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By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2018, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

Available on Amazon here.





Category — q. Reviews

Dining at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort

(For the first page of this review of Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, see this.)

DINING AT DISNEY’S CORONADO SPRINGS RESORT

Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort has a wider range of dining options than any other Disney World moderate resort, with more to come, perhaps as soon as early 2019.

It has in its El Centro area two table service venues, a counter-service option, and a grab and go coffee shop.  Uniquely for a moderate, hot food is available at the main pool and it has a more extensive room-service menu than any other moderate. There are also three bars.

Coming in 2019 are two more venues–a rooftop restaurant and lounge on top of the 15 story tower that’s being built between El Centro and the Cabanas, and an over-the water bar and grill whose construction status as of late April 2018 is shown above.

Grab and Go Disney's Coronado Springs Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

In El Centro you’ll find a grab and go food shop…

…and Pepper Market, the “quick service” meal offering.

Pepper Market, for those who have been to Coronado Springs before but not for a while, has changed quite a bit.

Food Stations Disney's Coronado Springs Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

The food stations used to be overly complicated, but fresh and interesting, making Pepper Market then the best food court among the moderates, though admittedly convoluted.  Now it is much more like any other Disney World food court, with a bit of an added garnish of southwestern offerings and flavors.

Check Out Disney's Coronado Springs Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

Checkout and payment used to have a mystifying multi-step approach that garnered the envy of former Warsaw Pact customer service staff, but now is utterly simple. Pepper Market is now comparable to other moderate quick service offerings, a loss on the food front but a gain on the service and simplicity dimension.

The Pepper Market menu is here.

Maya Grill Disney's Coronado Springs Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

There are two table service offerings at Coronado Springs.  Best known is the Maya Grill.

The Maya Grill review from The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2018:

The Maya Grill menu is here.

Las Ventanas Disney's Coronado Springs Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

Also available is a small breakfast/lunch table service offering, Las Ventanas. Between Rix and the Convention Center, it offers some variety to daytime dining at Coronado Springs.

The Las Ventanas review from The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2018.

The menu for Las Ventanas is here.

The main pool bar, Siestas Cantina, is unique among the moderates in offering a hot menu.

One of my lunches-Carnitas Tacos–from Siestas Cantina.

A perhaps more legible version of the menu is here.

Outdoor Bar Disney's Coronado Springs Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

On the lake side of El Centro, you’ll find the Laguna Bar–because of its setting, the best bar among the moderates.

Outdoors Disney's Coronado Springs Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

Also here is lots of other outdoor seating.

Rix Bar Disney's Coronado Springs Resort from yourfirstvisit.net
Inside the main building you’ll find a third bar, the Rix Lounge.

Although the other moderates have caught up a lot the last few years, Coronado Springs still offers the best room service menu among them.

A larger version of the dinner side:

THE POOLS AT DISNEY’S CORONADO SPRINGS RESORT

This review continues here!

TOPICS IN THIS REVIEW OF DISNEY’S CORONADO SPRINGS RESORT

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June 5, 2018   No Comments

Review — UP: A Great Bird Adventure at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

UP: A Great Bird Adventure opened in Asia at Disney’s Animal Kingdom on April 22, 2018, replacing Flights of Wonder, and I had the chance to see it a few days later.

UP: A Great Bird Adventure is essentially two bits shoved together: a bird show, not wildly dissimilar to Flights of Wonder, and some play and interactions among the host, cast members and avians of the bird show with Russell and Dug of UP.

There are some linkages among the bits, and an even deeper linkage between the new UP: A Great Bird Adventure and the revamped Pirates of the Caribbean (which I will write about soon) at the sublime chicken level, but not enough to make it a tight show or one with a high payoff for UP fans.

I saw it with friend and co-author Josh of easyWDW.com (Josh will likely have a review with MUCH better images posting soon). We both had some trepidation, as we each loved the old show Flights of Wonder and were concerned that the fun birds of that show would disappear into the IP of UP.

Not to worry—well, mostly not to worry. The bird show part of UP: A Great Bird Adventure remains delightful, and make up probably around 20 minutes of the 25 minute show.

