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Caribbean Beach Resort Archives

July 22, 2014

Shutters at Old Port Royale

Jack Spence Masthead

Welcome back!

Yesterday, I discussed the changes that have been made to the Caribbean Beach Resort over the last three and a half years. I also presented you with a review of the food court found here. Today, I'll be discussing Shutters at Old Port Royale. But before I do, I need to give you the history of this restaurant.

The Caribbean Beach was Disney's first moderately priced resort. When planning this property, the Imagineers did not think budget minded guests would be interested in a table-service restaurant, so they only included a food court in their plans. However, they were wrong. When the resort opened on October 1, 1988, guests immediately started complaining and requesting more dining options. However, it would be almost six years before the first solution came to life.

When the resort initially opened, a large lounge called Captain's Hideaway was located in what is now the food court seating area near the Calypso Trading Post. This spot offered a full bar with an emphasis on tropical drinks. In 1994, this spot was renamed Captain's Tavern and dinner service began in a partially converted lounge. Prime rib, chicken, and crab legs were some of their specialties. However, Captain's Tavern had its drawbacks. First, the atmosphere was still that of a lounge. It was nice, but hardly an intimate getaway.

The next, and more daunting problem came with its location. Because of the initial design of the building, Captain's Tavern had no adjacent kitchen and no place to add one. In order to serve this new restaurant, a portion of the food court kitchen needed to be converted so it could prepare upscale meals. Besides depriving the food court kitchen of much needed preparation space, this distant location also created a problem for the wait staff as they were forced to cross a busy walkway and pass through a small door to get to and from the backstage kitchen.

In 2002, things changed dramatically. Captain's Tavern was closed and this space was converted into more food court seating. At the other end of the food court, a section of the dining room was walled off for a new table service restaurant that would be opening soon.

When finished, the new restaurant would have three intimate dining rooms that could seat up to 130 guests. In addition, a new kitchen was built specifically for this eatery. However, because of space limitations, the kitchen still needed to be located across a guest walkway. To address this distant site, the Imagineers would make this a "show" kitchen open for all to see. No longer would the servers be forced to walk backstage to place orders and pick up food. Secondly, the foot traffic at this end of the food court is relatively light and dodging guests would no longer be a significant problem.


Show Kitchen


The official name of the table service restaurant at the Caribbean Beach Resort is "Shutters at Old Port Royale." The reason for this long name is to differentiate this establishment from a restaurant at Disney's Vero Beach Resort which is simply called "Shutters." However, everyone drops the "at Old Port Royale" and just calls the Caribbean Beach version "Shutters" as well.


Shutters at Old Port Royale

Shutters at Vero Beach


Although you can get to Shutters via the food court, the official entrance is off of the esplanade. Inside the restaurant's lobby, guests check in at an unassuming podium. Although this restaurant can usually accommodate walk-ups, reservations are always a good idea. You especially need reservations here on holidays like Mother's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.


Shutters Main Entrance

Shutters Lobby


The atmosphere at Shutters continues the rich and varied color pallet found in the food court, however the hues in the three dining areas have been muted and are relaxing rather than jarring. I find these rooms comfortable and welcoming.

Do note, the dining room located immediately to the right of the main entrance is often used as a passageway between the kitchen and another dining room located just beyond this first room. If you're seated here, you will be subjected to servers coming and going throughout your entire meal. If a host tries to seat you in this room, I would suggest that you request another spot.

Here are two pictures each of the entrance and all three dining rooms. The last two pictures are of the dining room I mentioned above.


Shutters Entrance

Shutters Entrance

Shutters Dining Room 1

Shutters Dining Room 1

Shutters Dining Room 2

Shutters Dining Room 2

Shutters Dining Room 3

Shutters Dining Room 3


Here is a picture of a table ready for guests. Although you probably can't see it in this photo, the napkins are paper. I have a problem with this.


Shutters Table Setting


Come on Disney. I ate lunch at Bahama Breeze the other day, a similarly themed chain restaurant, and even this eatery offers cloth napkins. At the prices you're charging at Shutters, surely you could afford to provide guests with cloth napkins. And don't tell me it's part of the "island theming." I've been to many nice restaurants in the Caribbean and been provided with cloth napkins. I don't mind that you don't have tablecloths, but paper napkins are for coffee shops. If you want to promote Shutters as a fine dining establishment, then take the necessary steps to do so.

