Caribbean Beach Resort Construction Update – Fall 2017
More than any hotel at Walt Disney World, Caribbean Beach Resort is an active construction site right now. With the re-imagining of Old Port Royale, Skyliners, and the construction of Disney’s Riviera Resort, the newest DVC addition, there is a lot going on. In this post, we’ll share a photo tour of the resort, and offer some thoughts on staying here this year or next.
The Old Port Royale/Centertown project were announced this spring, and initially, Walt Disney World offered $75/night gift cards to guests booking the resort. This meant many guests were able to double-dip for the Free Disney Dining Plan promo, but alas, both deals have ended and currently there are no incentives to book CBR during its heavy construction. Caribbean Beach Resort simply has a warning concerning the construction on DisneyWorld.com and its normal prices.
Originally, this notice stated that construction work would be completed in Late 2017. Now, no end date is provided. Based upon our observations, it’s safe to say Late 2018 would be an ambitious end date for the projects. More likely, this will be finished sometime in 2019. These are some really extensive projects. To be perfectly honest, the construction impact on Caribbean Beach Resort was far worse than even I anticipated…
First of all, let’s provide some context for all of this work, as these Caribbean Beach Resort construction photos won’t make a ton of sense if you’re not already familiar with the resort, or where this work is occurring. For a primer on CBR, read our comprehensive Caribbean Beach Resort Review.
Below is a 2017 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…
Okay, now let’s make some sense of my rudimentary Photoshop creation. In blue is the work being done on Old Port Royale and Centertown, which stretches from the parking lot to waterfront, and abuts what remains of Martinique. 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.
In red, there’s the Disney Vacation Club component, Disney’s Riviera Resort. Right now, the work on this project is very noticeable throughout Caribbean Beach Resort, and is especially bad from Martinique, the Old Port Royale area, and Aruba.
Finally, in green is the Customs House check-in area for Caribbean Beach Resort. This will undoubtedly be demolished at some point to further demarcate between Caribbean Beach Resort and Riviera Resort.
Many Disney Vacation Club members were apprehensive about the idea of a “Moderate” DVC resort back when this project was rumored to be an extension of Caribbean Beach Resort, but the name makes clear that Disney wants to draw a distinction between the resorts.
Here’s hoping this occurs by concealing Disney’s Riviera Resort. Even if it’s technically nicer, it looks dull as dishwater, with no real theme to speak of. It’d be a shame if the thematically-charming Caribbean Beach Resort were blighted by an “upscale” resort towering over its edge.
We already know that Disney’s Riviera Resort won’t open until Fall 2019, because Disney has announced as much. Progress here is very much in the early stages, and in walking around, I found this project to be very visible and noisy.
This was especially the case from the “quiet” pool at the edge of Martinique (above).
Within Caribbean Beach Resort, there’s also a ton of work occurring at the Centertown and Old Port Royale complex. The above walk-through video should give you an idea of how this all looks. You might want to watch it on mute, as my babbling like someone who has spent too much time out in the Florida humidity adds literally nothing to the video.
It’s difficult to tell from my attempts at photos, but a ton of land has been cleared in this area, and the existing buildings have been pretty much gutted (see below). This is definitely going to be an expansion of Old Port Royale, but it’s unclear what will be added beyond the waterfront dining and shopping.
It’s possible that the Customs House check-in will be relocated here, which would definitely make sense. It is interesting that the Old Port Royale area is poised to expand its footprint as Caribbean Beach as a whole is contracting in size.
It makes me wonder if Disney’s Riviera Resort will be slightly under-built in terms of amenities (we already know it’s getting at least rooftop dining), with the expectation of some sharing occurring. Having DVC maintenance fees pay for some of the upkeep of this area and the Fuentes del Morro Pool is probably attractive to Walt Disney World.
The Old Port Royale Food Court, Shutters at Old Port Royale, Banana Cabana Pool Bar, and Calypso Trading Post permanent locations have all now closed.
Some of these, like Banana Cabana and Calypso Trading Post, have been replaced with temporary locations in trailers or trucks.
Then there are the food court and table service locations, which have been replaced (I guess?) by food trucks and a large tent that now houses a makeshift buffet.
Our tip: skip the lovely “ambiance” of the parking lot and have food and alcohol brought to you for a much cheaper price—see our Tips for Grocery Delivery at Walt Disney World post for more info.
In addition to these dining options, three guest rooms have been converted to Island Markets: Martinique 2509, Jamaica 4308, and Aruba 5524.
These sell various grab and go items and have refillable mug stations.
Substantively, the collective menus of the temporary dining options are not much worse than Caribbean Beach’s standard dining options.
However, it’s worth pointing out that the island atmosphere of the permanent locations went a long way in carrying these restaurants.
