with plenty of offerings. Even during crowded times, you can almost always find a table. The colorful and bright dining area features multiple food stations with a wide assortment of food.
I always really enjoyed breakfast here. At the center of the market is an omelette station, where chefs prepare everything from scratch. They’ll even make a few exceptions. I remember one morning when I was in the mood for eggs over easy. The chef said they could make it, but would have to fulfill the orders for omelettes first. After clearing the flat top, the chef prepared me two eggs over easy with breakfast potatoes.
The market also features waffles, french toast and a few Mexican-infused offerings, such as southwestern frittatas and breakfast burritos.
For lunch, there are plenty of southwestern offerings, like burritos and fajitas. The market also prepares salads and hot and cold sandwiches, as well as pizza.
Coronado Springs also has a bakery, which can be found closest to the lobby. The bakery often has a line out the door. It serves muffins, danishes and bagels, as well as coffee, soft and bottled drinks. It’s the go-to spot to fill up your resort mug before boarding a bus to your favorite park.
The resort also features a lounge and a Table Service. The lounge has a delicious menu to pick on while watching your favorite NFL team. Maya Grill is also a popular Table Service at Disney. The Table Service restaurant is often overlooked and a true “sleeper” at Disney, although it’s gained quite the cult following. The restaurant serves some delicious dishes with southwestern flair. I personally recommend the Empanada appetizer and the pork chop with tomatillo sauce for an entree. Maya Grill used to serve a breakfast buffet, but I believe they have become a “dinner only” restaurant.
I’d recommend Coronado Springs. We stayed there a few years before switching to Port Orleans French Quarters. Coronado is a “Deluxe experience” without the hefty prices. It’s not the most exciting theme, but the pool is a lot of fun and it’s a very clean and well-kept resort. If the weather is anything like last year, you’ll get a lot of use out of the main pool or one of its many quiet pools. It will be crowded and grabbing a bus will be stressful. It’s particularly tiring walking to your room after a long night at the parks. It may not be the best choice during Christmas, but I’d certainly recommend it any other time during the year.
Tips & Tricks:
– Preferred rooms are typically in Casitas buildings 1, 2 and 3 and are close to El Centro. A business class room is located in Cabanas 9b. Cabanas building 9b is probably the best location at the resort.
The business class rooms in Cabanas 9b include an upgraded mattress, and access to a Club Lounge, which includes a continental breakfast, midday snack and wine and cheese in the evening. It’s incredibly close to the lobby and food court and on average, only $20 more per night. Do keep in mind that Casitas building 2 has the first bus stop, while the Cabanas and El Centro are typically the last.
– The Christmas week often aligns with the Under Armour All American Football Game. This could either be a benefit or detriment, depending on if you’re a sports fan (or how much you care.) Coronado Springs often hosts these future college football players leading up to the game. It’s kind of cool to see these players roaming the resort, knowing that they may one day play in the NFL. In 2009 I spotted Jelani Jenkins, now of the Miami Dolphins, waiting for a bus. It was pretty cool.
– Not a huge deal, but the entranceway to the bathroom and vanity is separated by a sliding door, as opposed to a curtain like at most resorts. It added some privacy and helped keep things separate from the sleeping area.