SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons We LOVE Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons We LOVE Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. With 26 on-site resorts at Walt Disney World, there is a wide variety of choices for families coming down. We’ve covered many here on the SATURDAY SIX including Value Resorts (Art of Animation and Pop Century), Moderates (Port Orleans French Quarter and Caribbean Beach), and Deluxe (Contemporary and Animal Kingdom Lodge). We also can’t forget the Disney Vacation Club resorts such as Old Key West. Today we are going to take a look at one of WDW’s most underrated resorts, Disney’s Coronado Springs.
There are several reasons Coronado Springs doesn’t get the love and attention the other Disney resorts do. The biggest factor is that caters heavily towards the business convention crowd as opposed to primarily vacationing families. Ironically, this feature actually provides some of the biggest benefits for families, but we’ll get to that later. Because Coronado Springs is relatively off the beaten path at WDW (it sits close to Blizzard Beach, Winter Summerland mini-golf, but little else,) it’s not a place you generally run into while enjoying something else at The World. We’re here to let you know that you should go out of your way to check out Coronado Springs, and we have our six best reasons at the ready. So sit back, remember to practice your piñata swings, and let’s begin our list with…
# 6 – The Dig Site: Home of The Lost City of Cibola
For many families, including ours, a resort’s pool area plays a major factor when it comes to deciding where to stay. When thinking of Disney’s best pools, places like Yacht & Beach Club’s Stormalong Bay and Caribbean Beach’s Fuentes del Morro pool come immediately to mind. The Dig Site at Coronado Springs is right up there with the best pool areas on property as it is jam packed with great things to do for every family member, big or small.
The headliner is The Lost City of Cibola pool. With a jaw dropping 50 foot tall pyramid and 123 foot long Jaguar waterslide, this is a main pool that has both the “wow factor” and is incredibly fun. Surrounding the main pool is the largest hot tub at WDW, an incredible children’s play area themed to Mayan ruins, the awesome Siestas pool bar, and the best themed volleyball court we’ve ever seen. Siestas has a To-Go food window that is actually open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, while the actual bar features several signature cocktails including the Coronado Crush. This is the absolute perfect pool area for those who want to take a midday break away from the parks, or just spend an “off day” totally on-site at the resort. As a bonus, because the resort is often filled with conventioneers and couples without kids, those with children have much less congestion while enjoying the amenities.
# 5 – Panchitos Gift Shop
How can you not love a gift shop named after, Panchito Pistoles, one of the Three Caballeros? Inside the store there are several great Three Caballeros paintings on the walls as well. While the actual offerings for Coronado Springs related merchandise are rather generic (the same style t-shirts, keychains, magnets, and cups that you can get at almost any WDW hotel, and they look exactly the same from a distance), where Panchito’s shines is the amount of merchandise it has dedicated to Mexico and the American Southwest culture. We’ve been lucky to take several trips to Mexico, and Panchito’s has many items for sale that we see there; including hand made blankets, wooden animals, and the ubiquitous Day of the Dead skulls. The store is rather large, so you’ll find many Disney t-shirts, plush dolls, pins, and more along with a small grocery area for snacks and cold drinks.
# 4 – The Dining: Pepper Market, Maya Grill, Rix Lounge and more!
Unlike its Moderate counterparts, Coronado Springs is loaded with great places to eat and get adult beverages. The Pepper Market rivals the best food court we’ve ever been to at Disney. There are sections for pizza and pasta, burgers and sandwiches, but also dedicated areas to Mexican specialties. On one night during our stay, a convention meeting had just let out and the Pepper Market was swamped. However the crews at each station were all at the top of their game, getting people through fast despite almost all items being made to order. One of the best values was the Market Nachos: a gigantic order of nachos with whatever toppings you wanted for $10.59. Big thumbs up for the tacos as well, but two of the side dishes really made our day. The seasoned potato wedges that come with burgers are some of the best on property, and the dessert area includes churros. While the Disney parks charge $1 extra if you want dipping sauce, Pepper Market offers unlimited amounts of chocolate, white chocolate, and – our favorite – caramel sauce.
