First look inside Disney World's new Gran Destino Tower

July 8, 2019, 4:18 PM · The Walt Disney World Resort is showing off the new Gran Destino Tower at its Coronado Springs Resort, which opens tomorrow as the moderate hotel wraps a years-long expansion and refurbishment.

The 16-floor Gran Destino Tower adds 545 rooms to the Coronado Springs, bringing the resort to a total of 2,385 guest rooms. The new building is named for the 2003 Disney animated short Destino, which began as a 1946 collaboration between Walt Disney and surrealist painter Salvador Dali. Disney Legend John Hench storyboarded the project, which was revived by Walt's nephew Roy E. Disney during the production of Fantasia 2000.

Dali's native Spain influences the design of and dining within the tower. The exterior and lobby hint at Catalan modernism, most widely known from Gaudi's Sagrada Familia.

Gran Destino Tower lobby
Photos courtesy Disney

The tower's top floor features Toledo - Tapas, Steak and Seafood, a table service restaurant serving exactly what its name promises.

Toledo restaurant

The tower's rooms reflect modern style, with wooden accents and warm colors that evoke Spanish themes.

Gran Destino Tower room

Fifty suites are available among the new rooms, as well.

Gran Destino Tower suite

Replies (18)

July 8, 2019 at 4:39 PM

My wife and I have booked Coronado Springs for 2 weeks in October 2020. We won't be staying in Gran Destino Tower but the improvements across the resort as a whole convinced me that it was a good place to base ourselves and the fact that it was the cheapest moderate resort for us in the UK as well sealed the deal! I am genuinely excited as I think it's going to be a fantastic resort.

July 8, 2019 at 11:40 PM

It looks really nice. I'm glad Disney's decided to refurbish this resort, as I'd like to stay there at some point.

In other news, did anyone see that awful footage from Disneyland of those people fighting and throwing punches? Just terrible.

July 9, 2019 at 10:05 AM

What I don't understand is how Disney can continue to add rooms at a furious rate, but the prices and value of staying on-site at WDW continue to get worse. I sort of understand why on-site prices are so high in Anaheim with very limited inventory, but at WDW, the on-site inventory is rapidly increasing (along with off-site inventory) with prices continuing to rise almost exponentially over the past 5-10 years compared to the previous decade. Off-season rates for rooms in Gran Destino Tower start at $280/night, which is almost double the rate for a night at the Wyndham at Disney Springs (includes EMH) or the same as the rate for the Royal Pacific Resort that includes Unlimited Universal Express.

I've always liked Coronado Springs as it was a much more quiet resort with guests spread out over a vast property compared to other WDW resorts. I don't think the new tower will affect the feel of the rest of the resort, but it certainly doesn't help that prices have exploded to what it used to cost to stay in a Deluxe resort just 8-10 years ago. I simply don't understand how the economics can support charging the rates WDW does for rooms (we're in the process of planning a trip in late January/early February and even Pop Century is $150/night when we spent $120/night and got free DDP in October 2015, which was a higher peak season). Obviously people are paying these prices for rooms, but I just don't understand why (or even how).

At some point this bubble has to burst, right? Disney is bringing another 2,000+ rooms online over the next 2 years (many are DVC though). I know WDW50 will create record demand in Orlando, but we've got to be close to a breaking point.

July 9, 2019 at 11:01 AM

Russel this would seem to me to be another step towards making every Disney World theme park visitor someone who is staying at Disney World hotel. It will not surprise me if a long term goal is to make over 90% of Guests onsite resort Guests. An expensive "once in a lifetime experience" people seem willing to pay for.

I can imagine Universal Orlando would be ok with the same outcome at their resort as well.

July 9, 2019 at 11:23 AM

I was thinking the same thing Russel. They have to be right on the precipice of this imploding. At this point there are so many other things I'd like to see in this world that cost equivalent or less than Walt Disney World.

