Disney- Birthday Spectacular 2023 – Coronado Springs Resort – Sangria University

My annual Birthday tradition of a trip to Walt Disney World is still going strong, and our 7th year in a row was epic! This was our very first time staying at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort and it won’t be our last because we are in love! We drove over on my actual birthday – Saturday, August 12, 2023 – and checked out on Monday, August 14, 2023 for this trip.

Coronado Springs speaks my love language – this massive resort is within the “Disney bubble” with touches of Disney and Disney bus transportation but is themed in a beautiful modern blend of Spanish, Mexican and Southwest American style. This sprawling resort is loaded with 10 bars and restaurants right on their beautiful property. Since we are Annual Pass holders we drove over from Tampa fairly early in the morning and arrived long before check in. We strolled the entire property and took it all in. They have a wonderful family pool called the Dig Site that has a pool bar, quick service food, an arcade, and fitness center, along with 3 other leisure pools, and a beach area with tons of seating all the way around the lake. If it wasn’t 108 degrees that day I would have loved to have spent some time in those hammocks!

As pass holders we are able to take our trips to Disney a bit more leisurely since we tend to go several times a year, along with the heat index warnings for the entire weekend, we decided to take our time and just go with the flow with no real agenda. My only goal for the weekend was to ride the Haunted Mansion and anything else was a bonus!

While we waited for our room we enjoyed Rix Sports Bar for mimosa’s and pretzel bites. I was wearing my BIRTHDAY button so everywhere we went we were greeted with Happy Birthday and our first sprinkle of pixie dust was a decadent cheesecake slice -on the house! Many of the other restaurants and lounges don’t open until 3 or 5 at Coronado so Rix was our best option besides quick service meals. We enjoyed the atmosphere and the food and service was great.

Around 1 PM we were able to check into our room so we moved our car from the check in parking lot outside of Destino Tower (sadly we didn’t get a room in the tower, but maybe next time!) around to the Ranchos area.

Overall Coronado has multiple areas around the lake with slightly different themes and room types – Gran Destino Tower is where you check in and it’s connected to many of the shops and restaurants, The Casitas area has it’s own leisure pool and fitness center, The Ranchos, which also has it’s own leisure pool, and The Cabanas which have the beach and hammock area and its own pool too.

The Rancho area of the resort is themed like the American southwest (think Arizona desert) and we were in building 6B on the first floor and very close to our mini pool and the main pool plus the bus stop. We loved the room – it was simple and modern, clean and comfortable and definitely larger than a typical value resort that we have gotten used to. It was perfect for two nights and had a subtle Three Caballeros design. My favorite part of staying at a Disney resort hotel of any kind is coming back to a freezing cold room and taking a freezing cold shower after a long day of walking – so this absolutely did the trick! After a little time in the room we decided to head out and make my only goal of the day a reality – Haunted Mansion here we come!

Oh, wait -you can’t go to Magic Kingdom as an adult without an adult beverage first!! Before we boarded the bus to Magic Kingdom we stopped by the Barcelona Lounge that opened at 3 PM and enjoyed drinks with a view. We asked for the bartenders recommendation and loved the Spanish Margarita and a Santa Maria Collins. Now we are ready to go find some happy haunts!

Even though Coronado Springs Resort is huge, we never waited very long for a bus. The ride to Magic Kingdom was glorious because we were on an empty bus and the AC was blaring! Once we entered Magic Kingdom, the reality of just how hot it was started to sink in and our first stop became Columbia Harbour House for AC and a refreshingly buttery lobster roll. After that, we headed over to Haunted Mansion which had a 45 min wait due to Pirates of the Caribbean and Tron being temporarily down. Oh well, it was the only goal and there we were, so we waited. The line always seems to move faster than you expect it too and the queue is always entertaining. You really really appreciate the dark “scary” chamber you enter with no windows and no doors on such a hot day with an excessive heat warning. But, It was my favorite as always! We stopped into the Haunted Mansion store, Memento Mori, got our obligatory birthday castle selfie and then rolled on out of Magic Kingdom to the next destination. The 2023 Food and Wine Festival at Epcot!

We took a nice cool ride on the Monorail from Magic Kingdom to Epcot and headed straight to Mexico – the only right answer is to start drinking around the world in Mexico lol!

We have been coming to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival since 2016 and it is always one of our favorite festivals. We typically have to go 2-3 times in order to try all the food and drinks that we want – everything is so so good! The 2023 festival is now serving from July 27, 2023 – November 18, 2023 with new booths opening in August and September. Take one look at those menus and see why we go back multiple times!

