During the pandemic, many theme parks have had to reduce their offerings. Disney World has removed many offerings that they usually provide, both for Guests solely visiting the parks, and staying on-property. Universal on the other hand has given their resort Guests more.
With the Magical Express leaving in 2022, complimentary Magic Bands no longer available, and Extra Magic Hours eliminated, as just a start to what is no longer going to be available — some Guests may start looking elsewhere to get a better bang for their buck when vacationing in Central Florida.
As someone who has stayed at Value, Moderate, and Deluxe Disney Resorts, I can say that, of course, I understand that with a pandemic comes many changes — but to only have pizza, burgers, and chicken tenders available at Art of Animation isn’t the biggest draw for me at the moment.
That being said, I recently stayed at Universal Orlando Resort’s Cabana Bay which is the equivalent to a Disney Value Resort, and it seems that Universal is really stepping up when it comes to unique and beneficial offerings for on-property Guests. Cabana Bay has a 50’s retro vibe to it, but all with a very sleek and modern feel.
The resort has two pools, much like many Disney Value Resorts, however, this resort has a lazy river which, at Disney, can only be found at Yacht and Beach Club which is in the Deluxe category (and therefore, much more expensive).
As I prefaced, Value Resort food courts at Disney resort hotels are not the best of options at the moment. Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Disney has implemented a lot more mobile ordering with a much smaller menu of basic theme park food.
Cabana Bay has a drive-in style movie theater food court called Bayliner Diner, but their food options are vast, delicious, and affordable. I was able to get a lemon and herb-roasted chicken with two sides, and a pan-seared ahi tuna bowl with jasmine rice, pickled fennel, and a light curry sauce for under $25.00 after my Universal Orlando Annual Passholder Discount. To quickly note, Disney does not allow for AP discounts on food court food, but also, they have a much more basic menu to appeal to a vast amount of Guests, whereas Universal had areas for burgers and fries, but then also had items that looked like they belong at a table service restaurant.
Universal Orlando on-property Guests can also experience entering the parks one hour ahead of time, which is something that Disney no longer offers to their Guests. Universal also offers Universal’s SuperStar Shuttle which will pick up Guests from Orlando International Airport, a service that Disney is removing. That being said, many Guests will not travel to Disney World if there is no airport transportation, so it is possible that Disney is working alongside Brightline to figure out a new transportation option for incoming Guests. However, that is speculation at this point.
Similar to Disney, however, Universal does not have anything like Magic Bands.
Cabana Bay also boasted incredible views from their Beachside tower of Volcano Bay. I truly loved the floor to ceiling windows that the room had to take full advantage of the views!
It should also be noted that Disney World is not currently offering Annual Passes for purchase (unless you are an existing AP holder). Universal, however, is at less than half the cost. The Universal Annual Pass allows Guests to purchase items at significant discounts, and at Cabana Bay, allows you to upgrade to a suite at no extra charge.
When staying at Universal Orlando Resort, Guests will be able to explore the shopping and eatery section of CityWalk, Universal Studios Florida, and Island’s of Adventure, as well as their water park Volcano Bay which will be opening as of February 27, 2021.
Additionally, Disney is not currently selling Annual Passes, but Universal is. Universal is giving those who have an Annual Pass an automatic free upgrade to a suite at Cabana Bay right now, so we recommend grabbing a Universal Annual Pass for the best bang for your buck during your Universal Orlando Resort visit.
Personally, I loved everything about Cabana Bay and staying on Universal property — especially the Galaxy Bowl Restaurant which had a bowling alley inside. That being said, I still love staying at Disney World as well! It just seems that during the pandemic, staying on property at Universal is not only more affordable but gives you more offerings than its equivalent resort at Disney World.
If you want to book a stay at Universal Orlando Resort to stay any of the below resorts, click here to begin today!
· Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn and Suites
· Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort
· Universal’s Aventura Hotel
· Loews Sapphire Falls Resort
· Loews Royal Pacific Resort
· Hard Rock Hotel
· Loews Portofino Bay Hotel
Have you ever stayed on property at Universal Orlando Resort? Would you like to in the future?