* We here at Tips from the Disney Diva are dedicated to bringing you truthful reviews and sometimes that means something was missing the Disney Magic.*
By: Tangled Diva
This will be unlike any article I’ve ever written for this blog. Until our most recent trip, I was convinced that I loved all things Disney. Well, that changed on our last trip. I found something that I not only didn’t love, I even used the “h” word–yes, I HATED it. I couldn’t even believe that I used “hate” and “Disney” in the same sentence. I felt so guilty about it, but after posting a review about it on Facebook and talking to others about it, I quickly realized that I was not alone in my hatred. Many had the exact same experiences and hatred that I did. What is it that I hated so much? The Caribbean Beach Resort (CB). I hated it so much that I think my subconscious did not allow me to photograph it, so I had to borrow pictures from Undercover Diva to even write this article.
We always try to go to Disney World when they run the free dining plan. We usually stay at either Pop Century or, our favorite, Port Orleans French Quarter. At Pop Century you get the quick serve meal plan free (2 quick serves, 1 snack, 1 resort mug) and at French Quarter the dining plan that is free is slightly upgraded (1 table service, 1 quick serve, 1 snack, 1 resort mug). We decided we wanted the nicer dining plan this time, but, for some reason, they excluded French Quarter (NOTE: I later learned that they added it later on in the offer. So, if the resort you want is not initially available for a certain deal, be to keep checking back to see if they include it later so you can switch). So, because I am a coupon queen, and I am never turning down free food, we started looking for an alternate resort. Caribbean Beach looked appealing with the Caribbean/pirate theme, so we picked that one and were really excited about checking out a new resort.
That excitement faded within the first day of our stay. Now, before I go into my list of reasons I hated it, I wanted to offer a little disclaimer. This was only my experience. And, while dozens of people have said that they had the same or similar experiences, there were also some that enjoyed the resort. The first thing you have to consider is what you look for in your Disney vacation. When we go to Disney, it is ALL about the parks. Our hotel room serves one purpose-sleeping, and we do very little of that when in Disney. We are visit park open to park close kind of people with no naps in between. So, resort perks or amenities, while nice, are irrelevant to us. Keep that in mind when reading this article.
Now, on to my list of why I hated Caribbean Beach:
- Transportation: The resort is extremely large, so it warrants having multiple bus stops–I believe that there are 7. It was a pain every morning and every evening having to sit through multiple stops before getting to the parks/resort. Also, if you were one of the last stops, the bus might even be full before it even gets to you. They also have an internal bus for resort transportation. The place is so large, that you have to take a bus to certain areas depending on where you stay. To me, this was the biggest downfall to this resort, especially since a lot of the value resorts have a better/faster transportation system than this.
- Dining: The dining area is very small (much smaller than Pop Century) and potentially very far away (you may even have to take the internal bus to get to it). Luckily, we were within walking distance, but it was still about a quarter mile to get there. Typically, when we stay, we swing through the dining area to fill up our resort mugs on the way to the parks. Because this dining area was so far away, we used our resort mugs very, very little.
- Rooms: I was not at all impressed with the room. They were no larger or nicer than the Pop Century rooms. Definitely not worth paying more for in my opinion.
- Resort Decor: I much prefer the decor of French Quarter and especially Pop Century. There really wasn’t much to the outside decor at Caribbean Beach. Nothing that, at least to me, made it up to Disney par like other resorts. Again, we spend very little time at the resort, so this wasn’t a huge deal, but thought it worth mentioning since I felt that the value (i.e., cheaper) resorts were much better if this is something that you are going for.
- Cast Member: This one was the one that stunned me the most. And, I know I keep saying this, but keep in mind that this was just my experience (although others had similar ones). We have always found all of the cast members to be extremely friendly and knowledgeable. We did not find this to be the case at CB. When we got there it was quite an ordeal to simply get our luggage to the room. We didn’t have magical express handle our luggage because we stayed off site the first night. We got there early so our room was not available, so we had to leave our luggage with the front desk. Typically, even when we’ve done it this way, our luggage has just “magically” appeared in our room. Not so here. We were told we would be sent a text when our room was ready, and that we then had to call and tell them to take our luggage to the room once we got to the room. We never received a text, so I called to check the status and was told the room was ready and for us to call when we got in the room, and then they would delivery our luggage (we have never had to be in the room before to accept delivery). So, this was a pain as we planned to be in the park until they closed. I also had some boxes delivered prior to our arrive and was told that we would have to do the same procedure for them. When I called to have them delivered, after having been told the packages arrived, I was told that they had no record of the package. I explained the situation, and they were finally able to track them down, but I had to wait a day to get them even though they had arrived 2 days before me. We had similar issues in the dining area where we waited over 25 minutes for a pizza that they said wasn’t ready only to have another cast member pull it out of the storage oven where it had been sitting for 10 of those minutes. Also, the came cast member that told me my pizza wasn’t ready, spent my entire waiting time complaining about being too busy and not being trained to work there. This was the first time I had ever experienced this at all. Prior to this trip, with one exception (a very rude bus driver), we had never experienced cast members being anything but extremely helpful, friendly, and knowledgeable.
- Resort Size: I’ve mentioned this in other list items, but I hated how large the resort was. Nothing was convenient to get to at all. The place where you have to check in is potentially very far from where your actual room is. We could not have walked from our check in location to our resort room. This particular “hate” was really frustrating when we checked out. Our flight left at 10:00, and, as you are likely aware, you have to get on Magical Express 3 hours before your flight (TIP: We have always found this to be insanely early. We usually spend an hour and a half at the airport waiting on our flight. They make your magical express reservation based on your flight information. In the future, I plan on finding another flight–not the one we are actually taking–that leaves an hour after ours. It doesn’t even have to go to where we are going as they just use it to make your bus reservation. I am going to give them that flight information so that we don’t have to be there so early). This meant we had to be on magic express at 7:00, or at least that is what I though. But, remember, our resort was a LONG way from the place where you checked in/out and got on magical express. So we had to use the resort shuttle to get there. The only time available for pick up was 5:45!!!! Holy Cow!!! So, we had to get on the shuttle at 5:45, to arrive there at 6:00 and then wait an hour for magical express, and, then, of course, waited another hour and a half at the airport for our flight.
Bottom line: I saw nothing about the resort that warranted it being “moderate” and not “value.” For me, I can’t imagine paying extra to stay there instead of at a value resort, especially since the value resort that I’ve stayed at has the same amenities (some better in my opinion), a better transportation system, and the dining area is much more convenient to get to. Honestly, had CB been a value resort, I would have expected a lot of these things and been totally fine with them. It would have been a trade off for the cost savings. I would never voluntarily stay at the resort again. But, if free dining is on the table, and this is the only resort available, I will definitely pick it.
Did the resort ruin our vacation? Heck no!!!! So, if you have a reservation there and are now panicking after my review, please, please don’t! Just be sure to plan ahead. You may want to call and get a room that is closer to dining if that is something you utilize (NOTE: There is likely an upgrade charge to be closer). And, be sure to plan in extra time for transportation when you have reservations you are trying to get to. Despite the resort, we still had a wonderful time on our trip. And, I have heard the kiddos love the pool area and water slide. Since we aren’t resort people, we never utilized this, so can’t really attest to it. There are also hammocks and beaches everywhere for you to relax in that looked really cozy. The resort was a lot quieter and more serene than other resorts. So, if you are looking to relax, catch up on a book, or get some much-needed sleep, this is definitely the place for you!