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Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort Review

Cabana Bay is a charming retro hotel that is one of the on-site properties at Universal Studios Orlando. Located about 20 minutes from the Orlando airport, Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort is a value-priced hotel decorated in 1960s decor. Families will love the hotel’s retro vibe, pools, lazy river, waterslide, family suites, and proximity to Universal Orlando theme parks.

Exterior of Cabana Bay Beach Resort hotel and pools.

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Upon arrival at Cabana Bay, visitors are taken back in time to a retro resort reminiscent of the beach clubs of the 1960s. The lobby is decked out in vibrant colors and the rooms themselves carry on the theme. Bright turquoise blue hues mixed with orange are repeated throughout the hotel in case they were missed elsewhere.

Cabana Bay Beach Resort's retro exterior.
Photo: Universal’s Cabana Bay

Cabana Bay Family Suite vs Standard Room

Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort rooms are as follows: 

  • Standard Rooms have two queen beds, a flat-screen television, and a small desk. The bathroom area has a single sink separated from the bathtub/shower and toilet area.
  • Family Suites can accommodate up to six people. They have two flat-screen TVs, a kitchenette, and a partition for privacy. There’s a large bathroom with areas for three people to get ready at once, which is a nice touch for large families trying to head to the parks.
Brightly colored Cabana Bay Beach Resort standard hotel room.
Photo: Universal’s Cabana Bay

Cabana Bay rooms are very simple, with no frills. Even the bathroom amenities – the VO5 shampoo and conditioner and Zest soap – are basic and have throw-back labeling. So if you love bath lotion and a good bar of hotel soap, this isn’t the place to find it. The hotel sticks to the retro theme 100%.

Cabana Bay Beach Resort Family Suite with couch and small kitchen area.
Photo: Universal’s Cabana Bay

There are also two sides to Cabana Bay Resort –  The Tower and the Courtyard – on either side of the main lobby. The difference between Cabana Bay’s Courtyard rooms and Tower rooms is that the Courtyard side is built in a motel style, with room doors that open to the outside world. Tower rooms are hotel-style with interior corridors. 

Each side has its own pool area, and guests are free to use both pools. There are options for “poolside” or “volcano/poolside” rooms, the latter of which has a view of Universal’s Volcano Bay water park. 

Does Cabana Bay Have a Beach?

The property has two enormous swimming pools and both have sand beach areas. The Cabana pool, on the Courtyard side, has a zero-entry sand beach, a water slide tower, and a water splash park for kids. 

The Lazy River pool is exactly that – a large swimming pool adjacent to a sand beach area with a lazy river winding around the perimeter. Located on the Tower side, the lazy river courtyard has inner tubes available to rent, or guests are welcome to bring their own. Private cabanas are available to rent as well.

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Both pools offer a poolside bar and food.

Benefits of Staying at Universal Cabana Bay Beach Resort

One of the top benefits of staying on property is having access to early park admission for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Resort guests can get in one hour before the theme park opens. In my opinion, this is a major perk because WWHP gets extremely crowded late in the morning once everyone arrives.

Cabana Bay has a Universal Resort ticket desk so visitors can purchase tickets before heading to the park. There’s also a Universal Orlando Resort store filled with souvenirs in case you can’t make it to the parks.

Free wi-fi is available throughout the resort and in all rooms. Visitors also have access to the other Universal properties Loews Portofino Bay, Loews Royal Pacific, the Hard Rock Hotel, and their restaurants.

Lobby at Cabana Bay Beach Resort.
View of lobby where it’s retro everything!

Cabana Bay Restaurants

There are several dining options on the property, but know that the numerous restaurants of Universal CityWalk are a quick five-minute bus ride away.

Bayliner DinerThis is a giant cafeteria area with a variety of vendors selling pizza, sandwiches, salads, and various international options. There are old-school cartoons and commercials constantly playing on two giant screens in the seating area, which are fun to watch while dining. It’s open all day and is great for anything from breakfast to dinner to a quick snack in between.

The retro-themed Bayliner Diner with cafeteria-style seating.
Bayliner Diner is open all hours of the day and offers cafeteria-style seating.

