Posts Tagged ‘citywalk’

SATURDAY SIX THANKSGIVING SPECIAL: Six Reasons for Theme Park Fans to Give Thanks in 2014

by on November 27, 2014

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons for Theme Park Fans to Give Thanks. 2014 was a great year to be a theme park fan, and for this Thanksgiving we are going to take a quick break from all the turkey, football games, and Black Friday planning, to count our blessings and thank the parks and resorts we love so much. So, for one day only, I ask that Disney and Universal fans put aside their differences and spend a moment appreciating all the wonderful things that we can share together, starting with….

# 6 – Disney and Universal Merchandise is Better than Ever

It wasn’t long ago, that the only merchandise people were buying at Universal were Thing 1 and Thing 2 shirts. Over at Disney, almost every single store, whether in the parks, hotels, or Downtown Disney, was selling the same generic”Disney Parks”stuff. A seismic shift started to occur in 2010, when the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened, and blew the doors off everyone’s projections in the area of merchandise and Butterbeer. Guests were now walking out of Universal with house robes, wands and chocolate frogs in hand. This success was then repeated throughout both of their theme parks, with unique and exclusive items found everywhere you looked, from the EVAC action figure at Transformers gift shop, to the faux girl scout cookies in Despicable Me’s Super Silly Store, to my personal favorite – The Film Vault –  a whole new store focusing on retro merchandise.

MarketplaceCoop_Glover

Jungle Cruise merchandise found at the Marketplace Co-op in Downtown Disney. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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Menu Monday: My Dinner at VIVO

by on November 3, 2014

entrancevivoWhen I made it over to Universal Orlando Resort for the first time a few weeks ago, I was pleasantly surprised at the close proximity of the parks and the CityWalk area. I knew that I should sample some food from the CityWalk area, and through some research I thought I should go to VIVO.

openkitchenVIVO Italian Kitchen just opened up in June as part of CityWalk’s new renovations and additions. (Other restaurants recently added are Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt, Hot Dog Hall of Fame, and The Cowfish.) VIVO promotes itself as “modern Italian cuisine,” and the decor of the restaurant really promotes that. It feels very contemporary inside, with an open layout and lots of light.

I really enjoyed the modern decorations here, and it was a great setting with which to relax after a long day of touring around Universal. It was classy, but I didn’t feel under-dressed, either.

barI was seated near the bar, and the two bartenders working waited on me. I have worked in the food industry before, and know that sometimes servers would prefer to wait on tables of two or more guests instead of a solo diner, but the bartenders were very nice and didn’t try to get me out the door as soon as possible. One of them had a nice conversation with me about Halloween Horror Nights, which he had just attended the night before.

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Menu Monday: The Cowfish Orlando Now Open at Universal CityWalk

by on November 3, 2014

First Look Cowfish Orlando now open

Take a first look inside Cowfish Orlando, the new sushi & burger restaurant at Universal’s CityWalk (photos by Seth Kubersky).

I’ll admit it: I was skeptical. When I first heard that The Cowfish — the North Carolina-based restaurant concept combining sushi and burgers into “burgushi” — was coming to Universal Orlando, I didn’t have much hope for the fishy fusion, even if it did involve two of my favorite foods. But now, after eating at Cowfish Orlando on its first night of “soft opening” to the public, I’m sold! Enjoy these Cowfish Orlando photos from our first look inside the sure-to-be-popular eatery, which should now be open daily at CityWalk.

Cowfish Orlando Exterior

Cowfish occupies both a portion of CityWalk’s ground level real estate between Red Oven Pizza and VIVO, and the second story site where the complex’s original Starbucks Coffee once sat. The look is clean, colorful, and a bit whimsical, with massive representations of the restaurant’s namesake animals.

