We’ve been looking forward to a stay at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort for a while now. With its recent remodel just done, things finally aligned for us to check out this moderate-level Disney resort! Here’s what we thought of Caribbean Beach!
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort Basics
Caribbean Beach is one of four moderate Disney resorts. The other three are Port Orleans — French Quarter, Port Orleans — Riverside, and Coronado Springs. The short of this designation is that it is supposed to be somewhere between the values and deluxe resorts in quality and price. Prices at Caribbean start at $194 per night (in 2019) and generally stick around mid-$200s range.
As a Disney hotel, guests at Caribbean Beach are entitled to all the perks of Disney hotel stays, including the 60-day FastPass+ booking window and Extra Magic Hours.
Caribbean Beach is an Epcot area resort, located near Pop Century and Art of Animation. Until the Skyliner opens in mid-2019, the only way to get between Caribbean Beach and the parks is by bus.
The theme of Caribbean Beach is—(drumroll)—the Caribbean! In Florida, this theming doesn’t particularly hit you too hard, and there’s a good argument to be made that Caribbean Beach has the tamest theming of the moderate resorts.
One thing to know about Caribbean Beach—it’s huge. Not in a Contemporary Resort sort of way, through. Rather, it’s sprawling, with the farthest spots being a brisk ten-minute walk from the center of the resort.
The entire Caribbean Beach Resort comprises six “villages”—Old Port Royale, Martinique, Barbados, Trinidad, Aruba, and Jamaica. Old Port Royale is the hub of the resort, containing the lobby, main restaurants, shop, and feature pool. The other five villages consist primarily of room buildings, small “leisure” pools, and each has a small beach (no swimming).
Booking Caribbean Beach Resort
We booked Caribbean Beach via Priceline. We booked a standard room for $182.93 per night. This was about 19% off the rack rate of $225 nightly for our stay. Though Disney had an ongoing room-only offer at this time, there was no availability on the Disney website for our stay.
Caribbean Beach—Old Port Royale Lobby
We arrived by Magical Express and were immediately taken in by the Old Port Royale lobby.
Caribbean Beach’s recent remodel has Old Port Royale, particularly the lobby, looking absolutely fantastic. It’s not in the highest category of Disney lobbies (Grand Floridian / Polynesian Village / Wilderness Lodge / Animal Kingdom Lodge), but it can hold its own against BoardWalk, Yacht Club, and Beach Club.
One feature we loved about the new lobby—outlets! The sofas had built in outlets (though only half of them worked), and the lobby has two long tables with built in outlets (all worked). The Caribbean Beach lobby might be one of the best spots for getting work done at Walt Disney World, if you don’t mind the noise.
Having good lobby space to relax in is really nice. The thing is, with the layout, you might actually never make it back to the lobby between check-in and check-out. You can catch the park buses at every village, which means you don’t actually need to pass through the lobby during your stay.
We hung out in the lobby one night and enjoyed a performance by a trio dressed as pirates. They performed a variety of songs, from “Take Me Home, Country Roads” to Coco’s “Remember Me.”
Transportation at Caribbean Beach
The only two ways to currently access Caribbean Beach Resort are by bus and by car. In mid-2019, the Skyliner will be completed, and Caribbean Beach will be connected to Epcot and Hollywood Studios.
Taking the Bus at Caribbean Beach
Each Caribbean Beach village has its own bus stop. This cuts down on walking time, but adds, painfully, to bus time. On one trip to Magic Kingdom, it took us an hour and 15 minutes to get to the park from our room. You might wonder what the predicted bus time on the app was. The app and sign at the stop both just continually pushed the wait time back by 2 minutes until the bus finally showed up.
Once picked up, it took 35 minutes to get from Old Port Royale to Magic Kingdom. From the Aruba stop, that trip took 16 minutes.
Best we can tell, there’s no definite order the buses will make stops in. Multiple sources report different routes, and even if someone could report that all the buses take one route today, we wouldn’t take it on faith that they’d keep those routes tomorrow.
There is an internal bus that can take you between the villages. This makes most sense for when you have luggage or if you have trouble walking, though. The time to get to your village bus stop plus the wait and ride time will probably be greater than the time it takes you just to walk wherever you need to go.
Uber at Caribbean Beach
The bus stops create an interesting predicament. One of our favorite “hacks” for the value resorts is to take some of your hotel savings and commit them to Uber rides around Walt Disney World. However, to take an Uber from Caribbean Beach will likely require you to walk all the way to Old Port Royale, which cuts down on the time savings.
Technically, you might be able to get an Uber to pick you up at other spots around Caribbean Beach, but I’d be really hesitant to do this. It’s difficult enough for inexperienced drivers to find their way around the resort (an unfortunate downside for resort); it’s going to be much easier for them if they just have to get to the main building.
Our Room at Caribbean Beach Resort
If there’s one part of Disney hotel reviews I’m tiring of, it’s rooms. Honestly, with the amount of remodels done recently, Disney’s rooms are all starting to feel the same.
Some people like this. The majority of Disney World’s rooms now have a “modern” or “minimalist” design aesthetic. Sure, there’s theme-appropriate touches, but little is blowing us away these days.
Our room was located in the Aruba village, one of the farthest spots from Old Port Royale. This isn’t surprising for a discounted Priceline booking. It was about an eight-minute walk from Old Port Royale.
The room was nice and clean. The TV was large, and there was a good amount of desk space. There were multiple working outlets. Most notably compared to the value resorts, there was ample room for two people to get ready in the vanity area.
