Our Christmas Vacation at Cabana Bay & Universal Studios; Things to Consider

February 10, 2016 Comments Off on Our Christmas Vacation at Cabana Bay & Universal Studios; Things to Consider
Our Christmas Vacation at Cabana Bay & Universal Studios; Things to Consider

As much as I’d love to write this post and give you the breakdown on how to save a few bucks at Universal Studios, there’s not much I can offer you in that area. The truth is, going to Universal Studios and or Disney is just an expensive trip. There are ways to cut down on how much you spend, like packing food and drinks for the parks, but frankly there aren’t that many discounts that will save you tons. If you plan on taking a family vacation, the operative word here is PLAN. If you plan it out, and make payments in increments, then the cost will not be as overwhelming. Bottom line is: taking a vacation, no matter how much you pay is just worth it. You can always make more money but you won’t always have a chance to make memories once your kids grow up.

So with that said, my husband and I packed up the kids and traveled to Orlando, our favorite vacation place and we decided to stay on-site at Cabana Bay since we have experienced going to and from the parks before and having to drive out of the park to get to our hotel. Staying on-site is so convenient but it’s also so much more expensive. Is it worth it? I’m on the fence with that and I’ll outline the pros and cons why.


I was surprised when I got there that I was told that I had to pay an extra $50 for parking. It was $12 and some change each day but I really thought parking was included in the price of what I paid online for the room. So here’s my suggestion: LIE. Tell them that you caught a cab to the resort and you don’t have a car. They don’t put a ticket or anything on your car window so they won’t know you have a car.

Rooms at Cabana Bay

So the allure to staying on-site at Cabana Bay was all about the rooms. From what we read and saw on the website, it seemed like the room would be a little more bigger than a typical hotel room and from the description we thought maybe it’d be more on the side of staying at a resort. Um, not really. Don’t get me wrong, the rooms are nice. but it IS a typical hotel room, with an extra little area that fits a pull out couch and a kitchenette and a privacy door you can close. Not impressive. This disappointed me because for the price we paid I would have rather stayed at the Nickelodeon hotel and drove back and forth to the park. For us, SIX of us we really needed a lot more space than the Cabana Bay professed to have. Basically, listen this hotel is really not a value. I real value are the off-site resorts that are huge and you can stay for a week for $500 bucks. If you are looking for a value don’t stay here. If you are looking for convenience to stay close to the parks then OK this may be the choice for you. You pay for bowl with your family at Galaxy Bowl, which I felt should have been FREE and you pay for the arcade which they could give each gust some freebies too. They really could do better. they made a killing off us and I feel a little slighted. But nonetheless I enjoyed Universal Studios even though my son got deadly ill with pneumonia and had to go to the hospital on Christmas Day. I really need a do-over for this vacation to be honest.

READ what happened to my son: What to expect when your child unknowingly catches pneumonia

This is a video about the room amenities that explains it all,

Part 2: Universal Cabana Bay Resort room amenities. I forgot to talk about the bathroom but yes there is a large bathroom area with full tub, shower etc.

Posted by Kia Morgan Smith on Thursday, December 24, 2015

This is a video about the pool facilities

Part 1: Review of Universal’s Cabana Bay Resort and why we chose to stay on-site. –I will upload Part 2 showing the amenities soon.

Posted by Kia Morgan Smith on Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The room was bright and cherry though…


The pool area was very nice and there was a lazy river that my kids loved.



  • What I also liked about the pool area though is they had areas where you could sit and chill by the fire pit and we even considered toasting marshmallows but it never happened. Also there is a beach area so you can sink your toes in some sand before hitting the pool.

This is Zaria and Milan enjoying the pool area



My kids did have a good time at the Arcade but who wants to pay extra when you’ve spent a pretty penny of Universal tickets!

Universal Studios and Islands of Adventures

Simply put: I love this place. We’ve been coming here for years and you just can’t get enough of Universal Studios and Islands of Adventures. If you plan to go, make sure you hit BOTH parks. If you travel all the way to Orlando, you have to do both. They have a bunch of new rides and this year they boast of opening a new Kong ride. Here are my favs.

Despicable Me

It’s such a cute ride that takes you thumping and bumping all around as if you’ve turned into a minion. Going to Universal during Christmas is a very busy time. March or April are better times and if you do go during busy times, it’s best to pay for a fast pass. But they are expensive ON TOP of the already expensive tickets. Tickets cost us about $18o to $190 per person for both parks. It’s just round it out and say we paid about $900 for the 6 of use to hit the parks for TWO days. That price was just for tickets and not for the room. We also had 5 other family members come along: my aunt Kathleen and her husband Will and daughter Zaria and my cousin Tresa and her husband Ken.

This is us waiting to get on the ride with our 4D glasses.


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Oh my! Oh My! Oh My! Oh. Em. Gee.

God bless the engineers and creative folks behind the Transformer ride. I mean really. This ride was PHENOMENAL on so many levels! AMAZING! The only way I can articulate it is by saying that I was in a battle helping the Autobots and Megatron was out to get me and almost killed me and the Optimus Prime saved me. No, really, I was in a major, world battle I tell you! This ride is NOT to be missed! It’s ion the Universal Studios side and you get to take pictures with the characters like Bumble bee. This is my cousin Tresa with Bumblebee. It’s an awesome interactive experience. Just talking about it makes me want to go again!


This is me waiting with my husband to get on the Transformer ride.



Harry Potter

So I’ve never read the Harry Potter books nor have I seen the movies but I love what Universal Studios has done with the whole concept! Over at Universal Studios there is a whole experience and you can walk down Diagon Alley and it looks just like the movie. There are muggles and such and whatever they’re named and there are stores and shops and shows and you just really feel like you’re in the movie! I even stopped by an ice cream shop and paid for the most expensive ice cream! There was also a wand experience to learn now to use your new wand but I didn’t get to take the kids there. Secretly there is actually a ride inside there but you could easily miss it because it looks like just a town and no rides but there is one. Also next door there was a train that you can actually ride that takes you outside the park and into the other park! That was a very cool train experience too because the window is a movie about the ride. I can’t really explain it. Just make sure you take the ride. Then oh my there is the Harry Potter ride over at Islands of Adventure that is NOT to be confused with any other ride! That ride is AMAZING!!



Spongebob Parade

This was a lot of fun. My son got to meet his idol Spongebob over at Universal Studios and there’s an awesome parade too. If your kids love Spongebob and Patrick like mine do. then this is a delight!

A video posted by @kiamorgansmith on



There’s just so much to do at Universal but there are just a few of the things I wanted to highlight. Go to UniversalStudios.com for more info.  Are you planning to go this summer?

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