Monday, March 21, 2011

Spotlight Disney World: Coronado Springs Resort {Review}

If you're planning on taking a trip to Walt Disney World in Florida, your best bet is to stay at one of their amazing hotels. From Disney's Magical Express shuttle taking you to/from the airport to the internal shuttle taking you to all of the Disney Parks to the endless hotel amenities, you really can't go wrong. For our March trip this year, we chose to stay at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort. Our full review is as follows:

Disney's Magical Express:
Disney really has an eye for making your vacation as stress-free as humanly possible, beginning with their complimentary airport shuttle, Disney's Magical Express. Prior to your Disney vacation, if you didn't already book your flights through the Walt Disney World website (the packages make it super convenient!) make sure to call the Disney reservation specialists to let them know your flight information. You will be mailed a special voucher with personalized luggage tags and a bus ticket for each person in your party. No need to worry about your luggage here! If you have checked baggage, simply put the personalized luggage tags/stickers on your bags before departure. When you arrive in Orlando, Disney will take care of the rest and make sure that they get to your room (though it should be noted, it sometimes takes 4-5 more hours than collecting the luggage yourself).
The airport has sufficient signs pointing you directly to the Magical Express terminal. Once there, have your voucher handy and the Disney specialists will guide you to the correct bus for your hotel. The trip takes around 40 minutes, in which a Disney video plays - highlighting all the fun that is to come.



Disney's Coronado Springs Resort: Overview

Holly at Nap Time March 2011


Disney's Coronado Springs Resort is listed as one of the "Moderate Range" resorts at Walt Disney World, meaning that it generally has more dining options/amenities than the Value Resorts, and is less pricey/has slightly fewer amenities (no monorail) than some of the Deluxe Resorts. From our experience though, the comfort of Coronado Springs made us feel high class all week long. We stayed at the resort for 7 nights/8 days.


Description from the Walt Disney World website of the Coronado Springs Resort:
Disney's Coronado Springs Resort at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida is an American Southwest-themed Resort hotel set on a 22-acre lake that invokes the spirit and romance of Spanish-colonial Mexico.
Holly at Nap Time March 2011



The lake really is amazing. I often walked with our 16 month old daughter in her stroller around the lake, which took approximately 30 minutes. It's a beautiful walk, and the sounds of nature were right there to help her get to sleep! Sound like a lot of walking? No fear! Coronado Springs has 4 bus stops to help you get around the resort and Disney Parks. They also have a golf cart service. Simply call the front desk and someone can come pick you up and help you get to your destination.







Check-In Process/The Room:
Approximately 10 days before your Disney vacation begins, you will be able to check-in online. This makes your check-in process a whole lot faster, and even lets you "jump the line" at registration once you get to the hotel. Not really jump the line, but you do have your own "Online Check-In" line that goes a lot more quickly than your fellow patrons will be waiting.

I was a little disappointed that our room was not ready when we arrived, as I had noted several times prior to travel that we would be arriving early with a toddler. However, there was a big conference going on and I was told that the hotel was at 100% capacity the night before. I understood the situation. Luckily, the hotel offers a baggage check that allows you to drop off your items and enjoy your Disney vacation right away, free of charge. My only criticism here is that I wish that the staff member would have been more direct with us from the beginning. He had said our room was going to be ready very soon, and that turned into over 4 hours. Thank goodness we didn't stay at the hotel and wait.

Upon check-in, you will receive a room key that acts as your "Key to the World." With a credit card validation, you can use this same card to charge up to $1,000 at any of the Disney Locations, which means you can leave your wallet safely in your hotel room. If you have the Disney Dining Plan, this card also acts as your voucher to be used at meals. If your room is not yet ready, the front desk will text message you with your room number as soon as it becomes available, and activate your room key, meaning that you don't even have to stop back at the front desk.

When I was booking our vacation last August (yes, 7 months prior), Disney made it seem like a huge deal that I could upgrade my stay to a "Water View Room" for $0 at the time. Sure, why not - I had said.

Again at check-in, the staff member helping us brought up the words "water view" several times. "Your water view room is not yet ready." "Please enjoy your stay in your water view room here at Coronado Springs Resort."  I got the picture. This is special, I thought.

When we arrived at our room, I was slightly perplexed. Water view? OK, maybe if I walked 3 feet out the front door and stood on my tippy toes to see over the bushes. Yes! There was the water! I was less than impressed, but seeing that this "upgrade" was free, it didn't bother me in the slightest. However, if I had paid for it, I would have said something.


Disney Every Day

The room itself was really nice. It was smaller than I had imagined, but I wasn't planning on spending too much time there anyways. The decor was classy and seemed very up-to-date, and the room was immaculately clean. I should mention that the Coronado Springs Resort is the only facility in which I have witnessed staff members even dusting off the sidewalk lamps and trash cans. So very clean!

