If you know me, you likely know that I am a big proponent of staying on Disney property at a Disney resort. If you really want to know why, I invite you to check out Why Staying On Disney Property Is Our Only Recommendation! However, I do have to say that when I stayed in the new Gran Destino Tower at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort I had high hopes but low expectations. Gran Destino was a resort that I had mixed feelings about since it was first announced and for a variety of reasons. Of course, I know the tower isn’t a stand alone resort but I will be treating it as such in this article simply because it does feel that way when you’re staying there.
My biggest hesitancy about this resort was the lack of Disney theming evident in the early concept art Disney shared of the project. In essence, the concept art (as always) didn’t entirely become an exact representation of what played out in the big picture, but it was an immediate turn off for me regarding this property. To me, it felt like a casino style resort and while there’s nothing wrong with that, it didn’t feel like Disney to me at surface value. However, after staying there, I do have to say that the experience exceeded my expectations and I will be staying there again quite soon! Like literally 30 days from now…
I won’t lie to you and say that this resort is dripping with “Disney” touches but it is far more Disney inspired in story and even in artwork than I ever expected it to be. Is it the perfect iteration or the perfect transformative experience to take you to some distant place like a stay at Wilderness Lodge or even the Polynesian might do? No, no it’s not, but for its price point, you are not going to beat this resort in terms of value for your money.
The Resort Feel
As I mentioned above, this doesn’t feel like a Disney resort at first glance and even after staying there it still doesn’t quite feel like the nostalgic Disney World resorts we all know and love but that’s the answer in and of itself. So much of what we consider “Disney resorts” aren’t that way because they’re heavily Disney themed but rather because of the nostalgia and the historical presence the resorts have in helping to develop our Disney story. That’s not something that will happen over night for a new resort location.
For example, look at the Grand Floridian. It’s not a resort that screams “this is Disney World” and arguably if you put that resort anywhere else it wouldn’t feel out of place. It would just be a really really really nice resort with intricate theming in a different location. You see where I’m going with this… It’s not that Gran Destino Tower is inherently “non-Disney” but instead it’s something that’s going to have to slowly weave it’s way into our personal Disney stories and memories along the way.
Coronado Springs as a whole does feel like a conference resort in many regards though and for the most part that’s because it is in fact a conference resort. However, it manages to do so without being the Swan and Dolphin style of resort with guests dressed in suits and dresses everywhere you turn. It’s a unique experience and in all reality it’s a near perfect business resort if you’re looking for those kinds of accommodations.
A Near Ideal Business Resort
I mention this aspect of the review because in all reality I was staying here largely for a work trip to Orlando for my real world job (yes, this isn’t my only job lol). It was a near perfect resort for doing just that. You still got the “I’m at Disney World” vibe but you still had the conveniences of casual seating areas in the lobby with plenty of power ports and plenty of space to spread out, take a phone call, or even meet with a group. In doing so, you don’t feel out of place and at the same time the guests of the resort don’t have to feel like you’re smothering them with your business activities while they’re enjoying their vacation. It’s a near perfect balance.
As an added bonus, in the mornings and even on into the afternoon the Gran Destino Tower is rather quiet and it makes for a pleasant environment. From the dining locations with cleverly located charging ports to the subtle accents and tucked away areas to escape for a quiet few moments to take a call or simply work in a quiet spot, Gran Destino really is a near ideal work resort.
From a Vacation Guest Perspective
To somewhat flip the script, from a vacation perspective this wouldn’t be my top pick for a resort, but (and this is a big caveat) for the typical asking price of a tower room you will not find a more luxurious room for the price. I challenge you to try and find something better at a more value conscious price point. I highly doubt it exists. When I booked my room it was around $230 a night on average for a 4 night stay. It wasn’t a peak time but it was the week of the opening of Galaxies Edge so take that for what it’s worth.
If you’re staying in the tower, you’re a short walk to the pool, a short walk to every single restaurant on the property, and the views will amaze you day and night. It really is that impressive.
It’s also important to note here that you’re still surrounded by that top notch level of service we’ve all come to know and expect from Disney. The cast is great, the service is near perfect anywhere you go (We did have one very small issue but nothing bad at all!), and for the most part everyone tries to find ways to connect you and your family to the experience and the backstory of the resort.
