Coronado Springs — Our First Disney Resort

Coronado Springs Resort

In August of 2007, Cindy and I decided to take Walt Disney up on it’s offer, and stay at the parks for a longer period of time than just a day or two.  We had been the previous year with Meemaw, and the year before with Leigh Ann and Riley (and family), and seeing how much fun it was with them just fueled our need for more Disney Magic!


So Cindy and I decided to take the plunge and book a resort to stay at.  We had always assumed (somewhat incorrectly, I might add) that staying on property was 1) for those with more money than sense, and 2) really, really expensive, so when we looked into the idea, I know that I was thinking we weren’t going to be able to swing it.


Boy, was I ever wrong!  Have you ever stayed at Disney World on property before?  If you haven’t, I really suggest that you take a look at it.  Not only are there all sorts of different themed hotels for you to choose from, there are also several different levels that you can stay at depending on your budget! If you need help with your trip planning, send me an email to mike@pixievacations.com or submit a quote request.


For those with large parties, or smaller budgets, there are the Walt Disney World Value Resorts to choose from.  They include the following resorts:

  1. Disney’s All Star Movies Resort
  2. Disney’s All Star Music Resort
  3. Disney’s All Star Sports Resort
  4. Disney’s Pop Century Resort
  5. Disney’s Art of Animation Resort.

These resorts are all classified as value resorts, which means that they are the least expensive of the Disney resorts.  In many cases, though, they can be worth it if you have large parties because some of these resorts offer rooms that can sleep more than 5 people.


Cindy and I felt that, after researching all the properties, and also speaking with some of our friends, that the value resorts were more like “hotels” and less like “resorts”, so we decided not to do any of the value resorts.  After that, we looked at the Moderate Resorts.  They include:

  1. The Cabins at Fort Wilderness Resort
  2. Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
  3. Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
  4. Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter
  5. Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside

We looked at a lot of them, but in this instance choose Coronado Springs Resort.  We liked the Aztec influence in the decor, we thought that the big pool looked really neat from Google Earth and the website, and the color scheme chosen for the buildings was really quite nice.  We enjoyed it a great deal!  For this first year, we booked our trip directly from the Disney World website.  The special that year was the free dining plan.  Book a stay at a Disney resort, stay a certain number of days, and you will get the Disney Dining Plan for free.  That means that one snack, one quick service meal, and one table service meal per person per day is already paid for!  Doing the dining plan for us meant that we were able to go to a lot of restaurants that we wouldn’t normally go to, which meant that we could choose character places so Sophie could get a ton of autographs, and we wouldn’t have to pay for a lot of food while we were at the parks!


Having the dining plan is one of the biggest benefits for us staying at a Disney resort!  I have a ton of pictures from that first extended trip to Walt Disney World, but rather than upload them all, take a look at the embedded slideshow!  Enjoy, and feel free to comment!

The 2011 Walt Disney World Moms Panel

Tomorrow morning, at 9:00 AM Eastern time, the Walt Disney World Moms Panel will begin accepting applications for the next round of “Moms”.  In case you aren’t aware, the Moms Panel consists of Moms (and Dads) that have knowledge of Disney World, and are willing to help out those that have questions that need answering.  The Moms Panel started in 2008, and has grown almost exponentially since the launch.  This current year consisted of 24 “Moms”, with two Dads on the panel.  In the past, though, there have been six other Dads on the panel.

Since I found out about the Moms Panel I have been really interested in it.  I have been fortunate enough to actually get three of my questions answered, which you can see here, here, and here.

The beauty of the Moms Panel is as a knowledgebase — a repository of information, links, and all sorts of juicy tidbits for the Disney fan in all of us.  Tomorrow, I plan on applying for the panel, in the hopes that I can help out those that need help as I have been helped.  To all that read this and apply, good luck to you!

Eating our way through Disney

In January of 2001, Cindy was pregnant with our daughter Sophie, and we had a long weekend, so we decided to spend it at Walt Disney World.  Since Cindy was pregnant, we couldn’t ride any of the rides we would normally ride — no Space Mountain, no Big Thunder Mountain, nothing like that, so we made the decision early on to eat our way through the parks.

Since it was January, there really wasn’t a big crowd, so we were able to walk right into Guest Services at the Magic Kingdom and make a reservation for lunch at Cinderella’s Royal Table!  In addition to that great treat, we also ate at Liberty Tavern and several other wonderful restaurants.

