Last week I was out in Orlando for a training conference. As luck would have it, the most inexpensive conference hotel happened to be Cabana Bay. So I figured I'd take advantage of my surroundings to explore some of the non-park offerings of the resort.
I had hoped to head into the parks one day, but given that I only had a few hours on one of my days it wasn't meant to be. But I had a great time exploring what the resort has to offer away from the parks. Let's check it out!
Written by Gregg Condon
After taking the red-eye from LAX I arrived at Cabana Bay around 7:30am last Monday. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to check in that early but that turned out to not be an issue at all. I was able to check in, get something to eat and head up to the room to take a bit of a nap before my first training session at 1:00pm.
The first day of the trip was obviously catching up on sleep, but I did make my way to/from the Convention Center for some pre-conference sessions. I utilized the I-Drive Trolley on the first day since there was no shuttle on Monday. It took me a couple of trips to figure out where the closest place to catch the Trolley was from the hotel. Something that won't be a problem when Universal opens their two new hotels (more on that later).
The first day I took a bus to CityWalk, then a boat to Portofino (as I thought the easiest place to catch the trolley was at the DoubleTree).
On the way back that afternoon, I took the shuttle back to the DoubleTree but made my way to the Water Taxi by way of the Hard Rock.
I then transferred to the next WaterTaxi to Sapphire Falls. Which meant I was able to get Water Taxi POV for pretty much the entire route. Check it out below, and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel.
LOVE the spiral staircase at Sapphire Falls
The trek back from Sapphire to Cabana was a bit longer than I anticipated, but after a day of traveling and training, it was nice to stretch the legs a bit.
Love the Cabana Bay merchandise!
Also made sure to take advantage of the free-refill cup for the duration of my stay. This came in very handy as I ate more meals in the hotel than outside of the hotel.
Morning two, as I headed out to the shuttle to OCCC.
The hotel shuttles didn't quite fit my conference schedule on Tuesday, so it was back on the Trolley. Which allowed me to get a couple of good looks at the two new Universal Hotels (and I figured out that the actual closest trolley stop was here and not the DoubleTree).
I know some are asking why I didn't just Lyft/Uber (trust me, I did), but I always love exploring a city on foot. It just gives you a different feel.
After a bit of a rest in the room, I met up with Sean from California, Florida, European Coaster Kings for dinner at Cow Fish and a visit to both Fun Spots. But that's a different update. =)
Day 3 was about a 12 hour day at the convention center, but I did take the time when I got back to do a bit of a tour of the hotel.
I ate breakfast, dinners and snacks pretty much exclusively at Bayliner Diner, I was very impressed with the food choices and the staff was spectacular.
The pool area's are kind of amazing. If it was a different kind of trip I can imagine spending a lot of time in the lazy river.
What's up Volcano Bay
Cabana Bay Lobby
I didn't realize that the hotel had interior and exterior corridor rooms, I had just asked for "whatever is available" when I checked in.
So if you have a preference, be sure to request it. Personally, I was happy to have a room with an interior corridor, away from the pools as that's not what I was there for.
My last stop before heading up to the room to pack was the store to do some shopping. They had Hagrid's merch out.
I was very tempted to buy this hat, but have a rule that I don't wear merch until I can ride the ride.
Plus, I prefer fitted hats. I wish more parks would have them as an option.
Phone cases in a variety of styles
And of course, lots of Magical Creatures
Thanks Cabana Bay for a fantastic stay.
I was totally blown away by Cabana Bay. I knew I would love it, and it's retro style, but I wasn't sure how much. Sure, I wasn't really there for relaxing and enjoying the hotel, but even as a conference goer it fit the bill.
We're talking about a family trip to Orlando in the near future, definitely think Cabana Bay will be where we stay for our Universal portion.
Stay tuned later this week for additional updates from both Fun Spots and SeaWorld Orlando where we discover there are still good people in the world.
Today we're back in Florida as we take a look at the Holidays at Universal Orlando Resort.
Both parks are decked out for the Holidays and look amazing. Let's take a look!!
Written by Renée Girard
Stopping by Universal Orlando this afternoon for some holiday entertainment.
The old Terminator building is all decked out for Christmas.
It’s snowing in Diagon Alley!