The Resort Room
All things considered, this is the highlight of the Gran Destino experience. The resort room is near perfect for a moderate tier resort. It’s much more spacious, or at least feels that way, in comparison to other resorts at this price point, and the in-room layout lends itself to an open and airy feel. Everything still smells brand new throughout the resort and I’m not entirely sure if I’ve ever been in a cleaner WDW resort room and that’s saying a lot!
Here’s a closer look at what it looks like in greater depth. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. This time… you get both!
The Immense Dining
You simply can not talk about this resort without mentioning the food. While I plan to do a simple review of each dining location, I will say that much of the food in Destino Tower has a similar flavor palette to it. There’s not a thing wrong with that because it is really great food, but it is something worth noting. You won’t have 4 vastly different experiences if you eat at Dahlia, Toledo, Barcelona, and Three Bridges. The type of experience varies but a lot of the flavor palette remains the same.
In my opinion, Toledo is by far the best of the best when it comes to dining at Coronado Springs. The food is top notch and it has a way of allowing you to push your adventurous side while still offering recognizable offerings that appeal to the vast majority of guests. If I’m being brutally honest, this isn’t a place I’d recommend taking kids to, but the meal is well worth the price associated with it and the views from those 16th floor floor to ceiling windows is truly unbelievable. Pair that with the fireworks bursting in the distance and that pillar of fire pouring out of Hollywood Studios during the Star Wars fireworks, and you’re set for a truly memorable evening. If you want to do this meal justice, you’ll want to allow at least a few hours for the experience.
Dahlia, while also on the top floor of the tower, is actually my preference of the group for good food and a truly stunning view at a more cost effective price point. Being that this location is a lounge rather than a full service restaurant, the menu is quite small, but the atmosphere is unbelievable. Perched high on the top floor, the outdoor balcony offers a stunning view of Hollywood Studios and perhaps the most unique angle on Galaxy’s Edge you’ll find anywhere on property. A visit here at night should be on any Disney fans list.
Barcelona is also a lounge but one located in the lower lobby of the tower. the menu is very limited, but the atmosphere is quite excellent and the staff is great about letting you hang out as long as you’d like.
Three Bridges is the dining offering that most guests will associate with the new expansion but in all reality it’s very central to the entire resort grounds. Three Bridges is a very clever dining location that offers water front dining on a perched platform out in the middle of the lake with a picture perfect view of Destino Tower. It’s located just steps from the pool, but isn’t being treated as a pool hangout spot but rather a full fledge dining location with a fairly impressive menu of unique entrees and appetizers.
After dining there, I do have to say that two of the highlights were the “Warm Manchego and Oaxaca Cheese Dip” and the “Fried Shrimp Corn Dogs.” Again, I hope to review these locations more in depth sometime soon but I will say that those Shrimp Corn Dogs are unlike anything you’ve ever tasted before and are quite possibly the most unique item I tried during my stay in the tower.
Overall, you simply cannot beat the new dining locations at this resort. Add that to an already impressive lineup including Rix and a full service food court area, and you won’t run out of good dining options.
The Big Picture
As the old saying goes, actions speak louder than words. That’s truly the only way I can exhibit my recommendation of this resort. Will it take the place of the Boardwalk or Wilderness Lodge near the top of my favorite resorts list? Not a chance. Did I book another stay here, yes I quite literally did. If that’s not a recommendation to try this place out, I’m not sure what is.
My next visit will be staying here as a club level guest in a one bedroom suite so stay tuned for that review arriving sometime in the next month or two. Until then, it’s good to be back and I hope to be putting out new articles 2-3 times a week for the foreseeable future while also diving into a few new and fun projects along the way!
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Ready to Plan?
Last but certainly not least, if you’re starting the planning process, a great place to start are with some of our top planning articles! Looking for dining? Check out Disney World Dining Tips For 2018. Want to start with some more tips? 44 Excellent Disney World Tips for 2018 or Disney World Planning Guide and Tips For 2018 are a great place to begin!
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