Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort Review
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 January 3, 2022.)
During Walt Disney World’s phased reopening, Caribbean Beach Resort has been open since almost the beginning (well over a year at this point) and has now been joined by all other Moderate Resorts with the return of both Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter.
With that said, even Caribbean Beach is not operating completely as normal. Spyglass Grill, the unheralded quiet pool eatery, is still closed and has no reopening date. Other than that, it’s business as usual at Caribbean Beach, with the pools, Skyliner, buses, recreation and other restaurants all back to normal. In particular, Sebastian’s Bistro returned with a glorious family style meal making it the best value dinner in all of Walt Disney World!
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 huge fans. (Read our Skyliner Gondolas Review: Disney World’s Most Magical Flight on Earth for everything you need to know about this new transportation system.)
Second, its proximity to Disney’s Riviera Resort, which is the newest Disney Vacation Club property. 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. We are fans of the upscale dinner options at Primo Piatto, one of which is a top 5 entree in of all Walt Disney World counter service. Likewise, Le Petit Café, Bar Riva, and the pool gelato stand are all solid options.
We also love Topolino’s Terrace–both the Signature dinner and the Modified Character Breakfast Á la Art with Mickey & Friends. For more info about the sister property to Caribbean Beach, consult our Disney’s Riviera Resort Review.
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.
The Old Port Royale lobby area and check-in, Centertown Market, Banana Cabana, and Sebastian’s Bistro are all totally new or redone. The ‘update’ at Caribbean Beach was far more substantial than a standard refurbishment, and it was handled excellently, as you can read in our Photos & Thoughts: Re-Imagined Caribbean Beach Resort post.
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. These upgrades re-assert Caribbean Beach Resort’s place as one of the best Moderate Resorts.
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:
- Sebastian’s Bistro (Table Service) Review
- Banana Cabana (Pool Bar) Review
- Centertown Market (Counter Service Food Court) Review
Each has a few can’t-miss, signature items that we highly recommend checking out. (Like the glorious Caribbean Pull-apart Rolls with Guava Butter, Mango Chutney, and Jamaican Jerk Oil pictured above!)
There’s another new quick service restaurant adjacent to the quiet pool in Trinidad: Spyglass Grill, which we absolutely love. Unfortunately, neither Spyglass Grill is still closed as of January 2022 with no return date on the horizon.
If those options are insufficient, you can have alcohol and food to prepare for breakfasts brought to you for a much cheaper price–see our Tips for Grocery Delivery at Walt Disney World post for more info.
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 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 seize 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. Although the rooms were gutted and totally redone during the last refurbishment a few years ago, they were mostly untouched during the more recent Old Port Royale re-imagining.
Likewise, the Pirate Rooms remained unchanged. You can read about those in our Caribbean Beach Resort Pirate Rooms Review (we do NOT recommend them).
To me, the new room is an absolute home run. It looks like the Polynesian-lite. It still has a tropical motif, albeit a much more restrained one. Part of me does wonder if it’s a little too restrained–almost as if the designers over-corrected the look of the previous room while trying to tone it down. I say part of me because that’s really a minor quibble, and there’s still plenty of island styling to fit the theme.
Make no mistake, I am incredibly pleased with how the redesign turned out. It’s not just my favorite room at any Moderate Resort now, it’s one of my favorite rooms in all of Walt Disney World. A room that’s Poly-lite at a resort that’s a fraction of the cost of the Polynesian Village Resort is a great thing.
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.
Speaking of rooms, if you’re wanting to make a room request, check out our recommendations for the Best Rooms & Locations at Caribbean Beach Resort.
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, none of which are preferred rooms that cost extra!
Back to the room itself, the pull-down bed is an excellent addition.
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.
Not sure which Walt Disney World hotel is right for you? Check out our Walt Disney World Hotel Reviews page, which offers quick-hit capsule reviews of the strengths and weaknesses of every Walt Disney World hotel, plus links to our reviews and photo pages for every hotel we have reviewed. Looking for comprehensive Walt Disney World vacation tips? Make sure to read our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide.
