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
Rooms & Rates
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.
We got to the hotel just after midnight and we were very thirsty. Everything was shut and we could not get our mugs from the front desk and use the fill stations. Our room reminded me of a motel and house keeping skipped us twice in 7 days. We did come back midday to nap and swim, and called late at night for clean towels. On the positive, my daughter loved the pools and the bar was nice. We stayed at the end unit which was the 1st to be picked up and 1st to be dropped off, which was nice. Also, the side pools were warmer and very few people used it. The front lobby was recently remodeled and looked nice.
We just returned after a Thursday (1/10/19-Monday 1/14/19) trip for a grown up couple trip to enjoy the parks and marathon without kids. This was our first trip to Disney without children in over 20 years so were were very excited. We were excited to stay here over Art of Animation or Pop (as it was an expected upgrade from that level hotel). I regret not reading more reviews on room location as we were in the absolute worst block of rooms with not only construction noise (from the new resort/vacation club building adjacent) but also the road noise from the marathon (this was the run Disney marathon weekend but there was a DJ/Speaker truck on Friday morning that woke us at 4am). These rooms were overall fine in terms of set up and layout, however lack a nightstand clock which struck me as odd. I very much regret not requesting a change of room, however, we had full unpacked before seeing (we had arrived at about 10pm) the proximity of the construction site next door and hadn't heard the noise yet). The resort is enormous to navigate to the main building/pool if you are in Aruba section. Our room was not cleaned one day (Sunday) even though it was vacant from 6:30am-1:30pm for the marathon. We did ask for new towels but after the marathon my husband just wanted to go to sleep early so we opted to not have the room cleaned when we spoke to the manager about it at about 10pm. We did ask for and receive fresh towels however at that time and had them in the room upon returning from speaking to the manager. We also were happy to get a later check out at 1pm as our plane departed at 8:45pm on Monday. The bright spot of the property was the helpful manager on staff on Monday morning who helped facilitate a magic band request we had for another upcoming trip later in the week (believe it or not, with 2 of the 3 kids for a sporting tournament in Orlando). We would discourage this location and property and after staying at both Art of A, Pop, and Port Orleans would choose these over Carribbean Beach. The food options were limited (food court area and options for cuisines) and the "scent" of the main building Port Royal was really off-putting. Disney always does an amazing job with scents and this property had a very synthetic scent in the main building that was extremely noticeable and not pleasant.
Main pool was nice, children there seemed very happy. The hammocks are nice on the sandy areas as well. Overall the construction both on property (the huge gondola towers/landscaping changes) the gondola depot and the huge construction next door are all reasons to avoid this property and if staying, choose the building location wisely; ARUBA should not be an option unless it is highly, highly discounted. The distance to the main building is extremely daunting, especially if you have any physical limitations, and the construction is extremely off-putting with almost no escape. We are huge Disney fans...traveling to the parks 3 times in the last 6 weeks and this was by far the worst hotel experience to date (facilities, the cast members were lovely overall).
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.