Moderate resorts are a great option for anyone going to Disney with a budget, but does not want to stay at a Value Resort. We have stayed at the majority of moderate resorts on Disney property. Each are uniquely themed, as all Disney resorts, and have a lot to offer.
Recently, we stayed at the Caribbean Beach Resort for the first time. This resort was recently renovated and had a complete overhaul. It’s always great staying at a hotel that has recently gone through renovation. Since it was our first visit, we do not know what it was like previously, but think the new decor and style is perfect.
Here’s our fun family vlog, as we check out this resort. Link to our official vlog review is below.
When you pull up to the Caribbean Beach, much like other Disney resorts, you are greeted by bell hops and staff to help you on your way. What I really want to focus on here is the lobby. The first thing I noticed when we entered was the smell. It was the perfect mix of coconut and pineapple wafting through the air, without being overpowering. That first impression instantly relaxed us and got us in island mode!
The ceilings in the lobby are sky high, with tons of natural light. Large draped curtains separate the check-in, seating area, and shop/food sections. The seating area has tons of comfortable couches and lounge chairs to take a load off in.
The check-in desk was a style I haven’t seen at other Disney resorts. Rather than one large counter, there were stations with two cast members each, as well as long high top tables with chairs, with cast members there too with iPads. The area was much more open and less stuff. As with every Disney resort, that was a kid-sized seating area with a TV showing Disney cartoons.
I had a few requests and the cast members were so accommodating and helpful. They were thorough and did not rush the process at all. We arrived well before check-in time and, to our surprise (and luck!) our room was ready.
There’s also a gift shop off the main lobby. It was large and included the basic Disney resort gift shop items, including some resort specific themed items.
Here’s our official vlog review of the hotel
All rooms have been renovated to reflect the new, re-imagined theme of the resort. The Caribbean Beach offers a couple different room options. There is a standard room option, which is island themed, with lots of white and brown tones sleeps up to four. The rates for this room vary, based on your view. For the standard rooms, they also offer an option of a pull down twin bed, which gives you the option to sleep up to five.
For our stay, we stayed in the upgraded pirate room. If any of your little ones are into Pirates of the Caribbean, you may want to consider this type of room. Usually, this type of rooms costs more. However, it’s not always the case. Be sure to shop around, using all sources, when pricing out your Disney resort; you may be surprised to find an upgraded room for cheaper.
The pirate theme was cute. The beds are pirate ships and our kids loved pretending to ride in their ships. The drawers look like old crates. They were small, but deep. There was also and area that looks like a truck that also has drawers (We did not realize this until the last day!). There is a barrel and when you open the front, you’ll find a new mini-fridge. The lights over the bed are cool and soft when you don’t want it to be too bright.
The bathroom is a typical bathroom of a Disney moderate resort. There are double sinks, with open closet area, and safe, separated from the main room by a curtain. In the standard rooms, this is now separated by a sliding door. Personally, I’d prefer the sliding door to the curtain. Toilet and bath are in their own room. If you’ve never stayed at a Disney moderate resort, this room is SMALL. There’s just enough room to open the door, without bumping into the shower and toilet. That’s my least favorite part of these types of hotels. I was hoping with the remodel, they’d somehow fix this, but no luck.
Now, let’s focus on what is so important for a Disney vacation, when you’re exhausted and want to rest: the beds! I have to say, the new beds and pillows are AMAZING. In the past, they’ve been just okay, sometimes not good at all, at the moderates. I remember the beds not being comfortable and pillows being sparse. Thankfully, that’s not the case here anymore! The beds are so comfortable and pillows are perfect. Four pillows per bed are provided and there’s an extra pillow and blanket provided in the closet.
As with the moderates, the buildings the rooms are in are two levels and there are no elevators. If you or someone in your party may have trouble with the stairs, be sure to let the cast member know at check in, they will be happy to accommodate.
Food and Drink Services
This resort has a few dining options. We were not able to try all of them, but will fill you in on the ones we did try.
When we first arrived, we grabbed lunch at the quick service in the main lobby, Centertown Market. A lot of the items on the menu have some Caribbean flare, if you’re feeling daring, but they do have everyday options like burgers and pizza. Most of our crew chose the chicken tenders and fries, which are always a Disney staple. Pro tip: if you have two kids getting chicken tenders and fries, get one adult size lunch portion for them to share. It’s the same amount of food (8 tenders and fries) as two kid meals (4 tenders and fries each) and close to $5 cheaper! I had the spinach and kale salad. It was really good. I got the dressing on the side, as per usual. The combination of greens, toppings, and dressing were great. Very refreshing and light, for a hot Florida day. Breakfast and dinner are also served here. Dining options vary, from meal to meal. There’s ample seating inside, but if you want some fresh air, there’s also a covered porch outside.
Banana Cabana is another quick service restaurant, but this totally gives you the island vibe. It’s an open air bar, located close the main pool and on the water. Bar food, such as wings, burgers, and salads are offered here. We did not try the food, although others plates looked good. What we did try here were the drinks. They have a menu with all tropical cocktails, most of which including rum. There are some other non-rum frozen cocktails. Also available are beer and wine.
Our room was located in the Trinidad section of the resort and close to the Spyglass Grill. This counter service establishment is a great option if you’d like a quick bite. You can either sit there or bring it back to your room. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are all offered. For breakfast, we would recommend the Breakfast Cuban sandwich. It’s a breakfast sandwich that has pulled pork, ham, scrambled eggs, and cheese. The portion was large and could be shared. We would have a picture to share, but ate it too quickly. 🙂 Lunch and dinner options include sandwiches, burgers, tacos, and kid’s meal options. One thing we loved about the Spyglass Grill was that they served coffee, all day. In addition to the standard Joffrey’s coffee that Disney offers (not our favorite), there’s specialty drinks such as cappuccinos and lattes. One afternoon, I got a double cappuccino to-go and it was a perfect pick-me-up.
