Caribbean Beach Resort is a Moderate hotel at Walt Disney World with a tropical theme. This review features new room photos, thoughts on the reimagining, Skyliner gondola transportation, pool & dining info, plus details on amenities offered by Riviera Resort, the sister DVC property to CBR. (Updated June 21, 2023.)
The advantages of Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort basically come down to three things. First and most importantly, the Disney Skyliner gondola. Caribbean Beach Resort is the hub for the Skyliner, with two stations offering access to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and EPCOT, plus Art of Animation, Pop Century, and Riviera Resorts.
We use the Skyliner often, and are big fans. It makes for easy midday breaks when you’re doing Disney’s Hollywood Studios or EPCOT, and is also advantageous for Early Entry at both parks. Knocking out Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, Slinky Dog Dash, Frozen Ever After, or Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure (especially easy since you enter EPCOT through International Gateway via the Skyliner) before the park even opens to day guests is huge. The benefits of the Skyliner cannot be overstated–we prefer it to the monorail.
Second, there’s the proximity of Caribbean Beach to Disney’s Riviera Resort, which is the newest Disney Vacation Club property at Walt Disney World. This is located adjacent to Caribbean Beach and is a short walk over to that tower.
The advantage here is in the amenities that Disney’s Riviera Resort offers. While Caribbean Beach Resort guests cannot pool hop to Riviera (CBR’s feature pool is better), you do have access to almost all other amenities. You can also take a leisurely stroll around the grounds, as the pathway that circles Barefoot Bay passes by both resorts.
Dining is the big thing, as Disney’s Riviera Resort has some great options. Le Petit Café, Bar Riva, Primo Piatto, and the gelato stand are all solid options.
Finally, Caribbean Beach’s is the most modern of the Moderate Resorts. Prior to the opening of Disney’s Riviera Resort, Caribbean Beach underwent a massive and multi-year reimagining to enhance and improve its amenities and design. This re-imagining was undertaken because Caribbean Beach Resort is the oldest of the Moderates, and there have been complaints that its facilities are beginning to show their age.
The Old Port Royale lobby area and check-in, Centertown Market, Banana Cabana, and Sebastian’s Bistro are all totally new or recently redone. In particular, we are huge fans of Sebastian’s Bistro, which is the best value dinner in all of Walt Disney World! The ‘update’ at Caribbean Beach was far more substantial than a standard refurbishment, and it was handled excellently. Suffice to say, these upgrades re-assert Caribbean Beach’s place as a top-notch resort.
If you want an idea of just how good these projects went, check out our revised Polynesian v. Caribbean Beach Resort Comparison. Keep the price difference between the two in mind when reading that; the Poly is at least double to triple the cost of Caribbean Beach!
As big fans of Caribbean Beach, we had a good amount of trepidation regarding the resort’s re-imagining, plus the additions of the Skyliner and Disney’s Riviera Resort. We’ve stayed at Caribbean Beach Resort several times in the past year, and this trio of additions are all largely positive, even if they have eroded some of the secluded and lush tropical vibe of the resort.
Getting down to the business of the resort review, let’s start with an overview. Located near Epcot, Caribbean Beach Resort has decent proximity to the theme parks. Thanks to the Skyliner, there is now also a novel and efficient mode of transportation between CBR and two parks.
If you’re staying at Caribbean Beach, our advice is to line up for the Skyliner shortly before it begins operating if your plan is to rope drop Epcot or Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Lines can be long in the morning, but the Skyliner is incredibly efficient and Caribbean Beach’s status as the “hub” resort for the Skyliner means you’re still waiting less than guests coming from Art of Animation or Pop Century, who have to transfer at CBR.
In the center of Caribbean Beach Resort separating most of the guest room buildings from Old Port Royale is Barefoot Bay, a 45-acre lake. Running around the lake is a 1.4-mile path, with additional paths leading to all guest rooms. It seems like the perfect resort for a morning run…or racing around to photograph the sunrise, if you’re like me.
In the center of all this is, Caribbean Cay, which is an island with a lush picnic and play area. It also breaks up the walk across the huge lake.
The resort itself likely benefits from its age, as its twenty plus years in existence have given the greenery at the resort a chance to become quite lush and mature.
