Another Caribbean Beach construction update? Aside from the Skyliner station and Riviera Resort, wasn’t that totally done?! We thought so, but apparently not. Nevertheless, we continue our Walt Disney World progress reports, with a look at what seems to be an unexpected project at Caribbean Beach Resort.
Before we get to that, the good news here is that Caribbean Beach’s reimagining is finished. We covered the good and bad of the changes in our Photos & Thoughts: Re-Imagined Caribbean Beach Resort post. Suffice to say, the redesigned Old Port Royale lobby area is open, as are Centertown Market, Banana Cabana, and Sebastian’s Bistro.
Even after that major piece of the puzzle was completed and before the latest work started, construction wasn’t entirely finished around Caribbean Beach Resort, with an emphasis on around. Along the northern perimeter of Caribbean Beach Resort, construction continues for Disney’s Riviera Resort, the newest Disney Vacation Club property. Over there and on the other side of the resort, there are two Skyliner gondola stations also under construction.
Both of these projects are either outside the current boundaries of Caribbean Beach Resort, or on the far perimeter of the resort’s boundaries. Which is to say, you’re not going to actively encounter construction walls for these projects while strolling around Caribbean Beach Resort. Nevertheless, sound does carry and that’s especially true across the large bodies of water at Caribbean Beach. Additionally, there’s visual blight resulting from this work.
To keep tabs on the Riviera Resort and Skyliner projects (and because we enjoy eating at the restaurants in Old Port Royale), we’ve still been visiting Caribbean Beach on a fairly regular basis. On our most recent visit, we noticed some quite unexpected construction all around Aruba and Jamaica…
The only reason I came over to these sections was for a different vantage on construction photos of Riviera Resort.
I was quite taken aback when I saw so much pavement torn up and construction fencing all over the place.
For those who haven’t followed the work at Caribbean Beach Resort, the Skyliner pillars were installed last summer, a process that was completed by September.
Looking back at our construction update from that month, the beaches had been largely restored, grass had been replanted, and the area around the pillars was once again looking good.
Now, for reasons totally unbeknownst to me, it looks like these areas have reverted to how they looked around July and August of last summer. In comparing photos from those months, this is arguably worse.
When seeing this in person, my initial inclination was that something must’ve been done incorrectly with the initial installation of the Skyliner pillars. I don’t purport to be a construction expert, but this actually looks worse than how Aruba looked during the installation. Maybe there’s more to whatever’s going on than that?
One thing I did note is that there are Skyliner signs up on various sections of the fencing that state: “Pardon our pixie dust as we enhance this area for Disney’s Innovative Transportation System.”
Taking those signs at face value, this work does seem related to the Skyliner. So why do all of this months after the initial install and restoration of these areas?
While there’s no construction notice on the Caribbean Beach page of DisneyWorld.com, we have heard of guests with upcoming stays this month and in April receiving email notices of construction.
As with all Walt Disney World email correspondence, these are incredibly hit or miss. Not everyone (and maybe not even 50%) of guests will receive them. If you have received such a notice and you’re staying at Caribbean Beach Resort after April, we’d love to hear from you in the comments.
At this point, that’s about all we have to go on regarding the scope and duration of this work. (It’s also entirely possible that Disney doesn’t know how long it’ll last.)
This is all really a bummer, as certain buildings in Aruba and Jamaica were previously the best options for avoiding the noise and visual blight of construction on the Skyliner stations and Disney’s Riviera Resort.
With all of this in mind, we need to revise our answer to the common question of which building(s) we recommend at Caribbean Beach Resort right now. At present, that’s a tough question because many of our favorite non-preferred buildings are eliminated by this work.
For the remainder of the time that the Skyliner and Riviera are under construction, our new answer is simply going to be Barbados. This location benefits from being far enough away from the construction on the stations and Riviera to not notice any of that, and there aren’t any Skyliner pillars over there, so the likelihood of “surprise” construction is (hopefully) minimal.
Moreover, Barbados is roughly equidistance from the Fuentes del Morro Pool, Centertown, and Spyglass Grill. As we noted in our full Spyglass Grill Review, that restaurant is a far better dining option than it has any business being (many of you will prefer it to Centertown Market).
Building 26 is another good option if you want a room in Martinique. With this new work being a wildcard, I personally would err on the side of caution and avoid Jamaica and Aruba until the Skyliner is scheduled to open. I also am not a fan of the Pirate Rooms in Trinidad, but that’s largely a matter of personal preference.
With work once again occurring at Caribbean Beach Resort, the best option honestly might be just to look elsewhere. If you want minimal ‘construction blight’ during your Walt Disney World vacation, there are plenty of good options. On the Moderate Resort level, our top alternative recommendation is Port Orleans Riverside. It’s thematically quite different, but the approach is similar with sprawling, beautiful grounds and a charming atmosphere. (Port Orleans French Quarter is great if you want something more compact.)
Anyway, sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but that’s how Caribbean Beach Resort is looking right now. To be honest, this does make us more hesitant to stay here, as there’s no guarantee of a Barbados room request being granted. If you’re a frequent Walt Disney World guest, you might consider waiting until the Skyliner debuts, but the downside of that is it’s also likely to increase room rates at Caribbean Beach Resort once it does open. Booking strategically for a Late 2019 stay (after the Skyliner is done but before rates increase) might be the best course of action.
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Any idea what’s up with this new work? If you have an upcoming stay here, have you received a notice about the construction? 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!