REVIEW: Cabana Bay Beach Resort at Universal Orlando is a near-perfect theme park hotel

I really don’t have any clever turn of phrase to open up this overview, so I’ll just come out and say it: I unquestionably appreciate Common Orlando’s Cabana Bay Beach Vacation resort. 

A lot of other visitors have felt the similar way at any time considering the fact that the vacation resort opened in March 2014 as Universal Orlando’s very first benefit hotel — and the initially on-web page lodge Common experienced opened because 2002. 

It took considerably less than 18 months for Universal and its resort associate Loews to announce it was increasing the vacation resort with two towers, giving 400 supplemental rooms, to satisfy need. “It’s been so well-liked that we couldn’t build this rapid plenty of,” Loews senior vice president Tom Roditus claimed when the towers opened in 2017

Vintage cars and trucks outside the house the Cabana Bay lobby (Topic Park Tribune)

The enlargement wasn’t just since Universal’s theme parks were being starting to be a lot more well-liked. 

Cabana Bay is an attraction in by itself, from its lovingly-comprehensive mid-century modern-day aesthetic to features that surpass individuals supplied at a great deal much more pricey Disney Entire world motels. Even in the comparable price classes throughout the two locations, Cabana Bay is appreciably much better than the likes of Disney’s Pop Century and All-Star resorts although drastically undercutting the Mouse on cost. 

The rooms

I’ve stayed at Cabana Bay several moments, however my previously experiences arrived prior to I reviewed hotels professionally. I had stayed in a person of the resort’s more recent towers, in a conventional room somewhat much larger than related rooms in other properties. 

A tower place overlooking Volcano Bay (Common)

For my 2021 take a look at, I stayed in one of the resort’s relatives suites. Though not roomy more than enough to comfortably rest six as marketed, it is a lot more than ample for a team of four. Considering that savings available to Universal annual passholders typically carry family suite price ranges down to as reduced as $120 for each night time, it is a cut price. 

The entrance region in one of Cabana Bay’s relatives suites (Topic Park Tribune)

Retain in intellect that the “family suites” don’t supply the exact same form of separation as the suites at Disney’s Artwork of Animation, scaled-down Disney Trip Club villas, or other hotel lodging that are identified as “suites.” The sliding partition will not block sound or light from the opposite aspect, so it however really a lot feels like the complete spouse and children is sharing a area. 

If your group requires extra particular space, you are going to have to enhance to the two-bedroom suites, which supply two bogs and an additional 342 sq. feet of room, but typically price an additional $200 or extra for every evening than the loved ones suites — past the selling price stage I’d individually take into account a “value” resort. 

Examine out my online video area tour for a closer glance at the family suites:

Mainly because of the resort’s size, home spot issues a lot. 

Map of the resort (Universal)

The towers do offer you easy entrance into Volcano Bay, but make for a substantially more time wander to the theme park bus stop and sure amenities, these as the Starbucks place. I would advocate rooms in any of the other structures for that motive by itself, but if you get assigned to the towers in any case, it won’t be a main inconvenience.  


The pool facilities at Cabana Bay are arguably the very best on Universal property. To the north, surrounded by the exterior entry rooms, you are going to obtain the Cabana Pool, which attributes a slide that finishes beneath a fake diving tower. 

The Cabana Pool (Theme Park Tribune)

The south conclusion of the resort functions the Lazy River Courtyard pool, which, as you may have guessed, characteristics a lazy river — some thing only matched by a single Disney resort pool, Stormalong Bay at the Yacht and Seashore Club.

The Lazy River Courtyard pool (Concept Park Tribune)

There is no slide on this aspect, but the two pool regions do share other capabilities. Equally have pool bars (Atomic Tonic at the Cabana Pool and The Hideaway at the Lazy River Courtyard), as effectively as incredibly hot tubs, sandy parts and a great deal of lounge chairs. I would individually spend far more time in a lazy river than on a slide these days, but having two substantial-top quality pool places will make it all the much more tempting for families to dedicate an overall working day just savoring the hotel. 

And there is far more to entertain company than just a pool on the next stage of the foyer. One particular element unmatched by any Disney Environment resort is Cabana Bay’s bowling alley, Galaxy Bowl, situated on the 2nd stage of the foyer. 

Galaxy Bowl (Topic Park Tribune)

Details on reserving Galaxy Bowl lanes (Concept Park Tribune)

Supposedly motivated by Hollywood Star Lanes from “The Significant Lebowski,” the alley is a bit dear ($17 for grownups and $11 for little ones 9 and under, shoe rental included), but delivers the ideal activity for a lodge day. Be warned, even so, its 10 lanes are not enough to fulfill desire for its limited 3 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. several hours, so get there near to opening to limit your wait around.

