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April 14, 2014

Coronado Springs -- A Relook

Jack Spence Masthead

Coronado Springs

The AllEars team strives to keep our webpages up-to-date. Trust me, this is no easy task. As you are probably aware, Disney is constantly changing things big and small and we're often playing catch-up.

As my longtime readers know, I have written reviews for all of the Disney resorts plus the Swan and Dolphin. These are available in the AllEars archives. To find a particular article, go to our search engine and type "Jack" plus the name of the resort. Chances are good that my blog will be the first or second listing.

I am now in the process of reexamining all of the Disney World resorts to see what has changed since my last overnight visit - and I decided to start with Coronado Springs. I last posted on this resort on August 17, 2010. To see this article,
click here. What follows is not another full description of the resort, but rather a listing of what's changed in the last three and a half years. Let's start with the room.

Coronado Springs is one of three moderately priced resorts located at Walt Disney World. The others are the Caribbean Beach Resort and the Port Orleans Resort. Coronado Springs opened on August 1, 1997, has 1,921 guest rooms and suites, and is the only resort in this price category to have a full-fledged convention center. The entrance to the complex is located off of West Buena Vista Drive.

The guest rooms at Coronado Springs measure approximately 314 square feet. Most rooms feature two queen beds. There are 224 rooms with king-size beds and 99 disabled-accessible rooms.

On both of my visits, I stayed in the "Cabanas" section of the resort. The theme here is that of a small tropical fishing village found along the Mexican coast. On my first visit I stayed in a "standard" room, on my recent outing, I was lodged in a corner room.

(Note, on my first visit, I stayed in building 9B. The rooms in this block are "business class" rooms. On my second visit, I was lodged in building 9A, a "regular" room. Some of the changes described below can be attributed to this.)

The first change you'll notice are the guest room door locks. These are now operated via a wristband rather than a cardkey. Guests simply "tap" the Mickey on their band to the receiver on the door and presto, the lock clicks open.


Wristband Door Locks

Wristband Door Locks


The overall décor of the rooms was the same then as it is now. I know this because I took extensive photos on each visit. The first picture below is from 2010 and the second from 2014.


Room Decor

Room Decor


The only décor change I could find has to do with seating. In 2010 the room had a chair. In 2014, the chair had been replaced by two hassocks. This can be attributed to the difference in categories. The "business" room has a chair, the "regular" room has hassocks.


Room Decor

Room Decor


In 2010 the room had a DVD player. It did not today. Once again, this can be attributed to room category.

Parents beware! At one time, Disney blocked adult content from the internet when connecting via their WiFi. This was not the case on my last visit.

The vanity and bath areas are identical except that the shower curtain now sports a colorful Mesoamerica design. It's a little change but a big impact.


Shower Curtain

Shower Curtain


I did not notice any changes in the exterior of the buildings, the main lobby, the registration area, and Panchito's, the resort's shop.

Café Rix, was added to Coronado Springs several years after the resort opened. This is a "grab-and-go" food mart where guests can purchase a quick bite to eat. In 2010, this spot featured a small counter-service window were you could order a hot breakfast, hamburgers, pizza, and other similar items cooked to order. Unfortunately, this counter has been removed and now all "meals" are prepackaged at Café Rix.


Cafe Rix Counter


The "kitchen" area in the Pepper Market has been slightly rearranged and the Asian food station removed.


Pepper Market


The menu for Maya Grill has changed significantly over the last three and a half years


Maya Grill


At the Explorer's Playground at The Dig, I noticed the swings were missing. I do not know if this is a permanent situation or temporary.


Swing Set

Missing Swings


All of the swimming pools now offer lifts that can lower and raise a mobility challenged person into and out of the water.


Swimming Pool Lift


The only other change I noticed were in the prices. Everything is more expensive today. Sigh.

I feel that Coronado Springs is the "forgotten" Disney World resort. When I ask people where they are staying, I rarely hear this resort mentioned - and I'm not sure why. I like this spot a lot. I think the architecture is wonderful and it boasts a magnificent pool and playground for the kids. In addition, the Pepper Market is a unique dining opportunity with nothing else like it at Walt Disney World. I know the resort is large, but it's not any larger than Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort. And bus service is available to transport you to and from El Centro.

