Universal Orlando has a brand new resort that might just convince you to go ahead and go to Universal! You know you want to! The Cabana Bay Beach Resort is the first Value/Moderate resort at Universal. Those of you who have stayed, or thought of staying, off property for a stop at Universal-this resort is for you! The price is very affordable and the property is fantastic. I recently stayed there and have some great information to share with you.
Cabana Bay instantly transports you to great vacation memories of the past. Think family road trips in the station wagon (but only the good parts). The décor and theming are retro, fun, focused on beach resorts from the 50’s and 60’s. Every detail is there; parents and grandparents will feel nostalgic, kids will love the bright colors and funky designs not to mention the amazing amenities and activities designed for the whole family.
Options are standard rooms (sleeps no more than 4) or a family suite (sleeps no more than 6). So, this gives those of you with more than 2 kids a more affordable option rather than booking 2 rooms. In fact, when I booked my family suite for September 2014, it was only about $30 more/night than the standard room. (Prices will vary per season). Also, half of the rooms at Cabana Bay are connecting. So, if you are traveling with more than 6 people, or you want some extra room, you can book a number of different possibilities (a standard and a suite that connect, for example).
The rooms are brightly colored and well thought out as far as the layout. The bathrooms in the suites have a vanity, a separate room for the toilet, and a separate room for the shower. This makes getting ready in the morning much easier. All the vanity areas have the under the counter storage which I LOVE in a hotel room. I hate a cluttered counter top…especially when you are sharing with multiple people.
I prefer the rooms in the Tower since that is the main building where the food court, gym, bowling alley, front desk, and transportation are. That being said, the other buildings are a bit closer to the pool and it’s a very big resort so there will be some walking no matter where you stay. All rooms do open to the inside which I also like about this resort.
Don’t let the Value/Moderate category fool you. The amenities here blow any other value resort out of the water. The theme at Cabana Bay is laid back family fun. There is a lazy river, 2 huge pools, and a sand beach full of activities.
An indoor Bowling Alley (ever stayed at a hotel with a bowling alley?) gives you another fun family option when you aren’t in the parks, or maybe on a rainy day, or the night you check in.
The gym is the best I have seen at a resort in the moderate category and maybe of any themed resort I have seen. The theme is amazing, lots of room (unlike some tiny rooms you are probably picturing from hotel stays in the past), and spacious locker rooms.
When you stay at a Universal Resort you can also use the amenities at any of the other resorts (Hard Rock, Portofino, or Royal Pacific)
And, like any Universal Resort Stay, you get some great additional benefits like…
· Get in an hour early to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Diagon Alley). This is invaluable! We walked right in when the early hour began and saw SO much without it begin crowded. We rode Gringotts with about a 5 minute wait, wandered the shops and streets, and enjoyed breakfast and butter beer all before 9am when we rode Hogwarts’s Express to Hogsmeade. Just after 9am the wait for the new Gringott’s ride was closing in on an hour. So, even though it was dark and early, waking up early paid off big time!
· Priority seating at restaurants through the parks and Universal’s City Walk. No need to decide months in advance where you will eat and make reservations, simply show your room key card to the host/hostess and your name gets bumped up the list if there is a wait!
· Free transportation by bus. Everything is within walking distance, but the buses tend to run much faster than at Disney World since Universal is smaller and closer together. The buses from Cabana Bay ran continually and we never waited more than 1-2 minutes for a bus. The ride is about 5 minutes tops. So you aren’t spending a lot of time getting from place to place.
My favorite things about Cabana Bay Beach Resort:
It’s often the little details that make the difference. Let me tell you what impressed me about Cabana and what will keep me coming back.
· Excellent Customer Service-the people at the front desk and even the security/lost and found professionals were friendly, accommodating, and went out of their way to help me.
· Free Wi-fi on up to 5 devices. I never had a problem connecting to the wi-fi it was reliable and available all over the resort.
· Charging Strip in the room so you can charge multiple devices with multiple connection types (including USB) all at once.
· Extra storage under the vanity countertop.
· Starbucks! I may be on vacation but I still need my coffee every morning!
· Affordable family suites-when you have more than 4 people, or you just want some extra room, these suites are the most affordable option. You can get a little more space and comfort without breaking the bank.
· Food Court options. The food court is huge-lots of seating and lots of options. Even great options for a snack, like the frozen yogurt bar!
There are really only a few things I didn’t like. One, while you do get the early morning at Diagon Alley, you don’t get the Express Pass for the parks like you do at the Deluxe Resorts. So, if you are going at a busy time (summer months and holidays) it would definitely be worth it to upgrade to a Deluxe Resort. It usually is more economical to upgrade to the deluxe resort than to pay for the Express passes. The other thing I didn’t like is that the family suites are a bit small. They sleep 6 but if you had 6 people in one suite it would be quite crowded. I think a better term for the rooms would be a Deluxe Room rather than calling it a Family Suite. That being said, it is a good set up, and you probably won’t be in the room much anyway.
Overall I was very impressed with the Cabana Bay Beach Resort and I would definitely stay there again if it’s a slower season and I don’t need the Express Pass in the parks. For families with more than 2 kids, this is a great option at a very reasonable cost. Your family will have plenty to do even outside of the parks to create those iconic family vacation memories for the next generation!
The Universal Orlando Resort is such a great spot for families. Whether you are stopping in before or after a Walt Disney World Vacation, or making a trip just for Universal, I can help-and I would love to!
Aleshia Sokoloski, Travel Agent affiliated with Travel with the Magic
Specializing in Universal Resorts and Disney Vacations
Email me or Call me at 1-800-670-4312 ext. 139 or Find Me on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or LinkedIn.