With Transformers now open and thrilling N.E.S.T. recruits, Universal is moving furiously to complete its Springfield expansion. And, we take our first look at what the family suites at Cabana Bay Beach Resort will look like.  MiceChat had the opportunity to speak with of the creative minds behind Cabana Bay Beach Resort and Springfield USA!  So grab your decidedly orange Flaming Moe, and a Lard Lads doughnut, as we bring you the latest from the Universal Orlando Resort.


Lowe’s Hotels and the Universal Orlando Resort are entering the value hotel market next year with the opening of Cabana Bay Beach Resort.   This hotel will have an almost authentic 1950’s feel with modern amenities, and family suites, that will help redefine what “value” means to people who are accustomed to staying at an onsite resort.

While Universal might classify Cabana Bay as a “value” resort, it will have amenities, that no other value property in Orlando has.  The pool area will feature a lazy river, and a white sand zero entry pool.  Guests will have access to a bowling alley, and pool side movies at night.

MiceChat took a peek at a model for the hotel rooms, and from the look of the model rooms, you get a real feel for how comfortable and chic this property is going to be.








Cabana Bay will feature Cocktails and Mocktails for guests who want to lay by the pool and let the hours fly by. IMG_9749



That’s Cabana Bay in the upper left.



MiceChat spoke with VP of Universal Creative, Russ Dagon, about Cabana Bay Beach Resort.  Russ has led the development of the Royal Pacific Hotel, the Hard Rock Hotel and last year’s Despicable ME: Minion Mayhem

MiceChat: Cabana Bay Beach Resort is a much different hotel from the hotels you have developed in the past, what do you want the guest experience to be at Cabana Bay?

Russ Dagon: This property is really about family, this is about the drive-to family vacations.  Growing up, we loaded up the station wagon, and drove  for hours to get the family vacation destination.  That is what this is intended to be about, the family all spending time together, and all in one room.  At this property, a family of 6 is in one room, you’re all in one room experiencing it together.  There is nothing here that is over the top for adults, or over the top for children.  In our bowling there is something for Dad to do in there, and the kids will enjoy it too.  The same works for our pool, and at our restaurant.  You move through our resort as a family.

Cabana Bay Beach Resort opens March 2014, but guests can already book now, by going directly to Universal Orlando’s website.


Over at Universal Studios, the park just opened it’s mega attraction for the summer, but it isn’t over yet

Springfield USA has opened it’s Fast Food Blvd, but Duff Gardens and the INTERACTIVE Kang and Kodos Twirl N’ Hurl spinner are still under construction and will be debuting sometime this summer.

Sideshow Bob Greeting Guests

As part of the additions to Springfield USA, Universal introduced 2 new walk around characters to the park.  Sideshow Bob and Krusty the Clown now greet guests.  These characters are big, yellow, and adorable!  Guests have been lining up to get their photos with these two bozos.




Once Springfield opens, there will also be some static characters for guests to pose with, so keep an eye out for Chief Wiggum, Duff Man, Milhouse and more.

Interview with Chef Steven Jayson about Springfield

When Springfield USA opened its first phase with an amazing variety of food, we knew right away, the man behind it was Chef Steven Jayson, the genius behind Butterbeer.  We were lucky enough to talk to Steven Jayson about the process of bringing the food of Springfield USA from the Simpson’s to life.

MiceChat: We have already drunk a small fortune in Flaming Moes, and we’ve just got to know what the creation process was like for this drink?

Chef Steven: A couple of the drinks we have created over the years here at Universal start out with you saying “what is this?” And then you try to just work through it.  With the Flaming Moe, the name kind of dictated a little bit to the idea, of flames, smoke, that there is something going on when you hand it to the guest.  You see this action going on.
And we had to develop the vessel, and to accommodate this action.  Working through the flavor profile, when you have millions of visitors you want to come up with something mainstream that the average guest is going to enjoy.  We didn’t want it to be alcoholic, because then everyone 21 and under would not be able to taste it.  It had to be for all ages, and it had to be fun, interactive, and give you the flaming option!

MiceChat:  One thing you notice when you eat here is the variety of food. Was it difficult to develop a menu of this size?

Chef Steven:  We have a lot of variety, and let me tell you, when I left LA after meeting with Matt Groening, Gracie Films and Fox, and they didn’t shoot down one idea, I was on that plane thinking “how am I going to do all these things?” And we are managing it, and it is all selling!  Guests are buying everything!  It is cool that we hit the nail on the head!

MiceChat:  The surprise dish for me was your calamari. When I think of Theme Park calamari, I think of fried rubber that I have to chew through.  But your calamaris is soft and moist?  How do you do that?

Chef Steven: There are two types of Calamari you can use, most places will serve the calamari, that is combination of the tentacles, and maybe some of the calamari steak.  Mine is 100% calamari steak.  The reason why I use it, even though it is more expensive, is because it is nice, firm and you can run that calamari through a jaccard meat tenderizer, and now you have this beautiful firm white piece that we marinate, bread it and it is delicious.


Interview with Ric Florell

MiceChat also had the pleasure of speaking with Ric Florell, who is the VP & GM of Resort Revenue Operations at Universal Orlando, and we took a peak at his “Simpson’s Bible” that were the scripts from all the Simpson’s Episodes in seasons 1 – 10.  And, just looking a simply the sticky notes, you can see how much research, care and love was put into bringing Springfield USA to life.







MiceChat: How long has Springfield USA been in development at Universal Orlando?

