Today in Disney History, 1997: Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort Opens

by | Aug 1, 2023 | Walt Disney World Resorts, WDW Blog

On this day in Disney history in 1997, Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort officially opens to the public! The hotel now celebrates 26 years.

One of the coolest resort pools at Walt Disney World welcomed its very first guests on this date back in 1997. August 1st marks the anniversary of the opening of Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. Home to the Dig Site Pool, which welcomes and wows thrill-seekers with its roughly 5046-foot Mayan pyramid, Coronado Springs is eye-catching with the resort’s Spanish Colonial styling and boasts more than 1,900 guest rooms. Though it’s now more than a quarter century old, it’s still a favorite today (and has only gotten better with recent expansions!) 

Designing Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort

Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, as we see it today, is inspired by Spanish, Mexican, and Southwest American architecture and culture, though this is somewhat different than its initial reveal in 1997. When the resort originally opened, it was designed after the Spanish Colonial era in Latin America specifically; however, recent updates have broadened the look of the resort and moved it away from a focus on colonialism.

The Dig Site

While the resort has undergone several major changes over the years, some of its original opening-day features remain. The most notable is the Dig Site, where guests can find one of Disney World’s longest resort water slides (123 feet!) designed next to a 46-foot Mayan pyramid. 

coronado springs resort

Photo by Danny Shuster

This area features the Lost City of Cibola Feature Pool adjacent to the pyramid, as well as the Explorer’s Playground, and Iguana Arcade Nearby, Coronado Springs also opened with one of Disney’s largest outdoor hot tubs that has a 22-person capacity. 

Deluxe Amenities at Moderate Prices

From the beginning, Disney planned to use Coronado Springs to cater to convention guests. With a convention center that would have the ability to host 5,000 attendees, Imagineers were tasked with creating a resort that was still uniquely “Disney” while also appealing to convention guests who need certain amenities and may prefer the understated luxury of deluxe resorts at moderate price points. 

To create a more “deluxe” look, the resort opened with larger guest rooms than most other moderate resorts, plus architectural details like mosaics, murals, and vaulted ceilings. 

Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort Today

Today, Coronado Springs is Disney’s largest moderate resort, comprised of over 2,000 guest rooms and quotes and several distinctly themed areas. Cabanas, Ranchos, Casitas, and Gran Destino Tower make up the sections of Coronado Springs, with each area offering its own unique look and feel with all of the amenities that all Guests staying at (or just visiting) the resort can enjoy. 

Gran Destino Tower

Ranchos is the largest area and is themed after a Mexican village, while Casitas is the smallest area, inspired by a Spanish village. The 15-story Gran Destino Tower is the newest addition to the resort since it opened in 2019. The tower features a grand lobby and some of Disney’s most popular dining locations like Toledo – Tapas, Steak & Seafood, which offers a delicious meal with spectacular rooftop views, while guests can also dine on the water at Three Bridges Bar & Grill at Villa del Lago. 

gran-destino-tower_2022 coronado springs resort

Gran Destino Tower. Photo by Brett Svenson

Gran Destino Tower is one of the most unique areas at Walt Disney World, as its inspiration actually spans almost 60 years of Disney’s history. The design of the tower is loosely based on the experimental Walt Disney Animation Studios short Destino (2003), which was the final product of a collaboration between Walt Disney himself and Salvador Dalí going back to 1945. 

As far as amenities go, Coronado Springs offers the best of both worlds for Guests looking for a deluxe-style stay on a moderate budget. The Resort features four swimming pools, a waterslide, a fitness center, a spa, a salon, campfire activities, painting and mosaic experiences, and more, along with amenities and perks that are included at every Disney resort, like Movies Under the Stars, complimentary transportation to the theme parks, early park entry, and more.

The resort is accessible from the theme parks and Disney Springs via bus transportation and is located nearby Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Whether you plan to stop by for a meal, take in some of Disney’s most underrated resort theming,  or are planning your next stay at Walt Disney World, you may want to add Coronado Springs to your list!

 

 

Posts by Brittany DiCologero

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Brittany DiCologero is a freelance writer specializing in Walt Disney World history, along with various travel, and lifestyle topics based in New England. She is the author of “Red, White, and Disney: The Myths and Realities of American History at the Walt Disney World Resort,” and “Brittany Earns Her Ears”. When she is not writing, you can find her exploring local museums and historic sites, and binging documentaries on Disney+.
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Authored by
Brittany DiCologero

Brittany DiCologero is a freelance writer specializing in Walt Disney World history, along with various travel, and lifestyle topics based in New England. She is the author of “Red, White, and Disney: The Myths and Realities of American History at the Walt Disney World Resort,” and “Brittany Earns Her Ears”. When she is not writing, you can find her exploring local museums and historic sites, and binging documentaries on Disney+.
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