Battle of the Moderate Resorts – Caribbean Beach Vs. Coronado Springs

Coronado SpringsCaribbean Beach

When looking around Disney planning sites, one of the questions that pops up often is Caribbean Beach or Coronado Springs.  On the surface, they seem similar.  I’ve stayed at both and can assure you they are very different.  Lets see how they fared in the battle of the Moderate Resorts.

In the Left Corner we have Coronado Springs:

  • Southwestern U.S./Mexican theme
  • Opened in 1997, renovated several times since
  • Consists of three themed areas  (Casitas, Ranchos, Cabanas), plus the Convention Center
  • One Main building El Centro, includes dining, shops, check-in, concierge and transportation
  • 22 acre lake Lago Dorado in center of resort, with connecting promenade
  • Convention center features 220,000 sq. feet of meeting space

In the Right Corner we have Caribbean Beach:

  • Caribbean Tropical/Island theme
  • Opened in 1988, renovated several times since
  • Consists of five islands-Martinique, Aruba,  Jamaica,Trinidad (North and South) and Barbados
  • Two Main Buildings.  Customs House for check-in, lobby concierge and transportation.  Old Port Royale houses dining, shopping, concierge and arcade
  • 45 acre lake called Barefoot Bay, with a center island picnic area Caribbean Cay

Round One-Theme/Ambiance

Coronado Springs is very serene and luxurious feeling.  You will be transported into a world of fountains, lush landscaping, dry vegetation, ornate tile work and tons of color.  Cabanas will remind you of Mexico’s coastline, with tropical vegetation and palm trees.   Topped off by a sandy beach with hammocks.  Ranchos is more desert and rustic feeling with a rocky stream throughout.  Casitas is known for its fountains and relaxing feeling of Old Spanish settlements.

Caribbean Beach is all tropical, with distinct differences  throughout the “islands” or villages.  Each village has access to white, sandy beaches with hammocks.  The resort is a riot of color, reminiscent of Caribbean marketplaces.  The architecture and Old Forts remind you of a Colonial time, similar to Pirates of the Caribbean.

And the Winner of Round One-I have to call this one a draw.  Both have areas to relax, places to play and are a feast for the eyes.  Whether Coronado Springs or Caribbean Beach you will be transported to another place and time.

Round Two-Dining

Coronado Springs has dining available in the El Centro area and poolside.  They offer the following:

  • Pepper Market-A Quick Service Food Court comprised of various stations.  Includes Asian, Mexican, Italian and American offerings;  most made to order.  Serves Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.  Servers will bring your drinks and clear your table.
  • Maya Grill-Fine Dining restaurant best described as Latin Fusion.  Open for Breakfast and Dinner.  One Table-Service Dining Credit.
  • Cafe Rix-Offers bakery items (chocolate croissant a must!), salad, sandwiches , gelato and beverages.  Here you will also find wine and a full coffee bar.
  • Rix Lounge-Bar and nighttime entertainment.  Includes private rooms Las Ventanas.
  • Laguna Bar-Right outside El Centro, offering snacks and bar service lakeside.
  • Siestas Cantina-In the Main Pool area offering alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, light snacks.

Caribbean Beach has all its dining available in the Old Port Royale area.  Although there are snack kiosks set up in the Customs House.   They offer the following:

  • Old Port Royale Food Court-Quick Service Food Court serving Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.  Similar to a mall food court with various offerings;  including baked goods, deli sandwiches, grilled items and pizza.
  • Shutters at Old Port Royale-Fine Dining restaurant serving American food items with a Caribbean twist.  Open for dinner and is One Table-Service dining credit.
  • Banana Cabana-Poolside at the El Centro pool offering drinks and light snacks.

And the Winner of Round Two-Coronado Springs!  Both offer all you would need, but Coronado Springs has the extras.  Despite the Convention Center crowds it seems calmer and more organized.  Cafe Rix and it coffee bar are a plus in my opinion.  Pepper Market offers more variety and some healthier choices.  Servers who help by bringing your drinks and cleaning up are a nice bonus.

Round Three-The Rooms

Coronado Springs:

  • Two Queen Sized Beds or One King available
  • Average room size  is at 314 sq. feet.
  • Casitas Rooms have internal hallways, Ranchos and Cabanas open to outside.
  • Sliding door separating bathroom area from sleeping area, one sink setup.
  • Rooms have dark, rustic furniture with bright bedding.
  • 15 newly opened Suite rooms available
  • Preferred Rooms-Casitas 1 & 2, Cabanas 9A and 9B
  • Rooms include mini-fridge, coffee maker, hair dryer and ironing board
  • Free Wi-Fi available in room
  • Elevators available in all buildings

Caribbean Beach

  • Two Full Sized Beds or One King available.
  • Largest Moderate Resort sized rooms at 340 square feet.
  • All rooms open to outside hallway
  • Double sink in vanity area.
  • Rooms have light, pastel colors and  you will find a few touches of Nemo.
  • Pirate Rooms available at higher rate in Trinidad South.
  • Preferred Rooms-Martinique and Trinidad North
  • Rooms include mini fridge, coffee maker, hair dryer and ironin board.
  • Free Wi-Fi available in room.
  • All buildings are 2-story with no elevators

And Winner of Round Three-Coronado Springs!  The rooms are very similar, but the special touches in Coronado Springs gave it the edge.  Queen sized beds, sliding doors between the bathroom and sleeping space, and overall decor makes it a winner.   The lack of elevator in Caribbean Beach means you will have to ensure a first floor room if you are travelling with young children, the elderly or handicapped.  I also think the beds are not as comfortable.    

