Every year I take my husband on an adventure for his birthday. Last year, we spent a weekend in Canada (Links to Part One, Two, Three) and this year we stayed a little closer to home jumping on a quick flight from Houston to Orlando. We only spent a day in the park because I also had bought him tickets to see the New York Rangers play live in Sunrise, Florida the second day of our short weekend trip.
So first, the hotel. We stayed at the Cabana Bay Hotel. We arrived at 11 PM the night before our day at the park and had checked out before we left for the park, so this will be brief with only the few amenities we did use.
The staff was wonderful. We got in late after a weather delay and the front desk was still as cheerful as ever, which was much needed. They advised us that while they did have many dining options, they were all closed. Then after recommending some local restaurants that would still be open, called in a delivery order for us. Mood saver.
We chose this hotel based on it's park benefits. All the Universal Studios on-site hotels have a benefit to either get into the park an hour early or to have the ability to skip lines as well as they all provide complimentary transportation to and from the park. This was our winner because it was the cheapest option for the little amount of time we planned to spend in it and it had the hour early pass.
Even with the pass and transportation benefits I would never stay at this hotel again. The hotel theme never did interest me because so many run down motels are still stuck with the same style of out of fashion accessories, and not by choice, the theme cheapened the hotel. The main lobby and dining areas were pretty interesting and I held some appreciation, but as soon as you close the doors of your room, it just looks like an old motel. If you are going to go with a theme I wish they would have had fun with it in the room as well. The bright colors were the only homage to the theme I could see. They could have not just had an old phone, but a retro one and so forth.
Besides the decor that got this room one star is the quality overall. We only had about five hours to sleep before our early morning park visit, so I was severely disappointed that the rooms all were a stones thrown from the parking garage. The rooms severely lacked any insulation and sound proofing so I heard everyone's conversations as they walked by in the hallway and outside as well as every car pulled in and circled around the garage. Then the room layout was a bit disappointing. This hotel is a family hotel which was made obvious that there were no rooms with one king bed. The rooms were all a great size, but for a romantic couples weekend, I would pass on walking into a room with two separate beds.
Finally, after the staff and rooms is the amenities. The transportation was extremely easy. We left on the first bus out of the hotel at 6:15 AM to arrive right outside the park. I did enjoy after clarifying with the staff, that even though we were only staying that one night that we could leave our car in the parking garage at the hotel until around 9 that night before our parking garage key would expire and the only inconvenience if we stayed later is that we'd have to call them on the gate to manually open it and let us out. The hour early was extremely worth the hotel stay though, but I'll go into more detail on all we were able to do with that in my Universal Park Review post next.
Summary: I would definitely stay at an on-site hotel again for the early pass and the transportation convenience, just not this one.
STAFF: 5 Stars
ROOMS: 1 Stars
BENEFITS: 4 Stars