By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2020, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

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A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: Gran Destino Tower

By Dave Shute

Welcome back to Fridays with Jim Korkis! Jim, the dean of Disney historians, writes about Walt Disney World history every Friday on


By Jim Korkis

Destino (“Destiny”) began in 1945 as a seven minute, experimental, animated short that was a collaboration between Walt Disney and the famed surrealist painter Salvador Dali. It was the beginning of a long friendship between the two visionary artists.

The film was to be filled with Dali’s iconic imagery and just have a musical background with no dialog. In fact, Dali’s idea for the story was inspired by a melancholy love song the Disney Studio had purchased but never used for the film The Three Caballeros (1944) entitled Destino that caught his attention. Walt teamed the Spanish artist with John Hench to help guide him through the mechanics of animation for several months with Hench creating some artwork as well.

Never completed, the pre-production artwork of Dali and Hench was rediscovered by Roy E. Disney in 1999 while working on Fantasia 2000 (2000) who later championed the finishing and releasing of the film in 2003 that was shown at several international film exhibitions. Hench, who was still working at the Disney Company at the age of 95, consulted on the work. [A YouTube version of Destino is here–Dave.]

In July 2019, Coronado Springs Resort opened a new tower that took its inspiration from that film and the culture of Spain to add to the already existing Mexican and Southwest influences at the hotel.

The new tower adds 545 rooms to the resort’s existing 1840 rooms and includes a unique two story lobby. All of the rooms throughout the resort were updated according to Disney to “celebrate the daring spirit of the great Spanish explorers, artists, writers and architects.”

The Destino film plays on several screens in the main lobby that is designed to be an homage to the Catalan Modernism style, as well as in the rooftop Dahlia Lounge.

The Dahlia Lounge on the 16th floor is inspired by Spanish surrealism and features a wall full of photos of Walt Disney with Salvador Dali. The Dahlia Lounge is named after the heroine of the film, a young woman who struggles through fluid time and unusual transformations to find her destined true love. Dandelion imagery and metal bell accents all around the tower including a massive mural on the wall all draw inspiration from the film and its heroine who at one point becomes clothed in the shadow of the bell.

Disney Imagineer David Stofcik said that the tower pays homage to the Spanish origins of the stories of Mexico and the American Southwest already told at the resort. He said that the resort’s fourteen acre lake, Lago Dorado, ties it all together and that the tower’s ribbon-patterned lines on its exterior (which are illuminated at night) represent water that flows through the building and into the lake.

The original Imagineering story for the existing Mayan pyramid is that it serves as a ceremonial center in the lake. According to Disney, “The temple sits five stories above the Coronado Springs, and the water cascades down the temple’s steps into the Lost City of Cibola Feature Pool. Bas-relief sculptures, called stellae, have been carved on the pyramid.”

Stofcik said some of the Spanish influences in the architecture were extended to provide opportunities to allow more light into spaces in the building, and that the decorative panels around the lobby itself were inspired by five specific Spanish tile designs from around Barcelona and Toledo that the Imagineers discovered during their research.

However, even Dali himself probably never expected to be surrounded by all the playful Hidden Mickeys that abound in the resort.

*  *  *  *  *

Thanks, Jim! My review of Coronado Springs–updated after my stay at Gran Destino in July–begins here.  And come back next Friday for more from Jim Korkis!

In the meantime, check out his books, including his latest, The Unofficial Walt Disney World 1971 Companion: Stories of How the World Began, and Secret Stories of Walt Disney World: Things You Never You Never Knew, which reprints much material first written for this site, all published by Theme Park Press.



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1 comment

1 Michael { 09.16.19 at 8:10 am }

John Hench was involved in many fascinating ways from the beginning to the end of the production, including authenticating the few remaining Dali artworks when work finally resumed (after Disney Co. discovered they were very valuable, but only owned them if they finished the film!).

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