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Navigating Disney's Coronado Springs Resort with an Autistic Child

A recent solo trip as a guest at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort allowed me greater freedom to explore. By habit, I always look at things from an autistic perspective and the benefits thereof. This resort opened August 1, 1997 as Walt Disney World's first moderate/convention hotel and it's vast. The theming was inspired by the explorers who searched for the fabled Seven Cities of Gold, thus embracing a Southwestern United States/Mexican theme. You can see this in the elements used such as stucco walls, mosaics with vibrant colours, a Mayan Ruin themed pool and Spanish style Haciendas.

Photo: Jackie Psarianos

Access to El Centro
The layout follows Disney's typical formula of a  main building, El Centro (check in/concierge/gift shop/food court) with the resort room buildings (1,915 rooms) radiating from there. The walking at this resort can be daunting at best but do remember, the Cast Members are willing to golf cart you to your building. All resort buildings are flanked by parking lots on the perimeter making it convenient for guests who have access to a car. You can drive to the main building for your meal before heading out to the theme parks (parking is free for guests anywhere on Disney property). They also have an internal resort bus.

Photo: Jackie Psarianos

Four bus stops in total can be found at this resort and are spread out behind each section. If the uncovered and distant sections concern you, I highly recommend staying in building 1 in the Casitas section as it is closest to the Convention Center, providing a covered access to El Centro. I stayed in Cabanas building 8 and it was a good walk to El Centro having to walk along a concrete path alongside the lagoon, Lago Dorado and then over a wide bridge. I would not stay further than this building if walking is an issue. My building was near the main pool The Dig Site, which is a fair distance from Casitas building 1.

Map courtesy of Walt Disney World

El Centro, the main building has the check in desk, concierge, gift shop, food court, salon, access to the convention center and restaurant. I looked for a Companion/Family Restroom and I couldn't find one here or in the convention center. This presents a problem for a parent with a special needs child of the opposite gender because they would then have to use their own gender based restroom and deal with the stares and passing comments on the way to the handicapped stall. I am encountering this problem in public being a female dealing with a 5'10" autistic male needing supervision. People in a regular restroom do not tolerate seeing a male coming into their restroom and understandably so.

The dressing area in the resort room has two slide-like doors providing privacy to those dressing and a second room with a separate tub and toilet. I found it interesting that the bathtub area lacked handrails (I understand that it's not an accessible room, but I have stayed in many hotels that offer safety handrails in the shower/tub area).

Guest Rooms
The guest rooms are of decent size, allowing four people to move about freely provided people are tidy and considerate of others regarding space, especially at the vanity area. The vanity area has a single sink and not much space for storage of toiletry items. There are no lower or upper shelves below or above the sink area, which might present a challenge. Two double beds in most guest rooms which are comfortable, a dresser with television and mini-fridge, a desk and bench seat.

My concern with the room is that it opens to an outer walkway and it's very easy for a child with flight issues to escape. I know this can happen anywhere, but I personally take some refuge in retrieving my child from an interior hallway as opposed to an exterior one, especially given the layout of the resort.

Photo: Jackie Psarianos

Overall Impression

As a solo guest, I enjoyed the resort but did find it very large. I would only travel to this resort with my son if I stayed in building 1 in the Casitas section and would request a golf cart ride to the main pool as it is a distance from the Casitas. The public restrooms present a concern if I was alone with my son, so there would have to be some coordination there. The food court has beautiful and had a variety for all tastes but I particularly enjoyed the convenience and size of the smaller café nearest the main lobby.


  1. Great information here, Jackie- I never considered the companion restroom issue before. It's great that you are proving this perspective for everyone who needs it (and also for those of us who want to learn more about the needs of our fellow guests & Disney fans!).

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read this post. The companion restrooms were not an issue when my son was smaller, now they're a big aspect of my planning public trips.


  2. Regarding the GAC.................

    I think before the fast pass things were better.............I also think they should ask for doctor proof of need for the pass......... some doctors will just give it.......but many won't want to bother to go ask. Those with real problems will have no problem............ Maybe also have an autism EXPERT (with a degree, not just someone in a charity, ) in all the guest relations to evaluate each case to know the needs of each.......... they are all different.......... So stupid.
    We have also never got to see the fireworks in front of the castle, go to world of color and we pay extra to go to Fantasmic to have the reserved seats to see it because of our son.
    They say they want to make it fair for all and that nobody should get to do more rides etc. then others just because they are handicapped! OMG like it is a BLESSING to be autistic!!!!!!!!!!!! Fair,,,,,,, let me tell you, it takes us twice as long to do things with our son Luke, we have to do things in order and cannot stop to look at things or enjoy a show or music act that goes by or in the street.......... we can't go to the regular bathroom we have to find our way to first aide to change him every few hours........ we have to carry around a couple of backpacks to have his change and things in it which is difficult in itself especially through security...... we have to find a restaurant that has the food he needs and pay more at times because we can't just grab something fast. ...... We have to ignore the stares from people who look at us like there is something wrong with us for having a son like ours......... We can only do a little of the park at a time because my son gets overstimulated and wants to go back to the hotel to rest........ there are so many reasons we do not get "more rides' then others who do not deal with autism so to be told ........ they want to make it fair.................OMG, give a little to people who have to go through hell daily!!!!!!!! DISNEY LOST IT"S MAGIC and is no longer the happiest place on earth!
    I know how Clark Griswold felt when he got to Wallyworld to find it was closed........Disney has now closed itself to autism families

    1. why would you leave such a negative hateful response on a post that 1-isnt about the gac and 2-is written by another autistic child's parent?? go direct you misplace hate and rage at the right place, in an email to disney parks customer service department.

    2. Thank you for your support. I appreciate it.

  3. Such great information. It was really helpful... thankyou so much for posting

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read my post. Any little tips that we can all share will make everyone's experiences at the Disney Parks all the more exciting.


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