Dining

SATURDAY SIX: Six Things We’re Excited About in Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley

by on January 25, 2014

This week’s SATURDAY SIX looks at Six Things We’re Excited About in Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley. This week was a big week for Harry Potter fans as Universal had its long awaited webcast featuring details of the upcoming Diagon Alley expansion in Universal Studios Florida, and the resort is having a weekend long Celebration of Harry Potter. We’ve been following Seth Kubersky’s PotterWatch series of articles for a while now, and we’re about to explode with excitement. So today we’re counting down six things that just can’t get here fast enough….

# 6 – Knockturn Alley 

It’s very rare to have sections of theme parks dedicated to “the bad guys,” but we at the Saturday Six can’t get enough of them. We love meeting Gaston and enjoying a LeFou’s Brew in New Fantasyland, while over at Universal’s Islands of Adventure we like walking through Villain’s Alley at Marvel Superhero Island to see all the little details (and to ride Dr. Doom’s Fearfall). While very few details have been given out about Knockturn Alley (which we saw in the films Chamber of Secrets and Half Blood Prince), we’re looking forward to an experience at Borgin and Burkes, a store specializing in items related to the Dark Arts. We’re also hoping that various items related to Dark Magic will be for sale, including Death Eater masks, cursed necklaces, horcruxes, and skulls of creatures from the Potter universe. This is Universal Creative’s chance to take creepiness to an “11,” and we hope they go all the way with it.

SS_BorginandBurkes

Borgin and Burkes store of Dark Magic, as envisioned by J.K. Rowling’s Pottermoret

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House of Blues Opens The Smokehouse, a New Barbecue Quick Service Restaurant

by on January 21, 2014

With Disney Springs construction ramping up and parts of what is currently Downtown Disney behind construction walls, Disney is working on boosting the West Side’s dining appeal during the midday hours. This afternoon, House of Blues opened its newest quick-service location, The Smokehouse, a barbecue-and-sides joint.

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Just a little booth in front of the House of Blues, Smokehouse (see the menu) serves pulled pork sandwiches, half-racks of ribs, a brisket sandwich, pulled chicken sandwiches, hot dogs, and a turkey leg, with various barbecue-friendly sides like slaw and fries. Sandwiches are served on fresh brioche buns, which is always a nice salty addition to a sweet or tangy sauce. While I didn’t get to see the turkey leg to compare its size to those in the parks, at $7.99 it’s nearly FOUR DOLLARS LESS than legs at the Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios (Toluca Legs).

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First Look: Review of Spice Road Table at Epcot

by on January 14, 2014

IMG_3049Spice Road Table opened up on Saturday for previews, and I was able to head over there on opening night.

This new restaurant is found in the Morocco Pavilion at Epcot, situated along the water’s edge. It serves up Mediterranean-inspired small plates, along with an extensive drink menu. The restaurant’s inspiration is drawn from outdoor cafes found along the Mediterranean. You really get the outdoor cafe feel, as most of the restaurant is outdoors, with only a small portion of seats situated inside. In the same complex as the restaurant is a Henna tattoo artist station, as well as a Moroccan shop.

The night the restaurant opened, as my husband and I were walking through Epcot, it started sprinkling. Then it started raining…by the time I reached the restaurant, it was POURING! I looked like a drowned rat, seeing as I’d left my umbrella back at the hotel. (So dumb on my part! I always bring it, and then the one time I don’t, downpour!) So, I ran into the restaurant, observing its beauty with rain water-filled eyes. (PS: keep the rain in mind when dining here. While it is covered, there is the potential for you to get a bit wet, depending on the way the wind is blowing.)

My first impressions were that the whole complex was quite pretty. Disney did a great job in the design and theme. As I walked in, I marveled at the incredibly blue wall behind the bar area. I was also in awe of the lights that hung above.

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Universal CityWalk Update: Cigarz & Candy Co. Closed; Antojitos Almost Open

by on January 7, 2014

Universal CityWalk update construction closing

This construction on Starbucks is only the tip of the iceberg of Universal CityWalk updates on the way.

Last month, Universal Orlando announced eight new venues coming to CityWalk over the next year, and it wasted little time after the New Year’s Eve ball dropped to make way for the new arrivals. In this edition of Universal CityWalk Update, we’ll say final goodbyes to old friends like Cigarz and Katie’s Candy Co., and get a first glimpse inside the new Antojitos.

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Quick-Service Universal Dining Plan Price Increase

by on December 26, 2013

Universal Dining Plan price increase

New Universal Dining Plan Quick Service pricing as of yesterday (photos by Seth Kubersky)

Universal Orlando quietly delivered a lump of coal to guests this holiday week with a stealthy Universal Dining Plan price increase affecting their new Quick Service prepaid food program. The Universal Dining Plan — Quick Service program, which replaced the former all-you-can-eat Meal Deal earlier this year, formerly provided adults with one quick-service entree, two beverages, and two snacks for $18.99.

Yesterday, I noticed that all of the parks’ signage advertising the Universal Dining Plan — Quick Service, the price has increased by $1 to $19.99, and the snack allotment has been reduced from two to one. The children’s plan for those age 3-9 is unchanged.

Universal’s web site about the dining plan was temporarily disabled yesterday, but now it is back online with a new PDF detailing the table service version of the plan; we’ll keep an eye out for updated fine-print on the quick service plan, and share it with you when available.

Universal Dining Plan handbill from early December with old pricing.

