Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort is a Moderate Resort at Walt Disney World with a Southwest theme. The resort is very spread out with Lago Dorado, a 22-acre lake, in the center. Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort is described as evoking “the spirit and romance of Spanish-colonial Mexico” during the time that explorer Don Francisco de Coronado searched for the legendary Seven Cities of Gold. Around the same time I believe he was also searching for Three Caballeros topiaries. Coronado Springs Resort is often considered Disney’s convention hotel, but it is so much more (and thanks to its convention hotel designation, the amenities are better). It’s not adjacent to any of the theme parks, so guests of this resort must rely upon bus transportation or their own vehicles. There is no boat or monorail transportation from Coronado Springs Resort to any of the theme parks or Downtown Disney.
Theming-wise, we both think that Coronado Springs is really underrated. There are three different architectural influences at the resort (all under the general umbrella of Southwestern): Ranchos, Cabanas, and Casitas. Ranchos (where we stayed) have more neutral color schemes and draw inspiration from southwestern cattle ranches; Cabanas are more colorful, and are designed to evoke the feel of Mexican beach resorts; Casitas are more urban (yet still colorful), with Spanish architecture similar to what exists in Southwestern cities.
Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort is possibly the most divisive resort on Walt Disney World property. Proponents believe it’s very underrated with nice rooms, a well themed pool, and good dining. Critics feel that the atmosphere is ‘ruined’ by too many convention guests who take away from the ‘vacation’ feel of the resorts; others also complain that the resort is too spread out. As for the positive attributes, I feel they’re all spot on. As for the criticisms, I never once felt that business-travelers were in any way negatively affecting my experience. If anything, I’d much rather book a resort with a lot of business guests who, presumably, won’t be engaging in impromptu cheer sessions or door slamming in the middle of the night. Business people, in general, are more respectful than average Disney guests or other large groups (think youth sports of international tour groups–neither of which typically stay at Coronado Springs), in my opinion. As for the resort being spread out, it absolutely is. If you don’t like walking, this is not the resort for you. I love a nice walk and I find spread-out resorts to have more to explore and a better opportunity to convey their ambiance, so this “negative” is a big positive for me.
As for theme, some areas do an incredibly great job conveying their themes, especially the arid rock-covered paths in the Rachos area. While the Ranchos fit the theme very well, I’m glad the entire resort isn’t designed this way. The vibrance and more cheery architecture around the lobby is great, and we found to strike the perfect balance between Southwestern architecture and a charming ambiance. Ranchos, while well done, doesn’t have a theme I particularly want to see in a resort. That might just be me, though.
The pool is one area that is spectacular. This pool was never busy at all when I saw it (in fairness, we visited during December), and the theming around it is incredible, with a reproduction of a Mayan pyramid, which has a waterfall running down its side. Definitely one of the neater pool areas we’ve seen! Also around the pool area is a hot-tub, game room, and volleyball court. All looked nice-enough, although we didn’t spend any time using them.
The rooms are easily the nicest moderate resort rooms in which we’ve stayed. They seemed larger than other moderates, but this might have just been a more efficient use of space than the others. I don’t measure rooms, so I’m really not sure. More importantly, the beds and pillows seemed more comfortable, and the desk workspace was definitely much nicer than other resorts. Perhaps this was due to its convention-hotel status, but whatever the reason, I really appreciated it when I sat down to dump photos onto my laptop after a long day in Walt Disney World. The theming in these rooms, while noticeable, is definitely more subdued than, say, Caribbean Beach Resort (review). Again, this might by the byproduct of it being the convention-hotel.
Although we didn’t eat at any of the restaurants at Coronado Springs, we’ve heard incredibly positive things about Pepper Market, especially now that it’s a (counter service credit) buffet. The food court looked rather impressive to me, too. I am a bit surprised that there aren’t any nicer restaurants at Disney’s Coronado Springs resort given its status as Walt Disney World’s convention hotel (or at least as the primary moderate convention hotel, as I understand the Contemporary is the main convention hotel…although I don’t have booking numbers to corroborate my belief), but then again, nice restaurants are unprecedented for moderate resorts. Plus, given the out-of-the-way location, a nice restaurant would have to do a lot of convention-business to be sustainable.
Overall, Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort is a bit of a mixed bag, but mostly good. The rooms are great, the pool is nice, and there are flashes of brilliance in theming. I also have reason to believe that the dining is good at Coronado Springs as compared to other moderates, although I can’t vouch for this personally. The convention clientele is actually reassuring for us, as we have less concern that we’ll be stuck next to a rowdy group of cheerleaders or a tour group (in all of our stays at Walt Disney World, this has never happened to us, but it’s still a lingering concern). That said, a lot of the theming doesn’t suit my personal tastes.
The neutral color scheme found in many of the buildings leaves a bit to be desired for me. In the grand scheme of things, this may seem insignificant, but it’s enough that we probably won’t stay here again for a while. Fun theming is a big draw for me, and Coronado Springs seems to lack this in many of its buildings. The lobby and pool are a different story, but with Caribbean Beach Resort and Port Orleans Riverside as alternatives that I love, I just can’t get too excited about Coronado Springs. That said, I hardly hate it, and it’s worth giving each element in this review appropriate weight as they matter to you, as my ultimate conclusion here may seem contrary to the sum of the individual elements of the resort.
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What do you think of Coronado Springs…is it a stuffy convention hotel, or a great value with Deluxe-level amenities? Share your thoughts in the comments!