Coronado Springs is a Moderate Resort at Walt Disney World with a Southwest theme. This hotel review features new room photos, our thoughts on staying at the reimagined resort, dining, amenities, and more. This review has been refreshed following Gran Destino Tower’s debut and the resort’s reopening. (Last updated May 2, 2021.)
Let’s start with quick updates regarding the latter that are relevant for those booking vacations for Summer 2021 or beyond. During Walt Disney World’s phased reopening, the only two Moderate Resorts open are Caribbean Beach and Coronado Springs, including Gran Destino Tower. Neither Port Orleans Riverside nor French Quarter are among the Walt Disney World hotels with reopening dates scheduled in 2021.
However, it’s important to note that Coronado Springs and Gran Destino Tower are not operating completely as normal. Notably, Toledo – Tapas, Steak & Seafood and Maya Grill are closed and don’t have reopening dates. Additionally, capacity at the pools and on buses is reduced due to physical distancing, which can lead to longer waits and lines. This is a significant issue at Coronado Springs…
The reason it’s a problem is basically due to Gran Destino. When that tower was added to Coronado Springs, no pools or bus capacity was added to the resort complex. The rationale was that the new tower would be catering almost entirely to convention guests, who would typically not utilize amenities the same way or to the same extent as regular tourists.
However, right now there are no conventions occurring, so tourists are the clientele booking those rooms, and they do use the pools and buses. This would be a problem in normal times, but it’s further compounded by physical distancing, which reduces capacity on the buses and at the Dig Site and Lost City of Cibola pool.
Consequently, there has frequently been an hour-plus virtual queue for the main pool, as well as long lines and waits at the bus stops during peak travel times (essentially, around park opeing). Physical distancing has created similar issues at almost all Walt Disney World resorts, but nowhere is this as much of an issue as at Coronado Springs. Gran Destino being booked up by “regular” guests really exacerbates the problem.
On the plus side, the normal convention clientele means Coronado Springs has a more formidable dining slate. While not every restaurant is open (most notably, the flagship Toledo Steakhouse) many are, including Barcelona Lounge, Dahlia Lounge, El Mercado de Coronado, Rix Sports Bar & Grill, Siestas Cantina, and Three Bridges Bar & Grill.
As covered later in the review, we’re huge fans of Three Bridges. Unfortunately, it frequently has long wait times right now and although there are sufficient alternatives, many have reduced menus and are lacking in more ambitious options. So even Coronado’s normal strength in dining can be a potential weakness right now.
Our expectation is that more will reopen, physical distancing will be reduced, and things will generally improve at Coronado Springs in Summer 2021. However, until that happens, we temporarily do not recommend Coronado Springs to anyone who plans on using the pools extensively and/or will not have a car on their vacation. Coronado Springs and Gran Destino are normally great, but the current pool and bus situation can be very frustrating. We’ll update this review when that changes.
For now, here’s the regular resort review, starting with Gran Destino, the newish tower at Coronado Springs…
Gran Destino is basically a stand-alone hotel that shares some amenities with the rest of Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. Check out our Gran Destino Tower Review for an exhaustive look at the addition. It cannot be understated just how different Gran Destino is from the rest of Coronado Springs.
It’s basically a “Tale of Two Resorts” because Gran Destino is totally unlike the rest of the resort. Gran Destino is also totally unlike every single other Moderate Resort at Walt Disney World. It’s more akin to the Disney Springs area tower-style hotels, albeit with Disney perks and amenities. The tower itself has a Las Vegas-lite vibe, which is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s just very different.
As a whole, Coronado Springs Resort is Walt Disney World’s biggest convention hotel. This likely explains why Gran Destino has such a different tone and style than every single other Moderate Resort at Walt Disney World. It’s undoubtedly catering to conventioneers, who are not necessarily interested in the rest of Walt Disney World and want more condensed accommodations.
