When we first started visiting Walt Disney World we stayed mostly at Value Resorts. They were cheap, convenient and since we spent all day in the parks anyway didn’t really need more. When we heard about Caribbean Beach with it’s fancy island feel, we figured it would be very out of our price range as a Moderate resort at Disney. See the truth is, we really really needed a vacation that felt like a vacation. And a resort with beaches sounded like the remedy.
Besides, we had our fill of being run over by the local high school band sharing our value resort. And really couldn’t handle another toddlers and tiaras nightmare at the food court. So we found a deal, and took the plunge and stayed at the Caribbean Beach Resort.
Caribbean Beach Resort Atmosphere
Unfortunately, right after booking, we began to hear from people online (of course everyone’s got an opinion) that the resort was too big, was ugly and that they would never stay there again. Luckily, another of our Disney-crazed aunts convinced us that we made the right choice and that Caribbean Beach was her favorite resort. So when we arrived in September, we were eager to see if all the hype, negative or otherwise, was really what this place was about.
Let us start by saying, it’s gorgeous. With the fresh refurbishments that just completed in December 2018 Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort is almost on par with resorts in the Deluxe category. The little island communities are set up so you can island-hop just like you would in the Caribbean. The islands represented are Aruba, Jamaica, Trinidad North, Trinidad South and Martinique. On the far side of the property you will see the new Disney Riviera Resort and the Disney Skyliner station. Old Port Royale acts as the center port where all the food, gift shop and outdoor movies happen. This is also the location of the Sebastian’s Bistro ( previously Shutters).
Caribbean Beach Rooms
Newly refurbished as of December 2018, these rooms feature hard wood floors and sliding doors that separate the sleeping and bathroom spaces. You can also count on a television, coffee maker, and all the regular toiletries. While the rooms are nothing to write home about, they are significantly nicer and more updated than Value resort rooms. And if you’re wondering, yes, deluxe resort rooms are even nicer. Check out our stays at the Grand Floridian and Boardwalk Inn if you’re curious.
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort Good News
We’ll start with the good news. As a large resort Caribbean Beach actually does feel like you are on an island somewhere. We never felt that it was too crowded, there was always room for us on the beach and the grounds are so lush here that you might actually feel as though you are secluded on a beach in the Caribbean. It’s such an atmosphere change from the All-Stars resorts. While not overly “Disney” there still is all the Disney flair in the gift shops, rooms and shops at Old Port Royale. Plus add in Sebastian’s Bistro and Pirate Rooms and you’ll remember you’re visiting the most magical place on earth.
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort Bad News
Let us first start by saying- the resort is, in fact, HUGE. It’s actually Walt Disney World’s largest resort with several bus stops. Since it is so big, you could get very unlucky and end up in an “island” that is just too far. This could or could not be a deal breaker, as it really depends on what kind of vacationer you are. Something to consider if you’re toting little ones. Know that you could end up walking quite a distance just to grab your morning coffee and pastry every day. The buildings that are closest to the food court are Martinique and North Trinidad. These islands have preferred rooms and will usually cost you extra. But we found Aruba and Jamaica to be about a 6-7 minute walk every morning, because you can walk right over the bridge. This was pretty perfect for us. South Trinidad is by far the farthest so keep that in mind when making room reservations. If you need a building closer to anything, call and request it.
Transportation at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
Transportation throughout the resort is pretty similar to other Value and Moderate resorts. Buses pick up and drop off at several bust stops throughout the resort. The Disney Skyliner is supposed to open by Fall 2019, and the Caribbean Beach Resort will be the hub of the Skyliner system. There is also an internal shuttle that can take you to the Customs House (where you check in/out), to your island or if you are too far from Old Port Royale. For clarity, each island has their own bus stop, however, they all share the same bus. This means that buses can get very full. Buses generally arrive about every 15-25 minutes to take you to the parks. Bus estimated time of arrival is found on the digital screens at each stop. And in your My Disney Experience App. We thought the bus stops at Caribbean Beach much nicer than the Value resorts as they were shaded and have benches. They also aren’t as crowded, except during the holidays.
Caribbean Beach Restaurants and Food Court
Caribbean Beach has all the food offerings in Centertown at Old Port Royale. While we only ate breakfast here twice, the food was pretty standard Disney food-court breakfast food. They had a variety of omelets, breakfast platters and breakfast burritos, as well as muffins and pastries. So a nice quick meal before our day in the parks, but definitely not a place we’d hang out long term, or daily.
