Now that the transformation is complete, guests at Universal Orlando Resort Hotels are able to take in the beauty — and delicious offerings — of Shakes Malt Shoppe at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort, a brand new ice cream and breakfast spot. Shakes is quickly becoming a guest favorite and, after tasting my way around the menu, I can see why.
Transforming the space
Right by Bayliner Diner at Cabana Bay’s main building, Shakes is full of thoughtful details that make it a truly authentic experience.
Charles Zeller, Assistant Director of Food and Beverage for Cabana Bay Beach Resort, says that they knew they wanted something special to add to the resort and were inspired by the nostalgia of an era when families spent time together at soda counters and malt shops.
Everything from the pastel color palette to the roller skate artwork and counter seating — even the team member uniforms — harkens back to the 1950s soda counter and fits perfectly with the theming of the resort. No matter what time of day you choose to stop by, you’ll feel like you have traveled back in time.
Roll through for a quick breakfast
For those of you who are early risers (ie – not me), Shakes Malt Shoppe is a great stop for a quick breakfast to fuel your day before the theme parks without taking a lot of time out of your morning.
Zeller says they knew from the start that they wanted this to be more than just a place to get ice cream: “We wanted those families looking for something to eat before heading out to the theme parks to be able to grab a smoothie or a breakfast sandwich or pastry.” Among my favorites are the Açaí Bowl, a great theme-park-day fuel, and the Bacon, Egg & Cheese Croissant, hot, flaky and delicious (those of you with eagle eyes may recognize this sandwich from next door at the Bayliner Diner, but this one is packaged up nicely for you to grab-and-go).
The smoothies, on the other hand, are made-to-order by the Shakes staff. The Banana Strawberry Smoothie is made from non-fat vanilla yogurt and fresh strawberries and bananas and is refreshing and a little tart. With no added sugar, it doesn’t have that overwhelmingly sweet flavor that a lot of smoothies tend to have, which means you don’t have to worry about your kids bouncing off the walls first thing in the morning.
Drink it up
Shakes is your place to satisfy your sweet tooth, any time of day. As you might expect, you can get a wide variety of milkshakes here. The menu offers three options: Classic, PB&J and Chocolate Peanut Butter & Banana, but you can make a shake from any ice cream flavor and toppings you want, and any shake can be made into a malt, by blending in malted milk powder (think the inside of a malted milk ball candy) for a true old school malt shop experience.
I opted to try a shake made with the Salty Caramel Truffle ice cream, which was rich and decadent. The subtle salt enhances the caramel and truffle flavors, for a really unique shake — or scoop, if you prefer to keep it simple.
The vanilla shake is anything but plain. I had them blend rainbow sprinkles in for a fun, vibrant take on a classic. Although the sprinkles were more of a whimsical choice, you can also mix in any of the other toppings. These will rotate, depending on seasonal offerings, but include things like different candies and candy bars, cookies, and sprinkles.
Shakes Manager Chris Rentas said that it is important to have a varied menu for guests and that a balance between classics and unique flavors is something they put a lot of thought into during the planning process. “We try to give something the guests are going to like, to see something they’ll remember or even something a little newer, like the Oatmazing,” he says. (More on that flavor later!)
Treats for the grown-ups
They also offer alcoholic milkshakes, for those of you who like a little extra zip in your dessert. The Chocolate Peanut Butter is made with chocolate peanut butter ice cream, peanut butter whiskey and topped with whipped cream. I need to tell you that I am a huge chocolate peanut butter fan and this shake takes a perfect combination and takes it up a notch with the peanut butter whiskey.
The Creamsicle, featuring orange blossom ice cream, orange vodka, and topped with whipped cream and a candied orange, is also amazing. I love a good garnish and I won’t deny taking a satisfying bite out of that candied orange in between sips.
Scoops and cones and sundaes, oh my!
Shakes features some amazing ice cream treats that aren’t milkshakes, too. In fact, my favorite menu item is the Banana Split. While this might sound like a pretty standard sundae, Shakes has given it its own twist, including banana pudding ice cream where the vanilla would ordinarily be. I don’t think it is a coincidence that Zeller said this sundae is the first menu item they came up with and they knew they wanted to include the banana pudding ice cream to make it unique. I wouldn’t have thought such a small change would make that big of a difference, but it is a show-stopper. The banana pudding ice cream perfectly captures the experience of eating homemade banana pudding, from the real, fresh banana flavor, to the inclusion of wafer cookie pieces – it is the kind of dessert that visits you in your dreams.
Pro Tip: You too can make your own twist and customize the flavors that go on your banana split!
For those of you with dietary restrictions, Shakes has a few options. For those who need gluten free choices, the scoops can be served in a cup. There is also an excellent vegan ice cream option in the Chocolate Chip Oatmazing. This is made with oat milk, and has delicious vegan chocolate pieces that add a little crunch, which is really satisfying.
In addition to the current offerings, Rentas said that he hopes to bring in a variety of seasonal flavors on a limited basis, especially around different holidays, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled and taste buds ready for even more choices in the future.
What Shakes item are you most excited to try? Let us know on social or in the comments below!
Must be 21 years and older with valid identification to purchase or drink alcoholic beverages. Drink responsibly.
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