Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort 2018 Construction Update
It’s been a few months since our last visit to Walt Disney World’s biggest hotel construction project, so we headed over to Caribbean Beach Resort to check in on the re-imagining of Old Port Royale, and the construction of the Skyliners and Disney’s Riviera Resort. In this post, we’ll share photos of the construction, and offer some thoughts on staying whether you should stay here in 2018.
Right now, Caribbean Beach Resort is very much an active construction site, with multiple projects being worked on simultaneously. This began last May, and was originally scheduled to be completed by late last year. At some point, the project became more ambitious in scope, and around Christmas, offered a revised completion timeframe of Late Summer 2018.
April 7, 2018 Update: Spyglass Grill, a quick service dining spot adjacent to the quiet pool in Trinidad South, is now opened. While normally a quiet pool dining option (we’d stop short of calling it a restaurant) wouldn’t merit coverage on the blog, this is the first phase of Caribbean Beach’s refurbishment to open, and the food is reportedly pretty good. It reinforces our recommendation to request a room in Trinidad if you’re going to stay at Caribbean Beach in the next few months, too.
Note that this anticipated Summer 2018 timeframe for completion still applies to the Old Port Royale “port of entry” and Centertown projects (consisting of the all-new waterfront dining for Shutters, counter service dining, shopping, and pool bar). If current progress is any indication, it’ll be more like late summer or early fall that the work is done.
Those completion dates most definitely do not apply to the adjacent Disney’s Riviera Resort or the Skyliner projects, neither of which will be finished before 2019. After walking through some of the work, we’ll assess whether guests planning late 2018 vacations should book stays at Caribbean Beach.
Before we get to that, let’s provide context for what you’re going to be viewing, for those of you unfamiliar with the layout of Caribbean Beach Resort or who haven’t seen the construction in person. For a basic primer on CBR, read our comprehensive Caribbean Beach Resort Review.
Note that you should start by reading our last Caribbean Beach Resort Construction Update if you have not already. That covers a lot of the temporary shopping and dining areas at the hotel, and we don’t revisit any of those because nothing has changed.
One thing we do have to add about dining at Caribbean Beach Resort right now is in-room pizza delivery. Prior to our visit, a friend had told us this was an ongoing “issue” at CBR because they didn’t have the kitchen facilities on-site to prepare pizza.
Instead, all pizzas ordered were being driven over from Pop Century, and in some cases, took over 2 hours to arrive. During our visit to Caribbean Beach, sure enough, we saw a golf cart with the Pop Century logo on it. Knowing that, I’d probably skip in-room pizza delivery, but that’s just me.
Actually, I’d probably go a step further and skip eating at Caribbean Beach Resort entirely. The temporary buffet and food trucks look like they leave a lot to be desired. If you’re planning a Walt Disney World vacation in the near future, the temporary dining set-up is something you should look at, to see if it’s serviceable for you.
We’d skip the parking lot food tent, and have food and alcohol delivered for a much cheaper price—see our Tips for Grocery Delivery at Walt Disney World post for more info.
Above is a 2018 map of Caribbean Beach Resort from DisneyWorld.com, with my notes about current projects added. If you look at an older map, you’ll notice the Barbados section and part of Martinique of Caribbean Beach Resort have vanished, as has part of Old Port Royale.
Pardon my rudimentary Photoshop work here, but in blue above is the work being done on Old Port Royale and Centertown, which stretches from the parking lot to waterfront, and abuts Martinique. In green is the former Customs House check-in area for Caribbean Beach Resort, which is being demolished.
In yellow is (roughly) one of the Disney Skyliner gondola station plots. There will also be another Skyliner station down by Jamaica, in the bottom left corner of the map. Work has also now started on this second plot, and it’s a surprisingly large area.
Finally, there’s the Disney Vacation Club component, Disney’s Riviera Resort in red. The work on this project is visible throughout Caribbean Beach Resort, and is especially bad from Martinique, the Old Port Royale area, and Aruba. You can hear this construction from literally anywhere in the resort.
Here’s a quick video of progress on Disney’s Riviera Resort as of early 2018:
We already know that Disney’s Riviera Resort won’t open until Fall 2019, because Disney has announced that. Since our last visit, Disney’s Riviera Resort has progressed quite a bit. It’s now gone vertical and is several stories tall, with huge crews actively working on it.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Disney’s Riviera Resort is actually ahead of schedule, ready to debut by late Summer 2019 to start filling rooms for the busy fall and Christmas seasons. This makes sense–with Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge scheduled to open in late 2019, having these hotel projects wrapped up well before then is going to be essential to meet increased hotel demand.
