We dithered and we dithered about booking to stay at Universal, in fact about even visiting Universal in Florida at all. I am so glad we did though as it was one of our most favourite parts of the holiday. I’m also glad that we booked to stay at a Universal hotel as the bus transport to and fro was fabulous and much better than Disney World. We didn’t need our car once during our 5-night stay. In this post, I will be reviewing the Cabana Bay beach resort hotel and also our family suite at the hotel.
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Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort Hotel – Review
Universal’s Cabana Bay beach resort is one of the cheaper hotels that you can stay at Universal. Because of this, the express pass is not included as part of your stay. However, we visited during what was supposedly one of Universal’s peak times of the year and the queues for the rides were not a problem. We had left the decision to upgrade to an express pass until we were there and we did not need to upgrade.
We stayed for 5 nights during February half term and paid £200 a night for our family suite with pool view. You can book cheaper suites without a pool view. It pays to shop around although it’s not always guaranteed that other websites will be cheaper. There was no meal option with our booking. However, we had a kitchenette in our room and we made our own breakfast before heading out every day.
Upon Arrival – Cabana Bay Universal
Check in was at 16:00 pm. We were far too early and decided to see if our room was ready anyway. Needless to say, it wasn’t. They did allow us to park up and hang around the hotel until it was ready. We left our email address and they sent an email confirmation through once the room was ready. If you have an American cell phone they can also text your confirmation. We already had our room key cards so off we set to find out the block and where to park our car.
There are a lot of parking lots at Cabana Bay beach resort and it’s not entirely obvious where you are going and which lot is which. The hotel buildings are numbered 1-6 and you have to drive one way around the site. When we first entered the car park we couldn’t see any building numbers and we felt completely lost. In the end, a member of staff came to our aid and she showed us the way to where we needed to park. We were quite hot and bothered by now so I made sure we were definitely parked in the right place before we got our bags out. Be warned that you also have to pay to park at Cabana bay, we paid $10 per 24 hours.
Entrance to the main buildings, car park and pool areas is only via your room key card. You have to scan it at the gates for access. The Cabana bay beach resort is split in two via their central building. Either side of this building there is two different pool areas. We were in the Continental building overlooking the Lazy River Courtyard.
Our Family Suite at Cabana Bay, with Pool View
As mentioned above we were in a family suite overlooking the Lazy River Courtyard. This actually ended up being our least favourite of the two pool areas and we ended up spending more time over at the Cabana courtyard and pool. It is a shame that the windows are just glass with no opening. They are massive expanses that I couldn’t possibly have taken a decent photo from and let in no fresh air whatsoever. I always think that fresh air is essential in a hotel room.
We also had another problem with rattling air conditioning which was eventually resolved. What I liked about our room were the convenience for the laundrette room and the vending machines. It made it easy to get ice when we needed it and to check back on our laundry. We were also relatively close to the main courtyard which was good as it can be a very long walk if you are right down at the far end.
We were impressed with the size of our room for what we paid. You enter next to the kitchenette area which has limited plastic bowls, plates and cutlery plus plastic cups. There was a microwave, coffee machine, fridge and sink. They also had a small eating area with two chairs.
Next to the kitchenette, there was our lounge area. This had a couple of chairs, a relatively large TV, a few tables and a double sofa bed. It wasn’t a massive area, however, we didn’t use it very often and it served its purpose.
The lounge area and bedroom are divided by a screen with a door on rails to separate the two areas completely. The bedroom had two good sized double beds with a bedside table, a flat screen tv plus a walk in wardrobe with a large laptop sized safe, iron and ironing board.
Opposite the two double beds, there were the ‘bathrooms’. This actually consisted of three separate areas. There was a sink area with no door to it. Then to the left, there was a toilet cubicle and to the right, there was a bath with overhead shower and another sink. This had a door to it. We had limited toiletries and there was a hairdryer by one of the two sinks.
Lazy River Courtyard at the Cabana Bay Beach Resort
The lazy river courtyard is what we could see from our family suite. A lot of the sun loungers are actually on sand as they are trying for a beach look by the pool. We spent 5 mornings at Universal and 5 afternoons by the hotel’s pools. The lazy river courtyard and rooms are very close to the Volcano bay water park which you can hear the volcano going off every few minutes. It wasn’t an issue though, in fact, it was good fun listening to it.
