Caribbean Beach Resort Update – April 2019
It’s been nearly two months since our last Caribbean Beach Resort update, which was an unplanned one we stumbled into while checking out progress on Disney’s Riviera Resort. This continues our Walt Disney World Construction Updates & Photo Reports, and is hopefully the last time we’re at this hotel to report on future.
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.
The bad news is that construction continues in pretty much all of the spots where it was occurring in early March, and aside from soil being torn up and replanted in some different spots, it’s tough to ascertain to what degree progress has been made. The other bad news is that we don’t expect this to end anytime soon…
To recap, the Skyliner pillars were installed last summer at Caribbean Beach Resort, a process that was completed by September. Grass was replanted and the beaches had been largely restored. The grounds around the pillars was once generally looking good, aside from the eyesore of the pillars themselves.
Seemingly out of the blue, fences went up earlier this spring around those same Skyliner pillars and large areas of the grounds all around Aruba and Jamaica. Being far from a construction expert, this all seemed pretty inexplicable to me.
Through my powers of deduction (basically looking at the construction signs and the locations of the work), I determined that it was Skyliner related and surmised that something was done incorrectly during the initial installation of the pillars.
Reader comments to that last Caribbean Beach Resort construction update provided further elucidation. Apparently, the areas of ground around the resort needs to be reinforced for Skyliner evacuation points and some irrigation lines have to be rerouted. This explanation can be further corroborated by land work elsewhere that appears to be for the same purpose.
While this has not yet been confirmed, it would also not be surprising to see larger pathways created for the vehicles and equipment that’ll be necessary in the event of an evacuation. One of the reasons obnoxiously large pathways have been installed at the Polynesian and Wilderness Lodge during those resort’s redevelopment projects is because Reedy Creek has mandated that walkways can provide access to emergency vehicles.
The other bit of bad news is that readers have also reported receiving construction notification emails at Caribbean Beach Resort for stays through early August 2019. Several readers also indicated that it was occurring outside of the 9 a.m. to dusk timeframe.
To make matters worse, this construction is not listed on DisneyWorld.com’s Caribbean Beach page, so you wouldn’t know about it even now at the time of booking.
As with all Walt Disney World email correspondence, these are hit or miss. Not all guests will receive them. Likewise, contacting Walt Disney World won’t necessarily yield reliable information. Calls made “directly” to the hotels are routed to off-site call centers (this is true even when you’re at the hotel and call from your room).
The representatives with whom you speak may have no clue about what’s going on at a particular resort–it’s entirely possible they’ve never visited Caribbean Beach Resort, period.
On a tangentially related but illustrative point, this has been a frustrating issue with the ongoing work at Animal Kingdom Lodge. The official word there is that it’s all in-room work that in no way impacts the guest experience. Some guests are even being told there are no refurbishments happening or scheduled. This is despite numerous first-hand reports to the contrary.
This isn’t isolated anomalies–the same frequently occurs with All Star Movies and Port Orleans Riverside, which I guess are phantom projects. In other words, you can choose to believe Disney’s reps who are not on-site, likely haven’t seen the work in person, and are reading from a script that has a vested interest in downplaying the scope of work…or you can believe third party reports and photos to the contrary. Your call.
Note that aside from this new Skyliner evacuation route work, other projects continue adjacent to Caribbean Beach Resort. Along the northern perimeter of the 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.
Technically, these projects are either outside the current boundaries of Caribbean Beach Resort, or on the far perimeter of the resort. You’re not going to actively encounter construction walls for these projects while strolling around Caribbean Beach Resort, but you can see the work and sound does carry. This is especially true across the large bodies of water at Caribbean Beach.
With all of this in mind, we have 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.
The good news is that there are still a couple of areas that are minimally impacted by the ongoing work in and around Caribbean Beach. For the remainder of the time that the Skyliner and Riviera are under construction, we recommend 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.
The Pirate Rooms in Trinidad are another option–above is what the room currently looks like. We just revisited these since many readers pointed out that our critical Pirate Rooms at Caribbean Beach Resort Review is now outdated in terms of room decor.
Our opinion of these rooms is definitely a bit 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. This area no longer feels quite as isolated, and the rooms are a modest (but not outcome determinative) upgrade.
With all of that said, your best option right now might honestly be just to look at a different Walt Disney World resort hotel between now and August 2019. If you want minimal ‘construction blight’ during your 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. We recently stayed at Riverside, and the experience was serene and relaxing with nary a construction wall or vehicle in sight!
