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    Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort

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Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort Information: Rooms, Pools, Dining, and More

Cabana Bay Beach Resort Overview

If you're obsessed with vintage 1950s and 1960s designs, and with finding a good value (we’re guilty on both accounts), you may just fall in love with Cabana Bay Beach Resort, one of Universal’s Prime Value hotels. The mid-century modern aesthetic starts with the neon signage that welcomes you outside and continues inside with lots of windows, bright colors, and period-appropriate lighting and furniture. The designers were inspired by classic seaside hotels such as the doo-wop Caribbean Motel in Wildwood Crest, New Jersey, and the original Americana Hotel in Bal Harbour, Florida. We think the resort would be right at home in the deserts of Palm Springs or Las Vegas, while our British friends say the decor reminds them of Butlin’s Bognor Regis resort circa 1985.

Whatever Cabana Bay reminds you of, we think you’ll like it. Kids will love the two large and well-themed pools (one with a lazy river), the amount of space they have to run around in, the vintage cars parked outside the hotel lobby, and the video arcade. Adults will appreciate the sophisticated kitsch of the decor, the multiple lounges, and the on-site Starbucks. We think Cabana Bay is an excellent choice for price- and/or space-conscious families visiting Universal.

Cabana Bay's 2 Pool Areas

The Rooms

The hotel’s closest competitor in the Orlando area is Disney's Art of Animation Resort, and the two share many similarities. Both have standard rooms and Family Suites. At 430 square feet per suite, Cabana Bay suites are about 135 square feet smaller than comparable suites at Art of Animation and have only one bathroom. We found them well appointed for two to four people per room (though not for the six Loews claims as its capacity). Rates for the suites are about $150–$230 per night less than Art of Animation’s. Standard rooms are only 300 square feet but can frequently be had for around $120 a night after discounts, undercutting Disney’s cheapest rooms.

Each Family Suite has a small bedroom with two queen beds and a 40-inch TV, divided from the living area and kitchenette by a sliding screen; a pullout sofa in the living area offers additional sleeping space and a second 40-inch TV. The bath is divided into three sections: toilet, sink area, and shower room with additional sink; all are separated by doors, so three people can theoretically get ready at once. Retro theming even extends to the toiletries, which include the fondly remembered Zest and VO5 brands. The kitchenette has a microwave, coffee maker, and minifridge. A bar area allows extra seating for quick meals, and a large closet has enough space to store everyone’s luggage. Built-in USB charging outlets for your devices are a thoughtful touch. Standard rooms have the same two queen beds but without the living area, kitchenette, or three-way bathroom. Instead, they get a minifridge with coffee maker and an average-size single bathroom.

A tower room with a Volcano Bay view.

Pools, Gym, and Recreation

Cabana Bay’s two large pools both have artificial beaches and zeroentry sloping bottoms. The Cabana Courtyard Pool is more active, with a splash-pad playground and 100-foot waterslide wrapped around a central diving tower (which you can’t actually dive off of, for safety reasons). The Lazy River Courtyard is a little more laid-back, with classic rock music (as opposed to the Top 40 usually played around the Cabana Courtyard) and a lushly landscaped circular stream in which to relax; flotation toys are sold for $4–$15 plus tax, inflation and deflation included (depending on staff availability, so don’t wait until the last second before departing to deflate). Cabana Bay even sells watertight cups at the pool bar, so you can sip your cocktail while circulating in the lazy river.

Indoor recreational options include the Game-O-Rama arcade (well stocked with late-model machines and classic carnival-style redemption games) and the 10-lane Galaxy Bowl, modeled after the Hollywood Star Lanes featured in The Big Lebowski. Bowling costs $16.99 per adult, $10.99 per kid age 9 and under, for 45–75 minutes of play with shoe rental. Everyone bowls for $9 with the 20-minute Speed Bowling special. Waits for a lane can get long, especially on rainy days. Other diversions include poolside table tennis and billiards, as well as a large Jack LaLanne fitness center for free. An activity room with board games and beanbag chairs opens on rainy days. Finally, outdoor movies are shown nightly near both pools, and the food court sells $8 s’mores kits to roast over the gas-fueled fire pits.

