Walt Disney World has revealed a room reimagining for Caribbean Beach Resort’s Trinidad area. In this post, we’ll share the announcement, what we’re expecting, and other commentary. Let’s start with the official info from Disney Destinations:
“In an effort to continually enhance the guest experience, some of the resort rooms in the Trinidad area of Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort will be receiving a brand-new look and feel. These new rooms, which will include subtle nods to fan-favorite characters from under the sea, will accommodate more guests and feature updated finishings that can’t be found anywhere else at the resort.
As we prepare these new rooms, guests will be able to see and hear refurbishment work in and around Trinidad beginning October 3. We look forward to welcoming guests into these new rooms in 2023.”
This isn’t exactly coming out of left field. Back this summer, Walt Disney World released 2023 vacation packages and resort reservations, and one room category was absent from the resort roster: Pirate Rooms at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. Nothing was available from January through October 2023, and the rooms weren’t even listed as unavailable. Vanished as if they never even existed.
The company followed up with a statement during the Walt Disney World travel agents webcast indicating that the Pirate Rooms at Caribbean Beach Resort were being discontinued. Disney also announced that the no new theme is planned to replace the Pirate Rooms “at this time.”
Now, we have more details.
There are a couple of things that are interesting here. First, the line that the new rooms will feature fan-favorite characters from “under the sea.” In all likelihood, that’s Disney’s cutesy way of referencing The Little Mermaid without directly naming the film that’ll be featured. That way, the next announcement that these are The Little Mermaid rooms is still new-news.
It’s also possible that’s a red herring, and ‘under the sea’ isn’t capitalized in the announcement because these rooms will feature an amalgamation of aquatic characters from a bunch of different movies. That could be fun, and would be my preference.
Disney has released a lot of marine movies in recent years, and it seems like they’re intent on putting Moana everywhere. In addition to that, there’s Luca, Finding Dory, and other characters who reside underwater. (Prior to the 2014 redo, Caribbean Beach had Finding Nemo characters in the rooms.)
However, there are already The Little Mermaid rooms over at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, which is only a short Skyliner ride away. While those are some of the most popular and seldom-discounted rooms in all of Walt Disney World, it is interesting that they’d revisit that room style.
Despite being at two different resort tiers, these The Little Mermaid rooms would be very similarly-situated. In addition to the characters, both would be on the Skyliner and at a remote location in their respective resorts. I’m not sure how Disney would succeed in charging premium prices for The Little Mermaid rooms at a Moderate Resort when the Value Resort options are comparable counterparts.
That brings us to the second line of significance in the announcement, that these rooms “will accommodate more guests and feature updated finishings that can’t be found anywhere else at the resort.”
Accommodating more guests could just mean that Disney is adding a 5th sleeper pull-down bed under the television, which is an option in other rooms at Caribbean Beach Resort, and elsewhere at Walt Disney World. That would be the quick and easy approach.
As for the part about updated finishings, that could just be marketing puffery. If these rooms feature The Little Mermaid characters, they’ll already be unlike anything else at CBR. Also, it stands to reason that new rooms built in 2022-2023 will be different than those designed almost a decade earlier. (Seriously, it’s been almost that long. The “new” Poly-lite rooms at Caribbean Beach will be 9 years old next year!)
Those Poly-lite rooms were an excellent upgrade at the time, but they’re now showing their age. It would be bonkers for Walt Disney World to install that same style nearly a decade later given all of the space-saving innovations and other enhancements that have rolled out in the last 8-9 years. So that could just be a throwaway line, stating the obvious.
…or it could be hinting at something more.
The easiest way to distinguish these rooms from The Little Mermaid rooms at Art of Animation while also accommodating more guests and make them unlike anything else at Caribbean Beach Resort would be to convert them to family suites.
Personally, I’m skeptical of this. While I think there’s a huge untapped market for larger accommodations, I also think that that Walt Disney World’s runaway resort pricing has made this challenging. Families that want or need more space often opt for Disney Vacation Club (either via purchase or point rental) or opt off-site where there’s far better bang-for-buck.
