Caribbean Beach Update: Staying Here in 2019?
We (sort of) continue our January 2019 Walt Disney World construction updates at Caribbean Beach Resort. As you’ve probably heard by now, Caribbean Beach’s re-imagining is finished. There isn’t any ongoing construction at Caribbean Beach Resort right now, hence this being a “sort of” progress report.
This means the Old Port Royale lobby area and check-in is open, as are Centertown Market, Banana Cabana, and Sebastian’s Bistro. If you’re unfamiliar with the changes, we covered the good and bad of the changes in our Photos & Thoughts: Re-Imagined Caribbean Beach Resort post. Suffice to say, it’s mostly good.
With that said, construction isn’t totally done around Caribbean Beach Resort. Due to the ongoing work on other projects near the hotel, we’ve still been visiting on a fairly regular basis. Between convenience and questions we’re still receiving about construction impact, it makes sense to do a photo update and some recommendations on staying at Caribbean Beach Resort in 2019…
Along the northern perimeter of Caribbean Beach Resort, construction continues for Disney’s Riviera Resort, the newest Disney Vacation Club property, plus a shared Skyliner gondola station for the two resorts.
Riviera is a stand-alone hotel, but it’s being developed entirely on what used to be the grounds of Caribbean Beach Resort, so it’s not like it’s totally disconnected from CBR.
The construction impact of Disney’s Riviera Resort is relatively minimal. Scaffolding remains up on the exterior, but the cranes and other heavy machinery are largely gone.
Work has progressed to the interior of the resort, and that will mostly be the case between now and Summer 2019, when we’d expect work to substantially finish. (Officially, Disney’s Riviera Resort opens in Fall 2019, but we’d expect it to be done well before then based on current progress.)
On the southern boundary of Caribbean Beach Resort, work continues on the largest of the Disney Skyliner gondola stations. This is located by the new entrance to the resort, and directly across the water from the Pirate Rooms in Trinidad (we recommend avoiding these rooms for a few reasons, all of which are covered in our review of them), and the new-ish Spyglass Grill counter service restaurant.
With all of this in mind, one common question we’re still receiving is which building(s) we recommend at Caribbean Beach Resort right now. Let’s start with ones that are easily to eliminate right off the bat: all of Trinidad (34-39), 55 & 56, and 24 & 25. All of these either abut construction or are Pirate Rooms.
There are a few other buildings you might want to avoid. For example, 54 and 26 are nearish to construction and certain rooms might be a problem. On the other hand, I stayed in a corner room in building 26 facing towards Old Port Royale recently, and never once heard construction. To the contrary, it was a great location.
Personally, I’ve always been partial to the buildings directly across from Centertown. Buildings 51 and 45 are great, with a leisurely walk across the bride through Caribbean Cay. They’re removed from the heart of the action and have great across-the-water views, but aren’t a prohibitive walk over to the dining, pool, and lobby.
All of the buildings adjacent to these are also good options, and you’re unlikely to see or hear any construction from buildings 42-53. All of Barbados is also good, and the upside to this location is that it’s roughly equidistance from the Fuentes del Morro Pool, Centertown, and Spyglass Grill–which is far better of a dining option than it has any business being.
We haven’t stayed in Barbados recently, but that honestly might be the best option in terms of well-roundedness right now. You’re near the pool, main lobby, and every single dining option at Caribbean Beach Resort. Building 31 is also probably as removed as possible from both construction areas, too.
While that particular building is going to be the most isolated from construction blight and noise, we should reiterate that construction really isn’t a problem from the vast majority of rooms at Caribbean Beach. Only the far north part of Martinique and Aruba are going to see or hear work on the Riviera, and only the water-facing Pirate Rooms in Trinidad will see/hear the Skyliner. (And all of the Pirate Rooms should be avoided, anyway.)
Note that these building recommendations are for between now and Summer 2019. Officially, the Disney Skyliner gondola debuts in Fall 2019. (Unofficially, we’d expect it to be done by late summer–whether it starts ‘soft’ operating then is another story.)
At that time, we think it’ll make the most sense to be within walking distance of one of the two Skyliner stations–even if that means being a bit farther from the dining and feature pool. At that point, we’d probably opt for buildings 54-56, 41-43, or 31-33 (as before, Barbados will remain the ‘best of both worlds’).
In the meatime, if you want zero ‘construction blight’ during your Walt Disney World vacation, you might want to look elsewhere. While we, personally, would now stay at Caribbean Beach Resort, everyone’s construction tolerance is different. Our top alternative recommendation between now and around July 2019 would be Port Orleans Riverside.
With all of that said, a few more random things from our stroll around Caribbean Beach Resort:
Totally random, but it makes me really happy that the pineapple fountain wasn’t lost during the re-imagining.
Moving it to the backside of Sebastian’s was a nice touch, and also gives thematic depth to this little promenade.
As is the case at many Walt Disney World resorts, it’s still Christmas at Caribbean Beach.
