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Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Walt Disney World [Day 1] - Coronado Springs Resort

With our Celebrity Summit cruise over, it was time for the next part of our holiday vacation.... we're going to Walt Disney World!

Aaron's parents were flying back to Albuquerque that morning, and their flight left around the same time as ours, so we shared an Uber to the airport. On the way over, I realized that American Airlines (their airline) and Delta (our airline) were on different ends of the airport, so I modified the ride to add a second stop.

On the way to the airport, I realized that we had been upgraded to First Class! I had booked Comfort+ for this flight because it's a very short flight from Miami to Orlando. Since I booked higher fare class tickets, that meant we got bumped to First Class when they oversold Basic Economy and/or Main.

The app didn't update our boarding passes to include Sky Priority, but we were still able to use the Sky Priority lane to check our bag.


I also checked at the gate to see if we could board with First Class or if we needed to wait for Comfort+ (because our boarding group hadn't updated either), and the gate agent said to board with First Class.

I wanted to board early because I still wasn't so sure about Aaron's "personal item." However, once again, we had no issues.


Round 2!!!!




Goodbye for now, Miami! It was a very short flight to Orlando, and I just looked out the window the entire time.


Our favorite FC snack.... these cookies are really good.


When we landed at MCO, I was bouncing with excitement, as I was about to bring Aaron to my happy place for the very first time!!


The images they were showing on the news were true. The unclaimed/lost baggage at the airport was a mess. This was what Delta's looked like. I didn't even see Southwest's, but I'm sure it was chaos.


Thankfully, our bag was the first off the carousel (thank you, Sky Priority)! We ordered an UberX to Coronado Springs (RIP Magical Express), and it was about $35.

Before our trip, I looked into the Mears and Sunshine Flyer airport shuttles to Disney. However, at $16 one way, it made more since for us as two adults to just share an Uber. I guess if you were traveling by yourself, then a shuttle may be a better deal. I've also heard that the cost of Uber varies widely depending on the time of day. We lucked out with a reasonable price the first time I checked the app, so we didn't hesitate.

MCO has a really bad problem with cars trying to wait at the curb. No no no.... can't y'all read? It's Curbside Loading Only! No waiting at the curb!! If your family isn't ready, do another lap!


As we were headed to Coronado Springs, I checked the app and was excited to see that our room was already assigned. We were in Casitas 2. When we got to the resort, the Cast Member at the entry booth gave our driver instructions on how to get to Casitas. We had to drive all the way around the resort counter-clockwise. Past Cabanas, past Ranchos, to Casitas.

I've never stayed at Coronado Springs before, so I didn't know where I was going. We were super confused because our room was on the fourth floor, but there was no fourth floor in Casitas 2 - the elevator only went up to the 3rd floor. After a lot of back and forth, we learned that we had to take the elevator in Casitas 3 and then walk across the bridge to Casitas 2. After that, we decided to just take the stairs (which we could take from Casitas 2).

I love a personalized welcome!


I booked a King Preferred Room because that was what was available to me. I also had the option to book a King Tower Room for a little more per night, but at the time, I was very unfamiliar with Coronado Springs and didn't really know what that meant. "Tower" means that the room is in the new Gran Destino Tower - a pretty cool spot! However, we did learn later that we actually had a better location when it comes to the morning bus situation. The Casitas bus stop is labeled 2 on the map, but it is actually the first stop on the pickup route, and it circles the resort clockwise, ending at Gran Destino Tower... by which time, the bus is probably standing room only, if not already completely full. So (shhhhh - secret!) if you do have a room in Gran Destino Tower, you may choose to walk to the Casitas bus stop to make sure you get on the bus.


Coronado Springs is a Moderate Resort, but it's very nice for a Moderate Resort. I've stayed at Port Orleans French Quarter, and Coronado Springs felt much nicer in comparison. This is a "business" resort. There is a convention center, and it hosts many business conferences, which is why it feels more upscale. That's probably also why there are so many king rooms (which worked out well for us).



The room was very spacious!


The bathroom had a double vanity, and new millwork throughout.


You'd probably get a better view in the tower (unless you get a low floor/obstructed view - would be just my luck), but I liked our room and thought it was perfect for our short stay.


After getting settled in, it was time to do something that reminded us of home.... laundry. There are several laundry rooms around the resort, and our closest laundry room was located by La Vida Health Club at Casitas 4. We also really struggled finding the laundry room. The signage really wasn't clear.


But we got there! We weren't the only people doing laundry. The machines are operated by a kiosk near the door, and they take card. These are smaller machines than what we have in our apartment building at home, so what we thought was one load was actually two.