A fun and interesting mix of birds—most, if not all, from the prior show—demonstrate a fun mix of looks and capabilities.

And there’s still some audience participation, both from the theater and on the stage.

Some more images of the show (I did not get a publishable shot of the chickens, even by my remarkably low standards, but hopefully Josh did):

The actual bird acts, I hear, vary a bit depending on which birds are ready for which parts of the show. Living beings aren’t as reliable as audio-animatronics.

The Russell and Dug interactions will be fun for fans of those characters, but create the potential for some missteps, as their lines are pre-recorded and if for some reason the relevant birds don’t hit their cues, the audio may mismatch the action.

UP: A Great Bird Adventure is showing in the same Caravan Theater space in Asia in which Flights of Wonder was set. The theater is not air-conditioned, but it is shaded. Show times may vary—for mid-July, it is currently scheduled five times over the course of the day at 10:30a, 12:00 noon, 1:30p, 3:30p and 5:00p.

When we arrived—about half an hour before the 3.30p show—the theater was already half full, but guests continued to be admitted until right before the 3.30p show. I would not bet on getting a seat that close to show time, but you probably don’t need to arrive up half an hour early, either.

UP: A Great Bird Adventure is not remotely so strong that you need to plan your day around it, but if you have any interest in animals or birds, or in Russell or Dug, it is worth your time.

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May 31, 2018   2 Comments

Review: The New Spyglass Grill in Trinidad South at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort

In mid-March the Spyglass Grill, a new counter-service option at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, opened in Trinidad South.

This is a bit of a big deal, for a couple of reasons:

  • It’s the first real fruit of the massive re-do of Caribbean Beach that’s been underway for about a year (and is expected to be mostly complete at the end of this year, although the gondola will take longer)
  • In particular, while limited, it’s the first permanent dining to open/re-open here, and is for some Caribbean Beach guests a welcome alternative to the temporary dining they can find elsewhere in the resort. The menu, while slight, has both routine and interesting options.
  • Finally, it greatly lessens the extent to which the Trinidad South Pirate Room area is an awkward stepchild at Caribbean Beach. Yes, this area remains the only one at Caribbean Beach with full rather than queen beds, and yes it remains a bit of a hike from the main pool. But the new Spyglass Grill option greatly simplifies guests in this area  getting a quick bite for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Trinidad South will become even less of a stepchild after the Disney Skyliner gondola system opens in 2019, as the Skyliner’s Caribbean Beach station will be just across the bridge, south of Jamaica.

On the other hand, Skyglass Grill is small, has limited seating, and—that I could see—has limited protection against weather, particularly blowing rain.

It’s also distant from the rest of Caribbean Beach—other than a couple of accommodations buildings in Jamaica and Trinidad North, the offerings at Centertown/Old Port Royale will be more convenient to most not staying in Trinidad South.

I had the chance to try it out in my late April visit, and here’s the scoop.

The Spyglass Grill is located near the water by the pool in Trinidad South. Besides some indoor seating, there’s also outdoor seating between the pool and the bus stop, and also some picnic tables between buildings 35 and 36.

The grill itself has a drinks station (you can both use and pick up your refillable mug here)…

…ordering area…

…and a few tables, roofed over and with ceiling fans above, but no particular protection that I could see from weather that might be blowing outside.

The seating from another angle.

Behind the ordering station is a prep area, with another prep area back behind it.

After you order, you’ll get a pager—handy if you are in one of the outdoor seating areas or at the Trinidad South pool.

Reportedly open from 7a til 10p  (I’m not convinced it will stay open that late forever), the Spyglass Grill offers two menus, one for breakfast…

…and one for lunch and dinner.

Note the interesting mix at lunch and dinner of standard burgers and Caribbean tacos and Cuban sandwiches, and the breakfast options ranging from a scrambled egg platter to a pretty interesting looking “Cream Cheese and Guava Stuffed French Toast.”

I tried several of the more likely broadly appealing options, the bacon cheeseburger and the scrambled eggs platter.