The walk from the farthest rooms to the convention center–especially in business attire–can be brutal. Now, the walk from Gran Destino to the convention center is entirely indoors. Thanks to Coronado Springs’ convention hotel designation, the amenities, dining, and rooms are all arguably better than other Moderate Resorts at Walt Disney World.
That’s the upside of staying at this convention hotel if you’re a ‘regular’ guest, as you benefit from all of these elevated offerings. The downside is that Coronado Springs also has a different atmosphere and clientele (at least, during big events), and isn’t always catering to a family audience.
We’ve stayed at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort several times and have updated this review as the hotel–and our perspective–has changed over the years…
Coronado Springs is very spread out with Lago Dorado, a 22-acre lake, in the center. The 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.
Theming-wise, we both think that Coronado Springs is underrated. There are three different architectural influences at the resort (all under the general umbrella of Southwestern): Ranchos, Cabanas, and Casitas. The architectural styles around the resort vary from urban to countryside, and in between.
Ranchos 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, with Spanish architecture similar to what exists in Southwestern cities.
The one glaring downside to all of this is that Gran Destino has created a visual blight on the rest of the resort. Its scale and style do not even remotely match the outlying buildings, and it towering in the distance can be visually jarring. For many of you, this won’t be an issue (and there are upsides that come with Gran Destino), but for fans of themed design or repeat Coronado Springs guests who stayed pre-tower, this is sure to be a big downside.
Coronado Springs Resort is 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 Disney Springs.
With Gran Destino added, there’s arguably more of a burden on the bus transportation at Coronado Springs, which already wasn’t the greatest due to the numerous stops. During our first stay post-Gran Destino, we noticed an increase in crowdedness on the buses. However, this could’ve been a one-off. Walt Disney World bus service is notoriously inconsistent.
Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort is possibly the most divisive resort on Walt Disney World property. Proponents believe it is very underrated thanks to its nice and newly-remodeled guest rooms, a well themed and huge pool complex, and the best dining of any Moderate Resort at Walt Disney World.
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’ve never once felt that business-travelers were in any way negatively affecting my experience at Coronado Springs.
We view the surplus of business guests as a neutral. Presumably, they won’t be engaging in impromptu cheer sessions in the middle of the night (as can happen elsewhere when there’s a big youth event at ESPN Wide World of Sports). On the other hand, they might stay out at the bar a bit later than the average guest. Overall, though, they’re just like anyone else. Not really a big deal either way.
As for the resort being spread out, it absolutely is. Gran Destino and the new bridges across Lago Dorado go great lengths to minimize this, but it’s still a bit of an issue. If you don’t like walking, you’ll either want to book Gran Destino Tower or perhaps Port Orleans French Quarter. 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 Ranchos 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 elsewhere is great, but even that has been muted as Disney attempts to blend the rest of the resort with Gran Destino. Ultimately, much of Coronado Springs strikes the perfect balance between Southwestern architecture and a charming ambiance.
The Dig Site pool is one area that is spectacular. It cracks our list of the Top 10 Pools at Walt Disney World, and frankly could rank much higher once you consider this entire area that offers a lot.
Beyond the pool and its 123-foot water slide, there’s also an arcade, play area, Siesta’s bar, volleyball court, and the largest hot tub at Walt Disney World. This whole area is really nice–it’s a huge selling point for Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort.
During our visits, we’ve always noticed that this pool is always less busy than almost any other hotel at Walt Disney World. While I originally figured this was just our anecdotal observations, I now think it might be attributable to the hotel’s demographics. Can’t be using the pool midday if you’re in a convention. (Great for families who want midday pool time–no fighting the crowds!)
Now, let’s turn to the guest room. First, a look inside of the old rooms, which are now entirely gone:
Irrespective of whether you’re looking at the pre or post-refurbishment rooms, we think Coronado’s guest rooms are the most nicely-appointed of any Moderate Resort. We’ve found the bedding and pillows to be nicer in quality, and the desk workspace nicer. This is likely all attributable to the ‘business/conventioneer’ nature of many guests.
