Denise's Corner

Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort Opens; Initial Thoughts and Tips

Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort opened today! Family suites are now open, while standard rooms will open early this summer with the Lazy River. The main building includes the Bayliner Diner (food court), Galaxy Bowl bowling alley, and the Jack LaLanne Fitness Studio. Here are some thoughts after spending 4 hours photographing and touring today (we will have much more coverage this week, as well as more videos for this article).

Cabana Bay Beach Resort is a terrific throwback to the 50’s and 60’s. There are few details missed, from the napkins to the drinks available at the bars to the vintage look of the shampoo and soap in guest rooms.

Cabana Beach Resort is really a hybrid of a value and moderate resort, with elements of a deluxe resort thrown in. The suites are pretty standard, with a microwave and small refrigerator (the V05 shampoo should be upgraded, in my opinion). The Jack LaLanne Fitness Studio is enormous, probably the most extensive fitness center I’ve seen at any resort. The lazy river certainly will be more of a deluxe amenity, and we have been encouraged to use the other Loews resort facilities, including the pools. Unfortunately, there is only one tiny jacuzzi right now – it isn’t enough. And Galaxy Bowl could use an expansion now. 20 lanes would be better than 10, especially on a rainy day or busy night.

Cabana Beach Resort Offers No Luggage Service – pack accordingly. I do think that minimal luggage service should be available here, and I hope the resort eventually adds it.

Starbucks at Cabana Beach Resort is the first Orlando Starbucks to offer La Boulange pastries. This is a newer concept, which includes a range of items that aren’t on the regular Starbucks bakery menu. There are some favorites held over, incuding the lemon pound cake. And in a nod to Florida history and the Starbucks Siren, Weeki Watchi Mermaids “swim” on the walls.

The Bayliner Diner Food Court Offers “Sonic Fill” Cups. Almost identical to the Rapid Fill at Walt DisneyWorld resorts, guests can purchase a mug for one day, two days, three days or a length of stay. These drink refills include a stylish Cabana Bay mug, and Coke Freestyle fills.

Annual Passholders Receive Discounts at Bayliner Food Court. We received a 10% discount on our meal, including the refillable mug. Discounts are also available in the store. We asked at Starbucks, but they didn’t know if they’d be offering a discount yet – nor did the restaurant at Galaxy Bowl.

Loews Supports Local Food Truck Vendors. We were told that each day, a different local food truck would be available. One favorite, the Yum Yum Truck, served cupcakes from 10:00a.m. – 3:00p.m. today. We were told a tamale truck would be here tomorrow.

Need a drink? You won’t be disappointed. There are a variety of beers on tap, from Cigar City Jai Alai to Pabst Blue Ribbon. Each bar has different selections. Wines and specialty drinks are also available.

Bowl Early at Galaxy Bowl. It will get busy! There is a table service restaurant here, which reminds me of the Howard Johnson restaurants in the 1970’s.

Here is our video of the Galaxy Bowl:

Buy Resort Merchandise. There are items for sale from Galaxy Bowl, Jack LaLanne, and Cabana Bay themed.

Bring ear plugs. Our room is overlooking a road, and there isn’t much of a berm (hopefully more trees will be added). The soundproofing is just so-so. We could upgrade our room for $15.00, but we didn’t.

Here is a look at our suite:

Food and merchandise prices are reasonable, the pool is nicely sized, and there are dive-in movies. A DJ will play on weekends. I will have another couple of articles later this week with more information! Also, the whole pool complex had a hard close tonight at 10pm, along with the food court and Starbucks. That leaves little for families to do. I hope that changes vey soon.

We met the Minions and Gru for opening day – we don’t know if they will be here occasionally or not.

Here is our video of the Minions and Gru today!

We received nothing from Universal Orlando or Loews for our coverage (we paid our own way this visit).