Last week, my sister and I had the distinct pleasure of vacationing at the newest hotel in the Universal Orlando Resort – the Cabana Bay Beach Resort!
In my many visits to the parks throughout the years, I had never stayed on property before, though I had walked through the lobbies and common areas of the Portofino Bay Resort, Royal Pacific and the Hard Rock Hotel as a day guest before.
While a visit at any of these fine resorts would have made for an enjoyable vacation (or is it staycation? How far away from home do you need it to be considered that) I have to admit that the incredible Florida Resident discount ($94/nt) was a major driver in the decision-making process – because really, $254+ for one night, versus two nights at the lower price – well, that was a no-brainer for me!
So, before you tl:dr my post, let me just say that our two-night and three-day trip could be summed up in one word: AWESOME! We loved the theming, convenience, and fun details around the resort, and would definitely recommend this resort – and would even stay here again. There are only two “cons” that really stood out to me:
- Unlike its deluxe counterparts, this resort is not pet friendly, so if we brought the whole fam, we would have to make alternate plans for Dug, our furry son.
- The walkway to CityWalk is not yet completed – now, there is an alternate route, down the sidewalk, and across a crosswalk at the moment, but we waited more than 3 light rotations before we decided to just charge across the street. Once the pedestrian overpasses are complete, it will be pretty darn awesome.
Now, you may have noticed that I didn’t include the fact that this resort does NOT include the popular Express Pass option, but for our touring purposes, we honestly would not have used it anyway. Our main goal on this trip was to check out Diagon Alley and the Hogwarts Express, and since those aren’t included, it was not even a negative. We did experience a few other attractions, of course, including the Mummy, E.T., the Flight of the Hippogriff but didn’t wait more than 20 minutes for anything.
Now that those points have been stated…let’s get back to the review, shall we?
Our view out of the room was of the lazy river, which was relaxing and surprisingly, the windows blocked any sound, so it was quite quiet as well – it was hard to believe how close we were to I-4, yet could not hear a thing!
Another fabulous thing about these rooms were the abundance of outlets, and even USB plugs to charge devices. We appreciated those little additions for sure!
From the moment we pulled in to the parking lot, we literally felt like we had boarded a time machine – and we liked it! From the classic cars banking the porte-cochere, to the gorgeous tile mosaic at check in, staying at Cabana Bay was everything that you’d WANT from a time travel vacation – total immersion, yet, with the modern conveniences of “home.”
We loved the attention to detail, with the “retro” toiletries, as well as the fantastic neon lights announcing the various eateries, bars, and recreational areas – even “regular” signs jumped in on the fun, with scrolling, beautiful script on each building (including the Starlight, Continental, Americana and Castaway – all nods to classic roadside hotels of the past).
On top of the “cute” factor, it was just an incredible feeling to be experiencing a nostalgic feeling at a brand-new hotel – definitely an awesome feat – and as a regular guest of Walt Disney World Resort hotels, I felt this category was leaps and bounds above the “value” fare – more aligned with that of a moderate.
This was yet another segment that Cabana Beach excelled at! Beyond the guest rooms, pool areas and dining locations, we were pleasantly surprised by the well-appointed Jack LaLanne-themed fitness center (treadmills galore!), the gorgeously themed Starbucks, and the petite, yet kitschy-cool bowling alley! Had we stayed longer, we likely would have played a few games just because it was a neat novelty.
As mentioned above, the convenience factor in staying on property for this trip was incredible. Having visited dozens of times in the past, and making that long, slogging walk through the gargantuan parking garage after a hot day at the parks, jumping onto a shuttle (with a long, but quickly moving line) was incredible! And, as also mentioned – once the walkway in 100 percent complete, it will be even better! The walk is a short one, especially from Islands of Adventure.
Additionally, the convenience of the resort location – right off of I-4, made for extremely smooth accessibility – both en route, and on the day we ventured off property for dinner – and this is coming from a seriously navigationally-challenged person! The parking lot for the resort is large and accommodating, and we never had to search for a spot or park far from the building.
Aside from the price being pretty darn incredible, both my sister and I found the value of this resort to far exceed our expectations – from the easy of transportation and nice, new rooms, to the gorgeous pool areas and landscaping.
Another thing that we took advantage of at Cabana Bay were the Sonic Fill cups (see the cute cup in Jenni’s hand?). For $11.99, we got two full days of refills in the Coke Freestyle machines, which we took advantage of by filling before entering the park, during our midday break, that evening, and our pool morning and pre-departure. While it could possibly be a not so great value if you were planning on going all “park commando” (they have separate drink programs in park) it was awesome for us, and bonus: we LOVED the cup designs and look forward to using them as our resort souvenirs!
Besides the cup purchase, the only other expense incurred at the resort was parking ($10/day) which was reasonable, especially given the card entry and exit security feature.
All in all, we LOVED our stay and look forward to a future stay!