Galaxy BowlLocated inside the bowling alley, this restaurant offers sit-down service. Think burgers and wraps with chicken fingers and mac n’ cheese for the kids.

The Hideaway Bar & GrillThis poolside restaurant offers snacks and grilled items for lunch and dinner in a location that’s not too far from anyone’s lounge chair.

Atomic Tonic – This is the restaurant located at Courtyard Cabana Bay pool and it offers salads, wraps, and sandwiches for an afternoon bite.

Delizioso Pizza – A pizza delivery service available to bring pizza to your room or poolside at certain hours of the day.

Starbucks – There is a fairly large Starbucks on site serving coffee and various food options throughout the day.

Large Starbucks and Cabana Bay Resort.
Very cool retro Starbucks!

Is There a Spa at Cabana Bay?

Guests of Cabana Bay Resort hotel are free to visit the Mandara Spa at Loews Portofino Bay where they can enjoy massages, facials, body treatments, salon services, and more.

The Jack LaLanne fitness center on site has a generous amount of cardio equipment, free weights, and weight machines. It’s perfect for those who feel they didn’t get enough exercise walking the parks.

There are many on-site activities for families including a ten-lane bowling alley, an arcade, and movies at the pool as well. Character appearances happen every Friday night.

Cabana Bay Beach Resort swimming pool and water slide.

Shuttle to Universal Studios

There is plenty to entertain families on site, but there’s always the option of taking the complimentary shuttle to Universal Studios and CityWalk.

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There is shopping aplenty and an endless amount of dining options as well as Universal Studios theme parks. It’s a quick five-minute ride from Cabana Bay to the entrance of Universal Studios which will appeal to many families.

Self-parking and valet parking are available on-site for those choosing to drive.

Best Reasons to Stay at Cabana Bay

Universal’s Cabana Bay gives families the gift of time which can be hard to come by at many large resorts. The shuttle service wait was never more than five minutes, and it’s a quick five-minute ride from the hotel to the park. With tired or excited kids in tow, this is a blessing.

There is no Volcano Bay hotel, but Cabana Bay is located right next door. The massive water theme park is tons of fun for visitors of all ages and Cabana Bay’s location is a huge plus for families planning a visit to Universals Volcano Bay waterpark.

When comparing Orlando hotels, Cabana Bay Beach Resort hotel might be a bit more money, but you make up for it in time, convenience, and fun! For families looking for value, cleanliness, and convenience near Universal Studios, Cabana Bay would certainly be a perfect choice.

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Book Your Flights

You can find discounted fares using sites like Momondo or Skyscanner. If you want to keep an eye on discount fares, we suggest signing up for Going, a daily newsletter with flight sales around the world.

If you travel frequently, consider investing in a Priority Pass for airport lounge access. It’s nice to have a space where you can relax before your flight.

Book Your Accommodation

We regularly use Expedia.com and Hotels.com to find lodging when we travel. It’s a great way to compare vacation rentals, hotels, and resorts.

If your family knows they want to stay in a vacation rental, we recommend looking at VRBO and Plum Guide.

Book Your Transportation

For rental car agencies, try Rentalcars.com. We tend to use Hertz simply for the quality of service.

Book Your Tours and Travel Photos

We regularly used companies like Viator and GetYourGuide to book tours when we travel. Both have great communication and a large variety of activities that work for all ages.

If you’re visiting a city with multiple attractions, be sure to check out a discount pass, such as CityPASS or Go City. Both are worthwhile investments.

Context Travel is another option and they offer more educational-based activities. The former teacher in me loves their tours.

One of our favorite things to do annually is taking photos with Flytographer. They have photographers around the world and we’ve used them on four separate occasions. This is our favorite travel souvenir.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

With the state of travel these days, it’s important to have some type of travel insurance to cover any unforeseen accidents, illnesses, threats, or cancellations. We always travel with insurance and would recommend SquareMouth, Travelex, or Medjet as good options. And if you want to compare different insurance options, use Travel Insurance Master to find the best policy for your group.