On fear we had for future guests is the potential noise from the Skyliner. The Skyliner will go directly over the Aruba and Jaimaica villages. The Skyliner certainly won’t be as noisy as, say, an urban elevated train. But there’s also no way it will be silent. I’d avoid these rooms until I got more information on the sound.
Caribbean Beach also has pirate rooms. These are more expensive than the other rooms, and we haven’t stayed in them. Disney Tourist Blog has a good overview of these rooms.
Shopping at Caribbean Beach Resort
The main store at Caribbean Beach is Calypso Trading Post. Mostly, the store offers what you’ll find at every other Disney hotel—basic travel items (toothbrush, deodorant, snacks), seasonal Disney gears, and some nicer clothing items.
The Caribbean Beach gear was pretty cool, but limited. I particularly liked the mugs and shot glasses.
Calypso Trading Post also sells a lot of pirate gear, part of the resort’s attempt to cash in on the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.
Food at Caribbean Beach Resort
Caribbean Beach has one table service restaurant, two quick service restaurants, one bar, and three "grab and go" style stops.
Sebastian's Bistro is the table service restaurant at Caribbean Beach. It's casual dining, so nothing fancy and generally not a good use of a Disney dining plan credit.
Sebastian’s was rarely busy while we were there. Emily had one lunch there. The service was very good. The food was also good, but with Centertown Market having better prices, it might be hard to justify Sebastian’s. If you’re really into seafood, Sebastian’s is going to be a good option.
Centertown Market is the primary quick service stop at Caribbean Beach. It's not quite a food court, but it’s close. The menu is a Latin / Caribbean / American mix. The food is a half-step above the food courts of the value resorts, particularly at dinner, with options like the cuban sandwich, spicy tuna wrap, and cheese steak sandwich.
Unfortunately, Centertown Market isn’t all there operationally. The use a single-queue system for ordering, which means you can wind up waiting quite a while during busy times. During dinner, food is delivered to your table. During lunch and breakfast, you’ll pick up from a window (note this could vary by season, if the hotel gets busier).
The best option for Centertown Market is definitely to mobile order. With mobile ordering, you won’t have to wait in any lines, and you can just hand out in the lobby or nearby store until your food is ready. Then you just pick it up from the mobile order window.
Spyglass Hill, over in the Trinidad section of the resort is the second quick service stop. If you’re not staying in Trinidad, Spyglass isn't going to be worth the hike unless a unique menu item really grabs you or you have to eat during Centertown Market’s gap hours.
Conversely, if you’re in Trinidad, it's great to have a decent quick service stop nearby. I tried the black bean tacos, and they were disappointing (not an uncommon occurrence for vegetarian black bean tacos).
Banana Cabana Bar
The bar at Caribbean Beach is Banana Cabana. It’s locate between the pool and Sebatian’s. It’s one of the most thematically impressive elements of the entire resort, and it offers a spacious, open-air environment with pretty good views (including of the IllumiNations fireworks at night).
Grab and Go Stops
Aruba and Jamaica both have "island markets." These are essentially glorified vending machines inside repurposed rooms (the rooms are even numbered). Probably very good if you need a quick cup of coffee and pastry before heading out, but not much else. I didn’t take a picture, but honestly, these would rank among the worst aspects of “show” I’ve encountered in a Disney resort.
The third snack spot is part of Centertown Market, and it's called "Centertown Market Grab & Go." The selection here is more extensive than the island markets, with multiple packaged sandwiches available, but still not a good substitute for a meal.
Pools at Caribbean Beach
Caribbean Beach actually has six pools. Five of these are smaller “village” pools in the center of each area. These aren’t notable, so here’s one picture of one.
The feature pool at Caribbean Beach is “Fuentes Del Morro” pool. Best I can tell, “Fuentes Del Morro” translates to something like “springs / fountains of nose? hill?” Anyone know what “morro” means in this context?
Disney describes the Fuentes Del Morro pool as a “pirate’s paradise” themed to a “colonial Spanish fortress.” Truth be told, it is pretty cool. Its water cannons, water slides, and play area definitely set it above the value resorts. Thematically, you (more likely your kids) might even prefer it to the deluxe pools.
One Last Thing…
We found the staff at Caribbean Beach to be excellent. You could tell they were going out of their way to interact with guests, more than we’ve experience at other Disney resorts recently.
This is one of the few areas where we’d say Caribbean Beach really was closer to the deluxe resorts than to the value resorts. These Cast Members really wanted to make sure you were having an excellent time in their newly remodeled resort.
Conclusions About Caribbean Beach Resort
We’re quite torn on Caribbean Beach. Some things it did very well. The lobby was great, especially if anyone in the household needs a place to sit and work or read for a few hours. The food was delicious and unique. And the pool is at least better than those of the value resorts. The Cast Members were the best we’ve encountered in Walt Disney World.
But the transportation situation was abysmal. It simply cannot take 75 minutes to get to Magic Kingdom from any point in any Walt Disney World hotel. Centertown Market’s single line for ordering is also problematic during busy times. You could see how these delays really pile up.
Overall, there’s two takeaways from this stay. First, we wouldn’t stay at Caribbean Beach until the Skyliner opens. That will at least connect you better to two parks.
Second, Caribbean Beach just supports our feeling that the moderates are much closer to “value+” than to anything resembling the deluxe resorts. What this means practically is that we’d budget for them sort of like a room upgrade. If you can afford it for your next trip instead of a value resort, then spring for it.
But if you’re thinking you’d like to “treat yourself”—look to the deluxe resorts. Even though you’ll have to save a little longer, you’ll see much more of a treat visiting one of the deluxe resorts than moving up to Caribbean if you’re traditional a value visitor.