July 9, 2019 at 11:39 AM

@ Russel:
I don't know what it costs to book a Disney World vacation within the USA but to give you some idea I said my wife and I have just booked to come to Florida next Fall (2020). We're celebrating a big wedding anniversary so we are pushing the boat out and starting with three nights at Universals Portofino Hotel. That's going to cost us £960.67 (£320 a night) but t does include Universal Express of course.
We are then moving to Coronado Springs. We've got a 14 night package in one of the the Cabanas rooms for £2492, so £178 per night, however that includes a free quick service dining plan worth over £1000 if purchased separately which in effect brings the room rate down to just over £100 per night. We also get a $200 gift card to use at the resort plus free Memory Maker for us both. We've chosen to pay a further £476 for the two of us to upgrade to the better Dining Plan that allows us to have one table service meal each day.
Finally we've booked a 3 night Bahamian Disney Cruise in a verenadah cabin at a cost of £1638, so £546 per night).
I reckon for what we are getting the Disney World on-site hotel cost is actually pretty reasonable..

July 9, 2019 at 11:50 AM

Almost exactly 20 years since I stayed at Coronado for one of my all-time favorite WDW trips. Still enjoyed it a lot (even big as it was and a long walk to pool area) so nice to see it upgraded.

July 9, 2019 at 12:06 PM

Those prices you're getting are pretty much in line with the standard discounted rates you can get here in the states when you do the currency conversion. However, those discounts are getting harder and harder to come by, and often include dates where they don't apply causing you to arrange a split stay or shift the preferred dates of your vacation to qualify for the discount/promotion. However, even with the discounts, the value of staying onsite at WDW just isn't there anymore with the increasing prices. Like I said, you can stay at numerous off-site resorts, including those that include Extra Magic Hours (EMH), for far less than the WDW-owned resorts. With the Extended Summer Resorts at Universal charging in the low $100's/night, and numerous other off-site options that are significantly cheaper than even the least expensive WDW resorts, I don't see how WDW can keep their occupancy rates so high. The fact that the WDW resorts are now charging for parking even negates the previous advantage of on-site resort guests getting free parking at the theme parks.

Don't even get me started on DCL, because they are by far the most overpriced outfit on the planet.

July 9, 2019 at 12:07 PM

With these prices, it is just amazing that I can trade into the DVC through RCI and get a 1 bedroom unit with a full kitchen and washer and dryer that sleeps 4 comfortably (2 parents in bedroom, 2 kids on sofa bed) for a rough cost of $1300 for the week. You might not get a free dining plan, but you get all the other benefits.

July 9, 2019 at 5:41 PM

On Saturday, the travel agent's in my local supermarket was offering as "Today's Special Offer" 2 adults and 1 child staying at Coronado Springs for 14 nights in May next year for £5250. Forget Disney obsession, who in their right mind would pay that sought of money for 2 weeks in an out of place moderate resort when you can stay a few miles off-site in a luxury 4 bedroom villa with all the amenities including swimming pool and jacuzzi for half of that...??

Disney deserve to come a cropper as everything they now do is not "cashing in" but pure exploitation. What an awful way to treat it's loyal fans. What a horrible company! Jay Stein was bang on - a Ravenous Rat!!

July 10, 2019 at 4:27 AM

I think people can get themselves too worked up about all of this.

"Why would anyone stay at a Disney on-site resort when they could stay in a luxury 4 star villa with amenities and travel into the parks each day?"

Well the simple answer is, many wouldn't. if you don't like what Disney are charging then don't stay - simple as that. I guess it depends what you want. If you're a young family then perhaps a villa works great for you. But my wife and I would not contemplate staying off-site as we feel the benefits we gain from being on-site make all the difference to us (and we never use Extra Magic Hours so I don't consider that to be a benefit). When I was searching for our stay I saw all sorts of crazy prices (one search offered me 14 nights for over £14,000!!!!). But you can see what a good deal we ended up with so you don't have to pay those stupid prices. It is what it is and the numbers keep working in Disney's favour so no amount of fan-fury is going to change their policy. Only the market will change it. IN the meantime learn to play the market and the good deals are there to be taken.

July 10, 2019 at 10:01 AM

@David - What benefits other than EMH are you referring to? Early FP+ access? Buses? In-resort dining? Disney Springs? To be perfectly honest, your "deal" isn't really that great, even if you maximize your "free" DDP. Based on current exchange rates, you're paying essentially rack rate for your room at Coronado, but are getting the perk of the DDP, which you are paying out of pocket to upgrade to add TS meals (I would probably do the same thing). Like I said, you can find much cheaper hotels, some that even include free breakfast AND EMH (and early FP+ access), that are not on Disney property, so the only tangible benefit you're missing out on is the buses - though many of the off-site hotels run shuttles to WDW (and Universal and Sea World too - no WDW hotel will shuttle you to a competitor). From a flat financial perspective, you are paying upwards of 20% more (even with the free DDP) to stay onsite at WDW, so if EMH isn't your thing and if you're not taking full advantage of early FP+ access, then where's the "benefit" to staying on-site? I'm just trying to understand why you're drawn to stay at a more expensive hotel, because it might explain why WDW can continue to increase rates to nearly obscene levels and still maintain their high occupancy rates.

