It felt a little sad leaving Staybridge as it had been the perfect base for our first few days of adventures in Orlando. During our trip we stayed at four different hotels (five hotel rooms though) and this was our first change over day. I’d planned our itinerary to give us a little bit of a quieter day on this switch.
After a laid back morning packing up the last few bits into our suitcase, then having a delicious complimentary buffet breakfast at Staybridge, we hopped into an Uber and headed for my favourite place on this earth, Universal Orlando!
We had been invited to stay at Cabana Bay Beach Resort for six nights in total. Honestly the excitement inside of me was overwhelming. I have posted a full review of the hotel and facilities here so please head there if you want to find out more.
Check in time was 4pm in the afternoon and we had arrived at about 10am. I was a little concerned we wouldn’t be able to check in but the staff were brilliant. They checked us in without questioning the time, gave us our room keys and advised they would send a text when our room was ready.
We dropped our bags with the concierge and then headed to find the shuttle bus to take us to Universal City Walk. The shuttle bus stop was just at the end of the main lobby building. They arrive every fifteen minutes and one actually pulled up as we arrived.
When we visited Universal three years ago, we used the water taxi services as the hotel was located on the river that connects the parks to the hotels. Cabana Bay is just outside that so they have the bus shuttle instead. The buses have the Universal characters on the outside and it’s a comfy ride but it definitely wasn’t the same experience as the water taxis.
We arrived at the security section to get into the City Walk. It was another really hot day in Orlando so we planned to hop in and out of as many shops as we could.
We took a slow walk around. Tried some of the Dipping Dots and enjoyed each other’s company. This was my Mum’s first time at Universal Orlando and she was completely amazed by it all.
We then spotted the Universal Studios Shop that’s full of the different merchandise from the parks. The girls were told they weren’t allowed to buy anything on this day but could make a wish list. It was so exciting rushing about and Freya especially enjoyed seeing all of the Harry Potter gifts.
It was time for us to get a refreshing drink. We toyed between popping into the Chocolate Emporium or the Hard Rock Cafe. As we had been to the Chocolate Emporium before, we decided to venture into the Hard Rock Cafe.
My mum kindly treated us to some drinks. They have the most delicious chocolate milkshake that Freya and Eva enjoyed. Elsa had actually had a little tantrum on the walk around to the Hard Rock Cafe, so the first half of our visit was quite stressful.
The decorations and atmosphere in there was so incredible. You can just sit at the bar area for drinks or you can go into the restaurant for a sit down meal. We sat at the bar and the staff behind was so attentive, he gave the girls cute Hard Rock sticks to pop in their drinks and topped up Hubby’s Coca Cola.
Of course we couldn’t go to the City Walk without taking a photo in front of the iconic Universal Globe. We then decided to head back to the hotel to explore there.
We actually decided to use the Water Taxi this time and show my mum the gorgeous view as we travelled back to the hotel. As I said above, Cabana Bay doesn’t have its own dock. However, you can catch the Sapphire Falls boat and then walk a five minute journey to Cabana Bay. Cabana Bay is literally across the road from Sapphire Falls and it’s a much calmer journey.
First on our agenda after arriving at Cabana Bay was to explore the grounds. We took a nice wander around the shop, Bayliner Diner and then outside in Lazy River Courtyard before heading back inside to the safety of the air conditioning.
We stumbled upon the arcades room. You can pay for credits to use the machines and we spent quite a bit of time in there. I kept having to pinch myself to check that I wasn’t dreaming because everybody was so happy. Cabana Bay felt like a proper holiday resort which we’d not experienced as a family before. I felt truly lucky.
Just as we had decided to go in to the bowling alley, I received a text to say our room was ready. We changed our plans and eagerly collected our bags so that we could find our room.
We had been booked in to the Family Suite in the Castaway building on the Cabana Courtyard side of the resort. It was quite a dark (in terms of daylight) and small room was quite cosy for six people but it was so exciting anyway!
We decided to give my mum a little bit of a break from our crazy girls and head to the swimming pool. With the warm sun, it was very welcome to dip into a cool pool. There are two pools at Cabana Bay and this Cabana Courtyard one has a slide. Freya loved it! You can see some of the clips she filmed on the slide in my video below.
We then regrouped and headed for some dinner at the Bayliner Diner. The menu is really good with different “stations” to order from for different types of food. We went for the sad option of pizza and burgers so that we knew the girls would be full.
I actually think my most favourite part of our entire day was laying myself down on a sun lounger watching the girls play in the sand whilst the sun set behind us. It was heavenly and peaceful. Universal Orlando and Cabana Bay makes you feel so at home. Can you see why it’s my favourite place on earth?
Join us next time for the blog post about our first day in the Universal Parks and having a VIP tour. For now, take a watch of our arrival day at Universal. I hope you enjoy it.