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By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2020, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

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Review: Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort

By Dave Shute

OVERVIEW: DISNEY’S CARIBBEAN BEACH RESORT

Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort has always had strong pros, but until recently it had almost equally strong cons. Its loveliness, playfulness, great main pool and kid appeal were, in the past, somewhat offset by its overly complex bus stop set up, awkward check-in arrangements, the distance of some of its rooms from central services (especially in Trinidad), and average dining.

A major construction and renovation project largely concluded here in October 2018. And the new Disney Skyliner–with its hub in Caribbean Beach–opened in 2019.  The results have been

  • A smaller, simpler, and more sensible resort footprint, with the awkward check in location completely fixed–although Trinidad is still distant compared to the other four villages here
  • Two fewer bus stops
  • More amenities, especially dining–and fewer guests spread out over these amenities, as Caribbean Beach lost more than a quarter of its capacity during these changes
  • A new transportation option that that connects Caribbean Beach via gondola with Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Moreover, even more new dining options are available in the next-door Riviera Resort after its December 2019 opening.

As a result, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort is even more so the best Disney World moderate resort for first time family visitors who may never return.

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.

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, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort’s positives in kid appeal outweigh its now minor 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 three very different room types at Caribbean Beach, this review has eight pages:

Note that the long-time travel agent partner of this site, Kelly B., can help you book your Disney World vacation at Caribbean Beach or anywhere else–contact her using the form at the bottom of this page.

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, Barbados (formerly Trinidad North), and Trinidad (formerly Trinidad South).

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.

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.

As of 2019, these three-bed rooms are a separately bookable class–so you don’t have to be a family of five to be guaranteed one.

Pirate rooms have full beds rather than queen beds, and a cloth curtain between the bedroom and bath areas, rather than a sliding wooden door, and sleep four. A floor plan of one of these rooms is above.

The bed side of a 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 are in Old Port Royale, the central area of the resort, most convenient to Barbados and Martinique–and most distant from Trinidad. But Trinidad is served by its own dining venue, and more options closest to Martinique and Aruba are in the Riviera Resort, open in December 2019.

In Old Port Royale you’ll find the table service restaurant Sebastian’s Bistro, the food court, and a grab and go option. The pool bar also serves food.

Another quick service option, Spyglass Grill, opened in Trinidad in March 2018, and offers counter-service breakfast, lunch and dinner. The menu is limited but impressive (try the yucca bowls), but capacity is small, and the venue is distant from Martinique, Aruba, and some of Jamaica.

Additional options elsewhere include in-room dining and the next door Riviera resort.

There’s more on dining at Caribbean Beach 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 ten stays here, most recently in November 2018, 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.)

–The kid friendly theming of many of its rooms, with Mickey and Pluto in the five person rooms, and rooms in the less-recommended (because too expensive and distant from Old Port Royale–although it is reasonably close to the Skyliner) Trinidad 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.net

–The 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. Caribbean Beach 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 two bus stops have disappeared because of the refurb, there’s still six remaining, and the large number in effect nearly doubles the amount of time it can take for buses to get around the resort compared to the other large moderates which, designed later, have 4-5 bus stops.

This is moderated at busy times of the day, when buses focus on one side of the resort or the other, and even more so by the new Disney Skyliner gondola system, which has its hub at Caribbean Beach, and provides a fun, fast (when it is working) option for getting to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

The main Skyliner hub is south of Jamaica, and is most convenient to Jamaica, Trinidad and Barbados. Here you can board gondola lines to Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and to the combined stop at Disney’s Art of Animation and Pop Century resorts. A second stop, shared with Riviera, is north of Aruba and on the Epcot line (which you can also board at the hub), and is most convenient for folks in Martinique and most of Aruba going to Epcot.

While the Skyline is operating, buses to the two parks its serves, Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, are still an option, but run only hourly.  If it is not operating (which may be because the park opens earlier than the Skyliner does, or because of high winds, or operating issues), buses serve these two parks at the same ~every 20 minutes frequency that they serve Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom.

There’s stops at each village, and in addition at Old Port Royale.

Moreover, the internal bus that endlessly circles the resort also stops at the Skyliner hub.

Other distinctive features.

The Caribbean Beach Resort is the only moderate with no elevators at all, and the only one with no indoor bar/lounge.

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.

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. Jamaica is also the most convenient of all the villages for the Skyliner, with Aruba (because of the Riviera stop on the Epcot line) a close second.

Avoid Trinidad unless you are too charmed by the Pirate rooms to avoid them–they are distant from the main amenities although Spyglass Grill now makes up for some of this, and they are not as distant from the Skyliner as they are from Old Port Royale.

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).

The long-time travel agent partner of this site, Kelly B., can help you book your Disney World vacation at Caribbean Beach or anywhere else–contact her using the form below!

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THEMING AND VILLAGES AT DISNEY’S CARIBBEAN BEACH RESORT

This review continues here.

PAGES IN THIS REVIEW OF DISNEY’S CARIBBEAN BEACH RESORT

OTHER KEY PAGES FOR WHERE TO STAY AT DISNEY WORLD

 

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