I was fortunate to spend October 25 – 27, 2020 at the Universal Orlando resort. Full disclosure – My hotel accommodations and park tickets were provided for me by Universal Orlando as a travel agent FAM (familiarization) program. My experience and opinions are my own.
I used Mears, a town car service, to get from Orlando Airport to Universal Orlando. I have used Mears in the past and have always been happy with their service. My experience this time was no different. The driver asked if I had other Mears transportation booked for the week – which I did – so he made a note of my transfers and said he would request to be my driver for those as well.
I checked in at Cabana Bay resort at around noon and my room was ready. As you enter the lobby, you are stopped for a temperature check. I had mine checked and was given a colored wristband. The wristbands indicate that you have had your temperature checked for the day. Even when you go to Citywalk or the theme parks, your wristband means that you can bypass those temperature check areas.
Cabana Bay has a retro theme based on the 50s and 60s. The prices are on a moderate level and the resort has standard rooms as well as family suites. The theme is evident throughout the whole resort.
My first stop was to check out my room and drop off my bags. I was in the Americana wing, which turned out to be very convenient. I was only an elevator ride down to the main food court area and the door that leads to the shuttle bus stop.
I loved the theme of the room – especially the retro bath products and the alarm clock. The room itself was on the small side. Certainly, it was fine for just me. I would think it would be a little tight for a family of four and definitely small for 4 adults.
I took a walk around to explore the resort. There is a Starbucks in the lobby, several outdoor food locations, and a lounge area in addition to the food court. There are two pool areas, one with a lazy river, a gym, and a bowling alley. The hours do vary right now due to COVID (for example one pool area is only open on the weekends) so you need to check on availability during your stay.
I landed at the Hideaway Bar and Grill for a frozen cocktail and some fish tacos. The cocktail came in a souvenir cup which entitles you to refills for $2 less. Due to Covid, they don’t actually refill your cup. You present it and they give you a drink at the reduced cost in a plastic cup.
Throughout the trip, I made sure to eat outside, as I am not comfortable with indoor dining. I was able to find a nice quiet table in the shade to enjoy my lunch.
After my meal, I wanted to go to Universal Studios. Both parks had been reaching their capacity limits on weekends. This was a Sunday and I had seen a post at 11 am that both parks were full at that time. There is a capacity phone number that you can call to check on the status. I called and the parks had reopened for guests.
The shuttle bus was sitting at the bus stop when I arrived. As I would find throughout my time at Universal and Disney, the buses have been divided into zones. The driver will tell you what zone you are assigned to as you board. There was only one other party on the bus, so it was easy to get on and the ride was about five minutes.
All the shuttle buses drop you off at Citywalk and then you walk to either park or dining /restaurants at Citywalk.
Another personal factor for this trip was that I was having knee issues. I had seen my orthopedist for the second time two days before I left. He had given me a stronger anti-inflammatory and a gel injection for my arthritis. I was still not walking well and this would be a factor on my touring throughout the trip.
Due to my knee and the fact that it was the weekend and wait times were high, my plan was to stay in one section of Universal Studios and do the Bourne Stunt Show and the Animal Actors show and then call it a night.
The Bourne show was first up and there was a huge line when I arrived. The team member said that the next show was already full and the line was for the show after that. I did not want to stand for 45 minutes so I sat on a bench across from the show to see when it would start letting in. It didn’t take long for the team member to start allowing guests in so I joined the end of the line. I didn’t realize that I would still be standing for about 30 minutes as I moved through the queue and into the pre-show area.
The entire pre-show area was divided into boxes on the floor. You are assigned an area to wait in. When the theater opens, team members lead guests in lines into the theater and assign your seats. Every other row is left empty and three seats are left empty between each party. When the show was over, team members directed rows to leave one at a time to minimize crowding at the exit.
I don’t want to give too much away about the show. I don’t even know if I could describe it enough. In simple terms, it is a stunt show based on the Jason Bourne character / movies. There is a huge screen across the entire back of the stage that is so clear it is hard to tell what is real and what is on the screen. The show is about 15 minutes long with a lot of action and stunts. I really enjoyed it and would recommend it.
After the show, I grabbed a Powerade and sat on a bench to take a break. I didn’t mention it before it, but it was hot and humid. Add on wearing a mask and it is easy to lose track of your hydration. While I was sitting, I checked on the time for the Animal Actors show. It started in about 45 minutes so I made my way over there.
Again, as guests entered that theater area, a team member was directing us to our seats to maintain social distancing. As I was walking forward, the team member saw me limping and said “I don’t want you to have to walk more than you need to” and he sat me in the handicap area by the entrance. I was certainly grateful for that!
I have seen the Animal Actors show on previous visits. It’s always cute. Some of the show demonstrates how animals are trained to work in movies and television. And some of it is a variety of animals coming across the stage doing cute things. I especially got a laugh at a cat that was supposed to run up a path but decided to sit down halfway and chew on some grass.
It was about 5:30 pm at this point. The wait times were starting to come down around the park and it was open until 10 pm. However, I had 5 more park days ahead of me, so I decided to go back to the hotel to ice my knee.
Of course, I needed an evening treat! I knew that Voodoo Doughnuts was on the way from the exit to the bus stop. They provide mobile ordering. Just as I exited the park, I placed my order. When I got to Voodoo Doughnuts, it was ready, and I walked right up to the mobile pick up area to get it.
Doughnuts in hand, I made my way back to the shuttle bus area. There were 3 buses lined up and waiting so even though the buses have a limited capacity, I was on a bus quickly and back at my hotel within 10 minutes.
On last thing to note for this day is that Universal offers a “chat to the front desk” feature. It was about 9:30 pm and I realized I could use an extra blanket. I sent a message through this feature, got a reply right away and five minutes later there was a knock at the door with my blanket. That was awesome!
I have been a huge Disney and travel fan since childhood. I love going to new places and, of course, heading to Disney as often as I can.