by Jackie Perrin
An immense Spanish fortress-themed pool — double the size of the original one — gives families even more reason to visit Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, a lushly landscaped Epcot area favorite since 1988. At the 2,112-room, 200-acre Moderate-category resort, you can escape to the islands, which are represented in six pastel-hued villages, from Aruba to Martinique. At the center of it all is Old Port Royale, a popular gathering spot with a food court, sit-down restaurant, gift shops and an arcade. Just outside is the resort’s showcase water play area, with slides, cannons and zero-entry access. Along with an adjacent Pirate Ship water playground that’s just right for little ones, it makes a major splash with families.
Bike rentals are available at Barefoot Bay, a 45-acre lake with white, sandy beaches. If you’re so inclined, you can take a foot or pedal-powered trip around a scenic 1.4-mile lakeside promenade.
“Finding Nemo”-themed rooms were added in 2008, and if you’ve got an aspiring buccaneer in your party, an overnight in a Pirate-themed room (located furthest from the resort hub) is sure to please, if you don’t mind a hike.
When it’s time for a theme park break, parents can pull up a chair at the Banana Cabana and sip a fruity umbrella drink, or hang out in a hammock on a beach and watch the sun go down over Barefoot Bay. On select days, kids can ship off on a pirate-themed Adventure Cruise, one of the best kids-only excursions offered on Disney properties.
Our Editor Loves
- Pirate-themed pool and rooms
- Water play area for kids
- Tropical island ambiance
- All Inclusive Rates
- Theme Park
- Water Parks
- Water Sports
- Connecting Rooms
- Free Wi-Fi
- Game Room
- Kids' Pool
- Meal Plan
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
Beyond a tropical flair, what sets this resort apart from others is the availability of themed accommodations. Standard rooms sleep four, plus a crib for guests under the age of 3, and are located in six two-story island villages. Since 2008, most standard rooms have been refurbished in a "Finding Nemo" theme. The subtle design is a nice departure from the former flowery dÃ©cor, and features images of tropical fish and fauna in bedcovers, wall borders and carpets. Pirate-themed rooms debuted in 2009 (surcharge) and are outfitted in full privateer gear, from beds that look like pirate ships to privacy curtains imprinted with skull and sword images.
Rooms located closest to Old Port Royale (Trinidad North and Martinique) are considered "preferred" accommodations and come with a surcharge for convenience (yes, it's definitely worth it), while Barbados and Trinidad South (the block where pirate rooms are located) are furthest from the resort hub, leaving families with a choice of a pirate experience or proximity.
All guestrooms feature two queen beds or a king bed (surcharge), a TV and complimentary Wi-Fi. A table with two chairs provides a comfortable spot for in-room dining, and in standard rooms, a storage bench with a back offers additional seating. In addition, rooms contain a coffeepot and a mini-fridge. A vanity area contains two sinks, as opposed to the one available at Value resorts, and a privacy curtain separates it from the bedroom, meaning part of your party can shower early while others sleep in (assuming they're not light sleepers). Complimentary Pack 'N Plays and bed rails can be delivered upon request, and connecting rooms are available.
If you want to see water, expect to pay a surcharge. Although you can request a "lake" or a "pool" view, a specific outlook can't be guaranteed.
The location is fantastic with the new Sky Liner running from the Caribbean to either Epcot or Disney Studios. It was so easy and fun riding in the gondola. Check in took almost 45 minutes with only two employees available to serve a long line of guests. The resort itself is beautiful, boasting of numerous pools, relaxing sandy beach, kiddie area, and walking paths for pause and reflection. A gift shop, snack bar, and restaurants offer a place for enjoyment after a long hard day in the parks. Our room was very small, but the bathroom was a good size. The beds were comfortable, but the room lacked the Disney decor we were expecting. Laundry facilities were close and cost $3.00 for the washer and $3.00 for the dryer. We were disappointed that the sink did not have a stopper, it was difficult to turn off the shower, no luggage carts, and there was no microwave to warm up the baby's food. Being an avid traveler, I feel that Disney could do better concerning the rooms. Maintenance was lacking in the interior, but the landscaping was gorgeous and inviting.
Stayed here previously mid-transformation and enjoyed it, despite the disruption. We could see though that the future looked very bright...
