Cabana Bay Beach Resort at Universal Orlando: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

Cabana Bay Cheapskate Princess Guide

Looking for a unique resort for your Orlando Vacation? Check out Cabana Bay Beach Resort, a Loew’s hotel located on site Universal Orlando Resort. Cabana Bay’s retro look will take you back to the sleek design of hotels from the the 50’s and 60’s. If you want to watch the lava from Universal’s newest theme park, waterpark Volcano Bay, you have rooms with a view! Whether traveling with the kids, or without, Cheapskate Princess Guide to Cabana Bay Beach Resort has all the information you need to decide if Cabana Bay is the right for your needs.

Cabana Bay is in the Prime Value category of the four Universal On Site hotels. While it contains fewer perks than the three others, for the price, benefits, and proximity to the parks, it is most definitely worth considering.  The perks of staying at Cabana Bay:

  • Early entry to the Universal Theme Parks an hour before opening.
  • Access to use the pools at any on site Universal Resort Hotel
  • Complimentary delivery of merchandise purchased throughout the resort to your hotel

Unlike on site hotels Portofino Bay, Hard Rock Resort and Royal Pacific Resort, Cabana Bay does NOT offer Free Unlimited Express Pass for guests, you must stay in a premier resort to enjoy that perk. Cabana Bay guests can purchase Express Pass for as few or many days as they like for an extra fee.

One huge plus of the Universal Orlando Resort is that all the parks and resorts are located close together. Cabana Bay is next door to Volcano Bay Water Theme Park and across the street from Loews Sapphire Falls Resort.

Universal Orlando Map

Rooms at Cabana Bay fall in either the Family Suite category accommodating six or up to eight guests, and the Standard Room which accommodates up to four.

Family Suite:

  • One Bedroom, 430 square feet of living space that sleep up to six with two QUEEN beds and a pull-out sofa.
  • Contains two flat screen TVs, one in the living area and one in bedroom area.
  • Four drawers are available for unpacking or storing items in your suite – two in bedroom, two in the living area.
  • A sliding privacy partition separates bedroom and living room space.
  • Contains an extra-large bathroom for three people to get ready at once.
  • Features a kitchenette with mini refrigerator, microwave and a small sink along with a counter with two stools.
  • Closet located in the bedroom area.
  • Room options include poolside or courtyard views, and a choice of interior hallways or exterior entry suites. Depending on which building the suite is in, the window could be either in the living space or the bedroom area.
  • Connecting room doors are available located in the kitchenette area.
  • Two Bedroom suites will be available Volcano Side in 2017. With a view of Universal’s Volcano Bay Water Theme Park, these spacious 772 square-foot two-bedroom suites are the ideal space in which to spread out and unwind after a day in the parks. Offering two full bathrooms, a living room with a full-size pull-out sofa, kitchenette, two full beds in one bedroom, a queen sized bed in the other, and sleeps up to eight people comfortably.

Cabana Bay Family Suite

Standard Room:

  • At 300 square feet, these are the smallest rooms of all the on site resorts, but they are comfortable.
  • Each features two QUEEN beds, a flat screen TV, and a mini refrigerator along with a fun retro theme.
  • Choose from poolside, courtyard view rooms or volcano view.  I prefer hotel rooms with queen beds- while the room is small, you have a nice sized and comfortable bed.

Cabana Bay Room Layout

The resort is made up of two areas both of which surround a pool: The Cabana Courtyard and the Lazy River Courtyard.  I found it an easy walk around the resort, while it is big, it is compact. The main lobby area is central to both areas. From the Cabana Courtyard you must walk outside, from the Lazy River Courtyard, it is an interior walk which is welcome in the heat of the summer.

Cabana Bay Map

      Cabana Courtyard:

  • Three buildings with exterior hallways: Building 1 Castaway, Building 2 Thunderbird, Building 3 Starlight
  • 600 total family suites are located in this Cabana Courtyard – no standard rooms
  • Lawn (where movies are shown)
  • Large Zero Entry Pool
  • Water Slide
  • Hot Tub
  • Kids Splash Pad
  • Pool Activities and Sand Beach area (Pool Table, Sand Bag Toss)
  • Fire Pit
  • Pool Cabanas Available for extra fee
  • Family Suites have window in Living Area
  • Room Categories: Courtyard Family Suite, Courtyard Family Poolside