I'm a big proponent of trying everything Disney has to offer. To stay at the same resort year after year and to eat at the same restaurant time and time again is limiting. Disney has put a lot of effort and imagination into everything they do. When you try something new, it might not make it to your top-ten list. But then again, it just might. And it's rare that Disney will give you a bad experience so you really don't have anything to lose. So next time you're contemplating booking a moderate hotel, consider Coronado Springs. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

While visiting last week, I videotaped my guest room (2½ minutes) and the entire resort (12½ minutes). Take a look and see if you don't agree that this resort is worth your consideration.



RELATED LINKS:

** Coronado Springs Fact Sheet
** Reader Reviews
** Holiday Decorations Around Coronado Springs Video

August 18, 2010

Coronado Springs Resort -- Part Two

The Dig Site is located in the middle of the resort and this is where you'll find one of the best themed swimming pools at Walt Disney World. The centerpiece here is the Pyramid of the Sun. Inspired by the Temple of the Great Jaguar at Tikal, this structure is covered with years of jungle growth and a waterfall cascades down the ceremonial stone steps into a pool measuring 120' by 90' and containing 272,912 gallons of water. Towels and life-vests are available poolside.

The pool officially opens each morning at 10 am. To kick things off, children are invited to participate in a simple ceremony where they are asked to chant to the Mayan gods asking them to let the waters flow.


Pyramid of the Sun

Pyramid of the Sun


This area is called the "Dig Site" as it is supposed to represent a modern day archeological excavation of a lost Mayan community. Numerous "finds" are located throughout this area including a Mayan idol and hieroglyphs etched into the pavement.


Mayan God

Hieroglyphs


No Disney pool would be complete without a water slide and the Dig Site is no exception. The entrance is located behind the pyramid and this 123 foot long ride takes you through a jungle and beneath a spitting jaguar. The "splashdown" is well positioned to afford a good photo op.


Jaguar Slide

Jaguar Slide

Jaguar Slide

Young children can enjoy their own pool complete with fountains and for those of you who wish to soak away your aches and pains, a 22-person hot tub is on hand.


Children's Pool

Hot Tub


One of the most imaginative children's spots you'll ever hope to find is located to the left of the pyramid. Explorer's Playground features an assortment of Mayan ruins that have been unearthed and "converted" into a swing set, slide, sandbox, and jungle gym. The 3D face of a Mayan god is especially compelling.


Explorer's Playground

Explorer's Playground

Explorer's Playground

Explorer's Playground


Near the playground is Iguana Arcade where you'll find the typical assortment of electronic games for the kids and dad. Be sure to notice the architectural details of the building. Giant serpents flank the entrance and intricate Mayan carvings line the exterior walls.


Iguana Arcade

Iguana Arcade


Next to the arcade is Siesta's, a pool bar that offers just about any concoction you can think of. A reasonable selection of food is available here like sandwiches, salads, and nachos. The choices are numerous enough to create a nice lunch so you do not need to return to El Centro for a bite to eat. Refillable mugs can also be replenished here. Siesta's is open from 11am to 7pm.

Siesta's


To the left of Siesta's is a Mesoamerican Ball Court that the archeologists have converted into a volleyball court. If you look to one side of the playing field you'll see the traditional hoop of this ancient game. Although the rules of this contest have been lost to antiquity, it's believed that the Mayans used their hips to toss a heavy rubber ball through this vertical hoop.


Volleyball Court

Volleyball Court


The guest rooms at Coronado Springs are divided into three, distinct villages, Casitas, Ranchos, and Cabanas. Each village has its own, "quiet" pool and laundry facilities. No towels are offered at these pools so be sure to bring some from your room. I'll start my description with the Casitas village.

The Casitas guest rooms are located in three and four story buildings and are themed after urban areas of the Southwestern United States (such as Santa Fe) and Mexico (such as Monterrey). The buildings exude the feel of an ultra-deluxe hotel. One would never guess you were in a moderate resort. Fountains, overhead walkways, arbors, courtyards, and lush landscaping create a feast for the eyes. I was amazed the first time I walked through this area. It is remarkably beautiful.