Pepper Market sits directly in-between the Maya Grill and Rix Lounge. Maya Grill is the resort’s full service restaurant and – like the Pepper Market – it is run by Palmas Services, who also run the venues at EPCOT’s Mexico Pavilion (including La Cava del Tequila and La Hacienda de San Angel.) The theme of the restaurant is an ancient Mayan area, complete with large pillars simulating fire. The menu can be a bit pricey, but you have to imagine many of the guests dining here are on expense accounts. While waiting for a table, we were able to see a passionate conversation by a guest on the last day of their Disney Dining Plan trying to verify they could get the $33.99 New York Strip at Maya Grill rather than “waste it” at the Pepper Market. We loved the house guacamole as an appetizer, and got the Tacos Durango along with a vegetable fajita for the main meal. Both were very good, but what stole the show was the margarita flight for drinks and the great “dessert shots” they offer for a dessert.
When we polled readers for the Best Bars and Lounges at Walt Disney World, Rix Lounge scored extremely high for bloggers and locals, but less so for the average guest. Rix has an upscale feel and “club vibe” (there’s even a VIP section that can be roped off) but we’ve never had a problem stopping by for drinks in casual wear. Depending on conventions, the bar generally ranges from very quiet to completely packed. One of the drinks we tried was the Pomegranate Pop, which features the “Pop-Rocks” from our childhood on the rim. Rix has a decent sized food menu, with both appetizers and entrees. We can definitely recommend the house made BBQ chips as they were much better than expected for a bar snack.
The water side Laguna Bar features a whole bunch of tables to enjoy your drinks at along with several couches. With the wonderful background music playing as you drink, this is one of the most pleasant outdoor resort bar experiences at any Disney resort. Why? Because unlike Mardi Grogs at Port Orleans: French Quarter or The Drop Off at Art of Animation, you’re not anywhere near a pool and can enjoy your cocktail and conversation without a bunch of people running around.
# 3 – Southwestern Theming
The overall theme of Coronado Springs takes its inspiration from northern Mexico and the American Southwest. This can be seen throughout the entire resort, from the Spanish influence architecture to the beautiful artwork, and all of it circles the serene 22-acre Lago Dorado (“Lake Dorado” for the laymen.) In fact, water plays a major feature throughout the resort outside of the stunning Lost City of Cibola pool along with the three other fantastic quiet pools. There are large fountains throughout the resort, including the gorgeous La Fuente de Las Palomas (“Fountain of the Doves”) as you step into the lobby. Above that fountain, inside of a huge dome, is a stunning hand painted mural featuring doves and clouds. The entire area, including the nearby registration lobby, is just gorgeous.
# 2 – The Ranchos
The guest rooms at Coronado Springs are located in three villages. The Cabanas, Casitas, and Ranchos. We stayed in the Cabanas, which are two stories tall, pastel colored, and themed to small villages by the Mexican coast. Next to the main building and convention center are the three and four-story Casitas buildings. Generally used by convention guests, this area is themed to the more urban areas of the American Southwest and is also where you’ll find the gym and spa services. What really stands out though, is the Ranchos section and its two to three story pueblos. The Ranchos almost seem like a completely different resort, in that the area is so unlike anything else at Disney. You are totally pulled into the “story” here with giant cactuses and almost desert-like feel. The buildings themselves have stonework that look like you’re approaching a large cattle ranch. I love walking around all the Moderates at Disney and seeing the different types of buildings in Port Orleans and Caribbean Beach, but the Ranchos area was the first place to make me stop and go “wow.”
# 1 – The Vegetation Across Property
Taking a walk across property at Coronado Springs is a pure treat if you like plants and foliage because there are so many different types of flowers, trees, and other vegetation to take in. From cactus, to trees with Spanish moss, to agave, to various types of palm trees, and too many more to describe, a walk through the nature of Coronado Springs is one of the most enjoyable things to do at the resort. The landscape is lush and perfectly taken care of, so everywhere you go has a lovely view.
HONORABLE MENTION – The Rooms
As we said, because Coronado Springs caters to business people, there are some amenities that many of us aren’t used to in standard Disney hotel rooms (although they should be.) The amount of outlets in the room will keep an entire family’s pile of smart phones, iPads, and Game Boys charged up throughout the vacation without anyone fighting over “the juice.” The coffee machine had actual coffee mugs instead of paper cups. Not only was a room service menu available, but the options were plentiful. There are two huge wooden slider doors between the vanity and the main bedroom that I think was more substantial than the actual gates at Helm’s Deep (and they said I couldn’t tie in Lord of the Rings to Coronado Springs!) Would love to see some of the concepts in these rooms applied to many other places across property as they were greatly appreciated.