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!
Great insights on Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. The author’s detailed analysis of the amenities and experiences made me want to visit!
I thought I would like CBR, but I didn’t the pool area. It lacks plants. It feels like a cement parking garage with a water feature. The chairs are close together and the theme just add more painted cement to an already crowded site. There are no nooks and crannies or charming at the pool. The campus is huge which makes for a very long, hot walk of yes;
more cement surfaces. The pathways are well labeled and the landscaping along them is a welcome sight. The skyliner is a great feature, however it is very far away from most of the hotel rooms. In my opinion, CBR feels more like a value resort than a moderate resort. It just feels cheap.
Thank you for your very helpful Blog! I am a follower! In your opinion, should we stay at Carribbean Beach or Art of Animation? Just a 2 night trip – just my daughter and I and we are former Disney Passholders. We usually stay at nicer properties but want to try the Skyliner and don’t want to shell out the ridiculous prices since this is a little last minute as combining it with a college visit. Thank you!
My one quibble with the CBR rooms is that they could really benefit from the elevated beds allowing for under-bed storage that the renovated Value Resorts have; particularly since many of these rooms sleep 5 with the pull-down murphy bed. With 5 people, we really struggled with suitcase organization at CBR.
Hi, just came across your blog and was curious if you think the preferred room is worth it? Or should we just do a standard room and request an area in hopes we get it. We are staying at CBR in April 2023 and its a $550 difference from a preferred room or standard room. Its will be 2 adults and our 3 kids ages 7, 6, 4 who are staying there. We have tickets to parks for 6 days. I’ve been reading that the preferred isn’t all that close to the Skyliner. And is it just a difference in a ten-minute walk or longer? Would you say it’s worth $550 or would it be better to use that extra money on our kids in the parks. TIA!!
Imo preferred room isn’t worth the extra cost. Save the money for meals! Make room location request on your reservation and at check in ask again if you received your room requests.
Request Aruba! This puts you next to the riviera Skyliner station AND only a few minute walk from the riviera bus station. Don’t shell out for the preferred room. The riviera Skyliner isn’t nearly as busy as the main hub next to Jamaica. That being said, those two should be your requests. My wife and I really enjoyed the walk to the main Old Port Royale building from Aruba. It didn’t seem nearly as far as some people had told us. I would highly recommend booking dinner at Sebastian’s one night as well. I had booked any wife and I there sort of on a whim and it turned out to be incredibly good food and a terrific value. We stayed two nights here before finishing out our last 6 nights at Yacht Club. While Yacht club is our #1 resort, CBR is very close #2.
Thank you so much for the reply! I have contacted my travel agent and requested Aruba!
we are booked at CBR for November 2022 and will need to finalize the payment soon.
We have read on Tripadvisor some horrible reviews about dirty rooms with bugs and we are wondering about switching to Pop Century. It looks like starting from July 2022 the CBR maintenance and cleaning are more and more lacking. Any thoughts? Thanks a lot
We stayed Aug 2021. Room was very clean, no bugs! I read same reviews back in the 1990’s lol and was worried. I think you need to take reviews with a grain of salt. Our room was perfect and housekeeping was great. We were looking forward to our return last Aug to see all the changes and it didn’t disappoint.
I stayed there IN November of 2020 and the again in May pf 2021. The rooms were very clean. Would stay there again the next time I go
Long time lurker but our family took our trip in September’20 after it was cancelled March’20. Things were still not fully opened but the main pool at night was crowded abcs had line to get into it. We stayed at CBR because of its central location, this blogs recommendation, rooms with 5th person option, and the main pool area.
My family at the time was 2 adults and two kids (10 and 12). In the end the slide wasn’t that exciting and having the smaller area pools was a great option for us. CBR was able to find us a microwave and with grocery delivery (egg beaters are a great option) we had decent room camping breakfast meals each day. Skyliner and bus gave us many options for transportation across Disneyworld. We even took the bus to Riviera from Disney Sorings and walked because it had no line whereas CBR was multiple bus loads long.
