Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort Opens!

April 3, 2014 Cheryl 0
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Universal has just opened it fourth on-site hotel at Universal Studio’s Orlando called the Cabana Bay Beach Resort. It is the first non-deluxe and first Universal owned and operated resort on property. The hotel has a 1950/60’s theme and feel, but with all of the modern conveniences. When the resort is completed (currently scheduled to be completed by July 1, 2014) there will be 1,800 standard rooms and family suites spread out between the 5 buildings – all of which are named after famous southern Florida hotels from the middle of the last century – Starlight, Thunderbird, Castaway, The Continental, and The Americanna (the latter two will open later this summer).

The Cabana Courtyard Pool Area at Cabana Bay Beach Resort

 Cabana Bay (44 of 61)The resort will actually have two pool areas when it is completed, but as of the March 31st opening, only the pool in the Cabana Courtyard is open. And let me tell you, the pool is AWESOME!! – it is 10,000 square feet!! The pool has a zero entry area and an awesome (did I use that word twice?) slide. Above the exit to the slide is a waterfall, so you plop into the water while getting rained down on by the waterfall – so cool!! The waterfall is actually made to look like an old diving platform – very retro and cool!! There is a kid’s water play area with shooting water, sprayers, and buckets of crashing water for hours of fun for your little ones.

Around the pool you will find lots of lounge chairs to relax in. Some of these areas are covered with sand to wiggle between your toes and give you a relaxed on the beach feeling. Ping-pong tables and other games in the area are located near the lobby building. You can also rent a cabana. The cabana comes with two lounge chairs, a table and 4 chairs, a TV, and gives a good amount of shade. If you get hungry you can go to the Atomic Tonic for some drinks and light food or if you get cold head over to the fire pit or the hot tub.

Inside Amenities at Cabana Bay Beach Resort

The lobby building currently houses all of the Cabana Bay Beach Resort inside amenities. One of the first activities you will find is the bowling lanes, called Galaxy Bowl. Ten lanes of neon light bowling will strike the fancy of many young bowlers. If you tire of bowling roll next door to Game-O-Rama. There you will find some classic and modern video games. If killing quarters is not your style take a walk to the Fun in the Sun Rec Center. They have board games for some good old classic dice-rolling and card-shufflin’ fun. For my fitness friends, the Cabana Bay Beach Resort also has an impressive gym (named after 1960’s heath guru Jack LaLanne!), I mean the gym is HUGE, at least floor space wise. This is the one area that I am not sure if it was wisely used. The machines are on the tile floor and you can see there is some open space. The wood floor next to it only has some free weights and benches on the backside of the room by the windows. The rest of the space is open. If they decide to offer classes then it makes perfect sense, otherwise, it is a bit of wasted space. The final inside activity is shopping. The Universal Gift Shop has many of the gifts, toys, and accessories that make any trip complete – so whether you want a Minion, a Homer Simpson shirt, a Marvel towel or gear for your trip to Hogwarts, this is the place to shop.

The Bayliner Diner – Food at the Cabana Bay Beach Resort

So by now you have had fun in the sun and played inside and you are probably hungry. You may have gone to Atomic Tonic or Swizzle Lounge, but the main eatery is the Bayliner Diner. The Diner is split into six cooking sections – The Deli, Pizza, International Eats, Hot Off the Grill, Salad Bar and Dessert Bar – plus a Grab-and-Go area. The Deli and Pizza serve … well, deli sandwiches and pizza. ☺ International Grill has the Brazilian Beef Churrasco, Swedish Meatballs Colombian Chicken Empanadas, Tofu Stir Fry, and Ginger soy Glazed Salmon. Hot Off the Grill has the Cabana Bay Burger, Bacon Cheese Burger, Black Bean Veggie Burger, and Grilled Chicken Sandwich. To simply say, the Bayliner Diner is a designed for quick in and on-your-way service. However, if you want to sit and eat, there is plenty of seating in the dining room area, which is also where you will find the soda machines. Refillable mugs are available for purchase, as are standard cups. Both are programmed with RFID technology that allows you to refill your cups at pre-designated stations (Coca Cola Freestyle machines for the mugs, standard dispensers for the cups) for specific time allotments (length of stay on the refillable mugs, 2 hours for the cups).

