As I loaded my luggage into the car and closed the hatch, I took one last look at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort. There was a familiar feeling in the pit of my stomach, one that I had recently felt in Las Vegas. After hitting Red on the roulette table three straight spins, I got greedy and paid the price. With two successful stays at Disney moderate resorts this year, I should have learned from that experience and walked away. Instead, I let the wheel spin one more time...
|Disney Caribbean Beach Resort|
After an easy check-in and a warm "welcome to the islands," I made the short drive over to our room located in building #12. Since this is the "Good" section, I'll glaze over that there are a total of 56 buildings within the resort. Fifty - no I'm not kidding - six.
On the walk up to the room, I couldn't help but notice the overwhelming display of foliage. There are literally thousands of blooming hibiscus and bougainnvillea trees around the resort, bringing its Caribbean beachfront theme to life. The beautiful grounds would rival any of Disney's deluxe resorts, and were the lone bright spot of our experience.
As soon as I opened the door to our room, I knew that the ball had landed on Black. I had heard the rooms here were themed after Pirates of the Caribbean, but this was worse...much worse. I'm pretty sure the movie Finding Nemo had thrown up in this room. After a few minutes of squeezing my eyes shut, hoping that when I'd reopen them it all would have changed, I ran into the bathroom and breathed a sigh of relief. There were no Nemo and Dory anti-skid pads in the shower.
|Yes, that's Nemo, Crush, and Dory on the bedspread...|
Contrary to those at Coronado Springs, the rooms at Caribbean Beach literally scream "This is Disney!" Or maybe that was the sound of the neighbor's kid when he saw the same room. I guess context is sort of important here...
|The bathroom and "closet"|
The next morning, we had a few hours to kill before heading to Animal Kingdom for the Expedition Everest Challenge. We decided some time at the pool with a good book was the perfect way to spend the day. It was still before 10am, but the pool was packed, and I wasn't in much of a mood for the sound of kids having fun. Instead, we found an awesome - read: shady - spot under some palm trees on the makeshift beach. Sure, it fronts a polluted lake and not the ocean, but it was far better than the alternative.
|MJ on the "beach."|
After a couple hours on the "beach," I decided it was time to track down some food, and headed to the resort's food court "Old Port Royale." If you've ever taken a cruise, it's likely you're familiar with the welcome building at nearly all the ports. Before the masses exiting the ship can head out to explore the island, they must first walk by numerous tacky souvenir shops, and a line of taxi drivers with peeling laminated signs. Yeah...that's exactly what Old Port Royale feels like...
|Old Port Royale|
Since the cashier in the fruit section was the only one without a line, I grabbed a bowl of pineapple, and made for the exit. All the while, I couldn't help but wonder how many talented people on Disney's design team thought the look of Old Port Royale was a brilliant idea.
|The lights are a nice touch.|
In fairness to the resort, I should probably add a little context to this review. Caribbean Beach is great if you're traveling with the family and really need the "Disney Experience." If you're a no-kids-hotel-snob like me, there is a high likelihood the face-palm you do upon arrival will leave a permanent mark.
|At least there's pretty flowers...|
If you are heading to Orlando but don't want to spend a fortune, there are plenty of affordable hotels to be found, some right on Disney property. While Caribbean Beach may be a part of that list, in my opinion it should be the choice of last resort.
That is unless you've got a kid that loves Nemo...
~Insert Dude-like Closing Here~