Cabana Bay Pools     

Lazy River Courtyard:

  • Two buildings with interior hallways: Building 4 The Continental, Building 5 The Americana.
  • 300 total family suites, 600 total standard rooms are located in Lazy River Courtyard
  • Zero Entry Pool
  • Lazy River
  • Tube Shack
  • Fire Pit
  • View of Volcano Bay Volcano
  • Family Suites have window in Bedroom Area
  • Room Categories: Tower Family Suite, Tower Family Suite Poolside, Standard Room, Poolside Room, Volcano View Room

Guest Room at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort

All rooms and suites contain:

  • Iron, ironing board, hairdryer and in-room safe
  • Cuisinart single coffee pod brewer
  • Mini refrigerator
  • Complimentary wireless internet access in each guest room and most common areas of the hotel
  • Upgrade to Premium Plus wireless internet access for optimal entertainment and business needs
Cabana Bay Family Suite

Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort Family Suite Living Space

Location:

  • Address: 6550 Adventure Way, Orlando, FL 32819
  • Cabana Bay Beach Resort is about 1 mile from the Universal Theme Parks Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios.
  • From the airport it is about a 20 minute ride without traffic.
  • To get to Universal CityWalk, Islands of Adventure Park, Universal Studios Orlando Park it is about a 15 – 20 minute walk or bus ride – the distance is about 1 mile.
  • Volcano Bay Water Theme Park opening in summer 2017 is next door.

Guest Check In the Main Entrance lobby located central to the resort. 

  • Check in time is 4 p.m.; check out time is 11 a.m.
Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort Starbucks just off the lobby area

Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort Starbucks just off the lobby area

Resort Amenities in Main Entrance area :

  • Starbucks
  • Universal Gift Shop
  • Game O Rama Arcade
  • Rec Center
  • Jack Lalanne Fitness Studio
  • Universal Shuttle Bus To All Resorts, CityWalk and Universal Theme Parks
  • Free Shuttle to Sea World (requires reservation)
  • Guest Services Park Ticket desk and Ticket Kiosk
  • Hertz Car Rental Desk
  • Luggage Services and Storage
  • TV Lounge
  • Bayliner Diner
  • Swizzle Lounge with Happy Hour
  • Galaxy Bowl Bowling Alley
  • Luggage Storage and Bell Services

Cabana Bay Refillable Mug

Dining and Libations:

A downside of Cabana Bay is that it does not have a table service restaurant on premise other than bowling alley, however the other Universal on site resorts and CityWalk are easy to get to via bus or walking. I did not eat at the resort during my stay – I ate at the parks and CityWalk though I did enjoy a happy hour and was provided some chex mix with my cocktail. Food and beverage options:

  • Bayliner Diner is a Food Court offering Salad Bar, Burgers, Pizzas, Sandwiches, and yes, some entrees including Flat Iron Steak, Beef Stew, and Roasted Chicken among a few other options. Prices run around $6 to $13 depending on what you are ordering.
  • Galaxy Bowl offers a limited menu table service area with wings, pizza, quesadillas, burgers and the like.
  • Delizioso Pizza offer Pizza Delivery to your room.
  • Hideaway Bar and Grill located at the Lazy River Courtyard offers drinks and basic “bar food” for lunch and dinner: wings, burgers, nachos, fish and chips, salads, etc., around $10 per entree.
  • Atomic Tonic is a full service bar in the Cabana Courtyard, drinks only.
  • Starbucks – a full on Starbucks location, not JUST a counter is located in the main area for your coffee before hitting the parks.
  • The Sonic Refill cup, a souvenir reusable plastic cup is available for an extra cost. Is only valid at the Cabana Bay resort, NOT at theme parks, not at any other resorts.
Cabana Bay Dining

Cabana Bay Food Court Bayliner Diner

Theming:

  • As a Generation X’er, I LOVED the theming. The retro look is so much fun, from the clean lines, the bright colors, the groovy furniture, the Zest and VO5 in the bath area, classic cars parked outside of Bayliner Diner, and artwork reminiscent of the 60’s. I expected Don Draper from Mad Men to drive up with Betty and the kids for vacation. The theme is simplistic,bright and nostalgic. I do think it could be lost on kids but the amenities at the resort are so great, they won’t miss a thing.

