Caribbean Beach Resort Review

by josh on March 15, 2013

Address: 900 Cayman Way Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830-1000

Phone: 1-407-934-3400, Fax: 1-407-934-3288, General Reservations: 1-407-WDISNEY (1-407-934-7639)

Cost: Along with Port Orleans Riverside, French Quarter, and Coronado Springs, Caribbean Beach is a Moderate resort. Room pricing is nearly identical to Riverside and French Quarter and all three are slightly less expensive than Coronado Springs. Standard rooms run $162 – $253/night. From there, you have Water View ($187 – $273), King Bed ($187 – $273), and Preferred Location ($187 – $273). Caribbean Beach also offers Pirate themed rooms that run $196 – $297 for Standard View and $221 – $322 for Water View.

Location:

Larger: http://www.easywdw.com/reports7/carib.jpg. It’s an older map, but it will give you an idea of where Caribbean Beach and the other resorts are in context. Caribbean Beach is officially an Epcot Area Resort and is closest to Epcot and Hollywood Studios. It isn’t possible to walk to any of the theme parks from the resort.

Size:

Caribbean Beach is larger and has more rooms than any other Moderate, at 2,112. It is broken up into six separate “villages” inspired by and named after Caribbean islands. Each village surrounds the 45 acre lake that is located in the middle of the resort. Caribbean Beach is so large that it has a continuously running internal bus service that circles the resort all day. Each village has its own bus stop, seven in all, so rooms should not be far from transportation options even if the room is as far as 1.5 miles from the check-in area.

Room Amenities and Quality: The following pictures are from a Pirate themed room. Other rooms have a modest Finding Nemo theme:

Many websites and books erroneously report that Caribbean Beach rooms are the largest of the Moderates, coming in at 340 square feet. I’ve measured several and they have all measured 314 square feet, the same as the other Moderate resorts. Unlike Coronado Springs and Port Orleans French Quarter and Riverside, Caribbean Beach Resort is the only Moderate to offer double beds instead of queen beds. This may be less of a problem with two or three people, but the other Moderates sleep four more comfortably. On the other hand, there’s a little more room to walk around because the beds are smaller. Other amenities are standard: small table, two desk chairs, two bed-side tables, luggage seat, dresser, mirror, hair dryer, small safe, pod coffeemaker, small 21” x 16” refrigerator, iron, ironing board, LCD flat-screen television, and complimentary WiFi Internet.

In 2009, Caribbean Beach refurbished the rooms in its Trinidad South building with a Pirates of the Caribbean theme. Pirate rooms feature carpet that looks like wood planks, pirate ship bed frames, a barrel case for the refrigerator, drawers that look like crates, a compass themed table, and pirate themed bedspreads, shower curtain, and bathroom separator curtain. If your kids love Jack Sparrow or you have a nine year old boy concerned that Disney World is too “girly,” this room may be the answer to get everyone in your party excited. The Finding Nemo theme is not overdone and is really only apparent in the bedspreads and wallpaper.

Overall, the smaller beds are a major detraction if you’re trying to sleep more than two people. The Riverside and French Quarter properties have also been refurbished more recently.

Theme and Layout:

Disney doesn’t keep this one a secret.

It’s the Caribbean. The villages are named Trinidad North, Trinidad South, Martinique, Barbados, Aruba and Jamaica on grounds that span more than 200 acres.

Beautiful white sand beaches, palm trees, and hammocks are common sights.

Disney refers to the resort’s colors as “so bright and playful, the buildings could almost be mistaken for candy.” Unlike Coronado Springs or Port Orleans Riverside, the external theme of the buildings does not change much from village to village. Each building is two stories tall and does not have an elevator.

Pool:

The feature pool is one of the resort’s strengths and the pool complex includes a kiddie pool for children, two water slides, waterfalls, and two hot tubs.

It’s themed to Fuentes del Morro Fort, a famous Spanish Fortress, and comes complete with canons, lookout towers, and zero-depth entry.