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 Fall 2019 stay remains the best course of action. We are personally inclined to gamble on Caribbean Beach Resort for stays after mid-August 2019. While nothing is guaranteed, it seems likely that the Skyliner will debut in time for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. In order for it to be running smoothly by then, it needs to begin regular operations a couple of weeks before the land. Booking for stays beyond then gives you the benefit of no construction and access to the Skyliner without paying more for it, which will likely happen next year once Walt Disney World prices the amenity into its room rates.
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
Have you stayed at Caribbean Beach Resort since this new work began in February? Did it impact your stay? 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!
Thank you for making it easier to change our Caribbean Beach reservation in July to Yacht Club for a good Annual Passholder discount. We went to the Animal Kingdom Lodge for our annual club level stay for my birthday in the Beginning of April and was extremely disappointed when they put us in a room right next to the construction without telling us anything about it. I looked everywhere for any mention of it and there was nothing. We ended being in a room where the construction was extremely loud and ended up losing power in our room. I was disappointed in the whole situation but they ended up comping us for the night and getting us a new room away from everything, but the fact they gave us no info about the construction really bothered us. The first time they really made me made. So this make me reconsider staying here and going to Yacht club. Thank you
I added a CBR room only reservation to our vacation at Music for May 12th. We wanted one full day at a beautiful resort to rest and do all the resort activities.
I got the email, checked online and saw all the pictures.
If it wasn’t a resort day, I might have kept it but for us, it no longer worked. I was able to switch to a river view at POFQ. I’m thrilled it was available. It wasn’t when I made the first reservation.
It must be hit or miss on the construction notifications. We have had emails from Pop Century on our last two trips to let us know about interior and exterior construction. They have also added the scheduled main pool closure on the website so you know before you book. Maybe they are figuring out that guests don’t like “construction dust” surprises, only pixie dust? 😉
I’ve been hearing a lot about CBR overbooking and forcing people to move to AOA whether they want to or not. This is the third consecutive year of that being prevalent this time of year.
We had reservations at the Caribbean in March but were asked by a cast member if we would be willing to change over to Art of Animation upon our arrival to the Caribbean . Our family had never stayed at the Art of Animation so we didn’t mind the surprise in our trip. The suite was more spacious. I noticed a couple beside me in line was asked to switch to Port Orleans.
We were planning on staying at Caribbean Beach for our honeymoon Jan. 2020. Do you think we should choose a different hotel?
I’m worried about inflated room prices and crowds looking to ride the skyliner to Hollywood Studios. I’m not at all interested in seeing the Star Wars land and want to avoid the crowds surrounding it as much as possible.
Port Orleans Resort French quarter might be a better option for you especially because it’s your honeymoon. Less crowds. No skylines. More romantic
We just stayed there and even though the construction was annoyingly loud, the MOST annoying aspect was that check-in didn’t explain how to get to our building! We stayed in Aruba building 52 but ALL the sidewalks were closed off by those temporary fences. We wandered around and kept hitting deadends – we couldn’t get around the fences to get to our building (that was only a few feet away). So we got back in the car, and we drove back and forth around the parking lots (part of which was blocked off for construction vehicles).
We finally just got out again and walked around and around and around – until FINALLY we found a sign telling us to go to building 53 and then find an entrance to the breezeways (outside hallways) to get to the other side of the building for access to 52.
Why didn’t they tell us at the front desk? We were very irritated by the time we finally found our room. It was particularly irritating because we were dragging our luggage around.
Then, at the little pool in Aruba, the construction workers came in to use the bathrooms – which are single person bathrooms. Of course, they must use the bathrooms somewhere, but it seemed as if in both the men’s and women’s rooms, they would go in to use their cell phones secretly. One of them was sort of crouching down outside the bathrooms on the cell phone. This went on for most of the morning. It was simply odd – not frightening or anything – but odd.
If you knocked on the door (not realizing they were in there), they opened it immediately and walked out on their cell phones….so I don’t know if they were actually using the bathrooms….I sat at the pool and watched this repeatedly throughout the morning.