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Disney’s Hollywood Studios Adds a Few Dining Options This Week

by on December 23, 2013

To help alleviate dining crowds at Disney’s Hollywood Studios this week, the park is adding a few extra options for guests to choose from.

The first is the “Taste of Hollywood” To Go Meals. These are special boxed meals that include reserved seating for Fantasmic! The cost per meal is $15.99 for adults and $5.49 for kids ages 3 -9. Meals can be picked up at Min and Bill’s Dockside Diner anytime from 10:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Meal options include:

  • California and tuna sushi roll with avocado, orange and tomato salad, ginger-marinated tomatoes and cucumbers, and a spicy pecan chocolate cluster
  • Cold-cut roast beef with creamy horseradish, potato salad, grilled asparagus, and chocolate cake
  • Shrimp salad with avocado, orange and tomato salad, ginger-marinated tomatoes and cucumbers, and mandarin orange cheesecake
  • Hot fried chicken with roasted garlic mashed potatoes, sweet corn and carrots, and warm apple crisp
  • Veggie sandwich with avocado, orange and tomato salad, tabbouleh, and chocolate cake

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Tortuga Tavern Offering Island Dinner Buffet During Holidays

by on December 18, 2013

During the Holiday Season at Walt Disney World, many restaurants that are often closed or that offer up limited menus during the majority of the year will be open fully to accommodate the exceptionally busy time period. Such is the case with Tortuga Tavern, which is found in Adventureland at the Magic Kingdom.

From December 21 – January 4, this pirate themed restaurant, which normally serves Mexican fare, will be open for dinner with an Island Dinner Buffet. The tropical themed feast will serve delicious dishes including:

  • Ocean harvest chowder with crackers
  • Lush garden greens with lite vinaigrette, Black Pearl balsamic dressing and ranch
  • Gulf grilled vegetable pasta salad
  • Shipwrecked tomato, mozzarella and basil salad
  • Sea salted green beans
  • Caribbean spiced sweet potato wedges
  • Treasures of mac and cheese

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A Peek At The Menu of Spice Road Table at Epcot

by on December 17, 2013

Spicy Shrimp

Spicy Shrimp
©Disney

Spice Road Table has been a bit of a puzzle. It was announced on April 1 this year that the restaurant was headed to the Morocco Pavilion at Epcot. Construction was quite visible, but as the year has come to an end, aside from one tiny update details on the restaurant have been rather quiet. Today, the Disney Parks Blog shared another piece of the puzzle by giving us a look at some of the menu items we can expect when Spice Road Table officially opens.

Menu items released today include dishes like lamb sliders, rice stuffed grape leaves, fried calamari, salted cod coquettes, and a tingis sampler. Previously announced offerings include garlic jumbo shrimp in a spicy chili pepper sauce; harissa chicken drumettes; mussels with preserved lemons and tomato sauce; a Mediterranean omelet with sausage, potatoes, and caramelized onion; and Moroccan merguez sausage with a tomato salad. Also available will be a wide selection of wines, a Spice Road Table Aperitif Flight, and sangria.

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Sofia The First and Doc McStuffins To Join Disney Junior Play ’n Dine

by on December 17, 2013

Disney Junior has been knocking it out of the park with great programming lately. The pre-school set has been excitedly enjoying Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Jake and The Neverland Pirates, Doc McStuffins, and Sofia the First. Now, little ones will have to opportunity to meet the two newest members of the Disney Junior line up at the Disney Junior Play ’n Dine character meal that takes place at Hollywood & Vine at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Sofia the First and Doc McStuffins will now be added to the mix to meet guests, as well as dance with them during a brand new musical number that will take place during the meal.

Sofia the First Joining Disney Junior Play ’n Dine

©Disney

Doc McStuffins Joining Disney Junior Play ’n Dine

©Disney

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The two stars will join favorites Handy Manny and Jake from Jake and the Neverland Pirates. Guests who would like to meet all four can do so during breakfast and lunch. Keep in mind that dinner at Hollywood and Vine is character-less. Leaving the restaurant’s Play ’n Dine meals will be Agent Oso and June from Little Einsteins.

Both Sofia and Doc McStuffins will join the character buffet starting on January 26.

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Universal Studios Announces Fresh Concepts in a Guest-Centric Overhaul of CityWalk

by on December 15, 2013

Touted as the biggest announcement in Universal CityWalk’s history, yesterday’s media presentation by Universal executives detailed a multi-restaurant addition and renovation to the CityWalk lineup in order to bring a fresher, more interactive feel to the area. The venues share an overall theme that focuses on inviting common areas, fresh ingredients in original food concepts, and interactive dining experiences with open kitchens and fully customizable dining options. What’s coming? Take a look.

RED OVEN PIZZA BAKERY

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Already in place on the lower level of Universal CityWalk in the former Pastamore market space, the recently-opened Red Oven Pizza Bakery is the first in the lineup of new eateries slated for the expansion. Opened in mid-November, the pizzeria is billed as an artisan pie bakery with the freshest of ingredients and a 900-degree stone-lined oven that bakes your custom pizza in a matter of a few minutes. The menu includes five red pizzas (tomato sauce) and five white (alfredo sauce) along with a host of fresh toppings, salads, and drinks. Meals are ordered at the counter and served table-side with the option to watch your meal being crafted in the open-air kitchen. Pies are large enough to serve two and range in price from 12 to 14 dollars each. Drink refills are free. Red Oven serves in-restaurant and carry-out, and if the restaurant is brimming, they’ll even deliver to CityWalk waterfront bars. Red Oven is sure to become a guest favorite for a fast but fresh meal.

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