Now that the Skyliner is open, several readers have asked us about the best locations and buildings at Caribbean Beach Resort, the only Walt Disney World hotel with two gondola stations and non-stop access to both Epcot and Hollywood Studios. In this post, we’ll cover room recommendations based upon various priorities.
First, I’d be remiss if I didn’t start by mentioning that we love Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. When it comes to Moderate Resorts, it’s right up there with Port Orleans for us, albeit for very different reasons. For a basic primer on Caribbean Beach, including a look inside the guest rooms (all of which were refurbished only a few years ago), read our comprehensive Caribbean Beach Resort Review.
In the last few years, we’ve seen a massive transformation of this resort, and we cover the good and bad of the larger-scale changes in our Photos & Thoughts: Re-Imagined Caribbean Beach Resort post. Suffice to say, there have been a lot of growing pains at Caribbean Beach, and the lushness and laid back tropical vibe we loved about the resort has to a degree been traded for nicer amenities and significantly better transportation…
We’ve been meticulously documenting the evolution of Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort over the last 3 years, and regular readers of the blog have no doubt seen at least some of our monthly construction updates from the hotel. We’ll spare you a rehash of that.
Suffice to say, after wrapping up its internal Centertown reimagining almost exactly one year ago, Caribbean Beach Resort has now added the Skyliner and this entire project is more or less finished. (We say that now…and will probably say it again when Disney’s Riviera Resort opens in December 2019. The difference is that’s a stand-alone DVC property, and exterior construction is already completed.)
If you are thinking you might want to stay at Caribbean Beach, or have already booked a stay, the question becomes which building(s) we recommend this resort now that the Disney Skyliner gondola has debuted, and the Caribbean Beach hub and shared Riviera/Caribbean Beach stations are both now open.
Let’s start with our “best of all worlds” recommendation, which assumes you want balance…
In this scenario, the location you want to request at Caribbean Beach Resort is buildings 51 or 45 (the yellow/blue and green/pink buildings pictured above). Personally, this is my favorite location in all of the resort. You’re removed from the heart of all the “action,” but you still have a centralized location that’s convenient to literally everything at the resort.
You have a leisurely walk across the bridge through Caribbean Cay to get to the Fuentes del Morro Pool, Centertown dining options, Banana Cabana bar, and everything else in the Old Port Royale lobby. From most rooms in these two buildings, you’re roughly 5 minutes to everything in this area, which is great considering the sprawling size of Caribbean Beach Resort.
For us, the more significant upside of this location is that you’re almost dead-center between the two Skyliner gondola stations. Each will be around a 7-10 minute walk from here, which again, isn’t bad given the layout of Caribbean Beach.
The upside to being centered between the two stations rather than really close to one or the other is that this means you have direct, non-stop access to everywhere you want to go. While we love the Skyliner, not having to hassle with potentially waiting in a second line is nice. This location guarantees you the shortest transit times and only having to bother with buses for 2 parks.
If you want a more specific recommendation, we’d recommend requesting rooms 4501-4504 or 4529-4532. These are going to be a mix of your shortest walk to the Skyliner, bus stop, lobby, and even the Coke Freestyle machine over in building 46.
Really, though, such a specific request is unnecessary–just go for a standard view room in buildings 45 or 51. You can’t go wrong with any of the rooms in this location. All of the buildings adjacent to these are also good options, too. If you’re less picky, we’d expand our recommendations to anything in the range of buildings 43-53.
You might notice that we stopped short of recommending buildings 41-42 and 53-56. The former two buildings are actually closest (albeit across Sea Breeze Drive) to the Caribbean Beach Skyliner hub station, while the latter three buildings are closest to the Riviera Resort Skyliner station.
If you know you’d prefer to be closer to one Skyliner station, you should definitely go for one of these sets of buildings. In terms of Skyliner convenience and breadth of options, the lower number buildings near the hub station are the significantly better choice.
However, if your Walt Disney World trip is in December or sometime in 2020, we think the true wildcard option here is buildings 53-56. Not only do you get the Skyliner station with direct access to Epcot, but you get the walkway to Disney’s Riviera Resort.
Of more generalized utility, Disney’s Riviera Resort will also have Le Petit Café, which promises to be a “sophisticated taste of Paris” from morning coffee and pastry to late-night drinks and small plates. There’s also the Primo Piatto counter service restaurant, which is more of a wild card. It should be better than the options at Caribbean Beach given that Riviera is a higher-tier resort, but that’s not always how things play out with quick service options at Deluxe & Villa Resorts.
If this post proves to be a popular Walt Disney World vacation planning resource, we’ll update this section once Disney’s Riviera Resort opens and we have a chance to experience its dining scene. You won’t need to make a room request between now and then, so this is more ‘food for thought’ than anything else right now.
Next, what we probably wouldn’t recommend. That would be any of the Preferred Rooms, which are in Barbados and Martinique. Not because there’s anything wrong with these rooms–to the contrary, they’re super convenient for Fuentes del Morro Pool and Centertown.
However, the “Preferred” classification for Caribbean Beach was created pre-Skyliner, meaning you’re paying a premium for buildings that are some of the farthest from both stations. Unless you are gondola-averse, we see little reason to pay more for this location.
We also don’t really see the point in paying extra for a water or pool view room at a hotel with exterior hallways, but perhaps that’s just us. During hours when guests foot traffic outside our room is heaviest, we seldom open our blinds, but again, maybe you’d prefer a view.
One specific room request we would make is for a corner room, which has the advantage of two windows as opposed to one. This isn’t a huge thing, but we find it makes what can otherwise be a dark room a tad more light and airy.
If you are Skyliner averse and do intend upon spending a lot of time at the pool or in the lobby, what to request really depends upon when you’ll be visiting and what you want to utilize.
If Disney’s Riviera Resort will be open and you might want to explore its dining scene, go for something in Martinique. If you want to dine at the hidden gem that is Spyglass Grill, opt for Barbados.
The Pirate Rooms in Trinidad are another option, albeit one we’re not tremendously high on. We revisited these recently and had a better experience than our past stay (see our Pirate Rooms at Caribbean Beach Resort Review for the first stay–it needs an update).
Our opinion of these rooms is more positive now, but that’s in large part to changes made outside the rooms. Having Spyglass Grill right there, plus a nice view of the gondolas gliding overhead across the water is pleasant and relaxing. We still have a tough time paying a premium for a location that can be inconvenient to most of Caribbean Beach, but if your kids are into pirates, go for buildings 34 or 35.
Ultimately, we know this presents several options and a lot to contemplate. Normally, we aren’t overly-keen on room requests, and think Walt Disney World planners put too much emphasis on them. However, one thing we’ve learned with Caribbean Beach Resort is that location is often make or break in terms of guest perception of the resort.
We love CBR and want others to share that same appreciation, hence this long analysis of the best and worst locations at Caribbean Beach Resort. If you’re still torn or are now more conflicted than before and want us to make your decision for you, go for building 45.
Have you stayed at Caribbean Beach Resort since the resort’s reimagining finished? What about since the Skyliner gondolas debuted? Which building were you in? How did you like the location? Would you agree or disagree with our Caribbean Beach Resort building and room recommendations? 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!