By contrast, not much progress is apparent on the work occurring at the Centertown and Old Port Royale complex since our last visit in September.
It’s certainly possible that some of the biggest strides have been made in areas that are not visible, but my reaction to seeing this was, “that’s it?”
Given that Centertown and Old Port Royale are integral amenities to the resort that is currently operating, finishing those projects in an expeditious manner should be Disney’s priority–not getting the new DVC resort built. Of course, new DVC means new membership dollars, and Caribbean Beach doesn’t seem to be having problems filling its rooms, so there’s that.
This is not to say that the Centertown and Old Port Royale project won’t wrap up by late Summer 2018. I’d hazard a guess that this work could be finished in the span of a few months if there was a sense of urgency about it, so finishing in ~7-8 months (still technically summer) by moving at a snail’s pace is entirely possible.
That brings us to the question of whether you should stay at Caribbean Beach Resort in 2018? I’ll start by giving you my personal answer, as to what we’d do (and will be doing), and then follow with some factors to take into consideration since there’s no one-size-fits-all answer.
There is no way we’d book a stay at Caribbean Beach Resort between now and August 2018. The negative impact of the work is too high for us, there aren’t currently enough incentives to get us to stay in an active construction site, and the likelihood of things getting dramatically better between now and then seems pretty low.
There is very little chance we’d book between August and October, as even if the Centertown and Old Port Royale project finishes in that time (and it probably will), the Skyliner and Riviera Resort projects will still be noisy and visible. However, a good promotion–Free Dining availability here but not elsewhere, for instance–could sway us.
We will likely stay at Caribbean Beach Resort for a few nights during our Christmas 2018 trip, in part because we want to review all of this new stuff at Centertown and Old Port Royale. Also, in part because we anticipate the Skyliner and Riviera Resort projects being far enough along that they will no longer negatively impact the guest experience at Caribbean Beach.
All of those ‘answers’ are specific to us, and obviously, your mileage may vary. With that said, here are some things to consider if you’re planning a trip to Walt Disney World in 2018 and are on the fence about Caribbean Beach Resort.
First, a big selling point of Caribbean Beach Resort is its “Polynesian Lite” rooms and relaxed tropical ambiance, and scenery to explore. During this construction project, that tropical scenery is impacted and the previously relaxed ambiance is filled with the sounds of bulldozers and cranes.
We expect this significant negative impact on the resort’s ambiance until late 2018. It will get better once Centertown and Old Port Royale reopens, but the big offenders in this regard are the Riviera and Skyliner work. If you want a Moderate with ‘resort’ ambiance right now, I’d recommend Port Orleans Riverside.
If you like to enjoy meals at your resort, steer clear of Caribbean Beach right now, and until at least “late summer.” The makeshift dining options are literally a giant tent and several food trucks in a parking lot. It all feels a bit like something that might pop-up on the far corner of a Wal-Mart parking lot for the Fourth of July. Definitely not what you’d expect from Walt Disney World.
Without question, the impact on the resort’s tropical serenity and the dining options are the biggest downsides of staying at Caribbean Beach Resort right now. If for some reason these things don’t matter to you, by all means, book a stay…at Pop Century, and save some money. (Because if dining and ambiance don’t matter, what’s the difference between a Value and a Moderate?)
If you’re a Caribbean Beach Resort fan, the downside of postponing a stay here for too long is that the nightly rates will undoubtedly increase once all of this work is done. We doubt this will occur once the Centertown and Old Port Royale ‘up-scale’ waterfront areas open, but it certainly will once the Skyliner debuts and offers non-bus transportation to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot.
This basically leaves a window of Fall 2018 until Late 2019 as the sweet spot for enjoying improved amenities at current prices. If you can swing it, that’s what we’d recommend doing, and requesting a room in Trinidad, buildings 44-46, or buildings 51-53. I just hope that once the dust settles, Caribbean Beach Resort once again has the heart and tranquility of the resort I fell in love with when we first stayed there.
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Do you agree or disagree with our assessment of the construction impact on Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort? Have you stayed here since the work began? How did it affect your stay? Planning on staying at Caribbean Beach anytime soon, or will you wait until work is done? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!
I just stayed there from end of April to beginning May. I must confess, I did not look up the extent of construction that would be going on before I left. It was also my first time staying at Caribbean Beach. The cheaper prices (by almost $60 a night) reeled me in. With two nights left of vacation, we transferred to Riverside (which is my favorite resort) Disney was super helpful and understanding about it.
