Cabana Bay Beach Resort Opens – Orlando’s Most Luxurious Value Resort

Written by Eric Davis. Posted in Features, Orlando Parkhopper, Universal Orlando, Universal Studios

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Published on April 01, 2014 at 2:00 am with 54 Comments

On Monday March 31st Universal Orlando opened their newest hotel, the retro mid-century style Cabana Bay Beach Resort. MiceChat takes you for a tour of the new hotel. We then head off for a mini photo tour around the Universal Orlando Resort to share what’s new at this ever expanding destination.

Cabana Bay Beach Resort

Universal announced back in 2012 that they would be building a new resort, but this new hotel would be their first “Value” resort with family suites that would compete head to head with Disney World’s newest hotel, The Art of Animation Resort.  Universal Creative decided to take the classic roadside motel concept from the 1950′s and 60′s and make it retro-chic. This 1,800 room resort features 900 family suites and 900 standard guest rooms. We are going to take you on a tour of this resort so you can see the incredible details that make this resort the most luxurious value hotel you will ever stay in!

Hotel Exterior

When you drive up to the Cabana Bay Beach Resort, the style, look, feel and era are clear.  Here, Universal Creative has decided to use subtle clues, like color, shapes, and typeface to let you know what era you are in. You won’t find giant tacky props. Rather, thoughtfully designed signs and beautiful architectural features tell you that you have stepped back in time.
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Hotel Lobby and Front Desk

When you step inside the lobby, you will feel as though you have stepped back in time to the old Lowe’s Intercontinental Hotel lobby, with a stunning atrium, beautiful front desk with tiled background, swanky Lounge and Universal Gift Shop. All of these elements create an amazing luxurious feel that isn’t cheap, that feels like a place you want to spend time in.

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At the front desk, Team Members give you beautifully designed collateral. The creative team has designed 6 different room key cards so you can try to collect them all.

Cabana Pool

Outside the Lobby are two courtyards, the Cabana Pool and the Lazy River Pool courtyards. The hotel will be opening in phases. Phase 1 includes the Cabana Pool courtyard with it’s 3 buildings and 600 family suites. This pool is over 11,000 sq. feet, with a diving tower water slide and a zero depth entrance.  This pools is fun for all ages. Kids will love the beach play area, and adults will appreciate the pool bar.

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Food Trucks

Outside the pool deck, Universal has created a space where local Food Trucks can set up shop and bring unique local flavors to the resort.  Every day guests will be able to experience a different food truck!

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Family Suites

The family suites side of the hotel is the first part to open at Cabana Bay Beach Resort. With room to sleep 6, the space has been thoughtfully designed to accommodate families with busy theme park needs! The rooms are designed beautifully and evoke the era. Everything in the room, right down to the VO5 Shampoo and Zest Soaps, keep you in the scene. However, you’ll find plenty of modern upgrades such as a flat screen TV, lots of plugs for electronic charging, fridge, microwave, and a separate toilet, sink and shower stations in the bathroom, to allow for families to get ready in the most efficient way possible! No longer will brothers have to do the potty polka while their sisters curl their hair (speaking from experience)!

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These rooms really are a work of functional art. The space was maximized and everything was beautifully designed.

Resort Amenities

Universal has packed this hotel full of amenities. Upstairs, guests will find the Jack LaLanne Fitness center, where they have a Black and White TV playing old Jack LaLanne fitness videos that you can work out to, along with modern exercise equipment.

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Next to the fitness center is the Bowling Alley with 10 lanes.  Those with a sharp eye will notice that the bowling alley was modeled after the one in the Big Labowski.  You can also get a meal here and enjoy a full service bar.

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Next to the bowling alley is the arcade where kids can play video games.

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Downstairs is probably the nicest hotel Starbucks I have ever seen.  Using mermaid imagery from Weeki Wachi Springs to evoke the old florida charm, along with the mermaid from the Starbucks logo, there is a beautiful unified theme.

