SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons We Love Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort

by on February 13, 2016 12 Comments

Filed under: Adults, Beyond the Parks, Resorts, Saturday Six, Walt Disney World (FL)

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at the Six Reasons We Love Disney’s Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. With 26 on-site resorts at Walt Disney World, there is a wide variety of choices for families coming down. We’ve covered many here on the SATURDAY SIX including Value Resorts (Art of Animation and Pop Century), Moderates (Port Orleans French Quarter and Riverside), and Deluxe (ContemporaryAnimal Kingdom Lodge, and BoardWalk Inn & Villas). We also can’t forget the Disney Vacation Club resorts such as Old Key West. Today we are going to take a look at WDW’s largest resort, Disney’s Caribbean Beach.

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Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort.

Like with Old Key West, the sprawling size of Caribbean Beach does come with some downsides. There are many rooms quite far away from the check-in area (The Custom House) and several of the resort’s amenities located at Old Port Royale. Everything is walkable, and there is both an internal bus system and water transportation for those who don’t want to hoof it. The TouringPlans Hotel Room Request can also help make getting a room closer to Old Port Royale easier, which is something to consider. The Custom House is the only check-in area at WDW that is completely separated from anything else at the resort, so you may want to consider on-line check in (although they do have free swords and star wands for kids at the front desk).

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Map of Disney’s Caribbean Beach.

All that said, the size of Caribbean Beach is also a positive, as it is a wonderful place at WDW to spend time at outside of the parks because there is so many amenities and is an absolutely gorgeous place to relax in. So sit back, rest your sea legs ye scurvy bilge rat, and let’s begin counting down our top six reasons we love Caribbean Beach starting with…

# 6 – Fuentes del Morro Pool

If you are anything like our family, a resort’s main pool can have a major impact on where you stay. Right now pools with a slide are the biggest determining factor on where we stay, and the Caribbean Beach pool has a great slide and then some. Based around the 400 year old El Morro Fort in San Juan, Carribean Beach’s Fuentes del Morro pool looks incredible. The theme of a Spanish fort is complete with cannons, two water slides (one over 100 feet long), and has a zero depth entry. This area includes two hot tubs around the main pool, a fantastic kid’s play area that is a giant pirate ship, and the Banana Cabana bar for adults to get their fill of rum.

There are also six leisure pools located across property (near each of the main guest buildings).

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Fuentes del Morror pool.

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Shiver me timbers! Thar be water cannons in this pool.

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The main water slide at the Fuentes del Morro pool.

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The smaller slide at the Fuentes del Morro pool.

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Zero-depth-entry at the Fuentes del Morro pool.

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The overall theming of the pool area is incredible. Several great places just to walk around and explore.

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One of the two hot tubs located in the main pool area.

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Ahoy! The kid’s play area.

# 5 – Caribbean Cay

Caribbean Cay is a area located right in the middle of the large Barefoot Bay water area the resort surrounds. There is a walkway leading to it from Old Port Royale and another from the Jamaica guest buildings. Caribbean Cay is a shockingly large area with several play areas for kids, along with a whole bunch of walkways and covered swings for adults to relax in. At sunset this is one of the most enjoyable places to be at Caribbean Beach. You can see every area of the resort from here and is one of the true Best Kept Secrets at WDW.

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Caribbean Cay.

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One of the play areas at Caribbean Cay.

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One of the bigger play ares at any Disney resort.

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Who doesn’t want to sit in this gazebo for a while with a drink in hand? This is what vacationing is all about.

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Caribbean Cay walkway.

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Cannon on Caribbean Cay.

# 4 – The Marina

The Marina at Caribbean Beach is a hub for many activities that the resort has to offer. Surrey bike rentals, regular bikes, and catch-and-release fishing excursions are some of the amenities here along with boat rides to other parts of Caribbean Beach. Several times per week there is also the Islands of the Caribbean Pirate Cruise, where kids 4-12 years old can board a small pirate ship and sail around the resort with special props installed just for that experience. It is a bit pricey at $39 per child, but it does last two hours and the kids are given some pirate swag.

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Marina.

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Surrey bikes.

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The Marina.

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The history of WDW and Purple Martins.

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The ubiquitous corn hole, now found at pretty much every Disney and Universal resort in Florida.

# 3 – Barefoot Bay

The large body of water that Caribbean Beach surrounds is Barefoot Bay. With a walking path/jogging trail around the resort, this is a great place to unwind or get some exercise in. Throughout the resort there are beaches where you can lay out on the sand, rest in a hammock, or play games like volleyball. One of the strengths of a large resort like this – especially for someone like me who isn’t a huge fan of crowded areas – is how well it spreads people out. We went during an extremely busy week and it always seemed like it was an episode of the Walking Dead when taking leisurely strolls around the resort. That’s my kind of vacation.