As mentioned above, the construction at Caribbean Beach Resort is a lot more noticeable and intrusive than I anticipated. Just look above at the view of construction above from the pool area.
Previously, Caribbean Beach Resort scored highly in our rankings due to its “Polynesian Lite” rooms and large tropical scenery to explore and enjoy.
During this construction project, that tropical scenery is heavily impacted. A walk around Caribbean Beach is not particularly enjoyable from an escapist perspective, and definitely not serene. If you want a Moderate with ‘resort’ ambiance right now, I’d recommend Port Orleans Riverside.
This will remain the case until at least mid to late 2018, if not 2019. If you care about ambiance and theme, now is not a good time to experience Caribbean Beach Resort. That is, by far, the biggest way Caribbean Beach is impacted.
If you’re concerned with dining options or resort amenities, it’s also difficult to recommend CBR right now. The makeshift dining options are definitely less-pleasant atmospherically, but they do a decent-enough job with adequate alternatives.
I wouldn’t want to eat every meal in that giant tent, but chances are, you’ll do a couple of meals here and/or from the food trucks at most. In that scenario, I could see Caribbean Beach being an okay choice. But I probably still wouldn’t risk it.
If the Poly-lite rooms are the biggest/only selling point of Caribbean Beach for you, and you request a room in Jamaica or Trinidad, I could see Caribbean Beach Resort still being a viable option for you.
The main pool is still there (and with added entertainment), and the far end of the resort is not as noticeably impacted as the rest of it. Even if this is your perspective, I probably still would be hesitant to book Caribbean Beach unless I could score a great discount, or really didn’t like the style of the other Moderates.
Actually, without any special incentives to book Caribbean Beach Resort, we have a hard time fathoming why anyone would want to book it right CBR between now and 2019.
(To be clear, by incentive, we’re talking more than a standard discount that’s also available at other Moderates. It would take a return of the $75/night gift card to convince us to stay here at this point.)
If you’re a Caribbean Beach Resort fan (as I am), the downside of postponing a stay here is that the nightly rates will undoubtedly increase once all of this work is done. The first indicator of this is the upscale waterfront dining and shopping.
The bigger selling point will be the Skyliner access to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot. Any time a Walt Disney World resort has non-bus transportation to one of the parks, that’s at least a 25% premium. While we wouldn’t expect the ‘Skyliner surcharge’ to be significant, we would be surprised if Caribbean Beach didn’t eclipse $300/night (rack rate) for certain dates once the Skyliner debuts.
Personally, after seeing this construction, we will not book a stay at Caribbean Beach until at least later in Summer 2018. (Probably more like Fall 2018 just to play it safe.) That’s the earliest I can foresee the re-imagined Old Port Royale opening, and we think that will be the turning point on this project. While Disney’s Riviera Resort will still be under construction at that point, it should be far enough along that the bulk of the exterior work is not loud and intrusive. And, if it is, we’d simply request a room in Trinidad. My biggest concern is that thematically, the current resort reminds me nothing of the Caribbean Beach Resort I fell in love with years ago, and that won’t totally be the case again until sometime in 2019.
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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 CBR 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!
We stayed here this October for 14 nights. We were in South Trinidad and didn’t hear any construction. We were in a pretty court yard. The food tent was ok, the food wasn’t the worst we’ve had at Disney. We had one breakfast and one dinner there, the rest of the time we ate at either other resorts or in the parks. The staff were lovely at the CBR and our pirate room was a big hit with our kids. If you want to spend lots of time at your resort then choose another but I think this blog is overly negative about CBR
My field hockey team is staying here in late January. We are planning on using the pool a lot. Do you think it will affect our trip too much?
Watch the Tim Tracker video on YouTube a few months back. Also think Resort TV1 did one. I’d personally not stay there after seeing them unless I was getting it for peanuts. Who the hell wants to be eating in a tent, watching cranes and the noise you may be able to hear? Not me.
I heard you are not able to get coffee and hot chocolate with the resort refillable mug?
Has anyone heard this as well or been there to confirm this?
In the past years this has always been included with the fountain drinks.
I had my coffee every morning from the marketplace in the Jamaica compound. there were packets of hot chocolate there also that we took to the room and used the water from the in room coffee maker. we were there in September.
Thank you for the quick reply !
Hello Shawin, I was there in August to September and I had coffee all the time that I was there. I don’t know about the chocolate because I don’t drink hot chocolate. But coffee absolutely hope this is helpful
Thank you for the quick reply I hope you had a great time and the construction was too much of a problem.
No problem Shawn, yes we had a good time thank you. We were hardly at the hotel but when we were and there was a situation they took care of it right away. They make it the impossible to make you comfortable and at home. Hope your family have a wonderful vacation
My daughter’s friend went this year. They are in UK and booked via the Disney Travel Company (14 nights). When I heard this, I said to the father I had seen the Tim Tracker video- I would give it a swerve and change.
