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.



yourfirstvisit.net—Disney World Instructions for the First-Time Visitor



Category — p. News and Changes

July Update to The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit

Earlier this week, Amazon published a new version of my and Josh’s The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2017.

While not as extensive as our March update, we did send our publisher, Bob McClain of Theme Park Press, 34 pages of additions, deletions, updates and changes. Many were minor, but we made major changes to the Animal Kingdom material, so it is now fully up-to-date for those visiting the newly-opened Pandora: World of Avatar. We also made major changes to our review of Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort.

As noted in the image, we offer those who bought any earlier versions of the 2017 edition free updates (as a PDF). If you’ve not already sent us your email, do so following the instructions in the image, and we’ll reply telling you how to get your update!

Ours is the only guidebook updated multiple times over the year, with free updates available to buyers. When Disney World changes, our advice changes.

Some more specifics on what’s available in the July update of The easy Guide:

CHAPTER 4: WHEN TO GO

We’ve made minor changes to reflect new dates that have come out—for example, for the Halloween and Christmas parties—since our last update.

We also revised the crowd forecast for the week of 12/16/2017, as new data suggest it will be a bit better than we had thought.

CHAPTER 5: WHERE TO STAY

We added minor updates on the status of various refurbs and additions, for example at the Wilderness Lodge, the Yacht Club, and Pop Century.

We’ve stayed in and dined at Caribbean Beach since its refurb began in May, and as a result did a major rewrite of its review. The key point: “We are hesitant to recommend [Caribbean Beach] for any guests planning much dining at the resort, as the temporary dining is barely adequate.”

CHAPTER 6: WHAT TO DO IN THE PARKS

Animal Kingdom saw an enormous set of changes and additions, including a new map, new overviews, new recommended FastPass+, new reviews, and new touring plans, and our material now fully reflects this major addition to Disney World.

Epcot saw just minor updates, and no changes to its FastPass+ priorities or touring plans.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios saw an expansion and re-organization of our material on the evening shows, an update on what’s happening at Hollywood and Vine, and other minor updates. The first four steps of one of our touring plans, “Morning Plan: Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster First,” changed a bit.

Magic Kingdom saw minor changes in the FastPass+ priorities, minor changes in the touring plans (especially related to the change of the typical afternoon parade time from 3p to 2p), a review of the new Happily Ever After evening show, and other small changes.

CHAPTER 7: WHERE TO EAT

We introduce the new mobile order function—where you can use the My Disney Experience app to save a ton of time by pre-ordering and then clicking “I’m here.” The new Animal Kingdom venue Satu’li Canteen is now in here, and you’ll find minor updates to dining in all the other parks, Disney Springs, and the resorts.

*  *  *  *  *

Ours is the only guidebook updated multiple times over the year, with free updates available to buyers. When Disney World changes, our advice changes. What does your guidebook do??

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July 16, 2017   No Comments

Disney World Spring Break Crowds in 2018

DISNEY WORLD SPRING BREAK CROWDS IN 2018

Walt Disney World Spring Break crowds are typically governed by two and a quarter factors:

  • Public school Spring Break calendars, which are still largely framed around Easter but vary more than you might think
  • The demand of snow-belters for a break from winter weather, which peaks in March, and
  • The quarter factor, the date of President’s day.  Later President’s Days (which can range from February 15 to February 21) tend to make the first part of March better

An early Easter combines the first two factors, making for more than the usual horrible crowds in March but a great April; a late Easter can spread the first two factors out, yielding some good early March and early April weeks.

Easter 2018, on April 1, is early in its possible range. President’s Day 2018, is also late, on February 19. As a result, my draft 2018 crowd calendar shows (generally) bad March crowds but (generally) good April crowds.

Now that I have the full set of 2018 spring breaks from 280 school districts with more than 15.3 million kids in them, I can see that this is generally right, but March (other than the first week) will be even worse than I had thought and April (other than the first week) even better.

2018 Spring Break crowds at Walt Disney World will be

  • Bad Presidents Day Week
  • Fine the weeks beginning February 24th and March 3rd
  • Very bad the week beginning March 10th
  • Bad the week beginning March 17
  • Very bad the weeks beginning March 24 and March 31
  • Fine April 7 and later.

I will shortly be revising my “draft” 2018 crowd calendar to reflect these new predictions.

2018 PUBLIC SCHOOL SPRING BREAKS AND THEIR EFFECTS ON WALT DISNEY WORLD CROWDS

Although more and more school districts are moving away from an Easter-centered Spring Break, the plurality of kids still have the weeks before Easter or following Easter off.

As a result, the single biggest factor determining better and worse Spring Break weeks at Walt Disney World is the date of Easter–which can range from March 22 to April 25.

A later Easter has a couple of different effects: first, it spreads out the dates of breaks for school districts that don’t frame their breaks around Easter, and second, if particularly late, will push districts that typically take the week after Easter off into the week before Easter instead, to keep from compressing their May academic calendars.  

An earlier Easter has the opposite effects.  Districts that traditionally try to take the week after Easter off will be able to do so, and districts that don’t base their calendars on Easter will be largely compressed into a couple of March weeks.

