SATURDAY SIX: 6 Surprises of GRAN DESTINO TOWER at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort

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This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at GRAN DESTINO TOWER! This past week Disney officially opened Gran Destino Tower at Coronado Springs Resort, and we were there for opening day.

Gran Destino Tower opening day pin. (photo by Brandon Glover)

 

Now, we are still getting used to a gigantic tower at the very front of one of our favorite Disney moderate resorts (especially since the large building has more than a passing resemblance to Biff Tannen’s Pleasure Palace Casino & Hotel from Back to the Future II), but as they say, you can’t stop the wheels of progress. For a resort that caters to conventioneers, Disney is well served by offering them a tower with a variety of executive suites, an elegant dining room, and a rooftop bar where they can pad their expense account. But how is Gran Destino for the Disney fan?

Surprisingly enjoyable. In fact, this week’s SATURDAY SIX is going to look at some of our favorite surprises of the new tower, starting with…

# 6 – Destino

Many Disney fans may not realize that the name Gran Destino is a tribute to a project that Walt Disney himself was a part of. Destino is an animated short film that was originally a collaboration between Walt and artist Salvador Dali back in the 1940s. Due to World War II, production of the film was halted, and it wasn’t completed until Walt’s nephew – Roy E. Disney – helped get the short finished and finally released in 2003. Throughout the hotel you will find nods to Walt Disney, Salavor Dali, the film Destino as well as its two main characters, Chronos and Dahlia. In the check-in area of the lobby there are even TVs playing Destino.

Gran Destino Tower. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Part of the lobby area at Gran Destino. Note the TV on the wall playing Destino. This area is now the check-in for both the tower and guests staying at the standard guests rooms at Coronado Springs. (photo by Brandon Glover)
Dahlia, the lead female character in Destino. (photo by Brandon Glover)
Art of Dahlia from Destino. (photo by Brandon Glover)
Dahlia on a glass at a bar appropriately named…. Dahlia. (photo by Brandon Glover)
An art print of a moment from Destino. (photo by Brandon Glover)
Salvador Dali and Walt Disney. (photo by Brandon Glover)

 

#  5 – Walt and Mickey references

It’s always nice to see homages to Walt inside a Disney resort. An icon of American pop culture, the man Walt Disney deserves more references in the vacation capital of the world bearing his name. We also enjoy seeing the ubiquitous Hidden Mickeys across property, and Gran Destino has its fair share of them!

Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse artwork in the Gran Destino lobby. (photo by Brandon Glover)
Hidden Mickey dandelion artwork. (photo by Brandon Glover)
Hidden Mickey in another piece of artwork. (photo by Brandon Glover)
Barcelona Lounge in the Gran Destino lobby has an interesting Hidden Mickey. (photo by Brandon Glover)
The iconic Mickey silhouette outside of the elevators. (photo by Brandon Glover)

 

# 4 – Elevators

After checking in, cast members will generally escort guests over to the elevators to explain how they work. Unlike traditional elevator banks, where you press a button and take the next elevator, Gran Destino elevators have a touch screen where you choose your floor.

Elevator screen. (photo by Brandon Glover)

Once you choose which floor you’d like to go to, the screen will display which elevator you will take. There are no buttons inside the elevators. The only way to choose which floor you want to go to is on this screen outside the elevators. That means racing to jump into an elevator just as it’s about to go up is – most likely – a waste of your time. While I personally have never seen this type of set up for elevators, apparently it is used out in California at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel. While the guests I talked to weren’t impressed with how it is used out in California, I can say that it worked INCREDIBLY for us throughout our stay at Gran Destino.

Screen pointing to the direction your elevator will be. (photo by Brandon Glover)

When your elevator arrives there is the normal “ding” of the elevator, and it lights up (in this case, the area in-between the two Cs is lit.) Granted, it may be the first world problem of all first world problems, but this system completely removes the aggravation and stress that comes with waiting for a hotel elevator. Instead of being the third person pressing the “up” button and trying to guess how many people are going to try and squeeze into the next elevator that opens up, you know ahead of time which one is specifically for you. Loved it.

C elevator opens. (photo by Brandon Glover)

Once inside, the elevator displays the floors it will be stopping at. In the picture below, it shows that the elevator will only be stopping at the 16th floor.

Gran Destino elevator. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

 

# 3 – Interactive Television with Disney On Demand

Next stop was our room, and we fell in love with the options available on the interactive TV.  The “screen saver” for the TV gave all the relevant info you would need, including date, time, and weather. The main screen also included a great shot of Gran Destino Tower, and while you can’t see it in the still photo below, the ducks would float across the water with ambient noise. Using the remote, you could access regular TV, Disney on Demand, and various hotel services.

Gran Destino Tower flat screen TV. (photo by Brandon Glover)

While browsing through the available TV stations, we came across the Disney Parks Music channel. This played music direct from the theme parks 24 hours a day and was awesome.