Shutters is currently open from 5pm to 10pm each evening. Donald and I had 5:30 reservations and arrived a little early. We were given a pager but were called to our table before we could even find a seat in the lobby. We were escorted to the dining room I warned you about and given a table. (This is how I learned firsthand that this is the least appealing dining room of the three.)

Before I go any further with this review, I need to share with you one of my pet peeves I experience when dining out and how I've finally decided to handle the situation in the future. And this trip to Shutters would be my first execution of my solution.

Little annoys me more than going to a nice restaurant and being rushed. More times than I can count, I've had my entrée arrive while I'm still enjoying my appetizer. Grrr. In the early years, I would let the server place the food on the table as I hurried through my soup. But eventually I started insisting that they take the food back to the kitchen until I was ready for it.

At some point, I started explaining to my servers when I was first approached that I was in no hurry. I politely, but firmly, told them that I didn't want to be rushed and I wanted to relax between courses. I was always assured that this would not be a problem. Sometimes my plea for leisurely pacing worked, but more often than not, it didn't. Although I would be finished with my appetizer, my dirty plate would often still be in front of me when my entrée arrived.

Last month I ate at California Grill, one of Disney's signature restaurants. As has been my policy for a long time now, I told my server I was in no hurry and to please time my meal accordingly. I was told that he was an expert at such things and this wouldn't be a problem. He went on to say that I should feel free to order my entire meal and he would take care of everything.

Not true.

I was still enjoying my before-dinner cocktail when my appetizer arrived. And there were a whopping three minutes "breathing time" between my appetizer and my main meal. Grrr. I'm sorry, but when I eat at a fine Disney restaurant, I don't want to be served like I'm at a corner coffee shop.

Anyway"

After that night, I swore that I would never let this happen to me again when I'm planning on an enjoyable dinner in a nice restaurant. And Shutters would be my first experience with my new tactic.

Our server Kyra greeted us shortly after we were seated and offered us drinks. While I was ordering my Mai Tai and Donald his iced tea, I told Kyra that I was having difficulty making choices tonight and I thought that I would hold off ordering appetizers until after I enjoyed my drink. She smiled and said, "Not a problem." Our drinks arrived about five minutes later and Kyra left us alone.


Mai Tai


My Mai Tai was good and I'm glad I ordered it. Donald's iced tea was ice tea. What can I say? LOL

For you lovers of rum, Shutters offers two different Rum Flights where you are served three shots of rum and can enjoy side-by-side tastings. I seriously considered trying one of these but decided I wanted a fruity concoction instead.

While enjoying our drinks, Kyra brought us a bread basket and butter topped with sea salt. I thought the bread was a little bland but the butter and sea salt made up for any lack in taste. In addition, I want to compliment Shutters on providing me with more than enough butter. There was plenty. Later in the evening, we were brought a second bread basket and more butter.


Bread Basket


After we finished our drinks, Kyra returned to our table and asked if we were ready to order. I told her we would select our appetizers now, but we still didn't know what we wanted for our entrées. Once again, she smiled and said "No problem."

I ordered the Braised Beef and Pepper Jack Cheese Empanada with Chayote Slaw and Piquillo Pepper Dipping Sauce.


Braised Beef and Pepper Jack Cheese Empanada


The empanadas were good, but not outstanding. I wish they had been a little more flavorful. If I were to return to Shutters in the near future, I would definitely try something else before reordering this dish.

Donald ordered the Caesar Salad with House-made Dressing and Cornbread Croutons.


Caesar Salad with House-made Dressing


This was the one true disappointment of the evening. After taking one bite, Donald said the dressing was so bland he could hardly taste it. He offered me a bite and I had to agree. If I hadn't seen the dressing on the leaves, I would have guessed it was missing altogether. I suggested that Donald add salt. He did and it helped a little.

I know that Disney has a tendency to "dumb-down" some of their spicier meals so to appeal to the masses. If this is what they did here, they over did it.

After we were finished with our appetizers and our dishes cleared, Kyra returned to take our entrée order. I selected the Black Jack Barbecue Pork Brisket with Crab, Shrimp, and Corn Imperial. This was served with Green Beans and Piquillo Peppers.


Black Jack Barbecue Pork Brisket with Crab, Shrimp, and Corn Imperial


This meal was outstanding!

First, take a look at the presentation. There is wonderful color and texture balance. The plate was artistically arranged. This meal just looks delicious.

