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Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort: Laidback and Lovin' It

by Jennifer and Dave Marx, Authors of PassPorter Travel Guidebooks
Last modified 01/19/2009

The free spirit of the tropics greets you at the Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney’s original moderately priced resort. Within easy distance of both Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, this large and sprawling resort is popular with families. The bright, sunny colors of the buildings and rooftops are your first sign of the laid-back lifestyle you’ll find at the Caribbean. After you check in at the Customs House, you make your way to one of the six “islands” that encircle 45-acre Barefoot Bay. Lush tropical foliage, hidden courtyards, and white sand beaches are the setting for your lively Caribbean adventure.

Isn't this just Disney theming at its best? This immediately transports you to a secluded Caribbean island somewhere.

Resort Layout & Rooms at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort
The 2,112 rooms are well spread out among the six exotic “islands” of the Caribe—Aruba, Barbados, Martinique, Jamaica, Trinidad North, and Trinidad South. Each island has a cluster of stucco, pitched-roof buildings without elevators that make up the “village centers,” all painted in their own distinctive colors. The rooms in the two-storied buildings have bright colors and oak furnishings. The beds (one king or two doubles) have posts carved into pineapples, the symbol of hospitality. Guest rooms have double sinks in the separate vanity area with under-sink shelves and a privacy curtain, a table and chairs, an armoire with TV, a set of drawers, and a ceiling fan. There are no balconies or patios. Guest rooms here are the largest of all the moderate resorts at 340 sq. ft. Amenities include a coffeemaker, refrigerator, toiletries, housekeeping, limited room service, and voice mail.

Dining at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort
The Caribbean Beach offers a table-service restaurant, as well as a breezy food court and the ubiquitous pool bar. All are available in Old Port Royale, also called “Center Towne,” housing the eateries, shops, main pool, and marina. The food court’s hours are 6:00 am–11:30 pm. Banana Cabana, a pool bar located at Old Port Royale, offers a variety of specialty drinks ($6.50+) and beer ($4.00–$5.00) during pool hours. Bluerunner is a limited room delivery service—typical menu items include domestic beer ($5.00), wine ($8.95+ for 1/2 bottles), 16” pizza ($16.99), and cheesecake ($3.59). Shutters, the table-service restaurant, serves Caribbean-flavored fare for dinner only—see the restaurant’s description on page 227 of PassPorter's Walt Disney World guidebook.

A standard room with two queen beds at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort

A bustling village atmosphere sets the stage for Market Street, the resort’s updated food court. The various food stations offer chicken, pasta, sandwiches, burgers, pizza, and baked goods. Menu items include French toast with bacon ($4.99), Cobb salad ($6.99), bacon double cheeseburger with fries ($7.39), turkey club ($6.29), kids’ grilled cheese ($3.99), and carrot cake ($2.99). Get refills at the beverage island with a mug ($12.49).

Playing & Relaxing at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort
For Athletes: The Barefoot Bay Boat Yard rents boats and “toobies” (motorized inner tubes). Rent a bicycle or surrey bike for a ride around the bay. Walkers and joggers enjoy the many beautiful paths and will really enjoy the circuit around Barefoot Bay and the footbridges to Caribbean Cay island.
For Children: There are playgrounds on the beaches in Barbados, Jamaica, and Trinidad South.
For Gamers: Goombay Games in Old Port Royale has video games.
For Shoppers: The Calypso Trading Post & Straw Market offers themed gifts, sundries, clothing, and Caribbean items.
For Swimmers: The recently refurbished themed pool near Old Port Royale features cannons and waterfalls, as well as a wading pool for kids, a spa (hot tub), and a water slide. Six leisure pools are among the resort’s “islands.” Note that there is no swimming in the bay. For Sunbathers: Each “island” has a beautiful, white sand beach.

Transportation at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort
Transportation to the theme parks and water parks (see chart below for in-transit times) is via frequent buses. Other resorts are accessible by changing buses at a nearby theme park (daytime) or Downtown Disney (evening). You can also take an internal resort bus if you need to reach other areas within the resort. To go to the Customs House (lobby concierge/luggage services), get off at Barbados. We stayed at this beautiful resort in June 2007 and are delighted to report that it is looking wonderful!

Tips and Notes for Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort
While you can’t swim in the bay, the white sand beaches are great spots to relax. We found several hammocks set up along the beach—take some time to just kick back and watch the palm trees flutter.

You can catch a glimpse of the Epcot globe between Old Port Royale and Martinique—look in the evenings for a glimpse of IllumiNations. There are “hidden” courtyards sporting tables with umbrellas in every “island” of the resort—these are now the designated smoking areas, but can still be very rewarding places to relax. Be sure to take a trip across the bridge to Caribbean Cay (formerly Parrot Cay) in the middle of Barefoot Bay. Beyond the lush foliage and dense bamboo stands, you’ll find gazebos, picnic areas, and hammocks. In-room refrigerators are complimentary.

There are no elevators at this resort.

This is a sprawling resort, making it difficult to get to Old Port Royale to eat or shop. Consider stocking up for snacks and quick breakfast foods. Board the “Internal” bus to move around the resort.

All rooms in Martinique and Trinidad North are preferred rooms. New, pirate-themed rooms are in Trinidad South, while new Finding Nemo-themed rooms are in Martinique. All priced the same as a water-view or king-bed room. Check-in time is 3:00 pm. Check-out time is 11:00 am.

Best Locations at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort
Your “island” can make or break your experience. Though more expensive, we suggest Martinique or Trinidad North, which are close to Old Port Royale. Aruba and Jamaica, across the Barefoot Bay bridge, are good choices for a bit of seclusion. You don’t need a water view to enjoy your room here, but if you prefer one, we found the following rooms to have outstanding water views: 2524, 2525, 2556, and 2557 in Martinique; and 3117, 3149, 3225–3228, and 3257–3261 in Trinidad North. Corner rooms (available with either double- or king-size beds) seem larger as they often have an extra window.

Room Rates at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort
2009 room rates begin at $149 for a standard view room, $174 for a preferred, water, or king bed room, $174 for one of the pirate themed rooms (standard view), and $199 for one of the pirate-themed rooms with a water view. Note that 12.5% tax not included in above rates. King-bed rooms come in both standard or water view, and both are the same rate as a water-view room. Preferred rooms (any view, any bed size) are located in Martinique and Trinidad North. Higher rates in price ranges are for weekends and holiday periods.

Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort Quick Facts
Address: 900 Cayman Way, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830
Phone: 407-934-3400 g Fax: 407-934-3288

About the Author: Jennifer and Dave Marx are the founders of PassPorter Travel Press/MediaMarx, Inc. and the authors of dozens of bestselling books. They live in Ann Arbor, Michigan and frequently travel within the U.S. and abroad.

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Updated 01/19/2009

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