It’s been a while since we’ve dropped in on the 15-story tower construction and resort-wide enhancements at Coronado Springs Resort, one of the biggest construction projects at Walt Disney World as of early 2018. In this post, we’ll take a photo/video tour of Coronado Springs, and offer some insight as to whether you should stay here during your Walt Disney World vacation between now and 2019.
For those who read our 2018 Caribbean Beach Resort Construction Update, the work here is familiar. Resort-wide enhancements with a high-rise hotel tower replacing clusters of smaller hotel buildings. Also like Caribbean Beach, the goal is ‘plussing’ other facilities to elevate the overall quality of the resort. In the case of Caribbean Beach Resort, that’s to match the Disney Vacation Club resort being added–as well as the Skyliner transportation.
May 2, 2018 Update: Beginning Fall 2018, the Dig Site, including the feature pool, volleyball court, playground, Iguana Arcade, and Siestas Cantina will be closed for refurbishment. This is currently scheduled to start September 4 and tentatively ending December 12, 2018. Do not be surprised if the actual end date slips into Early 2019, as this is a rather ambitious project. While it’s not on quite the same scale as the Re-Imagining of Old Port Royale at Caribbean Beach, given the scope of known work at the Dig Site, a three-month timeframe seems overzealous.
In the case of Coronado Springs, the goal is to meet expectations of conventioneers and business clientele. We’ve already touched upon this in past updates and in our Coronado Springs Hotel Tower Expansion post, so we won’t rehash it here.
Here, we’ll focus mainly on the progress of the 15-story tower overlooking Lago Dorado, and how that will impact Walt Disney World guests in the “regular” hotel rooms in 2018 and beyond. Let’s start by heading over to the convention center. This was our first visit to Coronado Springs’ convention center, and we found it shockingly nice and well-themed.
Normally, business-class guests favor blandly-chic and familiar styles (I won’t call them boring, but if you did, I wouldn’t stop you), so I’m surprised such vibrant and beautiful theming still exists here.
Anyway, we weren’t there to marvel at the thematic work. In Coronado’s convention center, there’s a small preview center with expansion models, concept art, and a short video.
Below is my phone recording of the video–the most genius bootleg work since Cry, Cry Again:
In the past, I’ve lamented that this tower project was really bland, and risked destroying the unique theme of Coronado Springs Resort in an effort to appease conventioneers who couldn’t care less about theme.
While I’m still less than enthused about this tower, I do note some aesthetic changes between the first concept art and the video that give the project a bit more character.
I’m still not expecting this to be a net positive for Walt Disney World fans (at least, ones who care about thematic integrity), but now I have at least some mild optimism about the project.
I don’t doubt that it’ll be nice and more luxurious than the Coronado Springs of the past, but it’ll also be more generic, and akin to a mid-range chained-brand high rise that could be found in any downtown in the world. Nothing “Disney” about it.
Interestingly, DisneyMeetings.com is already pushing this new expansion, inviting businesses to “rediscover Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort with dazzling expansions and renovations designed to elevate your entire meeting and event experience. The centerpiece of this evolution is a 15-story tower overlooking the majestic Lago Dorado.”
It seems a bit odd and disingenuous that there’s no mention of construction or the fact that this “evolution” is not yet open on that landing page.
Now let’s head back to the construction site, and take a look at the progress on this 15-story tower:
As with Caribbean Beach, this addition has gone vertical in a hurry since our last visit. Five of 15 stories are now up, and at this pace, the project should top out well before the end of the year.
At the current pace, it seems within the realm of possibilities that this will all be open by Summer 2019.
In this same area, Coronado Springs will transform its landscape with floating gardens and an island that connects the resort through a series of bridges. An over-the-water restaurant on Lago Dorado is also slated to be added.
Beyond this tower, Coronado Springs Resort is in the process of refurbishing its current rooms, a project that should wrap up fairly soon. Here’s a look inside one from our stay last fall:
We cover resort in greater depth in our updated Coronado Springs Resort Review. We had positive things to say about the old rooms, calling them the “nicest Moderate Resort rooms.”
I’m not sure the new rooms move the needle a ton, but they are add some features aimed at business travelers and simplify the design. Whether they’re an improvement or downgrade is likely in the eye of the beholder.
This brings us to the question of whether you should stay at Coronado Springs Resort in 2018? I’ll start by giving you my personal answer, as to what we’d do, and then follow with some factors to take into consideration since there’s no one-size-fits-all answer.
If we already had a stay booked a stay at Coronado Springs for this year, we would go ahead with it. We’d request a room away from the construction (probably in the Casitas buildings) and be pretty comfortable with that.
If we had not yet booked a room, I might be inclined to book Port Orleans Riverside over Coronado (personally, I’m always inclined to book Riverside over Coronado), just to err on the side of caution. If pricing or discounts going forward are more attractive at Coronado, that would certainly tip the scales in its favor.
Personally, we won’t be staying at Coronado Springs in 2018, but that has less to do with construction and more to do with the fact that we just stayed there last year. If some of the dining or new amenities were to open this year, we’d likely book a stay. Based on our experiences at Coronado Springs, the construction work is not overly intrusive or detrimental to the guest experience–at least for us.
I don’t anticipate any of this changing as construction progresses. At some point, Lago Dorado will be impacted more as a result of the over-the-water restaurant being built, but that should just amount to coffer dams and some in-plain-view construction. Even that isn’t restaurant’s construction shouldn’t really impact guests or any other facilities.
The upside to the construction at Coronado is that the dining and shopping in El Centro are in no way impacted during construction, nor are the pools. Yes, there is a huge hotel tower going vertical and this can be noisy at times, but you don’t have that plus a total loss of amenities. For us, that’s a big deal. Moreover, Coronado Springs never really had the ‘serene tropics’ ambiance to begin with, so some stray construction noises don’t really hurt its vibe for us.
Aside from this large tower, everything else at Coronado is business as usual. The hotel still has the best dining options of any Moderate Resort, the common areas are all accessible to guests and are not engulfed in a sea of construction walls, you don’t have to dine in a tent, there aren’t trucks peddling merchandise, etc.
In fact, much of the time we spent walking around the Ranchos and Cabanas, we didn’t even notice the construction. To be sure, it’s very much visible and audible once you get to the edge of Lago Dorado, but Coronado Springs still doesn’t feel like it has been decimated by construction. Ultimately, the ‘feel’ of a resort is a your mileage may vary type of thing, and you might find that this degree of construction is too much for you. In that case, we’d recommend Port Orleans Riverside as the best/most comparable alternative.
Have you stayed at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort since the construction started? What did you think of the experience? How, if at all, did it impact your vacation? Would you recommend Coronado during construction to others? Planning on staying at CSR in the next year and a half? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!