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Review: Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort



By Dave Shute

OVERVIEW: DISNEY’S CARIBBEAN BEACH RESORT FOR FIRST TIME VISITORS

Review - Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

Note: as part of a refurb that began in late spring 2014, the old full beds that were at Caribbean Beach are being replaced with queen beds in standard Caribbean Beach rooms.

Pirate rooms are not part of this refurb, and thus will retain their full beds. “They will get their own refurb, at a different time,” I was told.

Review Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort from yourfirstvisit.netMany (but not all) queen rooms have a Murphy Bed now as well–see the image at right, from my August stay–my sixth at this hotel.

As of the end of January 2015, Jamaica, Aruba and Barbados are done, and Martinique is about half done.  At Martinique, buildings 21 through 23 are done, building 24 will finish in early February, and buildings 25 and 26 have begun their refurb and should be done in later February.

To get a refurbed room, request Jamaica or Aruba. You could add Barbados to this list…but Barbados is not one of the better places to stay at Caribbean Beach, because of its distance from central resort services. For arrivals in March, Martinique is likely a good choice if the refurb continues at its current pace.

Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort is the best Disney World moderate resort for first time family visitors who may never return, especially those who avoid the Trinidad South (“Pirate rooms”) and Barbados sections.

Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort from yourfirstvisit.net (6)

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.

Main Pool at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort from yourfirstvisit.net (2)

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. The rankings of the first four are very close, and sensible people can differ on them.)

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

FLOOR PLANS AT THE CARIBBEAN BEACH

While 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 pretty close to 314 square feet–nearly the same size as the rooms of the other moderate resorts (except the cabins.)

Four Person Full Room Floor Plan Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

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 floor plan above is for a room not yet refurbed–Pirate rooms are similar.

Four Person Queen Room Floor Plan Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

This floor plan is for a two queen refurbed room…

Five Person Queen Room Floor Plan Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort from yourfirstvisit.net…and this is for a Murphy Bed room.

Queen Beds in Refurbed Rooms at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort from yourfirstvisit.net_

The refurbed rooms have a new look, and, as you can see at the back right, also now have sliding “barn doors” separating the bath area from the bedroom, rather than the fabric curtains here in un-refurbed rooms.

Murphy Bed in Refurbed Rooms at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

And for many, the key feature of the refurb is the addition to many queen rooms (not king rooms, so far as I can tell) of a Murphy Bed, which gives another sleeping spot and a new option for five-person families.

I measured the Murphy Bed mattress as 30″ wide by 64″ long.  The way it is positioned on top of the bedframe and related to the back framing means that, unlike many such beds, it does not sleep shorter than this. I’d put a five foot tall kid on this and expect great results. The cushion is 5 inches deep.

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

Centertown Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

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.

Nemo Border Detail Un-Refurbed Rooms Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

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, in the not-yet refurbed rooms based on Finding Nemo, Mickey and Goofy in the five person refurbed rooms, and rooms in the not-recommended (because too distant) Trinidad South section themed around pirates. No other moderate has theming designed to appeal to kids in so many of its rooms
  • Splash Play Main Pool at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort from yourfirstvisit.netThe quality of its main pool, the best among the moderates—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.

Moreover, a couple of the areas at Caribbean Beach–Barbados and Trinidad South–are quite a hike from the main central services, and the check-in building the Customs House isn’t really convenient to anything except Barbados.

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).

Best places to stay. 

Map Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort

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).

See the map (as always on this site, click it to enlarge it.)

Caribbean Cay Bridge Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

Standard rooms on the ground floors (because 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 Caribbean Cay bridge) to the main pool and food area.

Avoid Trinidad South and Barbados (too distant).

Caribbean Beach Online Check-in Form from yourfirstvisit.net

Here’s the current online check in form. Look at the map carefully before you click “Near Transportation.” At Aruba, that will put you distant from the bridge; at Martinique, it’s not necessary as there’s two nearby bus stops.

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, spread out; multiple bus stops).

PHOTO TOUR OF A NEWLY-REFURBED QUEEN AND MURPHY BED ROOM AT DISNEY’S CARIBBEAN BEACH RESORT

This review continues here.

PAGES: 1  |  2  |  3  |  4 |  5  |  6  |  7  |  Next

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25 comments

1 Melissa { 01.09.15 at 10:19 am }

Hi! Your website is absolutely amazing! Thank you! I do have one question though. I am looking at staying at the Caribbean resort and I am booking it now. I don’t see where I can try and request a specific village (Aruba or Jamaica). Is that something that can be done at time of booking or is done later? If so, do you know when? Thanks.

2 Dave { 01.09.15 at 3:40 pm }

Hi Melissa and thanks!!

You can do on-line check in beginning 60 days before your arrival date, and you’ll find there a link that will open up a place where you can make these requests.

Caribbean Beach Online Check-in Form from yourfirstvisit.net

3 Melissa { 01.10.15 at 7:48 pm }

Thanks so much for your help, Dave! much appreciated!

4 Julie { 01.13.15 at 2:01 pm }

I always stay at the Carribbean Beach Resort, and loved the atmosphere there, but looking at the recent renovations, I takes away from the cheerful atmosphere. I don’t like it

5 Dave { 01.14.15 at 1:40 pm }

Julie, many agree that the rooms are duller now…

6 Bri { 01.24.15 at 7:25 am }

Thinking of staying here, but wondering if it’s just the rooms that are under renovation? Would hate to stay in a construction zone, if they are working on other parts of the property, if you know what I mean? Thanks in advance! :)

7 Dave { 01.24.15 at 9:08 am }

Bri, it’s just the rooms. They do a few buildings at a time (there’s 33, about 21 complete) and empty them out first. So while you might see workmen and supplies it’s mostly pretty invisible.