Disney Parks Music station. (photo by Brandon Glover)
Music from Country Bear Jamboree. (photo by Brandon Glover)
Music from the good Soarin’. (photo by Brandon Glover)
Music from Illuminations, but we’ll get to that later… (photo by Brandon Glover)

Next up was Disney On Demand, giving us our first taste of what Disney+ will be like. Seeing that we could just watch Ratatouille any time we wanted was just what the doctor ordered. As of right now Gran Destino Tower is the only place at WDW with this interactive TV, but will roll out to the rest of Coronado Springs by the end of the year. After that it will start making its way across property.

Disney On Demand. (photo by Brandon Glover)

For those who want to watch informercials on various Disney brands.

We can’t confirm rumors that Captain Cruiseline of the The DCL Blog played the Disney Cruise Line episode on a loop. (photo by Brandon Glover)

The Bedtime Stories option has several animated cartoons about 10-12 minutes long.

Bedtime Stories on Disney On Demand. (photo by Brandon Glover)
runDisney and more. (photo by Brandon Glover)
“I was told there would be no math.”

Other neat details in the room included lights built into the headboard. The pillows and Sealy pillowtop mattress made for one of the most comfortable sleeps we’ve ever had at a Disney hotel.

Grand Destino suite bed. (photo by Brandon Glover)

The bed itself is also on platforms, meaning you could store things like your luggage underneath (similar to a Disney Cruise Line cabin).

Storage space available underneath the bed. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

Still searching for another hotel that has branded toilet paper like the Grand Floridian. Gran Destino had regular toilet paper – but did offer a fun take on the tissue box.

Gran Destino tissue box. (photo by Brandon Glover)

I can’t recall EVER being in a hotel that had a scale in the bathroom.

Kudos Disney for having a scale in the bathroom, and THANK YOU for not having them in hotels which offer a buffet. It is also worth noting that the scales may only be available in the suite rooms, as the standard guest room that TouringPlans stayed in did not have one (although we can’t rule out that Disney wasn’t trying to send me a personal hint after reading about my experience with the Voodoo Doughnut Burger).
Gran Destino bathroom products. (photo by Brandon Glover)

 

# 2 – Chronos Club Level Sugar

While our room was located on the 4th floor, it was a deluxe suite which offered access to the club level lounge on the 15th floor. Regular readers of the SATURDAY SIX know how much I love the themed butter over at Universal. Recently Universal debuted themed ice cubes at Bigfire. The club level at Gran Destino showed me something in a major way with not only having Mickey Mouse butter, but Mickey shaped sugar cubes!

E-Ticket sugar. (photo by Brandon Glover)
The (diabetes) game has been changed. (photo by Brandon Glover)

The club level is named the Chronos Lounge, and has a brief description on the wall for the character in Destino it is named after.

Chronos Lounge. (photo by Brandon Glover)

Inside there is a generous amount of seating.

Chronos Lounge. (photo by Brandon Glover)

There are some incredible views that you can see while in the lounge.

Here guests can look out at to view DHS, including the Tower of Terror and the large show building of Rock N Roller Coaster. (photo by Brandon Glover)
Some of the view from the Chronos Lounge. (photo by Brandon Glover)

There were lots of snack and drink selections in the lounge.  I often get asked if club level is “worth it” and I hate to pass the buck and say “it depends on the person,” but it really does. For places like The Contemporary  and Gran Destino, you’re paying for an amazing view.  You can’t go into Chronos thinking you’ll save money by just eating meals there, because the food options aren’t as filling as what you’d find at places like the club level at Universal’s Royal Pacific Resort. There are small snacks available throughout the day, and more substantial food options available during breakfast, lunch, and dinner hours. That said, the panoramic views at both Contemporary and Gran Destino blow away anything you’d find at Universal though, and there is something to be said for enjoying drinks with friends and family in a gorgeous atmosphere.

One nice thing was that beer and wine were available to get yourself instead of having to ask a Cast Member to serve you. This allows you to skip the awkward conversation of “yes, this is my fifth beer, but who’s counting?” (Maybe that’s just us.)

Beer and wine selection at Chronos was terrific. (photo by Brandon Glover)
Mickey shaped tarts. (photo by Brandon Glover)
Another Mickey shaped dessert. (photo by Brandon Glover)
Some of the nightly options for snacks. (photo by Brandon Glover)
Vegan friendly options. (photo by Brandon Glover)
If you consider cheeseburger sliders a “dinner” than you’ll find a lot of value in the club level. (photo by Brandon Glover)
Some of the breakfast pastries available in the morning. There were also a variety of cooked foods as well. (photo by Brandon Glover)

 

# 1 – View From Dahlia Bar

The Dahlia Bar is located on the 16th floor of Gran Destino, and the outdoor seating has a similar view that is offered in the Chronos Lounge except you’re even higher up and are completely outside. Being able to see so much of Disney property from this unique angle is a real treat, and it also allows guests to have an interesting view of the nighttime fireworks shows at Epcot and DHS.

Dahlia bar at Gran Destino Tower. (photo by Brandon Glover)

The Dahlia bar offers a back side look at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge where you can truly understand how large the area is in a perspective you just can’t get from the ground. It also shows you that Disney Imagineering only fully themes areas that guests are intended to see, much like how an actual movie set on Hollywood would look.