On the first night we sampled food and drink from Mexico, China, Kenya, and Germany. This was also the first time either of us have seen the “new” old night show called Epcot Forever. Hot Take – I don’t love it – I enjoyed the vintage music and hearing Walt’s voice but it was just essentially really old timey music set to fireworks over the water – nothing special. I do miss Harmonious and hope they have a new plan in the works because Epcot is the park we tend to spend the most time in. After the show ended we headed back to the bus transportation area and back to Coronado Springs and took that cold shower and tucked into cold sheets for the night. Ahhhhhh perfection!

How do you top an epic day one like we had? Well, you sleep in a tad then hop out of bed and onto a bus to Magic Kingdom, then hop on the Monorail to Disney’s Polynesian Resort!! It’s one of my favorite resorts even though we have never had the pleasure of staying there, we love to visit. I started the day with my very first Lapu Lapu from The Tambu Lounge– it’s been on my list to try for years and I figured I would use this special occasion to start my day with a bang (look how happy I am- breakfast of champions)! It was delicious but I recommend having a nice breakfast first, or you can be like me and try one on an empty stomach and be swimming before noon. This led us to one of my favorite quick service spots in all of the resorts – Captain Cooks. We enjoyed the Thai coconut meatballs, and Aloha Pork sandwich along with a stroll through the gift shop where I ended up with new Poly ears before heading back to Coronado Springs for another bucket list item… and like 6 more drinks at Sangria University!

Sangria University is something I have heard a lot about through some of the podcasts I listen to and something I knew we would both love because, well – we love sangria!  However, we almost always go to the parks on a Thursday or Friday and are not usually still there on a Saturday or Sunday and those are the only two days of the week they offer this fun experience. Since we planned ahead we were able to finally make this work!

“Led by our professionals, this afternoon course will discuss the history of sangria and reveal the recipes used to make the 4 in-house varieties served at Three Bridges Bar and Grill. The lesson is followed by a tasting of the 4 sangria offerings and will be accompanied by a light appetizer. Best of all, you’ll have the opportunity to make your own glass of sangria from a selection of fresh fruits and base spirits!” – from their site where you can book!

It was so fun! I highly recommend it and we both learned a lot about the history and the different varieties of Sangria around the world.  At the end, we both made our own original sangrias based off what we learned – Mark went more traditional (and strong) and I went with everything grapefruit and they were delicious! 

At this point it was the hottest part of the day so we decided to cool off with a to-go sangria in hand and headed over to the more private leisure pool next to our room. We floated for a bit in what felt like 95 degree water and had some lovely conversations with some fellow locals – it’s always so nice to find other Disney Adults and talk about life’s adventures! After boiling in the pool for a bit we took cold showers and got cleaned up for our next trip around the world at Epcot!

This time we hit up some of the booths that aren’t technically in the world showcase and started with one of our favorites from the past – Coastal Eats. Let me just tell you – they were already a favorite but they outdid themselves this year. This is hands down the best food I have ever eaten at this festival and I cannot wait to go back for the Oysters Rockefeller asap! We also loved our food at Flavors from Fire, India, and Spain before we were to full (food) to carry on. We stopped and enjoyed The Fray from a distance at Eat to the Beat in the America Pavilion, stopped in Japan for a Sake Cocktail and Plum Wine and to walk through one of our favorite stores and then ended the night in France with my favorite champagne flight just in time for the fireworks!

We were the last to be served in France and it actually required them to open two new (of the three) bottles of Champagne and I was given the corks which they explained was good luck! “After opening a bottle of Champagne, the cork is slit with a knife and a coin is slotted into it, transforming it into a talisman that is meant to bring prosperity and lucky to the person in whose honor the bottle has been opened.” Here’s hoping that luck comes through in this new year around the sun! Thanks for reading and get ready… I have so much Disney content to share from the past and the future – in no particular order!

2 thoughts on “Disney- Birthday Spectacular 2023 – Coronado Springs Resort – Sangria University

  1. I am a Disneyland fanatic as well. I’m going with my DIL in November to stay on property and the Disneyland Hotel for the first time and we can’t wait. Scooters are a must for us and we jet around the parks like mad and stay for the full day into the night every day. Such a joyful connection to our inner children and the magic that is Disney in general! Can’t wait to see read more about your trips Brittany!

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