The smaller of the two slides.

The kiddie pool is popular with kids and features three smaller slides and a large bucket that dumps water over the area.

The quiet pools, found at each of the six villages, are convenient and usually relaxed and uncrowded. As far as Moderates are concerned, the Caribbean Beach feature pool competes with Coronado Springs’ Dig Site for best pool and the quiet pools are among the most convenient on propety.

There is a bar nearby of course, this time the Banana Cabana.

It’s outside the main pool complex, which means it’s a little quieter and sees less foot traffic than some of the others.

Menu:



It should look familiar.

Transportation:

Caribbean Beach is connected to the World via bus only. There are 7 bus stops around the resort and chances are your bus will either stop or have stopped at every one of the stops before leaving for your final destination. This can add 15 minutes or more to the length to the trip. Transportation is generally the second biggest critique of the resort, after its size. Transportation can be spotty, and although some guests report no problems, many others report long waits and insufficient service. Although it is unlikely that Caribbean Beach is purposefully neglected, the number of complaints regarding longer than average transit times is greater than any of the other Moderate resorts.

The times below are calculated after the bus leaves the resort.

Hollywood Studios: less than 10 minutes

Epcot: about 10 minutes

Animal Kingdom: about 15 minutes

Magic Kingdom: about 20 minutes

Best Rooms:

Disney knows this is a large resort and they charge a premium for rooms closest to dining, shopping, and check-in. Preferred rooms run an additional $30 per night, which is the same additional cost as a King Bed or Water View upgrade.  All rooms in Martinique buildings 24, 25, and 26 are designated Preferred along with all rooms in Trinidad North.  Of the “Non-Preferred” rooms, Jamaica 45 and Aruba 51 are closest to the main building because there is a bridge across the lake nearby. Jamaica 44 and 46 as well as Aruba 52 and 53 are your next best options.  All Pirate rooms are found in Trinidad South, the furthest section from dining and check-in

As far as buildings near bus stops, the Trinidad North stop is by building 33, Trinidad South by 36, Jamaica by 46, Aruba by 56, Barbados by 13, and Martinique by building 23. If you to guarantee that you’ll be near the dining areas and main bus stop, I would strongly recommend paying extra for a preferred room.

Lobby and Check-in:

Caribbean Beach Resort is the only non-Villa property where check-in is somewhere other than the “main building.”  Custom House is the building that houses check-in and the front desk.

Magical Express will drop you off in front of Custom House, which is located underneath the Barbados section.  After completing check-in, you can then hop the internal bus that will drop you off closer to your room or walk if you’re staying in the Barbados section (or really like walking around with luggage).  You’ll find a concierge desk in Custom House and in Old Port Royale, which we’ll discuss next.

Old Port Royale, or Centertown, is really the resort’s main building, where you’ll find the sit-down restaurant and quick service, resort store, arcade, and alternate concierge.  The pool is located right outside and the main bus stop is a short walk out the front door.

Upon entering, the quick service is immediately to your right. Shutters, the table service restaurant, is located further down.

To the left, you’ll find the arcade.

It’s small but suits the resort size.  There’s rarely more than a handful of people inside.

Calypso Trading Post is the resort store.  It houses the usual generic Disney merchandise, food, and beverages:











In addition, more merchandise spills outside to the lobby:



Like the Port Orleans properties and Coronado Springs, Caribbean Beach Resort doesn’t offer resort-specific merchandise.  The best you’ll do is a pin.

On-Site Dining Options:

At the food court, you’ll see a setup a little different than most resort quick services, which favor more of a circular area.  The food court here has five stations in a line.  Here’s what’s available:













I was impressed with the list of options, several of which are themed specifically for the resort.

Some breakfast choices across the top.

Some additional cold options – clementines, apples with caramel, grapes, veggies, salad, yogurt, mixed fruit or vegetables, pineapple, cantaloupe, milk.

Dranks. Sutter Home – 187ml for $6.95. I just can’t believe it.