8 Jim { 02.01.15 at 9:41 am }

Hi Dave! My wife and I have booked a King bed room at CB for next week, and I was wondering if the King bed rooms are available at all of the villages, or just specific ones, and also if you have any recommendations for one. I don’t see them covered in this article. We haven’t done our online check- in yet, so I know we may be limited for choices. We’ve always stayed at a value resort in the past, but decided to give CB a try this this time. Thanks!

9 Becky { 02.01.15 at 10:52 am }

We are a fam of 4, but could really use the Murphy bed for one of our little ones. She’s sometimes a rough sleeper and it’s hard to share a bed with her. Any way to know which rooms have them? It won’t be my first (primary) request, so I’d hate to put in conflicting requests.

10 Dave { 02.01.15 at 5:29 pm }

Jim, all the buildings have king rooms!

11 Dave { 02.01.15 at 5:30 pm }

Becky, you can’t request a five-person room befroe arrival. If you book 5 people, you’ll get one automatically, but for smaller bookings it’s luck of the draw.

12 Kristen { 02.13.15 at 2:06 pm }

We are heading to Caribbean Beach Resort for Easter weekend. This will be our first time staying in a 5 person room there. The last time it was just my husband and me and we stayed in Aruba. We didn’t mind the scenic walk over the bridge. Do you know which buildings they are putting families with the five person set up? We requested Martinique and I wonder (realistically) which buildings we should be asking for. Thanks for any help you can give!

13 Dave { 02.15.15 at 9:40 am }

Kristen, every refurbed building has five person rooms. As of last week, 4 of the 6 buildings at Martinique were done with the refurb, and I expect the other two to be done this month.

Do you have a “preferred” room or a regular room? If your room is regular, all those are now through the refurb.

14 Lena { 02.15.15 at 11:29 pm }

I actually love the new look of the rooms!! It’s very classy and cozy looking. All the colors before and the old fashion Nemo wall boarder made it look cheap and something you would find in a Holiday Inn or something even lower than that. The first time I stayed there(in 2013) I walked in the room and thought I’m paying all this money but looks like I’m staying at a cheap hotel. Staying there in April so I can’t wait to see the change in person! Way to go Disney for a awesome change!!!!!!! :-)

15 Dave { 02.16.15 at 8:20 am }

Cool, Lena, come back and let me know what you think after your stay!!

16 Michele { 02.19.15 at 6:39 pm }

Hi there! I’m getting ready to do my online check-in and was reading over your suggestions for which village to select. What about Trinidad North? I didn’t see you mention that anywhere. Has it been refurbed yet? I booked a Standard View room are those a different category? I see it’s listed on my online check-in as an option but wanted to check with you first to see if you recommend and knew if refurb was done there. Thanks!

17 Dave { 02.20.15 at 8:08 am }

Michele, all of Trinidad North is “preferred.” So if you didn’t book a preferred room you won’t get it. As of two weeks ago, refurb had not started there yet. I’d expect it to start in March, but won’t know for sure until it starts!!

18 Rochelle { 03.10.15 at 3:49 pm }

Thanks for all your helpful tips and insights. Love the site! Our family of 4 is staying at CBR in May. My husband and I stayed there in 2013 in Aruba before the refurbs started. I would like to stay in a refurbed room, but was thinking Martinique this time, as it’s closer to the main pools and food court, and that might be nice with the kids with us this time around. However, when I called CBR last night to ask if all the Martinique rooms were completed, the cast member hemmed and hawed around my question. So I ended up requesting Jamaica. Any idea if Martinique is complete, and what would you recommend? Should I change it, or just stay with Jamaica?

19 Dave { 03.10.15 at 3:58 pm }

Rochelle, I haven’t seen it with my own eyes, but this says Martinique is done–and I believe that, based on the progress I saw in Martinique in early Feb.

20 Unhappy at Caribbean beach { 03.13.15 at 7:30 pm }

I would NOT choose this hotel. Way too inconvenient. I stayed in Martinique and it cost $280 a night. That is the only way to get that location and I feel ripped off. Others got similar rooms for $170 (early march). Just a long walk still. Not good. I would do hotels near downtown. Take any money you saved and use cabs and still save a ton and use cabs at time instead of bus.

21 Dave { 03.14.15 at 10:00 am }

Not sure I am following you…Downtown???

22 Kathy kelly { 03.15.15 at 6:34 am }

Just came back from our disney trip and we stayed at the carribean beach like we have for the past eight years. We stayed in Martinique as we usually stay at a preferred Trinidad. The rooms are absolutely gorgeous. They are beautiful and tasteful. Much better than the cheezy nemo green theme. We did have a Murphy bed that we did not use but looks great if u have a small child. Love the sliding doors for privacy and the bed was beyond comfortable. I actually think I want to buy the mattress!!!
We had a wonderful trip!!

23 Dave { 03.15.15 at 6:45 am }

Glad you liked it, Kathy!!

24 Sherry { 04.12.15 at 4:45 pm }

Wondering if you think now that there has been a refurb at Caribbean and they have 5 person rooms if it will be exempt from the free dining program this year? I would really like to take kids this yr and stay on property during free dining. We have to get 2 rooms anyway for our lrg crew (6 kids) but really wanted to stay here.

25 Dave { 04.13.15 at 5:07 pm }

Sherry, great question. The short answer is that I expect it to be included in any free dining deal that might come out, but won’t know for sure til the deal launches.

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