Casitas

Casitas

Casitas

Casitas

Casitas


The Casitas village is located closest to the convention center and these rooms are generally allotted to those participating in a sponsored event. It's also in the Casitas Village that you'll find the Casa de Belleza Salon and the La Vida Health Club (Building Four). Located nearby is the quiet pool.


La Vida Health Club

Casitas Pool


The guest rooms of the Ranchos village can be found at the far end of the resort and are designed into two and three story pueblos associated with the American Southwest. Think upscale dude-ranch. The landscaping is intended to look like rural desert ranchland and is dotted with large wind-swept boulders, a dry creek bed, and various varieties of cacti. The effect is so convincing that it's almost possible to forget about Florida's humidity for a moment. It's interesting to note, the dry creek bed, or arroyo, is actually used as a water runoff channel during the rainy season.


Ranchos

Ranchos

Ranchos

Ranchos

Ranchos Pool


The third village is called the Cabanas. The theme here is that of a small tropical fishing village found along the Mexican coast. Four, two-story buildings sit beside an inlet of Lago Dorado. Velvety lawns, palm trees, and low hedges create an exotic atmosphere. Nearby, a white sandy beach, complete with hammocks, beckons you to relax and enjoy the lake breeze. In many ways, this village reminds me of sections of the Caribbean Beach Resort.


Cabanas

Cabanas

Cabanas

Cabanas

Cabanas Pool

Cabanas Beach


The guest rooms at Coronado Springs measure approximately 314 square feet. Most rooms feature two queen beds. There are 224 rooms with king-size beds and 99 disabled-accessible rooms.

The beds are simply made, covered with a white duvet and blue runner featuring a silhouette of Mickey Mouse. The headboards are tall and constructed of dark wood, creating a nice contrast to the light-colored linens and walls. Enclosed florescent lamps cap each headboard.


Guest Room Bed

Guest Room Bed

Guest Room Bed


All of the guest rooms were renovated in 2009 and now feature flat-screen TVs and a desk rather than a table and chairs. The desk is designed with laptop computers in mind. Electrical plugs and a high-speed internet connection are located on the desk's back panel for easy access. Internet access costs roughly $10 per day. The internet cable can be found hanging in the vanity area. The desk chair is also functional for "office" use.


Guest Room Desk

Guest Room Desk

Guest Room Desk Chair


The TV and DVD player sit on a dark wood chest. The chest contains six drawers and a small refrigerator. A coffee maker, ice bucket, and glasses are also located on the chest.


Chest of Drawers

Chest of Drawers

Chest of Drawers

Chest of Drawers


Something that I really like about Coronado Springs as compared to Port Orleans and Caribbean Beach Resort is the divider between the vanity and the bedroom. Instead of being a flimsy curtain, sliding wooden doors separate the rooms. This helps tremendously in keeping the vanity light and noise from intruding into the bedroom.


Sliding Vanity Doors

Something I don't like as well about Coronado Springs as compared with the other moderate resorts is it only has one sink. A family getting ready in the morning needs two.


Sink


In the vanity are clothes hangers, an ironing board and iron, and a key-locking safe. This safe is extremely small. At the most you could store a wallet and a pocket sized camera in it. The hair dryer is not attached to the wall as it is in other resorts. Instead it's found in a bag along with the hangers. Be sure to look for Mickey Mouse on the bathroom mirror.


Hanger and Ironing Board

Safe

Hair Dryer

Mickey Mouse Mirror


The toilet and shower area is separated from the vanity with a solid door. The shower curtain rod bows out at the top allowing for more space when bathing. The shower head generates a decent spray with three settings.


Tower and Shower


Overall, I like the bedroom decor at Coronado Springs. I think it's well themed and executed. But I have to admit, the vanity and toilet area are uninspired. I like to believe the Imagineers could have created a more inviting look even if this is a moderate resort.

Another advantage to Coronado Springs over Port Orleans and Caribbean Beach is the availability of room service. Whereas the other moderate resorts only offer pizza delivery after 4pm, this resort provides a decent menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Note, a $3 delivery charge, an 18% tip, and appropriate taxes will be added to the bill.

About half of the Cabana rooms offer a lake view. I decided to spend the extra money to see what I'd get. This first picture was taken with a standard lens setting from my window. In the second picture I zoomed in all the way. You tell me if you think the view is worth the money. I'm sure other rooms offer better vistas, but what room you're assigned is the luck of the draw.