DOUBLE SECRET HONORABLE MENTION – The Bathrooms!
The hidden gem of Coronado Springs is the bathrooms. There is a high powered fan that you can set via timer. You can adjust the water pressure from Medium, to High, to Pressure Wash Your House and we loved it. Now this was a shower! But then, the pièce de résistance: a Coronado Springs sticker that starts off a new roll of toilet paper. As a fan of themed butter and napkins, this was so beautiful I think I started crying its magnificence.
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So there you have it: Six Reasons We LOVE Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. 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 (which we just celebrated our THREE YEAR ANNIVERSARY), 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:
SATURDAY SIX News Desk: A 100% SERIOUS Look at Theme Park News
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FATHER’S DAY SPECIAL: Celebrating the Dads at Walt Disney World and Universal
Six Reasons We LOVE Universal’s Portofino Bay Hotel
Looking at Ways Disney Can Introduce MARVEL into the WDW Theme Parks
INVESTIGATIVE REPORT: WDW Locations Used in Hulk Hogan’s Thunder in Paradise
Special Thanks to crack staff photographer Brandon Glover and blogger to the stars Megan Stump for their invaluable assistance with this article. A special note of un-thanks to Tim Grassey of WDW ThemeParks.com for once again never failing to disappoint coming up with the most unusable suggestions ever thought by the human mind. Be sure to also check out Brandon on The Park Blogger podcast with co-host Aengus Mackenzie along with Meg’s Yeti To Be Named Disney Podcast.
29 thoughts on “SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons We LOVE Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort”
It is so underrated you called it Caribbean Beach Resort in your intro. And we stayed in Coronado Springs Resort and it is lovely.
Tamara, if you only knew how many times me and several others read that intro and none of us caught that. This is exactly why I am solely paid in Xanax
I think Las Ventanas has to be the most unknown eatery in all of WDW. It never gets discussed on various boards, never comes up on the DisneyParks blog, and even here it got overlooked.
I’m eating there on my next trip just out of curiosity. (I’ve actually seen the place, walked past it last time and wondered “where did this come from?”)
I know it’s nothing out of the ordinary, mostly a place for convention-goers to stop in, but I find it interesting how it seems to stay entirely under the radar. Maybe it’s the WDW equivalent of the Room of Requirement.
It probably hurts that you have to pass by a sign that says “CONVENTION CENTER” before even seeing Las Ventanas, so I imagine most non-convention guests never even venture past the end of Pepper Market and Rix Lounge. I had considered putting it in the article, along with Rix Café (which has a SHOCKINGLY great selection of items for a quick grab-and-go venue) but I thought the dining section was already long enough as it is.
Oh, I’m hesitant to post here (because it seems to be our little secret) but I have to voice my love for Las Ventanas’s breakfast. It truly is my husband’s and my favorite breakfast on property. We’ve been several times and it’s always great. We love that they have several dishes with the same theming as the resort. The prices are also not that much higher than Pepper Market, plus you’re being served!
We have bit stayed at Coronado Springs since our kids were toddlers. We loved it, though. I love the dining options and the pool area. If only it were not so far out!
You can take some satisfaction in that CSR is actually more centrally located that you might first think. In terms of driving distance to the parks, the moderates are mostly about the same. CBR is closest to the Studios, CSR is closest to AK, but noticeably farther from Disney Springs. Otherwise, the travel distance is about equal.
You may be happy to know that CSR is mostly about the same distance from the parks – by driving distance, rather than straight line – as the other moderates. CBR is closest to the Studios, and CSR is the closest to AK, but other than that, the travel is about the same distance. If Disney Springs is a priority, then CSR does have a disadvantage.
I wish I understood why it “feels” out of the way, because I understand it too.
(Made this observation in a previous comment, but it never appeared. Apologies if somehow they both end up here saying the same thing.)
. . .and indeed, they did. Hopefully I did not contradict myself.
I think because it is not really “near” anything. There’s nothing that’s just right next door. And the roads to everything else don’t go past CSR.