The burger was fine, and I appreciated the onions and pickle on the side (it comes with lettuce and tomato) , as (not surprisingly) there’s no fixin’s bar, and your other options are limited to the usual mustard, ketchup, and mayo packets. It was also nice to get fruit that was not in a cup—fresher.

The scrambled eggs platter was even better. Oddly, the toast was the highlight. I am skeptical of overengineered breads, but the “yuca and sunflower multigrain toast” was nicely light, not wooden, and subtly flavored.

Varied and adventuresome Disney World menus have a way of getting dumbed down, so if you plan to patronize the Spyglass Grill, check the current menu here, and ask at check-in what the operating hours will be.

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May 8, 2018   4 Comments

Photo Tour of a Refurbed Room at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort

(For the first page of this review of Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, see this.)

Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort is going through a room refurb. As of early June 2018, the room refurb project is nearing its end, with more than half of the buildings complete, and two of the remaining five being worked on.

  • Complete: Casitas 1-5, Rancho 7a, and Cabana 8a
  • Under Refurb: Ranchos 6a and 6b
  • Not Yet Started: Rancho 7b; Cabanas 8b and 9a

In late April 2018 I finally had the chance to stay in one of the refurbed rooms. (A photo tour of a not-yet-refurbed room at Coronado Springs is here.)

The main differences in the refurbed rooms:

  • Double rather than single sinks
  • More Disney theming
  • The addition of an easy chair
  • Wooden rather than carpeted floors
  • Higher beds, with storage underneath
  • Bigger TVs and many, many more power points
  • More structured storage, especially in the old closet area
  • Many rooms with showers instead of tub/shower combos, and where tub/shower combos still exist, the shower curtain is now sliding glass, rather than fabric

The rooms continue to be largely similar to those in the other Disney World moderate resorts, but with a few key differences related to the importance of the convention and meetings market at Coronado Springs–specifically, a desk instead of a table and two chairs, and a dresser optimized for two convention-goers.

As you enter the room, on one side you’ll find a pair of queen beds.

The bed side from the back.

A closer view of one of the queens.

Besides the lights over the beds you can see, there’s four of these pencil reading lights–one on each side of each bed.

As has become common in recent Disney World refurbs, the beds are a single mattress on a platform, and are about 30 inches high.

Open underneath, there’s now room for you to stick your luggage under the beds–there’s about 14.5 inches of clearance.

Between the two beds is a bedside table. Note the Three Caballeros-inspired art above.

There’s multiple power points on either side of this table…

…and a drawer, small but big enough for your important books.

Inside the table you’ll find a safe.

It’s as large a safe as I’ve seen in a Disney World room, likely so it can hold to hold the valuables of two conventioneers.

To give you a sense of its size, my book is six by nine inches.

The other side of the room is dominated by an easy chair and a long mini-fridge/desk/dresser combo.

This side of the room from the back.

The easy chair by the window is new in this refurb, replacing a couple of small ottomans, and makes the room more comfortable for conventioneers or families. Note more Three Caballeros art.

Next to it is the first part of the long object…

…with a glass-doored mini-fridge below…

…and a coffee service above.

Next is the desk area with a task lamp and set of power points.

Here you’ll also find the room service menu.

A larger version of the dinner side–still a little better than what you will find at the other moderates; note in particular the chef’s daily special.

Next is the dresser with a 54 inch TV above and another set of power points in between at the right.

The six drawers of the dresser will easily fit the two conventioneers or family of four that these rooms can hold.

The divided bath is in the back of the room, separated from it by a pair of sliding doors.

The sinks are just behind these doors. Note the makeup mirror, new with this refurb.

There’s an extensive set of toiletries, including sunburn relief gel, a shower cap, and a sewing kit–more than you’ll find at other moderates,  or most deluxes–suited to the demands of business travelers.

There’s some storage below the sinks…

…and also at the back of the sink area.

The formerly open closet area is now enclosed.

Inside the closet you’ll find the iron and ironing board.

The rest of the bath is enclosed behind a pocket door.

It features either a shower, or (as I learned on Mario’s terrific Coronado Springs Facebook group–also see his site and forum), a shower/tub combo with sliding glass doors. If a tub is important to you, Mario says to request one.

