Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort

6550 Adventure Way, Universal Studios Orlando, Florida 32819, USA

Jennifer Greenhill-Taylor

Universal's huge Cabana Bay Beach Resort takes guests back in time to a 1950s Florida beach town with a modern, ironic twist, and offers families a less expensive option when staying on-site at Universal. Mid-20th-century flair appears everywhere, from vast white terrazzo floors, outdoor walkways, primary colors, and neon building names, to the interior of the resort's 1,800 guest rooms. Staying on property gives you early park entry, and the ability to charge items in the resorts to your room key and have them delivered. Hogwarts Castle is right next door, and the screams from roller coaster riders punctuate the air.

YOU SHOULD KNOW Despite being an on-property hotel at Universal, Cabana Bay does not offer the front of the line perk offered by three other on-site hotels. The resort charges $10 a day for parking. If you are planning trips to Disney or Downtown Orlando, you’ll need a car, and will have to pay the price. If you are focusing on Universal and SeaWorld, you won’t need a car.


Retro Danish-modern wood with nesting tables and turquoise-and-orange decor set the rooms deep in the ’50s, but with modern touches, such as an in-wall charging station, microwave, flat-screen TVs, and free Wi-Fi.

YOU SHOULD KNOW Rooms near a parking gate, or on the first floor, can be noisy. Also, noise can be an issue within the family suites, as the wall between the living room and bedroom is insubstantial.


Three sections, shower, toilet, and sink area, are behind separate doors, so one person won’t hog the whole room in the morning rush to get to the theme parks.


Colorful cars from the 1950s are parked near the entrance to the vast, two-story lobby. Sparkling terrazzo floors surrounded by murals with a bright beach-ball and-umbrella motif lead to shops selling ‘50s gear and Universal Studios souvenirs. The ‘50s rock n roll music playing on the speakers continues the vibe, which is definitely a theme park version of mid-20th-century Americana. Lots of seating makes it a perfect place to people watch.

Theme park characters from Minions to Spiderman, the Simpsons and Dr. Seuss characters appear Friday evenings at the resort.


The resort’s two huge pools have sandy beaches next to them, where there’s often a game of beach volleyball going on. One pool has a slide reached by climbing a dive tower, the other one has a lazy river for a more relaxed way to cool off. Two poolside bars offer drinks and casual snacks, and guests can rent a cabana for a little privacy.


No spa onsite, but guests may use the spa at sister resort Portofino Bay.


Exercise along with mid-century fitness guru at the world’s first Jack LaLanne Physical Fitness Studio. In addition to lots of modern workout equipment, the center has photos, trophies and artifacts dedicated to the famous health-club owner, TV personality, and juicer vendor. Televisions play old episodes of his show in the fitness center.


Fast, casual family dining is what’s on offer here, whether you want food to go or a sit-down meal. The Bayliner Diner serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and includes stations for deli sandwiches, pizza, burgers, salads, international foods, and desserts. Take-out snacks can go to room or pool. In the second-floor bowling alley, the Galaxy Bowl Restaurant offers table service dining, including burgers, pizza, chicken wings, specialty cocktails, and beers. The Hideaway Bar and Grille at the Lazy River Courtyard offers snacks, sandwiches, grilled items along with beer, cocktails, and soft drinks.

Buy a souvenir cup and pay about $9 for one day or $18 for the length of your stay, and fill it to your heart’s content at the soft-drink stations in Bayliner Diner or Galaxy Bowl.


Three lounges, one in the lobby, and two poolside, offer frozen and non-frozen drinks, classic cocktails from the 50s and 60s, beer, and wine.


Getting Around

The resort offers shuttle buses to and from Universal parks and CityWalk and to nearby SeaWorld, and Aquatica. If you want to go anywhere else, a car is almost a necessity. Public transport stops at the Universal Parking Garage about every half hour, but getting anywhere in the Orlando area by bus can take a long time. For example, traveling to Disney from Universal can require three buses and several hours. Mears Transportation offers an on call or pre-booked shuttle service with pickup and return times at your convenience. Taxis or ride-shares can also be booked. The choice would depend on the number of people in your group and the extent of your budget.


Nearby CityWalk offers a party vibe with lots of nightclubs and bars, along with dozens of restaurants, from fast food at Red Oven Pizza Bakery, Panda Express, or Hot Dog Hall of Fame, to a sit-down meal at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville or Antojitos Authentic Mexican Food, or an upscale evening at Emeril’s Restaurant Orlando.


Most of the restaurants at CityWalk offer full bars. Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville offers, as you would imagine, Margaritas, along with late night music and dancing. For a New Orleans experience, the famous Pat O'Briens serves up Hurricanes along with Cajun bites.


If mid-century modern is your aesthetic, and Harry Potter is your obsession, Cabana Bay Beach Club Resort is the place for you. The light-hearted approach to décor and ambiance makes for a fun-filled stay; the pools and activities continue the vibe. The fact that it’s the least expensive of Universal’s on-property hotels is icing on the cake.


Family, Trendy


Phones: 407-503–4000

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