I didn’t think not having a main area would effect me as much as it did. The resort just felt jumbled and very inconvenient. I did not hear much construction noise, but I was generally out of the room by 9am most days and back well after dusk.
I did also try out the tent buffet. Most of the food was cold and again, it just felt off.
Because of this, even after construction, I doubt I’ll stay at Caribbean Beach again. They did have some Caribbean Beach pins that they gave out for dealing with construction….
Our trips are waiting for confirmation but we built three and have them in the cart but I am stuck on which one to go with. They all have the same options, same dates and cost close to the same (within 300). We have Coronado, Caribbean and Art of Animation planned out. Odd thing is the AOA is the most expensive, but maybe this construction is having something to do with it. We will be going Mid-Dec 2018. What would you do? We stayed at RS before and it was nice, but it also is coming out 400 more than the others I listed.
I have been able to find several recent walk through videos of the CBR construction on You Tube. If you have a vacation planned for that resort I’d suggest watching a few of those to get a better visual of where the construction is, and how much it may impact your stay. From what I’ve seen, the pool seems to be fine. You may see a few cranes though. Hopefully those videos can help you decide whether to stay or go to another resort. I’ve also heard that you might be able to get gift cards if you say you don’t want mousekeeping. Not sure if that’s always the case though. I believe you can do that at a few different resorts.
I also have watched a few today (Tim Tracker). Do you have others you would suggest? We are going to book for mid December in the next few days and I am SO STUCK on where to stay. So I am trying to narrow things down on the Mod / Value resorts. Coronado and here seem to have great prices ATM. Seeing that the main construction might be finished by Dec makes things sound like a deal.
I love Tim Tracker!! The other one I’ve seen that doing regular updates in Theme Park Ohana. I just searched Caribbean Beach construction 2018 and saw four videos within the last 2 weeks. (I haven’t actually watched them see if they’re good). I’m going in October and have decided to stick with CBR. I had also looked into DVC at one point, but I waited too long and they no longer had Beach Club for when we’re going. As long as the pool is still open, we’ll be good. We normally only eat breakfast at the hotel, so the tent shouldn’t bother us either.
I love Port Orleans. French quarter is less walking to rooms and bus stop. A 5 minute walk to Riverside. How often are you at your hotel? It sounds like most of this will be done in late fall anyways.
I have (had) a reservation at Coronado for mid-September and got an email that the main pool, dig site, arcade and playground will all be closed during my visit. I called and they told me it’s showing through December (no end date indicated.) Since I have a 4-year-old and it’s our first trip to Disney, I’m making the switch to Caribbean. The current comparison of the two resorts doesn’t really hold true any longer once all the main child-friendly amenities are closed at Coronado.
We are big fans of CBR and have stayed over 22 times in the last few years. Coming from the uk we stay at least 14 nights, but this year because there was 3 of us we changed our reservation to Old Key West. However whilst passing CBR I was horrified to see a block of apartments/rooms being constructed in CBR grounds. It does not seem in keeping with the island theme. I do not know what to do about making a reservation for 2019 in May.
We stayed there at the start of the renovation and did not really affect us, but I called the food tent Centretent and it was acceptable for our last couple of days. What is Disney doing to such a popular resort. I certainly do not want a large not in keeping building and I am sure many many visitors will agree with me, but they will not know about until arriving.
Are they still offering the $75 gift cards?? Going back December 2018!
No they are not
I booked a preferred room in early June 2018. Our biggest concern is quick access to the main pool. Does the ongoing construction impact the walkways to the pool from the preferred rooms?
You mention requesting rooms in Trinidad, buildings 44-46, or buildings 51-53, but on the maps I’ve seen these appear to be in Jamaica and Aruba? Am I reading the maps wrongly?
We’re planning to visit in May 2019 when I guess most of the heavy construction in the adjacent areas will be complete but will the new buildings spoil the view/ambiance of the resort in your opinion?
Would like to know the answer to the above question also. Going in Aug 2018 and want to request the correct spot.
Hi Tom. I am going to CBR on late September. Please could you answer the above question ?. Thanks a lot for your reviews and tips !!
Hi! I’m looking at booking for July 2019 with the free dining plan. Do you think the food court and centre town area will be finished by then?
My family is staying in October 2018 for a tournament. We have a choice between CBR or Pop. Which one would you recommend? We chose CBR originally because of the pool and bigger bed. But if the pool and or the dinner areas are going to be unavailable we might want to pick Pop. What are your thoughts? Thank you!