Now the transformation is complete the resort is stunning. Old Port Royale is a fantastic addition, so much more convenient having reception walkable from all Islands. The movement of the Skyliner gives energy to the resort and the fact you can hop on it and be in 2 parks in under 10 minutes is amazing.
We were in a pirate room, which had to be taken to get free dining. It was showing it’s age a bit and not a patch on the refurbished room we had last year. However, my son loved it, it was very close to the Skyliner, and the Spyglass Grill was very handy.
We’d go back here in a heartbeat, and I’d recommend Caribbean Beach to anyone looking for a moderate in Disney World.
Fuentes del Morro Pool Area
The resort's showcase Spanish fortress-themed pool has water cannons, waterslides and zero-entry for little ones, and is double the size of the original version. An adjacent Pirate Ship Water Play Area, reserved for kids under 48-inches tall, has mini-slides, sprayers, a dump bucket and a shallow splash area, and offers lounge chairs for parents, as well as a gate for security. Combined, the two areas make a major splash with families.
Towels and swim vests are complimentary and restrooms have lockers and ample space for changing. Swim diapers are required for non potty-trained children while using resort pools. You can purchase these and other baby and toddler supplies at Calypso Trading Post (open 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.), along with swim gear, sunscreen, souvenirs and limited groceries.
Six quiet pools (non-lifeguarded) are located in each island village. Each offers a coin-operated laundry facility, a restroom and plenty of lounge chairs.
On the outdoor patio beside the pool complex, kids can get a colorful hair wrap ($2 per inch; beads are extra; open 4 to 10 p.m.). Nearby at Old Port Royale, a caricature artist creates playful renditions of parents and kids enjoying their favorite sport, hobby or occupation. Choices range from black-and-white face portraits to full-body color pictures. Hours are 6 to 11 p.m. daily.
Beaches and Playgrounds
On the shores of Barefoot Bay at each island village, you'll find a white, sandy beach dotted with palm trees and hammocks, as well as plenty of chairs for lounging. Playgrounds (recommended for ages 2 to 12) are stationed on the sand near the villages of Barbados, Jamaica, Martinique and Trinidad South. Next to the Marina, there's a sand volleyball court (complimentary balls are available at the Marina Desk with ID) and catch-and-release fishing, plus a guided excursion are available at the marina.
Barefoot Bay Boat Yard and Bike Works
At the resort marina, you can borrow bikes and take a leisurely ride around a 1.4-mile lakeside promenade. Surrey bikes are available by the hour or by the day. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 407-934-2850 for information.
Caribbean Pirate Adventure Cruise
On select days, aspiring buccaneers, ages 4 to 12, can ship off on a two-hour, pirate-themed Adventure Cruise, where they'll learn to talk like a pirate, hear pirate tales and hunt for buried treasure. The cost is $34 per child, and includes a bandana, snack and some loot. If you're looking to treat the kids, this is a great option -- it's very popular, so book well in advance. Times are 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., Sunday, Tuesday and Friday. Call 407-939-3463 for reservations.
Open from dawn to dusk, this peaceful one-acre island on Barefoot Bay, accessible by a footbridge, features bench swings, hammocks and picnic tables, plus play cannons and paths for exploring.
Goombay Games Arcade
At this fun-filled (but dark) arcade, located at the Old Port Royale complex, guests can try their luck at an assortment of games, from high-tech to traditional. Hours are 6:30 a.m. to midnight daily.
Roast marshmallows with the kids at a nightly campfire by the beach. Be sure to prepare your best campfire story before taking a seat!
Movies Under the Stars
At the courtyard next to the pool, kid-friendly Disney movies are screened nightly. Check the Resort Activities schedule for details.
Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf
Located near the resort hotel, but not on the actual property, the Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf is great for families who like a challenge. See if you can get a hole-in-one throughout the 36-hole course.
Old Port Royale Food Court
Resembling a Caribbean market, the Old Port Royale Food Court features four specialty shops (Broiler, Grill, Deli and Pizza & Pasta) and a Grab-N-Go Market with take-alongs like whole strawberries, cubed melon and yogurt parfaits, as well as pastries, Mickey Mouse ice cream bars and other frozen novelties. Seating can be a problem at peak times -- if the weather's nice, grab a table with a view on the outdoor terrace or near the marina. Alternatively, covered patio tables are stationed at quiet pools and in island village courtyards. Hours are 6:30 a.m. to midnight, and highchairs are available. Disney Quick Service Dining Plan credits are accepted.
