Caribbean Beach versus Swan


#1

Hi there!
FIRST THE BACKGROUND:
I was lucky enough to snag a "free delicious" package at Caribbean Beach for September (standard view room- the preferred rooms were all gone). Yay!
Being the obsessive compulsive planner that I am, though, I am always on the hunt for the best package.
I found a package at the Swan through Costco travel. It's about $550 less than our Caribbean Beach package, but obviously doesn't include the free dining.
...I figure that our family of four (kids are 4 and 6) would probably spend at least $1200 during our trip on food/dining...
this makes the Swan package more expensive in the long run. Probably about $650+ more.

SO FINALLY MY QUESTION:
Is the Swan worth the extra cost of $650+????
I am drawn by the awesome location of the Swan, and the seemingly easier transportation. We will have a car, but prefer to utilize the Disney transportation for most of the park visits. Having smaller kids, I would love to be able to take a mid-day pool break some days. Is that even feasible at Caribbean Beach?
And do I need to be worried about the construction at Caribbean Beach? I wasn't super worried about the loss of the restaurants on-site (figured we'd be eating mostly at the parks anyway), but maybe I should be concerned?

Would love to hear some others' thoughts. Thanks in advance!!!


#2

OK - so last time we stayed at SWAN on points and well was disappointed. Taking the "theming" out of it as I really don't care if there is theming or not.

PROs of SWAN:
Location ROCKS - especially for EPCOT / MGM
Same general benefits as Caribbean (early access, can have things sent back to hotel, etc)
QUEEN beds
Can get balcony (which is nice)
There is a pizza place that we used twice for dinner - ok pizza - but kids loved it and it saved us a lot of $$
Rooms themselves are nice
Have great dining available at nearby hotels as well

CONs of SWAN
You still have to pay ~$20 / day to PARK at SWAN
Pool area is ok at best. The kids will like it regardless - it has the fake rocks etc and they will be fine.
We had issues with house keeping - but the hotel itself was clean

The Swan transportation is on par with Disney as it is run by Disney - however the cool thing is that if you don't see the SWAN bus from MK / AKL - you can jump on Beach / Boardwalk buses and have a quick walk back to SWAN (we did this and it was a pleasant walk)

I suggest you get the AM EX SPG card. You get a ton of points and then use those points to get a room at SWAN for free or close to free. We basically stayed at SWAN for free thanks to this card.


#3

If you'll have a car, you need to figure in the parking fees.

I thought the pool complex was awesome. There are 5 pools, three hot tubs, a waterslide, and a waterfall. The big grotto pool is connected to two other pools - you can swim under bridges to get to them. There is a cool seating area behind the waterfall with bathrooms and fountains. I just really thought the pool complex was AWESOME.

While CBR is dubbed "Epcot Area," it's the only one in the Epcot area that doesn't share a walking path or the option to use the Friendship Boats between HS and EP until you get to the Epcot Area which kinda stinks, imo, but it is the cheapest in the Epcot Area, I think.

Anyway, back to the Costco pkg -
You gotta weigh out your pros and cons:

Price (remember the parking fee)

Dining Plan (depends how your family eats.) Even FREE, the dining plan doesn't work for us. I thought about CBR and "making" free dining work, but the location is just not "Epcot Area" imo.

Disney Theming

Another "thing" - Swan is said to have the amenities most resembling a Deluxe, which would put it on the level of BWI or Y/B Club. Now compare the prices of THOSE since cbr is a moderate. (Take that with a grain of salt - I've never stayed at the Ep deluxes, only Swan.)

I thought Swan was fantastic for our family, the dining plan would not work for us, and we didn't have a car, so the price+location was a no-brainer in our situation, and it worked out extremely well. We had an absolute blast in their pools, we had some great meals that weren't all the way crazy Disney prices, and walking to the Boardwalk/Epcot, and the boats were fantastic. Those "heavenly beds" too - gotta give them props for those.

Edited to add:
CBR was throwing around gift cards to entice ppl to stay during their construction. You might wanna look into that?


#4

I know that there are a lot of people who hate CBR and say that it's too big and too spread out. However, my husband and I stayed there at the end of January/beginning of February this year for a week and it was fantastic! We had a standard room in Jamaica and we were super close to the bus stop (which was the first one on the loop so we were always the first on and first off) and also were right at path to take the bridge across to Caribbean Caye (where there is a playground and some hammocks) and Old Port Royale. It took us less than 5 minutes to walk over there. The only downside is that Custom House where you check in is pretty removed from everything, but it still wasn't a very long walk to get there and we only had to go over there when we checked in, checked out, and took an Uber to Universal. We both loved how empty the resort felt because everyone wasn't crowded together and it was a beautiful resort to walk around and look at.