Within this tropical paradise, rooms are spread among 6 villages: Trinidad, Barbados, Martinique, Aruba, and Jamaica.
One of the biggest downsides of Caribbean Beach used to be that it’s a really spread out resort. The size coupled with the number of bus stops can make transportation at Caribbean Beach Resort a real hassle.
However, the new Skyliner gondolas totally eliminate this issue when it comes to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Caribbean Beach is the only Moderate Resort offering non-bus transportation to Walt Disney World’s theme parks. This is huge, and the advantage it offers cannot be overstated.
Getting to Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, or Disney Springs from CBR can still take some time due to the resort’s internal bus loop. This internal loop can added ~10 minutes to transit times, and also mean the bus arrives to your stop nearly (or totally) full during peak times.
Because of this, we often use Uber to get to and from those parks. It’s something worth considering if you find yourself frustrated with the bus service at CBR. Be sure to price out the Uber before committing to that, as costs can vary widely depending upon demand.
Caribbean Beach Resort’s main lobby and guest check-in is now located in Old Port Royale.
If you’ve read elsewhere that it’s in the Custom House, that info is outdated, as Custom House permanently closed years ago.
The consolidation of the lobby and check-in in Old Port Royale is a definite improvement. This area is convenient to many guest rooms, whereas Custom House wasn’t convenient to anything.
Along with Saratoga Springs and Old Key West, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort is one of the most sprawling resorts at Walt Disney World. My personal take is that this gives it more of a true “resort” feel with more to explore, but reasonable minds could certainly differ on that one.
It’s quite a trek from the most remote rooms to Old Port Royale, meaning it could be a hassle to get breakfast. On the plus side, this will make you less likely to eat those instant-eggs and rubber-bacon! (Aren’t I the optimist…)
On the dining front, some good news is that during the resort re-imagining, Coke Freestyle machines were added throughout the resort, and you should have one of these ~5 minutes from your room. The resort map you receive at check-in will indicate where they’re located.
At Centertown, you’ll find a trio of dining options including a table service restaurant, food court for quick service dining, and poolside bar. Here are our reviews of each:
Caribbean Beach has a nice marina near Old Port Royale, which rents out boats and bicycles. There also are playgrounds, an arcade, volleyball, sand beaches, and other standard Moderate Resort amenities available at Caribbean Beach Resort.
As is the case with all Walt Disney World on-site hotels, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort is fully integrated in My Disney Experience, which means that guests receive MagicBands and more.
The Fuentes del Morro feature pool at Old Port Royale is pretty awesome. You might as well call it Old Fort Royale, as it is reminiscent of the Spanish forts under siege at the beginning of Pirates of the Caribbean.
Everyone knows that anything pertaining to pirates is unquestionably awesome, so Caribbean Beach Resort scores serious points for the pool.
It’s a really cool pool–I consider it to be one of the best at Walt Disney World. Kids (and immature adults like me) would really enjoy “playing pirate” in its many forts, complete with authentic working (eh, probably) cannons.
For those adults who are more mature, you can always “play pirate” by chugging a bottle of rum and staggering around on one of the white sand beaches at Caribbean Beach Resort while bemoaning the fact that the rum is always gone. What could go wrong?
Okay, now the guest rooms. This is where things get complicated, as there are currently three different types of rooms at Caribbean Beach Resort. Let’s start with the best and newest option, which are the ‘Under the Sea’ style 5th sleeper rooms in the Trinidad section of the resort.
These were previously the infamous pirate rooms, which were among the worst rooms in all of Walt Disney World. Worse yet, the Caribbean Beach front desk would routinely offer a free “upgrade” to the pirate rooms to unsuspecting guests, as they overbooked the rest of the resort and only had space left in the “premium” pirate rooms (air quotes around both upgrade and premium. In any case, those are dead and gone.
The next type of room is also new as of this year, and these are basically just a refresh of the standard rooms. This removes the carpet, installs platform beds for luggage storage, replaces some fixtures and furnishings, and adds a fresh coat of cooler paint to replace the warm colors.
All of that might sound good, but it’s better on paper than in person. These rooms are bland, boring, and sterile to a fault, with not nearly enough theme and way too much white. They’re definitely fresher, but are devoid of personality, which is really a shame. This room style is expected to replace all of the next type of rooms by early 2024.