My first bite was of the Crab, Shrimp, and Corn Imperial (right side of the plate). It was wonderful. I could easily make an entire meal of this side dish alone. Besides being extremely flavorful, it was chockfull of large shrimp.

The green beans were cooked al dente, which I like. The piquillo peppers added a sweet taste with no "heat."

The serving of pork was large. There was plenty of meat here for a hungry eater. And the barbecue sauce was the perfect topping. It definitely had a barbecue flavor, but it was subdued. This is not the strong taste you'd get when ordering ribs at your local BBQ joint. This sauce was more refined.

Donald loves short ribs, but was afraid to order them as restaurants often skimp on the serving size. Kyra assured him that Shutters offers 10oz of meat with this offering. So Donald ordered the Caribbean-Braised Boneless Beef Short Ribs in a light Curry Sauce with Mashed Yucca and Yukon gold Potatoes.


Caribbean-Braised Boneless Beef Short Ribs in a light Curry Sauce with Mashed Yucca and Yukon gold Potatoes


Donald was more than pleased with his selection. The dish is served in a large bowl and is reminiscent of pot roast. Besides the beef and potatoes, the meal had plenty of carrots and onions. He said it was all delicious and it was so tender that no knife was needed.

By this time, Kyra had picked up that I was ordering my meal slowly and gave us an appropriate pause after our main meal before offering us dessert. In fact, she didn't even bring the menus to the table until after she had asked us if we were interested.

For my last course I ordered the Vanilla Cheesecake with Banana Caramel Sauce and Brulee Bananas.


Vanilla Cheesecake with Banana Caramel Sauce and Brulee Bananas


Once again, I hit the jackpot. This was an outstanding dessert. The cheesecake had an original flavor. Meaning, it didn't taste like "Cheesecake Anywhere USA." It was obvious that it was made on premises with someone's personal recipe. The brulee bananas were good as was the multi-nut brittle that garnished the plate.

Donald order the Tres-Coconut Tres Leches -- Sweet Cream, Caramel, and Passion Fruit.


Tres-Coconut Tres Leches


Donald also felt like he was a winner with his selection. All three offerings were flavorful and had subtle but distinct differences from one another. He especially liked the Passion Fruit.

In conclusion, we had an enjoyable meal at Shutters and I'm glad we ate here. And even though paper napkins, bland empanadas, and a tasteless Caesar salad started the evening off with less than a bang, the friendly service, outstanding entrées, and wonderful desserts made us forgive the rocky start. Not to mention, we spent more time at Shutters than we did at the California Grill a month earlier thanks to my new ordering tactic.

Would I return to Shutters in the future? Sure. Especially if I was staying at the Caribbean Beach Resort and wanted a nice meal.

Would I go out of my way to eat at Shutters? The answer to this question is a little more difficult. Shutters is good, but it's hardly unique. On the other hand, Disney offers an outstanding array of restaurants with more interesting atmospheres and experiences. This makes it difficult for Shutters to compete.

Would I consider Shutters a Disney signature restaurant? Definitely not. And neither does Disney as Shutters only requires one dining credit, not two, when using the Disney Dining Plan. But Shutters is a good choice for a somewhat upscale, casual meal.

Well, there you have it, my experience at Shutters. If you've eaten here, feel free to add your thoughts to the AllEars "Rate/Review" page by clicking here. To see the current menu, click here.



July 21, 2014

Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort – A Relook

Jack Spence Masthead


The last time I reviewed the Caribbean Beach Resort was during an overnight stay in November 2010. (To read that review, click here.)

Last month (June 2014) I returned for a two-night stay to see what had changed since my last visit. After a look around I discovered that very little has been altered during the past three and a half years. So with just a few exceptions, the resort is pretty much the way you remember it. Here are the changes I discovered during my stay.

In case you didn't already know, Disney no longer uses plastic key-cards as room keys. They now give each guest a wristband that "magically" unlocks the door when you tap the band to a Mickey head positioned near the doorknob. You can also use these wristbands to pay for food and drink by simply "tapping" and entering a Personal Identification Number that you created at check-in. (You must leave a credit card on file during check-in to have charging privileges.)


Wristband


I have stayed at three Disney World resorts since the implementation of these wrist bands. And I have to tell you, I like them. I really appreciate wearing my room key on my wrist. It beats pulling out my wallet and searching for the keycard. The same holds true when paying for something. It's much easier to "tap" than search for a credit card or cash. Also, the wristbands are waterproof which makes trips to the pool all the more convenient. Now you don't have to leave your wallet or purse unattended while swimming. You can leave your money and credit cards back in the room. You have everything you need right at "hand." I think the wristbands are great!

