Review: Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort



By Dave Shute

As noted a couple of days ago, I’ve finally finished staying in and reviewing all the Walt Disney World resort hotels.

That means it’s time to start over!

Things change, and the Disney World moderate resorts especially have seen a lot of change over the past couple of years.  Queen beds are now fully in at Coronado Springs and Port Orleans French Quarter; they are going in at Port Orleans Riverside, and Riverside now has “Royal Rooms.”

No queens at Caribbean Beach, but it’s picked up Pirate rooms in Trinidad South, and Finding Nemo theming in its other rooms.

I’ve stayed at the Caribbean Beach twice in the last few months–once in each room type–and I’ve been concerned that its absence of queen beds might lower it in my moderate resort rankings.

OVERVIEW: DISNEY’S CARIBBEAN BEACH RESORT

Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort is still the best Disney World moderate resort for first time family visitors who may never return, despite its absence of queen beds.

You can have a wonderful visit at any Walt Disney World resort hotel.

However, this site recommends that first time visitors to Walt Disney World who can afford it should stay at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, a deluxe resort, and that those who can’t should stay at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, a value resort.

It also suggests that first time visitors should avoid the moderate resorts, while noting that these resorts are wonderful for visits after the first. See this for why.

Compared to other Walt Disney World owned and operated resorts, the moderate resorts are distinguished by having nicer settings and landscaping, and much bigger rooms, than the value resorts, while being less comfortable than and having not nearly as good dining as the deluxe resorts.

Among the moderate resorts, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort’s positives in kid appeal outweigh its negatives in convenience, and give it the first ranking among the moderates for first time family visitors.

(Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort is second, Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside is third, Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter is a very close fourth, and The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort are last.)

(See this for much more on resort distinctions by price class–value, moderate, deluxe, etc.)

FLOOR PLANS AT THE CARIBBEAN BEACH

Floor Plan Disney's Caribbean Beach ResortWhile many websites and books (but not all) claim that Caribbean Beach rooms have 340 square feet, every room I have measured at the Caribbean Beach has come out at ~314 square feet–the same size as the rooms of the other moderate resorts (except the cabins.)

Even so, Caribbean Beach rooms are quite spacious.  The bedroom area is particularly ample, and is bigger than the bedroom spaces at several of the deluxe resorts. (See this.)

The rooms sleep four in two full-sized beds.

You can add to this capacity of four a child younger than three who sleeps in a crib.

DISNEY’S CARIBBEAN BEACH RESORT

Resorts are ranked on this site for first time visitors based first on their kid appeal, and then on their convenience.

On this basis, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort is the best moderate resort for first time family visitors to Walt Disney World.

Kid Appeal.

The kid appeal of the Caribbean Beach Resort comes from

  • The vibrant and playful colors that form the basis of its Caribbean theme (the other moderates are dull to a kid’s eyes)
  • The beaches that ring the lake it is built around (Coronado Springs is the only other “traditional” moderate with any beaches, and those in only one of its three sections; the Cabins at Fort Wilderness also have a beach, about a mile away)
  • The kid friendly theming of its rooms, mostly based on Finding Nemo, but with rooms in the not-recommended (because too distant) Trinidad South section themed around pirates (for a review of the pirate rooms, see this). No other moderate has theming designed to appeal to kids in every one of its rooms
  • The quality of its main pool—for example, no other traditional moderate has such a fully themed little kid pool.

Convenience.

This distinctive level of kid appeal is sufficient to make up for the resort’s inconvenience—among the moderate resorts, only the Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort are more inconvenient.

The Caribbean Beach Resort was Walt Disney World’s first moderate, and Disney made one mistake that led to this inconvenience: designing the resort with seven bus stops. This is 2 or 3 more than it could have had, and almost doubles the amount of time it takes for buses to get around the resort compared to the other large moderates which, designed later, have 4-5 bus stops.

For what Disney could do to fix this, see the end of this review of Caribbean Beach’s Pirate Rooms.

Other distinctive features.

The Caribbean Beach Resort is the only moderate with no elevators at all, and with no indoor bar/lounge (there’s a bar at the pool).

It is also the only moderate other than the Cabins to have full beds, rather than queen beds. The absence of queens isn’t enough to knock it from the top of the moderates, because its kid appeal is still so much stronger than that of the other moderate resorts.

Best places to stay. 

This site suggests that first time visitors stay in standard rooms, not preferred rooms (because they won’t be spending much time in their rooms, or going to the main resort food area often; the single exception is visitors to the Animal Kingdom Lodge, who should always pay for savanna views).

