Wednesday, July 27, 2011

(Resort Files: Caribbean Beach)

The entrance to Caribbean Beach
Located in the Epcot area of Walt Disney World, the Caribbean Beach is a tropically-themed, moderately-priced resort. Opened on October 1, 1988, the resort is large, with 2,112 guest rooms. There are six villages, each themed after an island in the Caribbean: Jamaica, Barbados, Martinique, Aruba, and Trinidad North & South. We arrived at the Caribbean Beach resort after an overnight drive at about 530am for our family trip. The lobby was fairly empty, so check-in a was a breeze. The staff were very friendly despite the early morning hours, and we enjoyed talking with the Cast Member who checked us in.

Checking in at the Customs House (if we look tired, it's because we are)

We reserved the Pirates of the Caribbean themed rooms, so we would be staying in Trinidad South. Unfortunately, the rooms were the only touch of Disney that I felt throughout the entire resort.

Early morning at Caribbean Beach
The grounds are beautiful. Each village has its own pool and beach area, and the view across Barefoot Bay, the 45-acre lake, is picturesque.

A view from across Barefoot Bay
Since we arrived so early, we weren't surprised to find that our rooms were not quite ready. We left our things in the car and began to explore. Check-in takes place at the Custom House, which is quite a ways from Old Port Royale (or Centertown, as it is called), where dining is located. While I did read many complaints that the resort is too large, I did not find it a problem in terms of walking. The buses were another story, but I'll get to those in a bit.

On the first day of navigation, a map is a must!
While there are internal buses to take you from the check-in desk throughout the resort, I did not find these necessary. I would however recommend them if you are with someone who is handicapped or has trouble walking a distance. We took the scenic walk around the lake to Old Port Royale, where we enjoyed breakfast.

The food court at Old Port Royale
The breakfast was your standard Disney fare that can be found at most resorts. I had the cheese danish (somewhat of a first-day tradition for me), J had Mickey waffles, and MOM & P shared an omelette, which looked super yummy. While the food court definitely has a cool design, it lacks a Disney touch. Unfortunately we did not try Shutters, the resort's only table service restaurant. After breakfast we left to visit Hollywood Studios for a bit and returned once our rooms were ready.

Pirate of the Caribbean rooms at Caribbean Beach Resort
The pirate-themed rooms were very fun. The beds looked like ships, there was a refrigerator in the shape of a barrel and the bathroom was very pirate-like. So yeah, the room was cool, but something very similar could be accomplished by spending less money at Disney's All-Star Movies. I would recommend spending the extra money on these rooms only if you're a huge Pirates fan. Otherwise, I'm not sure it would be worth it. Please note as well, that Trinidad South is just about as far from the center of the resort as you can get.

Now on to the buses. Quite simply, they were the worst. The problem with such a large resort is that there are a lot of bus stops. Just when you think you're the only one in line for the Magic Kingdom, you realize that you are the last stop in a long line of bus stops. One morning we waited almost 35 minutes for a bus to the Magic Kingdom, making us late for our reservation at the Crystal Palace (another awesome tradition). On the other end of the spectrum, when you're headed back to the resort and you're exhausted, being the last stop is terrible.For this reason, I would suggest that if you choose to stay at Caribbean Beach, spend the extra money to get a preferred room, or simply walk to the main bus stop. It's definitely worth it!

the main pool at Caribbean Beach
We did take a swim in Trinidad South but did not spend any time at the main pool. Please excuse the photo as I snapped it while running through the rain - sometimes those days are the best!

Shooting baskets at Goombay Games

We found some respite from the downpour in the game room, which is always very fun. J & I enjoy playing air hockey and shooting baskets (I always let him win, but he'll tell you otherwise). This is probably the only other amenity that we used at the Caribbean Beach. We were always on the go!

sass & bide please don't go romper | Free People lace trim bandeau | Gorjana alphabet charm necklace | Marc script sunglasses | Jennifer Ouellette stripe turban headband
The best part of the resort? Definitely the hammocks. They are way too much fun!

So, would I recommend the Caribbean Beach? I'm leaning towards no. On the one hand, if you're like us and tend to be on the go throughout the majority of your vacation, it serves its purpose as a place to stay. However, as I have mentioned throughout this review, it just doesn't have that Disney feel to it. The resort is sort of old, and it sort of felt that way. Caribbean Beach gave off an empty feeling in the Florida heat. The bus service is terrible due to the enormous size of the resort. The food court is lackluster, but then again offers more or less the same fare you will find at moderate and value resorts. I did not take advantage of many amenities, such as the boat rentals at the lake and the main pool. This may have changed my opinion just a bit, but probably not enough. When you compare this resort to its moderate counterparts, it comes in last. You are getting a much better experience for your money should you choose to stay at either of the Port Orleans resorts, which I plan to rave about in a later review. Keep in mind that we certainly did not have any problems at Caribbean Beach service wise; cast members were all very nice and Mousekeeping was superb. There were definitely a lot of great things (the grounds are lush and green and beautiful), but I just don't think they outweigh the cons. In the end, I'm still glad that we gave Caribbean Beach a go because a lot of great memories were made there - ones that won't soon be forgotten!

Do you have another opinion on the Caribbean Beach? I'd love to hear all about it!

Happy Vacationing,

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