More stuff.

“Monkey Cake,” Carrot Cake, “Worms in Dirt,” Chocolate Cake.


And some bakery items.

Seating inside is usually ample and additional patio seating is available outside on the pool side.

Unfortunately, this entry is going to be on the boring side.  This is the Turkey BLT with Pasta Salad, which was quite good as usual with a healthy gob of turkey, fresh lettuce, and crispy bacon.  The pasta salad with a nice, cold, potentially lighter option than your prototypical Disney french fry.

Shutters restaurant isn’t much more than a hole in the wall.

But it would work in a pinch as a low key table service meal.

Best For: Those who love the Caribbean theme or want to stay in a Pirate themed room. People who want to stay at a Moderate when the other Moderates are booked. Those who don’t mind paying extra for a Preferred room or don’t mind a long walk around property.

Worst For: Those who prefer a small, more compact resort. People who plan to eat most of their meals at the resort.

Summary of Key Points: The Caribbean Beach resort is the least recommended Moderate resort. This is evident in the fact that it is often times the last Moderate to sell out during popular promotions. This isn’t to say that the resort doesn’t have any redeeming qualities though and some guests love the resort and will not stay anywhere else. Nonetheless, it is worth pointing out its detractions, including its large size, inconsistent bus service, and below average dining options. The Pirate rooms are fun, but it’s hard to recommend them at $34 to $62 extra per night (or $204 to $372 extra for a six night stay). The Pirate Rooms are also located in Trinidad South, the furthest away from the main building. The Caribbean Beach resort is not a bad choice if you love the Caribbean theme, but the other Moderate resorts have more upside.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Dana December 23, 2010 at 6:32 am

Wish I knew this about CBR before I booked in August. I don’t remember how I found this site, but I like it! Wish me luck for my stay at CBR. I did go ahead and rent a car after reading the horror stories about bus transport lately.

Mother of 2 January 11, 2011 at 2:54 pm

If you simply upgrade to a preferred room at CBR, you will be so thrilled. Close proximity to everything.

Steph April 29, 2011 at 9:31 am

We have stayed at CBR 4x and can’t wait to book our next trip there. So close to Epcot and the rooms are always nice and clean. My son loves it, and wouldn’t dream of staying anywhere else in the moderate range. Never had a problem with the buses always quick and efficent. MY FAMILY LOVES CBR

DD November 4, 2011 at 8:04 am

Is it possible/reasonable to walk from the resort to Epcot and Hollywood Studios? We’re going to be staying in Jamaica… Thanks!

josh November 4, 2011 at 8:34 am

No, not really. It’s a lot farther than it looks on the map and there aren’t viable walkways for part of the trip.

Paula December 29, 2011 at 12:22 pm

If I want to upgrade to a king bed room, is the location better (closer) than regular rooms?

Barbara January 21, 2012 at 11:02 am

We started staying at CBR years ago when my kids were young. I still stay there with my grandchildren. We’ll be going back in the spring for a pre-wedding vacation for one of them. You don’t feel the mob there because of the openness. When you come out of your room, you are in fresh air and not a stuffy motel room. The staff treats like you are the only people there. The food is great because everyone can choose something different. It is really close to downtown Disney. We would not stay any where else.

shelli wilson September 9, 2012 at 2:21 pm

where is the best perferred room at the caribbean resort how to get it?

ErinElizabeth January 12, 2013 at 5:32 am

We are “super fans” of this resort. CBR feels like a Caribbean vacation of its own. With 8 total pools (each village has its own + the beautiful themed central pool) you can always enjoyva fun swim. The central pool area features hot tub and has a separate children’s pirate pool/play area. Teens &kids can ejoy the pool dance parties, nightly family movies on the beach and organized marshmellow roasting on the beach. Honestly, this resort is great if you want a true vacation away from the parks, but can be at the parks quickly with the busses. We vacationed at Easter last year (busy season) and the bus transport was quick, efficient and easy. The resort is also very clean, bright and has a very Caribbean feel.

