25 September 2019

THE TRAVEL DIARIES: Cabana Bay Resort & Universal CityWalk



Our trip to Orlando was a big one, and required a lot of planning and research to make sure we really made the most of our time, and also our money. We had an incredible trip, and although it did take a lot of time to organise it all it was 100% worth it. So I wanted to share my thoughts and tips on where we stayed, ate, visited over the next couple weeks so if anyones looking - they can use my experience. And where better to start, then where we stayed?


Okay - so where we stayed and where we visited on Universal Citywalk. Let's start with the accomodation!


CABANA BAY BEACH RESORT
I feel like resort is a little generous a term but there we go! So we chose to stay at a Universal resort, which I think was 100% one of the best decisions we made for the trip. We booked everything through Virgin Holidays, and got a really good deal for both the flight and the hotel when we booked. Also, there's a lot of benefits that come with staying at one of the Universal Resorts - such as early access to a couple of the parks, free transfers to and from the parks, souvenirs can be sent back to the room and so on. 

The Cabana Bay Resort was really great, and everything we needed for our stay so I would 100% recommend it if you're looking. It's very fun, quirky and has a lot to offer in terms of facilities. The staff were also incredibly friendly and couldn't do enough for you. When we arrived we got vouchers from both Virgin and the resort as we were celebrating our anniversary and we went for our 30th, and they also gave us badges to wear in the parks as well which was fun. There's also a travel desk where you can pick up all your Universal tickets and they can help with transport and advice as well. 



In terms of facilities, there's so much there! You have the Swizzle Bar, which do a huge range of great cocktails with bar snacks. Again, everyone is super friendly and I came home with a few of their actual swizzle sticks for my own kitchen... There's also a diner there, which is fine - it's kinda of what you would expect - it was fine, nothing amazing. There's also a bowling alley with food as well, which we did use and really enjoyed (also do cool cocktails again), and then there's also a Starbucks which we found essential most mornings for breakfast on our way out. So there is a lot there and all is great. 



Also, while we were there they were doing a Stranger Things photo opp as they've started all their Halloween celebrations etc and that was just for guests of the hotel which was really cool. Even the guy who queued up for it thinking it was a restaurant came out thinking it was cool.

Our room was also great for us - we just booked a standard, which is 2 queens, however I spoke to Virgin before we left about something else and whilst I was on the phone they asked about what floor we'd like to be on, whether we wanted queen or king etc so would be worth giving them a call to just check everything and set your preferences as well. 

Overall, we had nothing to complain about - it was comfortable, perfect for us and the facilities were really great!


Universal CityWalk
So CityWalk is essentially the base of the Universal Parks. This will be what you walk through to get to either Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, and it's filled with lots of places to eat, drink and shop.





We tried a few different places so wanted to give a quick rundown on where we ate/drank and what we thought:
  • Antojitos - a Mexican restaurant that I saw was highly rated before we left, so we headed there on our anniversary. Does great authentic Mexican food, a lot of which we hadn't seen before so we tried new things which were great. They are also famous for their guacamole starter - they make it at the table which is really cool to see. However, it's $15 for it, and honestly, it doesn't taste too different from other fresh guacs so you're definitely paying more for the novelty than the product. Overall, was great though - really nice! The margaritas aren't bad either...
  • Hard Rock Cafe - we went here on our first night, and I'm not going to say too much as I know so many people have been before. It is a really cool setting, and the food is good - just don't look at the calorie count!
  • VIVO Italian Kitchen - I think probably one of our favourite meals of the trip! We were craving something other than burgers or pizzas, so pasta was high on the list and it was so flipping good. The stuffed flatbread for starter was amazing as well. It was actually just nice to sit down, have some pasta and a glass of wine.
  • Voodoo Donut - now, I don't actually like donuts but I was pulled in by the number of pink boxes that were wandering around CityWalk, plus the place just looks epic. We picked a couple each - which was easier said then done because there is SO many to choose from, and a lot of them look epic. Still wasn't my kind of thing but my husband (who likes donuts) loved it.
  • Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savoury Feast Kitchen - we tried this place on two occasions. One just to try their ridiculously epic milkshakes, and then again on our last morning for brunch. Both were great experiences! The milkshakes are Instagram ready, huge and incredibly tasty. However, super filling so don't do a me and have it for dessert after a large meal. The brunch was also incredible - I had french toast with savoury fillings and it was so tasty, one of the best meals we had. I would recommend, even just to try one of the milkshakes.
  • The Cowfish - a burger and sushi bar, sounds a bit weird, but it was really really good. I went for their sushi as I needed something other than a burger at that point and it was so nice. Light, yet spicy and tasty, not too filling either. Adam had one of the burgers, and it was huge and he loved. Overall, really liked it!

So there you go! A little recap of where we stayed, and what we ate. I hope this is useful/interesting - and be prepared for a breakdown of each park as well coming soon...
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