Drinking

Universal Orlando’s CityWalk is Reborn

by on January 15, 2016

Universal Orlando’s CityWalk hasn’t always been much of a draw for many visitors. It was often viewed as the place that you have to walk through in order to get to the parks. By contrast, it is actually the catalyst for me becoming a Universal Orlando Annual Passholder. I spent so much time enjoying the restaurants (I’m looking at you Margaritaville), bars (oh the stories we could tell about Cigarz) and nightclubs (yes, I do love to shake my groove thing).  Whenever I said I was going to “Universal” I’d be referring to CityWalk. But it is no secret that a revamp was needed.

Other than replacing the no-one-is-going-to-miss-it NBA City, the new and improved CityWalk has arrived. Let’s talk about some of the highlights of the reborn CityWalk.

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The original restaurants are keeping it fresh

CityWalk has welcomed a wave of new restaurants over the past two years, but there are three restaurants from the early days that are still going strong. What’s more is these restaurants have updated their menus within the past year or so. Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Cafe compares to no other when it comes to transporting patrons to the tropics. Margaritas and boat drinks, burgers, seafood, and sweets are waiting to be enjoyed. Radio Margaritaville DJ, JD Spradlin broastcasts live Wednesdays – Sundays 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM, live musicians strum their guitars on the Porch of Indecision in the early evening, and a live band rocks the house on the main stage inside after 9:00 PM, so there’s always something to entertain you.

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25 Drinks of Christmas – Day Twenty Five: Nautilus at Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto

by on December 25, 2015

We’re back with everyone’s favorite theme park advent calendar: a daily countdown of our favorite drinks at Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, and SeaWorld building anticipation to the Big Day. 

Criteria: Drinks can be alcoholic or nonalcoholic. Drinks can come from any venue on property. Bonus points awarded for atmosphere where the drink is served. Any drink with glow cubes is immediately disqualified. Ready? Let’s go!

DAY TWENTY FIVE: Nautilus at Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto (Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort)

Dive! Dive! Dive!

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The Nautilus at Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto. (photo by Brandon Glover)

No, you are not suffering from deja vu. Yes, we have made several trips to Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto during our countdown. We started off with a bang when we had a Polynesian Pearl pulled out of the shell. Then we battened down the hatches for a Tropical Dark & Stormy. We couldn’t leave out the HippopotoMai-Tai, could we? We saved the best for last though as the #1 drink on our countdown this year is the legendary NAUTILUS.

Served in an amazing souvenir bowl with the form of the Nautilus from Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, this is one drink meant to be shared, as you could possibly be seeing a giant squid in Seven Seas Lagoon if you tried to go it alone. The entire room transforms when a Nautilus is ordered and even the servers get in on the fun. Lighting effects make the room appear as if you are going under water, audio plays orders from the Nautilus captain, and there are several  physical effects happening across the Grotto (keep your head on a swivel).  The Nautilus is an E-Ticket drink in an E-Ticket bar and it is hands-down our favorite drink of Christmas 2015.

Ingredients: Barbancourt Pango Rhum, Appleton Estate Reserve Rum, Combier Creme de Peche de Vigne Liqueur, Tropical Juices, and Falernum. Served in a souvenir Nautilus.

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Everyone’s happy when a Nautilus is on its way! (photo by Brandon Glover)

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The Nautilus souvenir bowl can be used in many ways. (photo by George Booras)

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25 Drinks of Christmas – Day Twenty Four: Deathly Hallows at Hog’s Head (Islands of Adventure)

by on December 24, 2015

We’re back with everyone’s favorite theme park advent calendar: a daily countdown of our favorite drinks at Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, and SeaWorld building anticipation to the Big Day. 

Criteria: Drinks can be alcoholic or nonalcoholic. Drinks can come from any venue on property. Bonus points awarded for atmosphere where the drink is served. Any drink with glow cubes is immediately disqualified. Ready? Let’s go!

DAY TWENTY FOUR: Deathly Hallows at Hog’s Head (Islands of Adventure)

Before we start we unfortunately been handed a proclamation by Dolores Umbridge which states:

Theme Park Decree No. 22 All Muggle bloggers are not permitted to use the name Deathly Hallows to describe a particular drink at the Hog’s Head Pub and henceforth it shall only be referred to as The Triple.