July 10, 2019 at 2:43 PM

David Brown, you are missing the point. I will be one of millions who choose to stay off-site because Disney are not giving value for money. There is a threshold, even for the most fanatical Disneyite and that threshold is being reached. Disney WILL price themselves out of the market if they continue to demonstate utter contempt for its loyal fanbase driven by pure hubris and greed.

July 10, 2019 at 3:04 PM

@Russell
Because price isn’t the deciding factor. The first time we visited Orlando we stayed off site and travelled into the parks each day. We paid for car hire and for daily parking and we had a good time. The second time we visited we stayed on site (Animal Kingdom Lodge) and the difference was stratospheric. I’m not sure I can quantify it but it was about ‘feel’. We loved the resort. We loved the dining plan (and actually it is a benefit to us because we would otherwise have to spend that money on buying food each night and no I don't do McDonalds on holiday), we loved the easy free transport around the resort, allowing us to park hop easily and conveniently. The third time we stayed at Port Orleans Riverside and it was even better. Maybe it’s an American thing to chase the bottom dollar but for me it’s not about price, it’s about value. I wouldn’t pay £4000 for 14 nights. But what I’m paying at Coronado Springs next year is, for me, a good deal. We’re paying roughly £100 per night guaranteed price which is cheap for what I’d expect to pay for a similar quality accommodation in the UK. We’ll obviously make use of the FP+ reservation window, and the dining reservations window as we find the Dinng Plan allows us to enjoy restaurants we would never be able to afford if paying normal price. For us there is a tangible difference to saying on a Disney property that makes a holiday something more than ‘just a room and some theme parks’. If you don’t see that then you should just book the cheap off site hotels because you’ll never understand those of us who see the ‘Disney Magic’ in a stay on site. I perhaps wouldn’t feel the same staying in one of the value resorts so maybe I’m something of a snob, but our experience so far has been totally driven by what we feel we get out of staying within Disney World and that’s an undefinable benefit that really works for us and obviously still really works for many many other people.....

July 10, 2019 at 3:40 PM

@ProfPlum
But that is exactly the point.
Disney are acutely price aware. At the point when numbers drop off because insufficient people consider the ‘added value’ to be worth it they will stop increasing prices, indeed they will reduce them. But in the meantime remind me what the occupancy rates are for Disney properties....?

July 11, 2019 at 7:45 AM

Fair point David, can't argue with that. But the threshold is nearing.....

July 11, 2019 at 7:58 AM

@David - I definitely understand your point. I was just curious if there was something else that was drawing you back to the on-site hotels. The on-site transportation is a HUGE perk when visiting such a sprawling complex, especially as a foreign visitor. For as much as people bash the Disney bus system, I've never had a huge issue with it - granted we are pre-rope drop to kick-us-out folks, so when we ride the buses, we're missing the peak crowds that slam the system in the first and last hour of park operations. The only complaint I've ever had with the buses is when trying to go from resort to resort for dining reservations since it almost always necessitates a transfer at either a park or Disney Springs, but other than that, I've always seen the bus system as a huge benefit to staying on-site if you ONLY plan to visit WDW during your vacation. It's still WAY faster to get around WDW in a car, but if you travel outside of the most crowded hours of the day, you're probably only losing about 1 hour of you day to the buses compared to traveling via car (maybe less when you add in the time to take parking trams and walking from distant parking spaces, particularly at MK with the required trip from TTC). In fact, our trip early next year is likely to be just that, where we will stay on-site and not use a car at all. Disney's decision to start charging on-site guests for parking makes the concept of a "bubble trip" (staying completely within WDW) more attractive since if you either arrive by car or choose to rent a car, you have to pay for parking whether you stay on-site (paying for parking at the resorts) or off-site (paying to park at the theme parks).