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Barefoot Bay. (photo by Mike Sperduto)

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Barefoot Bay and a walking path.

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One of the beaches along Barefoot Bay.

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Raphael, Michaelangelo, Donatello and Leonardo at Barefoot Beach

Guests at buildings farther away from Old Port Royale have access to complimentary boat transportation.

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Barefoot Bay transportation.

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Heard that they make theme park bloggers walk the plank, so I informed the captain I was an traveling businessman focusing on importing and exporting.

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CANONS!

When walking around Barefoot Bay, you’ll notice the colorful buildings signifying each “village” (Barbados, Aruba, Jamaica, Martinique, Trinidad North and Trinidad South). We enjoyed exploring each one and seeing the unique details in each.

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Looking across Barefoot Bay to see the Jamaica buildings.

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Trinidad South buildings.

# 2 – Old Port Royale

Old Port Royale is a main hub of Caribbean Beach and contains the food court, the arcade, the gift shop, and table service restaurant Shutters. Open 6AM to midnight, the food court has several different stations, all set up like a Caribbean port town market. The stations include a Grab-and-Go section, which includes bakery items, and assorted snacks and drinks. The Royale Pizza and Pasta Shop, Old Port Royale Hamburger Shop, Montego’s Deli and Bridgetown Broiler. Each area has a separate menu for breakfast and lunch/dinner. Your standard Disney food items are available, like Mickey waffles, hamburgers, and pizza but also things you don’t find at many Disney food courts like Cuban sandwiches, breakfast quesadillas, and a terrific fried chicken sandwich.

There is a lot of indoor and outdoor seating (along with a kids area that plays Mickey Mouse cartoons on a flat screen), but it can certainly get extremely busy during your peak breakfast and dinner times. There are tables by the main pool area, along with some in the courtyard right next to the pool, so you can always bring your food over there as well.

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Old Port Royale.

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Caribbean Beach food court.

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Indoor seating.

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Breakfast quesadilla.

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Breakfast quesadilla features shredded beef, egg, and cheese.

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Veggie wrap with house made chips.

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Bounty platter.

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Shutters, the table service restaurant at Caribbean Beach.

The Calypso Trading Post is a rather large gift shop at Caribbean Beach that features your standard Disney items and snacks. There is a huge amount of pirate items, the largest anywhere on property outside of the Pirates of the Caribbean gift shop at Magic Kingdom. There is a mix of Caribbean Beach branded merchandise, but it looks exactly like the items found at other resorts (such as Beach Club). It’s almost like Disney has some sort of deal with Zazzle and just makes everything interchangeable.

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A selection of some of the Caribbean Beach merchandise available.

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Caribbean Beach pin.

Goombay Games, the arcade at Caribbean Beach, is good sized one with plenty of games. This is also where you’ll find the the pressed coin design featuring Caribbean Beach. There is another machine at the Custom House, but it features standard Disney designs.

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arcade

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Pressed coin machine at Goombay Games.

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Goofy the pirate.

# 1 – Pirate Rooms

Along with the pool, the Pirate Rooms at Caribbean Beach were another big determining factor for us. We love the fully themed rooms at Art of Animation, and having Jake and the Neverland Pirates obsessed kids made this one a no-brainer. The pirate rooms are all located in Trinidad South, which is the set of buildings the farthest away from everything at Caribbean Beach, but you’re always a short walk/bus/boat ride away from it all. The theming inside the room is impressive. The pirate beds are amazing, but keep in mind they are two full size beds, while the standard rooms at Caribbean Beach have two queen size beds. Just like the rooms at AOA, everything in the room is themed. The fridge being inside a barrel was genius. The flat screen TVs in the pirate rooms are also much larger than the ones in the standard rooms. The pirate rooms will in general cost you about $25-$50 more than a standard room, but for us it was well worth it.

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Pirate Room at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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Pirate Room dresser. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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Pirate Room fridge. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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Pirate Room storage. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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Design based around the coin from the Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl film. (photo by Brandon Glover)

Trinidad South is the village farthest away from Old Port Royale and the food court, but while we were staying there (on two different occasions) they had the ESPN Wide World of Sports food truck or a small food vehicle located near the bus stop. I would love to see more of this at Walt Disney World.

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A mini-food truck at Trinidad South.

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Snack options.

