When we first started visiting Walt Disney World years ago, 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. At one point, though, we realized we were missing out on a lot by choosing to only stay at the value resorts and decided it was time to start exploring other resorts. We are always longing for our next island vacation, so Caribbean Beach seemed to be a perfect fit.
Besides, we had our fill of the chaotic vibe that we often found at a value resort. And really just wanted something that felt more like….. vacation? So we found a good 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 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 for our first trip, we were eager to see if all the hype, negative or otherwise, was really what this place was about.
Since our first visit to Caribbean Beach, a lot has changed. And we definitely feel it’s for the better!
Let us start by saying, with the new renovations, 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, Barbados and Martinique. On the far side of the property you will see the new Disney Riviera Resort and the Disney Skyliner station, which are due to be finished soon. 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, we have noticed some rooms completely on trend with recent Disney refurbished rooms with sliding doors that separate the sleeping and bathroom spaces. We have stayed in several rooms at Caribbean Beach Resort recently and it’s important to note that not all of the rooms follow this new layout. 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. If you’re looking for even more of a upgrade for your room, the deluxe resorts really take your stay to the next level. Check out our stays at the Grand Floridian and Boardwalk Inn and Animal Kingdom Lodge if you’re curious.
Pros of Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
We’ll start with the pros about this resort. 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, the food court wasn’t too crazy in the morning and the grounds are so lush here that you might actually feel as though you are secluded somewhere 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.
Cons of Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
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 in Martinique. This island has preferred rooms and will usually cost you extra. But we found Aruba and Jamaica to be about a 6-7 minute walk every morning, depending on which building you are in, because you can walk right over the bridge. This was pretty perfect for us.
Trinidad is by far the farthest so keep that in mind when making room reservations. Trinidad does however have a small open air quick serve food court to refill beverages and grab a quick breakfast as well as their own bus stop. You can request specific buildings, but they’re not guaranteed.
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 other areas around the resort. 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
The main food court at Caribbean Beach is located Centertown Market at Old Port Royale. With a newly revamped menu, we were happy to see that Centertown Market now offers fun, fresh flavors with unique dishes that we wouldn’t normally see at a quick service restaurant. There is also a small café inside Centertown Market now with a variety of pastries and several different specialty coffees. We love coffee so seeing new coffees on the menu at Walt Disney World is always exciting for us! Tip: If you’re in a hurry, Centertown Market also offers mobile order, which is one of our favorite ways to save time!
If you’re staying in Trinidad, Spyglass Grill is available to refill your mugs or grab a quick bite to eat. It is located close to the bus stop in Trinidad, so it’s a great place to stop by on your way out. It’s small and open air, but there was no one eating there when we visited. The menu is mostly the same as Centertown Market, with a slightly smaller selection, so if you’re just looking to grab something fast, this a great option.
Banana Cabana is the new pool bar at Caribbean Beach and guys, I want my house decorated like this! With bright colors, fun furniture and an open air setting with a view of Barefoot Bay and Aruba in the distance, it really feels like a little island hideaway! Serving an array of delicious and tropically inspired drinks, you can also find a few quick bites here as well, including crab cakes and jerk chicken wings. This is such a lovely upgrade to Caribbean Beach and we feel it really elevated the space.
We recently had the opportunity to try out Sebastian’s Bistro, which is Caribbean Beach’s new table service menu. You can see our review for Sebastian’s Bistro here; spoiler alert- we loved it and recommend it for a fun, unique meal in a beautiful, beachy setting.
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?
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.
If you’re not visiting Walt Disney World and therefore can’t take advantage of the bounce back offer, never fear, we have a few money saving tricks at Walt Disney World that we use to allow us to travel more.
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.
- There are 6 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).
- Everything you need is now located in Old Port Royale so no need to worry about trekking to the other side of the world to check in/check out, catch the Magical Express or or see the concierge if needed
- Skip the lines at the desk with online check-in. You can check in online up to 30 days in advance of your reservation and manage all of you room info, including room number in the My Disney Experience app.
Is Caribbean Beach worth the price?
So you may be asking, is Caribbean Beach worth the cost? As one of the lower priced moderates(especially during the construction), you can find a great deal on Caribbean Beach Resort right now and we definitely think it’s worth the price increase from a Value. If you’re still not sold, you may ask 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 when you may not be able to otherwise, then a Value resort will suit you just fine. Upgrading to a moderate resort as a trade off for visiting less is not an option for us. But, when the price is right and we can 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, and even more difficult once you’ve stayed in a deluxe. 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.
One reason we prefer the upgrade from a Value Resort? 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 love the Caribbean Beach resort. After staying here several times, we really have come to prefer the 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 Caribbean Islands, and was a great escape at the end of a hectic day at Disney. 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!