Activities at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
The main pool is located at Old Port Royale and is absolutely beautiful but is also more crowded. There’s a shallow play area for toddlers here too. Each island has their own pool as well, which is smaller and not really “themed” but is a lot less crowded. So, if you’re looking for quiet sun bathing time, stick to your mini-island pool.
Disney Movies on the Lawn
Caribbean Beach, like all the other Walt Disney World resorts, plays a Disney movie every night near the pool which is a great way to unwind. There’s also campfire s’mores roasting party on the beach, you can rent bikes and surrey bikes to fully explore the resort, and walk the trail. If your little ones love the idea of being a pirate for a few hours, there is a small pirate cruise that drives around the lagoon area. This costs extra but is a great way to get a few hours of relaxation to yourself without worrying about the kiddos. On Caribbean Cay, which is accessible via the bridge between Jamaica and Aruba, there is also a kids play area open from sunrise-sunset.
How did we get a deal we could afford at The Caribbean Beach Resort?
Hint: The Walt Disney World Resort Bounce Back Offer
Almost every time you stay at Walt Disney World you can find a bounce back offer. It’s usually hidden in the back of that stack of magazines and brochures they leave on your dresser. If you flip to the last page of one of the books, you’ll see a special offer. Usually select dates with special discounts, the free dining offer, or some other coupon code that can save you money. Sometimes it’s as high as 40% off. And you can’t get this deal after you leave. So one year, we realized we could try something new and save money by actually upgrading to the Caribbean Beach Resort. And since the idea of being at an island-like resort for our Walt Disney World vacation just sounded lovely we booked it. Now, we search the room for that bounce back offer every time we visit.
Disney Caribbean Resort TIPS:
- You can request a room here in hopes of a better location in the resort, however requests are not guaranteed. If requesting a room that’s not preferred, Jamaica 45 and Aruba 52 will be your closest to the food court.
- We stayed in Jamaica 43 and were about 6-7 minutes walking distance to Old Port Royale via the bridge. We loved this location because we were also about 2-3 minutes from our bus stop.
- Jamaica is the first stop on the bus route about 80% of the time when heading to the Parks. So you’re more likely to get a seat.
- Jamaica is also the first stop at night. So, if you’re the one standing on the bus from the parks, you’ll be the first ones to get off.
- There are 7 bus stops on this route, which means that sometimes the buses will take longer than planned to get to your stop.
- Upon online check-in, you have the option of choosing an island as well as being near the food court, bus stop, etc. You get two choices, so choose wisely!
- This is Walt Disney World’s largest resort, which also means the most people stay here. The lines from the Parks will be long and you will usually end up waiting if you don’t time it correctly. Your best bet is to leave the parks early ( before 7) or late ( 11pm-12am).
- If you need to get to the Customs House and are coming from the Parks, get off the bus at any stop and grab the internal shuttle over.
Do You Really NEED to Upgrade to a Disney Moderate Resort?
So you may be asking, why bother upgrading to a moderate level resort when the value resorts work just fine? And truthfully we can be on both sides of the fence here. If staying at Value Resorts allows your family to visit Disney more often then stick with it. Upgrading to a moderate resort as a trade off for visiting less is not an option for us. But, when we can afford it, and find deals through offers or hotels.com, we’d always prefer the more luxurious resort. Let us warn you, its hard to return to a value resort once you’ve made the jump to moderates. There are some very significant differences between Value to Moderate and Moderate to Deluxe Resorts. At this point it would be very difficult to return to Value resorts. What’s the one big reason? Transportation options. While accommodations do differ, the difference between rolling out of bed and standing in the sun to wait for a bus at a Value can kill your day. The moderate resorts have shaded waiting areas. The deluxe resorts are in the best locations within walking distance of some parks, or on the monorail line, or with boat access.
Disney Caribbean Beach Map 2018-2019
Would we Recommend Caribbean Beach Resort?
Overall, we loved the Caribbean Beach resort. It provided us with a more relaxed, less chaotic atmosphere than the Value resorts. And the beautiful touches throughout the resort made it feel like our own little piece of paradise. For us it was cheaper than actually visiting the real Cayman Islands, so worked out. The extra cost was worth the serenity and ambiance of the resort. We highly recommend this resort to those looking for an island-like getaway while visiting Walt Disney World and working within a budget! It’s one of the cheaper moderates and has an atmosphere worth experiencing. We hope you love it too!