On-Site Dining

In addition to the lobby’s full-service Starbucks, the cavernous cafeteria-style Bayliner Diner food court serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with Coke Freestyle dispensers and giant screens in the seating area showing 1960s TV clips. Swizzle Lounge in the lobby, two pool bars (both with attached counter-service grills), in-room pizza delivery, and table service snacks and sandwiches at the Galaxy Bowl round out the on-site dining options. The Universal Studios Store is the largest hotel store in the resort and stocks candy and clothes exclusive to Cabana Bay.

Transportation and Parking

Unlike the other Universal resorts, Cabana Bay offers no watercraft service to the parks—it’s either take the bus or walk. Colorful buses (with faux wood paneling at surfboards painted on the roof) depart to the parks' main parking hub from outside Cabana Bay's food court. The bus service is amazingly efficient; we've never waited more than 5 minutes for one to arrive, and the total transit time to the attractions is usually under 15 minutes. It takes about the same amount of time to walk to CityWalk along the attractively landscaped garden walkway, which passes the Sapphire Falls construction site before joining up with the walking path to Royal Pacific.

Self-parking is available in an on-site garage for overnight guests, but there is a fee and no valet service. Hourly parking is available for visitors but it is prohibitively expensive ($8 for 5 to 30 minutes, $45 for 30 minutes to 24 hours). Day guests who want to check out Cabana Bay should take the bus there from the parking hub, since the garden walk's gate requires a key card for hotel access. Take care when driving into and out of the hotel's driveway on Adventure Way. If you miss the entrance, or make a right when exiting, you'll find yourself on a one-way road to I-4 westbound towards Disney, and you won't be able to make a U-turn until the 528 expressway.

Remember, Cabana Bay guests are eligible for Early Park Admission at Universal, but do not receive complimentary Express Passes.

Hotel Photos

Hotel Videos

Universal Orlando's Cabana Bay Beach Resort Room Tour

Universal Orlando's Cabana Bay Beach Resort: Family Suite Tour

Good (and Not-So-Good) Rooms at Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort

Cabana Bay’s rooms are divided among five long structures and two towers, arranged around two pool courtyards and connected in the center by the lobby facilities. The Castaway, Thunderbird, and Starlight (designated buildings 1, 2, and 3, respectively, each proudly identified in glowing neon script) are motel-style structures with exterior entrances surrounding the Cabana Courtyard. The Continental (building 4) and Americana (buildings 5 and 6) frame the Lazy River Courtyard and have hotel-style interior hallways. At the far end of the Continental and Americana buildings, Universal built the Bayside (building 7) and Beachside (building 8) expansion towers with 400 additional guest rooms, 20 of which are expansive 772-square-foot two-bedroom suites with stunning views of the Volcano Bay water park; be warned that guests in these rooms may struggle to sleep in once the park’s conch horn begins blowing at park opening. Buildings 4 (rooms XX00-XX21) and 5 (rooms XX00-XX24) are closest to the bus loop and cafeteria, while some north-facing rooms in building 2 have a view of Hogwarts Castle.

Hogwarts Castle as seen from Cabana Bay.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Strengths Weaknesses
The best Value resort in Orlando Overnight parking fee
Midcentury theming is way beyond what you'd expect to get at a value resort Family suites have only one bathroom
Pool complex includes a lazy river Noise from nearby Volcano Bay can reach some guest rooms
On-site fitness center and bowling alley - both unusual for Value resorts No short walking paths or water taxis to theme parks and CityWalk
Exclusive entrance to Volcano Bay

Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort Dining

Commuting Times to the Parks
Park Bus Resort
Universal Studios FL 17.0 min 15.0 min 24.0 min
Islands of Adventure 17.0 min 15.0 min 20.0 min
Volcano Bay 3.0 min