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Opening Magic Kingdom

Opening Magic Kingdom

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

We Have A New Favorite On Property Resort--Coronado Springs!

Coronado Springs is our new favorite on property Walt Disney World Resort.  We have stayed at Caribbean Beach twice, Port Orleans Riverside five times, Port Orleans French Quarter once, and Coronado Springs on our most recent trip.  A few days into our trip, we began to consider if we wanted to stay at Coronado Springs for our next trip to Walt Disney World.  The husband and I agreed yet we let the boy have a say, too.  It was unanimous!  I called our travel agent as soon as I could to make the change.  We are officially booked at Coronado Springs for our next trip.

Coronado Springs is a moderate resort, which means that the rooms are larger than a value resort, a refrigerator is included, and the themed pool will have a slide.  All true for Coronado Springs.  Yet, Coronado Springs is also a resort with a convention center and was Disney’s most recent attempt at a moderate resort.  Many of the kinks of some of the other moderates—such as the need for an internal bus system at Caribbean Beach and the inefficient food court of Port Orleans French Quarter have been worked out.  Disney has combined the magic for their resort guests with the efficiency needed for business travelers for Coronado Springs and it worked for us.

The resort has 4 main sections.  El Centro is where you will find guest registration, the resort store—Panchitos, the Pepper Market food court/restaurant, Café Rix Lounge, Maya Grill, and Café Rix.  The conference center, business center, and ballroom are all located in El Centro.  Bus stop 1 along with Magical Express drop off and pick-up all take place at El Centro.

Upon our arrival, we checked in which went smoothly and quickly due to checking in on-line before leaving home.  We were given our Key to The World Cards which included our dining credits, park tickets, and room key all in one.  The boy headed to the store, the husband held down a chair, and I then headed to Café Rix to get our mugs and fill them.  Since we were using the Disney Dining Plan, refillable mugs were included with the plan.  Café Rix had the mugs as well as the soda dispensers.  The bill would have been $46 had the mugs not been included in the plan.  We got our first refill, grabbed our resort map, and headed to our room.

Café Rix also has a limited quick service or counter service menu with sandwiches, etc.  Snacks, pastries, fruit, and other food items are available for purchase here and it is quick and convenient.

Rooms are located in three sections—Casitas which are connected to the convention center.  Guests staying here can make it from their room to El Centro without going outside.  There are various Casitas buildings ranging from 3 to 4 stories.  Ranchos are next again with various buildings.  Ranchos are 2 -3 story buildings.  Cabanas are between Ranchos and El Centro and are 2 story buildings.  We stayed in Cabanas, building 8A on the first floor.  The majority of Cabanas rooms offer lake and beach views.  We were less than 200 steps from bus stop 4 and the boy could sprint to the Dig Site main pool barely touching the ground.  Each section also includes a quiet pool.

Our room had two queen size beds, a TV, refrigerator, desk, bathroom, etc.  It was clean, well themed, and just right for us.  A noticeable difference was that there was carpet in the sink/vanity area.  In all the other resorts we have stayed at, this area was tile.  Our room was kept tidied throughout our stay and bonus—the shampoo, conditioner, and lotion was part of the H2O line which is also found on the Disney Cruise Line ships.  We brought enough home to last us for a while!

We spent more time at a pool this trip than we ever have.  Our first afternoon we took some time to enjoy the Dig Site pool.  It took us a while to figure out why we liked it, but then it hit us.  Everything was right here.  The playground, the arcade, the kiddie pool, the hot tub were all within eyesight of the pool.  At other resorts, the pool would be in one location and the hot tub down the path and around the corner, or the playground in another area.  Siesta’s, the pool bar, was also located here and in addition to being able to order adult beverages, there was a location next door where guests could refill their refillable mugs and order snacks and sandwiches.  We took advantage of this offering!  Each afternoon, Cast Members would host games and activities poolside.  The boy joined right in on our arrival afternoon.  Another day, there was a Disney trivia contest.  Team Williams took first prize!  We would also hit the pool and hot tub when returning from the parks later in the evening.  Movies would be shown on an inflatable screen in the playground area near the pool.  The boy would go from pool to playground to arcade while the husband and I soaked in the hot tub all the while being able to keep a parental ear and eye on the boy.  By the way, Coronado Springs boasts having one of the largest hot tubs with a capacity of 22 guests.

Buses at the resort were quick and efficient.  We even had an opportunity to compare then to some other resorts when we ventured off to eat at different locations.  Coronado Springs topped the comparison.  One day we had an EPCOT bus all to ourselves!  Another day, only us and another family were headed to Hollywood Studios.  Know that the busses make 4 stops.  Here is the order:  stop 2 which is Casitas, stop 3 for Ranchos, stop 4 for Cabanas, and stop 1 for El Centro.  Knowing this is also important as if you are staying in Ranchos for example and want a ride to El Centro, you can hop on any theme park bus for a ride.  Just get off the bus at stop 1 or El Centro.  Now, it is a bit different if you want a ride from El Centro back to Ranchos.  If that is the case, you want to grab a Downtown Disney bus which starts at stop 1 and proceeds through the rest of the stops ending with stop 4.

Another draw for us was the Pepper Market.  We discovered the breakfast buffet a few days into our stay.  The cost is that of a quick service or counter service meal.  Yet, you are seated by staff, have cloth napkins, and are served your drinks.  The buffet is expansive and breakfast includes made to order omelets.  The buffet is also offered for lunch.  Dinner is a la carte. 

We made a quick comparison to Cape May Café as we had eaten breakfast there the day before.  Cape May Café counts as a table service credit and is twice as much as the Pepper Market breakfast buffet.  Still cloth napkins, still get served your drinks, but the buffet does not include made to order omelets and is much smaller in selection than the Pepper Market.  Yes, Cape May Café offers three Disney characters.  Our vote is for the Pepper Market.  Note:  whole fruits were available at the Pepper Market buffet along with individual cereal boxes.  This would be a great place to eat and grab a few snack items for a day of park touring or traveling home.  We already had plenty of cereal but we did take a couple of apples with us to put in our bag.  Another plus:  since we used the Disney Dining Plan quick service credits for breakfast and it comes with two drinks, we were offered small bottles of cold water to take with us.  We did not use our refillable mugs at Pepper Market.  We could have refilled them at Café Rix and brought them with, but since we were headed to the parks we did not bring them with.  (That’s another story—seeing guests tote their refillable mugs with them while in the parks.)

So why is Coronado Springs our new favorite?  Theming, efficiency, convenience of having the pool and playground in one location, and the value of the Pepper Market.  It just seemed that everything was easier this trip.  Maybe it was that this was trip #9 and we have information and experiences under our belt.  Maybe it was the great resort.  Maybe it was Disney Magic.  Whatever it was, we want a bit of it back for our next trip.  Coronado Springs, here we come again!

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