Walt Disney World is my favorite vacation spot for a girls weekend trip. I love everything about Disney World, the characters, the songs, the rides, the feeling of being a kid again, not to mention eating and drinking around the world. The customer service is out of this world and the while the prices may be steep, each and every time I enter the gates I know exactly why it’s the happiest place on earth. On this Disney trip, I did run a 5k. Find a review of the race here, how I made my race outfit here and what to do here. This post is dedicated to staying on site at Disney World and where we stayed on our weekend trip, Coronado Springs. (updated 12/2016)
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Why Stay to on Property Walt Disney World?
There are many options for where to stay on a Disney vacation. In my opinion, you are crazy not to stay on site. It can be pricier and some people prefer renting a condo. I have stayed offsite and I have stayed in a condo. Both are great, but you do not get the added value of magic bands, extra magic hours, ticket bundles, meal plans, early fast pass picks, free parking and most importantly transportation.
Transportation from the Airport
A stay on-site includes a ride to and from the airport on Disney’s Magical Express. If you reserve this free option when you book your accommodations, Disney will mail your luggage tags to place on your check baggage. Once you land at the Orlando Airport you simply follow the signs for the Magical Express. No need to grab your checked bags. That right, Disney delivers them right to your room from the airport. After you arrive at your hotel, check in and head straight the parks. Your bags will be waiting for you when you return. (Disney warns it can take up to 3 hours for baggage to arrive and suggests taking important items and your Magic Band in your carry on.) The last day of your vacation Disney will get your boarding passes for you from select airlines and deliver them to your room along with the time you should expect to pick up the magical express for your departing flight. Typically this is 3 hours prior to flight. You can even check your checked bags at the hotel if your airlines allow it. It’s a full service that I love using!
Using the Magical Express is invaluable to me! Not having to check my own bags or worry about transportation at all if amazing. Currently, it costs around $45 for shuttle transportation from local shuttle service, Mears for two people. A taxi can run up to $60.00 and Uber is not allowed to pick up at the Orlando International Airport. Renting a car is an option and can run anywhere for $25++ a day, depending on current rental car promotions.
Transportation around Disney World
As a Disney Resort guest, you will get a number of perks. My favorite perk is being able to come and go from the parks as I please using the amazing transportation system. While this is a free service anyone can use, it really is a huge benefit to those staying on site. If you want to change clothes before dinner, take a nap in the middle of the day, spend half the day at the pool, or head to another park, Disney Springs or any other Disney attraction it’s so simple. Just grab one of the buses that come about every 20 minutes, hop on a ferry or ride the monorail. The ferry and monorail only go to select locations, so make sure you check where they are headed before boarding. The only downside of the buses is that they do not go between resorts. If you have a dinner reservation at another resort you will need to get a bus to a park or Disney Springs and then switch buses. Transportation can also be slow, so plan plenty of time!
Vacation Planning at the Click of a Button
The Walt Disney World website gives resort guests a great tool for vacation planning. You can create an account and link your reservation and park tickets. On the website, you can pick out magic bands, reserve the magical express, buy and link park tickets, reserve fast passes, make restaurants reservations and check-in online. As a resort guest, you will get first access to reserve select shows and attractions fast passes up to 60 days before arrival. Dining reservations can be booked up to 180 days before arrival.
Disney’s online check-in allows you to request your room location, add any room requests, request early check in/ check out. Instead of checking in at the lobby, you can go straight to your room and use your magic bands for room access.
After reserving accommodations at a Disney property, Disney will allow you to pick out a MagicBand. These are colorful wristbands that resemble a bracelet. Don’t worry they are also removable and waterproof. You will use your MagicBand to unlock the door of your Disney hotel room, enter theme and water parks (with valid admission), check in at FastPass entrances, connect PhotoPass images to your account and charge purchases to your Disney Resort hotel room during your hotel stay.
Of course, I like to make decals for my MagicBands to give them a personalized touch!
Other Great Perks
When you stay on site, Disney will also send you all sorts of fun information leading up to your trip. This includes your resort information including important dates, such as when to pick out fast passes or select your magic bands. If you are traveling by car or rent one in Orlando, you will get free parking as a resort guest. Not to mention the extra magic and amazing customer service that Disney World in known for! If you have questions about how to do any of the above checks out the mom’s panel on the Disney website. They have an answer to every question imaginable or you can ask your own.
Pricing For Every Budget
If your only reason for going offsite is the price, Disney has tried to make on site vacations available for every budget. Disney Value Resorts and camping at Disney makes great options for those wanting to not spend a fortune on an already expensive vacation. I will say that if you have a large party to split the cost with, staying in a condo can save you money and it may be worth considering it for your group. You will have to figure out transportation and you won’t get the extra perks of Disney. A few of the deluxe Disney resorts do offer condos as an option on-site. My two personal favorite moderate and value resorts on-site are the Coronado Springs, review below, and Disney’s All Star Sports. If you are looking for a deluxe resort, Animal Kingdom Lodge and the Polynesian Village are my favorites. In January 2017, we will be staying in a condo at Saratoga Springs and I cannot wait to report back on our stay there.
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Walt Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort Review
Coronado Springs is a great option for families and adult trips alike. The resort is in the moderate price range and located near the Animal Kingdom. It is a gorgeous Mexican themed property surrounding a lake. On site, there is a convention center, multiple pools, a huge Mayan-themed water slide, restaurants, bars, a gift shop and a beach. The resort is sectioned into three different themed areas, Ranchos, Casitas, and Cabanas. Each section looks and feels slightly different, but as far as I have experienced the rooms are generally the same.
On this trip, we stayed in the Casitas section and I highly recommend this location for adults. This is closest to the main building, where the restaurants and lobby are housed. That means you have a choice to walk to the main building to eat, shop, visit the lobby or get a bus. You can also get on the bus from your room to the parks. In the rest of the sections, you have to take a very long walk or a bus to get to the lobby.
The first time I stayed at Coronado, we stayed in the Ranchos section and I was not thrilled with how long the buses took. The Casitas section is the first section picked up and dropped off by the buses. This is especially important if you are running in a Disney race as buses fill up very quickly. I also liked the style of the Casitas Spanish colonial buildings better than the desert look of the Ranchos. The Cabanas section is close to the main water slide pool and the beach. Some families prefer this section for the proximity to the pool.
Pros of Coronado Springs
- Moderate price
- Updated rooms
- Pool and beach
- Health Club on site
- Adult friendly
Cons of Coronado Springs
- Size of resort
- Convention hotel
- Not as kid-friendly
- Preferred Room isn’t next to the pool
Good luck in your search for the perfect stay at Disney! I’d love to hear your thoughts about staying on site or off site at Disney and what you think of Coronado Springs. As they say, have a magical day!