|Kids "Splash Pad" at Cabana Courtyard pool // Photo by Maureen Stone|
First impressions of Universal Orlando’s welcoming Cabana Bay Resort recall a visit to a large family gathering in a Baby Boomer’s youthful 1950s or early 60s, when a wealthy relative invited everyone to his beach club to share waterside party activities.
The poolside sandy play area has hula hoops, ring toss games and outdoor pool tables. The fire pit on a patio elevated above the Cabana Bay Courtyard pool was encircled by guests at sunset time enjoying the warmth of the fire and the surrounding company. The TV screen on the wall of the Jack LaLanne Physical Fitness Studio plays black-and-white videos of LaLanne leading the same workouts – in his jumpsuit and ballet shoes – hosted by LaLanne on your RCA television set in your 1950s playroom. The Flamingo Park picnic area in a corner of the Cabana Bay Courtyard will soon, according to Tom Roditus, senior vice president of Loews Hotels & Resorts, feature visiting food trucks including an ice-cream truck that will bring back summer good humor days.
|A vintage video plays in the Jack LaLanne fitness studio. // Photo by Maureen Stone|
Most evocative at Universal’s Cabana Bay is the running 1950s and early 60s music soundtrack heard throughout the resort. The tunes are reminiscent of the background music of the Universal Studios film “American Graffiti” set in 1962 southern California, or the hit music of New York’s top 40s-era radio deejays. Cabana Bay Resort guests dining in the sprawling Bayliner Diner can watch period videos on four giant screens, with images of the NBC peacock frequently appearing with both black-and-white and early color TV commercials, sitcoms, cowboy shows and cartoons. This recalls for boomers the period in their youth when their TV sets magically transformed from black-and-white to color. An original Woody Woodpecker cartoon, produced by the Walter Lantz animation studio, was playing in the waiting lounge for the Cabana Bay park shuttle buses.
|Suite # 3406 in the Thunderbird building at Universal's Cabana Bay // Photo by Maureen Stone|
Cabana Bay family suites are decked out in the iconic resort colors of sky blue, tangerine and aquamarine. The suite features a microwave and fridge and a small counter fronted by two faux leather orange stools. The large single bathroom is divided into three sections including a toilet room, bath and shower room with sink, and a center sink featuring Zest soap and VO5 shampoo amenities. There is a large closet for storing luggage and hanging clothes. It contains a combination safe for storing valuables.
Two queen-size beds in the bedroom section of the suite are divided by a wood-framed privacy screen from a living area in the front of the suite containing a sofa that converts to a double bed. Parents are happy to find two flat-screen TVs, an amenity straight out of 2014, including one in the bedroom and the second in the living area.
|Lifeguard at Universal's Cabana Courtyard pool waterslide // Photo by Maureen Stone|
The Cabana Courtyard has a 10,000 square-foot pool with a child friendly water slide that curves through the pool’s iconic diving tower, reminiscent of the diving tower at the main pool of Long Island’s Jones Beach in the 1950s. One of the three Courtyard buildings, the Castaway, is fronted by 17 private wood-framed cabanas, each containing a flat screen TV, refrigerator and cooling fan. The cabanas can be rented in 24-hour segments, with pizza and beverage delivery available. A second, 8,000 square-foot pool with a lazy river and Hideaway Bar & Grill poolside will open with the second Cabana Bay phase opening of 1,200 additional rooms, including 300 more suites and 900 standard rooms, on June 16.
Universal hosts offered guests the option to visit Universal Orlando’s City Walk during the opening evening of the Cabana Bay Resort. But with the musical background and friendly atmosphere at the poolside Atomic Tonic bar and the lobby area’s Swizzle Lounge, many of the first guests opted to enjoy the evening at the hotel under the glittering neon lights that illuminate the grounds. It was a fitting compliment to Universal Orlando Resort’s newest property as guests enjoyed reliving the memory of sitting outdoors and listening to rock ‘n roll with a cool beverage on a 1950s summer evening.
This article is the second in our two-part series on the opening of the new Cabana Bay Beach Resort. For a look at opening day, click here.