NOTE: I am NOT talking about using the wristbands for FastPasses. This is a whole other topic that I will NOT be discussing here. And please don't send me comments on the subject of FastPasses. They will NOT get posted. All I'm saying is that I like the wristbands for room access and charging.

All six laundry rooms are now locked 24/7 and require a wristband for access. I can personally assure you that no matter what section of the resort you're staying in, you can use any of these facilities. I know, because while I was filming the resort, I checked each and every laundry room and my "Barbados" wristband granted me access to all of them.


Laundry Room

Laundry Room


The offerings at the Marina have been scaled back dramatically. No longer available are the Sea Raycers, pontoon boats, canoes, pedal boats, and sail boats. If you want to pilot your own craft, you must now travel to the Contemporary, Polynesian, Grand Floridian, Wilderness Lodge, Fort Wilderness, or the Yacht Club. Still available at the Caribbean Beach Resort Marina are surreys, bicycles, fishing excursions, and the Pirate Cruise. This was a cost-cutting measure made by Disney that has impacted all of their moderate resorts.

In this next picture, you can see the empty channel where the Sea Racers once waited for eager captains.


CBR Marina


As I mentioned in my recent blog about the All Star Resorts, the paper drinking cups purchased at the food court now have a microchip attached to them that monitors your consumption. After your initial serving, you are allowed three refills over the next two hours.


Fountain Drinks


I booked a standard room for my stay at the Caribbean Beach Resort. When I entered, I saw that nothing had really changed since my last visit in November 2010. The only noticeable difference was the lack of a bedspread in favor of the "spa" look. A "Finding Nemo" throw now offers the only splash of color in the room. Additionally, my room did not have a "Finding Nemo" wallpaper boarder circling the ceiling as my room did in 2010.


Guest Room

Guest Room

Guest Room


As I mentioned in my blog about the All Stars, the TVs at the Caribbean Beach now turn on to an informational channel about the resort. In addition, the volume is initially set very low as to not disturb others. I really like this change and I'm glad to see it being implemented at all of the resorts.

I was disappointed with the electrical outlet near the table as the refrigerator was plugged into one of the receptacles. I was visiting by myself and wanted to plug in both a cell phone and a laptop. I can't imagine how a modern family of four would make out with just one outlet.


Electric Outlet


Overall, I found the room to be tired and uninspired. Very clean, but tired and uninspired. I can't say that there was anything wrong with my accommodations, but I can't say that there was anything particularly compelling about them either. If you were to pin me down for details as to why I felt this way, I would be hard pressed to come up with any. Overall, I'd just have to say that the room lacked Disney magic. With just a few small Disney details (the throw, a picture of a Disney Cruise Line ship, and one hidden Mickey), a similar room could be found at any motel along Hwy 192.

This depressed me. I know that the Caribbean Beach is a favorite of many, but I was going to have a hard time promoting this room. I began wondering how I was going to write a review and gently let down the ardent fans of this resort. But fortunately, this story does, or will, have a happy ending.

The next day, I set out on a three hour trek around the entire resort to film and photograph each of the six villages. I started at the Barbados village then moved on to the Aruba section. When I got to the Jamaica village I discovered that a number of the buildings were closed and construction workers were scurrying everywhere. It didn't take me long to realize that Disney was in the process of refurbishing the rooms at the Caribbean Beach and work had only recently begun.

I try to respect rules and I try not to venture where I don't belong. But I wanted to see what was happening so I carefully passed by a construction warning sign so I could peek into one of the almost completed rooms. And I have to tell you, it looked great. A far cry from the room I was currently staying in. However, I did not take any pictures because I didn't want to push my trespassing any further than I already had. Instead, I headed over to Custom House so I could speak with a hotel manager.

After introductions were made, I explained to him that I write for AllEars and was currently staying at the resort. I asked if there was any way I could change rooms for my second night. But I was told that very few remodeled rooms are on line and nothing was available at the moment. I went on to explain that I live nearby and could stop by any day if they would grant me access to a remodeled room for just 10-15 minutes so I could photograph and film the new accommodations. Once again, my request was politely declined.

