More than any hotel at Walt Disney World, Caribbean Beach Resort is an active construction site right now. With the re-imagining of Old Port Royale, Skyliners, and the construction of Disney’s Riviera Resort, the newest DVC addition, there is a lot going on. In this post, we’ll share a photo tour of the resort, and offer some thoughts on staying here this year or next.
The Old Port Royale/Centertown project were announced this spring, and initially, Walt Disney World offered $75/night gift cards to guests booking the resort. This meant many guests were able to double-dip for the Free Disney Dining Plan promo, but alas, both deals have ended and currently there are no incentives to book CBR during its heavy construction. Caribbean Beach Resort simply has a warning concerning the construction on DisneyWorld.com and its normal prices.
Originally, this notice stated that construction work would be completed in Late 2017. Now, no end date is provided. Based upon our observations, it’s safe to say Late 2018 would be an ambitious end date for the projects. More likely, this will be finished sometime in 2019. These are some really extensive projects. To be perfectly honest, the construction impact on Caribbean Beach Resort was far worse than even I anticipated…
First of all, let’s provide some context for all of this work, as these Caribbean Beach Resort construction photos won’t make a ton of sense if you’re not already familiar with the resort, or where this work is occurring. For a primer on CBR, read our comprehensive Caribbean Beach Resort Review.
Below is a 2017 map of Caribbean Beach Resort from DisneyWorld.com, with my notes about current projects added. If you look at an older map, you’ll notice the Barbados section and part of Martinique of Caribbean Beach Resort have vanished, as has part of Old Port Royale…
Okay, now let’s make some sense of my rudimentary Photoshop creation. In blue is the work being done on Old Port Royale and Centertown, which stretches from the parking lot to waterfront, and abuts what remains of Martinique. In yellow is (roughly) one of the Disney Skyliner gondola station plots. There will also be another Skyliner station down by Jamaica, in the bottom left corner of the map.
In red, there’s the Disney Vacation Club component, Disney’s Riviera Resort. Right now, the work on this project is very noticeable throughout Caribbean Beach Resort, and is especially bad from Martinique, the Old Port Royale area, and Aruba.
Finally, in green is the Customs House check-in area for Caribbean Beach Resort. This will undoubtedly be demolished at some point to further demarcate between Caribbean Beach Resort and Riviera Resort.
Many Disney Vacation Club members were apprehensive about the idea of a “Moderate” DVC resort back when this project was rumored to be an extension of Caribbean Beach Resort, but the name makes clear that Disney wants to draw a distinction between the resorts.
Here’s hoping this occurs by concealing Disney’s Riviera Resort. Even if it’s technically nicer, it looks dull as dishwater, with no real theme to speak of. It’d be a shame if the thematically-charming Caribbean Beach Resort were blighted by an “upscale” resort towering over its edge.
We already know that Disney’s Riviera Resort won’t open until Fall 2019, because Disney has announced as much. Progress here is very much in the early stages, and in walking around, I found this project to be very visible and noisy.
This was especially the case from the “quiet” pool at the edge of Martinique (above).
Within Caribbean Beach Resort, there’s also a ton of work occurring at the Centertown and Old Port Royale complex. The above walk-through video should give you an idea of how this all looks. You might want to watch it on mute, as my babbling like someone who has spent too much time out in the Florida humidity adds literally nothing to the video.
It’s difficult to tell from my attempts at photos, but a ton of land has been cleared in this area, and the existing buildings have been pretty much gutted (see below). This is definitely going to be an expansion of Old Port Royale, but it’s unclear what will be added beyond the waterfront dining and shopping.
It’s possible that the Customs House check-in will be relocated here, which would definitely make sense. It is interesting that the Old Port Royale area is poised to expand its footprint as Caribbean Beach as a whole is contracting in size.
It makes me wonder if Disney’s Riviera Resort will be slightly under-built in terms of amenities (we already know it’s getting at least rooftop dining), with the expectation of some sharing occurring. Having DVC maintenance fees pay for some of the upkeep of this area and the Fuentes del Morro Pool is probably attractive to Walt Disney World.
The Old Port Royale Food Court, Shutters at Old Port Royale, Banana Cabana Pool Bar, and Calypso Trading Post permanent locations have all now closed.