Given that, standard rooms on the ground floors (no elevators) in the southern part of the Aruba section (buildings 51-53) and the northern part of the Jamaica section (buildings 44, 45 and 46) are the best balance between cost, tranquility, and closeness (via the Parrot Cay bridge) to the main pool and food area.

Avoid Trinidad South and Barbados (too distant.)

BEST FOR:

Any typical first time visitors who insist on staying, or only can stay, in a moderate

WORST FOR:

Families with mobility issues (lack of elevators, multiple bus stops); families that need queen beds

This review continues here.

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16 comments

1 Heidi { 05.30.12 at 7:23 am }

Interesting take on Caribbean Beach. We spent just a few hours here on our last trip and I was turned off by the size and all the bus stops. Beautiful resort, though!

2 Capturing Magical Memories { 05.30.12 at 8:15 am }

I like the honest review. We have never stayed there but maybe someday…

3 Dave { 05.30.12 at 8:50 am }

Hi Heidi and thanks! If you tour CB for the first time by Disney bus, you’ll never come back… But if you stay in one of the buildings I recommend the convenience is OK. Like at the other big moderates, a car is a really big help…

4 Dave { 05.30.12 at 8:51 am }

Thanks Mary!

5 Jodi Whisenhunt / Magical Mouse Schoolhouse { 05.30.12 at 9:32 am }

I haven’t been to this resort yet, but it looks like a great place to stay! Congrats to you on staying in every WDW resort – woot!

6 Dave { 05.30.12 at 12:17 pm }

Hi Jodi, and thanks!

7 DIStherapy { 05.30.12 at 12:38 pm }

Boy, I love your style. After 40 years at WDW, we just got back from our first stay at a moderate. Surprisingly, we were thrilled with the experience! (But yes, the Polynesian will always be my first choice :D)

8 Dave { 05.30.12 at 1:07 pm }

Thanks!! So when the whole family comes, it’s a deluxe or a dvc…when I’m own my own doing a review it’s a moderate or a value!…or is it the other way around? I can’t get them to come unless its a deluxe…

9 Don Weir { 09.03.12 at 7:27 pm }

I would have to disagree. I just stayed at CBR in July after staying POR in Feb.
POR was just refurbished and has that fresh appeal to it. Their pools and food court are a cut above in my opinion. The food court in CBR is dark and feels dirty. The rooms feel tired and scream for some TLC. If you have put as much into planning as I do I feel there is a greater chance of being disappointed at CBR. As for on line reviews, more upset guest tend to review then pleased ones. Again this is only one mans opinion. Will be at Wilderness Lodge Dec.15th. can’t wait.

10 Dave { 09.03.12 at 9:15 pm }

Hi Don! I’m not sure what you are disagreeing with?

11 Don Weir { 09.03.12 at 9:46 pm }

POR before CBR. but either way, you are in for a treat. Dave, Give me your top 5 table service meals for the week of 12/16. Signature meals included. Thanks in advance.

12 Dave { 09.04.12 at 6:55 am }

Got it. My criteria for ranking are 1. Overall kid visual appeal of the theme, and then as a tie breaker convenience. So while I agree with most of your specific points, CB, with the colors and beaches, still has more overall kid appeal! I think you will love WL–come back here when you return and let me know what you thought…

13 Linda { 06.03.13 at 12:49 pm }

Hey there, stayed at CB May 2013 and loved it. There were five of us. Love the grounds, food court and especially our adjoining rooms. They were right behind the bus stop, which made it perfect as my sciatica was bothering me that whole week. Not far to walk, and the pool was at the end of our building. We could not have asked for better rooms. The rooms were clean and we always had fresh towels. We’ve never stayed at a Deluxe resort as we enjoy this resort so much. Keep up the good work.

14 Dave { 06.03.13 at 4:01 pm }

Thanks, Linda, for the kind words and the feedback about CB!

Follow yourfirstvisit.net on Facebook!

15 John { 10.03.13 at 4:00 pm }

Thanks for this review of CBR! One comment, I would imagine that if you’re moving up to a moderate, kid appeal is not your primary goal. And because of that, I disagree with ranking CBR ahead of the POR and POFQ resorts. The often overcrowded buses and lengthy bus route are both killers. And the fact that this resort doesn’t have queens is icing on the proverbial cake. My vote would go to POFQ. While it may not have bright colors, it is adequately themed and a fun environment. And the buses are fabulous compared to other moderates. Throw in the boat to downtown, less busy cafe and the proximity of all rooms to the lobby and it is hands-down the top moderate IMHO!

16 Dave { 10.04.13 at 12:07 pm }

John, that’s the criteria I use in ranking resorts…BUT, take a look at this, where, eventually, I end up with POFQ just where you think it should be… http://yourfirstvisit.net/2013/03/28/the-moderates-remix/

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