So, for the time being, all I can tell you is that new and more compelling rooms are on their way to the Caribbean Beach Resort. I know that AllEars will make every effort to bring you pictures and videos as soon as we can, but it will probably be a few months away. Since Disney will not guarantee an updated room when making a reservation, we need to wait until more refurbished rooms come online so we can be somewhat certain we're booked into a newer unit.

As I mentioned earlier, I spent three hours circling the resort so I could videotape all of the villages. I also spent several more hours filming Old Port Royale Centertown. Below is the culmination of my efforts. I hope you enjoy this overview of the resort.



Since I've already told you about all of the changes I discovered at the Caribbean Beach Resort, and this blog is only half the normal length I strive for, I thought I would use the rest of the space to give you an in-depth review of the food court and Shutters, the resort's table-service restaurant. Let's start with the food court.

First, you need to know that I like Disney resort food courts. In fact, since I live so close to Disney World, I will occasionally stop in at a resort simply to have lunch at one of these counter-service eateries. Of course, when eating at a food court, one must keep in mind that this is not a fine dining establishment. For the most part, the food offered at these locations is pre-prepared or is a dish that can be cooked quickly. This is perfectly fine with me as I don't always want "fine dining." As long as you have the right frame of mind and don't compare these establishments with a table-service restaurant, you should be fine.

The food court at the Caribbean Beach Resort is located in the Old Port Royale Centertown building. Disney tried to place this building in the center of the resort, convenient to everyone. But the truth is, it can be a long walk from some of the villages. Because of this, Disney offers bus service that continually circles the resort and stops at all villages and Old Port Royale Centertown.


Old Port Royale Centertown

Old Port Royale Centertown


As I've mentioned many times before, when making a room reservation, you can request a specific location. Disney will not guarantee they will honor the request, but they will try their best. So if you want to be close to Old Port Royale Centertown, request either the Martinique or Trinidad North village. Second choices would be Aruba and Jamaica.

The food court at the Caribbean Beach Resort is themed to resemble an open-air marketplace found somewhere in the islands. Brightly colored buildings line a stone street, each selling their wares. On the second story, you can see the homes of the shop owners. Overhead, lanterns light the way beneath a perpetual evening sky.


Food Court Alley

Second Story Shop Owner's House

Second Story Shop Owner's House

Second Story Shop Owner's House

Second Story Shop Owner's House


The first shop we come to is Grab N Go. This is the largest of the five shops found along this street and as the name implies, it's the spot where you can "grab" your goodies quickly, pay, and be on your way.


Grab N Go

Grab N Go


The selection here is large. In the bakery section, rolls, muffins, and bagels dominate the offerings in the morning. As the day progresses, these give way to cookies, cupcakes, and other cake-like goodies.


Bakery


On an adjoining shelve, chips, salty snacks, more cookies, and wine are available. Whole fruit can also be found nearby.


Shelf of Goodies


The rest of the offerings can be found in open refrigerators. Here you'll find sliced fruit, salads, yogurts, premade sandwiches, soft drinks, adult beverages, power drinks, milk, juices, desserts, and much more.


Grab N Go Refrigerator

Grab N Go Refrigerator


I'm not a big breakfast eater, so for me, Grab N Go works perfectly. I can get a bagel, cream cheese, and an orange juice and be more than happy.

Note, at Grab N Go you pay for your purchases within the store. At all other locations in the food court you pay at central registers.

When the Caribbean Beach Resort first opened, the Grab N Go station did not exist. This space was divided into two shops, Cinnamon Bay Bakery and Oriental Express. The latter served a variety of Chinese items like egg rolls, spareribs, and soups. Later, this shop was renamed the Wok Shop.

The next stop along the road is Royale Pizza and Pasta Shop.


Royale Pizza and Pasta Shop

Royale Pizza and Pasta Shop

Royale Pizza and Pasta Shop


The pizzas served here are the same as the ones served in the parks. Personally, I think they're fine. Is it gourmet pizza? Nope. But they don't taste like the store-bought cardboard variety either. However, your toppings are limited to cheese and pepperoni.

Other options here are Fettuccini Pasta and Meatballs, Vegetable Lasagna, Chicken and Mushroom Marsala, and Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage. Since I was at the resort to write a review, I decided to give this spot a try and selected the Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage for lunch one day. The meal is accompanied with your choice of either a breadstick or a simple iceberg lettuce salad.


Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage

Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage


I discovered while photographing this meal that the red and green table tops were not particularly complementary to the food. So please believe me when I say, the pasta tasted much better than it looks here. LOL

Overall, I was happy with my selection. It was quite tasty. My only complaint was with the salad. I wish it contained a little something more than just lettuce. A cherry tomato would have been nice. Prepackaged Ken's dressing is available at the ordering station.

Next on our journey is the Old Port Royale Hamburger Shop. The offerings here include a 1/3 Lb. Angus Bacon Cheeseburger, Caribbean Catch Sandwich, Chicken Breast Nuggets, Hot Dog, Jerk Chicken Sandwich, Vegetable Burger, Chili-Cheese Hot Dog, and Portobello Mushroom Sandwich.


Old Port Royale Hamburger Shop

Old Port Royale Hamburger Shop


Here I selected the Bacon Cheeseburger and my friend Donald tried the Chicken Nuggets. For the burger, a topping bar is available near the beverage station that includes tomatoes, lettuce, pickles, and onions. For the nuggets, several dipping sauces are offered.


Bacon Cheeseburger

Chicken Nuggets


We were both pleased with our selections. Everything was hot and the fries were fresh, not soggy.

Bridgetown Broiler is only open for breakfast (7am to 11:30am) and dinner (5pm to 11pm). I did not sample any of their wares so I can't offer any opinion for this spot. In the evening they offer Baked Chicken, Roast Turkey, Mojo Pork, Ropa Vieja (Braised Beef), a Vegetable Plate, and Seared Salmon.


Bridgetown Broiler

Bridgetown Broiler

Bridgetown Broiler


The last stop along this quaint street is Montego's Deli. The selections at this shop include Turkey BLT Sandwich, Royale Sandwich, Vegetable Wrap, Cheesesteak, Roast Beef & Blue on Ciabatta, Cuban Sandwich, Caribbean Salad with Chicken, Shrimp or Tofu, Caesar Salad with Chicken or Shrimp, and Lime Chicken Wrap.


Montego's Deli

Montego's Deli


On the afternoon I opted to eat at this shop I selected the Royale Sandwich. It is loaded with turkey, ham, salami, roast beef, provolone, and red pepper ranch spread. It is served with either house-made jerk chips or pasta salad. I chose the latter.


Royale Sandwich


This sandwich was extremely tasty. In fact, it was probably the best meal I had at the food court. The pasta salad was also quite good. Sometimes pasta salads can be rather bland, but this one was not. It tasted of the many other ingredients present in the mix.

The food court begins serving hot breakfasts at 6:30 each morning with just one store being open. At 7am, two more stores begin serving and at 8am, the last of them comes on line. With each opening, more offerings are available. Note, the Grab N Go is open all day from 6:30am to 11pm.

Breakfast dishes include, Bounty Platter, French Toast, Spinach & Feta Omelet, Ham & Cheese Omelet, Western Omelet, Cheese Omelet, Mickey-Shaped Waffle, Steak & Egg & Cheese Quesadilla, Pancakes, Chocolate-Chip Pancakes, and Breakfast Cuban Sandwich.

Besides tasting as many meals as I could during this trip, I had another goal for this review. I wanted to take flattering photographs of the food to share with you. This prompted me to select the Bounty Platter as I thought it would make a good picture. The Bounty Platter comes with a scoop of scrambled eggs, breakfast potatoes, two strips of bacon, one sausage patty, one biscuit, and one slice of French toast.


Bounty Platter


It is my experience that breakfast foods do not hold heat well. This can be a problem when eating the morning meal in a food court. Even though I encountered no line when paying, the process still took a couple of minutes. After which I had to proceed to the condiment station and find jelly, salt, butter, syrup, cutlery, and napkins. By the time I got seated, my food was only lukewarm. By the time I had my last bite, it was cold.

The scrambled eggs tasted fine. After all, it is pretty hard to mess up scrambled eggs. However, they did need salt (and pepper, but I forgot to pick some up and I wasn't going back to the condiment station).

I also like the potatoes. They were lightly spiced and actually quite good.

On the down side, the bacon slices were small and limp. If you like your bacon crispy, forget it.

The sausage was absolutely tasteless. In fact, if you had blindfolded me and given me a bite of this sausage, I would not have been able to tell you what had been placed in my mouth.

The biscuit was so cold it was incapable of melting a pat of butter. And the slightly warm French toast quickly lost what heat it had once I poured the cold syrup on top.

In the future, I'll stick with my traditional bagel and cream cheese.