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The food court features different stations with varying cuisine that will change with the seasons, and also cater to everyone’s tastes in the family.

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As someone who is intimately familiar with the hotel products available at Disney, and in Orlando, the Cabana Bay Beach Resort blows every hotel out of the water when you compare price, value, convenience and amenities. While hotel guests won’t get access to the Unlimited Express Pass when they stay at this hotel, the pricing makes it much more accessible to people who have wanted to stay on Universal Property but were not able to before. With all the amenities that are included, and the quality of the resort you will feel like no expense was spared at this Value hotel.

Universal Studios

Now, let’s take the shuttle bus over to the parks where we will check-in on the big projects taking shape!

Diagon Alley

Diaogn Alley is moving forward, and the walls are moving again! With new concrete now poured we get our first glimpse at what the streets in front of London will look like. Also, trees have been planted, and can be seen over the walls. Over by Fear Factor, a large earth berm has been created where flora will be added to mask the back sides of the attraction and Diagon Alley area.

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CityWalk

CowFish

Over in CityWalk, CowFish construction is gearing up, with the building now open and prepped for construction.  This 2nd floor location is going to be a great viewing area for the fireworks in the park once it is complete.

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That wraps up our Universal Orlando update for this week.  What do you think of the new value resort?  Have you stayed in a Disney Value Resort and how do you think it compares?

Now listen to the latest episode of the Unofficial Universal Orlando Podcast

About Eric Davis

By day, Eric is in Marketing and Social Media. But on the weekends, he's a theme park addict. Eric is a frequent contributor to MiceChat's Orlando Parkhopper columns and tends to focus his efforts on what's new and what's news at Universal Studios and SeaWorld.

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  • CaptainAction

    Thanks for the great photos and detail Eric.

    You could just step in to Cabana Bay and film a movie set in the 40′s, 50′s or 60′s. Very cool.

    If Universal rumors are true, the berm next to London won’t be needed very long because the Fear Factor stage area will become the Ministry of Magic from the Potter world.

    Eric, any evidence of dirt moving yet for Skull Island from King Kong?

    • Truecoat

      There is a crane onsite for King Kong.

      • CaptainAction

        Cool! Thank you.

  • Justonedream

    All I can say is WOW.

    Disney…Are you not the slightest bit worried about your competition???

  • BrizMarc

    Watch out Disney!!

    • redrhino54

      LMAO……If Disney built something this cheap and tacky looking, you people would be jumping all over them !!!

  • Nola ron

    Love the pics. Kinda reminds me of some airports I’ve been to!

  • FarFromHome

    question: The hotel keys say “exclusive theme park benefits”. What are they? I know they don’t get the Unlimited Express Pass, but do they get early admission? Thanks

    • Truecoat

      Early admission but you can also get that at other partner hotels not owned by Uni.

      • FarFromHome

        Thanks!

  • Erik Olson

    Eric,

    Really fantastic report on a resort I’m very, very excited to stay in. Thanks!!!

  • tooncity

    Universal I hope you stick-it to those crooks at Disney.

  • DuckyDelite

    I’m not a huge fan of 50/60′s architecture, so I thought I’d just give this hotel a pass. However, looking at the pics of the lobby and restaurant, I may have to go check it out. The theming is amazing. Thanks for all the pics!

    Does anyone know if the cars in front of the diner are permanent?

  • Irving

    Years ago, I would think of this report as an April’s fool. (Uni beating Disney in its own arena) But the reality these days is completely different. While Disney is spending money on “Hub improvments” and thinking how to make a “tourist” to spend more money on property using MM+, Uni simply invest on what we the public really wants: immersive environments, spectacular attractions, great themed hotels. Wow!. Really Disney?.

    Yes there is the Avatar thing, but, if they build at the same rate than Seven Dwarfs Mine, we will see the completion of that land in several years, and honestly, IMHO, Avatarland is not really what Disney fans are expecting from them.