The DDP is another HUGE benefit that is only available to on-site guests, and if you can get it as part of a room rate you already find acceptable and know how to maximize it, it can be better than virtually any other discount Disney regularly offers (typically never better than 20% off these days, though they occasionally will offer 30% off for very limited stays and resorts). I have written extensively on TPI about the value of the DDP, and calculated during one stay when we received free DDP with a stay at Pop! Century that our effective room rate during that trip was @$10/night. Free DDP can be a powerful motivator, but what's always annoyed me is the constant changing of rules and tweaking of benefits that Disney does with it (varying number of credits for certain restaurants, rotating menus, and the ever-changing definition of the "snack credit"). Staying on-site with the DDP is about as close as you can get to an all-inclusive resort or cruise, and while it's not all-you-can-eat, it's pretty darn close if you're smart about how you use your credits and are an adventurous eater.

I can totally see how staying inside the WDW "bubble" can be so appealing and how the increased costs compared to off-site hotels would not deter you from continuing to want to stay on-site. However, for those of us that do like to bounce around to other parks/resorts, and don't mind renting a car (or drive to Orlando), staying on-site at WDW has steadily decreased in value over the past 5-10 years. Also, many off-site hotels and resorts have gotten better with their transportation to the various parks in the Orlando area. What used to be a few pre-scheduled shuttles back and forth has evolved into a full-time on-demand service at many resorts with some even utilizing custom apps and/or subcontractors similar to Uber/Lyft. Also, the proliferation of ride-hailing apps has significantly eased the ability to get around Orlando on the whole, and the sometimes hundreds of dollars per night difference between staying on-site and off-site can more than cover daily Uber/Lyft rides even with surge pricing.

It's definitely a personal decision, and I see the benefits of staying on-site versus off-site. However, as ProfPlum has noted, WDW is getting right towards the edge with their pricing versus value at their on-site resorts, particularly for guests who arrive to WDW with a car or want to visit non-WDW attractions. I just wonder if people are booking on-site still because that's what they've always done or if they think that's the only way to truly experience WDW and aren't even aware of the options outside the WDW Bubble. I've used the term "Drone" many times here, and I think there are a large number of guests that blindly book on-site without ever considering the cost/benefit of the transaction. That's great for Disney and their occupancy rate, but if they keep pushing their prices into the stratosphere, at some point the Drones will snap out of their trance and realize they are paying HUGE sums for very little benefit compared to off-site hotels. Obviously, we haven't quite reached that point, but I do think we're close. I personally know and have read about a number of long-time regular WDW visitors that have tapped out altogether or have significantly reduced the frequency of their visits because the costs have gotten so high compared to the value. I wouldn't be surprised some day soon to see the only people staying on-site will be DVC owners (who have spent tens of thousands of dollars up front for annual WDW vacations) and foreign visitors that don't want to have cars. Those driving to WDW or renting cars to experience other area attractions, are getting charged more and more to visit WDW and getting less and less in value.

July 11, 2019 at 8:49 AM

@ Russell
Good points and I would agree that Disney is approaching the limits of what it can charge. Precisely because of that issue my wife and I suspect this will be our last visit as a) we are aging (I’ll be 59 next year before we go!) and b) the cost for us is now way past what we can usually afford for a holiday. The latter however is largely because we are of an age where we no longer want to do a holiday like this cheaply. We like comfort, we like convenience, we like quality so all the reasons you highlight in your post work for us and as a consequence we are prepared to pay for it. I am frankly astonished that enough people also feel like us to allow Disney to continue to invest at the top end of their accommodation market rather than at the budget end but time will tell if they need to address that issue....
One change for us this time will be that it will be the first time we have decided to do without a hire car. By staying at Universal before we come to Disney we remove the need to take a couple of days out of our stay to do the Studios and Islands of Adventure and the introduction of the parking charge really sealed the choice since we can do Busch Gardens via a free bus service and Uber it to Seaworld. And because we are transferring back from the cruise to Port Orleans French Quarter for one night we also qualify for Magical Express transfer so it’s pretty easy for us really.
I still think Disney offers one of the best quality, highly immersive vacation destinations for both families and adults travelling without children (such as us) but the cost is such now that to do it in the manner to which we have become accustomed is becoming prohibitively expensive. If only I didn’t have standards!

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