Banana Cabana is Caribbean Beach’s pool bar, and is an incredibly popular spot among Walt Disney World fans. In this review, we’ll take a look at what makes this lounge special, reviewing the new menu, sharing drink & food photos, and thoughts on whether it’s worth taking a detour to Banana Cabana on your next Walt Disney World vacation.
Prior to the recent reimagining of Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, Banana Cabana was a modest pool bar. A small square building with minimal space and essential just bar seating under the covered area of the building. Essentially akin to one you’d find at the Value or other Moderate Resorts.
During the multi-year reimagining, the original Banana Cabana was torn down entirely to make way for the waterfront expansion that now houses the new Banana Cabana and Sebastian’s Bistro. Rather than going without a pool bar or rolling it into one of the other temporary dining locations, Caribbean Beach gave Banana Cabana its own temporary outpost. This should speak a bit to its popularity…
The biggest reason Banana Cabana has such an ardent fan following has nothing to do with the drinks, food, or even ambiance. It’s all because of the long-tenured Cast Members at this poolside lounge. Just take a look at the Caribbean Beach Banana Cabana Friends group on Facebook.
In many of that group’s user submitted photos, you’ll see a cameo appearance by Jo Jo, one of the beloved bartenders. It should go without saying that the people are a huge part of what makes Walt Disney World a special place, and few places are that more true than Banana Cabana. Objectively speaking, the old Banana Cabana location was nothing special–but they made it special.
Now, Banana Cabana has a setting befitting of the first-class Cast Members. This new bar has considerably more seating, actual theme, lounge chairs, and some fun details. It offers the same poolside tropical ambiance, but now also has self-contained atmosphere that takes it to the next level.
Thanks to the Cast Members here, theme, and overall atmosphere, Banana Cabana now belongs in the conversation for the best bars at Walt Disney World. It’s a fun place and definitely one of the highlights of Caribbean Beach Resort’s reimagining. In addition to offering a nice open-air setting with the sounds of the pool providing background ambiance, it’s also a great spot for sunsets and watching Epcot’s fireworks.
When Banana Cabana first reopened, its menu consisted of “Island Appetizer Favorites” that were essentially shared menu items with Sebastian’s Bistro, the adjacent table service restaurant at Caribbean Beach. Additionally, guests were able to order directly from the Sebastian’s Bistro menu at both lunch and dinner.
A lot has changed since then. Sebastian’s Bistro stopped serving lunch only a few months after it debuted, Banana Cabana got its own menu, cross-over options were almost completely eliminated, and so was the option to order from Sebastian Bistro’s menu. Not a huge deal, save for one item:
These are the Caribbean Pull-apart Rolls with Guava Butter, Mango Chutney, and Jamaican Jerk Oil. As we wrote in our full Sebastian Bistro’s Review, the Caribbean Pull-apart Rolls belong in same breath as Sanaa’s Bread Service. They are that good.
I’m not sure if you’ll have any success, but if Banana Cabana is slow, you might want to inquire whether you can order the Caribbean Pull-apart Rolls. Even if you don’t have any luck, perhaps with enough inquiries, this glorious appetizer will return to the Banana Cabana menu. Walt Disney World doesn’t exactly have a penchant for leaving money on the table.
As for what is currently on the Banana Cabana menu, it’s mostly sandwiches, salads, and a handful of appetizers…
We’ll start with the Smoked Turkey Sandwich, “Served Deli-style with Smoked Gouda, Guava Barbecue Sauce and Cabbage Slaw. Served with Sweet Potato Fries, French Fries or Jicama-Apple Slaw.”
If you’ve had a deli-style sandwich at Walt Disney World, this is pretty much exactly what you’d expect. The guava BBQ sauce gives it a bit of a twist, but there’s not enough of it as compared to the turkey and cheese to really transform the sandwich into anything different. It’s a fairly pedestrian but crowd-pleasing item.
Next up is the Caribbean-Style Cheesesteak: “Braised Beef Brisket, Smoked Gouda and Grilled Bell Peppers on a Cuban Roll.”
This is really solid option. The beef brisket is juicy, flavorful and there’s a generous portion of it. Good enough that it could stand on its own without the cheese or bell peppers, which also enhance the flavor.
My only quibble here is that I’m not really sure what makes this “Caribbean-style.”
It’s delicious, but I think the idea here is another approachable and crowd-pleasing entree, not something authentic.
Finally, the Plant-Based Jerk Sandwich: “Toasted Ciabatta, Grilled Pineapple and Roasted Chili-Vegan Mayonnaise.”
In terms of both taste and ‘interestingness’ this is the winner of the Banana Cabana menu.
The chili mayo gave it a (still relatively mild) punch, the plant-based jerk is deceptively good, and the grilled pineapple gives it a sense of being on theme.
This is a real winner, and makes me eager to try the Jerk Chicken Sandwich, which is otherwise the same (except with chicken–so probably better).
We didn’t visit Banana Cabana for the drinks, but we did order the namesake Banana Cabana.
The Banana Cabana is made with Cruzan Mango Rum, Coruba Coconut Rum, Bols Creme de Banana, Orange Juice, Pineapple Juice, and Grenadine. For a sweet tropical drink, it packs some punch.
This is one place at Walt Disney World where these sweet and fruity drinks are decidedly on-theme. If you’re not in the market for one of them, fear not, as there are a variety of (also-appropriate) beers on tap.
Overall, we’re big fans of the new Banana Cabana location. The variety of seating, fun details, and expanded menu finally do justice to the superlative Cast Members that have long staffed the various iterations of Caribbean Beach’s poolside bar. The current food menu is good, although we can’t help but think that it’s a step backwards from what was offered when Sebastian’s and Banana Cabana debuted. Hopefully it’s expanded in the future, or a couple of the sandwiches are swapped out for more inventive and on-theme options.
Have you done any drinking or eating at Banana Cabana? Are you a fan of the venue, menu, or Cast Members here? Do you agree or disagree with our review? Thoughts on the look of the interior of the new bar? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!