One of the best Disney resorts for families on a budget, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort is a great option for getting the best of an Island vacation and a Disney vacation in one trip! Check out our full review (including what we didn’t like) below.
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort Review
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort brings the colors, flavors and vibe of the Islands to Florida. This 200 acre resort is gorgeously landscaped around Barefoot Bay and features one of the best Disney resort pools, relaxing white sand beaches, and plenty of playful pirate theming.
The resort’s accommodations are split into five villages – Jamaica, Aruba, Martinique, Barbados and Trinidad. Each has a different color scheme, but mostly have the same amenities, apart from Trinidad, which has it’s own quick service restaurant and it is where all of the pirate-themed hotel rooms can be found.
It connects to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot via the new Skyliner system (and like all other Disney resorts, offers complimentary busses to all parks and Disney Springs).
I really enjoyed the Caribbean Beach Resort and would recommend it if you love the theming of the Polynesian resort but can’t afford the 2x-3x bigger price tag. I found this resort incredibly relaxing and the customer service was among the best I’ve experienced at any Disney moderate resort.
The proximity to Hollywood Studios and Epcot is awesome if you plan to spend a good amount of time at either park.
Not only were cast members courteous and kind in general, they also went above and beyond when we had a small issue with our water being shut off due to construction during our stay. Of course, this was right after Ella had gone swimming and was freezing cold after walking back to the hotel room – so she really needed a warm bath! A cast member came with a golf cart to allow us to shower at a different (unoccupied) hotel room and brought us hot chocolate to help warm Ella up after. (They also offered to help us switch hotel rooms, but we opted to stay in our pirate-themed room.)
If you are travelling with young kids and plan to spend most of your Disney vacation at Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom, I wouldn’t recommend this resort because it’s very spread out and does not have as many convenient entertainment options for kids. Also, this resort has long-standing transportation issues for guests trying to get to Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom. The Skyliner makes travel to Epcot and Hollywood Studios a breeze, and you can of course opt for a $10 Uber/Lyft to avoid the long bus wait times. Dining options aren’t very convenient here and there’s not a ton of options for picky eaters. (This won’t be a problem if you plan to mostly eat at the parks or take advantage of local grocery delivery.)
However, one big positive for this resort is that has rooms that sleep 5. Only one other Moderate resort offers this, and the only Value resort rooms that can sleep 5 are the family suites.
Instead, I would recommend staying at:
- Disney’s Port Orleans – slightly cheaper, same colorful theming, more food options, and more for kids to do;
- a Disney Springs-area hotel like Wyndham Gardens Lake Buena Vista – very affordable, on-site character dining, and a 2 minute walk away from the food and entertainment of Disney Springs;
- or the (non-Disney owned) Swan and Dolphin hotel – same price range, on-site character dining, great pool, and 2 minute walk from Disney’s Boardwalk and 5 minute walk from Epcot
Pirate Rooms at Disney’s Caribbean Resort
When staying at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, you have a few options for rooms (most with different view options as well):
- Standard with 2 Queen Beds
- Standard with 2 Queen Beds and a child-size Murphy bed
- Standard with 1 King Bed
- Pirate Rooms
Of course, Ella and I had to go with the pirate-themed rooms! We did also get a chance to check out the newly refurbished standard rooms, which were refined and well-situated, but definitely not nearly as fun as sleeping in a pirate ship every night!
I highly recommend booking your Caribbean Beach stay and Disney tickets through Undercover Tourist rather than directly through Disney. They are fully accredited by Disney and you will save way more money booking through them than booking directly withe Disney. The tickets also have a 90-day flexible return window, and you can book any rental cars or other entertainment in the Orlando area through them as well.
The theming in these rooms is really fun – from the ship masthead as the bed’s headboard, to the clever “crate configuration” that is actually a dresser, the mini-fridge that is hidden in a wooden barrel, along with little nautical touches throughout the room. On average, selecting the Pirate themed room will cost an extra $50/night, so I think it’s a fun option for a shorter stay but I think the novelty would wear off and not be worthwhile if you were staying a full week.
The Pirate Rooms are all located in Trinidad, the most remote village of the resort. It’s the furthest away from the main building and main pool area, and the bussing can be the worst for this village (more about that below), but with the newly built Skyliner (which connects you to Epcot and Hollywood Studios) and the new quick service restaurant, Spyglass Grill, being located here, I think the negatives of the remote location are somewhat alleviated.
Dining at Disney’s Caribbean Resort
The resort boasts one table service restaurant (Sebastian’s Bistro), three quick-service restaurants (Banana Cabana, Spyglass Grill and Centretown Market), several “quick stop” or vending machine options, and late-night pizza delivery.
Sebastian’s Bistro is only open for dinner and offers everything from sandwiches and burgers to decadent, Caribbean-inspired seafood dishes. You can enjoy your meal inside the air-conditioned restaurant or outside on a water-facing deck.
Banana Cabana is located just beside the main Fuentes Del Morro pool and offers a variety of tropical cocktails (including frozen cocktails), wine and beer, as well as a variety of quick-service meals (burgers, sandwiches, wings and salads).
