Disclosure: Universal Studios Orlando provided my family with a suite in exchange for this review piece. No monetary compensation was received. All opinions are mine, unless noted otherwise..
Diagon Alley isn’t the only new development on the grounds of Universal Resort in Orlando this year. The new Cabana Bay Beach Resort opened in June 2014, the fourth hotel complex on the grounds of Universal Orlando Resort. It offers a 1960s-era roadside beach motel vibe, and rates that start at $120 a night (Florida residents rate starts at $79/night). The massive Cabana Bay Beach Resort is home to 1,800 rooms and family-style suites (that sleep 6). The resort features two large swimming pools, a sandy beach, lazy river, 10-lane bowling alley and the Jack LaLanne Physical Fitness Studio. This resort is totally family friendly so don’t come here hoping to escape the noise of kids running around, you won’t find any “adult only” pools or spaces at all.
Cabana Bay is Universal’s fourth on-site hotel. Guests staying at any Universal hotel get a significant perk: early entrance to both Universal parks, an hour before they open to the public! This is especially great news for those wanting to visit Diagon Alley before the mass amounts of crowds make it nearly impossible to navigate your way through the newest Harry Potter world expansion. Cabana Bay guests, however, don’t receive a second significant perk available at Universal’s other hotels. Guests at the other three resorts receive complimentary go-to-the-front-of-the-line Express Passes included with their hotel stay. This is because of the moderately priced room rate you receive at Cabana Bay Beach Resort.
Even kids and yes, a baby, will receive a door key card. I thought it was strange at first but the cards double as your “key” to get into the parks early. You have to bring your room key for every member of your family staying at the resort and your park tickets. If someone in your party doesn’t have a key card proving they are staying at a Universal Studios hotel resort then they won’t be granted early park access.
The family suite we stayed in was 430-sq. feet. and could comfortably sleep six people with two queen beds and a queen pull-out sofa bed in the living room (separated by a sliding door) plus additional seating and 2 flat screen TVs. There’s even a small kitchenette with larger than normal mini fridge, microwave, sink, shelves for storage, and bar area with 2 stools. I think the coolest part of the room was the bathroom area. The toilet was separate from the main vanity space and shower/bath was also separate (with a sink as well) which makes getting ready for your day at the Universal parks especially easy so all six of you can get ready at the same time.
And in case you are wondering, yes, the beds are extremely comfortable. The kids thought so and I did too. I usually cannot sleep in hotels but I instantly fell asleep!
The hotel’s location is within walking distance of both Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure. You can take the [still under construction] walk way or the on-site shuttle bus that runs every 15 minutes.
TIP: The bus is not stroller friendly so make sure you have someone with you to help with that, use a baby carrier, or leave your stroller and rent one when you get to the parks.
10-lane full service bowling experience themed from the 1950’s, offering today’s entertainment technology and a full service restaurant (fees apply). The lights dropped down and we enjoyed some black-light bowling with hit music from today playing overhead.
Cabana Courtyard features a zero-entry pool with iconic dive tower waterslide, interactive kids play area, cabanas for rent, and Atomic Tonic pool bar. Lazy River Courtyard features a zero-entry pool with sand beach, a lazy river with waterfalls and cannons for interactive fun, a smaller kids splash pad area, and The Hideaway Bar & Grill.
Overall experience? Cabana Bay Beach Resort was beautiful, fun, clean, and priced great. Would I return? I’m not quite sure. The staff was extremely unhelpful from check-in to check-out, they weren’t very knowledgeable when we would ask where this or that was, my husband got an eye roll or two a few times when he would stop an employee to ask the a question, ect. I wish we had a better experience when we had to deal with employees but the resort and its amenities in general were wonderful.