    • Justonedream

      Completely agreed–Very well said.

    • jcruise86

      ^ ^ Eloquent & insightful post, Irving!
      Please post more often on the forums.

  • http://micechat.com Dusty Sage

    Cabana Bay is everything that Disney’s Pop Century should have been. Rather than just building giant a giant Yo Yo or Rubic Cube, Universal has created an actual themed environment. With a great pool, slide, bowling alley, restaurants, bar, Starbucks and family suites all for less than Disney charges, I think Uni has a big hit on their hands. I can’t wait to check out this resort!!!

    I’m also really impressed with the beautiful Starbucks. So much more convenient to have the Starbucks right there in the hotel rather than having to get to the park first for your cup of joe.

  • seenoevil

    The hotel looks awesome and I plan on staying there next year. I’m so excited! Between that and the new Potter area, I feel dizzy. It’s going to be a great trip and ALL at Universal!

  • Big D

    It actually does look like the Pop Century only better. If we were going by Disney’s scale for their hotels I’d say this looks more like a moderate resort then a value resort. Very impressive. Did Universal partner with any hotel companies to run this resort like they do with Loews for their other three hotels?

  • GlennSearle

    I would NEVER stay in one of the Disney value resorts. They look horrible to me!
    I can’t wait to see and maybe stay in Cabana Bay. What does that say? Hey?

    • Aotphks

      It says you have taste.

  • dlpostcardguy

    This hotel looks amazing. We are going to WDW in December and Disney might just lose out on 3 nights of our hotel stay. I agree with the comments here. This is actually immersive right down to the shampoo. Really well done. If Uni was even smarter they would offer transportation to the Disney parks to get people to stay even longer at the Uni resort.

    • Ryan120420

      But here is the thing though, Disney would NEVER allow Universal to operate a Shuttle service from their property to Disneys.

      There was a Train or Monorail that was proposed a few years ago that would connect Orlando International, Universal Orlando, The Convention Center, and Disney TTC. But it quickly bit the dust when Disney voiced their opposition.

      Disney wants to make it as hard as possible for you to leave their property.

      • CaptainAction

        Yep, they try to lure and capture you with buses and Magic Handcuffs.

  • jcruise86

    THANK YOU, Eric Davis, for posting such an excellent article! ! !

    This resort looks so creative, and going there will feel like stepping into the Flamingo when it opened on the Las Vegas Strip.

    I could praise 100 details. The only thing missing was the small metal box next to the bed that you put a quarter into to make the bed shake. :)

    One quibble: although the drawings of it looked looked cool, in the photos I think the exterior of the entrance is a little boring looking and pretty ugly. But besides the exterior of the entrance, I love everything else, well except the pool’s “diving platform.” I want to dive off of it but can’t. Maybe this tower would look better next to the pool if it were painted light blue or aqua green. Too bad there wasn’t room to fit more greenery around the pool.

    OK, back to the love. Congrats to Universal Orlando, and, again, great work, Eric Davis!

    • jcruise86

      P.S. Those two mint-condition old cars in front of the resort looked great! It’d be cool if 6 or 8 exceptional cars (that were pre-approved by Universal) from the exact period were allowed to park there for free throughout the trip of their collector owners. Seeing the different cars could be another detail that would draw folks to visit this resort.

      Just a suggestion.

      • jcruise86

        ^ ^ It’s also give travel writers one more thing to photograph and write about.

      • jcruise86

        ^ ^ “It’d” ):

      • danielz6

        Awesome idea!

    • CaptainAction

      jcruise86, the diving platform reminds me of one of the first shots from, “Goldfinger”. I remember the resort Bond was staying in, and it might have been in Miami, as a cool helicopter shot of someone diving off a similar platform back in 1963 or so.

      I think the lawyers wouldn’t allow anyone to jump, much less dive off anything that high in 2014. When I saw the promos for the Cabana Bay, I was wondering how they were going to handle that diving platform.