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The Deathly Hallows Triple at the Hog’s Head pub. (photo by Brandon Glover)

With that out of the way, The Triple is our favorite of all the incredible specialty drinks you can get at the Hog’s Head Pub. One of the coolest looking beers you are going to find at Universal, the base of The Triple is Strongbow, while the middle is Hog’s Head Brew, and the top is Guinness. A trio of great draughts that make this our go-to drink when entering Hogsmeade Vilage.

Ingredients: Strongbow, Hog’s Head Brew, and Guinness.

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Hog’s Head Pub in Hogsmeade Village. (photo by Mike Sperduto)

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The 12 Days of a Theme Park Christmas

by on December 24, 2015

Everyone has their favorite Christmas traditions. For some it’s a dramatic reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, while for others it is the 24 hour marathon of A Christmas Story. Many of us enjoy reading the famous poem 12 Days of Christmas, even going so far as to figuring out how much all those items would cost (imagine if they were bought at a theme park!) This year we are starting a new tradition on the blog with a look at the 12 Days of a Theme Park Christmas. Get close to your loved ones, slip on an ugly sweater, drink a big sip of egg nog, and let’s begin with…

TWELVE CLOSED ATTRACTIONS

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This is a busy time for the Disney Dump as many attractions have been added to the pile. A great time to invest in construction walls though!

ELEVEN BANISHED BUBBLE GUNS

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Guns have been completely banned from Walt Disney World, even the bubble guns.

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25 Drinks of Christmas – Day Twenty Three: Backscratcher at Tambu Lounge

by on December 23, 2015

We’re back with everyone’s favorite theme park advent calendar: a daily countdown of our favorite drinks at Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, and SeaWorld building anticipation to the Big Day. 

Criteria: Drinks can be alcoholic or nonalcoholic. Drinks can come from any venue on property. Bonus points awarded for atmosphere where the drink is served. Any drink with glow cubes is immediately disqualified. Ready? Let’s go!

DAY TWENTY THREE: Backscratcher at Tambu Lounge (Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort) 

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Backscratcher at Tambu Lounge. (photo by Brandon Glover)

The Backscratcher at Tambu Lounge is a 25 Drinks of Christmas entry that is literally a year in the making. When we decided to make this virtual advent calendar last year, the first two drinks we immediately knew would make the list were Tambu’s Lapu Lapu and Backscratcher. Unfortunately, every single time we went to the bar, they were out of the drink’s signature bamboo backscratchers.

So our New Year’s Resolution for 2015 was a simple one: to get a Backscratcher at the Tambu Lounge with a backscratcher in it, and guess what? Mission accomplished. One of the most iconic cocktails on Disney property, the Backscratcher is strong but not overwhelmingly sweet. Because a reservation at the nearby ‘Ohana is almost as hard to get as a night in the Cinderella Castle Suite, we recommend a Backscratcher at Tambu, an order of the honey-coriander chicken wings, and of course bread pudding for dessert.

Ingredients: Bacardi Superior Rum, Myers’s Original Dark Rum, and Passion Fruit Juice topped with Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey and a Bamboo Backscratcher.

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Backscratcher. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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25 Drinks of Christmas – Day Twenty Two: Candy Apple Cotton-Tini at T-REX Cafe

by on December 22, 2015

We’re back with everyone’s favorite theme park advent calendar: a daily countdown of our favorite drinks at Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, and SeaWorld building anticipation to the Big Day. 

Criteria: Drinks can be alcoholic or nonalcoholic. Drinks can come from any venue on property. Bonus points awarded for atmosphere where the drink is served. Any drink with glow cubes is immediately disqualified. Ready? Let’s go!

DAY TWENTY TWO: Candy Apple Cotton-Tini at T-REX Cafe

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Candy Apple Cotton-Tini, BEFORE, at T-Rex Care. (photo by Brandon Glover)

T-REX Cafe in Disney Springs is a true dining experience that you can’t get anywhere else. Over-the-top theme park quality theming, an excavation site where guests can dig up fossils, Build-A Dino, the awesome Chocolate Extinction dessert and more, T-Rex cafe is the restaurant your kids always dreamed of. While foodies may find a better meal at the nearby Morimoto Asia or the BOATHOUSE, those looking for an adult beverage are going to be more than happy at the massive Watering Hole bar. The gigantic fishtanks are gorgeous, and the huge octopus above the bar (and the jelly fish lighting fixtures) is impressive. T-REX has a good selection of signature drinks, but for today’s selection we are going with the most theatrical.