The Cabana Bay Beach Resort Family Suite

Finally, lets talk about the rooms. The first three buildings are designed with an open walkway/enter from the outside concept, and the final two towers will have rooms where you enter from an interior hallway. These two final buildings will be a combination of standard rooms and family suites. The three buildings there currently open are all family suites. When you enter you walk into the kitchenette (microwave and mini-frig) and a sitting area with a queen sofa bed. A privacy slider separates the front area and back bedroom. The back bedroom has two beds. The unit sleeps six but the layout is not as nice as the family suites in Disney’s Art of Animation Resort (at least in my opinion). The bathroom in the room we stayed in was well designed. One room had only the toilet (we have been told that some rooms would also have a sink in this room). In the center there is a sink, which is open to the bedroom. Finally, a room contains the shower and second (or third) sink. This design can allow multiple people to get ready for a fun day in the park all at the same time. The décor was pure retro in aqua blues and oranges – a design that made it feel fun and young at the same time!

Transportation to City Walk and Universal from Cabana Bay Beach Resort

Cabana Bay Beach Resort has its own bus transportation to City Walk. The buses are clearly decorated with wood paneling, well painted on wood paneling, and large lettering. The ride to the park is pretty quick and the chairs on the bus are actually quite comfortable cushioned seats. When you exit you have to go up the stairs and down the walkway to enter City Walk or have access to the park. For those that prefer to walk, the resort is located pretty close to the theme parks!

 

Overall Impression

Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort is a great place for a vacation. It has lots of on-site entertainment and is a quick ride to the Universal theme parks. The rooms are well appointed and the pool is great (and the next one that will also include a lazy river looks awesome too). I highly recommend checking this resort out if you plan on spending any time at Universal Orlando. I can’t wait to stay here again!!

A Celebration of Harry Potter

August 15, 2013 Cheryl 0

Harry-Potter-celebration

Universal Orlando Resort and Warner Bros. have announced that they will host a special event that will celebrate Harry Potter’s adventures, “A Celebration of Harry Potter.”

Beginning Jan. 24, 2014, Harry Potter fans will enjoy three days of experiences, including interactive Q&As with some of the stars of the movies and more. Special vacation packages will go on sale Aug. 22 and will include exclusive benefits such as access to a private evening reception held in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Guests will have the opportunity to:
• Attend Q&A sessions with Harry Potter stars, filmmakers, and other special guests (names will be announced at a later date)
• Revisit some of their favorite Harry Potter film moments during a film tribute with Harry Potter stars and filmmakers (names will be announced at a later date)
• Learn the art of “dueling” at a wand masterclass that’s featured at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London and hosted by Paul Harris, the choreographer who trained the cast of the Harry Potter films
• Guests will also have access to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, located in Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

While most of the activities for “A Celebration of Harry Potter” will be open to all Universal Orlando park guests and passholders, only guests who purchase the special event package will enjoy exclusive benefits and reserved seating for select events. Packages are extremely limited and go on sale at noon EST on Thursday, Aug. 22.

For more information about the event, tickets and vacation packages, contact me at
cheryl.koren@offtoneverland.com.

Expecto Patronum! Diagon Alley is coming to Orlando

May 8, 2013 Cheryl 0

IMG_0140Gather round Muggles for some HUGE news.  Building on the world-wide success of the Harry Potter franchise and the popularity of  The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Orlando Resort and Warner Bros. Entertainment announced today that they will be creating an entirely new themed environment, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley!!

Scheduled to open in 2014, it will be the the world’s first centrally themed, multi-park experience – The Wizarding World of Harry Potter will be expanded across both Universal Orlando theme parks!!!!   The new attraction will welcome visitors to Diagon Alley –  the fictional London shopping area where Harry learns about his illustrious family history – allow guests to tour Gringotts Bank (which hopefully will be a ride!!) and other retail outlets, they’ll then be able to board a train — from Platform 9¾, of course — for the ride over to Hogsmeade and the Hogwarts School at Universal Studios via the Hogwarts Express.

Now, everyone knows that I love Disney, but I am more excited about this than words can say!!  I visited The Wizarding World of Harry Potter a few years ago, and the themeing is amazing.  It is like you are walking into the books…and what amazing books they are!!  So stay tuned for more updates as they become available, and until then read the books again 🙂