The resort doesn’t get a ton of Christmas decor in the first place, and it’s kind of odd to hear tropical Christmas jams during the second week of January.
It’s hardly STOP THE PRESSES news, but the lettering here is a relatively recent addition. People were probably walking right past the building since it’s relatively nondescript.
Below are some merchandise photos from Calypso Trading Post:
Some of these items definitely are not new (I bought the blue hat ~4 years ago), but some of them are.
For instance, I had never seen the Banana Cabana Pool & Bar shirt before this month, and I know a couple other items weren’t here when Calypso Trading Post. However, I’m not entirely sure what else is new. (The left shot glass design is also on a coffee mug and some other stuff.)
That wraps up our January 2019 Caribbean Beach Resort Update. In short, we wouldn’t hesitate to stay here at any point now, but you might want to make a strategic room request for one of the buildings mentioned above. If you’re a frequent Walt Disney World guest, you might consider waiting until the Skyliner debuts (as that’ll be fun to use), but the downside of that is it’s also likely to increase room rates at Caribbean Beach Resort once it does open. I guess we shall see!
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Do you agree or disagree with our Caribbean Beach Resort building recommendations? Have a favorite area of CBR? Least favorite room location at the resort? 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!
So, we booked CB for February 2020. It looks as though we can select Martinique as a first choice. Since the construction “should” be completed this year, would that mean Martinique 24-26 is a great option?
Thanks for your update report Tom. My family and I are staying at CBR in August this year. On the check-in page for the resort (on My Disney account) it offers me two options -” Martinique” or “corner room”. Does this indicate that Disney reservation people have already “earmarked ” us for Martinique (as I would prefer Barbados)? So far I have not ticked either options on the check-in page. Would it be best to leave empty? Be interested in your thoughts. Thanks Bob (UK)
What is wrong with the pirate rooms??
Very far away from main lobby and beds are smaller than in the standard rooms.
Nothing if you don’t mind being far from the main dining area and main pool area. They have their own pool back there and a bus stop as well.
Hi, thats a great review, just a quick question
Which is the best area to stay in at CBR for best transportation to the parks? preferably not paying extra for. or if i was to pay extra which would it be, we have 2 children ages 9 & 7 and go in July
So you recommend Caribbean beach resort for a family of 6 with the youngest sleeping in a playpen? Or would the room be too small? TIA
We have loved the CBR for a long time and found AKR an excellent stay as well. CBR however has been our absolute favorite. Staying in Aruba buildings 53, 52, 54 have all been very pleasant, specifically because the low traffic around the buildings. You just don’t run into a lot of foot traffic there. However the pool and Port Royale are a different animal. If you get there early not too crowded, miss that time point and you will be in a CROWD. We have found going to the earliest Charater breakfast a plus just like Tom said … get in the Park on non early magic hours and have some alone time in the park, different feeling. Favorite restaurant “too many to count” and again I agree with the Ultimate Tourists that Sanaa is Outstanding “the Bread service with 9 accompaniments …drooling!
Still trying to get the Chefs Table at Victoria and Alberts. Any tips how yhat works let me know
What is so wrong about the pirate rooms?
We just got home from a stay in the pirate rooms and absolutely fell in love! I would do it again in a heart beat, and probably will in may!
Thanks always for the update. One question about Old Port Royale: Did they resurface the parking area where the food tent was located?
I would really like IF you could actually request and get your room preferences. We always stay two weeks (12-14) days. We have always been told we cannot get this section or that section because of the length of our stay, even when we pay for the ‘better’ rooms. Shorter stays get better choices. Our last stay put us so far away from the food court, I was sorry we had the dining plan. Transportation was also bad…we were near the ‘end’ of the pickup stops, so almost always a loaded (overloaded) bus. We switched to PO French quarter. Much smaller, better food, and improved transportation.
Caribbean Beach was always our favorite resort but was very disappointed during our visit in December. Our room in Jamaica was musty smelling. We have always stayed in Martinique but was told all the rooms are all now preferred. The worst was the food. We ate four different dishes and none were good. Even with grab and go in mornings we could not find a seat. Talking with other guests we all decided we would stay at Coronado next time. Such a shame.
That was an AWESOME resort review! We are looking forward to a return visit to the “New” CBR! Thanks Tom!
We were in Aruba 52 for three nights over marathon weekend. It was our first time at CBR since April 2016, and we were very pleased with all the new features, especially the new, super-convenient OPR and Centertown locations. We had dinner at Spyglass Grill–it was a HIKE from where our ME dropped us off, and my family was hangry and not thrilled about me suggesting it. After our food came, I heard no more complaints. The tacos were a hit and the Cuban was actually REALLY good. My shrimp salad was delicious, too. Noticed very little disruption and noise– it had the same immersive feeling that we loved a few years ago. (PS– thanks for being so gracious when I fan-girled on you two in the TSMM line The “celebrity sighting” was a highlight of an already great Disney day)