Where to even begin?! We just got home from our 8 day stay at Universal Orlando’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort. It was literally the most family oriented resort experience I have ever had. We have traveled a ton over the past few years with the kids and this resort took “family friendly” to the next level.
Seriously family friendly. I might even go to say it is a “family first” kind of resort.
From the smallest of things like always having their changing tables stocked with the paper bed liners, to the big things like providing life jackets and swim diapers for free! The whole resort was created to enhance the family vacation and make bringing the kids along a fun experience while also creating a resort and relaxing atmosphere for the adults.
Let’s start with the rooms: We stayed in a family suite and had a connecting family suite with my parents. This was an amazing set up because it gave us space to hang out while the kids were sleeping, double closets to store the extra kids stuff / strollers and we used one of the closets to put June’s portable crib in- it was the perfect fit! They also have an even bigger / more luxurious room that we got to tour called the Volcano View 2 bedroom suite. That had two separate bedrooms, two bathrooms, kitchenette, and living room with pull out couch. However, I personally loved the connecting family suites because it gave my parents some privacy from the kids if they wanted to shut the connecting door, but also allowed us to open them up and have one big space to be in together.
OMG THE POOLS.
They have two separate pool areas on each side of the resort ( this place is HUGE ) The pool that was outside our room was the water slide pool. It was the perfect set up for the kids. There was a zero entry area with fountains for the little ones to play in, as well as an entirely separate splash pad section that was completely fenced all the way around so little ones can run free without risk of falling to the pool. The waterslide was also so much fun! Teddy loved it and had so much fun going down it over and over once he got over his initial fear! It really wasn’t that fast or high so it was great for kids 4 and up but also big enough and fast enough for Grant and I to enjoy going down too!
On that same pool deck there is the Atomic Grill, Atomic Tonic, and a few separate play / hang / dining areas. There is a beach section too with fluffy white sand, plenty of sand toys, and ping pong tables that made for several fun hours for the kids and I. They have lights strung up above the area and its surrounded by palm trees so it really feels like a fun beach atmosphere and we went after dinner for the kids to play several of the nights. They also have covered pavilions next to a green space with yard games like Ladder Ball, Corn Hole, and more! It was a great spot to go and dry out when they needed a break from the water and sun!
The opposite side of the resort had another incredible pool area. They had an entire pool deck that was covered with sand, pool chairs and umbrellas so it really felt like the beach! The Hideaway Bar and Grill also made for an easy stop to grab mixed drinks for us and munchies for the kids without leaving the pool deck! There is also a zero entry section on this pool, as well as a lazy river!
The Lazy River
We had a blast in the lazy river and they sell tubes at the Tube Shack for a really affordable price! we paid $4 for the kids floats and $6 for mine! Thats the same prices as I’d pay in a store so I was beyond thrilled. That did seem to be a theme of the resort as well – there was no price gauging on food. I’d say at most I paid $1-2 more than I would outside the resort for the food, and the mixed drink prices can’t be beat! Poolside bars served the specialty 16 ounce cocktails for $10 and if you got a simple mixed drink like a vodka tonic with lime ( my personal favorite) it was just $8. That is as good of pricing as anywhere I have gotten drinks from. Especially poolside!
Accessibility for All
One thing I noticed is that not only were they dedicated to being family friendly – the whole resort was stroller / wheelchair accessible and they had wheel chair lifts at all of the pools and hot tubs for those who were disabled.
The resort is definitely aimed at being moderately priced and family friendly but they managed to retain the feel of resort vibes and I definitely felt like I was in a little bit of luxury – just a very family friendly luxury that wasn’t breaking the bank! Well done Universal!
Additional On-site Activities
They also had a bowling alley called Galaxy Bowl with a super cute game room next door. It was the cutest retro bowling alley that is open from 12pm -midnight every day. We spent one of the rainy afternoons bowling and stayed for hours because we had so much fun and the food was so good!
Galaxy Bowl + Game-O-Rama
Teddy and Grant went and played games at Game-O-Rama next door and Teddy might have had the best night of his life. It was so nice that we could bowl and order food to our lane. They also had dining tables for those who weren’t currently bowling. My dad and I are gluten free ( we both have severe inflammatory reactions to gluten ) and they took that so seriously! They have an entirely separate grill, prep surfaces and cooking oil for all their gluten free items. The chef came out to chat with us and make sure we got exactly what we needed. So for all of you Celiac people – this is a truly gluten free option! Just say the word and they will cater to you and your specific dietary needs.