Smiling he said to me no problem, they had given him a $2000 gift card for staying there.
Fair enough I said.
We are staying from 12/22/17 – 1/4/18 and have stayed before many times and loved it.
We are not getting the $75 per night with dining plan. I am wondering the same thing spending all that time there and should we move hotels? We called a few Disney people we know and all the food comments are true and eat else where.
We currently have a room booked here for Feb 2018. Would you prefer CBR or Pop Century during the construction?
hi were from the uk looking at booking our once in a lifetime holiday which will also be our honeymoon our 2 kids 9 and 6 will be along for the ride also we looked at CBR for mid september 2018 do you think it will be ok to stay then or do we pay the extra Â£400 and stay at port orleans riverside i dont mind work being done im an absoulute disney fanatic so id sleep in a bin if i had to i just dont want my wife and kids experience ruined by staying on a building site but money is tight so im hoping most of the work will be done by then any advice i would really appreciate thank you
If this is a once in a lifetime trip, I’d spend the $ on a sure thing. Even if construction a CBR is done, the rates will likely go up also. POR is stunning.
Pal, I’m from UK, I go to Disney a lot, and there’s no way I’d stay there. Port Orleans Riverside is the best moderate, really lovely.
Suggest watching Tim Tracker on YouTube. He’s done Carribbean Beach a few months back and PORS last few weeks.
After watching that I suspect Disney won’t be able to take your money fast enough.
You are spending maybe 10k, pony up the 400!
We are a family of 5 staying at CBR in December with the gift card incentive and free dining promo. Obviously, staying at CBR is a no-brainer for that trip. BUT, at the end of our Dec trip, we plan to upgrade to APs and return to WDW in Feb. We haven’t decided where to stay for that trip yet, but as far as moderate resorts go, we’re limited to POR or CBR (if we wish to stay in one standard room, not a suite). Just curious if you think Disney will offer annual passholder discounts for the end of Feb and if they do, will CBR be worth staying at with the AP discount?
Further to my earlier comment, Disney has instructed our UK agent to move CBR bookings in 2018 to Coronado. I want prepared to accept a lesser hotel also under construction so cancelled and managed to book AKL for less than had been planned for CBR as there is a sale on! Result!
My fiance and I are booked at CBR for the second half of our honeymoon this November (first half at Beach Club Villas). Booked here in April 2017 after a ton of planning, but didn’t get the $75 incentive and now second-guessing our stay due to the extensive construction. Problem is, due to it being the week of Thanksgiving, there aren’t many options left as an alternative. Strongly considering switching to the Dolphin at a slightly higher cost, but wanted to get a second (and third, and fourth…) opinion, as I have used your blog as my voice of reason during the entire planning phase of our honeymoon 🙂
Most of our time will be spent in the parks (and eating all the food), but we still want to enjoy our time at whatever resort we end up at for our downtime.
I have reservations booked for April 2018 at CBR; we are a family of 4 with 2 small children. The extensive construction and food situation is making me nervous. Should i change to a different resort or hope the construction situation will be near done by April?
We were at CB last week. (our fourth time staying there – have always loved it in the past). The construction is pretty extensive and the food options are not good. I know they are doing the best they can, but the tent is not really adequate for breakfast. The last morning we were there, we hit the breakfast rush (it’s a buffet breakfast). We had to wait in line to order for about 15 minutes. We then had to wait in line before we could get into the tent – they were trying to spread everyone out (another 15 minutes). Once in the tent, it was another 15 minutes in line at the buffet before you could find food. Once seated, the staff were circling like sharks wanting us to clear out. Not that I blame them, there was a line out the door. It just didn’t make for a pleasant morning. If you’re in south Trinidad, there are no food options. Several of the other “islands” had food trucks, we did not. It also didn’t help that to order from the main food truck at the tent (if you just want muffins or something quick ), you had to stand in the same line as for the buffet. I would not stay here without an incentive. … and I used to love the CB.
Just booked a stay here for November 2018… do you think the majority of construction will be complete by then?
Same here, my fingers are well and truly crossed that most of the CBR construction/refurbishment will be completed with only Riviera Resort and Skyway construction to be finished.
I think there’s a very strong chance that will be exactly the case. I wouldn’t cancel a November 2018 reservation yet.
Sad to hear this. We are staying here during our trip for Halloween. Are the kids pirate pool and playground still open during construction? Are there still movies by the pool at night?
Hi Jackie – we were at CB last week. There are still movies and the kids pirate pool is still open. Not sure about the playground.