Finally, there’s the older standard rooms. This redone room is why we dubbed Caribbean Beach Resort “Poly-lite” in the first place several years ago. These rooms don’t look like budget motel accommodations, and feature a lot of details and fun tropical motifs. Thematically, Caribbean Beach Resort has the best rooms of any Moderate as a result of this “Poly-lite” style.
The thing is, time flies when you’re having fun–this room style is now 9 years old as of 2023. They are showing their age, with a lot of wear and tear and the design just generally starting to look tired…which is precisely why Walt Disney World has been replacing this with the refreshed rooms above.
Here’s a slightly wider look from the same vantage, this time with the pull-down bed under the television opened and the table visible.
In addition to the design of the rooms totally changing, the beds changed, too. These are now queen beds in the 5-person rooms, and to us they seemed substantially more comfortable and plush than the older beds at other Moderate Resorts.
There’s a lot to take into consideration, including Disney’s Riviera Resort and the two gondola stations, with non-stop access to Epcot and Hollywood Studios. This covers the best options for proximity to the Skyliner, pools, and dining at Caribbean Beach, and makes specific building recommendations.
Using a travel agent is always a good idea for Walt Disney World vacation planning, but that’s especially true for “trickier” bookings like Caribbean Beach Resort where room requests come into play. If you want to work with a TA, we recommend requesting a no-obligation quote from Be Our Guest Vacations, a no-fee Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. They can do the work for you and advocate on your behalf when it comes to room requests and other aspects of travel planning.
Their services don’t cost extra, they’ll reserve your room, help you with dining reservations and itineraries, and apply the best discounts to your reservation once they’re released. Using an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner is the win-win option if you’re overwhelmed by the complexities of Walt Disney World, don’t want to do all of the “homework” yourself, or want someone to monitor your reservation so you save money.
Back to the room itself, the pull-down bed is an excellent addition–whether in the regular rooms or the new Little Mermaid rooms.
This means the room can officially accommodate 5 adults (I fit on the pull-down bed just fine, but it’s probably best for kids or smaller adults), making it a great option for leveraging the Free Disney Dining Plan promotion.
The bathroom has similarly been redone, with more cosmetic changes in keeping with the rest of the room. The biggest addition here is the sliding doors separating the sink area from the beds. It’s a nice feature in case someone wants to sleep while others are getting ready.
Even if you liked the “character” of the old room, I think there’s little contesting that the new rooms are at least of a higher quality now. From the head boards to the light fixtures to the dresser and beyond, the finishings are nicer, with greater texture and detail giving the room a classier look.
There’s a lot more depth to the room now, and it doesn’t feel cheaply done. Disney did a really nice job with this refurbishment, and I’d say these are now the nicest rooms at any Moderate Resort.
(Note: two more recent changes have been made to Caribbean Beach’s rooms; the bed runners have been removed and the televisions have been replaced with larger flat screens. Both changes are reflected in the photo above. Otherwise, everything is the same.)
Overall, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort is a very nice place to stay, especially if you enjoy the theme and the sprawling resort grounds. It’s now a very balanced hotel with a tremendous amount of upside: a diverse slate of restaurants, plenty of recreation options, beautiful grounds to enjoy, and efficient Skyliner transportation to Epcot and DHS. Between the new dining, other amenities, and this gondola transportation, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort has some of the same selling points as Deluxe Resorts.
I was already a fan of Caribbean Beach Resort, but now that it’s basically a “Poor Man’s Polynesian.” While the may not be as nice as its tropical cousin, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, it does offer significantly better value for money thanks to its solid amenities and excellent rooms. If this resort sounds good to you and you’re craving even more info, see our Ultimate Guide to Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort.
What do you think of the new rooms at Caribbean Beach Resort? Are you planning on staying at Caribbean Beach Resort now that the big re-imagining is finished? Have you tried Centertown Market, Banana Cabana, or Sebastian’s Bistro? Do you miss the old style of CBR? What about the spread out nature of the resort–is that a strength or a weakness for you? Any questions about this Walt Disney World resort hotel? Share your thoughts or any questions you have in the comments!