Spyglass Grill is located in the Trinidad village area, near the pool, making it a great option for guests staying in this area as the other two restaurants are a bit of a trek. It offers a variety of mouth-watering breakfast, lunch and dinner options, mostly sticking with Caribbean flavors as inspiration. This location also offers mobile phone ordering, so you can order your food before you even get there and have it ready when you arrive.
Centretown Market is where you’ll find any specialty coffees, along with the standard Disney food court sandwiches, salads, and pastries.
While some Disney moderate resorts do have all-day room service, at the Caribbean resort this is still limited to late-night pizza delivery only. This can be a bit of a pain, especially since the resort is so spread out, so make sure you plan ahead. (Also note that late-night pizza delivery can be suspended if there are lightning warnings, which occur often in the summer.)
Because the Caribbean Resort sprawls over 200 acres, you may never really see or take advantage of all the amenities this location has to offer, including mail services, on-site Disney shopping, etc. There are also a couple special experiences for the kids I will discuss below: Pirate Adventures and Mermaid School.
Each village has it’s own quiet pool, and all guests have access to the amazing “Fuentes Del Morro” pool in the center of the resort. It is built like a Spanish citadel and features two waterslides (one that’s 102 feet long), water cannons, a zero-entry pool, an amazing Pirate-themed splash area for younger kids, and two 12-person spas.
There are several small playgrounds scattered around the resort, as well as a nightly beach campfire (complete with songs and marshmallows) and nightly movie under the stars. (If the whether is bad, the campfire can be cancelled but the movie night is often relocated to Old Port Royale.)
One of my favorite features of this resort are the beaches surrounding the 45-acre Barefoot Bay, a fenced-in pond with white sand beaches featuring a boardwalk and plenty of hammocks. (For obvious wildlife reasons, you cannot swim in Barefoot Bay.)
There are dry-cleaning services and 24-hour laundry facilities available in each village.
Self-parking is $20/night at the time of this review. No valet parking is available.
Unique Experiences for the Kids at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
Full disclosure: we did not have the opportunity to participate in either of these experiences during our stay, as the resort was undergoing construction.
Pirate Adventure Cruises are offer by both the Caribbean Resort and Beach Resort. At 9:30AM every morning (weather permitting): “Buccaneers sail the Ports of the Caribbean waters, as they hear the story of Old Port Royale and its pirate-laden past. Departs from Caribbean Cay, a tropical island located in the middle of Barefoot Bay.”
The experience is $39 and lasts for two hours. Kids ages 4-12 get to bring home a special “pirate booty” souvenir, and are served a snack and drink on board.
Keep in mind, parents are not allowed to attend this experience. You drop off your child for two hours and pick them up at the end.
Mermaid School allows swimmers aged 4 and up to take part in an hour-long class “where they’ll be fitted with a swimmable ‘tail’ and led through activities teaching them how to swim in a pool like a mermaid.”
Mermaid School is not restricted to just kids, so grown-ups can take part, too! The hour-long experience is $55.
Caribbean Beach Resort also offers a fishing excursion for catch-and-release bass fishing with an expert guide. Experience ranges from $170-$455 and can last two to four hours.
Proximity to Disney Parks and Disney Springs
None of Disney’s moderate or value resorts are close enough to the parks for guests to be able to walk. You will always need to use transportation, whether the free options provided by Disney, your own car, or a hired Uber/Lyft.
Caribbean Beach Resort is closest to Epcot and Hollywood Studios and is now connected to both parks via it’s Skyliner system. This is a great way to get to the parks quickly and without the infamous bussing frustrations of this resort. The actual Skyliner travel time from Caribbean Beach Resort to Hollywood Studios is 4 minutes, and to Epcot it’s 9 minutes. (This doesn’t account for walking to the Skyliner, lining up, etc.)
Except for Animal Kingdom, all other parks (including Disney’s water parks) are about 12-15 minutes away from the resort by bus. Animal Kingdom is 23 minutes away. Keep in mind that this does not include the wait time for the bus, which several guests (including ourselves) have found to take up to 45 minutes, despite what any official schedule claims.
Now that the Caribbean Resort connects to Epcot and Hollywood Studios via the Skyliner, getting to those parks is a lot quicker and easier.
However, a long-standing issue at the Caribbean Resort has been how unpredictable the bus schedules are. Almost every review I’ve read agrees with me that waiting for a bus at the Caribbean Resort can often take upwards of 45 minutes. And if you’re trying to travel at peak times, the bus will sometimes pass you in Trinidad because it’s already filled up at the other villages!
If you’re fine to wait, great – but personally, I would recommend making use of the Skyliners whenever possible – even taking a Skyliner to Hollywood Studios to then use the bus system from over there. Alternatively, you can easily order a Lyft or Uber (or a Minnie Van – at $35 a pop) to get where you want to go.
I hope this thorough review of Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort answered any questions you may have had about planning your family’s Disney vacation here. However, if I missed something – please let me know and I will do my best to answer!