Water View Standard View

Water View Zoom View


Coronado Springs is a large resort. A very large resort. My room was in building 9B, one of the closest to El Centro. It took me between three and five minutes to walk to the lobby. Although you can drive to El Centro from your nearby parking lot, there really aren't all that many spaces once you get there. Primarily, this area is used for those guests checking in and out. It was the designers' intent that you use Disney transportation if you don't wish to walk to and from El Centro and the convention center. Each village has its own bus stop. If you wish to ride TO El Centro, catch a bus marked Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios, or Animal Kingdom. This will drop you off at the main bus depot. When you wish to RETURN to your room from El Centro, board any Downtown Disney bus.


Bus Stop


I think Coronado Springs is the "forgotten" moderate resort. Many people have a deep love for the Caribbean Beach or the Port Orleans Resorts and they aren't willing to give the Coronado Springs a try unless they are forced to stay here due to a lack of availability at other properties. That's a shame. Its large size really isn't any more inconvenient than Caribbean Beach and it has just as much charm as Port Orleans.

I'm a big proponent of trying everything Disney has to offer. To stay at the same resort year after year and to eat at the same restaurant time and time again is limiting. Disney has put a lot of effort and imagination into everything they do. When you try something new, it might not make it to your top-ten list. But then again, it just might. And it's rare that Disney will give you a bad experience so you really don't have anything to lose. So next time you're contemplating booking a moderate hotel, consider Coronado Springs. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

When I wrote about Port Orleans, I created two separate articles, one for the Riverside and one for the French Quarter. This allowed me to create shorter videos. Since Coronado Springs cannot be divided so easily, my video is rather long running at 13 minutes. This was necessary to capture the entire resort. The second video is of the room interior and is just a little over a minute long. Enjoy.




August 17, 2010

Coronado Springs Resort -- Part One

Hotel%20-%20Coronado%20Springs%20Logo.jpg


First, a little history.

In the early 16th century, the people living in New Spain (now Mexico) began to hear rumors of the "Seven Golden Cities of Cibola" located in the deserts hundreds of miles to the north. The legend told that these cities held vast amounts of wealth just waiting to be claimed by anyone fortunate enough to discover their whereabouts.

In 1535 Francisco de Coronado left his home in Salamanca, Spain and came to the New World. He climbed the social and political ladder quickly and was soon appointed to the position of Governor of Neuva Galicia. In 1540, Mexican Viceroy Antonio de Mendoza sent Coronado on an expedition to find the "Seven Golden Cities of Cibola" and secure their riches for Mexico and Spain. Coronado's travels took him through Northern Mexico, Arizona, New Mexico, and as far north as Kansas, but he never did discover these magnificent cities teeming with gold. He returned to Mexico empty-handed in 1542.


Francisco de Coronado


Disney's Coronado Springs Resort was not so much named for Francisco Vasquez de Coronado as it was for his journeys. While traveling through Northern Mexico and the Southwestern United States Coronado encountered breathtaking landscapes, unique architecture, and fascinating cultures. The resort draws its inspiration from the missions, pueblos, haciendas, and cabanas he saw during his journeys. In addition, a new myth regarding the "Seven Golden Cities of Cibola" has emerged at the Coronado Springs Resort. It proposes that if the stars align correctly during the new corn moon, images of the golden cities will be reflected on the waters of Lago Dorado, the Lake of Gold, found in the middle of the resort.


El Centro at Night


Coronado Springs is one of three moderately priced resorts located at Walt Disney World. The others are the Caribbean Beach Resort and the Port Orleans Resort. Coronado Springs opened on August 1, 1997, has 1,921 guest rooms and suites, and is the only resort in this price category to have a full-fledged convention center. The entrance to the complex is located off of West Buena Vista Drive.


Main Entrance Sign

The Spanish influenced architecture is unmistakable when you approach El Centro (The Hub or Center). This area was intended to create the illusion of a 16th century Mexican village marketplace, complete with stalls, civic buildings, and eateries set alongside the waterfront. A multifaceted façade was created to invoke the look of a community that has grown over the years.