A check out inside of the Activity-O-Rama arcade (Theme Park Tribune)

Match-O-Rama is larger sized than most arcades developed in Orlando theme park accommodations in the 2010s, even though not as large as what you will uncover at some more mature Disney benefit resorts. You’ll also obtain the Jack Lalanne Fitness Studio on the 2nd stage of the foyer. Even if you are not on the lookout for a perform out on your trip, you have to admire how even the fitness center matches with the resort’s concept. 

Even the fitness center fits the theme (Theme Park Tribune)

Like other Universal accommodations, Cabana Bay characteristics a Common Studios Retailer. A big resort fittingly has one of the more substantial shops, offering a smattering of items you may perhaps have skipped from the parks alongside very a couple Cabana Bay-branded things. 

Some of the Cabana Bay merch at the Common Studios Retail store (Topic Park Tribune)

If I have to quibble with Cabana Bay’s facilities, I do see some little flaws with its transportation selections.

Whilst you’ll hardly ever wait around extensive for the shuttle bus assistance, the bus often adds a cease at Aventura Resort throughout the avenue and drops you off just before the huge safety checkpoint. This is a significantly less easy place than the drinking water taxi program, which drops visitors off in the middle of CityWalk, shut to the concept park entrances, and spares them the more time protection lines that are also applied by friends coming by means of the parking garages. 

You may well be tempted to skip the bus provider and use the Sapphire Falls boat launch, but Universal obviously considered of that workaround and designed it way too inconvenient to be sensible. The first hurdle is the lack of a pedestrian crossing on Adventure Way at the Cabana Bay entrance — and I would not endorse having the risk of dodging site visitors. Then there is the Backyard garden Stroll possibility, which does cross the north stop of Journey Way, but then requires this kind of a twisting route to Sapphire Falls’ key building that any time personal savings from making use of the boat launch are canceled out. 

Unless Universal decides it desires to produce a bus dropoff closer to the concept park entrances for resort company, just suck it up and get the bus. The assistance is nonetheless quicker than most Disney buses, even even though additional measures by way of CityWalk can be a soreness (actually) at the end of a lengthy concept park day. 

The food 

As with other price resorts at both equally Disney and Universal, the primary foods solution at Cabana Bay is a food items court. The Bayliner Diner functions food items stations serving every thing from waffles and manufactured-to-purchase omelets at breakfast to pizza and Hawaiian pulled pork sandwiches for lunch and meal. 

Like other Common food stuff courts, I are likely to gravitate in direction of the remarkably-fantastic pizza. I really don’t have a diversified more than enough palette to be a foodstuff critic, but I am a Chicagoan who enjoys pizza, so I can say with self confidence that these Common hotels make damn great pizza. If not, the food items at Bayliner Diner can very best be summarized as as superior, but not fantastic, like most other resort food items courts.

The finest feature of Bayliner Diner, on the other hand, has nothing at all to do with the food stuff. Substantial screens in the cavernous cafeteria enjoy segments of vintage commercials on a loop. I caught a lot more than a couple seniors breaking out in large smiles soon after recognizing an old ad that they hadn’t noticed considering the fact that childhood. 

Seating at the Bayliner Diner (Concept Park Tribune)

You can find far more sandwiches, salads and kids menu selections at the resort’s two pool bars, Atomic Tonic and The Hideaway. Galaxy Bowl in fact qualifies as a table service restaurant, serving greasy favorites befitting a bowling alley like burgers and wings — however I’d adhere to appetizers below and only if you are waiting for a lane to open up up. 

Swizzle Lounge (Concept Park Tribune)

Alcoholic drinks can be located at the two aforementioned pool bars and the Swizzle Lounge situated in the lobby. Like other Universal resorts, there is a Starbucks in the lobby.

Waits in the morning can frequently leading 20 minutes, so really do not believe that this will be a fast end for coffee on your way to the bus. If you time it proper, receiving Starbucks at the hotel ought to even now be a lot quicker than finding it in CityWalk or within the theme parks. 

The verdict

A big portion of why Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Vacation resort is this kind of a success is the reality that very little feels like a low-priced “value” hotel. The aesthetic is lovingly managed down to the smallest particulars. The pool areas characteristic features that Disney only gives at a person of its best-priced resorts. And rather than only giving visitors much less, Cabana Bay has distinctive options all its personal, these kinds of as Galaxy Bowl. 

The Cabana Bay lobby at Xmas (Topic Park Tribune)

It’s really effortless for topic park accommodations to phone in these features when proximity is plenty of to catch the attention of numerous attendees. Cabana Bay features a great deal, significantly more. You basically are not able to match this lodge in phrases of bang-for-your-buck in the Orlando spot — and it’s telling that Disney, so considerably, hasn’t even tried. 

Grade: A+