Cabana Bay Review – Retro Beach-Themed Universal Orlando Resort Hotel

Cabana Bay Resort hotel sign lit up at night

This resort has a really fun theme – the 50s/60s style of retro America. You’ll see a few mid century modern touches that really emphasize the retro nature of the resort. The eating area, for example has old TV commercials and art that feel very retro in style (think “The Jetsons”).

Cabana Bay Beach Resort Location

Cabana Bay Beach Resort stands across the street from Universal’s Aventura Hotel. It’s about a 20 minute walk from CityWalk to the resort and only a few minutes by shuttle. However, its location next to Volcano Bay is what makes this resort really special. 

Volcano Bay is literally right next to Cabana Bay. Cabana Bay actually gets its own private entrance to Volcano Bay – so you can walk out of the resort and be right inside Volcano Bay within minutes. 

Cabana Bay does not have access to any water transportation so you will have to rely on Universal Orlando’s bus shuttles to get to and from the theme parks and CityWalk.

Cabana Bay Rooms and Accommodations

Because this is a “Prime Value” resort, there aren’t a ton of super fancy options here, which is totally fine if you’re planning on spending most of your time in the parks. However I highly recommend getting the room I did when you stay at this hotel. I booked the Volcano Bay view room, and the sights from this room were unbelievable. 

Staying in one of the resort’s towers, I had a perfect view of the water park and the volcano itself. I also had some pretty great views of other Orlando attractions, like some slingshot rides, Ferris Wheel, and some other points of interest. It made falling asleep with that view completely worth the small extra cost of this room. 

The one downside of staying in these rooms is they’re the farthest from the hotel lobby, so that can be a bit of a long walk. However, I felt it to be pretty manageable and worth the walk for the views and access to Volcano Bay. 

The regular standard rooms do not have this view, but I’m pretty sure the rooms themselves are pretty similar. The beds were pretty standard hotel beds, meaning I slept well and didn’t feel any extra pains when I woke up. The decor all matched the room very well, with bright colors and fun patterns giving it a retro vibe.

Cabana Bay Restaurants and Dining Options

Because it isn’t a high-tier resort, Cabana Bay has some dining options but not a ton. There also aren’t any fancy sitdown restaurants here which is something to keep in mind.

Bayliner Diner

They have the Bayliner Diner, their food court area where you can get standard theme park food court items, such as hamburgers, hotdogs, grilled cheese, pizza, etc. I got their grilled cheese and homemade chips. It was fine, but nothing out of this world. However, it’s perfectly adequate for a quick bite to eat. 

Swizzle Lounge

They also have a bar called Swizzle Lounge that happened to be decorated for Halloween when I went and looked pretty cool. I personally didn’t get anything there but it’s right in the lobby, which is super quick if you’re waiting to get picked up or just coming back from the theme parks.

Shakes Malt Shoppe

Their newest addition is a milkshake bar called Shakes Malt Shoppe, which was super cute and had the retro vibes of an old school diner or malt shop as you would guess by the name. I got a breakfast smoothie here because they do offer things like smoothies, pastries, and breakfast sandwiches throughout the day. I also got a vanilla milkshake and they were both pretty good. Again, nothing that would make me say they were the best I’ve ever gotten, but they were definitely a nice touch and something that was fun to grab.

The Hideaway Bar and Grill

One pool is home to The Hideaway Bar & Grill. I did not get a beverage here, but they actually serve food so I grabbed a quick lunch to eat. 

I got the turkey club wrap and fries and it may have been my favorite thing that I got at the resort. They gave you a lot of fries, which is always a plus in my book. The turkey club wrap was very good – the avocado ranch they had was actually really great. I’m not a huge fan of avocado or ranch, but it definitely was nice to have some to dip my sandwich in (it normally comes on the wrap, but I asked for it on the side in case I didn’t like it).

Galaxy Bowl

Although I didn’t partake in it, this resort does have a bowling alley on the upper level of the lobby – Galaxy Bowl. You can pay to bowl and you can also get food there to eat. From what I hear it’s really fun – I was just there by myself and didn’t get a chance to don’t wanna go by myself.

Atomic Tonic

I did not get a chance to try out the Atomic Tonic pool bar, located at one of the pools.

Overall, I’d say the Cabana Bay restaurants and dining options were a little better than what they are at Dockside, but none that I’m going to make a special trip for. They’re perfectly fine, especially if you’re spending most of your time in the theme parks and you just need to grab a quick bite. There’s also a Starbucks, as is the case with every Universal Orlando Resort hotel. But personally, like I said, I wouldn’t make a special trip for these particular dining locations.