Underneath the porte-cochère are a number of cast members waiting to help you with your luggage and direct you to the registration desk.


Porte-cochère


The indoor design hints at the lavish palaces and town halls of latter-day Mexico. The centerpiece of this design is "La Fuente De Las Palomas" (Fountain of the Doves). This lovely fountain is a gathering place and acts as a seating area for families and friends waiting to begin their day. On top of the fountain is the traditional symbol of hospitality, a pineapple. Be sure to take a look at the hand-painted domed ceiling which is filled with clouds and doves. The sky and clouds were painted on canvases off-site and applied to the dome in pieces. The doves were added once everything was in place.


La Fuente De Las Palomas

Dome


In a room to the right of the fountain are the registration and concierge desks. The architecture in this room is stunning. Large wooden beams crisscross the ceiling, hammered-tin chandeliers hang from wrought iron chains, and stucco arches line the wall. Be sure to take a look at some of the murals located behind the check-in desk. They depict colonial life in Mexico.


Registration Hall

Mexican Mural


To the left of the fountain is Panchito's Gifts and Sundries which sells the typical array of Disney souvenirs. Named after Panchito Pistoles, this feisty rooster is one of "The Three Caballeros" and joins Donald Duck and José Carioca in a tour of Mexico and Latin America.


Panchito's Gifts and Sundries


"The Three Caballeros" (1944) followed the movie "Saludos Amigos" (1943) and was part of a good-will tour promoting Latin and South America. Tiles depicting these feathered adventurers can be found high overhead in the shop. In addition, a statue of Panchito Pistoles is prominently located in the middle of the store and a likeness of José Carioca can be seen perched on a balcony railing.

In the Disney series "House of Mouse" (2001-2003) we learn a little more about Panchito's lineage and find out that his full name is Panchito Romero Miguel Junipero Francisco Quintero González III. Somehow his original family name of Pistoles is lost in this explanation.


The Three Caballeros


Panchito Pistoles

José Carioca


"The Three Caballeros" was a collection of short segments loosely bound together by the presence of Donald Duck opening gifts throughout the movie. One of these shorts is titled "The Flying Gauchito" and tells the story of a little boy from Uruguay who discovers a winged donkey, Burrito. A likeness of this cute little animal can be found near the entrance of the shop.


Burrito


Also radiating off of the fountain is a long hallway. Along this corridor you'll find several restaurants and a lounge/bar. This is also the way to the convention center.


Hallway


Café Rix, a grab-and-go restaurant, was added to Coronado Springs several years ago. Before its existence, there wasn't any place for guests to quickly pick up a bite to eat and be on their way. Breakfast is offered from 6:30am to 11am and includes such items as egg-&-cheese sandwiches, pastries, quiche, and fruit plates. Lunch and dinner is served from 11am to midnight and offers standard fare such as hot dogs, hamburgers, and pizza. A temping selection of ice cream is also offered. Tables are available next door in Rix Lounge. If you want to take the food back to your room, the cast members will be happy to provide you with a nice carrying bag.


Café Rix

Café Rix

Café Rix


Rix Lounge, located next door to Café Rix, is perhaps one of the best watering holes at Walt Disney World. Even though it can accommodate 300 guests, it feels dark, mysterious, and cozy due to its well-designed layout. It's a wonderful place to hide away for an hour or so. Although the tables are available all day to accommodate Café Rix, the bar is only open from 5pm to 2pm. A DJ cranks out music from 9pm Thursday through Saturday and a private room is also available for special events. Full catering options are available. For more information about Rix Lounge, click here.


Rix Lounge

Rix Lounge

Rix Lounge


One of the things I hate about the food courts at the other resorts is the way you pay for your meal. By the time everyone in your party gets what they want and you make it to the cashier, your food is already starting to cool off. And if there's a line waiting to pay, your meal can be cold by the time you get your beverage and find a table. But this isn't a problem at Coronado Spring's Pepper Market.


Pepper Market


Your meal begins with a host or hostess escorting you to an assigned table. As you're being seated, each person is given a "receipt" and it's explained that everything you order will be recorded on this piece of paper. Shortly after the hostess leaves the table, a server will approach and take drink orders and each person's selection is written on their receipt. Refills for Coke products and similar beverages are free and brought to you by your server.


