Cabana Bay Beach Resort at Universal Studios, Orlando Florida
In order to fit Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter in to a one-day trip I needed to take advantage of the perks offered by staying on property at Universal Studios. Cabana Bay Beach Resort is the lowest priced ‘on property’ hotel that still allows you early admission into Universal theme parks – exactly what I was looking for.
My Big Little is deep in the throws of discovering the world of Harry Potter. Last year for his sixth birthday he asked to go to London (we were living in the Netherlands at the time.) We added in a trip to the Harry Potter Studios. This year, since we are in Florida, I took him on a solo trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios to celebrate turning seven. We were looking to gain the extra hour in the park without breaking the bank. As a result we spent one night at the Cabana Bay Beach Resort using the Florida Resident Discount on a Sunday to Monday in April.
Check-in was super easy! There are parking spots in the circle at the front of the hotel. You need your hotel key card to park anywhere else, so grab one of these up-front spots and leave your bags in the car until you check in.
The hotel had everything ready for us including a birthday hat and button for our Big Little. He was thrilled!
I was provided a map and directions to drive to my room. The resort is large but well organized around this central check-in building so your walk is never far.
We booked the most basic room at the lowest rate at the Cabana Bay Beach Resort. When we checked in they asked if we had a preference for location or floor. I said no because we were only there for one night. We ended up in a first floor room, facing the parking lot in the Continental building.
Parking (an extra fee) was right outside our room, which was super convenient. We checked in late, went to the pool and then went to bed so location was not a big factor for us. If you are staying longer I would recommend asking for a room on a higher floor.
The basic rooms have two double beds, a small table with two chairs and a fridge, a closet and a bathroom with the sink outside the room with the shower and the toilet. The beds were comfortable enough – nothing special but also no complaints.
We did find the room to be noisy. If we were staying more than one night I would have asked to change rooms. Our neighbors were very noisy and kept very different hours from us. Luckily, the big and I are deep sleepers so we put on some white noise and headed to bed.
I was so tickled when I stepped into the shower and they had these retro shampoos and soap – I had to snap a photo after the fact.
As soon as we were checked in, the Big Little wasted no time heading to the pool. There are plenty of towels available for use. Your key card lets you into the pool area. We stuck to our side of the resort with a large swimming pool and lazy river. Guests are also welcome to use the pool on the other side of the resort which has a water slide.
The resort has a sand play area and a kids splash pad as well. Life jackets are available to borrow in a variety of sizes. If you want an inner-tube for the lazy river though you’ll have to purchase one, or bring your own.
The view from our side of the pool was into the Volcano Bay Waterpark which, from the looks and sounds of it, is amazing.
Cabana Bay Restaurants
There are several restaurants at Cabana Bay. We heard a family down by the pool discussing their options for meals and after a four-night stay they were pleased with their options.
We hopped into the Bayliner Dinner to redeem the certificate the Big Little was given for a free piece of cake! We peeked at all the meal options (which were quite varied and looked good) and grabbed our free cupcake and had a seat.
The dinning room is retro themed with a large mural (which I was clearly obsessed with) on the back wall. Large TV screens play old commercials and some silly horror movie clips. The Big Little thought the whole thing was awesome.
I was obsessed with the theming, right down to this giant wall clock!
We packed our own breakfast by stopping at a Target on the way from the airport to the hotel. The restaurants open around 7 and we wanted to be on the bus to the parks no later than 7:30. Packing was cheaper and more cost effective.
I did hit the Starbucks in the lobby before getting on the bus to the park. This Starbucks lets you use your app to pay for purchases but you cannot redeem a reward.
Early Park Hours
The buses start running from the resort to the park around 6am. During our visit the park opened at 9am, so early hours were at 8am. We boarded the 7:15 bus, which gave us ample time to make the walk from the bus drop off to the park gate.
The buses leave from the right side of the hotel (with your back to the lobby.) They are well marked. We enjoyed looking at the classic cars on our walk to the bus stop.
As soon as we were ready to go in the morning we put all our things in our car and headed to grab coffee and board the bus. You need your hotel key card to get early admission into the park as well as to get your car out of the parking garage.
There are a number of easy ways to check out – all of which let you keep your key. You can check out on your hotel TV, you can check out with the front desk staff or you can drop a check out card in the box. We checked out by e-mail from the park.
Check out time is 11am and I wanted to keep the room just in case we needed it. So around 10am I just sent the hotel an email (as detailed on my key) and let them know our room number and name. I got a reply back a few moments later that we were all checked out.
When we completed our day at the park, we rode the bus back, walked directly to our car and got on our way to our next stop! Easy Peasy.
Is Cabana Bay worth it?
Cabana Bay at Universal in Orlando was exactly what we were looking for. The rooms are really nothing special but they get the job done. We were thrilled with the regular bus service and early park entry. The pools were top notch and left us wanting more swim time. The excellent hospitality and service were the icing on the cake!