We stayed the week before Easter in Aruba, building 51. I didn’t realize 52 was even open for people with all the fencing there, so I can see how that would have been a problem. We were on the second floor and could see an excavator outside the window while sitting in our room. I will say though, that I never heard a sound. We kept the AC on most of the time, which probably helped. By the end of our stay, they had begun to rebuild the sidewalks between buildings. If you go to Disney somewhat frequently, get a discounted room rate, and have kids who want a cool pool, I would still stay there. The pool area for the kids is worth the price of a discounted room. The feature pool, with two water slides and a kiddie area, compares to the deluxe resorts in my opinion. Rooms near the pool area (preferred rooms) probably wouldn’t notice any construction. If you have small children and napping at 1pm is a must, you may want to avoid it if not in a preferred room. This was our first stay at Caribbean, and we liked the vibe of the place, despite the construction. The rooms themselves weren’t our favorite, in part, due to the brown carpeting (it may have been newer but looked old). Not many people sit outside their rooms and look at the landscape from standard rooms anyway.
I will be at CBR 3 weeks today staying in Pirate rooms. Are these room type only in Trinidad and is that near construction? I have received no notifications regarding building works from WEE and this is making me very concerned about our holiday.
My family is staying at CBR over Thanksgiving and picked it over other Mods because of the Skyliner. When the Skyliner is open (like over our trip), my guess is that Jamaica will be the best place to be – do you agree? Although, it looks like Barbados won’t be too much farther away to the skyliner building.
What area do you envision recommending post-Skyliner?
I’m actually watching an aerial view video of the Skyliner by Touring Plans and yeah Jamaica looks ideal. Close to the main Skyliner station and a pretty quick and pretty walk to the main pool area and restaurants. I’m going to request Jamaica
We just got back this Sunday after staying a week at the Caribbean Beach Resort. We were in Martinique. Honestly, except for some early morning construction sounds our experience was amazing. I was so worried about the construction but it really had very little impact on our stay.
We are staying at CBR in 10 days. I have discovered that Disney are not very forthcoming with information. I emailed them to request a room and was told they had no means of looking at my reservation. So, I phoned the U.K booking system and was told that it is not possible to request a certain room. I told her that I had always done it with no trouble. Why could it not be done now. I just got excuses that made no logical sense. Subsequent emails were ignored not even the auto reply. I have come to the conclusion that emails after the first go into the junk folder. Disney has changed so much in the 25 years that we have stayed there and sorry to say it is not all for the good. This is our last time( too old now) and I am no t sorry. Will enjoy it though with hours and hours of video for the winter nights. We love Disney but now are getting mixed feelings. I think the dollar is overtaking everything.
As total Disney newbies, we were about to book CBR back when all the restaurants were closed and huge work was going on. We didn’t know any of that; all we knew was that there were pretty pictures of the resort and we could afford the price. (We did not realize the price was reduced because of the work.) My wife decided to call Disney to book it, because we weren’t sure how to go about it, and thankfully the person on the phone said, “This is your first time staying on site? I do not want you to experience this as your first time. It would not be a good experience.” She explained how everything was closed and we didn’t really get it – we had never been on site so we did not understand all the special amenities that are available normally. Then she helped us find a room at AKL, and we had such an amazing time that we have gone back to Disney twice more since! While there we checked out CBR…and I think she was absolutely right. If we had gone there, we would’ve made the best of it – but we would not have had the incredible, magical experience that Disney normally provides.
Hi We stayed at the Caribbean Beach Resort in the first week of April 2019. Based on your previous advice we asked to be placed in a room away from construction but they said based on the reservation we made (thru travelocity) that there were only a few rooms they could give us and they placed us in Jamaica. We did indeed have to walk by the construction every day to go to meals and yes it takes a little away from the view but CBR is one of our favorite resorts and it didn’t let us down. I did send comments to the CBR manager after we returned home stating that when we asked the deck clerk if there was any construction in the Jamaica area she looked at us sort of weird and said NO there isn’t any going on. We also had a problem with the first room they placed us in and they did immediately move us. They gave us a bunch of free fast passes to accommodate us. After the room mishap we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and we enjoy reading your blogs… Incidentally, the CBR manager called me back and apologized for any miscommunication that occurred during our stay. .. and a week ago we received a thank you card in the mail with a disney graphic on it thanking us for staying at CBR – nice touch… thanks
We are staying at Caribbean Beach this May. We have not received any notification about construction… we have just been getting our updates from your blog. Hopefully the impact will be minimal. Luckily we do not plan to be at the hotel much!
Heidi, we are also going in May and staying at the Caribbean Beach! I didn’t get a notification either but when I go to the early check in service on my app, it gives me a room location request and the only thing available is Martinique Village or corner room. I wonder if it is because of the construction or if everything is just already booked? But from the map, it looks like it should be ok… Have fun!
