Cabana Bay Beach Resort at Universal Orlando
‘If we ever go back to Florida, mum? Can we return to that fun hotel?’ More than often kid-friendly hotels are not necessarily parent-friendly ones. But I have to agree with our six-year old daughter, that the Cabana Bay Beach resort at Universal Studios Orlando is one of our family favorites. Yes, it is a theme park hotel. And yes, it is huge. You don’t have to look far, though, to see that Cabana Bay Beach Resort is fun for all families. Whether you are looking for sun and fun or some theme park entertainment, it’s all here.
Cabana Bay Beach Resort
Yes, normally I choose smaller, locally owned hotels when we travel. Sometimes though, it is more convenient and cheaper not to. Visiting Universal Studios theme park in Orlando is by no means cheap. I had to breath in a plastic bag – figuratively speaking – when I looked at ticket prices for a family of four to visit the parks. Way more than I had expected. So instead of two days and visiting both parks we ended up visiting ‘just’ the Universal Studios park for one day. You can read more on our fun-filled day we spent at the park – from 8 in the morning to 8 in the evening. The other cost-friendly choice I made was to stay at Cabana Bay Beach resort.
Mid-century modern hotel
First, I *love* the fifties theme. The hotel is styled in mid-century modern fashion, from the gift shop to the dining-style restaurant to the family rooms. I felt completely at home. Although the hotel is massive and positively filled to the brim with kids, it has a great atmosphere. And the swimming pools, they are something else. Perhaps we are not used to American theme park hotels? For the Cabana Bay is Universal’s cheapest option in their range of theme park hotels. The outside area is amazing. There’s a sandy area for the smaller kids, with complimentary beach toys. One pool has a terrific water slide, the other one (our favorite) has a lazy river. Guaranteed great fun for hours on end. Oh, and the kids loved it, too. Moreover, there’s a fifties-themed fitness area, a bowling alley (wildly expensive, though), movies shown at the pool area and much more.
Breakfast and other disappointing food options
The only downside I could find was the food. Really, nothing special there. It’s hard to find something healthy at the hotel restaurants, it’s all waffles, pizzas and the like. Hey, it’s a holiday, so snacks are allowed. But if you’re on a Florida road trip, you hope to feed your kids some fruits and vegetables. And the healthy options are – no surprise there – the most expensive. I think you’re better off driving to a supermarket at the I-Drive and buy yourself some supplies. Even though, we visited Orlando driving a rental car, we took the complimentary shuttle bus to the parks. They run very frequently, fifties themed as well (yay) are not too busy and get you quickly to Universal Studios Florida central: Universal City Walk. This will save you an extra daily parking fee of 20 USD. You can also walk to the parks via a safe and easy-access path that will take you about twenty minutes.
Since, Cabana Bay Beach Resort is the cheapest on-site hotel at Universal Studio’s it does not include all on-site hotel benefits, such as skipping the lines at rides (sounds attractive on busy days). Our main reason for choosing a theme park hotel was the early access to the parks, one hour before the rest of the crowd enters. What I failed to see when booking, though, was that early admission is only via Universal’s Island of Adventure. Yes, the park we could not enter, since we only bought tickets to the Universal Studios park. So, let’s say we were really early at the park entrance that morning. No problem there, since we were first to enter ‘our’ park. Which gave our kids a real rush. To be first – ‘winning’ in a way – isn’t that just one of our kids’ priorities anyway? This way we were first in line for the Minions ride, the start of our day at Universal Studios Florida park.
Perfect fifties holidays touch
But to get back to where I started this review, we will definitely go back to Cabana Bay Beach Resort one day. To us, it has the perfect fifties holiday touch. Although, I have to say, I am really curious about the more expensive hotel options the Universal Studios area has to offer. Maybe someday, who knows?