I packed several Laundry Detergent Sheets from Grove Collaborative. They're flat, so they are very easy to pack - I just put them in a ziplock bag.


I also brought dryer sheets, delicate bags, and clothespins.


While we were waiting on our laundry, we explored the resort... which is huge!!

That's Gran Destino Tower in the distance -

Gran Destino Tower

Gran Destino Tower

Barcelona Lounge is on the lowest floor of Gran Destino Tower. It's a fun posh-feeling bar.

Barcelona Lounge

Aaron and I were happy that it felt very much like Christmas at Coronado Springs. Spanish Christmas music was playing everywhere, and there was a giant tree in Gran Destino Tower -

Gran Destino Tower

I dig the Spanish opulence.

Gran Destino Tower

There are so many details. Great job with show lighting.

Gran Destino Tower

If you read my Summit trip report, you'll remember that I ended with a cliffhanger. While Aaron and I were already in Florida, Judy and Stove were driving down from South Carolina, and Rachel and Landon were hoping that their Southwest flight wouldn't get canceled.

We got news that Rachel and Landon's flight was not canceled - hooray! Fingers crossed for their checked bag, but they were in route to Orlando! They'd be arriving around 6:30 which was about the same time that Judy and Stove were set to arrive.

After Aaron and I finished catching up on laundry, we considered going to Disney Springs to get a bite to eat and walk around, but decided that we were too hungry to take a bus and then add ourselves to a waitlist.


Instead, we headed to The Dig Site to get a bite to eat at the Siestas Cantina pool bar. It was actually hot outside - much warmer than we had been the past week.

The Dig Site pool is huge, and it also has the largest hot tub on Walt Disney World property. I've always loved the pyramid water feature which I have seen on the free Disney Vacation Planning videos that I used to watch for entertainment as a kid. I've been coming to Walt Disney World since I was a little kid, and there's still places on property that I have yet to see.


Aaron and I shared the firecracker shrimp. The line for drinks at the pool bar was very long, so we decided that we'd eat here, then head inside to the Barcelona Lounge for drinks.


We got margaritas at Barcelona Lounge, as well as olives to snack on. It's a fun spot to hang out at. We spent a lot of time just people watching.

Then, we decided to head upstairs to Dahlia Lounge, located on the 16th floor of Gran Destino Tower. We snagged a table at the outdoor patio just in time to watch the sunset. Gorgeous!


Rachel had made dinner reservations for Toledo, adjacent to Dahlia Lounge, for later in the evening.


Then we got a call from Rachel - they made it! Their Uber driver dropped them at Gran Destino Tower. We were about to head down and show them how to walk to Casitas when Judy and Stove arrived and drove them to Casitas 2. Aaron and I walked over because we had a feeling they'd be just as confused when it came to the elevator situation, and sure enough we found everyone with their rolling suitcases trying to find the elevator to the fourth floor.

Time for a reunion! Rachel suggested that we go to the hot tub, but with dinner approaching, no one else wanted to get wet. She convinced us to go and socialize at the pool while she sat in the hot tub.


Finally, it was time for our 9 PM ADR at Toledo. Rachel is a little bit obsessed with checking the My Disney Experience App for Dining Reservations, and if something great pops up, she'll screenshot it and send it to the group (Be Our Guest is such a common find now - it used to be impossible to book any less than 90 days in advance!) or snag it if it's something we could use. However, I think Toledo is the only reservation that she kept for this trip.

Toledo - Tapas, Steak & Seafood is located on the 16th floor of Gran Destino Tower and open for dinner only. It's really only convenient to guests staying at Coronado Springs Resort (since the park bus is the only transportation to and from CSR), but it offers incredible views. When we arrived, I was very surprised that our table wasn't ready yet. They had us wait over at Dahlia Lounge, but we were seated within 15 minutes - just in time to watch Harmonious! I was super surprised by the awesome view of the Harmonious fireworks at Epcot.

I didn't take notes, but I remember that we started with a board of charcuterie and cheeses. Aaron ordered the prime rib from a special holiday menu, and it arrived well-done. He pointed it out to our server, and they took it back and brought a medium rare prime rib which Aaron really enjoyed. I was going back and forth on whether or not to get the Brick Oven Cauliflower because why get a $30 vegetable entree when I could get a $30 chicken entree? Aaron told me to just go ahead and get what I wanted because he was planning to pick up the check, so I went with the cauliflower. Then Landon swooped in and paid the check. So thank you, Landon, for my overpriced cauliflower.

Over dinner, we set the game plan for the next morning. We planned to catch the first Animal Kingdom bus at 7AM and rope drop Flight of Passage when the park opened at 7:30. So after dinner, we headed back to our rooms to rest up before our early AM wake-up call.

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