OVERALL THOUGHTS:

I have to admit that I put off staying at Caribbean Beach for a long time. I thought that there wasn’t going to be much there to enjoy, a feeling that only got stronger once I moved to Florida almost a decade ago. I’m happy to report that I was wrong. Caribbean Beach was one of our favorite places to stay at Walt Disney World. I may be beating a dead horse at this point, but I want to get across how relaxing the resort is. The pool area is one of the best on property, and it was so great going for strolls on property in the early morning and at night.

We had a car, but as someone who is not a fan of Disney bus transportation, I can say that throughout our stays I saw more buses at Caribbean Beach than I have seen at any other Disney resort. The only resort in Orlando that I even consider using bus transportation is at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort because there is always a bus waiting to take you to the parks. Caribbean Beach was the first WDW resort where I would consider using the bus system. Because we had a car, we also ate a lot of dinners outside of Caribbean Beach (including my WDW favorite ‘Ohana and the new venues at Disney Springs), so I can’t speak for the quality of Shutters. The food court was more than perfectly acceptable though, with a lot of options for several picky eaters in the family (myself being one of them).

HONORABLE MENTION – The Rocks

We have traveled to several countries in the Caribbean, including Aruba, and these large rocks certainly reminded us of those trips. This rocks are throughout Caribbean Beach. I have absolutely no idea if they were actually brought to Florida from the islands, but there are a nice touch. Hopefully I can get a hold of Jim Hill and find find out some next level bananas backstory the Imagineers created for the rocks.

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Rock outside the Custom House.

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Rocks.

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More rocks.

DOUBLE SECRET HONORABLE MENTION – Sunset Palm

Available at the small bar located outside the Fuentes del Morro pool, Sunset Palm is a beer found exclusively at Caribbean Beach. Tastes a lot like a Safari Amber from the Animal Kingdom Lodge. One thing is for sure, we are all for more exclusive brews at Walt Disney World.

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Sunset Palm brew.

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Sunset Palm, exclusively at Caribbean Beach.

So there you have it: Six Reasons We Love Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. See you next weekend for the latest installment of the SATURDAY SIX, where we’ll look at something fun from the world of Disney and Universal. If you enjoyed yourself, be sure to check out The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! articles. You can also follow Your Humble Author on Twitter (@derekburgan).

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Certainly one of the strangest things seen at Caribbean Beach, or any other Disney resort for that matter.

If you enjoyed this article, you will surely like the following:

Six Reasons to Check Out Disney’s Pop Century Resort

Six Reasons We Love Disney’s Contemporary Resort

Six “Secrets” of Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

Six Reasons We Love Disney’s Old Key West Resort

Special Thanks to crack staff photographer Brandon Glover, photo wunderkind Mike Sperduto, and Megan Stump for their invaluable assistance with this article. Be sure to also check out Brandon on The Park Blogger podcast with co-hosts Aengus Mackenzie and Brian Carey. 

FINAL PLUG! Did you know The Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando has a special edition of the SATURDAY SIX in it? Finally, someone came up with an actual reason to read a book. ORDER this baby now! (For every copy sold, a percentage of the profits* go towards buying a DVD of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train rap video.)

Posted on February 13, 2016

12 Responses to “SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons We Love Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort”

  • Caribbean Beach is my favorite moderate and probably my favorite overall (beating Animal Kingdom Lodge by a small margin and a large price difference). It has great atmosphere and theming, with lots to do and lots of ways and places to relax.

  • We booked the Pirate room for 6 days in 2015, after not being at WDW for several years. The resort is gorgeous & relaxing, but hard to truly appreciate the stay. Other than squeezing in one Fuentes Pool break & visiting the Food Court daily, we didn’t do much else.

    Our time was spent trying to see all the sites in the parks (likely reason you found the grounds empty while the resort was actually crowded). This time I’ve worked in 4 pool breaks during our 7 days at AoA in April 😉 Our battle this year is making time to check out Disney Springs.

    Thanx for the write up! I always enjoy The Sat 6. This one helped me internally visit our last trip, while there’s 20mph wind & a HIGH of 10 degrees outside my window in NJ. Brrrr…

  • The pirate cruise was a huge hit with our 5 & 7 year old boys. They had a great time hunting for treasure and there are no parents allowed on the voyage so it was a welcome (albeit short) break from a week of family togetherness.

  • I would like to see a blog comparing the four moderate resorts (POFQ, POR, CSR and CBR). All four have the same basic room size, but I would like to know more about resort size. I read reviews that say Coronado Springs is large, but we stayed there recently and didn’t find walking around to be too bad. But how do the others compare? I appreciate the info in this article. However, as the prices keep going up it looks like the moderates might be what we have to decide among for our next trip, and I am confused by the bus systems, distance to food court, possible entertainment options, etc. Thanks so much. I love reading The Saturday Six.