Cotton-Tinis are exclusive to T-REX and combine cotton candy, a staple of theme parks, with alcohol. This is a true marriage made in heaven. T-REX offers three varieties, but we went with the Candy Apple Cotton-Tini (also available are Cosmo-Paleo and Tropical versions). Cotton candy is put into the glass, while the bartender mixes the cocktail in a shaker. The cocktail is then poured over the cotton candy and you get to see the liquid completely absorb the candy. It is a very sweet tasting drink and don’t be surprised to see a good amount of sugar at the bottom of the glass when you are done. As a bonus, you get to keep the shaker as well!

Ingredients: Finlandia vodka, DeKuyper sour apple pucker Schnapps and a splash of sweet and sour.

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Candy Apple Cotton-Tini, AFTER. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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25 Drinks of Christmas – Day Twenty One: HippopotoMai-tai at Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto

by on December 21, 2015

We’re back with everyone’s favorite theme park advent calendar: a daily countdown of our favorite drinks at Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, and SeaWorld building anticipation to the Big Day. 

Criteria: Drinks can be alcoholic or nonalcoholic. Drinks can come from any venue on property. Bonus points awarded for atmosphere where the drink is served. Any drink with glow cubes is immediately disqualified. Ready? Let’s go!

DAY TWENTY ONE: HippopotoMai-tai at Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto

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HippopotoMai-tai at Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto. (photo by Brandon Glover)

It’s coming down to the final stretch and we’re heading back into Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, which has been decorated for the holidays. We’ve been to the Grotto previously on our countdown looking at the Polynesian Pearl and the Dark & Tropical Stormy, but this E-Ticket bar is loaded with incredible drinks. Today’s entrant has both a great name and an even better souvenir mug. Allow us to introduce the HippopotoMai-Tai. Now we’ve all had mai tais (including one of our absolute favorites over at Emeril’s Tchoup Chop), but Grog Grotto’s version not only hits the Drink Trifecta (strong drinks, great flavor, wonderful souvenir mug) but the ultra rare Drink Quadruple with an awesome name. The HippopotoMai-Tai is served in a glass tiki with the Grog Grotto’s name emblazoned on the back, a perfect souvenir (or stocking stuffer!)

Ingredients: Coruba Dark Rum, Bacardi Superior Rum, Bols Orange Curacao, Orgeat ( Almond), Organic Agave Nectar, and fresh Lime Juice. 

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The HippopotoMai-Tai glass (front).

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The HippopotoMai-Tai glass (back).

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25 Drinks of Christmas – Day Twenty: Potion of the Gods at Mythos

by on December 20, 2015

We’re back with everyone’s favorite theme park advent calendar: a daily countdown of our favorite drinks at Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, and SeaWorld building anticipation to the Big Day. 

Criteria: Drinks can be alcoholic or nonalcoholic. Drinks can come from any venue on property. Bonus points awarded for atmosphere where the drink is served. Any drink with glow cubes is immediately disqualified. Ready? Let’s go!

DAY TWENTY: Potion of the Gods at Mythos (Islands of Adventure)

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Potion of the Gods at Mythos.

Mythos in Islands of Advneture just may be the most well themed restaurant in all of Orlando, and imagine what that is saying. The outside of this humongous building looks to be chiseled out of rock, with waterfalls and giant stone men throughout. Inside, Mythos offers a menu that is certainly a long way away from your standard theme park hamburger and chicken fingers, and at almost shockingly low prices compared to what you normally will find at in-park table service restaurants. But we’re not here to talk about the Mediterranean meatballs or the daily risotto, we’re here to talk drinks, and we’re going to recommend the signature drink at Mythos: Potion of the Gods. Served in a glass fit for Zeus himself, this drink includes a whole lot of alcohol, but served with plenty of juices to help it go down easily.

