By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2017, from the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever. Paperback available on Amazon here. Kindle version available on Amazon here. PDF version available on Gumroad here.



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Caribbean Beach Refurb Causes Some Qualms



By Dave Shute

(Note: the $75/night gift card offer is over for new bookings.)

Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort will be going into a major refurb beginning around May 1. The scope of the refurb has led some to suggest avoiding the resort or changing your reservations if you are staying there.

(Coronado Springs is also seeing a less extensive but still major refurb, so Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter are filling up fast. Kelly can help you get a room in one of these–she’s the designated Destinations In Florida travel agent for yourfirstvisit.net, and is at Kellyb@destinationsinflorida.com.)

However, Disney will be providing guests booked there May 1 and later a $75 gift card, per night, as a compensation for the awkwardness.

At least until Columbus Day, which is as far as I want to speculate, this is a discount of 27-35% off the rates of a standard room. Some will find this an entirely adequate payment for the awkwardness.

My advice?

  • If you have any qualms, change your resort. The potential for you to second-guess yourself is too high.
  • If you are one of the seven people worldwide who chose Caribbean Beach specifically for Shutters or the food court, change your resort.
  • If you never felt strongly about staying at Caribbean Beach anyway, change your resort.
  • If you picked Caribbean Beach for its tranquility, consider how construction noise might affect that.
  • If you picked it for the kid appeal/the beaches/the pool/the colors, for most I think the $75 per night gift card will be sufficient compensation for you to stay—but avoid Barbados and perhaps Martinique (for reasons I’ll get into below).

THE REFURB AT CARIBBEAN BEACH

The refurb seems to have two parts.

One is a shut-down of the food court, table service restaurant Shutters, gift shop Calypso Trading Post, and pool-side bar Banana Cabana.

These will be somewhat replaced by a new breakfast buffet and menu of dinner offerings from new (presumably temporary) facilities in “Centertown,” which is the broad area that includes the pool and former dining and shopping areas. My guess is that these will be centered on the old bar Banana Cabana, since it has power, water, etc. Also available will be some new grab and go locations in Aruba, Jamaica and Martinique, and, I suspect, a food truck in Trinidad South.

Here’s Disney’s words about this:

Closure for refurb of food areas is pretty routine at Disney World—Port Orleans French Quarter just went through this, and there was not much panic. This, however, is a more extensive closure, including the bar and gift shop as well.

Frankly, I expect the (temporary) supplemental replacements to be largely adequate—even after the closures, there will likely still be more counter service available at Caribbean Beach than in all of the BoardWalk Inn, Beach Club and Yacht Club combined (at least until the new counter service-ish area opens in the Yacht Club gift shop).

But we won’t know for sure until the supplemental options open. I have a stay booked here in early June—gonna catch me some Pandora, and the new fireworks show at the Magic Kingdom—and will report on specifics then.

The second thing that seems to be going on is construction, possibly even demolition, in the Barbados and Martinique areas.

Katherine Schutte (part of the German branch of my otherwise English family, I guess) posted in her Magical Castle Facebook Group on 2/27 that
“a new notice issued today indicates that buildings within Martinique and Barbados areas of the resort will be closed since they will be disrupted by the construction.”

It’s been widely speculated that a new Disney Vacation Club building will be going into the footprint of Barbados and perhaps some of Martinique—and, it is to be hoped, the Custom House check-in area as well.

And Disney has already communicated that “Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort will be reimagined with new additions to the resort’s current marketplace, Centertown, including new waterfront dining and retail shopping areas. This centralized location will offer the resort’s guests more convenient access to services, amenities and dining.”

As I’d noted here, my guess and hope is that as part of this project, the current building housing dining and retail will be converted (or demolished and rebuilt) as the check-in area for Caribbean Beach.

This, when combined with the to-be-hoped for demolition of Barbados and perhaps the northern (non-preferred) part of Martinique, will much reduce the complexity and number of bus stops at Caribbean Beach, diminishing what has always been its biggest negative. (Especially if the current bus stops at Trinidad North and the perhaps truncated Martinique are replaced with just one at New Old Port Royale.)

If so, then the sequence of events could be something like this:

  1. Install temporary alternative dining and close Old Port Royale
  2. Build new waterfront dining and retail and convert/rebuild Old Port Royale as the new check-in area
  3. Open the new dining/retail/check in facilities
  4. Demolish the current check in facilities at the Customs House, Barbados, and perhaps some of Martinique
  5. Build a DVC facility on the footprint freed by step 4 (this could begin even before the Customs House comes down—if it is even coming down. Bay Lake Tower is about 400 feet across, and the longest extent at Barbados is almost three times longer—there’s a lot of land at that end of the resort…)

If my guesses are true, then there will be a lot of construction noise around Barbados and Martinique in particular, so for sure I would avoid rooms there…even the preferred rooms in Martinique, because of the Centertown construction noise.