SW:GE during the day. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
SW:GE at night. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

The view from Dahlia bar gives a look at almost the entire Disney Skyliner transportation system, and it was neat seeing them being tested during our stay. There are definitely a lot of gondolas on the line.

Tower of Terror as seen during the day. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Tower of Terror at night. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

Here’s a shot taken from the Dahlia outdoor area that shows you what the human eye would see when looking out at Blizzard Beach.

Blizzard Beach. (photo by Brandon Glover)

Here’s a closeup of that same area.

Blizzard Beach. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

A little more to the right and you’ll see Animal Kingdom’s Expedition Everest and the Tree of Life.

Animal Kingdom in the distance. (photo by Brandon Glover)
Backside of Everest close up. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

Now here’s what many people are going to come for, the view of IllumiNations.

IllumiNations, as seen from the Dahlia bar. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

Yes, you will not be the only one watching the show from this area.

Dahlia guests watch IllumiNations. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

Here’s a shot from below looking up at guests at Dahlia bar looking out onto Epcot.

Dahlia bar viewing spot. The old ECW Arena used to have the “Eagle’s Nest” and maybe we can call this the “Blogger’s Perch” or something.  (photo by @bioreconstruct)

Here is a view from Dahlia bar looking out at the Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular fireworks at DHS.

DHS fireworks from Dahlia bar. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

Another fun shot of fireworks at DHS that highlight Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in the foreground.

(photo by @bioreconstruct)

So there you have it: Six Surprises of Gran Destino Tower! See you next weekend for the latest installment of the SATURDAY SIX, where we’ll look at something fun from the world of Disney and Universal. If you enjoyed yourself, be sure to check out The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! articles, or, for your listening pleasure, check out the E-Ticket Report podcast. You can also follow Your Humble Author on Twitter (@derekburgan).

If you enjoyed this article, you will surely like the following: 

First Impressions of Gran Destino Tower (by TouringPlans own grand poohbah, Len Testa)

Priceline Express deals at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort

Special Thanks to The Elite Brandon Glover, the bio-est of all reconstructs @bioreconstruct, the SAT SIX Fun Squad of Parkscope Joe and Nick, and Hermione Granger’s tutor Megan Stump for their invaluable assistance with this article. The SAT SIX is inspired each week by goofballs Aengus Mackenzie and LitemAndHyde and you Potterheads will  enjoy Meg’s other blog work over at the Central Florida Slug Club.

FINAL PLUG! Did you know The 2019 Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando has a special edition of the SATURDAY SIX in it? That’s right, ANOTHER NEW ONE EXCLUSIVE TO THIS EDITION! Finally, someone came up with an actual reason to read a book. ORDER this baby now!

Themed coasters. We are truly #blessed (photo by Peplock)

7 thoughts on “SATURDAY SIX: 6 Surprises of GRAN DESTINO TOWER at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort

  • July 13, 2019 at 3:52 pm
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    *props for the ECW Arena line*

    Reply
  • July 13, 2019 at 5:33 pm
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    Is there any public access views on the waterfront side to view Magic Kingdom fireworks? I had assumed that at least one of Chronos or Dahlia me of be facing that side but I just realized I was incorrect. We are staying in the tower next month standard view and wanted an opportunity to maybe catch the fireworks from magic kingdom too.

    Reply
  • July 13, 2019 at 6:00 pm
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    Okay, where is that hidden Mickey at the bar? I just can’t seem to find int.

    Reply
  • July 13, 2019 at 7:12 pm
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    The hidden Mickey is very large in the stained glass. Look where white meets red.

    Reply
  • July 14, 2019 at 7:01 pm
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    I listen to Disney parks BGM and show audio on several TuneIn app channels. No need to rent a room on property (though it would be interesting if they offer it with Disney+).

    Reply
  • July 21, 2019 at 8:34 am
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    “Granted, it may be the first world problem of all first world problems […]”

    Such things are known as a “zeroth world problem”. From the Urban Dictionary:
    “Problems caused by adopting bleeding edge technology for common, daily use before it’s reliable, such that the technology’s imperfections complicate your life. Loosely, problems that most people living in a wealthy, industrialized nation would probably roll their eyes at.”

    The most hilarious elevator artifact we have in our society is the Shabbat Elevator. From the Wikipedia article:
    “Jewish law forbids those who observe it from undertaking various forms of ‘work’ on the Sabbath, including that they may not create sparks or fires. In recent times, this has been extrapolated to also cover the operation of electrical equipment.”
    In some apartment buildings, Shabbat Elevators run continuously, stopping at every floor. Some stop at every third floor. If this were perceived to be a problem at the Gran Destino, a “Sabbath Mode” could dispatch elevators to all floors continuously with no button-pushing at all. Or maybe the system could scan an RFID to dispatch with no button-pressing. Would such systems be kosher? Would getting scanned be “lighting a fire”? It’d be up to the Rabbis to sort that out. It would be fun to ask Disney PR if they thought about Shabbat Elevators for their new construction.

    One other note: it’s cool that USB ports are widely available in public locations. Are they all USB-A, or are some USB-C? Any Qi Chargers on flat surfaces? “There weren’t enough USB-C ports” is the quintessence of a zeroth world problem.

    Reply

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