Ingredients: Malibu, Captain Morgan, Triple Sec, Razzmatazz, orange, cranberry & pineapple juices with a float of Bacardi 151.

(Full disclosure: I have nothing but high praise for Mythos, but it is not everybody’s cup of tea. Take for example the world famous Disney Hipsters, who compare Mythos to Applebee’s).

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Potion of the Gods souvenir goblet.

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Themed butter. We truly are #blessed.

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25 Drinks of Christmas – Day Nineteen: Swedish Fish at Todd English’s bluezoo

by on December 19, 2015

We’re back with everyone’s favorite theme park advent calendar: a daily countdown of our favorite drinks at Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, and SeaWorld building anticipation to the Big Day. 

Criteria: Drinks can be alcoholic or nonalcoholic. Drinks can come from any venue on property. Bonus points awarded for atmosphere where the drink is served. Any drink with glow cubes is immediately disqualified. Ready? Let’s go!

DAY NINETEEN: Swedish Fish at Todd English’s bluezoo (Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort)

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Swedish Fish at Todd English’ bluezoo

One of our all time favorite drinks at Walt Disney World was the Bazooka Joe at Todd English’s bluezoo. Vodka infused with Bazooka Joe gum and served with a Bazooka Joe comic on top. Th drink was bluezoo in a nutshell: wildly original and tasted incredible. While the Bazooka Joe is currently off the menu, in its place we recommend the Swedish Fish. Similar to the Bazooka Joe, the Swedish Fish takes a treat many of us grew up with, infuses it with vodka, and immediately puts a smile on our face.

Because bluezoo is at the Dolphin, many WDW guests don’t consider it when listing their favorite bars on property, but it is just steps away from the BoardWalk area and Epcot. A bar crawl of bluezoo, Crew’s Cup, Belle Vue LoungeLa Cava del Tequila, Tutto Gusto, a Grand Marnier slush in France and a beer and pretzel in Germany goes toe to toe with any list on property.

Ingredients: Imperia Russian vodka infused with swedish fish. Shaken with fresh lemon juice and rock candy syrup, served up and topped with a swedish fish foam.

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Swedish Fish at Todd English’ bluezoo. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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25 Drinks of Christmas – Day Eighteen: Hog’s Tea at the Hog’s Head Pub

by on December 18, 2015

We’re back with everyone’s favorite theme park advent calendar: a daily countdown of our favorite drinks at Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, and SeaWorld building anticipation to the Big Day. 

Criteria: Drinks can be alcoholic or nonalcoholic. Drinks can come from any venue on property. Bonus points awarded for atmosphere where the drink is served. Any drink with glow cubes is immediately disqualified. Ready? Let’s go!

DAY Eighteen: Hog’s Tea at Hog’s Head Pub (Islands of Adventure)

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Hog’s Tea at the Hog’s Head Pub. (photo by Brandon Glover)

When Universal opened the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade Village in 2010, it changed everything. It is one of the most immersive lands ever built. It has an attraction with a queue guests actually want to spend MORE time in. It even has another attraction in which merchandise actually chooses the guest (Ollivander’s wand experience may go down as the most ingenious theme park attraction of all time).  But one of the biggest game changers is that Hogsmeade made it almost a prerequisite that new lands must come with a themed drink component. Butterbeer was such a smash hit that sales of it are rumored to have fully paid for the entire Wizarding World within six months. But it wasn’t the only new drink that opened with Hogsmeade, as Pumpkin Juice, Pumpkin Fizz, and Hog’s Head Brew also made their debut.

One of our favorite drinks in Hogmeade is Hog’s Tea. One of the strongest, most potent drinks in all of Universal Orlando, Hog’s Tea is basically a Long Island Iced Tea (a combination of vodka, gin, rum, and tequila mixed with sour mix and soda). What makes the Hog’s Tea better than your average Long Island Iced Tea is that instead of cola, iced tea is used. Traditionally, raspberry tea is used but you can also choose sweet tea or unsweet tea (which makes the drink pretty tart). 

Ingredients: Vodka, gin, rum, tequila, sour mix and sweet tea.

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The Hog’s Head pub in Hogsmeade Village. (photo by Dani)

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The Hog’s Head.

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