As far as getting to the parks, it was only about 10 minutes to get to Epcot and HS because they are super close. (So close you can hear the fireworks for both parks every night). AK was probably about 20 minutes and MK was closer to 35. But it never seemed that awful to either of us. We always made it to the parks well before RD without any issue and also had no problem making our pre RD breakfast at BOG.

Honestly, if you can get a room that isn't too far from one of the first bus stops and not too far from the path to Port Royale, it's totally worth it. Given the chance, we'd stay there again in a heartbeat!


#5

Do you mind me asking how much you paid for an Uber to Universal?


#6

Don't mind at all! :slight_smile: My husband said it was about $7 each way, though we did go during the week and avoided peak hours. But we got through security and to the gate at IOA with about 20 minutes to spare before RD.


#7

Thank you all for your reply. I did see that $20/day fee for parking. Maybe if we decide on the swan, we'll just go without a car.
I don't really anticipate using the pool for anything more than a mid-day break or a quick evening cool-down swim. We're only going to be there for 5 nights, so I'm not planning on a full "break day". My kids just love any swimming pool. So the CBR's awesome pool sounds nice, but not really something that's going to push me over that edge, you know?
kp0485: Since you stayed at CBR, I am curious: Touring plans website has the commuting times to all the parks listed at the bottom of their CBR page, and Epcot is listed as a 35 minute commute (!) I take it that you didn't find that to be true? When I read that I was shocked, since this is technically "Epcot Area".
https://touringplans.com/walt-disney-world/hotels/disneys-caribbean-beach-resort
seebee: Good point- Thanks for the comments on the dining plan. I made a bunch of character dining reservations because of the dining plan, but I don't know that we necessarily need to do that. We've been to WDW two other times, and we always stayed off-site with no dining plan, and therefore limited the character dining to 2-3 meals to keep costs down. We might not need to do character dining every day.
Ahhhh...I am still torn.
Thank you everyone for your responses, though! I have some more evaluations to do, for sure!


#8

I can tell you that Staying at Swan, your Epcot commute is 7-10 minutes at any time of day. There is some real monetary value in that, IMO. Hollywood walk is supposed to be more like 15 minutes, but it's so nice to be able to walk to either park no matter what time. If you plan on spending a decent amt of time at HS or EP, that is a real plus. We're probably doing the Costco pkg again this year, but again, the dining plan is just not a great option for us, even if it's free. The best thing we could probably do, is to stay at a value, then upgrade to the ddp. The location of CBR, even though it says "Epcot Area," just bugs me. It's so close to epcot, yet you can't walk there, or hop on the boats like with all of the other Epcot Area resorts. The ability to walk is a very good perk - no waiting for a bus at the end of the night. No worrying if you're gonna make rd because of a bus wait. Or having to be at a bus stop early. Rope drop at 8am? Leave at 7:30, and be in line at 7:40 at Epcot. You'll be back in your room after illuminations before most ppl are even getting to their car, or the bus queue.


#9

I would say that I would probably stay at SWAN over the other from the location convenience. It is nice to either walk or take a boat to Epcot and Hollywood studios instead of a bus to everything.


#10

I only stayed at CBR once, I didn't have a car, and the distances between things was an issue for me. It was a last minute booking and before I really did much "planning", and I was in the farthest "island" from everything. The internal buses were irregular, at best. But that was quite a while ago, so things may have improved. the room was nice enough, but it really wasn't that much of a step-up from the Values. The difference between Mods and Deluxes are very obvious.

I've not stayed at the Swan, but the larger rooms, queen beds, interior corridors, better food options, and location would make it an easy choice for me over another stay at CBR. The DDP does not work for me either, so that is never an option in my decision making (although I'm only buying meals for one or two, not a whole family).


#11

@Nmmurray15 I would have to say that 35 minutes is an overestimation, though a lot of that could depend on which "island" of the resort you're staying at. If you're over toward the first stops (Jamaica, Aruba, or Barbados), it doesn't take as long because if the bus is full before Martinique it will take the left out of the resort and head to the park. The days that our bus trips took longer were when we were getting on at Port Royale because you usually have to go all the way down to Trinidad South. Also keep in mind that if you just miss your intended bus, it's about 20 minutes until the next one shows up. For the most part, it really only took about 15 minutes to get to Epcot and HS from CBR. And Epcot had the longest and slowest security lines BY FAR compared to the rest of the parks, even before RD.