I admit it. I’m cheap. Like really cheap. Ok, actually I prefer the term “budget conscious”. But I’ve made travel a priority in my budget so I’m completely fine with being cheap, even at Walt Disney World.
I make it a point to visit WDW with my daughter on a regular basis, which means we always stay at the Value resorts, particularly the All-Stars resorts. I have heard many complaints about these resorts, but when it ultimately comes down to it, we don’t spend a lot of time at our own resort when visiting WDW, so they’re a perfect fit for our purposes and budget. Last year when deciding upon a resort to book during our stay through a bounceback offer, we decided it was time to try something new. And more expensive. Eeeek. Ughhh. What’s a girl to do?? But after much debate, we decided on the Caribbean Beach Resort. The idea of being at an island-like resort for our Walt Disney World vacation just sounded lovely.
But after booking, I began to hear from other moms that the resort was too big, was ugly and that they would never stay there again. Luckily, my aunt convinced me I had made the right choice by telling me that it is her favorite resort at WDW. So when we arrived in September, I was eager to see if all the hype, negative or otherwise, was really what this place was about.
Let me first start by saying- the resort is, in fact, HUGE. It’ s actually Walt Disney World’s largest resort. The good news? Well, with it being so large, it actually does feel like you are on an island somewhere. We never felt that it was too crowded, there was always room for us on the beach and the grounds are so lush here that you might actually feel as though you are secluded on a beach in the Caribbean.
The bad news? Since it is so big, you could get very unlucky and end up in an “island” that is just too far. This could or could not be a deal breaker, as it really depends on what kind of vacationer you are. If you need to be close to the food court, Old Port Royale, you could end up walking quite a distance just to grab your morning coffee and pastry every day. If you’re not the food court type of person, and would prefer to use the in room coffee maker provided, then this may not matter to you. The buildings that are closest to the food court are Martinique and North Trinidad, which are preferred rooms and will usually cost you extra but we found Aruba and Jamaica to be about a 6-7 minute walk every morning, which was pretty perfect for us. Barbados and South Trinidad are the farthest.
The resort recently got an update, which included white linens and a pretty basic and neutral color scheme, so definitely not my idea of “ugly”. I think that dirty rumor came from before the reno when things just didn’t look as “clean”. So I definitely think that attitude may have been toward the old design. And we loved the sliding doors to separate the room from the vanity and bathroom. The buildings are all brightly colored to represent each island; again, I actually found them to be very beautiful and this is just a matter of taste. Each island has their own beach. These are obviously man-made beaches and now have the new standard rope fence and boulder walls for added safety; but I will take any chance I can get to bury my toes in the sand, so this was something that I actually really enjoyed.
Transportation throughout the resort is pretty similar to other Value and Moderate resorts. Only buses will get you where you need to go from this resort. There is also an internal shuttle that will take you to the Customs House (where you check in/out), to your island or if you are too far from Old Port Royale. Each island has their own bus stop, however they all share the same bus, which means that buses can get very full. Buses generally arrive about every 15 minutes to take you to the parks and the bus stops here are much nicer than the lines at the Value resorts as they are shaded and have benches as well as a screen to update you with ETAs for each bus.
While we only ate breakfast here twice, the food was pretty standard Disney food-court breakfast food. They had a variety of omelets, breakfast platters and breakfast burritos, as well as muffins and pastries if you’re looking for something more simple. I love me some Mickey Waffles, but if you’re planning to eat here every day, it could get a little difficult to find some new choices.
The main pool is located at Old Port Royale and is absolutely beautiful but is also more crowded. There’s a shallow play area for toddlers here too. Each island has their own pool as well, which is smaller and not really “themed” but is a lot less crowded.
Caribbean Beach, like all the other WDW resorts, plays a Disney movie every night near the pool which is a great way to unwind. This, again, is located at Old Port Royale.
While we didn’t participate, they also host a campfire s’mores roasting party every night on the beach which sounded awesome, we just didn’t have time. At this resort, you can also rent bikes and surreys to fully explore the resort as well. If your little ones love the idea of being a pirate for a few hours, they host a pirate cruise, which costs extra but is a great way to get a few hours of relaxation to yourself without worrying if the kiddos are having a good time! On Caribbean Cay, which is accessible via the bridge between Jamaica and Aruba, there is also a kids play area open from sunrise-sunset.
Overall, we loved the Caribbean Beach resort. It provided us with a more relaxed, less chaotic atmosphere than the Value resorts and the beautiful touches throughout the resort made it feel like our own little piece of paradise. The extra cost was worth the serenity and ambience of the resort. We highly recommend this resort to those looking for an island-like getaway while visiting Walt Disney World and working within a budget!
You can request a room here in hopes of a better location in the resort, however requests are not guarantees. If requesting a room that’s not preferred, Jamaica 45 and Aruba 52 will be your closest to the food court.
Jamaica is the first stop on the bus route about 80% of the time when heading to the Parks. We were always the first stop at night which was great because we were also usually standing. There are 7 bus stops on this route, which means that sometimes the buses will take longer than planned to get to your stop.
This is WDW largest resort, which also means the most people stay here. The lines from the Parks will be long and you will usually end up waiting if you don’t time it correctly.
If you need to get to Customs House and are coming from the Parks, getting off of the bus at Barbados will drop you off directly across the street. No need to get off your park bus to wait for the internal shuttle.