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20 comments

1 Kelly B - Destinations In Florida { 03.05.17 at 6:21 am }

These sound like some great, and needed, changes. But with construction here and at Coronado, rooms at Riverside and Port Orleans are filling up fast. If you’re looking for a moderate resort book now. I’m happy to help. I’m Kelly, the designated Destinations In Florida travel agent for YourFirstVisit. Net. Contact me today at Kellyb@destinationsinflorida.com

2 Terri { 03.05.17 at 6:37 am }

I’m considering switching to CBR for a June visit to get the GC… that would cover our meals of one adult & one child, or a good chunk of our park tickets (9 night stay). Just wondering how the buses will be?

3 Dan { 03.05.17 at 4:25 pm }

When can I get a rate for Jan 2018

4 Kelly B - Agent with Destinations in Florida { 03.05.17 at 6:56 pm }

Hi Dan – 2018 Package prices are expected to be released towards the end of June, as in years past. Room only reservations can actually be booked now (They can be booked 499 days before your departure date). I’m more than happy to contact you when the 2018 prices are released. You can either email me at KellyB@DestinationsInFlorida.com or head over to my 2018 Disney Vacation form (Found here https://goo.gl/forms/pMad7k7DfoOmtsn63) and I’ll be in touch as soon as packages are available.

5 Dave { 03.06.17 at 8:22 am }

Terri, the buses should be normal. Don’t use the gift cards for tix–you want to book your tix in advance so you can get your FastPass+. Use them for dining!

6 Kelley { 03.08.17 at 12:17 am }

How long do you think all of this will be going on?

7 Dave { 03.08.17 at 10:36 am }

Kelly, the full refurb will go into 2018, I’d guess, if it in fact includes demolition and rebuilding of the Barbados area. I don’t know how long the special rate will last…but my guess is only until the new food options are available. The special rate is costing Disney more than $100k per night, so it has some strong incentives to get this done…

8 Denise currey { 03.09.17 at 11:42 pm }

Hi Kelly…planning a first time trip for my husband, 14 yr old son and I for April 8….still very unsure where to stay, fast pass access, etc. where do you recommend for young teenager. Not little kid!!

9 Kelly B - Agent with Destinations in Florida { 03.11.17 at 8:51 am }

Hey Denise… So glad Dave was able to help us connect. Thanks for allowing me to be a part of your upcoming Orlando vacation.

10 Sheree Johnson { 03.11.17 at 5:32 pm }

I am booked at CBR for the dates of 08/14/2017-08/21/2017 but at the non-discounted package price. Will the $75 gift card per night make me ineligible for any promos that may be released in June or will I still be able to also get the discount?

11 Dave { 03.13.17 at 11:26 am }

Sheree, if the gift cards are still being given out then, I have heard from good sources that promos will still be valid.

12 Lisa { 03.20.17 at 1:33 pm }

As I just booked yesterday for Caribbean Beach resort in the preferred rooms in Martinique I assume that the construction would be maybe like a 8-5pm thing?? We are at the park anyway during those times. I am not really interested in any of the other moderate hotels. I normally stay at art of animation and after you upgrade to the hopper to hopefully get free dining then upgrade to the mid dining package you are basically paying to stay at a moderate…. ughhhh decisions decisions…

13 James { 03.20.17 at 2:11 pm }

We have reservations for April 19th thru the 24th. Would you suggest a change in resorts, or will there not be any refurbishment work be started at that time?

14 Dave { 03.21.17 at 9:23 am }

Lisa, yes the construction should be just during normal working hours…

15 Dave { 03.21.17 at 9:23 am }

James, you should be fine. Disney is commonly late, but would not start something like this early.

16 Lisa { 03.21.17 at 12:21 pm }

ok so you did say that if someone is staying at the Martinique even in preferred (where I will be) that I may want to consider maybe switching areas. OK so here is the thing my goal is to be close to the bus stop and close to the giant pool. I know there is a small pool by my area too. So if there is no food access in the main area because of demolition there still is access to the big pool but how annoying is that going to be right there by construction. what do you suggest..

Also I hate to over load with another crazy questions but what are your thoughts on Coronado is that more stuffy business people? Is that all spread out too hotel rooms and all that. Ughhh my brain hurts….

17 Lisa { 03.21.17 at 12:46 pm }

Also ,

With receiving the 75.00 perk am I still eligible for the free dining when that is released? Or does it have to be one or the other?

Thanks

18 Dave { 03.22.17 at 8:09 am }

Lisa, I guess my advice is that if you are concerned, then change. I find that the extra benefits at CSR more than make up for the occasional suits…

19 Dave { 03.22.17 at 8:17 am }

Lisa, reports are yes, you will be eligible.

20 Christine { 03.23.17 at 3:15 pm }

have any thoughts on whether their food cart will be considered a snack or quick service item?

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