Well Derek, it worked! I’d never considered this resort before for a stay but now I want to go visit and see it for myself. (I’m just thankful I don’t have the same reaction when I read the Outlet reports – I’m happy to live vicariously through you and Julia for that.)
We do the monthly Outlet Report as a warning to readers, not as an invitation.
Thank you for this look into CSR. We recently returned from our first disappointing stay at POR. Maybe a new option for next year as it has something for everyone in my party (huge water slide, margaritas, real coffee mugs!)
Why were you disappointed, Kate, if you don’t mind sharing? I’m thinking of booking POR for next summer, and never having stayed there, I’d love your opinions.
I too just came back recently from my first POR stay and was very disappointed. While the resort itself is lovely, the rooms definitely left something to be desired. The beds were extremely hard and springy; we’ve also had a similar experience with the beds at POFQ, and after a long day at the parks/resorts, having a comfortable bed is a must, and we didn’t sleep a wink. The bus system was also very hit or miss; we frequently waited 30+ minutes for a bus back to Riverside and the buses weren’t very frequent in arriving there, either. Hope this helps you make some decisions, Sue! Enjoy your trip!
We were in POR several years ago and the beds were OK then. But I think it has been remodeled since. Plus I can sleep almost anywhere. I liked POR except it is just a little too sedate for my taste, true to the laid-back southern living style. I do remember the buses being a bit “inconsistent”.
Hi Sue! This was our fourth stay at POR & the first time we weren’t completely satisfied. We travel w/ my MIL and prefer connecting rooms that aren’t so far from main pool/lobby area. We were in Bldg 36 which was remote and too confusing a walk for her to do solo with adjoining. Staff attempted to help us but having rooms next to each other was as good as they could get us. This Bayou area was noisy compared to the Magnolia area and that affected our sleep quality. POR is our favorite resort. We love the theming, food court, pools, general store, and staff. We’ve never had any issues with buses, especially since POFQ has been running there own during busy times (like Star Wars Spectacular). We’ll probably stay here again next year because we’ve had three great experiences.
My family and I love Coronado Springs’s main pool and lobby, so much that it’s the only moderate resort we’ll crash — visit! Sorry, I meant visit — even when we aren’t staying there. The Jaguar is probably the best pool slide at any moderate resort, and although its menu is short and simple, the food at Siestas is great as counter service goes.
We stayed at Coronado in a business class room in April. It was great! We really enjoyed getting breakfast in the lounge (saved lots of money) and cookies and snacks in the evening. Also business class is located in the closest cabanas building to the main building.
I agree about Business Class, Amy. It took our stay up a notch for only a little more money. Great location and nice lounge. I loved the breakfast offerings in a quieter space and the sangria at night was Yummy!
Well, you have me thinking about it, at least. I’ll see what happens when decision time comes.
I took my parents here in 2006 I think, before my daughter was born. I loved the resort except it was a long walk to the pool and the main building from our room. After reading your review, I would like to go back so that my daughter can experience this great place.
Thank you so much for this review! We are staying at CSR for the first time in November. I just showed my son (6 yrs) the clip of the water slide and photos of the pool and he is so excited for the resort now! And I’m so glad you are safe after risking your life for those bee pics…what would happen to our monthly Outlet Report if something should have happened?! Keep up the great work!
Katie, we bloggers risk life and limb to provide you the best possible theme park coverage you deserve.
Thank you! I had no idea it was this cool; I’d always assumed it was for the convention crowd and pushed it off my radar. Can’t wait to give it a try. 🙂
You’ll have a great time!
Great article! Have been trying to decide which moderate resort for next year. The transportation/walking times is a definite concern, especially compared to Port Orleans, but I love the look and feel of CSR so much more.
We stayed here last fall. It had it’s ups & downs for us. We did not take our kids and we stayed business class. We LOVED the lounge. Breakfast and wine/beer/snacks more than paid for itself. The grounds were meticulously maintained and beautiful. The resort-specific shopping was nice, but the overall theme just wasn’t our style. It was done well, but just not our favorite.
The one single thing that bothered me the most was the piped in smell. Each resort is different and this one was lowest on my list. I couldn’t be in the lobby or common areas for very long without having to go outside. Even then it was like it followed you. Yuck!