The date of President’s Day–which can range from February 15 to February 21–also has an effect. Because many northeastern districts both have a spring break and also take the week of President’s Day off, the later President’s Day is, the better early March will be–as parents avoid taking their kids out of school the weeks after a long President’s Day break.

The effect of the various dates in 2018 is to compress most school spring breaks into just four weeks beginning March 10 and continuing until the end of the week beginning March 31.

ACTUAL 2018 SPRING BREAKS

 

The chart above illuminates this.

It’s based on data from a weighted sample including 280 of the largest relevant US public school districts. 15.3 million kids–about a third of US school kids–are in the database, and they are weighted based on propensity to go to Disney World.

(For how the database is built, see the this. Weekends are in black, except Easter, in red. Holidays (Mardi Gras and President’s Day) are also in red. Click the image to enlarge it.)

When I update my 2018 Disney World crowd calendar, it will show this:

  • The week beginning February 10, 2018 has a minor bump early from the small number of kids with Mardi Gras off, and a larger bump later as long weekends for Presidents Day begin Thursday February 15. Overall I give it a 5/moderate-minus rating–better earlier, worse later
  • Presidents Day week, the week beginning 2/17, has high crowds through Tuesday and pretty high crowds the rest of the week. Overall it gets a crowd ranking of 8/high-minus, worse earlier in the week and better later
  • The weeks beginning 2/24 and 3/3 have hardly any kids on break and get crowd ratings of 4 (low plus) for the week of the 24th and 3 low for the week of the 3rd
  • The week beginning March 10 both has a ton of kids on break (thanks, Texas!) and is also attractive to snowbirds. It gets a 10/higher crowd rating.
  • The week beginning 3/17 has fewer kids on break than the weeks that surround it, but is still attractive to snowbirds. I’m giving it a rating of 8/high-minus crowds.
  • The week beginning 3/24 is the week before Easter and will be a zoo, as it usually is, and gets a crowd rating of 11/highest.
  • The week after Easter (beginning 3/31/18) has even more kids on break in 2018 than the week before and also gets a crowd rating of 11/highest.
  • The week beginning April 7, 2018, will be much better than I had thought. I’m now giving it a crowd rating of 5/moderate-minus. If I am wrong–it happens–this week will be better than I am forecasting
  • The rest of April will be just fine.

The 2017 easy GuideKelly B Can Help You Book Your Trip

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July 10, 2017   2 Comments

Disney World Resort Price Changes for 2018

Disney World’s 2018 resort hotel prices were released on June 20.

You can book them by contacting Kelly B at KellyB@DestinationsInFlorida.com or 980-429-4499.

The prices that came out June 20 were a bit of a mess, particularly for January 2018, and have changed several times since–see the Art of Animation example (click it to enlarge it):

They seem to have stabilized, however, so I’ve been analyzing a sample of resorts, and the upshot is that compared to the quite restrained price increases we saw in 2017, prices are up substantially in most–though not all–resorts in 2018.

Only Caribbean Beach and Grand Floridian see very small price increases for 2018. 2018 Value resort prices are up 6-9%; 2018 moderate resort prices (except Caribbean Beach) are up 5-7%; and 2018 deluxe prices (except for Grand Floridian) are up 5-7%.

(Reviews of all Disney World resort hotels mentioned in this pricing round-up are linked to from here–I’ve stayed in more than 140 different Disney World hotel rooms, and my reviews are based on these stays.)

The other thing that’s new for 2018 is more distinctions among day prices in the same price seasons.  For many (but not all) major seasons, you’ll see new Thursday prices, and in the moderates and values some new Sunday prices as well.

Analyzing Disney resort price changes is difficult—there’s more than 20 hotels, many differently-priced room and view types within them, seven to nine different major price seasons over the course of the year, additional weekend and holiday upcharges, and more. As a result, unless you have a LOT of time on your hands you need to sample, and that’s what I’ve done.

In general, I gather daily price data on the lowest and next-highest priced rooms at all of the resorts (and from more room/price combos if a resort looks odd, as Caribbean Beach and Grand Floridian do in 2018), and then analyze:

  • Season price increases across all the major Disney World price seasons—e.g. “Regular” season prices for 2018 compared to 2017
  • Changes in the dates covered by price seasons that have an impact on price levels—only a bit of that happened for 2018
  • Changes in the relative price levels of hotels in a single price class—2018 saw little change here.

For 2018 I sampled 40 room types across the seven major price seasons at the values and moderates and the nine major price seasons at the deluxes.  This yielded more than 500 points of comparison between 2018 and 2017 prices.

In what follows, when I talk about price changes for the entire year I mean seasonally-weighted price changes (that is, weighted based on the percentage of 2018 days in each major price season–there’s seven major seasons at the values and moderates, and nine at the deluxes), and when I talk about a specific price season increase I am comparing average Sunday night to Saturday night prices across the two years, to account for the different prices on different days problem.  So yes, it is some spooky genius math shit.

The detailed results follow.

DISNEY WORLD VALUE RESORTS PRICING IN 2018

Price season structure changes

2018 largely maintains the recent 2017 seasonal structure at the values, although with the day changes noted below. One minor twist is the addition of a few days of Regular season in February (beginning 2/11/18) that were Value season in 2017. (This is a reversion to a pattern we first saw in 2016.)

