Walt Disney World has revealed a reimagining for Caribbean Beach Resort’s Trinidad area that replaces the Pirate Rooms with Little Mermaid themed styles. This post shares the original announcement, a new sneak peek inside the redesigned rooms, and other commentary.
Let’s start with the official info from Disney Destinations, which was first shared earlier this fall: “In an effort to continually enhance the guest experience, some of the resort rooms in the Trinidad area of Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort will be receiving a brand-new look and feel.
These new rooms, which will include subtle nods to fan-favorite characters from under the sea, will accommodate more guests and feature updated finishings that can’t be found anywhere else at the resort. As we prepare these new rooms, guests will be able to see and hear refurbishment work in and around Trinidad beginning October 3. We look forward to welcoming guests into these new rooms in 2023.”
This didn’t exactly coming out of left field. Back this summer, Walt Disney World released 2023 vacation packages and resort reservations, and one room category was absent from the resort roster: Pirate Rooms at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. Nothing was available from January through October 2023, and the rooms weren’t even listed as unavailable. Vanished as if they never even existed.
The company followed up with a statement during the Walt Disney World travel agents webcast indicating that the Pirate Rooms at Caribbean Beach Resort were being discontinued. Disney also announced that the no new theme is planned to replace the Pirate Rooms “at this time.”
Walt Disney World just shared a sneak peek at these new rooms on social media. These what the message there had to say about them: “Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort recently added some fin-tastic touches to guest rooms in the Trinidad area of the resort, and cast members were excited to be the first to ‘sea’ them!”
“These new 5th sleeper rooms accommodate more guests and feature special touches inspired by the timeless story The Little Mermaid. They are among the newest of the ongoing enhancements happening at our Resort hotels all around Walt Disney World!”
Since these were posted, I’ve seen a lot of criticism on social media that they’re too bland and look like a real world Hilton or other chain, with simply a few splashes of The Little Mermaid here and there. To be sure, we’ve had this criticism of many past Walt Disney World room redesigns.
However, that was definitely not my initial reaction here. First, this doesn’t show the entirety of the room. When the two beds are pulled down, that’ll almost certainly reveal huge artwork from The Little Mermaid. I’m guessing the reaction from Walt Disney World fans would be very different–and much more positive–if the photo below instead had both beds pulled down.
In addition to that, there are little touches that evoke the Caribbean. The end of the coffee table, bathroom door, and dresser drawers all appear Caribbean-inspired, as do the color choices. It’s definitely more on the subtle side, and not over-the-top like the previous Pirate Rooms or current Little Mermaid rooms at Art of Animation, but not everyone wants that.
While I would love to see more immersively themed rooms like those or the Royal Rooms at Caribbean Beach, I would personally rather stay in this room. Honestly, I’m a bit surprised at how nice this looks. I’m even more shocked that they borrowed the Riviera Resort-style pull-down bed for the new rooms (see below). I figured that was going to be a Disney Vacation Club-exclusive design feature to distinguish those. I’m shocked they’d introduce this at a Moderate Resort.
To be sure, Disney’s Riviera Resort rooms (or those at the Polynesian, Grand Floridian, and coming soon to Wilderness Lodge) are much nicer and more spacious. They also have balconies, which is a big deal for many.
However, if I were primarily concerned with location, amenities, and price–and the room were a bit lower on my list of priorities–it would be difficult to book the Riviera over its next-door neighbor given the colossal cost differential. These new Little Mermaid rooms will close the gap between the two resorts for many families.
Ironically, almost a decade ago we dubbed the then-new Caribbean Beach rooms as “Poly-lite” (above) since they’d be the budget-friendly alternative to staying at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. That was based on the rooms alone, as Caribbean Beach and the Poly are nowhere near one another, and offer none of the same other upsides (save for “vibes”).
These new “Reasonable-Riviera” rooms (still workshopping the name) will offer not just a very similar style, but many of the same advantages in location, transportation, dining, and more by virtue of both being located at Barefoot Bay. I know if it’s a choice between paying ~$250 per night or ~$700 per night, I’m booking the reasonably-priced ‘version’ of these rooms every single time. I don’t need a balcony or to be in the tower that badly.