Some of these, like Banana Cabana and Calypso Trading Post, have been replaced with temporary locations in trailers or trucks.
Then there are the food court and table service locations, which have been replaced (I guess?) by food trucks and a large tent that now houses a makeshift buffet.
Our tip: skip the lovely “ambiance” of the parking lot and have food and alcohol brought to you for a much cheaper price–see our Tips for Grocery Delivery at Walt Disney World post for more info.
In addition to these dining options, three guest rooms have been converted to Island Markets: Martinique 2509, Jamaica 4308, and Aruba 5524.
These sell various grab and go items and have refillable mug stations.
Substantively, the collective menus of the temporary dining options are not much worse than Caribbean Beach’s standard dining options.
However, it’s worth pointing out that the island atmosphere of the permanent locations went a long way in carrying these restaurants.
As mentioned above, the construction at Caribbean Beach Resort is a lot more noticeable and intrusive than I anticipated. Just look above at the view of construction above from the pool area.
Previously, Caribbean Beach Resort scored highly in our rankings due to its “Polynesian Lite” rooms and large tropical scenery to explore and enjoy.
During this construction project, that tropical scenery is heavily impacted. A walk around Caribbean Beach is not particularly enjoyable from an escapist perspective, and definitely not serene. If you want a Moderate with ‘resort’ ambiance right now, I’d recommend Port Orleans Riverside.
This will remain the case until at least mid to late 2018, if not 2019. If you care about ambiance and theme, now is not a good time to experience Caribbean Beach Resort. That is, by far, the biggest way Caribbean Beach is impacted.
If you’re concerned with dining options or resort amenities, it’s also difficult to recommend CBR right now. The makeshift dining options are definitely less-pleasant atmospherically, but they do a decent-enough job with adequate alternatives.
I wouldn’t want to eat every meal in that giant tent, but chances are, you’ll do a couple of meals here and/or from the food trucks at most. In that scenario, I could see Caribbean Beach being an okay choice. But I probably still wouldn’t risk it.
If the Poly-lite rooms are the biggest/only selling point of Caribbean Beach for you, and you request a room in Jamaica or Trinidad, I could see Caribbean Beach Resort still being a viable option for you.
The main pool is still there (and with added entertainment), and the far end of the resort is not as noticeably impacted as the rest of it. Even if this is your perspective, I probably still would be hesitant to book Caribbean Beach unless I could score a great discount, or really didn’t like the style of the other Moderates.
Actually, without any special incentives to book Caribbean Beach Resort, we have a hard time fathoming why anyone would want to book it right CBR between now and 2019.
(To be clear, by incentive, we’re talking more than a standard discount that’s also available at other Moderates. It would take a return of the $75/night gift card to convince us to stay here at this point.)
If you’re a Caribbean Beach Resort fan (as I am), the downside of postponing a stay here is that the nightly rates will undoubtedly increase once all of this work is done. The first indicator of this is the upscale waterfront dining and shopping.
The bigger selling point will be the Skyliner access to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot. Any time a Walt Disney World resort has non-bus transportation to one of the parks, that’s at least a 25% premium. While we wouldn’t expect the ‘Skyliner surcharge’ to be significant, we would be surprised if Caribbean Beach didn’t eclipse $300/night (rack rate) for certain dates once the Skyliner debuts.
Personally, after seeing this construction, we will not book a stay at Caribbean Beach until at least later in Summer 2018. (Probably more like Fall 2018 just to play it safe.) That’s the earliest I can foresee the re-imagined Old Port Royale opening, and we think that will be the turning point on this project. While Disney’s Riviera Resort will still be under construction at that point, it should be far enough along that the bulk of the exterior work is not loud and intrusive. And, if it is, we’d simply request a room in Trinidad. My biggest concern is that thematically, the current resort reminds me nothing of the Caribbean Beach Resort I fell in love with years ago, and that won’t totally be the case again until sometime in 2019.
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Do you agree or disagree with our assessment of the construction impact on Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort? Have you stayed here since the work began? How did it affect your stay? Planning on staying at CBR anytime soon, or will you wait until work is done? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!