Our attention returns to Disney’s Moderate Resorts, here with a look at what you can expect to find inside the various types of rooms at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. With the reopening of Old Port Royale, the main building at Caribbean Beach Resort, along with the eventual opening of the Skyliner gondola system and Riviera Disney Vacation Club wing, demand for Caribbean Beach will only increase. We’ll begin with a good look inside the rooms before checking out dining and then see what else is happening around the resort.
Recently, we took a look inside refurbished rooms at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. That project foreshadowed a lot of the changes that we’d see in subsequent refurbishments at the likes of Pop Century Resort and French Quarter Resort, with similar refurbishments at the All-Stars nearing completion and the start of a refurbishment at Port Orleans Riverside just underway.
Disney’s focus now seems to be on function over style. Over at Coronado Springs, carpet was replaced by vinyl flooring, ostensibly because it’s easier to clean. Bed runners are a thing of the past, ostensibly due to hygiene. Disney hotel rooms, for the most part, were never really decked out with a lot of Disney details. But in the newly-reimagined rooms little such touches range from very subtle to entirely nonexistent. The headboard doesn’t feature a tasteful mural of the Three Caballeros scampering across the resort’s grounds. Instead, it’s a neutral, solid color. The lamp is straight out of whatever the Swedish word is for “Sparse” from the Ikea catalog, rather than some lamp that looks like a cactus with Donald stuck to the top of it. There’s very little texture and the Disney details of the past seem to be all but forgotten,
As far as overall comfort is concerned, focusing on utility is probably a smart move. As I’ve pointed out, most people don’t need any sort of reminder that they’re at Walt Disney World. Just look at the day’s credit card history. And for a lot of people, the hotel room is a sort of oasis away from the hustle and bustle of the theme parks, where you have the opportunity to escape from the clutches of Mariachi Donald, if only for an un-themed margarita and a short nap.
Here’s a reminder about what Pop Century rooms now look like with more pictures in this review. While the layout and exact details are different than Coronado, it’s the same idea with the vinyl floors and utilitarian concept. At least we have Mickey above the headboard.
Today’s look will be a bit of a blast from the past with the familiar carpet lining the floor. While Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort is undergoing monumental changes to its infrastructure, with the demolition of several guest buildings to make way for a new Disney Vacation Club Resort and a complete revamp of the main building and everything inside it, the company did not take advantage of the time to also refurbish the rooms currently found at the resort.
The lack of a room overhaul was a bit of a surprise considering most people aware of the situation had been staying clear of the resort for more than a year unless a bargain basement rate was available anyway. Virtually all of the resort’s dining options had been housed here in “Centertown,” which was little more than a temporary tent with a buffet inside and seating for food served from one of a couple of food trucks. Fortunately, the tent is now gone and the new Old Port Royale is a major upgrade. The check-in and concierge desks move over here from an out-of-the-way building. Both are now housed inside the same area as the dining, main pool, store, and more. One of Caribbean Beach’s major flaws had been the fact that check-in was located away from other parts of the resort and after magically checking in all the way over there, you’d have no choice but to haul your luggage onto a regular Disney bus and then try to figure out at which of the five stops your room might be nearest. If your room is found somewhere in the outskirts of the resort, you may still find yourself on that bus, but at least walking is an option, like it is at Coronado or Riverside.
In this review, we’ll compare what you can expect to find in the Standard room above.
With what you’ll find in a Pirate Room, also above.
Aesthetically, the bed runners are missed, particularly when the bedding offers no texture or splashes of color whatsoever. Even the headboard is a full brown against the yellow paint and lighting.
Here’s the same room with the bed runners. It’s probably not a night-and-day difference, but there is a reason why a lot of people spice up their home bedding with useless pillows and other decorations. It “feels” a little warmer, even if you spend the majority of your time trying to find somewhere to put said dainty pillows before attempting to avoid said-bed-runner-disease and eventually try to cry yourself to sleep.
Apparently there are exceptions to the bed runner rule as we see in the Pirate Room. Perhaps people willing to pay more for the upgrade are less likely to carry bed-runner-disease.
On the downside, Pirate Rooms at Caribbean Beach are the last Moderate on property to offer full beds rather than queens.
Full beds are six inches narrower and five inches shorter than queen beds, which may make the Pirate Rooms a non-starter depending on who’s planning on staying here. With the large size of the bed frame, there wouldn’t be much room for anything else if the beds were even wider.