We were upgraded to a 5th sleeper room and it was a great size for our 10 year old. 12 for but less comfortable.
Tom! Your blog has been my go-to ever since planning our trip 2 years ago that we had to cancel. We’re a family of 4, 2 kids, soon to be 10 and 15 yrs old. First trip to Disney and we currently have Pop booked (preferred pool) because the price was right and it’s a skyliner resort, but I’m thinking about switching to CBR (standard 5th sleeper) because despite the neat room reno at Pop, I’m now thinking we’d be more comfortable at CBR, especially with a teenage son. The theming at Pop seems fun but wondering if it’s “too Disney” given the age of our kids. I figured it was more neutral than the other value resorts which seem more kiddie but I keep second guessing the choice. Our family is also from Trinidad so I always gravitate to CBR! We would NOT want the pirate rooms though, lol! Any thoughts? I feel like the reviews are a mixed bag. We’re kind of resort hopping, so 2 nights at Pop, 1 at Contemporary and 2 at Margaritaville Orlando. Maybe Caribbean and Margaritaville are too similar-themed and we should keep Pop?
That’s really tough. One thing we’ve noticed on recent stays is that some CBR rooms are starting to feel really worn and a bit dreary–Pop doesn’t have that problem.
Thematically, I prefer CBR and think it skews more adult, but I don’t necessarily think Pop is off-putting for teens. It has a lot of pop culture references (not just Disney characters), which can be fun. (Although maybe they’re too young for that.)
It’s tough for me to comment on room size for a family of 4, as we’re a party of 2. I will say that the rooms don’t feel materially different in size–especially with the bed up at Pop, which opens up space.
Honestly, if it were me, I’d probably save the money and stick with Pop. I’d make a point of doing a meal at Sebastian’s Bistro and spending time at CBR. YMMV, though. Have a great trip, either way! 🙂
Thanks for responding…I worded that wrong when I said “too Disney”, I meant bright and loud, not characters, ha! We have a dinner booking at Sebastian’s the day we get in because of your post so we’re set there. I guess we can walk around when there to check it out and don’t need to stay there. Yeah the carpet at CBR makes it look like they didn’t get a refurb and even the furniture and paint in some reviews look a bit dated. Pop does look a lot brighter. I think I’m concerned with getting there as early as we are and the pool looks not as exciting as a mod resort for kids my age and the grounds don’t really seem to have nooks and areas to chill out. Seems very “go-go-go!” Ha! I did have POR booked before switching to Contemporary then Margaritaville. I’ll figure it out, appreciate your time!
I would definitely go with CBR. With teens the rooms at Pop are teeny. Plus you have the option of the quiet pools as well as the main pool. The food court at CBR is very good too. And with 5th bed everyone gets their own bed.
I am staying at the Caribbean Beach Resort this July with my sister and her husband to celebrate her battling and surviving pancreatic cancer for the last 4 years. I have never stayed there personally and would never spend this kind of money on my own, and had it not been for this unique celebration I would not.
After looking at the reviews on Trip Advisor and then reading yours, I have to ask… “Are we talking about the same place?” 47% of the reviews are from average to terrible on TA. Your review is pretty glowing. So, again I have to ask….are you sure you reviewed the same place?, lol. I didn’t pick it, they did, so I am going along with it. I really hate paying good money for a place only to be disappointed, but I am more concerned for my sister…this should be a time of joy and celebration for her, not one of disappointment. I guess I am just trying to somehow balance the reviews to come up with a mindset to prepare me. Respectfully submitted sir!