Speaking of food, the dining options at the hotel were great! The Bayliner Diner is the main dining area and all the food is served cafeteria style. We never ate lunch or dinner there, but the breakfast was amazing! The kids had pancakes, scrambled eggs and bacon pretty much every morning and Grant and I got the omelets! Also, they did not skimp on bacon portions! HA. That is a big deal for my kids because boy can those two put down some bacon.
You can get a souvenir cup for $18 for your entire length of stay and get endless refills of the coffee, icees, smoothies, and the Coca cola Freestyle beverages. ( which has sparkling water options so I was in heaven! ) We were there for 8 days and we got two of the cups and definitely got our money’s worth. The machines are open 24/7 too so you can get whatever drinks you like at any time of day!
Serious Bang for Your Buck!
We also got the Cabana Bay cocktails souvenir cups. You pay $16 for the first drink and then after that all the refills are $10.50 for any specialty mixed drink – think mojitos, frozé, piña coladas, etc! We bought two of those as well and definitely made good use of them 🙂
Our Favorite Day
Our favorite days were spent just at the hotel and hanging by the pools – it was such a great resort that it was tempting to not even go to the theme parks! However I’m so glad we did. Cabana Bay has an exclusive resort guest entrance to Volcano Bay – their newest theme park and water park! Volcano Bay was Teddy’s favorite by far, and might have been mine too! We actually went there two out of our 3 park pass days. The waterslide area for kids was AMAZING. There was a toddler zone right next to it as well and we had a blast just watching the kids go again an again down the 6 waterslides they had. We parked ourselves in some beach chairs and watched as they played and we drank our coladas and ate a snack! It was a win win for sure.
I’ve got another post here about Volcano Bay and our experience. We rented a Cabana one of the days and it was by far the best money we spent the entire trip. Such a relaxing day!
There was also a fitness center on site which i never got to go workout in… but it looked amazing! It was themed around Jack Lalane the godfather of modern fitness! It was so fun to peek around in there and see all of the memorabilia! LOL they were working out in their slacks and dresses! The 1950’s were an interesting time for sure. But don’t worry the equipment was fully modern and they have several very nice cardio and weight machines as well as free weights and a great spot for some yoga or stretching!
Lobby Bar + Live Entertainment
Another fun thing about the resort is that they had live music every night in the lobby bar – The Swizzle Lounge. My parents had a great time one night hanging out at the lobby and listening to the music! They also have a beautiful patio area right outside of the lobby where they have bonfires an s’more roasting! Seriously- is there anything this place doesn’t have?! AND they had a “drive in” poolside movie every night for the whole family! I feel like we could have stayed for two straight weeks and not ever been bored. It truly was a blast and the retro theme was so much fun. It was like being transported back to the classic era of the 1950’s beach resort. Even the music playing in all the hotel areas was classic 50’s and 60’s – think Beach Boys, Elvis, James Brown, and other doo-wop crooners. So fun!
Gift Shop + Concierge
They had a great gift shop in the lobby as well! I visited it more times that I thought – I forgot flip flops for Teddy, floss, a sippy cup for June, etc. LOL- major Mom brain. But I was pleasantly surprised that it was’t ultra expensive to get these items. And we also bought little lanyard pas holders for our Universal Tickets and that was CLUTCH!! You definitely need those if you’re going into the parks.
All in all – I would 100% recommend staying at Cabana Bay. If you are looking for a family friendly resort in Orlando, look no further. My only regret is that I wish we had even more time to truly soak up all that the resort had to offer, I would have easily have enjoyed another 2/3 days just spent relaxing at the resort!
The Quick Version
The Cliff Notes Version in case you don’t have time to read the full review:
Stay here if you have kids.
Stay here if you are gluten free.
Stay here if you want to have an amazing time with your kids but also feel like you are in a nice resort made for adults too. Even with the over the top, colorful 1950’s decor it still keeps the resort feel without being overly cheesy. I was so pleasantly surprised.
Stay here if you are bringing your parents or extended family along.
Stay here if you plan to go to Volcano Bay.
If you are just a bunch of single adults, on a romantic getaway, or looking to have an extreme luxury experience – maybe check out the Aventura or Sapphire Falls.
Thank you to Universal Orlando for partnering with us to create this blog post!