Here’s one of the two queens in Standard Rooms, which look conspicuously like ordinary beds.
Even though you’ll still find the bed runners in the Pirate Rooms, the throw pillows, which added a little bit of a fun playfulness, are discontinued. The above picture is now a couple of years old. Check out that alarm clock atop the barrel on the far left too – something else you won’t typically find in Disney resort rooms anymore.
Pirate Rooms are much more heavily-themed than Standard Rooms with the pirate ship bed motif.
Here with the stern, hull, and cannons. Whether or not any of those terms are correct is beyond me – I only managed to stay awake for about five minutes of Pirates of the Caribbean 7: Bloggers That Don’t Provide Any Original Content.
The wheel on the headboard is a fun touch.
The table and two chairs found in both rooms are similar with this pattern found in Standard Rooms.
And a compass for the mateys.
The blue seat cushions are about as bright as things get in Standard Rooms.
While the chairs aboard the seven seas continue the foreboding red and black palette.
Perhaps with a bit of wear.
The yellow curtains in the Standard Rooms.
Versus the more colorful curtains in the Pirate Rooms.
The nautical carpet theming is fun, in addition to doing a great job of masking most stains.
On the other hand, the carpet in the Standard Rooms look like it’s already one big yellow stain.
You’ll find the same air-conditioning units in both rooms, each of which is programmed via an electronic thermostat versus the manual controls of the Dead Men Tell No Tales days.
Over with Jack Sparrow, you’ve got more of a sea green vibe going on.
The above Standard Room sleeps four guests, so the setup against the wall is a little different than the rooms that now sleep five via a pull-down bed.
The big difference is this luggage seat, which you won’t find in the five-person rooms.
In this four-person room, the small refrigerator is found inside the center of the console, where it protrudes out a bit.
Here’s a look at the same area in a room that sleeps five. The refrigerator is located in the set of drawers on the far left and the bed pulls down from underneath the television.
Like so. Even without five people, I think I prefer that setup with the pull-down bed. You don’t have the protruding refrigerator and it “feels” a little more natural to sit or put stuff down on the cushioned bench underneath the television rather than on the smaller fabric-lined luggage bench in the corner of the room.
Back to the pirate room, the television sits on top of these crates, each of which functions as a drawer for clothes and such.
The refrigerator is found in this barrel with the coffee maker, ice bucket, and glassware on top.
No Keurig machines here, unlike what we saw over at Coronado Springs along with the leather-esque wrapping on the ice bucket.
Joffrey’s Coffee is still available.
It’s the same story over in the Standard Rooms.
If green ice buckets are your thing then you’ll want to stay Standard.
With more surface area above the drawers, the Standard Rooms offer larger televisions.
There isn’t a ton of storage available in either room, particularly with the solid bed frames eliminating the ability to stick luggage or other items underneath.
In the Pirate Room, you will find this large chest.
With the pillow and additional bedding inside.
In Standard Rooms, you’ll find this bedside table with outlets and USB chargers.
In the Pirate Room, the bedside table is another barrel with the same power options up above.
Beyond the aesthetic differences, a major potential improvement in the Standard Rooms is this set of sliding doors that separate the sleeping/lounging area of the room with the vanity/bathroom area. It helps reduce noise and light. Even so, the starkness of the room remains apparent. There isn’t even any wallpaper.
In the Pirate Room, this curtain is all that separates the two spaces. It’s probably not the end of the world, but it obviously does a much worse job of reducing noise or masking light.
I’m not sure what exactly this pattern is supposed to be – butterflies perhaps? – but at least there are some dots of color included.
There’s exactly one piece of art in Standard Rooms, which you’ll find here.
Here’s the equivalent in the Pirate Room.
Here’s one last look at the Standard Room before we move into the bathroom.
And the Pirate Room.
What you’ll find through the door/curtain is pretty similar regardless of the room type.
You’ve got the double sinks and large mirror with storage unceremoniously located underneath.
There’s some additional thematic details at play in the Pirate Room, but functionally, it’s just about the same.
This is about as basic as it gets with the fake granite and faucets that are probably a little “too contemporary” to be on-theme.
The Pirate Room does things slightly better, probably.
But it seems somewhat unlikely that anyone is staying here for the sinks.