I had the same thing. We are going in July, and as far as the room requests it gives us only Martinque or corner. I’m scared to pick one because I think Barbados might be the better option than Martinque that’s why it’s not listed as an option. Honestly I really don’t know what to do. But I have heard some amazing things about the new pool bar and restaurant so I really don’t want to switch. Because the pool is an important option for me
Late last year I was on the phone with a Disney agent and ready to book two rooms for Dec 2019 for four nights at Animal Kingdom. He informed me that there was refurbishment construction going on in part of the building, and couldn’t guarantee that it would be finished by our stay. I was highly disappointed, but made the final decision to book at the Poly and Wilderness Lodge instead. Anyway, I’m now very thankful that I had connected with someone who was open and up-front about the construction. And, when I called back and was inquiring about any possible construction at WL, a different agent gave it some thought and mentioned that there was currently some tree clearing for better views. So, I had two very helpful people. I guess it depends on who you talk with.
I have booked a stay at CBR for July. I reserved a preferred room I. The hopes I would be be that close to the construction. Also, I was thinking of moving to Port Orleans Riverside because we do need that wall pull out bed, but I heard they haven’t finished refurbishment on all the rooms. Am I correct in saying that? I definitely don’t want an old room because my brother stayed there last summer and said the mattresses were horrible. Thanks for any information
From pictures it looks like the Skyliner goes right through the middle of some of the resort sections and close to some buildings. Has anyone seen a map of the actual path through the resort? Maybe even marking the locations of the pillars?
It goes right over Jamainca and Aruba. The big gondola station is just south of Jamaica and there is another station is at the Riviera resort, just north of Aruba.
Thank you for the update. I am staying at CBR the first week of June. I am a little disappointed because I am in a standard 5th sleeper room and I don’t qualify for the “free dining”. I tried to upgrade my room but they were sold out. I guess I will get the gift card upon arrival. Anyway on a positive note I will keep reading your articles for more advice and have the most magical trip! Thanks again!
We’ll be at CBR in late September for my husband and kids’ first trip to Disney. So far we’ve gotten the news of SW opening early (had planned a trip earlier hoping to avoid it), Illuminations ending the week we’re there (more crowds and messing up my ADR plans for 9/30 and 10/1) and Mickey’s Runaway Railway not opening. This CBR news is not helping!! lol Fingers crossed everything will be done by then. Thanks for the updates!
Lol I’m in the same boat at the same time Kristen 🙂 Hopefully the Skyliner will be finished by the time GE opens and we get there so no more of this construction. I’m really bummed about MMRR not opening until spring. 🙁
I know! My son LOVES trains and I already knew that the MK one wouldn’t be running but I was hoping we could see this one.
I’m rereading my earlier comment and I don’t mean to sound like such a Debbie Downer – we are all so so excited for this trip but it will definitely be very different than what I had originally planned.
Bre and Kristen, this boat is getting really full. We planned staying at CBR in September for the same reason, we wanted to get there before SW opened. As with you guy we too hope that the Skyliner is open. Hopefully we will all have a great time. Last year we went for 8 days 7 nights in December and got on maybe 8 rides during the entire time. We are all adults and just couldn’t wait on a 3 hour line! You know it’s bad when the people mover has a 30 minute wait!!! If we had kids with us, I think we would have been a little more patient. Seeing kids enjoy Disney adds to the fun!
I’ve booked a November 2019 Caribbean Beach Resort trip in hopes the skyliners will indeed be open. It’ll be my first ever trip to WDW, so I’m hoping for magical! I did originally pick Pop Century, and maybe I should have just kept my reservation, but I couldn’t resist that pool. Hopefully most of the construction will be completed, and Riviera will be mostly done. It’s a little disheartening to see that Disney isn’t more up-front about their work around the resorts.
“It’s a little disheartening to see that Disney isn’t more up-front about their work around the resorts.”
In most cases, Disney is transparent about construction work. The problems mostly arise when unplanned projects get added to the calendar at the last minute or something is deemed minor but extends beyond the initial scope of the work. That’s where things really can go awry with attempts at downplaying what’s happening or flat-out denying it.
It would stink to work at the actual front desk of one of those resorts, dealing with people who were told over the phone by the “hotel” (in reality, a call center) that nothing is happening, only to arrive, see otherwise, and be irate.