Having stayed at all three of Universal Studios Orlando luxury resorts over the years, I was curious as to how their latest addition to the online property would be like while taking part in the Two Traveling Moms #FacingFearsTogether press trip. Knowing that they wanted to have more of a budget type hotel option, could they offer great amenities and still keep the rate affordable? Well, ultimately yes. Here are a few of the things that I liked about the Cabana Bay Beach Resort.
Cabana Bay a Universal Orlando Resort
The retro beach feel.
As soon as I arrived to the resort, I loved the stepping back in time feel. From the old cars to even the “woodie” shuttles. I couldn’t help but smile my way through the lobby then into the resort itself. It just brings you to a different time, and the whole feel of the resort is just fun!
When you are visiting Orlando with just one park in mind, I can see the appeal of wanting to stay on-site. With complimentary transportation to the entrance of Universal City Walk and both parks, you don’t have to worry about parking and/or paying for the parking fees. Taking advantage of the shuttle during our stay, I can say that I never waited even 5 minutes for a shuttle to take me to or from the drop off location at the main entrance. It was quite easy and convenient. And a bonus – there was a special entrance for guests that are staying on-site to get help enter the park faster for Halloween Horror Nights!
On site amenities.
We had so much fun taking advantage of the amenities. We bowled, checked out the lazy river and even checked out the movie on the lawn. There’s so much to do.
- Galaxy Bowl, 10-lane bowling alley and full-service restaurant: Offering everything needed for a boisterous bowling experience for children and adults. Features include food and beverage options (soda, beer, wine, hot dogs, churros) and music and video screens. Bowling is $15 per person + $4 for shoe rental, and if you have one to three people, that price gets you 1 hour of lane time. If you have four to eight people, that price gets you 1.5 hours of lane time.
- North Courtyard: 10,000 sq ft pool featuring zero-entry, a sand beach, iconic dive tower water feature, and 100 ft waterslide.
- South Courtyard: 6,000 sq ft pool featuring zero-entry, a sand beach, and Universal’s first lazy river.
- Poolside activities: Hula hoop contests, bingo, dive-in movies, ping pong, volleyball, pool tables, and more.
- Universal Orlando Resort Store: Offering sundries, guest necessities, newspapers, magazines, etc., as well as Universal and Cabana Bay Beach Resort logo merchandise.
The two places I missed out on , Jack LaLanne Physical Fitness Studio that offers cardiovascular equipment, and an open area with mats, medicine balls, Bosu Balls, and rubber dumbbells, and locker rooms. And I never made it to the Game-O-Rama game room.
On-site dining options.
With your very own little kitchenette, you can easily save some money and go to the local market and get some breakfast foods and snacks. It’s always nice to have a fridge in the room and even a microwave. And then of course the on site food options.
- Bayliner Diner food court: Guests can dine-in or “grab and go” at the 600-seat food court featuring a variety of food stations, including burgers and milk shakes, pizza and pasta, a bakery, sandwiches, and more.
- Galaxy Bowl: As previously mentioned, Galaxy Bowl also offers a limited-seating, full-service dining option. The menu includes appetizers, sandwiches, burgers, pizza, and hot dogs.
- Additional options: Starbucks coffee shop; lobby and pool bars offering signature frozen drinks and smoothies. In addition, guests can have pizza delivered right to their rooms, which we did one night. It was nice to have that option when we were exhausted from the park!
Let’s talk about the room!
We stayed in a Courtyard Family Suite.
There’s plenty of space for the whole family in the charming Family Suite. These retro rooms boast colorful decor, sleeping accommodations for six, two flat screen TV’s, a kitchenette area, and a sliding partition for privacy. The extra-large bathroom features preparation spaces for three people at once, so everyone can get to the park early.
That opening you see between the living room and bedroom does close and the couch in that area does open up to a bed making it easy to have 6 sleep comfortably. The bathroom has a separate area for the toilet as well as the shower so it makes it easy for several people to use the bathroom area at once.
I have to say though, my favorite part of the room were the (not so) subtle touches like the retro Zest and VO5. I loved that!
A few things to consider. Although the price is less than the other on-site resorts at Universal Orlando, there are some fees to consider.
If you have six or more people staying at Cabana Bay, there is no doubt you can save your family money compared to staying at one of Universal’s deluxe on-site hotels. But there are some things you won’t have that the others offer. If you like staying on-site to take advantage of the unlimited Express Pass access, unfortunately this isn’t available for Cabana Bay guests. To purchase this separately it costs about $80 per person per day, so this would be one of the biggest differences from staying at either the Portofino Bay, Hard Rock, or Royal Pacific hotels. You do however have early entry into the parks.
Parking. For those with a car(s), it will cost you $10 per car per night. We struggled at the gate, as it seemed many did, getting in and out for the key card reader would have us calling to be buzzed in every time. It was frustrating and caused a back up at the gate during check-out time, so something to consider when needing to head out to maybe catch a flight or going somewhere else for the day. We waited at least 5 minutes, with people getting out of their cars and clearly frustrated.
Tubes for the lazy river aren’t free. The lazy river is beautiful and very welcoming, but at the other on-site resorts, you are able to float for free. Here you will pay if you want to float. You are allowed to go in the lazy river without any floatation device, but if you want something, rates range from $3 – $12. The staff with blow up your float for you, and it is yours to keep. They don’t offer rentals.
*Universal Orlando hosted us for a 3 night complimentary stay at the Cabana Bay Beach Resort as part of a #FacingFearsTogether press trip in exchange for an honest review of the resort. All opinions are my own.