That trip was special in it’s own way.  It is amazing to me, when Cindy was pregnant, she got some morning sickness (like almost every woman that has been pregnant).  But you know, I don’t think a single thing that we ate at Disney World made her sick that weekend.

This trip was a way for Cindy and I to just be together, even though Sophie was there, it was just the two of us, just enjoying a great weekend, and taking the road less traveled at Disney.  We watched the shows, we enjoyed the small rides like “It’s a Small World“, and we just enjoyed being there together.

It was a great way to kick off the year Sophie was born, and it gave us the chance to enjoy being a couple before Sophie arrived. Here are a few other pictures from that trip that you might enjoy!

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EPCOT, Summer 1983

The EPCOT Center opened it’s doors on October 1, 1982.  The following summer, my grandparents took me to see it.  We went with some of their friends who also had a grandson, so the two of us got to enjoy it together for the first time.

EPCOT is the park that Walt Disney envisioned all of Walt Disney World to be like.  EPCOT is an acronym for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.  In Walt’s original vision, he saw Walt Disney World as a planned community that would help people to achieve a utopian society.

Unfortunately, Walt passed away before Magic Kingdom was built, and the planning for EPCOT changed.

For my money, though, I love Epcot Center (as it became known in the mid-90’s) just the way it is.  I love all of the futuristic exhibits, and Spaceship Earth is one of my all time favorite rides, not just in Epcot but in all of the parks.  I can ride that ride eight times in a day, and sometimes do!

My first visit to Epcot was in 1983.  I was 15 years old, and my summer friend and I had a great time seeing the park together.  He was from Chicago, so after that summer I haven’t seen him since, but boy did we have fun!

We rode all of the rides together (which was just fine with our Grandparents!), we were both old enough that we could go off and see things on our own, and without adult supervision!  It’s funny the things that I remember, I don’t remember all of the details for that first trip to Epcot, but what I do remember was seeing the fireworks show that played that night.

The real beauty of Disney is the amalgamation of all of the memories from all of the times we have been able to go to Walt Disney World.  From each visit, a special memory is ingrained in me, whether that memory is of a ride we enjoy, or a special food item we ate, or even something as simple as taking it all in.

The real joy of this blog for me is that, with every post, I bring those memories, even if they are really small memories, back to the forefront and I am able to enjoy the moment once again.  Thanks for reading!

My first Disney trip

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This picture is from 2006, the next time that my Mom would visit the Magic Kingdom!

I was about 10 or 11 years old when I first went to Walt Disney World.  My Grandma and Grandpa had retired the previous year, and moved to Florida, so the following summer my Mom and sister and I went down to visit them.  In the course of that trip, Grandma and Grandpa took us on a trip to Walt Disney World.

I don’t have any pictures of the trip, but I do have memories.  I remember that at that time Disney World consisted of the Magic Kingdom, the Contemporary Resort, the Polynesian Resort, and the Grand Floridian resort.  We didn’t stay on property, and we had to decide which rides we wanted to enjoy because the park had tickets for the individual rides.  The more popular rides took more tickets than the less popular ones.

I remember that I wouldn’t ride Space Mountain.  Robin (my sister) tried really hard to get me to go, but I was chicken.

Remember when the Theater on Main Street showed silent Mickey Mouse cartoons?

So many things have changed at Walt Disney World, but regardless of that, so much of the Magic Kingdom has remained the same.

Despite the changes, the predominate things that make Walt Disney World special remain.  The Magic began for me with the moment we would get into the car to make the trip to Disney.  The closer we got to the park, the more the excitement would build, and when we saw the “Walt Disney World Sign”, I was about ready to bust with excitement.

The excitement continued to build as we passed the parking attendants, got out of the car, and memorized where we parked (we were usually in Grumpy or Happy).

Then, as you ride the tram to the the Transportation and Ticketing Center, reality continues to fade into the background as you are magically transported to the world of Walt Disney.

For us, as we rode on the Monorail to the park entrance, seeing the famous Magic Kingdom landmarks approach always started a discussion on what ride we would ride first.  The answers always varied, but for me, and that first visit, I didn’t care which ride I rode first.

For me, the experience of it all is what was really special to me.  I didn’t care which rides I rode, that first trip I was all about where it all begins — Main Street, U.S.A.  Seeing the train station, experiencing the buildings around the circle, and then taking in all of the shops, that is, in many ways, what it is all about.

Even now, after years of visiting Walt Disney World, to me, nothing is as special as the feeling I get when I enter Main Street, U.S.A. and take it all in.