Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort sounded expensive, and we admit it. we’re cheap. Like really cheap. Ok, actually we prefer the term “budget conscious”. But we’ve made travel a priority in our budgets so are completely fine with being cheap. Yes, even at Walt Disney World. But what about really needing a beach vacation? Not being run over by the local highschool band sharing your value resort? Or even just needing to actually feel like you’re on vacation? We were ready to give something different a try. Here’s what we thought of the Caribbean Beach Resort.
Update: If staying at Caribbean Beach in 2018 or early 2019, the resort is undergoing major refurbishments. Please check out our post on the construction.
Do You Really NEED to Upgrade to a Disney Moderate Resort?
When we first started visiting Walt Disney World, we usually stayed at All-Stars Resorts. Why bother upgrading? We usually spend all day at the parks anyway. Now, don’t get us wrong on this. We do love the All-Stars for first time visitors, and have a love/hate relationship with All-Stars Music, because it really gives you a Disney feeling, and it’s cheap so you can afford it. While we had heard many complaints about these resorts, especially regarding time waiting for buses, the crowds, the travel groups, etc., we’ll say it again, it’s cheap. Value resorts are a perfect fit for most families, so why upgrade to a Moderate Resort?
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. 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.
Caribbean Beach Resort Atmosphere
Unfortunately, right after booking, we began to hear from people online (of course everyones 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. The little island communities are set up so you can island-hop. Right now there is Aruba, Jamaica, Trinidad North, Trinidad South and some of Martinique left. ( Both Martinique and Barbados got wiped out in the Disney Riviera and Skyliner construction). You also get Old Port Royale that acts as the center port where all the food, gift shop and outdoor movies happen. This will also be the location of the new table service restaurant (replacing Shutters)- Sebastian’s Bistro.
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.
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, or 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.
Disney Caribbean Beach Resort Refurbishments
While this resort is still undergoing construction at the moment ( Fall 2018), the rooms and buildings had recently also gotten refurbished. There are new sliding doors to separate the room from the vanity and bathroom and the rooms decor is modernized. The buildings are all brightly colored to represent each island and each island has their own beach. These are obviously man-made beaches and now have the new standard rope fence and boulder walls for added safety, but we always take the chance to bury our toes in the sand.Throughout the resort, there are beautiful palm trees, secluded seating areas and lush greenery.
Transportation at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
Transportation throughout the resort is pretty similar to other Value and Moderate resorts. Only buses will get you where you need to go from this resort at this time. The Disney Skyliner is opening around Spring 2019, and the Caribbean Beach Resort will be the hub of the Skyliner system. There is also an internal shuttle that will take you to the Customs House (where you check in/out), to your island or if you are too far from Old Port Royale. 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. This will soon consist of new quick service restaurant counters and Sebastian’s Bistro. 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 pirate cruise, which 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.
Disney Caribbean Resort TIPS:
- You can request a room here in hopes of a better location in the resort, however requests are not guarantees. 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. We also say 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, getting off the bus at any stop and grab the internal shuttle over.
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 that 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 an atmosphere worth experiencing. We hope you love it too!