Last fall I took a quick Disney World trip with my mom and my youngest daughter. It was a balls to the wall 2 night whirlwind for my mom’s 70th birthday. I found insanely cheap airfare and two cheap (okay, “Disney Cheap”) resort nights. First night was at Disney’s Pop Century Resort, where we’d all stayed before. I was amped because the Skyliner had just opened as well, about a week before. (Notably, it also broke down in a huge way, like, the day before we got there, so we didn’t get to try it.) For the second night, we were able to snag a standard view room at Coronado Springs’ new Gran Destino Tower, for a ridiculously low price. This portion of the resort had JUST opened, and with a promotion and a little bit of availability stalking, we tried it out for almost the same cost as our Pop room.
Another thing we tested on this trip was the Midday Magic ticket at Epcot. Because we arrived just before noon on day one, and had only one full day on day two, we didn’t really want to pay for 2 full day tickets. Also, I mentioned it was my mom and my 4 year old daughter. We weren’t exactly pounding the pavement for 16 hour days on this trip. We also decided to grab a Boma breakfast before leaving early afternoon on the third day, so that was at least a little cheaper than park tickets. The Midday Magic tickets were reasonable, and worked out great so we weren’t completely rushed the whole time. They allowed us to enter the parks at noon each day. *Editor’s Note: Midday Magic was a limited time/seasonal offer which ended last fall*
Day one, we made it to Epcot by about 2pm, no thanks to the broken Skyliner. We still managed to get about 10 park hours on day one, which was insane. The next morning, we had Bell Services take our bag over to Coronado Springs while we had a quick breakfast, and hopped a bus to Magic Kingdom. It was only about 10, so we couldn’t enter the park,and we took a boat over to the Polynesian. We explored there until closer to noon, when we hopped on the monorail back to MK. We tapped in right at 1200 and began our second 10+ hour park day. These tickets were totally the best way to go this trip, and we got to take things at a slower pace. At the end of the night, it was the usual shitshow of a billion people trying to get on buses, and we were glad to only wait about 20 minutes. Unfortunately, I didn’t think this split stay through very clearly, because I realized that I wasn’t positive if the check-in/lobby of Coronado Springs was actually at the Tower. I was pretty sure that made sense, but Coronado Springs has a crapton of bus stops. The moderates are annoying like that. Luckily some nice people mentioned the main building is the final stop, and that’s where we’d check in, at the tower.
Walking into the grand lobby, I would have thought I was in a deluxe resort. It’s beautiful and bright and open. (Actually I’ve heard it’s significantly more “grand” than Riviera’s lobby…) I get it, because this is definitely one of the convention hotels on property. But for as big and pretty as it was, they sure don’t have a ton of check in desks. Oddly enough, it was nearing midnight, and I was waiting in a line to check in. I was super glad it was quick and simple, and that Bell Services to retrieve our bag was literally right behind us. We liked seeing the great contrast of (changing) colored lights, and finding hidden Mickeys all throughout the decor.
We made our way to the 10th floor, and I enjoyed the bright colors and interesting artwork in the hallways. Then into the room, and it was like, womp womp. SO. Boring. Very clean and new and pretty, but just…sterile and unexciting. Until I looked out the wall of windows. THAT was cool. We could see the Swolphin, but I didn’t let that deter me. It was actually a gorgeous view of the parks and lakes, including Spaceship Earth, and Galaxy’s Edge, both illuminated in bright colors. And again, this was a “standard view” room, since I guess if I looked down I’d see a parking lot…but when you’re in a giant tower, I’d expect to see ground things on the ground. Essentially we tossed my already-passed-out daughter on a bed and then settled in.
The rooms don’t have clocks, and I know that’s becoming more the “norm” since people use their phones and such for alarms. There was so little of anything, but I think we found like, ONE hidden Mickeyish shape in the wallpaper. The bathroom layout made no sense to me, functionally speaking. The main portion opens with a sliding door, opening to the sinks. The side closest to the interior of the room has a giant glass-enclosed shower, very nice. Then to opposite side, there’s a separate toilet room. A couple of notes on that. If someone wants to hop in and take a shower, and someone (a kid?) has to pop in to use the bathroom, they’re having a 0% chance of getting there without a peepshow. Also, the sliding door to the sink/shower portion…does not close all the way. Soooo that’s awesome. There was probably like a half inch or more gap all around, and then it didn’t actually “lock”. Weird. The toilet room had one small picture, and nothing else. Like, tan walls, and a small picture behind the toilet. So, score one for dudes? Haha just very odd and again, sterile with no thought of décor anywhere. (Note: I don’t need anything else in there, but to leave the 2 biggest walls bare and place a tiny image behind the place everyone will likely sit at some point…kind of off.)
The next morning we had planned to do some exploring and then bus over to Animal Kingdom to connect to Animal Kingdom Lodge for our Boma breakfast reservation. We were all on point until I saw that the front desk didn’t leave our Tragical Express eviction notice, and I know I need that damn paper to get on the stupid bus. Now I’m stuck in a long AF line to the front desk. Time is ticking for us to get to AKL too. The buses at CSR were a gigantic letdown. I didn’t have a car seat/booster for my daughter so we were trying to avoid an Uber/Lyft, and originally had plenty of time. There were buses to each park that came and went (some had more than one cycle through) and nothing for Animal Kingdom. A cast member saw us sitting for a while, and checking the bus boards every so often. She assured us that it should be “any minute” for the next Animal Kingdom bus. We did eventually make it, but with little time to spare. And we’d tried to leave more than an hour ahead, even after our front desk visit. Moral of the story, seriously plan in that extra hour plus. Returning to CSR after our breakfast and AKL exploration was simple enough, and didn’t even take 30 minutes. Go figure.
We grabbed our baggage from Bell Services and then went down to the bar/lounge in the downstairs of the lobby. Drinks were on point here and the cast members were entertaining as can be for a Thursday at lunch time. They told me that bar has ebbs and flows with conventions and check-ins etc. but it’s usually pretty busy throughout the day. Tragical Express from Coronado Springs was a suckfest too, because we had to stop at ALLLLLLL the All-Stars. I mean, we get picked up 3 hrs before our flight, right? But, we didn’t leave property for MCO until less than 2 hours before our flight. Again, we had a low-maintenance situation with our small party but damn. Uber is your freaking friend sometimes!
All in all it was a really pretty new portion of the resort, and relaxing to spend an afternoon in the lobby, because you don’t feel caged in. The rest of the resort is so spread out, and I have actually zero interest in checking it out. I can recommend the Gran Destino Tower if you need an extra night somewhere, and if it’s the sameish as a value resort cost, you’d at least feel a little bit swankier than checking into Pop Century. I’m not spending my whole vacation here though.