Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort is one of the Walt Disney World moderate resorts. Settled fairly equidistant between Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom, it’s one of most central resorts on Disney property. Ryan and I had an opportunity to stay here and I’d like to give you an overview of Coronado Springs, as well as our 10¢ to hopefully help you make an informed decision about whether this resort is a good fit for you.
It’s also worth noting that in 2019, Coronado Springs saw the opening of a new tower of rooms. The self-contained building was given the illustrious name “Gran Destino” (named after a short film collaboration between Disney and Salvador Dali). Gran Destino looks like it would be a separate hotel unto itself, but it does fall under the umbrella of Disney’s Coronado Springs resort. It’s an important detail that I’ll circle back to shortly.
Coronado Springs is also home to a convention centre. With that, comes some differences from other Disney resorts. There is a spa and gym here and more dining options than you would find at other moderate resorts, most likely catering to the convention guests.
But without further delay…here’s our overview of Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort!
Coronado Springs is broken down into a few different areas. They’re well-defined and pretty easy to navigate (thanks to the convenient resort maps posted around the main walkway).
The whole resort centres around Lago Dorado with the different resort areas forming a loose circle around the lake.
Gran Destino, the tower hotel at Coronado Springs, is situated on the Southeast corner of the resort. It has its own rooms, dining options and houses the main lobby for guests. When you first arrive at Gran Destino, this is where you would check in. Disney’s Magical Express drops guests off and picks them up at Gran Destino.
El Centro is where the lobby used to be. The old lobby is still there, but it’s not in use. This is where the majority of the amenities are. The resort gift shop, Panchito’s, is in the heart of the building. There are a few dining options here, as well as the convention centre, attached to the south of the building.
The majority of the rooms are in three separate clusters. Casitas, Ranchos and Cabanas (clockwise, in that order) complete the circle around the lake. The Casitas buildings are close to El Centro and the Cabanas are a short walk from Gran Destino. Ranchos buildings are the furthest away. While it’s all walkable, the Ranchos are certainly the longest distance from the main building.
Just to the north of the lake is the Dig Site, which is the popular Mayan ruins-themed complex. It’s home to the main pool, a volleyball court, ping pong, the pool bar Siestas Cantina, a kid’s pool area and a playground.
Sitting in the centre of the lake, you’ll find the Three Bridges Bar & Grill. The aptly named three bridges span the gap between the Casitas buildings, the Dig Site and the El Centro buildings.
Coronado Springs has a combination of Southwestern American, Spanish and Mexican themes. The majority of the theme is predominantly Spanish and Mexican cultures. You’ll encounter a number of interpretations of that theme in terms of the style of the resort buildings, landscaping and the art around the resort.
The colour palette is rich in earth tones. There are palm trees, sandy beaches with hammocks and fountain features around the resort. There is a heavily incorporated Mayan theme in the Dig Site recreation area. I’d say there’s more theming at the Dig Site than most of the other areas of the resort.
Gran Destino Theming
While Gran Destino is a beautiful addition to the resort, the theming feels like a departure from the rest of the resort area. The decor here feels more Moroccan-inspired at times than Southwestern. Gran Destino is a lavish and modern building. The rest of Coronado Springs is not.
Gran Destino simply feels out of place thematically (and visually) with the rest of the resort, both outside and inside. However, I think this is something easily overlooked by most guests because the tower is incredibly beautiful. In many ways, the Gran Destino tower feels closer to a deluxe resort than a moderate.
Overall, the theming is a little more subdued at Coronado Springs than other Disney resorts. The subtlety is probably more appealing to the many convention guests that stay here with little to no interest in visiting the Disney parks. That being said, there are some really lovely Disney touches around the resort, including in the rooms. Hidden Mickeys throughout, and a gorgeous piece of artwork featuring Walt Disney and Mickey in the Gran Destino lobby are just a few examples of the Disney touch.
I still miss the feeling of being completely immersed in a cohesive resort theme. Other Disney resorts have a much more singular focus when it comes to theming. Some of the best examples of that include Disney’s Port Orleans – Riverside, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and Disney’s Polynesian Resort. All three of those have well-defined themes that are consistent throughout the resort.
There are 10 dining locations at Coronado Springs ranging from tapas and pool bars, to table service and lounges. It is worth mentioning that most dining locations feature Spanish cuisine and would generally appeal more to adults than young children.
The Gran Destino Tower is home to the rooftop Dahlia Lounge and the tapas restaurant Toledo, a Spanish haven inspired by surrealist art and the 1930s avant-garde (it’s lovely). Both dining options offer a fabulous outside view. From that high up, guests can overlook the resort and can even see Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios in the distance.
Three Bridges Bar & Grill is located in the centre of Lago Dorado with, you guessed it, three bridges leading to it. It’s a beautiful setting and reservations are not required. While a visit in the daylight will be equally enjoyable, the evening hours offer a different ambiance on the water after the sun has set. The Latin-inspired menu has a handful of single-portion entrées, but an equal number of shareable plates on the menu as well.
The El Centro building is home to the Maya Grill and is widely considered to be a hidden gem at Disney. Open only for dinner, the Maya Grill is a largely Mexican-inspired restaurant with a healthy dose of seafood and steak on the menu. It’s worth planning to visit during your stay here.
El Centro is also home to the Rix Sports Bar and Grill (for anyone who needs a sports fix). You’ll also find your typical quick service cafeteria-style dining at El Mercado de Coronado. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the El Mercado is also where you’ll be able to use your resort-refillable mugs if you have purchased them or you’re on a Disney Dining Plan.