Pepper Market Receipt


Designed to resemble an open-air marketplace, the Pepper Market is comprised of a number of stalls and booths, each serving a specialty. One stall might offer grilled items while another serves pasta dishes. It's fun to wander from stall to booth and vendor to merchant, inspecting their wares.


Food Stall


When you finally make up your mind, you tell the vendor what you'd like to order and they will stamp your receipt with your selection. Depending on cooking time, you order might be dished up immediately or within a couple of minutes. Once you're served, just return to the table with your food and receipt in hand. If you want dessert, just take your receipt back to the food stalls and make another selection. At the end of the meal, one person in your party can gather up all of the receipts and pay as you leave. No more cold food. A 10% gratuity is automatically added to your bill unless you're on a Dining Plan. In this case, no tip is added so please remember your server.

The seating area is very festive. A large kachina doll stands watch over multi colored tables and chairs, complete with umbrellas to add to the illusion you're dining on an expansive patio. Strands of lights hang overhead and soft music plays in the background.


Kachina Doll

Pepper Market Seating


At the far end of El Centro is the Maya Grill. But you won't find typical Americanized Mexican fare like tacos and burritos here. This is an upscale restaurant where guests sit inside a Mayan temple and are offered seafood, chicken, beef, and pork prepared with a Latin and Caribbean flair, much of it cooked on a wood-fired grill. The restaurant also features wines from Mexico, Argentina and Chile. The Maya Grill is open for Breakfast from 7am to 11am and for Dinner from 5pm to 11pm.


Maya Grill

Maya Grill

Maya Grill


I think I've eaten at the Maya Grill five times, but to be honest, it's been at least four years since my last visit. The reason? This restaurant has yet to knock my socks off. The food and service has always been fine, but just fine, nothing spectacular. And although I like sections of the restaurant, other areas in this room leave me cold. To me, portions of this eatery have a "coffee shop" feel about it. When I'm paying $7-$13 for an appetizer and $20-$29 for an entrée, I want things to be better than "fine." But as I said, I haven't eaten here in a while. Although the atmosphere is unchanged since my last visit, maybe the food is now spectacular.

If any of you would like to share your dining experience at the Maya Grill with me, either positive or negative, please feel free to add a comment to this blog. Whenever I've had a less than fantastic experience at Disney, I like to think it was just bad timing on my part and not indicative of an overall pattern. If you leave a comment, others can scan the remarks and obtain more than just my opinion.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, Coronado Springs is the first moderately priced Disney resort to offer full convention services. Although I have never had a problem with conventioneers interfering with my enjoyment of the resort's facilities, I started to wonder what would happen if a group of 500 let out for dinner and they all descended on the Pepper Market or Rix Lounge at the same time. I like to think that Disney designed Coronado Springs with this in mind and the resort can handle the ebb and flow of people. I asked several cast members about this, but I was unable to secure a firm answer. Once again, I'm curious about your thoughts. If you've experienced a convention letting out while staying here, let me know how everything went. Remember, I'm looking for positive as well as negative feedback.

You can also leave and read comments in the Rate & Review section of Allears.

El Centro sits on the shores of Lago Dorado or Lake of Gold. This fifteen acre body of water offers a tranquil setting for cocktails at Laguna Bar (open 11am to 11pm) or for a run around the ¾ mile jogging track.


Lago Dorado

Laguna Bar


This area is also the perfect spot to gather with your friends and family and enjoy some good conversation. There are a number of tables, many with umbrellas, in which to kick back and relax. Nighttime is especially pleasant here when the heat of the day has dissipated and a cool breeze blows off of Lago Dorado.


Seating by Lago Dorado

Seating by Lago Dorado

Seating by Lago Dorado


And don't forget to check out "The Three Caballeros" topiary located nearby.


The Three Caballeros


The Marina is the spot to rent surreys, bikes, kayaks, pedal boats and more. Please note, this facility is open seasonally so if these amenities are important to you, check with your reservationist when booking your room.


The Marian


This ends Part One of my article about Coronado Springs Resort. Check back tomorrow for Part Two.


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About Coronado Springs

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to The “World” According to Jack in the Coronado Springs category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Contemporary is the previous category.

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Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.