At one point, we would’ve sweated that Coronado also had the largest rooms of any Moderate Resort. Apparently, that’s wrong (see our Hotel Room Sizes at Walt Disney World post for more info), but we still think they feel more spacious. Perhaps that’s just a more efficient use of space than the others?
Above is a look at the newly-redesigned room. It’s pretty consistent with what Walt Disney World is doing elsewhere with room redesigns. Elevated beds for luggage storage, crisp (or bland) white bedding, and more low-key stylization.
For like the thousandth time, I think bed runners would go a long way in making the beds look less sterile, but I realize the hotel industry is moving away from them.
The television is a significant upgrade (in both size and quality), and there are now in-room Keurig machines. That chair in the corner is also new, and a nice touch.
We’re on board with the new streamlined desk and storage space under the television, and it’s nice to have a surplus of charging ports.
We also like the removal of carpeting, but that can lead to more noise. We’ve stayed in these new rooms twice and haven’t experienced this firsthand, so perhaps noise is properly mitigated.
The Three Caballeros art is also a nice touch–although I really wish they’d bring back the Three Caballeros topiaries, which used to be outside the main lobby.
For me, the change of the headboards and sliding doors is a downgrade. I loved the texture and rich wood, and thought that style simultaneously added a feeling of sophistication and thematic coherency.
The new headboards look more modern, but also cheaper. The doors also look cheap, but without looking modern.
The bathrooms are a significant upgrade. Significantly more storage space, nice twin sinks, great lighting in the mirror, and generally nice finishing.
It’s not pictured, but the toilet and shower are a separate room, just out of the frame to the right. These rooms still have a tub/shower combo.
As for dining, there are a lot of options at Coronado Springs. El Mercadero de Coronado (formerly Pepper Market) has become one of our favorite counter service restaurants at Walt Disney World, so that should say a lot about how we felt about it!
The center area of Coronado Springs has Maya Grill, Las Ventanas, and Cafe Rix, and a number of associated bars and lounges, plus Laguna Dock Bar outside along the water. With the addition of Gran Destino, these are all basically overflow dining for big conventions, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see one or two close in the near future.
The noteworthy dining at Coronado Springs is all new. First, there’s Three Bridges Bar & Grill, a new over-the-water dining option that offers views of the fireworks at both Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We love the atmosphere and food here, and think this restaurant offers strong value for money. (Read our Three Bridges Bar & Grill Review for more.)
Inside Gran Destino Tower, there’s Toledo – Tapas, Steak & Seafood and Dahlia Lounge on the top floor, which are both high end and chic. These also tout great views, and also offer views of the fireworks at both Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. There’s also Barcelona Lounge in the lobby. We haven’t dined at any of these yet (they just opened!), but look forward to doing so in the very near future.
Overall, Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort is a bit of a mixed bag depending upon your perspective, but we think it’s mostly good. The rooms are great, the pool is nice, and the dining is better than literally all of the other Moderate Resorts combined. Suffice to say, everyone benefits from the amenities that are aimed at convention guests. The outlying room clusters are definitely Moderate in style, but Gran Destino and the amenities and near-Deluxe level.
With that said, a lot of the theming doesn’t suit my personal tastes. I can appreciate some of it, albeit it not what Gran Destino adds to the landscape, but as a whole it’s not as appealing as the other Moderates. Moreover, if you’re staying at the most remote buildings in the resort, it’s a hike to all the dining options, and while you’ll be closer to the Dig Site pool area and Three Bridges Bar & Grill, you may not want to bother with anything else. At this point, we recommend Coronado Springs for those who will stay in Gran Destino Tower, or those who can get a great deal on one of the rooms in the rest of the resort. Otherwise, there are better Moderate Resort options at Walt Disney World.
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What do you think of Coronado Springs…is it an incongruous convention hotel, or a great value with Deluxe-level amenities? Are you looking forward to a stay at Gran Destino, or is it not your style? Anything you love or loathe about Coronado? Any tips or thoughts to add? 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!