For those who were not paying attention, several years ago Disney introduced the “Fall” price season, which replaced what used to be Value season dates in late November and early December. In 2016, Disney implemented more seasonal changes at the values and moderates, in effect raising prices by moving various dates from lower to higher-priced seasons. Value 2 dates in later August and early September shifted to Fall, and Fall in later September to almost the end of October was shifted to Regular.

Up until 2018, rooms typically had one or two prices during a season. If two, there was one price for Sunday-Thursday and another for Friday and Saturday.

2018 sees more variety in daily prices during the Value, Regular, Fall and Peak seasons. The typical pattern is now Price A Sunday, Price B Monday-Wednesday, Price A again Thursday, and Price C on Fridays and Saturdays.

Here’s an example from Art of Animation during the 2018 Value season:

The effect of this is to make long weekend stays more expensive, and Monday-Wednesday stays less expensive, than would otherwise be the case. This is a somewhat mechanical start (mechanical because at the values, the difference between Price A and Price B is typically a flat $10 across resorts and seasons) to a set of prices that more fully reflect differences in demand by night.

Finally, the much earlier Easter in 2018 means that many more days in March-April will be regular season, and that many less Peak or Easter seasons, than in 2017.  The difference is about two weeks more worth of Regular season prices, mostly in April.

Price level changes

The basic pattern among value resort standard rooms of Art of Animation Little Mermaid rooms being most expensive and the All-Stars being least expensive continues in 2018.

Pop Century rooms see the highest increases for 2018, bringing them a bit closer to the Little Mermaid rooms, but prices in the other value resorts go up quite a bit as well. Little Mermaid rooms remain shockingly close to standard moderate room prices some dates (especially in the Summer season in 2018, where a week in a Little Mermaid room averages $223 a night and a week in Caribbean Beach, which sees no material 2018 price increases until its Fall season, $234 a night).

On average across 2018, Little Mermaid rooms are ~$30 more expensive per night than Pop Century and ~$45 more per night than the All-Stars. These differences are shown for standard rooms across the prices seasons in the chart.

Family Suite options at the values also continue their basic price structure.  The suites at All-Star Music are the least expensive, The Cars and Lion King suites at Art of Animation are at a much higher level–averaging $100 more a night than those at Music—and the Finding Nemo suites at Art of Animation remain the highest-priced suites, at around $25 dollars on average more per night than Cars or Lion King–and $125 more a night than All-Star Music.

Season price increases

For 2018, average year-round prices in standard rooms in the All-Star Resorts are up around 7.5%, with the lowest increases of ~1.5% in the Easter and Holiday seasons and large increases of 6-9% the rest of the year, especially in the Fall season. Preferred rooms show similar patterns but at lower levels, averaging a 6% increase. Moreover, more rooms seem to be priced as preferred than before, such as Jazz at Music and Touchdown at Sports, itself in effect a price increase. Family Suites at Music are up 6.2% and show the same seasonal patterns, including the highest increase of 7% in the Fall season.

Pop Century standard rooms showed the highest increases for 2018 among the values, up year-round at 8% in both standard and preferred rooms. The largest standard room increases are in the Value (9.3%), Regular (9.1%) and Fall (8.1%) price seasons, and the lowest (but still >5%) are in the Easter and Holiday seasons. Preferred rooms at Pop also went up an average of 8% and show similar seasonal patterns, but here the biggest increase is for the Regular season at 9.7%. The price increases are likely related to the new queen beds and coffeemakers that are beginning to show up at Pop Century.

Little Mermaid rooms at Art of Animation followed up their 9% increase in 2017 with more moderated 6.4% increases for 2018.  Increases are highest in the Regular (9.1%) Value (8.2%) and Fall (6.7%) seasons, and lowest in the Peak, Summer and Holiday seasons.

Art of Animation Family Suites at Cars and Lion King are up an average of 6% for 2018. Increases are pretty tightly grouped across the year, but are highest in the Fall season (7.1%) and lowest in the Easter and Holiday seasons (both 4.6%). Finding Nemo 2018 increases are similar.

DISNEY WORLD MODERATE RESORTS PRICING IN 2018

Price season structure

The moderates saw for 2018 the same insertion of Regular season nights into early February, and the same new Sunday and Thursday pricing in some price seasons, that the values did.  See the discussion above for details.

Disney's Port Orleans Riverside Resort from yourfirstvisit.net (3)

Price level changes

Until 2016, Caribbean Beach, Port Orleans French Quarter, and Port Orleans Riverside standard rooms had the same prices, while Coronado Springs tracked them some nights and other nights was $3-5 more.

In a major change, in 2016 Riverside and French Quarter became the most expensive moderates. This gap widened substantially in 2017, and widens a bit more in 2018.

In 2018, standard rooms at the Port Orleans resorts average $23 a night more than Coronado Springs, and most of the year $32/night more than Caribbean Beach. (Caribbean Beach largely returns to prices comparable to Coronado Springs in late 2018.)

