We have been Disney Vacation Club Members since 2013 and have been a bit spoiled by usually staying in deluxe accommodations. This past Fall, Andrew had a last minute business trip pop up to Orlando so we decided to turn it into a weekend trip to Disney. Because it was so close to the date (and also a popular time) there wasn’t a single DVC option available for us to book. We stilll wanted to stay on Disney property so we searched for the best price available and ended up booking at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. We have stayed at Value level resorts in the past, but had never actually stayed at a Moderate resort. We figured this was a great opportunity to mix it up a bit and be able to compare the different resort levels.
The Resort Area
Disney’s Coronado Springs resort is located in what is considered the Animal Kingdom resort area and is a little further away from most of the parks. It is a large property with a convention center and tends to be a popular place for a lot of business groups. We figured it might be a quieter and more adult crowd. The moderate resorts truly are in the middle as the room building structure is similar to a value resort with motel style buildings, but there are certain features that are more upscale. Every Disney resort has a theme and Coronado has a southwestern feel inspired by Spanish explorers, artists, writers and architects.
Upon arrival we quickly learned why there was a better deal on this particular resort. The whole Coronado Springs resort area is currently under construction to both update the existing resort rooms, as well as develop a new tower structure and additional dining options (opening Summer 2019). Certain areas were closed and the scenes of construction were apparent in certain areas, especially close to the main check in building. But most of what we needed to access during our quick trip was not affected, so we weren’t too concerned.
The Main Lobby
There is a distinct difference walking into the lobby of a moderate resort versus a deluxe resort. While the lobby is nice enough with details such as a pretty fountain, and cultural decor it lacks the beauty and grandness of the more expensive resorts. This isn’t a knock on the moderate resorts, just an observation. We arrived at the resort around 12:00 and check-in was quick and easy. Luckily, our room was ready. Unfortunately, it was a hike to get to. After checking in, we went straight to our room, which was in the farthest building from the lobby. It felt like a super long walk around the lake passing every building, especially in the heat humping all of our luggage.
Once we arrived to the room, we were greeted by a newly remodeled space. We have never stayed here before so we can’t compare the upgrades to what was previously here. However, we can say that the remodel looked very modern with sleek finishes and a neutral palette. There seemed to a good bit of lighting to counteract the lack of natural light, and there were even some little reading lamps built into the headboards. The decor was subtle but brought in some character art, textured floors, and a cool farm door.
It also seemed the room was well designed for space and function. At first it seemed odd to have a long counter running the length of the room, but it came in handy for placing items on. This counter also had a Keurig coffer maker on it (stocked with Joffrey’s coffee), a fridge, and storage underneath except for one area designated as a desk. Above this were a few shelves, a large mirror, and the large TV. There were two queen size beds that were set high enough to place luggage underneath them (always a nice touch). Another nice addition Disney has been adding to their new resorts and during upgrades are plenty of outlets, including quite a few USB ports next to the beds and on the counter.
Moving to the bathroom, which was separated from the room by two large sliding doors, there were two sinks, and tons of additional storage including a thin floor to ceiling closet on the right. The toilet and shower are separated by another door for privacy. Coronado Springs has switched over to the H2O+ dispensers in the shower instead of the individual travel size bottles. We were also provided with small bottles of lotion, mouthwash, and aloe.
When researching this resort it seemed that there were many dining options available (and honestly some of the new ones coming soon look really good!). We walked by a couple sit down places, but during our quick trip we only experienced the main food court (El Mercado de Coronado) for breakfast both days. Needless to say this place was packed. And unfortunately ordering different meals required waiting in separate lines. Then waiting for your food to be ready. Then another line to then pay for everything. Not exactly relaxing. One morning Andrew tried to save time and went over to get food to go and was gone almost an hour! Between the really long walk both ways and then all of the waiting it just was too much effort. In the end it was your typical Disney quick service food with a couple resort specific things on the menu like a breakfast burrito.
Another note is that we had refillable mugs, we unfortunately didn’t use them as much as we would have liked. This was mainly due to the lack of close drink stations. We were told there was a drink station at the main pool but that was closed for refurbishment. The second closest option was in the main lobby building which was quite a hike from our building. There were two options in the lobby building, one in the small snack shop and the other in the quick service dining area. And when we came home from the parks the areas were already closed. So needless to say the mugs were a big waste on this trip.
We wouldn’t have had time to use resort amenities much on this trip anyway, but did notice the large “Dig Site” pool area was closed for refurbishment. We saw one tiny pool on the way to our room. It seems that the resort does have quite a few activities such as camp fires, movies, jogging trails, and volleyball courts so it could be a cool place to relax.
As with any Disney property bus service is available. This was the first time in a long time we went with Disney transportation instead of renting a car. For this quick trip, it worked out well enough. Coronado Springs is a large resort with four different bus stops along the perimeter. Our room, which was beyond and to the right of the main pool, was the third stop at the resort, the lobby being the fourth and final. There are TV screens in the covered bus station with the bus arrival times. These times were generally accurate and always matched the My Disney Experience App. Even though we were the third stop, we never had any problems finding room on the buses. When taking the bus to the airport, guest are picked up just outside the main lobby and to the right about 50 yards.
We have stayed at an All Star resort in the past, but otherwise have stayed at a variety of Deluxe resorts, so we were interested to see how a moderate resort compared to both of these. For this situation Coronado Springs was pretty much was our only choice and we did get a deal on the room, due to the construction. There were certainly things that were really nice about the resort: the new room with some nice features, pretty theming, and what seemed to be some nice recreation areas. But there were also some things that just seemed to make the stay feel less special and a bit more work: the annoyingly long walk (and usually we like walking!), the super crowded food court, and not being close to anything. Another huge thing for us is in the end, no matter how nice the decor, you still are in a motel. The entrance to the rooms are from the outside, meaning there is one window and if you want unimpeded outside light, people will be able to see into your room. We really missed being able to enjoy breakfast on a balcony with a view. And also just missed the feel of a nice lobby and hallways at a more deluxe resort. When on vacation we like those little extras and conveniences. The deluxe resorts usually have nicer food options too, even the quick serve is typically a bit nicer and not crowded at all.
In the end we prefer to pay the difference to stay in a deluxe resort to have some of those conveniences and nicer qualities and really enjoy some resort time. If we were to do a budget trip again we would most likely choose a Value resort over a moderate. As surprising as that sounds if we are going to stay in a “motel” with less conveniences we would rather save even more money. The subtle upgrades between Value and Moderate, we would rather save and spend elsewhere. We do think this resort would be fine to stay at if we were attending a conference on site and not doing the parks. And we would also be curious to check out the new tower. Perhaps we will have to come back and see if the new building and dining options would change our mind about Coronado Springs. For now it is a one and done for us.