Christmas decorations are up in the London area outside of Diagon Alley.
The holiday additions to Diagon Alley are pretty subtle but nice.
Fast & Furious Supercharged construction progress.
It’s time for the all new Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s.
The minions and the rest of the gang from Despicable Me kick off the Universal Holiday Parade.
Characters from Madagascar and Shrek featured in balloons and floats for the parade.
Santa Claus comes to town for the grand finale of the Universal Holiday Parade, and the tree lights up for the evening.
I loved Puss in Boots’ Santa costume!
We didn’t make it in time for a Grinchmas show, but still took in the sights of Seuss Landing.
Oh, and the lines today? Super short to non existent. It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
Took in another viewing of the holiday show on Hogwarts Castle, and it’s such a wonderful addition.
It’s been great to see new things for the holidays this year at Universal Orlando!
Happy Tuesday everybody and welcome to some fun early week speculation. Just like we did with NintendoLand last year (or was it earlier this year) we're going to have some fun with some park stuff that may or may not happen (let's face it, it's probably not going to happen). But that's not going to stop us.
Written by Gregg Condon
A couple of things have inspired this, so we're not TOTALLY coming out of left field.
First, reports that a TV series based on The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings is in development. Which means only one thing, the suit between Warner Brothers and that of the estate of Tolkien that was resolved in July has led to a softening of the relationship and they are ready to work together again. This had to do with characters in The Hobbit Movies used in online slot machines and other games which led to the Tolkien estate not trusting Warner Brothers anymore. And who could blame them.
So let's look at that aspect of it first.
I think anybody who's a fan of Tokien's work could tell you the Hobbit Movies were a HUGE disappointment. For me, The Hobbit is my favorite all-time book. It's the first book I remember reading growing up and I've read it every couple of years since. I was very excited about these movies, and even re-watched them over the weekend once this news broke, just to refresh myself with them.
Now I will say, on this recent re-watch I actually enjoyed them more than I had before. Sure, the movies aren't close to the book AT ALL, but a few scenes such as "Riddles In The Dark" are perfectly done.
But at the end of the day, there was way too much added, too much from the book not in the movies, WAY too much CGI and WAAAAAAY too much color correction done for these movies to be part of my yearly rotation.
In fact, this was a problem we all could have seen coming with the release of Return of the King which suffered from the same over-use of CGI and color correction.
But I digress ...
So all that being said, I'm actually interested to see where a Hobbit and/or Lord of the Rings series could go. A lot more time for character development for sure. Because we all know why all those battle scenes were added to The Hobbit, because there aren't many in the book, it is a children's book after all.
Still, I'd love to see a straight book adaptation of both stories. And then have the side stories created with the input from the Tokien estate. That would be the perfect scenario for me, as a fan of the books.
So why is a theme park site writing about this, and why is it in the Universal Studios section of the site?
Well in Orlando, it's been rumored for a LONG time that Universal Studios is planning on building a third park in the future. They've been buying land like crazy as we've written about quite a few times.
And last week, they added another 100 acres of land in the proposed area of the third park where they already had purchased 450 acres in 2015.
And today they announced 2 new hotels being built on the former site of Wet and Wild. So the expansion is coming, they are getting ready for it before they announce a 3rd park. (imagine that Disneyland Resort)
So what if the softening of the WB/Tolkien relationship happening the same week that Universal purchases even more land isn't a coincidence at all? Universal has worked with WB to bring theme park worlds to life, to the benefit of all.
A theme park based on Tolkien's work has been rumored and thought of since long before Peter Jackson's movies made their debut in 2001.
So maybe now is the time? The property is so rich in character, so steeped in literary history it'd be hard to pass up the chance to turn this into a themed environment.
The possibilities are endless. In the Tolkien works you have the possibility for both thrill and family attractions. Dining with the Dwarves. Drinking with the Hobbitses. Singing with the Elves.
Do we think there will be a complete park based on Lord of the Rings? No. But a fantasy park with a Tolkien based land as one of the main anchors, it's definitely something that could happen.
And that trip to visit Middle Earth may be as close as Orlando in the very near future.
What do you think? Is it finally time for the world of Middle Earth to come to the world of Central Florida? Would you be excited to have Middle Earth as an anchor of a 3rd Universal park?