Big Foot March 15, 2013 at 2:05 pm

I stayed here last summer and we found the bus transportation to be just fine. Lots of buses moving through continuously. The only annoying part is having to wait well the bus stops at every building in the resort.

Definitely get a preferred room if you can afford it. The walk to the food and pool isn’t bad at all from Martinique.

IMO, this resort has one of the best pools for little kids. The pirate-theme pool is great (except for that annoying bucket of water that dumps out and scares the daylights out of the little kids). And the bigger pool has a zero depth entrance on one end which is fabulous

rich March 15, 2013 at 3:37 pm

Always had a great stay there. I would go back in a minute.

Roli March 16, 2013 at 12:30 am

Just above your summary at the end you have the following incomplete sentence: “Shutters restaurant isn’t much more than a”

Just thought I should let you know :)

Tracy March 19, 2013 at 7:26 am

It may be a large resort but compared to Riverside its much easier to navigate. I’ve never had a problem getting around CBR but on a 10 day trip I got lost almost everyday at Riverside!

DaveTheWaveUSMC March 20, 2013 at 8:19 am

We stayed at CBR in 2008 and generally enjoyed our stay. Our first room wasn’t clean upon arrival. We discovered this AFTER hauling EVERYTHING up the stairs and to the room. They quickly moved us to a new room that ended up being closer to the main building. At the time we had DS5, DS3 (sharing a bed), DS 8 months in a playpen and DW and I. We were a bit crowded but what can you expect with 5 peeps.

The curtain dividing the bathroom area from the rest of the unit was AWESOME. We used the bathroom as our “office” to finalize plans for the next day, chat, etc.

Would we stay there again, NO. Even if is was just the wife and I. Just personal preference, the resort was fine.

Keith October 3, 2013 at 5:24 pm

My wife and I stayed at the Caribbean Beach Resort August 22-30, 2013. It was our 20th wedding anniversary and our first visit to Disney World without our children since our honeymoon, I read lots of negatives about this resort, but we wanted to try something new; our previous stays were Port Orleans Riverside, All-Star Sports and the Swan. Our room was in Trinidad North.
We were very pleasantly surprised. In fact, we loved the resort. The resort is so large it never felt crowded, the quiet pool was often empty and the food choices were fine. We used the bus service 100% of the time and we never had to wait long. The only times the buses were ever crowded were after the parks closed and you would expect that.
It our choice location now.

Leo October 19, 2013 at 12:25 pm

My wife and I stayed here in March 2013 after years of sampling many of the other resorts. We loved the Caribbean. The price was right. The staff was very accommodating to our ‘senior’ needs, booking us close enough to bus stops and yet far away from the expected noise emenating from the main pools. I think the individual village pools are among the hidden secrets of WDW. As you describe, they were almost private during our stay. As grandparents, we now appreciate the children’s playground, upgraded since our last visit in the 1990s, and cleverly separated from the more populated areas. We can’t wait to introduce our grand kids to the niceties of this resort.

Karen November 24, 2013 at 1:06 pm

We just returned from a visit and I was very disappointed with the room. Luckily we were in a “premium” room. I found the room to be dirty, needed a good cleaning, blow dryer, iron, towel fixtures dusty / dirty. The room lacked a refrigerator and when I asked about it was told I could have extra ice buckets. The food at Shutters (full service) was great, the food court was horrible. The food was over cooked to the point it should not have been served or it was cold because it took so long to check out. Upon leaving the check out area was so packed you could not move. I never received a statement to know how much I charged to the room. Not a place I would recommend to anyone.

Tammy December 27, 2013 at 9:38 am

I am sorry I did not care for this resort. We were just there in December at check in the cast members were not as helpful as previous visits. We were told our room had queen sized beds and they only had doubles the cast member basically pushed me aside to get to the next customer when I was talking about the issue. It is a very large resort and I prefer the smaller ones. We loved the Coronado.

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