Cabana Bay Beach Resort at Universal Orlando Resort | Why we love this fun, affordable hotel

by W. Andrew Powell
Cabana Bay Beach Resort

Universal Orlando Resort has seven excellent hotels, and they all have their charms. My favourite though is the fun, retro, and affordable Cabana Bay Beach Resort, with two pools, a lazy river, bowling alley, and lively atmosphere.

There are a lot of details that make this resort an excellent escape in Orlando, and it starts with the fantastic staff, the decor, and the food, but it’s also about how much fun it is to stay here, and the fact that Cabana Bay Beach Resort feels like an escape from the everyday.

Here is my full review of the resort, the highlights of any stay at the hotel, and a few of my favourite things if you’re planning a visit. Watch my video recap of my last stay there on YouTube.

The Pools

Lazy River Courtyard at Cabana Bay Beach Resort

There are a lot of things that make Cabana Bay feel like a true resort, but it really comes down to the rooms and the pools.

Cabana Bay has two pool areas, and both of them have their own feel and style. The Lazy River Courtyard on the left side of the property, if you’re walking into the resort from the parking circle, includes a beach area, a huge pool, The Hideaway Bar & Grill, and the lazy river, is my favourite spot.

With the sand and the lazy river, it really feels like you’ve arrived at a beach, and the Hideaway Bar offers some shade during the hottest part of the day. The cocktail menu also features their “Create-A-‘Rite” frozen margarita, with options for flavours you can add, like mango or strawberry, and they also serve smoothies, beer, wine, and other cocktails on the rocks.

During peak days at the courtyard they also bring in a DJ to create a party atmosphere, and you can buy inflatable pool tubes to float around the lazy river. Ultimately, the lazy river ended up being one of our favourite highlights because it moves at the perfect pace, and the current really carries you along.

Cabana Courtyard, located through the lobby at the opposite side from the main entrance, is also a lot of fun, and features a water slide in the middle of the pool, plus cabanas, a hot tub, splash pad, and the Atomic Tonic bar and a fast food stand.

Both courtyards also feature fire pits, for making s’mores with the kits you can get at the Bayliner Diner, and lots of beach chairs with umbrellas.

Galaxy Bowl, Game-O-Rama Arcade, and Swizzle Lounge

Galaxy Bowl at Cabana Bay Beach Resort

Inside the resort, Cabana Bay has three great spaces for fun, and it starts with the ever-popular Galaxy Bowl.

The iconic bowling alley features food, ten lanes, extra seating, and great music while you play. Galaxy Bowl is generally open from 3pm to 11pm, and it requires reservations, so it’s best to visit when they open to pick the time you want to play. They also have great pizza, and if your kids (or the adults) aren’t very good bowlers, you can ask for the bumpers to come up during their set, so they don’t end up in the gutters the whole time.

Next door to Galaxy Bowl, Game-O-Rama is a fun arcade with air hockey and lots of gamesm and it’s open from 11am to 11pm. Purchase a game card to play, and you can win tickets to trade in for prizes at the end of the day, or at the end of your trip. Prizes range from five to ten tickets, all the way up to thousands of tickets for the truly dedicated players.

And finally for the adults, Swizzle Lounge in the main lobby has cocktails and snacks from 1pm to 12am daily, plus live music on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights. I recommend their Swizzle Rum Punch, Mexican Pom-Jito, or a Mezcal cocktails.

Bayliner Diner

Bayliner Diner at Cabana Bay Beach Resort

For all your meals at the resort, the Bayliner Diner has a little bit of everything, whether you want to come early for breakfast, or stay late and pick up a beer, fries, or pizza.

Open from 7am to 11pm daily, the cafeteria-style restaurant has lots of indoor and outdoor seating, or you can take your meal to go. Five counters serve up pizza, pasta, deli favourites, salads, burgers, and international meals that change from lunch to dinner, and throughout the week.

You can also pick up snacks, fruit, drinks, and purchase a refillable mug for your whole stay that’s good for pop, juice, coffee, and tea at the drink stations. Plus there’s slushy drinks and a frozen yogurt bar, as well as some bottled alcoholic drinks in the cooler section.

The food is great, with large portions, and a good price. If you only try two things, I recommend the waffles at breakfast, or the pizza for lunch or dinner, but you also can’t go wrong with made-to-order salads, or their excellent burgers.

The Rooms

Standard Room at Cabana Bay Beach Resort

Cabana Bay’s retro style is everywhere in the resort, from the restaurant, right to the rooms too. Standard Rooms feature two queen beds that either look out over the pool, or Volcano Bay, and there are also Family Suites available that include kitchenettes and sleep up to 6 people.

Rooms are fairly spacious, they’re comfortable, and despite the retro style, they have all the modern amenities, they’re clean, and offer everything you’ll want on your stay, including a TV for downtime, a fridge, a separate bath from the sink and vanity, and large closets.

We had a great stay in our room, and we really appreciated the fridge, as well as the table.

Universal Studios Store

And if you want to bring home some gifts or keepsakes from your trip, the Universal Studios Store is filled with clothing, toys, glasses, and lots more, all from some of their biggest movies, TV shows, and attractions. You can even get Cabana Bay clothing and gifts, or a Galaxy Bowl bowling shirt.

Almost everything you can find in the parks is sold in the resort store, and if I have one big tip for travellers, it’s to go shopping at the resort rather than buying things in the parks and carrying them around all day.

Plus, one of the only places that sells Cabana Bay t-shirts is very likely in Cabana Bay itself.

Final Thoughts & Video Tour

For couples and families, Cabana Bay Beach Resort is a lot of fun, and it’s packed with things to do, great food and drinks, activities, and excellent access to Universal Orlando Resorts, the Universal Studios Florida Theme Park, Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, and Volcano Bay.

The moment that you step into the resort, it feels like you’ve arrived on vacation, and that feeling stays with you throughout the whole property. I even loved finding Zest soap in the hotel room, and watching the retro commercials in the Bayliner Diner.

It’s a wonderful place, at a price that’s more family-friendly for longer stays, and once you’re there, make sure to try out the lazy river.

When you booking a room at the resort, Universal Orlando also usually offers bundles so you can get a room, and park tickets, as well as early access and shuttles from the hotel. If you’re looking for a unique stay, Christmas & Holidays at Universal Orlando is also a fun time to visit starting in November and running until early January.

Watch my full tour video of Cabana Bay Beach Resort below.

All photos by W. Andrew Powell/The GATE.

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