Here’s a wide view of the Pirate bathroom.
Here’s the same safe, iron, ironing board, waste basket, and hangers as the Pirate Room.
You’re good as long as your valuables are long and thin.
The makeup mirror is handy when you’re trying to make sure the collar on your fisherman’s shirt is extra-crisp.
The extra money spent on the Pirate Room does afford a couple of extra toiletries.
You probably saw some amount of hubbub earlier this year about Disney moving to these larger dispensers in the shower for the Body Wash, Shampoo, and Conditioner, in turn eliminating the little bottles that you typically see.
This should be a standard sight in Value and Moderate rooms.
There they are on the right in the Standard Room.
And blurry inside of the Pirate bathroom.
At the risk of sounding like a garbage person, I actually found the new style of dispensers to be far more convenient than trying to find the little assortment of bottles strewn around the shower. All you have to do is turn around, squint at the three large bottles, and press down on the top. Some number of people seem to find the setup “gross,” but I’m not sure how touching a body wash dispenser in a shower is any more or less gross than turning the shower on and standing in it. Or heaven forbid, actually touching anything else in the room. I’ll admit that I will miss looting the room of every little bottle of stuff they put in it, but I think I would also admit that I very rarely use any of the little bottles I took because I don’t want to have to reach over my larger bottles of nicer stuff that I usually use. But I was surprised by how easy I found it to use the new dispensers. Perhaps we could all learn a little more about how they do things in prison.
Finally, the bright shower curtain in the Standard Rooms is a nice touch.
There’s more of a nautical theme in the Pirate Rooms.
Overall, the Pirate Rooms are pretty neat and it “feels” like a shame that your standard Disney hotel room can’t strike a balance between the many details you see here and a more functional, utilitarian room that would appeal to more people. Certainly, outfitting a room with so many custom details comes at a price, but it seems unlikely that the bed frames etc. cost much more than $1,500 more per room compared to what it costs to outfit Standard Rooms. That’s only about six days of revenue for a room that Disney only refurbishes every seven or eight years.
Pirate Rooms are priced at a hefty premium to Standard Rooms. In 2019, a Pirate Room costs about $80 more per night, on average. That’s almost $500 over the course of six nights and depending on the price season, could eclipse that number. For that, you could be shoveling down Shrimp and Grits at ABC Commissary at 7am as part of Early Morning Magic.
For years, Pirate Rooms suffered another disadvantage beyond cost – they were incredibly inconvenient to the main building and thus, dining was quite the distance away.
The debut of Spyglass Grill, a quick service open for breakast, lunch, and dinner, helps reduce the distance to food. Heck, the main building’s quick service isn’t even open for lunch. You’ll find Spyglass located smack dab in the middle of the Trinidad sections where the Pirate rooms are located. Pirate rooms are still a good distance from the main building and pool, but easier access to hot dogs and mug refills is an important step in the right direction. Pirate rooms may also see a little more privacy from the Skyliner gondolas overhead, but we’ll have to wait and see how that goes.
The gondolas are going to be flying high over the majority of the resort from very early in the morning until very late at night after the system opens, including right over a couple of the quiet pools. I’m not sure who is going to be more mortified – me realizing that a thousand or more people are looking down at me in my Speedo while I enjoy laying out writing important blog posts or the thousand or more people streaming along in the middle of a lightning storm in July in a non-air-conditioned closet of death forced to look down at me in my Speedo as they careen towards the Riviera stop.
Overall, Pirate Rooms are an expensive proposition that may function largely to increase the per-night cost of the rooms available on popular discounts like Free Dining. If you’ve searched for rooms available on similar discounts recently, you’ve probably noticed that it’s typically the more-expensive room locations and view types that have availability. The increase in the rack rate helps offset the cost of the “free” Dining Plan. Certainly, it’s not a coincidence that Disney chose some of the least convenient, least desirable resort rooms on property and found a way to charge even more money for them than a room right around the corner from the pool.
If you are considering a Pirate Room for whatever reason, or end up with a “free” upgrade upon your arrival, then you’ll want to be aware of some of the differences between them and Standard Rooms. Several of the drawbacks may be of little consequence depending on your own needs or you may need to consider a different room type even if the look of the room is desirable and the cost increase is insignificant.
We’ll check out Sebastian’s Bistro next.