Hello guys, I went to CBR on August – September. I normally love this resort. Well, I was at CBR for 15days. I agree with all the above comment he made about the resort. You really don’t notice or hear the noice of the construction, well I stayed in the Martinique area of the resort. Yes it was annoying to walk to the food court or tent. I must say it was always very crowded. We had one day 2 hours without light then another day with 30 minutes without light. Then another day they called us to tell us know we were not having hot water from like 11-6 in the morning. I did get the $75 promotion I would not go back if they don’t have that promotion again and if so I really really have to think about it. The bus transportation is another situation. Always late from and to the parks. I do have to give it to them they are trying their best. Over all we did have a great vacation out side the resort.
We stayed at CBR 9/2 to 9/7 the construction had zero impact on our visit. We stayed in quiet & deserted Trinidad South, had pool to ourselves in Eve’s, buses on time entire visit. When booking I voiced need for quiet, given discount on pirate rm on top of free dining. Spent last day main pool, not impressed. Very crowded with small kids, non existent shade. We don’t drink soda so distant to refillable mugs was not an issue for us.
I probably wouldn’t stay at mod or even high end next time. . . We just sleep&shower at resort. I have tweens, not interested in resort activities or pools. Value resort would be more cost effective.
We are booked at CBR next month for 3 nights before our Disney Cruise. Stayed at CBR last December for the first time and loved it! I was able to get in on the $75 gift card per night the day before they ended that promo. My thought was that I will be able to stay in a larger room at CBR for the same as it was going to cost us to stay at Pop, which is a smaller room size. Since our kids are older and bigger now, we like having more room to move in our room and have started staying at the Moderates more. I’ve been following a CBR group on Facebook and from everything I’ve read, most people are happy with their stay here. For us, it’s just a place to stay. We are easy to please, so we are willing to give it a try. I agree though that we probably wouldn’t stay there without some sort of incentive to help forget about the massive construction project they’ve got going on. One positive to the construction that I hope is added to the other resorts…the Freestyle machines throughout the resort. Love that you don’t have to walk all the way to the food court to refill your cups!
I just stayed at CBR from 9/16-9/20, with the $75/night gift cards. This was my first time at CBR, having always wanted to stay there. If your needs are (very) simple, it’s an ok place right now…if you have an incentive. We were in the far end of Aruba, near the construction, but we didn’t have any issues with noise or anything like that. But, because the food buffet/tent and trucks in Old port Royale were inconvenient to get to from our room, we are quick and basic breakfasts from the little Aruba market, and did all lunches and dinners at the parks. The internal shuttle was time-consuming, since they altered their route for the construction. Plenty of internal shuttles came through our Aruba bus stop, but it could take another 20+ minutes to get to Old Port Royale dining and pool options…plus going back. Experience definitely depends on where your room is!! Jamaica or Trinidad are the places to be!
We called today to see if there was anything Disney would offer as an incentive for staying at CBR. We booked our trip for this December in April and at that time, it was not clear to the level the “refurbishment” would be. According to Disney because we made our reservations in April which was after the March 19th announcement that the resort would be refurbished, there was nothing they could offer. She stated that all the information regarding the construction was provided in that March 19th announcement. From your blog post, it does not seem you expected this amount of construction. I was wondering if you knew or had the announcement that was made in March or any communication from Disney that gave the level of detail, this cast member said was provided.
The announcement in March was fairly vague, if I recall correctly. It basically just said that construction would be occurring to reimagine the resort’s Centertown marketplace to add waterfront dining and shopping.
What it DEFINITELY did not mention was the Skyway and Riviera Resort construction, because neither of those projects were announced until the D23 Expo in July.
We are in the exact same situation. We got the free Disney dining but had I known at the level of construction was going to be and that it would stillbe going on during our visit, I would have chosen a different resort. Let me know if they end up doing anything for you.
My family loved CBR in 2015 and 2016 – which we booked partially on your wonderful review! On our last trip two weeks ago, our Magical Express took us through CBR on our way from the Boardwalk to MCO, and the differences were shocking! CBR was always my favorite moderate, due to its immersive theme and close proximity to EPCOT and DHS. I’m interested to see what the new DVC resort will look like, and being connected to the Skyliner will only make CBR that much more desirable.
I have a lot of nostalgia for Caribbean Beach Resort as it was my first ever Disney World stay way back in 1991.
I’m currently at WDW and walked around the Resort yesterday.
I must say…….as a person who’s vacations are centered around the Resort they’re staying at, there is absolutely no way I would spend a WDW vacation staying at CBR right now.
At any price.
we are booked for November at CBR but I wonder if we could get a switch thru the travel agency. I am now worried this will ruin our trip and we do not have the $75. gift card deal.
I just found this blog and comment, and we are booked here for next week! I’m concerned too, originally we thought it wasn’t going to be that bad. I’m curious, did you already have your trip? Did you stay here? If so how was it? Because we’re leaving Monday, we likely won’t change hotel. We also did not receive the discounted/special rate. I Wonder if we can mention something there?