Currently an average night at Coronado will start at about $250 USD for a standard room and a preferred room is typically over $300 USD. Of course, these rates fluctuate depending on the month and season.
If you are looking to splurge a little, the prices for a room at the Gran Destino Tower are higher than the rest of the resort, but considering these rooms and the tower are verging on deluxe, it’s good value. There’s even a club level option while staying at Gran Destino.
I find the rooms at Coronado Springs very comfortable. They have two queen beds, laminate flooring, space to store luggage under the beds as well as lots of storage in the bathroom area and under the TV. There are two sinks in the bathroom area, with a sliding door separating this area from the beds and the shower and toilet in another room next to the sinks.
The TVs here are bigger than some we’ve seen at other resorts, and under the TV is a long counter/desk area which is great for storage and working if need be. There’s also a Keurig coffee maker in the room, a small fridge and lots of outlets and charging ports.
Ryan and I are big fans of the Three Caballeros, so we were happy to see the characters incorporated into the room decor.
If you are a family of 5, this may not be the best resort option as Coronado Springs doesn’t offer the 5th sleeper pull down bed. Port Orleans Riverside or Caribbean Beach would be better options.
The main pool at Coronado Springs features a 46-foot tall Mayan pyramid at the centre of the Dig Site. The pool is referred to as both the Dig Site Pool as well as The Lost City of Cibola Pool. The pyramid is really the star here, especially at night when the waterfall cascading down the pyramid is illuminated. There is also a 123-foot-long slide at the pool, just like at all the moderate resorts.
In the Dig Site area, you’ll also find the hot tub, ping pong, a playground area, a shallow pool for young kids and the pool bar. The hot tub here is the largest on Disney property with room for 22 people. That being said, I’m not sure I want to be in a hot tub with 21 other people.
One of the things I personally love about the moderate resorts are the leisure pools in each building cluster. There’s nothing standout about these pools, but we use them often. They are not staffed with a lifeguard, but they are very quiet and best of all, you can use them anytime. Often when we return from a day at the park the main pool is just closing. These quiet leisure pools are perfect for a late-night dip. They’re also much closer to your room than the main pool so it’s easy to jump in and out.
The only transportation at Coronado Springs are the buses to the parks and Disney Springs. Disney’s Port Orleans at least has some boat transportation to Disney Springs. Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort is now the hub for Disney’s Skyliner. Sadly, that leaves Coronado Springs without any special transportation options.
There are four bus stops around the resort. The first stop is the Casitas buildings, then a stop at Ranchos and Cabanas after that. The final stop is the Gran Destino Tower. The buses can get quite full at peak travel times, especially by the time they reach the final stop at Gran Destino.
Booking a Room
I do have to mention a small chip on my shoulder. Booking rooms at Coronado Springs can be tricky if you want to book a room at Gran Destino. You must book a room at Coronado Springs in the Gran Destino Tower room category. You won’t find Gran Destino on Disney’s website by searching for Gran Destino, you must search for Coronado Springs. Double check that your room category is listed as ‘tower’ if that’s what you’re after.
Ryan and I had recently booked a 1-night stay at Coronado Springs as a part of a split-stay on our last trip to Walt Disney World. We wanted to experience the Gran Destino rooms. When we initially booked the room, we made sure that our room was the Gran Destino Tower room category. In the months leading up to our trip, Disney released a room offer. We called to have the discount applied to our reservation dates. Unfortunately, the Cast Member on the phone didn’t tell us that in the process of applying the discount, it changed our room category to “Standard Room”.
It was pretty disappointing for us to arrive at Coronado and find out that we didn’t have a room in Gran Destino. Even more unfortunate was the fact that there were no rooms left available in Gran Destino, so the front desk couldn’t move us into the tower.
We’re all about helping people navigate Disney and planning their vacations. In this case, our advice comes from our own disappointment. If you want to make sure you are staying in Gran Destino. Check, double-check and triple-check that your room category is “Gran Destino Tower” and it stays that way.
Of course, a great way to ensure you get the room category you want, is to book with a travel agent who specializes in Disney vacations.
I love the location of Coronado Springs. While it doesn’t have the proximity that the Contemporary has to Magic Kingdom, Coronado Springs is centrally located. That makes it fairly close to all the parks. A mid-day break felt very doable because of the noticeably shorter travel times to the parks.
We had an opportunity to stay in the Cabanas buildings. The proximity to a bus stop, as well as the Gran Destino Tower made for quick access to almost all of the amenities. If you’re not staying in Gran Destino, the Cabanas buildings would definitely be our next choice.
Gran Destino definitely seems to be aimed more at adults. I would highly recommend Gran Destino for couples and honeymooners. Gran Destino is also currently the only moderate resort area to offer a club level option. Club Chronos is a great upgrade without paying the deluxe club level prices.
Coronado Springs wouldn’t be my first recommendation for families with younger children. While the Dig Site area is great, I think there are better resort options out there for families with young children, like Pop Century or Riverside.
We’ve enjoyed our stays here, but I’ll be honest…not as much as we loved staying at any of the other moderate resorts. It’s certainly a little smaller (though not as small as Port Orleans – French Quarter).
We want immersive theming and an experience that really transports you somewhere else during our resort stays. We found that element to be a little lacking here. While Coronado Springs isn’t near the top of our favourite Disney resort list, we also wouldn’t say we won’t stay here again…hopefully next time in the Gran Destino Tower!