I’m freaking out right now. We are scheduled to come to CBR for the first time on October 17-24, 2018. We wanted to stay someplace different this time, and the relaxed beach atmosphere sounded so good. The last thing anyone in my family needs is to be looking at a construction site on vacation! This vacation we planned to spend more time at the resort! There aren’t a ton of other options now available and I’m not sure doing a value resort would feel like the type of vacation we were hoping for. Ugh! Should I opt out and go to a different resort? I’ve never stayed at a value resort and can hardly imagine sleeping in a full sized bed. Thoughts?
Port Orleans Riverside would be a great option for relaxation– you do feel like your in the Bayou when staying there. It sounds like CBR is not the place for people looking to make use of the resort amenities right now.
Thank you so much! I called in which was way better than online as they didn’t show the room we got. Port Orleans Riverside with an upgraded room poolside! I’ve been to that resort before which is why we were going to do a new resort, but I’m sooooo happy to have this reservation change! We need relaxation and fun, not cranes and bulldozers! Thanks a ton for your suggestion!
We are going there in Sept and got an email that they will be under refrubishment during that time as well!
I wonder IF things could be tied up by Dec 2018… How did you guys get confirmation of September still being under major construction?
I’m planning to book the CBR for early August 2019 and I’m looking for some reassurance that things will be more or less sorted by then!
What I was told from the cast member who helped us with our reservation change was that there was not an end date in the system as of yet, and that usually means it’s at least 2 years out until completion. You may want to find another resort for peace of mind. Just a thought! Good luck!
if Custom House is being demolished where is the new check-in for the CBR? We are goingin less than a week and not sure how we get around the resort now since we are coming on the Magical Express
I was there in Feb 2018 – Custom House was still standing and that is where you will still check in. Bus routes are still in effect. Plan on eating elsewhere though. They are doing their best – but “dining” is in a tent!! Two food trucks outside the tent – buffet inside. A. Neilson
Traveling at the end of June heard not so great things getting nervous not sure what to do
Stayed at CBR in the beginning of the construction (May 2017). CBR was our 1st and only choice (annually) for 25+ years. Temporary food area was a 1 on the scale of 1-10. Only plus was the soda machines in each village. To me CBR will never exist again with the new and improved upgrades (Why change a good thing, except for $$$). Too many people will be in the resort with the new DVC. Staying at Riverside in September 2018 and searching for a new “home away from home” I agree – stay away from CBR until the Old Porte Royale/Centertown is open.
Going to be staying here in early June with two friends. Will we still be able to enjoy the resort?
My granddaughter and I stayed at CBR in October 2017 and were in Trinidad North. We hardly heard the noise, or at least paid attention. We spent most of our time at our pool or the main pool if we weren’t at one of the parks. You did notice the activity when you left to the parks where they are making the second gondola station (not circled on your map). We didn’t mind the food places. They were nothing fancy, but food is food.
This post has me nervous… I’m taking my daughter April 2018…
not too concerned with construction as we plan on being at the parks mostly … but we did want some fun relaxing at the pool and
In room dining…
Is the room service available !?
And are the paddle boats and such still being rented?
We stayed at CB in January. The only trouble we had was the busses being late and the temps so we had no pool time. That has nothing to do with the resort it self.
We ate in the tent a few times twice for breakfast and once for dinner.
The breakfast food was the usual and good the dinner was ok.
We did not hear construction and it did not disrupt us at all.
January 5-12th 2019: Will CB resort be like I remember in the 80s?
Hi! We are planning a trip July 2019 and Caribbean beach resort is by far the cheapest place for our family of 5 to stay. Do you think by then the renovations will be less intrusive? I would hate to spend the money, and have construction interfering with our trip… Thoughts? Thanks for all the advice! 🙂
I think there are Value Resort family suites and Riverside will also sleep five. I don’t know that by July 2019 that Caribbean Beach will be the cheapest option for five. Depending on the price you may want to check the price of adjoining rooms in Value Resorts; they may cheaper depending on what you are looking for. You also get an extra bathroom which is really nice when you have a large family!
As AP’s we booked CB for the last two days of our Spring Break so we could have the benefits of staying on site (buses, and 60 day FP windows), and the benefits of staying in a moderate resort (beds actually almost large enough to share with my 10yo and a floor large enough to put the 13yo on an air mattress). We’ll be in a two-bedroom condo the rest of the week with a full kitchen, etc. So by the last two days we’ll be ok with some park food, and snacks in the room. Hoping the pool area and bus stops aren’t too far from our rooms, but otherwise excited.