    • I haven’t stayed at Coronado Springs for at least a decade, but I like your idea of being able to compare and contrast the four. I will certainly add that to the list, although I’m thinking I want to try out Beach Club next. 😉

  • A bus stop was very close to our room at the tip of Trinidad South, but walking to the Food Court & Big Pool at the hub is quite a stroll. We like the freedom of renting a car, so it wasn’t an issue.
    For the many who like leaving the driving to WDW, request a closer room if you have young kids &/or foresee multiple trips a day. Plus, there’s an advantage being among the 1st few of the 5 bus stops. If the bus fills up on the 1st few stops, those at the last stops need to wait for the next.

    Don’t be discouraged, especially if you’re looking for a very relaxing & tranquil resort to offset hectic days in the parks. Caribbean Beach is as lovely as these fantastic shots depict.

    • Luckily I don’t actually have the ability with my camera to make things at Disney look better than they really are, unlike some well known Disney photogs (I’m looking in your direction Tom Bricker). So what you see is what you get.
      I can certainly see the walking to the main hub being a hike for some families, especially if you have kids and their accessories in tow. I was surprised to see how many buildings were close to one of the six leisure pools (which I also believe are open 24 hours).

  • Thanks for the great article! I enjoy the Saturday Six articles on the resorts. (Just one note — I stayed at Cabana Bay during a Universal visit last year, and there was definitely not always a bus there. In fact, we always had to wait, both going to and coming back from the resorts.)

  • Our family stayed here last August and had a wonderful time. Like the author’s family, the quality of the pool where we stay is make-or-break for our family because, for our summer visits, a mid-day break from the parks is mandatory. The pool here is fantastic, and so are all the other amenities that surround it.

    We put off going here until the recent refurb that replaced all the double beds with queen sized beds. A size difference we really appreciated. And the rest of the refurbished rooms are very nice too. I’m sure we will return.

    One last honourable mention to add to the list: evening marshmallow roasts! Every evening there is a marshmallow roast and there is no charge no matter how many toasted marshmallows you eat! 🙂

  • I stayed in 2 Pirate rooms in July 2009 along with my wife, son, parents, and our nephew. Record highs while we were there (heat index of 108 one day). I tried walking from our room to the food court to pick up some pizzas and take back to the rooms first night and would never do that again. I don’t think I’ve sweated that much ever! We tried the buses but my mom has a scooter and the drivers were not happy about helping (they said that they’re required to load the scooter themselves) and the other passengers were vocal with their displeasure. We just used our vans to transport everyone to the food court for each meal.

    Also, the “fridge” isn’t (or wasn’t) a refrigerator, it was a thermoelectric cooler. First day we had milk and other groceries spoil. I called service and they said they got a lot of complaints because Disney was changing out all the refrigerators with these coolers to save electricity but it was too hot and humid to work effectively. They swapped it out for a refrigerator.

    So if we had been able to go during another time of year I’m sure we would have enjoyed it more. The resort did have a lot to do and the food selections were great for all of the picky eaters in our group.

    • We did like that you could get whole pizzas at the food court. While I enjoyed the walk from our Pirate rooms to the food court, I don’t think I would like it as much carrying warm pizza boxes on a Summer day.
      Shame to hear about vocal displeasure about getting a scooter loaded on to a bus. Anyone who has been around someone in a manual wheelchair or a scooter knows how much harder it makes every part of their day, and the entitlement of many guests at WDW looking down upon them is truly a pet peeve of mine. So it takes a couple minutes to load or unload one off a bus? Spend those moments thanking whatever you believe in that you or your loved ones don’t need to use one.

  • Thank you so much for this post, it brought me way back to my childhood. I remember staying here in the early 90’s with my parents. It was one of my first experiences with “Immersed Themming,” resort stays. Coming from the west-coast and having the Disneyland hotel as my only “Themed,” resort, staying at the Caribbean Beach Resort was so amazing. Seeing the photos of the Food Court, Map, and waterways and grounds brings back such great memories. I can remember pool hoping and running around singing the Beach Boys “Kokomo,” song the entire trip. I now have three children and we have a trip planned in April for the Darkside 1/2 Marathon and are staying at the Art of Animation but I wish I would have seen your post before making my reservations. The new pools and rooms look amazing. I might have to take the kids over to the resort to walk around and pick-up one of the GOOFY penny press coins.

    Thanks again for the post. I am going to have to add the Caribbean Beach Resort to my list of resorts to stay at in the future.