To enter the dining room, you must pass by one of several registers and pay for your meal. This is also the time to order your fountain drink if you didn't pick up a bottle or can at one of the food stalls. On the backside of the register stands are napkins and plastic cutlery.


Food Court Register


Just past the registers is the beverage station. As I mentioned earlier, you must have a microchip embedded drinking cup or an all-you-can-drink mug to activate the machines. Water is the one exception.


Beverage Station


Behind the beverage station guests can find a multitude of offerings. Toasters, a microwave oven, condiments, the topping bar, and everything else you need to complete your meal is located here. If you don't see something you need, just ask one of the nearby cast members and they should be able to help you out.


Microwave Oven

Toasters


The eating area consists of one large dining room and two smaller adjacent rooms. They all continue the same festive color scheme found at the food stalls.


Food Court Dining Room

Food Court Dining Room

Food Court Dining Room

Food Court Dining Room


With the exception of one of the smaller rooms, this space is not carpeted. Nor are the seats padded. Thus, there are no soft surfaces to soak up the noise. So when things get busy here, it can also get loud.

There a handful of tables located just outside of the food court. On nice days, this is a wonderful place to enjoy lunch or dinner.


Outdoor Seating


Near the beverage area is a "To Go" station. Here you'll find everything you need to package up your meal for a trip back to your room. Plates, lids, napkins, cutlery, beverage holders, and paper bags are all available.


To Go Station

To Go Station


Overall, I like the Old Port Royale food court. I'm obviously not too keen on my recent breakfast, but other than that, I liked everything I sampled and I would have no problem returning here for lunch, even if I wasn't staying at the resort.

Below is a short video of the Caribbean Beach food court. If you've already seen my resort overview video, there is no need to view this one as you've already seen the food court earlier.



My regular readers know that I am a believer in trying everything that Disney has to offer. That being said, I would hope that if you're staying at the Caribbean Beach Resort, you only enjoy one, maybe two meals at the food court during your stay. Even if you don't have the budget to eat in some of Disney's finer dining establishments, stop in at the other resorts and give their food courts a try. Who knows, you just might be captivated by the offerings someplace else and want to give another resort a try on your next trip.

Well it seems that I've rambled on so long that I've run out of space from my review of Shutters. So I guess you'll have to check back tomorrow to see what I think of the Caribbean Beach Resort's only table-service restaurant. Until then, Bon Appetit.



February 24, 2009

Caribbean Beach Resort – Pirate Room

I recently spent the night at the Caribbean Beach Resort in one of the new pirate themed rooms. In this blog, I'll be discussing the overall resort and describe this new experience in Disney accommodations.

When Michael Eisner was hired by shareholders Sid Bass and Roy E. Disney in 1984, he was given the directive to develop the Disney World property. One of the first things he did was order two new resorts be built, the deluxe Grand Floridian and the first moderately priced Disney hotel, the Caribbean Beach Resort.

Located south of Epcot, the Caribbean Beach Resort is comprised of 33 guest houses clustered together in villages. Each village represents a distinct Caribbean style inspired by and named after the Caribbean islands of Trinidad, Martinique, Barbados, Aruba, and Jamaica. Each two-story building has sixty-four, 300 square foot rooms. Each room has two double beds and can sleep four.

The first stop for guests when arriving at the Caribbean Beach Resort is the Custom House. This is where everyone checks in and receives a slew of interesting paperwork describing the resort and the rest of Walt Disney World. At this time, you'll be given your room keys and directions to your room. If you arrive before your room is ready, you'll be given a phone number to call to check on status.


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The heart of activity at the Caribbean Beach Resort is Old Port Royale Centertown.


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Shopping is available here at Calypso Trading Post. A large collection of Disney merchandise is on hand as are other tropical gifts. Adding to the already strong West Indies décor, pirate theming has been added.


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One of the truly unique items for sale here is a coconut, ready to be mailed to friends and family back home. This is the genuine article already stamped for delivery to anywhere in the U.S.. All you have to do is add the address.


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Old Port Royale Centertown is also where you can grab a bite to eat. For counter service meals, try the Market Street Food Court. This festive avenue features a number of stalls selling everything from donuts to pizza to pan seared salmon. Seating is provided in one large and several smaller areas. Brightly colored walls and overhead fans help you believe you're in a tropical locale.


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If you're in the mood for a slower paced supper, try Shutters. This table service restaurant is located at the far end of Market Street and offers a nice relaxing atmosphere in one of its several small dining rooms.


