As many of you know, I am a huge Disney World aficionado – talking borderline Pixie Dust huffer. I try to get to Orlando once a year to revisit some childhood experiences and create new life-long memories. For my most recent venture, I wanted to get back to Florida and experience something NEW. After some brainstorming with my family, a Universal Studios focused resort and vacation seemed like a no-brainer. To preface, this review is coming strictly from a consumer’s view as this was my own personal vacation.
Universal Studios has become a powerhouse family vacation destination over the past few years with the additions of popular brands including Harry Potter and The Simpsons; furthermore, construction has already begun on a new water park promising never before seen attractions (Volcano Bay), ANOTHER brand new hotel (Sapphire Falls), and new rides featuring late night’s Jimmy Fallon, the Fast and the Furious, and a re-imagined King Kong thrill ride.
Wanting to stay “on-site” at Universal, I decided on Cabana Bay Beach Resort as this was the most VALUE approached Universal property. Travelling with a party of 5 isn’t easy, but this resort was designed with families in mind. Our room had a big bedroom with two double beds, separated from a living room area (sliding door in-between) with a pull out sofa-bed. The sleeping arrangements were enough for 5; however, the room really only came with ‘one bathroom.’ There was also a small kitchenette/refrigerator which we stocked and used daily – theme park food can be expensive after all.
Upon entering the premises, you immediately feel the vintage/retro theme straight out of Mad Men. While others may find it tacky, it came off incredibly charming and fun to me. Cabana Bay has some great amenities too, including an indoor bowling alley (obviously with laser lights), a man made beach near the pool area, a lazy river (tubes available for purchase right at the pool), arcade/kids club for the youth, and a Jack LaLanne fitness center. The boy in me clearly played a few rounds of Fruit Ninja and Jurassic Park at the arcade, while the grown adult in Ryan took advantage of the great facilities at the gym.
Walt Disney World comes with its share of perks for staying at a Disney “on-site” hotel. Universal isn’t any different. While we rented a car to get around other parts of Orlando, Cabana Bay has complimentary bus transportation between the resort and the parks, so having a vehicle is not needed. Other great inclusions include special park hours for on-site guests before the park is opened to the general public, free access to Universal’s City Walk (think nightlife, restaurants, and shopping), and the ability to charge purchases to the room and have it delivered there for you from the theme park.
**Staying at other Universal properties can get you front of the line access in the theme parks, but NOT for guests staying at Cabana Bay**
I really enjoyed this property. While you can probably find a less expensive “hotel” in Orlando, I think these amenities and Universal guest perks speak for themselves. I had great interactions with the staff, the property was always immaculate, and there is PLENTY for everyone to do.
PLEASE let me know if you want some further information or have any questions regarding this resort or Universal in general, as I clearly didn’t cover everything.
Thanks for reading, and Cheers!
Written by Ryan Doncsecz.