As my children became teenagers, they began to ask a question that I hoped I'd never hear…Can we go to Universal Studios instead of Disney World sometime? My oldest son is a huge Harry Potter fan and he desperately wanted to experience the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. My youngest son is quite the daredevil and loves thrill rides. I am a GIGANTIC Disney person, so I was hesitant to leave Disney World property where I knew that everything would be magical. But when my husband won a trip to the Universal Orlando Resort, I knew it was time to bite the bullet.
Universal Orlando Resort has five onsite hotels, and our trip included a 4-night stay at one of them: Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort. Any true Disney fan knows that the theming of a resort is very important, and I loved the cool retro vibe of this place. Vintage cars welcome guests in the parking lot, and the lobby is decked out with mid-century modern furniture and a cocktail bar. The impeccable theming even carries over to the guest rooms...right down to the toiletries! When was the last time you saw VO5 Shampoo and Zest Soap?
But don't let the old-school theme fool you. Cabana Bay still has lots of modern
amenities: a Starbucks, a quality food court with a wide selection of menu items, casual sit-down restaurants, a fitness center, and even a bowling alley! There are also plenty of activities available throughout the day and night. Two courtyards feature swimming pools, hot tubs, lounges, a water slide, a splash pad for the little ones, and a lazy river. In the sandy area, guests can play ping-pong and beach games. In the evening, families are invited to enjoy a movie under the stars. We even ran into a few characters in the lobby!
Now on to the guest rooms. Our package included a spacious family suite that could sleep up to six people comfortably, with two beds in the bedroom and a pullout sofa in the living area. Family suites also feature an adorable kitchenette with a mini-fridge, sink, and microwave. There's even bar-type seating, perfect for enjoying breakfast before hitting the parks. One of my favorite parts of the suite, though, was the split bathroom. With a toilet and sink in one room, a shower/tub in the other room, and a vanity in between...everyone can get ready at the same time!
There are just a few drawbacks to the Cabana Bay Beach Resort, but Universal does a great job compensating for them. First, Cabana Bay is the farthest from the theme parks, but complimentary shuttle service is provided. And if you feel like getting some exercise, you can stroll to the parks along a cute little path (it's about a 20-minute walk). Second, the Unlimited Express Pass is not an included perk at this resort like it is at other onsite hotels. However, guests can choose to upgrade their tickets for a fee.
Overall, I was pretty impressed with Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort. The resort was clean, there were plenty of activities to keep us busy, the staff was friendly and knowledgeable, and the guest rooms were spacious. This die-hard Disney fan was pleasantly surprised.
Interested in a no-obligation quote for Disney or Universal? E-mail me at the address below. I'd love to help put some "Magic" into your next trip to Orlando!