Season price increases

Coronado Springs standard rooms show average price increases for 2018 of 5.7%, with the biggest increases in the Value (8.4%) and Fall (7.2%) seasons. Preferred rooms at Coronado Springs are up 4.6% with a range across seasons of 4-5%, except the Easter season, up only 2.8%.

Caribbean Beach prices for 2018 show a fascinating pattern, with almost no increases in any room type (I checked out 5 types) during any of the seasons that launch in the first half of the year, but 4-6% increases in the two seasons that first appear in the second half of the year–the Fall and Holiday seasons. I imagine this pattern is from the refurb/construction that’s happening there, and the pattern–the Fall season opens in late August–gives a suggestion as to when this work will be done.

Prices for Port Orleans French Quarter and Port Orleans Riverside standard rooms, after rocketing up 7-9% across all the major seasons in 2017, see an average increase of 6.4% in 2018, with prices across all major seasons going up 5.5 to 7%. This is higher than the 2018 increases at either Coronado Springs or Caribbean Beach, and thus widens the price differential of the Port Orleans resorts with the other two traditional moderates that we first saw in 2016.

Preferred rooms at Riverside and River View rooms at French Quarter show similar increases.

DISNEY WORLD DELUXE RESORTS PRICING IN 2018

Price season structure

The deluxe resorts run to a different price season calendar than the values and moderates, especially from early July through mid-November.

Their 2018 price season calendar is similar to that of 2017, with the main change being the addition of a few more days of Peak season pricing the week after the Easter season.

The deluxes also see in 2018 the added complexity in day-by-day prices as the values and moderates, but not so much–only for three seasons (Value, Peak, Regular), not four, and typically only for Thursday nights, not the Sundays and Thursdays of the other resort classes.

Price level changes

There’s a bewildering plethora of price points at the deluxes—many view options, with “Club” service options as well. I sampled the full set of price changes in eighteen deluxe room types, and based on that saw no material changes among the overall resort price standings.

The Grand Floridian is still the most expensive, and standard rooms at the Wilderness Lodge are still largely the least expensive (some seasons, standard view rooms at Animal Kingdom Lodge are cheaper).

In general, there’s three price groupings among standard deluxe rooms.  The three monorail resorts–the Grand Floridian, Polynesian and Contemporary–have the most expensive standard deluxe rooms, the Epcot resorts the Yacht Club, Beach Club, and BoardWalk Inn the next most expensive, and standard rooms at the Animal Kingdom and Wilderness Lodges the least expensive. Price differences vary across the year, but as you can see in the chart above, are on the order of $100/night for each group.

Season price increases

After restrained price increases in 2017, most deluxe rooms are up 5-7% for 2018, with the exception being the Grand Floridian, which for the second year in a row has seen next to no increases.

Polynesian Village standard view room prices were essentially unchanged in 2017, and have gone up 5.1% for 2018. Prices increases are tightly grouped in all principal 2018 seasons except the Regular 2 season, when they go up only 2.6%. Poly lagoon view prices are up 4.2% for 2018, tightly grouped all major seasons except for the Fall season, when they go up just 2.6%.

Contemporary Resort Tower Bay Lake view rooms were unchanged in 2017 in most seasons, and have increased by 5% for 2018.  Increases are tightly grouped around 5% except for the Regular 2 season, up 7.1%. Theme Park view Tower rooms here saw 3.4% increases in 2017, and are up 7.4% for 2018.  Peak, value and regular season prices all went up more than 8%. Other seasons see increases of 5-7%.

Grand Floridian standard view rooms had an average increase of 1.3% in 2017, and in 2018 have no increase.  Two other view types I checked also had no increase for 2018.

Wilderness Lodge standard rooms, after an average 5.4% increase in 2017, are up another 5.9% for 2018. Season increases are tightly in the 5-7% range. Courtyard view rooms here average a 6% increase.

BoardWalk Inn standard view room prices, after being largely unchanged in 2017, are up on average 5.7%, tightly grouped among the seasons with 4.6% to 6.3% increases. Water view rooms here are up 5% and show the same pattern of a narrow range of increases across all 2018 major seasons.

Standard view rooms at the Yacht Club and Beach Club are up for 2018 5.5% on average, grouped among seasons from 4.5% to 6%. The next most expensive room class in each are both up around 5%, also with a tight grouping in price increases for the seasons.

Animal Kingdom Lodge standard room prices are up an average of 6% in 2018 after a 2% rise for 2017. Increases are tightly grouped across the major seasons in the 5-7% range.  Savanna view rooms went up about 3% in 2017, and are up 6.2% for 2018.

Lava Pool Disney's Polynesian Village Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

MORE ON THE DISNEY WORLD RESORTS

I’ve stayed in more than 140 different Disney World-owned rooms, suites, villas, and such. Reviews resulting from these stays are linked to here.

The 2017 easy Guide

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July 5, 2017   5 Comments

Review: Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort

OVERVIEW: DISNEY’S CARIBBEAN BEACH RESORT

Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort has always suffered from strong pros and almost equally strong cons. Its loveliness, playfulness, great main pool and kid appeal have been offset by its overly complex bus stop set up, the distance of some rooms–especially the Pirate rooms in Trinidad South–from central services, and average dining.