There have also been rumors and speculation that new rooms are coming to other buildings at Caribbean Beach Resort beyond the Trinidad area. Recently, Walt Disney World filed a permit for “general construction” that encompasses multiple buildings at the resort that were not previously Pirate Rooms.
Balfour Beatty is listed as the general contractor, and they have extensive experience with major projects in the Orlando area. Just off the top of my head, they were responsible for the work within Pandora – World of Avatar, Gran Destino Tower (standard guest room pictured above), Reflections Lakeside Lodge, plus Cabana Bay & Loews Sapphire Falls Resorts at Universal Orlando and the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.
It’s entirely possible that this is a different project entirely, but the nature of the permit and what it encompasses suggests a room refresh. The fact that the Pirate Rooms are being redone and the existing rooms at Caribbean Beach are starting to show their age reinforces this.
One thing to note is that Walt Disney World’s original announcement about The Little Mermaid rooms is that it indicated they would “feature updated finishings that can’t be found anywhere else at the resort.” That could have changed since, or might still be accurate. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Disney go a different direction in order to distinguish the rooms and give the Trinidad area its own selling point. My bet is that the substantive design features end up being the same, but maybe the art or intellectual property ends up being different–or they’re completely the same. I guess we shall see!
Interestingly, Caribbean Beach had character rooms somewhat like this prior to the 2014 redo. Above is our photo of the room back from one of our stays in 2011 when there were Finding Nemo characters on the bedspread and wallpaper borders. While I enjoy a good crazy comforter, I also think the new Little Mermaid room is quite the ‘glow up.’
Nevertheless, Disney has released a lot of marine movies in recent years, including Moana, Luca, and Finding Dory. There are other characters residing underwater who could also be used. So I wouldn’t necessarily be upset to see the other CBR room redesigns go in a different direction with the IP.
It also doesn’t bother me that there are already The Little Mermaid rooms over at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort (above), which is only a short Skyliner ride away. Those are some of the most popular and seldom-discounted rooms in all of Walt Disney World, and they are also incredibly different from what’s being done at Caribbean Beach Resort.
The new Little Mermaid rooms at Caribbean Beach Resort are subtle and slightly sophisticated, aimed at an older audience (or at least a better balance of interests and needs). By contrast, the rooms at Art of Animation are more in-your-face and kid-focused. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with either approach, and there are audiences for each. The Little Mermaid is also a classic that has stood the test of time, so even more rooms featuring its characters might make more sense as opposed to Luca or something newer.
Even if the new rooms only end up replacing the Pirate Rooms, we are excited. We hated those but absolutely love the new DVC style that has been rolling out since Disney’s Riviera Resort opened. We’ve also become growing fans of the Trinidad section of Caribbean Beach in the last several years.
In the time since the Pirate Rooms debuted, so too have the Skyliner and Spyglass Grill. The hub gondola station is directly across the water from the Trinidad section of Caribbean Beach where the Pirate Rooms are located, and they now have a convenient dining option in Spyglass Grill. These are excellent enhancements that truly elevate the Pirate Rooms.
In other words, if you haven’t stayed in the Pirate Rooms in the last 5 years, things have changed. While still a long walk from the main lobby and feature pool, this area isn’t as undesirable as you remember. It’s not where ‘premium’ rooms would be located if this were a brand new resort being built, but it’s no longer an awful location, either.
Ultimately, it’ll be interesting to see what happens with scope and scale of the new rooms at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. At the very least, the Pirate Rooms are going, which was the most desperately needed improvement. Whether Disney follows suit with the rest of the resort matter less, but we hope the same substantive style is replicated throughout the resort.
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Are you excited for The Little Mermaid replacing the Pirate Rooms at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort? What do you think of the functional design of the new rooms? What about their aesthetics? Think these are too bland or just right thematically? Does the nearby Skyliner hub change your perspective on the Trinidad section of CBR? Do you agree or disagree with my assessment that this real estate is too ‘prime’ to remain part of Caribbean Beach forever? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!