Perhaps you had booked your resort stay for Caribbean Beach last year, before you knew there was going to be construction. Perhaps you were one of the lucky ones who got gift card compensation for the inconvenience, or a cheaper night as a result. If you’re staying at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort while it’s under construction you may not think it will affect you, but you are wrong. Here’s a quick list of all the things to be prepared for during your stay. From transportation to food options to how to activate your travel mug, here’s the info to know if you ( and your family) hope to survive your vacation at Caribbean Beach. Let me just say we weren’t terribly shocked by many of the issues we’ll share here, but we did witness many families in complete breakdown mode as a result of their stay, so be forewarned.
It’s been news for months now that Walt Disney World is installing a gondola system that will connect Art of Animation, Pop Century, Caribbean Beach, and the new DVC Disney Riviera Resort. This connection will run to Hollywood Studios, the International Gateway at Epcot and to Magic Kingdom. As this is a grand scheme this transportation system will require a slew of Gondola stations. The Caribbean Beach Resort is home to a new Gondola station that has recently taken the place of the entire Barbados area of the resort. Yes, Barbados is no more. The resort still does however have 6 stops ( Martinique, Jamaica, Aruba, Old Port Royale,Trinidad North and Trinidad South) which brings us to our first issue.
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Transportation during Construction
Regular transportation in and out of Caribbean Beach was never stellar hovering around the 40 minute commute to and from the parks. Add in construction and the commute around the resorts adds another 25-40 minutes onto the park commute. We heard from several drivers that getting in and out of the resort as well as maneuvering through the remaining 5 bus stop locations is very difficult. Often what we saw was that by the time the bus made the first two stops at stop 1 and stop 2 the bus would be full, especially during busy times, leaving the other 3 bus stops waiting as long as an 1.5 to 2 hours for bus service.
- Expect to wait at least 1 Hour for a bus at Caribbean Beach.
- If you’re hoping to catch Extra Magic Hours, call an Uber.
- If you have a dining reservation you can’t miss, call an Uber.
- If you’re waking your children up extra early to get to the parks before everyone else, call an Uber.
- If your sanity meter depends upon the buses getting you to and from the parks on a schedule, call an Uber.
- If you’re at Trinidad South, Jamaica or Aruba, you can catch the Internal Resort Shuttle and ride to Stop 1 or 2, (Martinique or Old Port Royale) to catch the bus you hope to ride as soon as they enter the resort complex.
Note: When a stop hasn’t been serviced, the buses will come directly to that stop to pick up a backlog of passengers who have been waiting. This is the case in the picture above.
Please don’t yell at the Bus Drivers. With over 1800 buses in the WDW fleet you yelling at the guy driving the Animal Kingdom bus because the Magic Kingdom bus is an hour behind won’t get you anywhere. Just call the Uber, otherwise try to be kind and patient. They are doing the best they can given the circumstances.
Remember that the Bus Service provided by Walt Disney World is a free service offered as a courtesy. You can be upset that they don’t arrive on time or get you where you need to be, but don’t expect them to compensate you for the inconvenience. Disney does not guarantee bus arrival or departure times from or to any location. Just keep this in mind. We saw many families upset about the waits only to wait another 40 minutes in the guest services line to complain about it. Plan accordingly.
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Gift Card for Select Guests
If you were lucky enough to book your trip sometime last year, or before the announcement of construction plans (~ April 2017), you will have gotten email communication from Walt Disney World sharing that you would be compensated for the inconvenience. Here’s what you need to know about the gift card promotion.
- If you’re receiving a gift card you will have received an email stating so.
- Gift card amounts range from 25 to 75 dollars per night of stay. ( So if you’re staying 6 nights, you could receive a 450 dollar gift card. )
- You receive one gift card with the full amount, for all nights.
- You cannot purchase other gift cards with your WDW issued gift card. The full amount remains on one giftcard and cannot be transferred.
- Do not lose the correspondence letter that comes with your gift card, as the letter is the only proof that you are the owner of the gift card.
- Your gift card can be used to reconcile any charges you make to your room. Know that the credit card associated with your account will be charged automatically upon checkout, so if you’re hoping to use the gift card to cover charges, you will have to visit the concierge before 11 am or be prepared to have them refund the money to your card and recharge it to the gift card. .
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Port Royal Island Markets
To service guests the resort has fashioned individual resort rooms throughout the complex as Island Markets. These are little pop up stores so that guests don’t have to go all the way to Old Port Royale to get a coffee, or pastry. They are not full service markets.
- Drinks ( in cooler)
- Coffee ( in percolators)
- Resort travel mugs
- Select pastries ( in small case)
- Drink Stations (there are however Coke refill stations next to Ice Vending in some of the buildings.)
- Personal Care Items ( medicine, toiletries, etc.)
- Food ( other than pastries)
- Room for more than 5 people at once.
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Old Port Royale Food Court and Options During Construction
In the past guests would be able to frequent Old Port Royale for the gift shop, food commissary, Shutters restaurant and more. During construction guests are able to get access to food, but Shutters is closed and the gift shop under construction, so also unavailable.
- Lighter fare, like croissants or small food items are available by ordering at the checkout counter to the right and picking up your order at the food truck on your left.
- Only a buffet is offered. If you’re buying the buffet for breakfast, lunch or dinner, you will get in line to pay and then be let into the main tent area on the right hand side.
- If you’re just interested in accessing the drink stations inside the tent, you can do so without waiting in line.
- Room Service, like pizza delivery is still available and will take between 45- 60 minutes. Delivery and tip is included in the price you pay for your food.
How Disney’s Caribbean Beach Construction Will Affect You
In addition to the dining and transportation issues maid service is also compromised.
It could be just because its the busy time at Walt Disney World, but apart from the beds getting made daily don’t expect exemplary maid service during this time. We imagine it’s difficult to get all the rooms ready with the property so torn up. Trash was sometimes not emptied, and coffee and personal care items may just be piled on the counters instead of properly displayed. The washrags will probably not be folded into cute little animals as you’d expect either.
The registration building that houses check in, bell service and the concierge is far away and not in walking distance. The lines here are also very long at any time of day. As the hub of where the Magical Express picks up and drops off as well as yet another stop on the Internal Resort Shuttle route, you can expect lots of people all in a hurry to get in or out. Again, build in the time to be here.
We spent more time on this trip waiting for buses and standing lines that we ever have before. If your vacation includes family members or children be prepared to bring snacks, leave extra early, bring card games or anything else that will keep things easier.
The construction doesn’t have to ruin your vacation. Decide how you’re going to make this work for you and your family and plan ahead. Best of Luck to you and try to enjoy your vacation:)