Ric Florell: We have been working on this intensely for the past year, a large chunk of the early days was research (4 – 6 month).  There are people who just know this, and people love it.  The other thing we learned was when we began to share this with people, they light up, and they instantly tell you what they like, and what they wanted to see.

MiceChat:  What do you want guests to take away when they leave?

Ric Florell:  That they have been to Springfield, and that they have been inside this fiction.

And from what Universal Orlando has showed us so far, it truly does feel like you have taken a trip to Springfield USA.

We do have one last surprise to share with you about the Kang and Kodos Spinner.  While some people might have written off this attraction when they found out it was an “off the shelf ride,”  Mike West at Universal Creative shared with us that this ride will be interactive, and that guests will be able to hit targets, by flying up or down, that will trigger effects, gags, and interactive elements on the ride!

So be prepared to spend sometime riding the Twirl N’ Hurl and then relax with your Krusty Burger and your Flaming Moe, while you watch the construction of Diagon Alley across the lake!


The Unofficial Universal Orlando Podcast is back with two episodes this week. One a traditional look at the universal parks . . . and the other is a special Transformers Grand Opening show.  You won’t want to miss either of the two shows below!

UUOP Special edition Transformers Grand Opening Celebration:


UUOP # 59 – The latest news and rumors from Universal Orlando and Universal Studios Hollywood:

And that’s our update for this week. Do you find the design of the new Cabana Bay Beach Resort interesting? Planning to spend some time with the Transformers this summer? Ready for your first Flaming Moe? Let us know in the comments below.

  • Trumpet

    Great update Eric

    The new hotel looks fantastic, and love al of the details. You feel that you will be transported back in time to the 1950s, hopefully Beach Boys songs will be playing in the lobby.

    Love the interviews with the USO members of time, and they really love their job. I can’t wait to try the new food and I will try the calamari, as it will not be rubbery, which I think is a big bonus and that they want guest satisfaction to be high for this new mini land. I wonder how well th interactive Kang and Kodos twirl and hurl will be play out, but with all these enhancements, I can’t wait to visit USO soon, hopefully next year. Ifh you want my opinions of the transformation of the two parks during the last few years, as I have not visited since 2003, then I will be happy to give my views in the USO podcast!

    Thanks again Eric


    • KingEric

      Thank you as always Trumpet! And we would love to interview you for the Podcast when you come and visit! Maybe we can do an interview in the park when you are here!

  • What a great update. 3 interviews in one week. You are a total stud Mr. Eric!

    I’ve got to say that the new Cabana Bay Hotel looks like it is going to be just wonderful for families and I totally dig the mid-century vibe they are giving it.

    • KingEric

      I am in love with this chic mid-century modern and upscale. It is far more than concrete slabs. This is a place you want to find yourself unwinding at.

  • Werner Weiss

    What an excellent Universal Orlando update. It’s amazing that Universal is adding the new hotel and Springfield simultaneously with the Transformers attraction and the Harry Potter addition to the Studios park. Terrific write-up, photos, and interviews!

    The mid-century themed Cabana Bay Beach Resort looks great. I want to stay there.

    The Simpsons series has seemingly been on the air forever, and it’s likely to in reruns for decades after they finally stop making new episodes. So this IP is about as timeless as any can be. I like how it’s no longer enough for a theme park just to have an attraction and a gift shop. It’s now about the whole package of food, entertainment, characters, and a complete environment.

    • KingEric

      I agree! Universal is showing, that if you take people into the fiction, they will spend money! lol

      Theme Parks are all about ESCAPISM. People want to escape reality, and have an adventure, take a journey, and Universal is doing exactly this!

    • I like this trend. Creating immersive environments for major attractions is a good thing. Worked well for Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Disney’s Cars Land. And that seems to be the trend for the new attractions in Hong Kong Disneyland like Mystic Manor as well. LOVE IT.

  • KENfromOC

    Cabana Bay looks like a winner – But one question I have is will there be family suites? Or are all the rooms “singles”. With a 6-year old, we find it better to have a separate room so she can go to bed while we can still be up watching TV, reading, etc.

    Anyone know the answer to this?

    • KingEric

      Hey KENfromOC,

      Sorry I didn’t make this clear with the photos or the text! But there are two separate rooms, with a sliding door separating the spaces.

      The bathroom has 3 sections, so that 3 people can be getting ready at the same time, with the toilet, shower and sink all in their own space.

      • KENfromOC

        GREAT – well if the price is right, I may consider it over a Disney resort, even though WDW will be the main destination in 2014.

      • KENfromOC

        Thanks again!

      • KingEric

        I think when you will be able to see all of the amenities that you will have when you stay here, and the fact is the price will beat Disney’s.

  • partyhare

    This is all great! Thanks for the great insights and interviews!
    Fantastic stuff going on at USO now. These little immmersive micro areas – Funny how the Studios park is turning into Islands of Adventure 2!

  • funtobfree

    Will the Cabana Bay guests get Front of the Line access like other Universal Resort Hotel Guests? Early entry to the parks for Harry Potter?

  • Disneykin Kid

    I really like the look of Cabana Bay, they pushed the retro theme. I almost wish they did the same for the Disneyland Hotel. Cabana Bay reminds you of all those great 50s hotels including the Disneyland Hotel. But when they recently redid the Disneyland Hotel, they kind of played up the retro, but also tried to make it look modern. They painted the towers blue so they wouldn’t be noticed, but in Cabana Bay, they really totally went retro and it looks great. When you look at the blue towers, it’s kind of like – We have these towers and we’re trying to hide them, instead of celebrating the 50s theme like Cabana Bay seems to do.