It’s telling that The Little Mermaid standard rooms at Art of Animation often sell out at full price, whereas the Cars/Lion King/Finding Nemo family suites are available at discounted rates. That’s not happening because The Little Mermaid rooms are superior. To the contrary, they’re far inferior. It’s because even at a discount, those family suites are still way too expensive for most families. Most are squeezing into the smaller rooms to save money, not out of preference.
That doesn’t mean we won’t see substantial changes made to the Pirate Rooms as they’re converted to ‘under the sea’ accommodations.
As mentioned above, Walt Disney World has made a lot of functional improvements to rooms, with space-saving features and other enhancements that make them feel larger. Adding these while maintaining the same footprint would be the best of both worlds for Disney. It would allow them to charge higher prices for these rooms while maintaining the same number of them in the inventory. This is my expectation.
No matter what, Walt Disney World needs to do something major to these rooms. Repainting the walls blue or green, replacing some soft goods, and adding some fish decals to the pirate beds will not cut it. At the very least, the beds have to go.
Joking aside, the Pirate Rooms are actually infamous. Our original Caribbean Beach Resort Pirate Room Review called them the worst at Walt Disney World. This was for a number of reasons–they’re location far from everything else at Caribbean Beach Resort, the small size of beds, and thin mattresses that literally felt like sleeping on an uneven pile of plastic.
Over the years, we cautioned readers against accepting an “upgrade” to the Pirate Rooms. Even though these rooms had a higher rack rate, they would be a functional downgrade for most guests due to the aforementioned location and comfort level.
In fact, that’s why Walt Disney World converted this section of Caribbean Beach to Pirate Rooms in the first place: to make this remote area of the hotel more appealing, and convince guests to book it. When that didn’t work, Disney would overbook the rest of the resort and hand out free “upgrades” to the Pirate Rooms. It’s the equivalent of getting a free copy of the Cats DVD–sometimes nothing is better than something.
One thing we should note is that the Trinidad section of Caribbean Beach improved tremendously in 2019.
In the time since the Pirate Rooms debuted, so too have the Skyliner and Spyglass Grill. The hub gondola station is directly across the water from the Trinidad section of Caribbean Beach where the Pirate Rooms are located, and they now have a convenient dining option in Spyglass Grill. These are excellent enhancements that truly elevate the Pirate Rooms.
In other words, if you haven’t stayed in the Pirate Rooms in the last 5 years, things have changed. While still a long walk from the main lobby and feature pool, this area isn’t as undesirable as you remember. It’s not where ‘premium’ rooms would be located if this were a brand new resort being built, but it’s no longer an awful location, either.
Ultimately, it’ll be interesting to see what happens with the Under the Sea style replacing the Pirate Rooms at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. As should be patently obvious from the rambling commentary, I have no clue what the plan is here. It could be an ambitious project that involves knocking down walls and converting standard rooms to family suites, or maybe it’s just going to be a simple refurbishment to remove the swashbuckling soft goods.
Personally, I think it’ll be on the smaller-scale end of the spectrum. Not simply swapping out a new style–I suspect it’ll be more substantive than that–but I’m still skeptical that Disney will want to invest a ton of money into these room redos. Eventually, this is prime real estate for a tower resort. It might not happen this decade, but it will someday. With the monorail loop only able to sustain so much development, more will be built around the Skyliner in due time. Replacing the Trinidad buildings at Caribbean Beach with a tower makes too much sense for it to never happen.
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Are you excited for an ‘Under the Sea’ style replacing the Pirate Rooms at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort? Will your enthusiasm depend upon whether these are family suites or standard rooms that sleep 5? Think this will be a garden variety room refurbishment, or something more? Does the nearby Skyliner hub change your perspective on the Trinidad section of CBR? Do you agree or disagree with my assessment that this real estate is too ‘prime’ to remain part of Caribbean Beach forever? 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!