Caribbean Beach Resortby Sue Holland, contributing writer
When Disney decided to add a level of resort to compete with the more moderately priced hotels located outside of Walt Disney World, the Caribbean Beach Resort was the first of four resorts to fill this niche. Suddenly families who were unable to afford the deluxe resorts were able to stay on Disney property and enjoy the perks provided to Disney resort guests.
The resort is named appropriately, as the theming is based on various Caribbean islands. There are six separate "villages," each named for a different island and built with a different color scheme.
Jamaica at the Caribbean Beach Resort.
Barbados at the Caribbean Beach Resort.
The six villages are Trinidad North, Trinidad South, Jamaica, Aruba, Barbados and Martinique. They are built around a 42-acre lake, and each village has its own quiet pool, laundry room and a beach. Most if not all beaches also have a playground, and swimming is not permitted at any beach.
Martinique's quiet pool at the Caribbean Beach Resort.
Martinique at the Caribbean Beach Resort.
A 1.4-mile paved walkway surrounds the lake, and guests can rent bicycles. Each village also has its own bus stop, but with seven stops, including the food court, it can seem to take a long time to get anywhere via Disney bus. The buildings are all colorful and attractive, effectively creating the feeling of being on a Caribbean island. Foliage is lush and tropical, and there is even a small island in the center of the lake. This island, called Parrot Cay Island, used to house several parrots but those have been removed. The island still serves as a shortcut to food from some of the villages, and is a pleasant stroll.
Aruba's quiet pool at the Caribbean Beach Resort.
Trinidad at the Caribbean Beach Resort.
In addition to the six villages, the seventh bus stop is at Old Port Royale Center Towne, home to the resort's dining and shopping venues. Located between Martinique and Trinidad North and directly across the lake from Aruba and Jamaica, any of those four villages would be the most convenient. The food court recently reopened after being renovated to make it more similar to the other resort food courts.
The food court stands offer the usual fare.
Previously, customers had to pay when ordering their food, and would have to go from stand to stand if, for example, one person wanted pizza and another wanted a burger. Today they still have to go to multiple stands to get different items, but they pay at one time just before going to their seats. While not the ideal setup, it is an improvement. The food offered includes pizza, burgers, pasta, chicken fingers, deli sandwiches and some salads.
New centralized cashier station at the food court.
During the renovation, they opened up part of the area at the beginning of the food stands to create a market similar to the other resort food courts. It's bright and attractive, with a variety of baked goods, cold drinks, and ready-made sandwiches and salads. Unfortunately, they have experienced trouble with food walking out of there unpaid, so there may be changes coming. A cast member is at a cash register at one end, but being behind a counter, there is not much he can do to stop someone from walking away at the other end.
The new market area of the food court.
The full-service restaurant was also redone during the renovation and was renamed "Shutters at Old Port Royale." This is not to be confused with the restaurant named Shutters at Disney's Vero Beach Resort. Although the theming has similarities, the menus are different, and the physical settings do not look anything like each other. The menu is moderately priced by Disney standards, with entrees priced in the $15 to $25 range. Shutters is only open for dinner.
The new Shutters at Old Port Royale restaurant.
There are two shopping areas at Old Port Royale Calypso Trading Post and Calypso Straw Market. The usual Disney items, sundries, and some tropical merchandise is available.
Shopping area inside Old Port Royale.
Pirate-themed main pool.
Right outside is the main pool area, which has a water slide and is themed like a pirate fort. It can get quite busy, and the nearby Banana Cabana Pool Bar is the source for delicious tropical drinks while the children enjoy the pool. There is also Barefoot Bay Boat Yard/Bike Works, where guests can rent boats and bikes.
Barefoot Bay Boat Yard/Bike Works.
Unlike the other resorts, the front desk is not located in the building near the food court. At Caribbean Beach all front desk services are located in the Custom House, which is not even around the lake at all. It seems terribly inconvenient to me, but people staying here seem to deal with it!
Custom House at Caribbean Beach Resort.
Bell Services is located here, as is the often long line of people waiting to check in. Assuming your room is not ready yet, you can leave your luggage and go enjoy the parks, then have your luggage delivered to your room when you return that evening. The buses to the parks do not stop here, however. The closest bus stop would be in Barbados.
Inside the Custom House.
The rooms at this resort are larger than the three other moderate resorts, but in my opinion, not by a significant amount. Rooms measure 340 square feet, while those in the two Port Orleans resorts and Coronado Springs are all 314 square feet. Each building is two stories, and each room contains two double beds.
Guest rooms are colorful.
The rooms were all refurbished within the past few years, and are adequate for a couple or a family with small children. The drape outside the bathroom seemed very strange to me, and overall this is my least favorite of the moderate resorts no matter how many times I try to like it!
The drape provides privacy at the sink outside the bathroom.
Like any resort, there will be people who hate it and people who think it's the greatest place in the world. Hopefully this photo tour has helped with your decision on whether Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort is a good choice for your future vacation.