A major construction project kicked off here in May 2017.  It holds the promise of eventually fixing many of the resort’s more negative aspects, but in the meantime adds some visual blight and a weak set of temporary replacements for the now-closed permanent dining.

Even so, for those who care little about dining at the resort, and understand fully what they are getting into, 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”) area.

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

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

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.

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

Compared to other Walt Disney World owned and operated resorts, the moderate resorts are distinguished by having nicer settings and landscaping, nicer pools, 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, for those who don’t plan much dining at the hotel itself, 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.)

Because of the construction, the consequent dining situation, and the three very different room types at Caribbean Beach, this review has nine pages:

THE CONSTRUCTION PROJECT AT DISNEY’S CARIBBEAN BEACH RESORT

Disney’s Caribbean Beach resort is undergoing a major redo. Nine out of what were 33 accommodations buildings have closed and are surrounded by construction fences. The shops, concierge services, table service restaurant, quick service restaurant, and other amenities at Old Port Royale are closed. They will be rebuilt near the same area but along the water.

Temporary replacements for this closed dining are available See this for much more on the dining options during the refurb at Caribbean Beach, but the summary is as follows

  • Breakfast: Fine. Supplies for cold in-room dining are easily available, and the hot buffet and food truck offerings are entirely adequate.
  • Lunch: Weak. Both hot and cold offerings are limited. The quality of the hot food is good, but options and capacity are each slim. Cold food is widely available in limited options and while the fruits and salads are OK, the cold sandwiches are weak.
  • Dinner: Adequate for a meal or two.  Between the buffet, food truck, room service, and other options, most will find something to like, but the offerings at each option are limited, and capacity is tight except at the buffet.

My advice? Well, unless you have a pin code, effective prices go down, or dining options are strengthened,

  • If you have any qualms, change your resort. The potential for you to second-guess yourself is too high.
  • 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 plan more than one or two lunches or dinners at the resort, consider changing your resort

For more on the construction at Caribbean Beach and its implications, see this.

ACCOMMODATIONS AT DISNEY’S CARIBBEAN BEACH RESORT

Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort has 24 two story (no elevators) accommodations buildings divided into five villages–Jamaica, Aruba, Martinique, Trinidad South, and Trinidad North.

While there are some variants (like a few king bed rooms), most room are one of three basic room types–four person queen bed rooms, five person queen and Murphy bed rooms, and four person full bed Pirate rooms.

While many websites and books (but not all) claim that these 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 Queen 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 two queen refurbed room…

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

…and this is for a five person two queen and Murphy Bed room.

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

I measured the Murphy Bed mattress as 30″ wide by 64″ long.  The way it is positioned on top of the bed frame 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.

Bed Side Pirate Room Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

Pirate rooms have full beds and a cloth curtain between the bedroom and bath areas, rather than a sliding wooden door, and sleep four. The beds of a refurbed Pirate room are above.

A photo tour of a four person queen room is here; a photo tour of a five person queen and murphy bed room begins here; and a photo tour of a four person full bed Pirate room begins here.

DINING AT DISNEY’S CARIBBEAN BEACH RESORT

The principal dining options at Caribbean Beach during its refurb are at Centertown.


Here you’ll find a food truck with a limited breakfast, lunch and dinner offering…

…and a buffet serving breakfast and dinner.

Additional options elsewhere are in-room dining, a second food truck that may be available in Trinidad South, and snacks and shelf stable and cold breakfast offerings and sandwiches in three “Island Markets” in Aruba, Jamaica and Martinique.

The overall situation–in good weather–is fine at breakfast, weak at lunch, and barely adequate at dinner. A hard rain interferes with most of the principal options.

Guests planning just one or two lunches or dinners at the resort should find something that works, but guests expecting more out of dining should avoid Caribbean Beach until dining gets better, unless they can get a great deal.

No one really knows when dining will come out of refurb.  There may be a hint in Disney’s 2018 prices for Caribbean Beach, which unlike most other resorts, show next to no increases until August 2018, then go up quite a bit for the “Fall” price season–which begins August 26, 2018.

There’s much more on dining at Caribbean Beach during the construction here.

THE POOLS AT DISNEY’S CARIBBEAN BEACH RESORT

Each of the villages has a small quiet pool within easy walking distance of guest rooms.

They are almost identical–above is the small pool at Martinique.

In addition in Centertown is the main pirate-themed Fuentes Del Morro pool.

The main pool at Caribbean Beach is the best at the Disney World moderates, and its adjoining kids water play area (below) is bested among the moderates only by the water play area at Port Orleans French Quarter.

For more on the Fuentes Del Morro pool at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, see this.

KID APPEAL AND CONVENIENCE AT 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, based on my nine stays here, most recently in June 2017, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort is the best moderate resort for first time family visitors to Walt Disney World–but only for those who don’t care much about dining at the resort during their visit.

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 many of its rooms, with Mickey and Pluto 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

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 too many bus stops. While one has disappeared because of the refurb, there’s still a lot, and the number in effect 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 Trinidad South is quite a hike from the main central services, and the check-in building the Custom House isn’t really convenient to anything.

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 temporary outdoor bar in Centertown).

