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Which cabanas at Volcano Bay are best?

by Attractions Magazine Staff

Booking a cabana at Universal’s Volcano Bay water park is often a splurge. If you’re going to splash around Volcano Bay in the summer, or any other peak time at Universal Orlando, having a cabana can make things a lot easier — but it’s going to cost you extra.

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Photos by Dani Dennison Meyering

By Dani Dennison Meyering

After indulging in a cabana for my husband’s birthday, I am convinced it is the way to go if you want to make the most of this beautiful, tropical water park. I’ve also formed some opinions as to which cabanas are best.

So come along with me, grab a frosty tropical drink, and let’s review what you need to know about the cabanas at Volcano Bay.

How to Book a Cabana at Volcano Bay

It’s not easy to book a cabana at Volcano Bay, though that may be by design. You have to call Universal Orlando Guest Services to reserve a cabana, so get ready to memorize the hold spiel. I was on hold for nearly an hour and a half when I called to book ours.

I called about two and a half months ahead of the date I wanted. Originally, I was going to book a Saturday, but it was $50 less for the Sunday. The booking experience was very pleasant, and the team member on the phone made note of my request to be near the Runamukka Reef kids area.

Sadly, you cannot select an exact cabana. I’ll get into the different cabana options and locations in a little bit to help you determine which area you’d like to request to be in, at least.

Currently, the only way to book a cabana is by calling Universal Guest Services at (877) 801-9720. 

What’s Included in Your Cabana?

  • Towel service
  • Padded lounge chair
  • Table and chairs
  • Complimentary fruit and snack basket
  • Small fridge with a large stash of bottled water
  • Ceiling fan
  • Storage locker
  • Tapu Tapu Tablet
  • Cabana Server for food and beverage orders and more
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The welcome basket was brought to us about 20 minutes after we were escorted to our cabana. Each cabana has a small sign outside with the family’s last name written on it. Our welcome basket contained grapes, sliced pineapple, one apple, one orange, two bananas, four mini Danish pastries, four mini muffins, and a large sugar cookie with a welcome logo on it.

With the refrigerator in the cabana, we saved some of the fruit to enjoy throughout the day. And with such a large supply of bottled water, I planned ahead and brought some water flavor drops to add some variety throughout the day.

To place a food or beverage order at any point during your day, simply raise the flag on the edge of your cabana. Our server came by plenty of times throughout the day, too. We never experienced a moment of wanting something and having to wait to see our server or another cabana server stop by to check on us. If our server came back with our food or drinks while we were out and about, she was kind enough to place our drinks in the refrigerator for us. Simply paradise!

Which Cabana Type and Location is Best?

Cabanas come in four options: Single Stand-Alone Cabana, Lower Cabana Unit, Upper Cabana Unit, and Family Suite Cabana. All cabanas hold up to six people, aside from the Family Suites which hold up to 16 people — there are only two of these suites in the park, but the other types of cabanas are located all throughout the park.

When I booked our cabana, I needed to let the team member know if I wanted a single-family cabana or a family suite. Then I had to share if I preferred a stand-alone cabana or one that was part of a two-story unit. These two-story units are separate cabanas for separate parties in each story. If you are on the upper cabana, you will have stairs accessible outside the lower cabana.

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The two main advantages of the upper-story cabanas are the views and the privacy. We did not have any security concerns with our stand-alone cabana — but it was located in the center of the park on a busy walkway, so we had lots of folks walking back and forth. This wasn’t a big deal, but we experienced a situation multiple times where our flag had been raised while we were gone, so our server kept thinking we needed something while we weren’t there.

There are two stand-alone cabanas located inside Runamukka Reef, which is the massive kids’ play area. Originally, I had hoped we would get one of these cabanas since I knew we’d be in the kids’ area most of the time; our little guy is not tall enough to go on any of the slides. I can’t imagine Universal would put a family that did not have kids with them in these cabanas, but it couldn’t hurt to specify if you absolutely do not want to be in or near the kids’ area.

We were assigned Cabana #8, which is the first in a string of cabanas found in the very center of the park. The walkway leads into The Volcano itself, and the views from this location are incredible. The Reef Pool is located right next to these cabanas.

I love The Reef Pool, which is a leisure pool with a few features. It’s great to have a relaxing spot to swim without the worry of waves. I experienced many memorable moments as my husband and son splashed in The Reef Pool while I looked on from the comfort of the cabana, and likewise, as I swam with our son and my husband waved to us from the cabana. The downside of the location is the amount of foot traffic that goes by.

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Most of the cabanas are located on the perimeter of the park. These cabanas are closer to many of the rides and many have their own small beach. While the lounge chairs on the beach are open to everyone, they aren’t as popular as the main Waturi Beach. So, an advantage of getting a cabana in one of the perimeter locations is having your own semi-private beach!

Speaking of Waturi Beach, this vast beach area facing the wave pool has two stand-alone cabanas. While these two cabanas would have lots of foot traffic, the location is fantastic if you want to be centrally-located.

The next time we book a cabana — and there will be a next time — I want to request a spot in the collection of cabanas at Puka Uli Lagoon, where there are mostly two-story cabanas. The location around the Puka Uli Lagoon really appeals to me; there is a small beach, and the lagoon is a leisure pool with lots of squirting and spraying water fountains, almost like a miniature kids area. Plus, it is right by the Ohyah and Ohno drop slides, so it’s great for people watching!

Tips and Other Information

Here’s a few tips based on our day in a cabana at Volcano Bay:

  • If you’re not an early riser, no rush. Your cabana is reserved for you, it’s okay if you sleep in a little.
  • Use the Tapu Tapu tablet in your cabana to book virtual lines throughout the day without having to trek around the park to book them.
  • Bring a small notepad or whiteboard to leave messages for each other. My husband and I took turns splashing around with our son, but only one of us had the locker key. So our cell phones would be locked away; a notepad would’ve helped us communicate if we missed each other in the cabana.
  • Bringing water flavor drops saved us from spending extra money on soft drinks.
  • It’s okay to bring some entertainment for young kids. I had hoped the cabana itself would be entertaining enough for our preschooler, but naturally, he didn’t like staying in the cabana, he wanted to be out in the park all the time. I regretted not bringing along his learn tablet so we could have more restful time in the cabana.
  • There is an exclusive food menu for the cabanas, but you can also order food from the regular menu as well.
  • Closing out your food and beverage check with your server can take a little extra time, so try to plan ahead when getting ready to depart.

To learn more about Universal’s Volcano Bay, or to plan a visit for yourself, click here.

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