The sit down restaurant at this resort is Sebastian’s Bistro. We did not get a chance to eat here, but from what we saw, the atmosphere is casual. It’s situated on the water, so there are great views from inside. This restaurant is only open for dinner and offers many island inspired meals.
As with all Disney moderate resorts, it is sprawling. There are five sections, named after areas of the Caribbean. Based on where you room is, certain amenities may be a long walk. Always refer to the map provided at check-in.
This resort has seven pools. Each section of the resort has their own pool. The main pool, that has the most theming and action is the Fuentes del Morro pool, which is located in Port Royale, steps from the lobby and Banana Cabana. This area has large pool, slides, and splash play area. As with all Disney resorts, safety vests are provided if your little one isn’t the best swimmer yet, so no need to pack swimmies or puddle jumpers! During the day, there are games and activities around the pool. The pools in each separate section aren’t as busy or themed, but a great option that is close to your room to relax at.
Caribbean Cay is a section on the water that has paths you can walk through with lots of tropical plants. Some of this path is on the water. You’ll also find already with gazebos with benches to relax at. Also in this area is the Caribbean Cay playground. It’s a good size playground, covered and shaded so you can actually use it on a hot Orlando day. It’s There’s an area nearby with benches to sit at and watch the kids. Pro tip: Get a tropical drink to go from Banana Cabana and enjoy it on the benches, while the kids play! Also near the playground is a shaded sandy area with hammocks. We took a load off there too. I could have easily fallen asleep, it was so relaxing. This area is where the movies under the stars are offered nightly, weather permitting. Campfire and s’mores are offered nightly, as well. This is located on the water, near the small lighthouse.
When you arrive at the airport, the Magical Express service is offered. When you arrive, follow the signs. You will have to go downstairs, in terminal B. Once in the area, have your magic band ready. A cast member will scan it and let you know which line to go in. The lines are broken up by resort. Depending on your luck, you may be able to walk right to the front and get on a bus or you may have to wait a while. For us, we had to wait quite a while for our bus (we missed the first one by a few people). Cast members will divvy up the crowd onto the appropriate buses. The bus to the hotel takes about a half hour. Cartoons, Disney trivia, and tons of advertising are shown on the TVs to keep you distracted. The Magical Express will bring you to you hotel. Depending on everyone on that specific bus, your hotel may not be the first stop. The new Magical Express buses are great, offering USB cords for charging all devices that may have drained during your trip. This is only the case with the new buses, not all of them. This is also an option for your trip home. More information on this on our Disney Planning post and video.
Free bus transportation is offered to the four Disney parks, Disney Springs, and the two water parks (Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon). There are six bus stops located around the resort. When you check in, the cast member will let you know which one is closest to your room. This is where you will catch the bus and get off when returning.
We found the bus service at this hotel to be great. We had to wait, but it was never anything ridiculously long and our buses came in a timely fashion. Honestly, I think we just lucked out with this. In the mornings, there were cast members at each stop, making sure everyone was aware of the procedures and to keep the process moving smoothly.
Other Modes of Transportation
If you’re heading off property or don’t feel like dealing with the buses, there are other services offered. If you feel like going old school, taxis are always available. One option we found to be a huge time saver was Uber/Lyft. Sure, it isn’t free like the Disney buses, but is much faster and much cheaper than a cab. Minnie Vans are a service, similiar to Uber, offered by Disney. This, however, is only within Disney property and tends to be more expensive than Uber/Lyft.
If you drove to Disney and have your own car, be aware there is a daily parking charge. This is something Disney implemented in spring 2018. I can’t say I’m a fan of it, as the charge is expensive and really adds up if you’re staying for an extended period of time.
If you plan on driving your car to the park, there is a daily parking charge. This varies from park to park and time of day. Parking is not cheap. I’d recommend the Disney buses over driving. If you are an Annual Passholder, parking is free. Unless you’re going somewhere after the parks, it is better to take the Disney buses.
Disney Skyliner and Riviera Resort
If you’re somewhat involved in the Disney groups online, you’ve heard about the Disney Skyliner, that is scheduled to open later in 2019, and the Rivera DVC Resort that is being built.
One of the main stops for the Skyliner will be at this resort. When we visited, they were still testing this. When it first opens, I’m sure it will be a popular attraction and may lighten the amount of people traveling on the buses to the parks. Over time, I doubt it will make a huge difference. There are mixed reviews on the whole thing. From what I saw during the visit, I’m not loving it. Of course, my opinion may change over time. Because of the Skyliner’s path, there are massive towers set up in the resort. From a distance, they resemble power lines. On the ground, the base is all metal. I’m not sure if they’re planning on somehow covering this to go with the resort theme. The station is quite large and located immediately to your right, when you pull into the resort.
The Riviera Beach is Disney’s newest DVC resort, being built on the far side of the lake Caribbean Beach sits on. The large building is set to the side, so it doesn’t intrude or overpower the smaller building scale of the Caribbean Beach. As time goes on and this resort opens, it may bring more people to the restaurants at the Caribbean Beach and their guests will undoubtedly be using the Skyliner, as well.
I did not hear a sound from the construction while we were there and it did not interfere with our stay at all. We were located on the opposite side of the lake, in the Trinidad section.
Resort in Review
This is a great resort! We found everything top notch and had no complaints. All of the amenities are fantastic. This is the type of resort you can (and should!) spend time at to enjoy. You will feel as if you’ve been transported to the islands!
If you’re looking for a Disney moderate resort, that is recently renovated, with a non-cheesy tropical feel or have a little one that loves pirates, check out this resort!
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