Construction at Caribbean Beach Resort is finished…again…for now? While work remains on the adjacent Riviera Resort and Skyliner stations, the construction around Caribbean Beach is done. Presumably for good this time. In this post, we’ll share photos of the finished work, and also take a look around the Caribbean Beach at Sebastian’s Bistro, Banana Cabana, and Centertown Market.
This continues our Walt Disney World Construction Updates & Photo Reports, and is hopefully the last time we’re at this hotel to report on construction. For a basic primer on Caribbean Beach, including a look inside the guest rooms (all of which were refurbished only a few years ago), read our comprehensive Caribbean Beach Resort Review.
Late last year, we covered the good and bad of the larger-scale changes in our Photos & Thoughts: Re-Imagined Caribbean Beach Resort post. We won’t rehash all of that here, so those are good starting points if you want to know about the substantive changes to the dining, layout, check-in, and amenities at Caribbean Beach Resort in the last 2 years…
If you’ve missed the last few construction updates from Caribbean Beach Resort, we’ll start with a quick recap. Last summer, the Skyliner pillars were installed in Aruba and Jamaica at Caribbean Beach. All of this work was completed by September, ahead of the re-imagined resort’s launch in October.
Suffice to say, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort was looking good (save for the eyesores of the pillars themselves). Grass replanted and the beaches had been largely restored. The lushness of the resort had returned to about the full extent that it ever will. The project, at least to the extent that it existed on the grounds of Caribbean Beach, had a sense of finality to it.
For several months, all was looking good. We started recommending Caribbean Beach to those who didn’t mind the Skyliner or Riviera work on the perimeter of the resort. Then, fences went up around those same Skyliner pillars and large areas of the grounds throughout Aruba and Jamaica. These large areas–essentially half–of Caribbean Beach once again became a maze of construction walls. Here’s how things looked just a few weeks ago:
Apparently, the areas of ground around the resort needed to be reinforced for Disney Skyliner gondola evacuation points, with irrigation lines having to be rerouted. That work took a few months to be completed but, fortunately, it is now finished.
All of the walls are now down, grass has been replanted, and the grounds are looking like they did back last October through this January. Here’s how Aruba and Jamaica are looking as of early May 2019:
There’s a bit more minor landscaping work and grass replanting that could (and hopefully will) be done, but construction crews have packed up and gone home, and the heavy equipment is all gone.
Nothing that remains to be done to the grounds is anything that would cause me not to book a stay at Caribbean Beach. There are landscaping crews at every resort on a daily basis, and you’re more likely to be disrupted by a random weed-whacker or lawn mower than vegetation being planted.
What is a potential disruption is on the northern perimeter of the resort, where construction continues for Disney’s Riviera Resort, the newest Disney Vacation Club property.
Above is a look at current progress, with the Fuentes del Morro Pool in the foreground. Note that a lot of the exterior scaffolding is coming down around Riviera Resort. This project is not nearly the disruption that it once was.
On the other side of the resort, the largest Skyliner gondola station is now testing. Some minor construction work also continues, but that should be wrapping up very soon. This is primarily a test site now.
Speaking of which, as you can probably gather from the photos above, Skyliner testing is now occurring on the route between the Caribbean Beach and Riviera Resort Skyliner stations. This means gondola cabins are gliding above Aruba and Jamaica. These are relatively quiet, and there’s almost no way you’ll hear them in your room, unless you have the ears of an owl.
Both the Riviera and Skyliner projects are either outside the current boundaries of Caribbean Beach Resort, or on the far perimeter of the resort.
You won’t actively encounter walls for these projects while wandering the grounds of 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 once again revisit the common question of whether we recommend staying at Caribbean Beach Resort right now. That really depends upon your sensitivity to construction.
We don’t view the Skyliner or Riviera work as particularly major, but if you are more averse to this, you might feel differently. If you want minimal ‘construction blight’ during your vacation, 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.
If you are thinking you might want to stay at Caribbean Beach, or have already booked a stay, the question becomes which building(s) we recommend at Caribbean Beach Resort right now.
Once again, we are comfortable recommending both Aruba and Jamaica. It’s possible there will be some evacuation testing here in the future, but that’s likely to last a few hours, not weeks or even days.
This is good news, because it’s my favorite area of Caribbean Beach. 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.
The Pirate Rooms in Trinidad are another option, especially now that work is wrapping up on that Skyliner station. We revisited these last month after 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 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.
Currently, we do not have any stays at Caribbean Beach Resort booked. Nevertheless, we would not hesitate to stay here from any point going forward, as the remaining work doesn’t bother us. Your mileage may vary on that, though. We still think that booking strategically for August 2019 or later remains the best course of action. While nothing is guaranteed, it now seems like a near-certainty that the Skyliner will debut by late summer. Booking stays then gives you the benefit of minimal construction and access to the Skyliner without paying more for it–rates at Caribbean Beach (and all other Skyliner resorts) will almost certainly increase once Walt Disney World releases its 2020 pricing.
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 in May 2019 since this work ended? How did you feel about your stay? Any other construction impacts? Do you agree or disagree with our Caribbean Beach Resort building recommendations? 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!