Hello. I’ve stayed with my husband and teenage boys a few times at CBR, with this past April being the most recent stay. The pool area (if you have children with your party), and the Skyliner, are the real selling points for this resort. I would recommend staying in a preferred room, because it puts you near the main pool and the lobby and restaurants. There is also steel drum music playing over the speakers as you get closer to the lobby area, which really makes the CBR feel like a true getaway. I did not stay on the preferred side this last trip, and I honestly really missed it. We were in Aruba this time with the Skyliner overhead. At the Aruba pool (not the main pool with the waterslides) you only heard the sound of the Skyliner. It would be nice if the music played at the pools in the villages too. You do not hear the Skyliner in the rooms though. The buildings are pretty quiet. The rooms are not great, but fine. You should be prepared for that. The carpet is not new, and probably needs to ripped out and replaced. If you do have an issue, Disney will take of it and fix any issue you have. There are outside corridors like a motel, but in this resort, that is actually pretty convenient with only 2 levels. The landscaping is very well done. If you are staying in the summer, I would recommend checking out the Disney + discount and seeing if one of the Deluxe resorts might meet the needs of your party. There are several Deluxe resorts with pricing similar to, or just slightly higher than, CBR. If you plan to stay at the resort more than in the parks, you might prefer to spend more on the room.
I’m wondering if the bridge work over the island from Aruba to Old Port Royale is done. I also saw a report that the leisure pool is closed at Martinique. Disney chat reported that any work should not impact my stay in April, but a huge part of staying at Caribbean Beach is the atmosphere and landscape of the resort grounds. Does anyone have an update on this construction?
I stayed at the Disney Caribbean resort last February 20/22 . Rooms are pretty small, I expected to be a little bit bigger after paying over $3,000 thousand dollars including visits to 3 of the parks . It felt I was staying at a cheap motel with the exception of having a beautiful landscape and view to the Lake if you stayed far away from reception you will need to walk at least 15 minutes yo get to your room, house keeping comes every other day which is very unpleasant . I rate this place ONE start
Lilly, Thanks for your review. I read the 47% average to terrible reviews on Trip advisor and was concerned.
Lorraine 2007 was our first CBR stay too! We went back in Aug 2021 and enjoyed it just as much, maybe more with the new check in being in a new central location. And Skyliner is a game changer. Sebastian’s was delish. I did miss the old food court. For the atmosphere. No complaints about the food, it was very good.
As always, a central location is a make or break your stay here.
Thanks for this review. Haven’t stayed at CBR since our boys were young, back in 2007. Excited to be staying here again in May 2022. With all the other price hikes at WDW, I just can’t do deluxe anymore, and started planning too late to rent DVC (at least for a room I would want)
As always, I appreciate your detailed reviews
I agree, when they redid the pool complex you’d think they would have made hot tub larger. Although in Aug it wasn’t a high priority for me lol. Although I did use it a couple days for achy legs!
Skyliner is a big plus, but I was disappointed at how small the hot tub was for how big the rest of the main pool was when I stayed there last October. Guess I’ve been spoiled by the huge one at Coronado Springs.
We stayed here last October for a quick trip which included Boo Bash, (a bit of a disappointment) and were very impressed with this resort. I’m not crazy about heights but the Skyliner didn’t bother me one bit. Loved the convenience of it. We stayed in the Jamaica section of the resort and the location was perfect. Thanks for your suggestions on that.
We’re returning in April/May for a little longer trip and hope to bring our daughter’s family with us to the CBR next year.
Also took your suggestion about renting DVC points and booked a Boardwalk Villa for next September. Thinking of adding on the Floridian for a couple of days if there’s still availability after reading your post on split stays..
Again, thanks for that information!
Stayed at CBR with my family for the first time last Nov during the week before Thanksgiving week. I LOVED it – honestly I think it is my new favorite resort. It edges out POFQ simply because the Skyliner is AMAZING. I wish they expanded it to go to every park, because buses are a pain in the you know WHAT compared to those glorious gondolas!!!
Anyway, we also liked how central CBR is to WDW in general. And the theming was fun overall. Rooms were nice – nothing to scream about, but we’re not people who spend a lot of time at the resort. The dining was pretty darn good, and OH EM GEE you were right about Sebastian’s Bistro being AMAZING. That was our dinner on our arrival night, and I cannot think of a more perfect way to kick off a vacay. I’m hard pressed to say which of the dishes was my favorite, because they were all delicious, and at $29/adult this is a screamin’ deal.