Cabana Bay Beach Resort is Universal Orlando’s first on-site hotel aimed at the value and moderate markets. I was happy to discover that the late 1950s/early 1960s theme (lots of bright colors, period-appropriate lighting and furniture) is carried over at the Cabana Bay Beach Resort’s Beachside and Bayside Towers.
The towers have a total of 360 standard rooms and 40 (two-bedroom) suites. Half of those rooms overlook the lush, 28-acre Volcano Bay water park with amazing views of the rides and the 200-foot-high Krakatau volcano.
During my recent visit, I stayed in a volcano-facing room on the 10th floor of the Beachside Tower. Once in a while, Krakatau erupts—and it is quite fun to capture that moment.
In addition to the cheerful orange and teal decor of the hallways and the room, nothing can outdo the stunning floor-to-ceiling windows, especially those on the upper floors of the towers that offer a stellar view of Volcano Bay.
Standard rooms come with two queen-size beds, a small seating area, a 40-inch flat-screen TV, a mini fridge, a Keurig coffee maker, and plenty of USB outlets for your devices. The bath has a sink area separate from the toilet and shower room.
Families who wish to spread out should consider staying in a family suite. The 430-square-foot suites have a small bedroom with two queen beds, divided from the living area and kitchenette by a sliding screen; a foldout sofa in the living area offers additional sleeping space. (Standard rooms also have two queen beds.) The sliding screen door provides privacy but does not block out light and noise. The bath is divided into three sections: toilet, sink area, and shower room with additional sink. This allows at least three people to get ready at once.
The kitchenette has a microwave, coffeemaker, and mini-fridge. A bar area allows extra seating for quick meals, and a large closet has enough space to store everyone’s luggage. Here, too, there are plenty of built-in USB charging outlets for your devices. Some two-bedroom suites are also available. They sleep up to 8 guests (1 queen bed, two full-size beds, and a pull-out sofa). All suites face Volcano Bay, and each bedroom in the two-bedroom suites has an unobstructed view of Volcano Bay.
The towers share all the recreational activities of the Cabana Bay Beach Resort. The Lazy River Courtyard is home to a 6,000-square-foot zero-entry pool, a lazy river, a hot tub, a small splash zone for little tykes, and the poolside Hideaway Bar & Grill. This complex is just outside of the towers.
The Cabana Courtyard Pool is a 10,000-square-foot zero-entry pool with an art-deco dive tower that houses a water slide and a kids play area. The pool is closest to the lobby of Cabana Bay Beach Resort. Food and drinks are available from the Atomic Tonic bar.
Both pool areas have lifeguards on duty and offer sandy beaches with plenty of seating and activities, such as Hula-Hoop and splash contests. Both also have several free recreational activities, such as Ping-Pong tables and volleyball, as well as fire pits where you can enjoy a drink on a cooler evening.
Every Friday evening, some of Universal Orlando Resort’s most beloved theme park characters make special appearances just for guests at Cabana Bay Beach Resort. Check with the the front desk upon arrival to see what is happening during your stay.
Cabana rentals are available in the Cabana Courtyard and come complete with an armoire, table with four chairs, two cushioned lounge chairs, a refrigerator stocked with four water bottles, and a personal safe. Prices vary depending on the season; to book your cabana, call 407-503-4175.
The lobby in the main building of Cabana Bay Beach Resort is where all guests register, including those staying at the towers.
The lobby also houses Swizzle Lounge, a Starbucks, a large Jack LaLanne fitness center, and the 10-lane Galaxy Bowl. The funky retro-themed Galaxy Bowl serves small plates and drinks and is a perfect place for a parents night out without leaving the resort.
Also in the main building is the family-friendly, quick-service Bayliner Diner serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The attached seating area shows 1950s TV clips on a loop. You’ll find more restaurants and clubs nearby at the Royal Pacific Resort and Universal CityWalk.
Unlike the other Universal resorts, Cabana Bay Beach resort offers no watercraft service to the parks—Guests will either need take the bus or walk. In November 2014, a new pedestrian bridge opened connecting Cabana Bay Beach Resort to CityWalk and the rest of Universal Orlando, but we still recommend the bus service for most people. The bus service is quick and efficient and runs pretty much on a loop from 7:00 a.m. until 2:00 a.m. The drop-off and pick-up area is outside of CityWalk; guests, therefore, have to clear security before entering the area.
Parking lots and multilevel garages offer access to the Cabana Bay Beach Resort towers, so once you’ve checked in and have a room key, you can then park closer to your room. It takes some time to get used to the layout of the resort, including the parking lots. On busy days, the ground level and spots close to the elevator serving the towers may be filled when returning from the parks. We suggest you park wherever you can find a place and move the car the next morning into a more favorable spot, if needed, for loading luggage.
It is a bit of a hike to the lobby of Cabana Bay Beach Resort and the shuttle to the parks, but it never took me more than 6 minutes when I followed the path alongside the pool of the Lazy River Courtyard.
One thing is for sure: The views of Volcano Bay by day and night are something to remember. And I can’t wait to see Universal’s Aventura Hotel, the next 600-room hotel to open this summer, just across the street from Cabana Bay Beach Resort.
Liliane Opsomer is the coauthor of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids and a freelance writer.
She is passionate about travel, Disney, fairies, hobbits and all things magical. Some of her favorite destinations are Orlando, Anaheim, Middle Earth, Belgium, Sydney, Dresden, Patagonia and Hawaii. Liliane lives in Birmingham, Alabama and visits the parks several times a year.