Cabana Bay Pools and Amenities

Because this is such a large resort, Cabana Bay actually has two different pool areas. One has a lazy river and The Hideaway Bar & Grill – I believe it’s considered the main pool. They have another pool on the other side of the lobby which has a waterslide and Atomic Tonic bar. Both seem nice and standard hotel pools with the addition of the water side or the lazy river depending on which side you’re on.

One of them did also have a sand beach, but it was kind of far away from the pool and there weren’t any umbrellas back there, so definitely be prepared to get some sun if you want to lay out. The pools were nice and they did seem to have a movie to play there every so often at night. 

I think the downside to this resort’s pools is that Volcano Bay is literally right next to it, so if you want better pools and water options, it’s right there. When I went on my trip staying at this resort, I mainly just went to Volcano Bay, and so I didn’t do too much at the pools with one of the best water parks right next to it. 

They did offer cabanas for rental if you did plan on spending your entire day at the pools, which makes sense given the name of the hotel. Note that for the lazy river in the pool, you’ll see a lot of people with inner tubes. Those are not free. You do have to pay to rent them. 

They also had a hot tub next to the pool by Hideaway, but given the fact that the temperature was in the 90s, I did not take part in the hot tub. I do love hot tubs, so if I ever say this resort again and it’s a bit cooler, I may chill in it for a bit.

Even though this is a cheaper resort, they do still offer a fitness center. I didn’t get a chance to really use it but it’s great that for a value resort, they do offer a free fitness center – not many value resorts do that.

There’s of course a gift shop that sells various Universal merchandise, and I did like that this gift shop seemed to have some Cabana Bay related merchandise as well. They also have a standard luggage service if you need to leave your luggage at the front desk. This is nice if you get there early and you want to go to the parks, but your room isn’t quite ready yet. They have a standard car rental desk as well if you need to rent a car. And of course, as mentioned before, Galaxy Bowl, the bowling alley.

And of course, staying at a Universal Orlando Resort hotel means you continue to get the same perks as other on-property hotels. This includes early park admission, free transportation to and from the parks (via shuttle buses at Cabana Bay), and free package delivery from the parks to your room.

Cabana Bay Review Summary

Cabana Bay Beach Resort was a nice place to stay if you’re looking for somewhere that provides a comfortable bed and a few amenities while you’re visiting Universal Orlando Resort. This resort truly shines when it comes to Volcano Bay: you can’t beat the rooms with a view and the quick private access to Volcano Bay on property. When I booked the hotel with my Annual Pass discount, the Volcano Bay view rooms were only $20 more expensive, so I highly recommend those.

FAQs About Cabana Bay Beach Resort

Can you walk from Cabana Bay to Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure/CityWalk?

Yes – it takes about 20 minutes to walk from Cabana Bay Beach Resort to the Universal resort-exclusive entrance near Margaritaville.

Is Cabana Bay pet friendly?

No – Cabana Bay does not allow pets.

What time is checkout at Cabana Bay?

Checkout at Cabana Bay is 11am, but you can always check with the front desk for early checkin and late checkout options.

Does Cabana Bay have a gym?

Yes, and it’s free to use!

Does Cabana Bay have a hot tub?

Yes – there is a hot tub next to the pool near The Hideaway Bar & Grill.

Do you get Express Pass at Cabana Bay?

No – as a Prime Value hotel at Universal Orlando Resort, Cabana Bay Beach Resort does not include Express Pass for each guest. Only Premier hotels receive this benefit.

Does Cabana Bay Beach Resort have an airport shuttle?

Does Cabana Bay have a lazy river or water slide?

Yes – Cabana Bay Beach Resort has a lazy river at one pool and a water slide at the other.

Does Cabana Bay have a shuttle to Universal?

Yes – there are free bus shuttles that will take you from Cabana Bay to all of Universal Orlando Resort’s parks.

Does Cabana Bay provide pool towels?

Yes – there are areas for you to pick up and dispose of pool towels for free, provided there are some available to use.

Does Cabana Bay have a resort fee?

No – there are no extra resort fees added to your stay at Cabana Bay.

Does Cabana Bay have free breakfast?

No – there is not free breakfast included at Cabana Bay. However, you can purchase breakfast items from several places at the resort, including Bayliner Diner, Shakes Malt Shoppe, and Starbucks.

Christian McIlwain

Christian has been a fan of theme parks since he was a child. He has over twenty years of experience both researching and working in the industry. He grew up visiting Kennywood Park throughout his childhood. Currently, he lives in Atlanta, GA where he frequently visits Six Flags Over Georgia and Orlando area theme parks.


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