Cabana Bay Guide

Transportation and Parking:

  • Airport Transportation is NOT included. You must either drive or shuttle or taxi to the resort. Note, Uber does NOT run from MCO so that is not an option for you Uber fans.
  • Park Transportation is via a bus that runs every 15 minutes – my experience was always less than that. The shuttle service is quick, it takes around 15 minutes to get to CityWalk, about the same time you could walk it. Add on 5 minutes for walking to the theme parks.
  • A downside of Universal Transportation to the parks is that the bus does not let you out at the front of the parks, you have to walk through CityWalk. You can however take a Water Taxi near the entrance of the theme parks to any resort other than Cabana Bay. I took the Water Taxi to Sapphire Falls and then walked across the street to Cabana Bay, still a walk, but got to check out the lobby and pool at another resort and enjoy a nice gentle ride.
  • Self Parking is available for an additional nightly fee of $12 per night.
  • Resort Parking is conveniently located next to buildings.

Cabana Bay Bus Transportation

Cost:

  • For 2017 Standard Room Rates: start at $139 plus tax per night in Value Season and $225 plus tax per night during the holiday season. A standard room accommodates four guests.
  • There are NO resort fees.

Room Choice Considerations:

  • Cabana Courtyard Family Suites with Exterior Hallways are subject to Florida weather. I would assume the doors to suites are more heavily insulated for temperature control than interior hallway suites. More insulation for heat also means more insulation to keep out noise. Family Suite windows will be in the Living Area, it can be very quiet back in the bedroom with no windows.
  • Lazy River Courtyard Family Suites contain windows that are located in the Bedroom area. Interior doors are most likely not as heavily insulated for temperature as in the Cabana Courtyard, hallway noise could be more noticeable.
  • Poolside rooms can be noisier with more activity, higher rooms are probably the most quiet.
  • Request to be close to lobby for less walking if that is an issue.

Lazy River Courtyard and Tower Rooms

I stayed in a Cabana Courtyard Family Suite building One facing the parking lot towards the far end of building.  I was surprised how quiet it was – I never heard a person, car, traffic, rolling luggage, people talking, water running from another room. I found the bed incredibly comfortable, I slept great. I loved my stay so much with my friend, I have planned to take the family down next year for our Orlando Vacation.

Bottom Line:  While there may be cheaper options for a Universal Orlando stay, being on site next to all the resorts was fabulous. Early park admission makes the decision easy – time is money when at a theme park and that extra hour helps get in several attractions! At early park admission, they let us in the park 10 minutes earlier than I expected. I proceeded directly to Gringott’s and rode it – walk on, no wait, two times first thing in the morning. Being able to use pools at other resorts is a fun change of scenery and one of my favorite perks of Universal Resort Stays . While Water Taxi transportation is not available directly to Cabana Bay to and from the parks, you can ride the Water Taxi to other destinations at no cost. Bus service is available between the resorts, Citywalk and the parks. With Volcano Bay Water Theme Park opening next door in 2017, Cabana Bay will be so convenient for enjoying all Universal has to offer.

Make your Orlando Trip Two Vacations in ONE:
Cabana Bay’s Prime Value category makes it an attractive option to turn your Disney or Orlando Vacation into two trips. It is very easy to transfer for a night or two to Cabana Bay and get in some Harry Potter with an extra hour of park time for onsite resort guests.

To see more of our Cheapskating Guides, use this link.

.

Now let our vacation planner help you plan your trip, totally for FREE!

Earn $20 Rewards for Vacation Referrals!

Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from Mike Ellis, our Disney Vacation Planner with Pixie Vacations.

Call Mike at 919-606-6725 or e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

Amanda Major CheapskatePrincess.comAmanda Major is the creator of cheapskateprincess.com. She remembers her first visit to Magic Kingdom like it was yesterday, because she had a ham sandwich tucked in her shorts pocket. The whole family snuck in their lunch; you can’t make that kinda stuff up. 40 years worth of trips to Orlando later, she is still trying to save money on vacations.

Amanda is a Disney Vacation Club Member and Annual Pass holder. Her amazing husband, band director Carl Major, plus three teen children and two dogs keep her busy. Amanda teaches Leadership to high school seniors in the almost-coastal town of Foley, Alabama. Read about her cheapskating local vacations with this link. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, walking somewhere, or paddling a kayak. Life is indeed a blast. 

We hope we can help save you some money too. Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from our Travel Consultant with Pixie Vacations, Mike Ellis. You can also e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.