BEST PLACES TO STAY AT 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 (too distant) and Martinique, which has construction at both ends and access to the rest of the resort only through an un-lovely walkway.

Here’s the current online check in form. It’s not much help, as it offers only Martinique as a village to be selected.  You are better off calling in your requests (407-939-7675 ). And 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, and don’t mind the issues created by construction–especially the limited dining.

WORST FOR:

Families with mobility issues (lack of elevators, spread out; multiple bus stops).

THE REFURB AT DISNEY’S CARIBBEAN BEACH RESORT

This review continues here.

The 2017 easy Guide

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June 28, 2017   No Comments

Disney World 2018 Resort Price Seasons

2018 RESORT PRICE SEASONS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD

The material below shows resort price seasons at Walt Disney World at different times of the year in 2018.

It’s based on material Disney published June 20, 2017, revised–especially January–multiple times, and seems to have finalized by July 2.

(For 2017 price seasons, see this.)

Although this may change at the next ticket price increase, currently only one-day ticket prices vary over the course of the year–multi-day tickets do not, although they typically have an annual increase during the year. See this for more on ticket prices.

Resort prices, however, can be almost twice as high during some periods as they are at others.

In the material below, “X% Higher” means compared to the lowest prices of the year.

In addition to the details listed below, Disney ups prices even more during certain weekends and holidays–particularly over the Martin Luther King Day weekend, President’s Day weekend, Memorial Day weekend, Columbus Day weekend, and Veterans Day weekend.

The images give an overview of the year, with specifics in the lists.

Cars at Disney's Art of Animation Resort from yourfirstvisit.net

2018 DISNEY WORLD PRICE SEASONS: VALUE RESORTS

  • 30-40% higher–the peak season–begins 1/1/2018
  • 15-25% higher–Marathon rates–begin 1/2/18
  • Lowest of year–the value season–begins 1/7/18
  • 20-25% higher–the regular season-begins 2/11/18
  • 30-40% higher–the peak season–begins 2/15/18
  • 20-25% higher–the regular season–begins 2/25/18
  • 30-40% higher–the peak season–begins 3/9/18
  • 55-65% higher–the Easter season–begins 3/25/18
  • 20-25% higher–the regular season–begins 4/8/18

  • 30-40% higher–the summer season–begins 5/25/18
  • 20-25% higher–the regular season–begins 8/12/18
  • 5-10% higher–the fall season–begins 8/26/18
  • 20-25% higher–the regular season–begins 9/16/18
  • 5-10% higher–the fall season– begins 10/28/18
  • 30-40% higher over Thanksgiving begins 11/17/18
  • 5-10% higher–the fall seasonbegins 11/24/18
  • 20-25% higher–the regular season–begins 12/9/18
  • 30-40% higher–the peak season–begins 12/14/18
  • 60-70% higher–the holiday season–begins 12/21/18

Disney's Polynesian Resort from yourfirstvisit.net2018 DISNEY WORLD PRICE SEASONS: DELUXE RESORTS

  • 20-40% higher–the peak season–begins 1/1/18
  • 15-20% higher–Marathon rates–begins 1/2/18
  • Lowest of year–the value season–begins 1/7/18
  • 10-20% higher–the regular season–begins 2/11/18
  • 20-40% higher–the peak season–begins 2/15/18
  • 10-20% higher–the regular season–begins 2/25/18
  • 20-40% higher–the peak season–begins 3/9/18
  • 30-50% higher–the Easter season–begins 3/25/18
  • 20-40% higher–the peak season–begins 4/8/18

  • 10-20% higher–the regular season–begins 4/15/18
  • 5-15% higher–the summer season–begins 5/25/18
  • 5-10% highernear-lowest of year–the value season 2–begins 7/6/18
  • Lowest of year–the value seasonbegins 8/24/18
  • 10-20% higher–the regular season 2–begins 9/21/18
  • 5-15% higher–the fall season–begins 10/14/18
  • 10-20% higher–the regular season–begins 11/2/18
  • 5-15% higher–the fall season–begins 11/12/18
  • 25-40% higher during Thanksgiving begins 11/20/18
  • 5-15% higher–the fall season–begins 11/24/18
  • 10-20% higher–the regular season–beings 12/9/18
  • 20-40% higher–the peak season–begins 12/14/18
  • 55-75% higher–the holiday season–begins 12/21/18

Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort from yourfirstvisit.net2018 DISNEY WORLD PRICE SEASONS: MODERATE RESORTS

  • 20-25% higher–the peak season–begins 1/1/18
  • 15% higher–Marathon rates–begins 1/2/18
  • Lowest of year–the value seasonbegins 1/7/18
  • 15-20% higher–the regular season-begins 2/11/18
  • 20-25% higher–the peak season–begins 2/15/18
  • 15-20% higher–the regular season-begins 2/25/18
  • 20-25% higher–the peak season–begins 3/9/18
  • 30-45% higher–the Easter season–begins 3/25/18
  • 15-20% higher–the regular season–begins 4/8/18

  • 10-15% higher–the summer season–begins 5/25/18
  • 15-20% higher–the regular season–begins 8/12/18
  • 10-15% higher–the fall season–begins 8/26/18
  • 15-20% higher–the regular season–begins 9/16/18
  • 10-15% higher–the fall season–begins 10/28/18
  • 20-25% higher over Thanksgiving begins 11/17/18
  • 10-15% higher–the fall seasonbegins 11/24/18
  • 15-20% higher–the regular season–beings 12/9/18
  • 20-25% higher–the peak season–begins 12/14/18
  • 35-50% higher–the holiday season–begins 12/21/18

The 2017 easy Guide

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June 22, 2017   No Comments

2018 Disney World Prices Released

Yesterday prices for 2018 Disney World packages were released. I’ve largely updated my 2018 price seasons page, but have more checking to do, so have left it with its “projected” label for a day or so.