Beyond the requisite chicken nuggets (served in a sand pail), the kids' menu includes Mickey Mouse waffles for breakfast, and pasta with marinara sauce and a salad with turkey for lunch or dinner. Kids meals (ages 9 and under) come with 1-percent milk, apple juice or water and a choice of grapes or applesauce. For older kids and adults, Bridgetown Broiler's Rotisserie Chicken and Grilled Salmon Dinners are a nice departure from the usual fast-food fare.
Rapid Fill Mugs and Pizza Delivery
For a single price, receive refills on hot and cold drinks at the Food Court beverage island. If you're too tired to trek to Old Port Royale, Blue Runner Pizza Delivery will bring pizza, salad, beer, wine and dessert to your resort room from 4 to 11:30 p.m. daily.
Shutters at Old Port Royal
Open for dinner only, this table service venue features food with a Caribbean flair, from jerk-crusted tuna for adults to grilled fish served with rice and a yogurt parfait for younger diners. Less adventurous palates might be satisfied with cheese pizza or a cheeseburger. Kids receive crayons and coloring pages, and the work of an "artist of the day" is featured on a bulletin board just outside the restaurant entrance. It's open from 5 to 10 p.m. daily.
Banana Cabana Pool Bar
Located adjacent to the Fuentes del Morro Feature Pool, this tropically-themed bar features frozen alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, beer and wine.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Overnight guests enjoy a number of special perks, like early-entry and late-stay theme park privileges (Extra Magic Hours), free onsite transportation, free parking, the ability to make FASTPASS+ reservatins 60 days in advance and the opportunity to participate in a Disney Dining Plan with a Magic Your Way Package. Additional family-friendly privileges include online room check-in (up to 10 days in advance), resort airline check-in and airport transportation service via Disney's Magical Express.
If luck follows you, you might enjoy some "surprise" benefits, as well, such as towel animals, courtesy of Mousekeeping, and special occasion treats like birthday buttons and character phone calls (note special event at time of registration).
Check-in takes place at the Custom House, just inside the resort's main gate. Transfer of luggage to rooms (and guest transportation, for those not driving) is complimentary.
Kids Nite Out, an independent agency, provides in-room resort childcare. Rates are $16 per hour for the first child, with a four-hour minimum and a $10 caregiver transportation fee. Families looking for a supervised kids club experience should check out The Sandcastle Club for ages 4 to 12 at Disney's Beach Club Resort nearby. Club hours are 4:30 p.m. to midnight. Call 407-939-3463 for reservations.
If you're visiting with kids under three, you'll need to bring, rent or buy a stroller. Calypso Trading Post sells a reclining umbrella model. Local services that deliver include Orlando Stroller Rental and Owner's Locker. Note: If you have a stroller, be kind to your back by requesting a ground floor accommodation, as there are no elevators available.
The Art of Smart Timing
When traveling to Walt Disney World Resort, it's best to avoid peak travel periods. Generally, these times include holidays and the summer months -- in other words, any time schools are out of session. If you do opt to visit in summertime, pack sunscreen, hydrate frequently and, unless you want to squander your souvenir money on ponchos at the parks, don't forget your raingear.
Fortunately for travelers on a budget, the least expensive times to visit Walt Disney World theme parks (Value Season) tend to coordinate with dates when crowds are the lightest. If your kids aren't in school yet, September is a great time to visit. Another prime time is after Thanksgiving through early December, when parks and resorts are decked out in holiday splendor.
From Orlando International Airport (MCO): Free roundtrip airport transportation via motorcoach is available to guests (advance reservation required; limited hours) via Disney's Magical Express. To reach the resort by car, take the South Exit Road from Orlando International Airport to SR 417 Toll Road (GreeneWay) West and follow signs to Walt Disney World/Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort. Plan on about $3 in tolls.
Free transportation to and from Walt Disney World theme parks and water parks is provided by bus. Bus stops are located near village lodging areas, Old Port Royale and The Custom House. A dedicated internal shuttle makes stops at all of these locations and operates from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily
For Mom and Dad
After the sun goes down, belly up to the bar at the Banana Cabana Pool Bar and sip a fruity umbrella drink, while you watch the kids splash around in the Spanish fortress-themed feature pool.