The pool here is large and long. It was relatively warm when we visited. I’d say that the water was around 26-27oC. Beside the pool, you will find the lazy river. We went on it a few times although my son refused to go in a rubber ring so we weren’t exactly gliding with the current. It’s really good fun though and there are waterfalls and people spraying water at you along the way. If you don’t have any floatation devices for your kids (or yourselves) they are available free of charge to borrow next to the pools. They also sell rubber rings if you don’t have one with you.
Also in the lazy river courtyard, there is a sand pit, a fire pit and a Hideaway bar and grill where you can purchase hot and cold food and drinks. There also used to be a splash park in this area but it is no longer in use. They also have toilets.
Cabana Courtyard at the Cabana Bay Beach Resort
The Cabana courtyard was by far our favourite area of the hotel and you will be able to tell this by how many photos I will now be including. Its pool is slightly smaller than the one over at the Lazy river courtyard. It was of a similar temperature to the pool mentioned above. This pool, however, has a big water slide and a relatively large splash area. This for us was a bonus and the splash area was usually empty so it was a great area for us to play in and cool down.
The pool here always seemed to have some resident ducks which all the kids loved. I’m not so sure I liked sharing my pool water with them but hey ho.
Cabana rental at Cabana Courtyard – Cabana Bay
There were plenty of loungers and umbrellas around the pool area. They even had Cabanas that you could rent out for the day. The prices range from $50 to $100 per day depending on the season. We rented one for just $50 and it was great fun. We had a table with four chairs plus sun loungers with cushions. There was a large TV, a safe, a fridge and a phone that you could use to call for ‘cabana service’. We ordered pizzas which came quickly and were super tasty. There was even a fan, although it didn’t cool us down much.
Other facilities at the Cabana Courtyard
As well as the pool, splash park and cabanas the Cabana courtyard also had a large games area on grass or sand. There was also a large sandpit for the kids with various toys for them to play with including a ping pong table. They had fire pits and a hot tub. Plus two lots of toilets and Atomic tonic where you could purchase hot and cold drinks and food.
What other facilities are there at the Cabana Bay Beach Resort?
As well as everything mentioned above the hotel also had a few other facilities. There was a gift shop, games arcade, bowling alley with sit down restaurant, fitness studio, Starbucks, Bayline diner and more.
We tended to eat over at City Walk as it was so simple to take the courtesy bus over there. It was also a lot cheaper. There is a courtesy bus stop at the hotel and we never had to wait for more than a couple of minutes for a bus. Once you are at City Walk you just need to go up an escalator and along a moving walkway and you arrive at all the restaurants and the two parks. There was also always a much shorter queue in the morning at the Starbucks in City Walk than at the hotel.
We grabbed a small meal at the Galaxy bowl one evening. This has limited tables and is located next to the bowling lanes. It is the only table service restaurant at Cabana Bay.
They had a massive, and I mean massive, self-service restaurant in the main central area. This is called the Bayline Diner and they have a wide choice of food and drinks on offer. We never ate here however it always seemed very popular for breakfast. We purchased a few drinks and small snacks from here but we didn’t try the food. You can also order the food as take out to take up to your room. You can also take the complimentary bus over to City walk and hop on one of the buses to the other Universal hotels and eat at them instead.
And that concludes my review of the Cabana bay beach resort hotel. Would we stay here again? Absolutely. It was great value for money and we thoroughly loved our stay. We especially loved the retro feel to the hotel from 1950’s and 1960’s America.
Universal Orlando Tickets
Are you looking for 2-3 park tickets for Universal in Orlando, Florida? Most of the Facebook planning groups I’m in recommend this website for purchasing your tickets. These tickets will include the Hogwarts express from park to park.
For more about Universal in Orlando Florida why not check out some of our other posts – Characters You Can Meet & Greet at Universal Studios Orlando, Islands of Adventure Orlando Rides For Families with Young Kids – Universal and Rides at Universal Studios Florida For Families with Young Kids.