Of course, I wasn't able to snap any photos of the room before my toddler's explosion of "stuff" was everywhere, so I'm borrowing these photos from Disney Every Day with Amanda Tinney:

I, naturally, loved all of the "hidden Mickeys" throughout the room. On the bedspread, the pillows, the corners of the mirrors... fun for the kids and mom and dad!


Disney Every Day

As with any hotel room, I was worried about finding ample room for setting up a play-n-play (which your Disney Resort will gladly provide, linens included). I was so pleased with the set-up of this room. The bathroom extends to a "dressing room" with sliding wooden doors. There was more than enough room for the pack-n-play to be set up in here without blocking our way to the sink or the bathroom. Better yet, the doors close so quietly, making this the perfect little "bedroom" for a toddler. The setup allowed my husband and I to keep the lights on past our daughter's bedtime.

Just prior to our trip I had read nearly a dozen reviews stating that the walls of this resort were "paper thin" and that the noise was unbearable. Luckily, we didn't find this to be an issue at all. After 8pm (which is the time we tried to get back to our resort with our daughter each night), the resort was quiet as can be. Though we did see some of our neighbors come and go, we never heard a peep from them. In the mornings, around 8am, we did hear the bustle of families zipping by our room on their way to the parks, but this is not any noise to complain about! After all, get your butt out of bed and enjoy your vacation, already!


Holly at Nap Time March 2011

Pools & Recreation:

If you're staying at Coronado Springs Resort, I highly suggest you plan to spend at least a half of day at The Dig Site. Though the resort does have 3 smaller pools representing each of their hotel room locations, The Dig Site is definitely the place to go with your kids.

The Dig Site acts as the "Lost City of Cibola, complete with "ruins" and a playground where children can dig for lost artifacts. Very cool!

Here are some of the pictures we took:








Holly at Nap Time March 2011

Holly at Nap Time March 2011

Holly at Nap Time March 2011

Holly at Nap Time March 2011

Toddler Pool - a big hit!

Holly at Nap Time March 2011
My daughter enjoying the toddler pool!


The pool area has fantastically clean restrooms that even include full service showers, changing areas and lockers (available for $1).

The arcade, on the other hand, is nothing special, and you will not regret it if you're kids never learn of its existence. It's pretty similar to any hotel arcade.

Dining:
Coronado Springs Resort is home to the Maya Grill, The Pepper Market and Cafe Rix. Though we never made it to the Maya Grill, we did go to The Pepper Market and Cafe Rix several times.

The Pepper Market is a Quick Service dining location in which each guest can travel to a variety of "chef's stations" to create the perfect meal. Along the way, they will stamp your card with the items you purchase so that you can pay as you leave. The Pepper Market is set up really nicely, the staff is extremely friendly, and the food is simply delicious. If you're looking for some Mexican flavors, I highly suggest the chicken quesadillas and nachos. Yum!

Cafe Rix is also a Quick Service eatery in a "grab-it-and-go" set up, which came in handy for our daughter. Being the picky toddler she is, we stopped by Cafe Rix each morning on our way to the park to pick up a pint of fresh strawberries that she could snack on during the day. You can't beat fresh fruit! Cafe Rix also has delicious breakfast sandwiches such as egg, ham and cheese on a croissant, and fresh baked goods. The chocolate chip and blueberry muffins were so yummy! For an afternoon treat, make sure you stop by for some of their gelato. You won't be disappointed!

Shopping:

Holly at Nap Time March 2011

Panchito's has all of your Disney Favorites, plus some Southwestern flair! Chances are that if you forgot something (ie bathing suit, hairbrush, sunscreen) that you can find it at Panchito's. Near the back there is also a snack section. We were able to purchase a half gallon of whole milk for our daughter (easily stored in our room's refrigerator) for around $3. Not bad for a resort price! You can also purchase beer and wine at a reasonable cost.

If you have the Disney Dining Plan, you will be able to use a "snack" on several of the items in the snack and candy section.

Disney's Resort Airline Check-In Service:
The day before your departure from the Walt Disney World Resorts, you will receive a notice on your door indicating what time your return Magical Express shuttle will arrive to take you back to the airport (this time is approximately 3 hours before domestic flights and 4 hours before international travel). You will also receive directions for the Resort Airline Check-In Service.

I LOVE this service! If you are flying on one of the following airlines, you can check your luggage at the hotel, pay for any associated fees, and even have your boarding passes printed out. (Yes, meaning that the stresses of everyday life really don't come back until your vacation is completely over!)

Affiliated Airlines: AirTran, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Continental, Delta, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways

It was so nice to check our luggage at the hotel and not have to worry about it until our flight landed back in Virginia. Better yet, the Disney hotel was able to weigh my checked bag and tell me that it was 2lbs heavier than the limit, allowing me to rearrage and save a nearly $50 overweight baggage fee.

More Disney Reviews:

For more on traveling to Disney World with a toddler, please check out my other reviews. I hope you have the vacation of a lifetime!





Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with Disney or Walt Disney World Resorts, other than a satisfied customer who likes to share her opinions!

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