I’m also collecting and analyzing actual nightly prices, comparing them within resorts and to 2017. This is always a pain, and is much more so for 2018, as there is much more variation in prices across the days of the week than we’ve ever seen before, especially for the value, regular, peak and fall seasons.

This pricing messiness means that more than ever before it makes sense to use a travel agent, as the agent can help your figure out if small changes in your planned dates will yield huge savings.

If you want to use an agent, I recommend Kelly. She’s the agent from Destinations in Florida dedicated to the readers of yourfirstvisit.net, and hundreds of my readers have had great experiences with her.

Kelly can be reached at KellyB@DestinationsInFlorida.com or 980-429-4499.

Knowing I was swamped with pricing analytics, Kelly also wrote for me (thanks, Kelly!!!) the following update:

The wait is finally over. 2018 Walt Disney World® packages have been released. Now is the perfect time to book your Disney vacation. From the youngest child to the wisest Main Street citizen, there is something for everyone. 30 unique resorts, 4 theme parks (including the all new Pandora at Disney’s Animal Kingdom), 2 water parks, 100’s of places to snack, sip and dine across Disney property, not to mention the unique mix of dining, shopping and entertainment found at Disney Springs.

When you book a Walt Disney World® vacation package you are in for a magical experience like no other. Your Magic Your Way package includes:

  • Resort accomodations at a Disney Resort hotel
  • Magic Your Way Tickets (2-10 Days. Base tickets allow admission to one theme park per ticket day. Add the Park Hopper Option to visit more than one park per ticket day. To visit the water parks as well, be sure to add the Park Hopper Plus option)
  • Complimentary MagicBands (1 per resort guest)
  • Free airport transfers aboard Disney’s Magical Express (this service is only available at Orlando International Airport – MCO)
  • Keepsake Luggage Tag (one per resort guest)

As a Disney resort guest you also have the option of adding one of Disney’s Dining Plans. Quick Service Dining Plan, Disney Dining Plan or Disney Deluxe Dining Plan.

(All guests staying in the same room must have the same package -dining and ticket options. Children ages 2 and under are free).

The magic doesn’t stop there. These exclusive Magical Extras are included with Walt Disney Travel Company packages at the Walt Disney World® Resort.

Things to Do

  • Miniature Golf: Receive four (4) vouchers per package, each voucher valid for one (1) 18-hole round of miniature golf prior to 4:00 p.m. on one (1) day for ONE (1) Guest at either Disney’s Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf Course or Disney’s Winter Summerland Miniature Golf Course. Voucher and Magic Band or resort key card are required at time of redemption. Voucher is non-transferable and expires at midnight on the day of checkout. Lost or stolen vouchers will not be replaced. Not valid with any other offer, discount, or promotions, and may not be redeemed for cash in whole or in part. Due to capacity limitations, occasionally it may not be possible to accommodate Guests at the time they choose to visit. No photocopy or reproductions of voucher will be accepted. VOUCHER IS VOID IF SOLD.
  • ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex: Receive four (4) vouchers per package, each voucher valid for one (1) general admission to ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on one (1) day for ONE (1) Guest. Valid only on event days. Some events require an additional admission charge. There are no events on certain days. Days and hours of operation of concessions, venues and attractions varies. Visit www.espnwwos.com for more information.
  • Voucher and Magic Band or resort key card are required at time of redemption. Voucher is non-transferable and expires at midnight on the day of checkout. Lost or stolen vouchers will not be replaced. Not valid with any other offer, discount, or promotions, and may not be redeemed for cash in whole or in part. No photocopy or reproductions of voucher will be accepted. VOUCHER IS VOID IF SOLD.
  • Sammy Duvall Water Sports: Receive 10% off the non-discounted price of all activities, including parasailing, waterskiing, wakeboarding, tubing trips and personal watercraft rentals at Sammy Duvall Water Sports Centre located at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Restrictions apply. Excludes merchandise. Subject to availability. For reservations call (407) 939-0754. Due to capacity limitations, occasionally it may not be possible to accommodate Guests at the time they choose to visit.
  • Splitsville Luxury Lanes™: Receive 10% off the non-discounted price of bowling (walk-in bowling only); receive 10% on the purchase of food and non-alcoholic beverages (dine-in only); and receive 10% off the non-discounted price of merchandise at Splitsville Luxury Lanes located in Disney Springs® West Side.