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Just outside of Old Port Royale Centertown is a pleasant area where you can sit and enjoy a cocktail from Banana Cabana.


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In the mood for some boating, then head for the Barefoot Bay Marina. Here you can rent a Sea Raycer for a zippy ride or a pontoon boat for a more relaxed experience. The pontoon boats, now decked out with a pirate theme, are especially nice for groups. Have your lunch packaged "to go" at the Market Street Food Court and enjoy a meal out on the water.


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Also scattered around this 45 acre lake are a number of white sandy beaches. This is the perfect spot to work on your tan (don't forget the sunscreen) or read that best-seller everyone has been talking about. Beach chairs and hammocks are waiting for you.


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The swimming pool at the Caribbean Beach Resort was completely remodeled a couple of years ago. It now looks like a Spanish fortress guarding some far off tropical harbor. The pool also offers "zero-entrance" for easier access into the water. A separate area for the younger set is nearby. A mock shipwreck and slide is the centerpiece of this play area.


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Each village has its own "quiet" pool. Although children are welcome, the area is sedate and meant for relaxing more than splashing. Also nearby each quiet pool is a laundry facility. This way you can sun and swim while taking care of this far from exciting chore.


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Each village has its own bus stop. It's here that you catch a motor coach to the various theme parks or Downtown Disney. The maximum wait should be no more than 20 minutes - less during busy times.


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The Caribbean Beach Resort is large. So large that it has its own internal bus that continually circles the resort, stopping at each village and Old Port Royale Centertown. One complaint I've heard about this resort is that the Market Street Food Court is too far away from a number of the villages. If you find that's the case for your family, catching this bus might be the answer.

Here are some general pictures of the resort.


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All of the rooms at the Caribbean Beach Resort are completely non-smoking, but a number of pleasant spots have been created for those of you who wish to light up.


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I booked this most recent trip just so I could stay in one of the new "Pirate" rooms. In case you haven't heard, Disney is redecorating a number of the rooms here with a pirate motif. Take a look and see what you think.


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An artist's rendering of one of the new scenes added to the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction hangs on the wall.


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One thing I like is Disney has added a curtain between the lavatory and bedroom. The last time I stayed at a moderately priced Disney resort this was not offered. Now a family can have a little more privacy.


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The bedspread design features gold coins and gem stones. The carpet looks like peg-and-groove planking.


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The refrigerator is housed in a wooden chest and extra pillows are available in a trunk.


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The vanity area is adequate with two sinks and an open closet. Six bath towels were on hand upon arriving. A tiny, key-locking safe, an iron, and ironing board are also available.


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The shower curtain features sailing ships and the Flying Dutchman is etched into the shower wall.


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Last year I wrote a review about the Contemporary Resort. In it, I complained that the Mickey branding had all but been removed from the toiletries. I'm happy to report Mickey is back. But note, the plastic wrapping on the soap is so strong, I needed to use my car keys to break it open.


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I did enjoy the new pirate theme. It's not too heavy handed, nor is it childlike. I feel Disney created a nice balance that both children and adults can enjoy. But I also must point out a few negatives.

First, if you can only sleep in a pitch-dark room, do not stay at the Caribbean Beach Resort. The way the drapes hang from the curtain rod, it is impossible to cover the windows completely. The windows do have plastic blinds, but light still leaks in. My room was only semi-dark and there was nothing I could do about it.


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Also offered is a high-speed internet connection. But it is located on the nightstand between the two beds. That's perfect if you wish to recline while working. But if you're like me, I prefer to sit at the room's table. The internet cable will reach that far, but just barely. It was very taut. If anyone were to walk between the table and bed, they will run into the cord and pull your laptop to the floor.

The pirate rooms are a lot of fun, and I would recommend them to anyone with children. But there is an extra charge to stay in one of these fanciful rooms. Check the fact sheet for the Caribbean Beach Resort on Allears.net for current prices.

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After posting this blog, Allears.net received the following from Jenny Trahan:

We just returned from Caribbean Beach Resort and stayed in a new refurbished Pirates-themed room. Our Mousekeeping supervisor told us that the nightstands, dresser and refrigerator cubby (as pictured in your newly posted photographs) are temporary and that the new furniture has not yet arrived. They will be replaced with items that resemble barrels. No word on when the new furniture will be there.

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About Caribbean Beach Resort

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to The “World” According to Jack in the Caribbean Beach Resort category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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