Either way you’ll get a rainfall showerhead and in addition a hand-held head.

As is becoming common in hotels at Disney World and elsewhere, shampoo, conditioner and body wash is available in large wall-mounted bottles.

A motion-sensitive fan is in this part of the bath, and because it is loud and seems to never shut off, it may drive you mad until you realize that you can turn it off by tapping on the left-most of the three controls in this area.

In general this refurb is a positive step. Some will object to the lost carpet, and others to the shower or the glass doors in the tub. But the added sink, added easy chair, bigger TV, plethora of power points, re-structured closet, and other additions are all positives for both business and family visitors.  And the Three Caballeros art adds a bit of Disney theming to a space that in its prior life did not have any.

AMENITIES AT DISNEY’S CORONADO SPRINGS RESORT

This review continues here!

TOPICS IN THIS REVIEW OF DISNEY’S CORONADO SPRINGS RESORT

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May 7, 2018   3 Comments

Updated Review of Disney’s Treehouse Villas

I’ve just re-published a re-do of my review of the Treehouses at Saratoga Springs, based on my stay in one in January—our third in a Treehouse, and eighth at Saratoga Springs. The updated Treehouse review includes 50+ new images.

In total, the updated Treehouse review has four pages:

Treehouses are among the most distinctive offerings on property for larger families or two-family groups. They are the only spaces that sleep nine with three bedrooms at a price comparable to a Two Bedroom villa.

The third Treehouse bedroom, however, has two bunk beds that won’t fit anyone much over 5’ 4”.

The living-dining-kitchen area feels more spacious than the equivalent in most Two Bedroom Villas, and both the dining table and the living room area seat more than almost all other such villas.

However, these rooms are distant from the main amenities at Saratoga Springs, and have a separate bus line that goes to Saratoga Springs rather than the parks. So I’m not at all keen on them for first-timers, and would strongly advise that returning visitors have a car or two.

But if your party can fit the beds and deal with the inconveniences, they are a spacious, flexible, darling, secluded, and woodsy choice, much the favorite in my family. Sadly, we’ve outgrown the bunk beds, but I look forward to future family stays here with grandchildren (are you listening, Teddy and Alex???).

There’s only 60 of them, and they seem to be pretty popular. So if you want one, can fit, and plan to have wheels, book them well in advance. Kelly, the long-time travel agent partner of this site, can help you book your Disney World vacation at the Treehouses or anywhere else.  Contact her by using the form on this page.

The full updated review of the Treehouses begins here.

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April 8, 2018   No Comments

Updated Review of Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

I’ve updated the review of Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, based on our most recent stay here—our 13th here, out of 150+ stays in Disney World-owned rooms, villas, suites, studios, cabins and campsites—in January 2018. You can find the first page of the updated Wilderness Lodge review here.

I’d already done a fairly extensive update to the Wilderness Lodge review in the summer of 2017 after our stays in brand-new Copper Creek Studio and a Copper Creek One Bedroom Villa. The net effect of the Copper Creek development was to reduce capacity and add amenities—making what was already a great choice even better.

Our January stay was in a standard woods-view room in the main Wilderness Lodge. So it includes fresh pictures in the photo tour of a standard Wilderness Lodge room that begins here. As other rooms at Disney World have their theming thinned by recent refurbs, I appreciate the theming of these small but darling rooms even more.

This was also my first stay in a higher woods view room that had fireworks views after so many trees on this side were cleared for the Copper Creek Cascade Cabins.

The fireworks view was pretty good. The distance was about the same as that from the Polynesian Village, and the viewing angle was similar to that from the Grand Floridian (although on the opposite side, of course).

See the chart, which either does, or does not, fully explain both of these points (click it to enlarge it).

You’ll find a total of seven pages in the updated review of the Lodge itself:

There are also separate reviews on the site of the Copper Creek Villas and Boulder Ridge Villas.

Kelly, the long-time travel agent partner of this site, can book your Disney World vacation at the Wilderness Lodge or anywhere else.  Contact her by using the form on this page.

Kelly B Can Help You Book Your Trip

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April 3, 2018   No Comments