Places to Eat

  • EARL OF SANDWICH®: Receive 10% discount on the purchase of food and nonalcoholic beverages at EARL OF SANDWICH located at Disney Springs Marketplace. Valid for dine-in only. Gratuity not included.
  • Ghirardelli Ice® Cream and Chocolate Shop: Receive 10% discount or $1 off any Specialty Sundae at Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop located in the Disney Springs Marketplace. Cannot be combined with any other offers.
  • House of Blues® Restaurant & Bar: Receive 20% discount on the purchase of food and nonalcoholic beverages during lunch or dinner at House of Blues Restaurant and Bar located in Disney Springs West Side. Valid for dine-in only. Excludes Quick Service location. Discount limited to six guests per party. Gratuity not included. Receive 10% off the non-discounted price of merchandise, excluding CD’s, art, sundries and sale items, at House of Blues Restaurant and Bar located at Disney Springs West Side.
  • Joffrey’s Coffee and Tea Company®: Receive 20% off entire purchase excluding alcohol at Joffrey’s Coffee and Tea Company at the following locations at Walt Disney World Resort: Magic Kingdom® Park, Epcot®, Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park, Disney’s Hollywood Studios®, Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park, Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park and Disney Springs The Landing including Tea Traders Café by Joffreys, or purchases online at Joffreys.com and use coupon code: travel.
  • Planet Hollywood Observatory™: Receive 10% discount on the purchase of food and nonalcoholic beverages during lunch or dinner at Planet Hollywood Observatory located at Disney Springs Marketplace. Valid for dine in only. Gratuity not included. Offer not valid for merchandise.
  • Wolfgang Puck® Express: Receive 10% discount on the purchase of food and nonalcoholic beverages during breakfast, lunch or dinner at Wolfgang Puck Express located at Disney Springs Marketplace. Offer not valid for merchandise.

Places to Shop

  • Basin: Receive 10% off entire purchase, (excluding sale items), at Basin located at Disney Springs Marketplace or Basin White located in Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.
  • Crystal Arts by Arribas Brothers: Receive 10% off purchases at the Crystal Arts by Arribas Brothers stores at Disney Springs Marketplace, Magic Kingdom Park and Epcot. Exclusions apply. Not applicable for shipping charges. Some other restrictions apply. Discount may not be combined with any other offer.
  • Curl® by Sammy Duvall: Receive 10% off the non-discounted price of merchandise at Curl by Sammy Duvall, located at Disney Springs West Side, excluding sale items.
  • JOHNNY WAS: Receive 20% off a single full priced item at JOHNNY WAS located at the Disney Springs Town Center. Not to be combined with any other discount or offers. Exclusions may apply.
  • Live Trends: Receive 10% off the non-discounted price of merchandise purchased at Live Trends located at Disney Springs Marketplace.
  • Pop Gallery: Receive 10% off the non-discounted price of merchandise at Pop Gallery located at Disney Springs West Side. Published artists excluded. Not valid toward shipping. Other exclusions may apply.
  • Set The Bar: Receive 10% off the non-discounted price of merchandise at Set The Bar located at Disney Springs The Landing.
  • Something Silver®: Receive 10% off the non-discounted price of merchandise at Something Silver located at Disney Springs West Side.
  • Sublime Gifts and Finds: Receive 10% off the non-discounted price of merchandise at Sublime Gifts and Finds located at Disney Springs The Landing.
  • Sugarboo & Co: Receive a gift with any purchase of US $50 or more at Sugarboo & Co. located at Disney Springs Town Center. Cannot be combined with any other offers or promotions. Exclusions may apply and subject to availability.
  • UGG: Receive customization up to US $35 with any merchandise purchase at UGG located at Disney Springs Town Center. Exclusions may apply.
  • Vince Camuto: Take 15% off your Vince Camuto purchase located within Town Center at Disney Springs. Offer valid in Disney Springs Vince Camuto store only. To redeem, present card at point of purchase. Not for use on previous purchases, with purchase of gift cards or in combination with other offers. No price adjustments on items purchased after 30 days. Some exclusions may apply. See sales associate for more details. Code: MAGIC15

With so many options and choices, planning a Disney vacation can be a bit overwhelming. But no worries, Kelly B is the designated Destinations in Florida travel agent for yourfirstvisit.net. As your personal Disney World expert, when you book a vacation package with Kelly, she is able to provide you with the agency’s many valuable services including:

  • Free Itinerary Planning
  • Free Mouse Perks – Tips, Updates, and Fun Freebies
  • Free Dining Services – Dining suggestions and reservation planning
  • Free FastPass+ Services – FastPass+ planning and reservation assistance
  • Free Future Discount Search – Ongoing searching for future discount to apply to your vacation
  • Give Kids The World – Our agency is proud to support one of Orlando’s local organizations called Give Kids the World. This organization is a 70 acre storybook village in Kissimmee where children with life-threatening illnesses are treated to a cost-free fantasy vacation. For every package booked with our agency, a donation goes to Give Kids the World. Thank you for helping support this wonderful organization.

Contact Kelly B today at KellyB@DestinationsInFlorida.com or 980-429-4499.

The 2017 easy Guide

Kelly B Can Help You Book Your Trip

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June 21, 2017   1 Comment