Round Four-The Pools

Coronado Springs has a quiet pool in each area (Cabanas, Rachos, Casitas) and a main pool at the Dig Site.  The Dig Site is themed to look like Mayan Ruins.  There is a water slide into the main pool.  There is a small spray pool for the little ones and a huge hot tub for the grownups.  Right next to the pool is the playground for the kids.

Caribbean Beach beach also has a pool in each village (Trinidad, Aruba, Barbados, Martinique  and Jamaica).  The featured pool is outside the Old Port Royale Building.  The pool is themed to look like an Old Fort.  There are waterfalls, slides and cannons that shoot water.  The Kids pool is a shallow pool with a “shipwreck” of slides and a water sprayers.  Not to forget (like I did) the big bucket of water that dumps on you.  There is a hot tub and a cool spa.

And the Winner of Round Four-Caribbean Beach!  While Coronado’s pool is no slouch, the kids pool at Caribbean Beach is where they win this round.  The kids will love going down the slides and  running in the shallow water.  Plenty of chairs to sit and watch them play.  The Pirate themed main pool has been recently renovated and its zero entry is a plus.  Alas, no Johnny Depp included.

Round Five-The Amenities and Activities

Coronado Springs has the following activities and amenities available:

  • The Dig Site has a playground and arcade as well as the swimming pools.
  • Movies Under the Stars
  • 3000 square foot Fitness/Health Center
  • Beauty Salon
  • Marina offering boat rentals, fishing excursions
  • Pedal Bike Rentals
  • Sand Volleyball Pit
  • Panchitos Gifts and Sundries

Caribbean Beach has the following activities and amenities available:

  • Arcade in Old Port Royale building.
  • Pirate Scavenger Hunt Adventures
  • Caribbean Cay hosts main playground with tropical birds
  • Additional playgrounds in the villages
  • Marina offering boat rentals
  • Pedal Bike Rentals
  • Sand Volleyball Courts on the beaches.
  • Calypso Trading Post and Calypso Straw Market for gifts and sundries

And the Winner of Round Five-Another draw!  Both have similar amenities and activities, it’s all a matter of what appeals to you and your family.

Round Six-Resort Transportation/Location

Coronado Springs is in the Animal Kingdom area of Walt Disney World.  The only way to reach the parks is by using your own vehicle or Disney Bus transportation.  The resort itself is expansive and has 4 bus stops.  The Internal Shuttle the resort offers is up for debate.  Golf carts run throughout the resort and supposedly you only have to flag one down for a ride to another part of the resort.  Usually these carts are full of people or packages so its easier just to walk or catch a Disney bus from one bus stop to another.  Bus travel to the park varies based upon crowds, bus stop, and traffic.  Here are average travel times from TouringPlans.com.

  • To Magic Kingdom-18 minutes
  • To Epcot-13 minutes
  • To Animal Kingdom-20 minutes
  • To Hollywood Studios-13 minutes

Caribbean beach is in the Epcot area of Walt Disney World.  Again, the only way to get to the parks is using your own car or Disney Bus transportation.  Caribbean Beach is massive and has 8 bus stops within the resort.  There is also an Internal Bus that runs from the Customs House to Old Port Royale to the Villages.  You will use this after you check in. Here are the average times from Touringplans.com to the parks from Caribbean Beach.  Again, give yourself plenty of time if you are trying to make an event or reservation.  Many variables effect these times!

  • To Magic Kingdom-15 minutes
  • To Epcot-12 minutes
  • To Animal Kingdom-23 minutes
  • To Hollywood Studios-12 minutes

And the Winner of Round Six is-Caribbean Beach!  Having extra bus stops make catching a bus easier.  The Internal Bus was much more consistent that Coronado Springs Internal Shuttles.

 

So who wins the fight?  I have to call this a draw.  Honestly, if you are lucky enough to stay at either Coronado Springs or Caribbean Beach you are a winner!  Both hotels will appeal to everyone, it’s all a matter of what you are looking for.  I hope this helps you decide where to place your bet at the Battle of the Moderate Resorts.

Mickey Mom is a Mom to Two and a Disney Addict in Denial. When not planning her own Disney trips, she loves to help others plan theirs.  Whether they want it or not!  Her favorite Moderate Resort is C

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2 thoughts on “Battle of the Moderate Resorts – Caribbean Beach Vs. Coronado Springs

  1. One of the best meals I ever had at Disney come from the Pepper Market. How is Coronado Springs considered an Animal Kingdom resort but transportation to that park takes the longest?

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