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Universal CityWalk’s Antojitos Now Serving Lunch

by on May 14, 2014

Universal Citywalk Antojitos lunch

Antojitos at Universal CityWalk is now serving lunch. (photos by Seth Kubersky)

If you’ve read my review from earlier in the year, you know that I’m a big fan of Antojitos Authentic Mexican restaurant at Universal Orlando CityWalk. The only problem is that the venue didn’t open its doors until 5 p.m., dashing any plans for a noontime tequila spree. Thankfully, as of today Antojitos lunch service is now available daily from 11 a.m., with exclusive lunch special entrees available from opening until 3 p.m.

Note that the downstairs level — inside and outside, as well as the main bar — is open for lunch, while the Antojitos Up area remains closed until the dinner hours. In addition to the lunch specials, the entire standard downstairs dinner and drink menu is available.

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Universal’s Cabana Bay Transportation Guide

by on April 16, 2014

Cabana Bay transportation guide

When you get tired of relaxing by Cabana Bay’s pool, use this transportation guide to get to Universal’s theme parks (photos by Seth Kubersky).

Cabana Bay Beach Resort, the newest Loews-operated on-site hotel at Universal Orlando, only opened at the end of March, but if you’ve been following our coverage – from my mega-sized photo gallery from opening day to Derek Burgan’s Saturday Six devoted to the property – you may feel like you’ve already stayed there. One aspect of Universal’s first moderately priced hotel that many readers have asked for more information about is the transportation options available to guests of Cabana Bay. As you may have heard, Cabana Bay does NOT offer water taxi service like Universal’s original 3 luxury properties. So I spent a recent sunny afternoon testing various methods of getting from the hotel to the parks (and vice versa), in order to bring you this comprehensive Cabana Bay transportation guide.

Parking at Cabana Bay

Cabana Bay doesn’t offer valet parking, but that deficit is offset by a $10 daily self-parking rate for hotel guests, which is significantly cheaper than parking at the other Universal hotels. Parking lots ring the hotel, so you can park right alongside your room. Unfortunately, high parking rates for non-guests ($8 for 5 to 30 minutes, $20 for 30 minutes to 24 hours) make it expensive for locals to drop in and knock down some pins at the Galaxy bowling alley.

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Photo Gallery: Sneak Peek at new CityWalk Cold Stone Creamery and Starbucks Coffee

by on March 15, 2014

Universal Orlando CityWalk Cold Stone Creamery Starbucks

The new CityWalk Cold Stone Creamery is now open, and Starbucks is coming soon. (Photos by Seth Kubersky)

Universal Orlando’s overhaul of its eateries accelerates this week as the new CityWalk Cold Stone Creamery and Starbucks Coffee locations open to the public. Over the weekend, I was invited behind the barrier to check out the new new franchise locations.

CityWalk Cold Stone Creamery

First, I sampled Cold Stone Creamery, which features hard-packed ice cream customized with “mix ins” and blended on the namesake cold stone.

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Universal Orlando Construction Update: CityWalk Starbucks and Cold Stone Unveiled

by on March 2, 2014

It’s amazing what a difference a few hours makes at Universal Orlando’s CityWalk complex these days. Just a few short weeks ago we were reporting on the opening of Antojitos Authentic Mexican restaurant, which has already seen some menu tweaks along with long waits for tables on weekend nights. Now, we’re happy to bring you the first photos of the facades for the new CityWalk Starbucks Coffee and Cold Stone ice cream shop, which were hidden behind construction walls until the first of March.

This is what the area under the CityWalk escalators, which originally held the Endangered Species store, looked like on the last day of February as guests exited Universal Orlando’s parks:


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Universal Orlando CityWalk Antojitos Review

by on February 9, 2014

Universal Orlando CityWalk Antojitos review

Our Antojitos review is in, as Universal Orlando CityWalk’s newest restaurant opens its doors.

After months of construction and speculation, and a week of soft-opening service, Antojitos Authentic Mexican restaurant officially opened to the public on February 5, 2014, as the newest dining upgrade in Universal Orlando’s ongoing CityWalk overhaul. I was among the few journalists invited to taste-test the menu last month, and since the first public seating I’ve dined there three times, including the grand opening media party. While I haven’t yet eaten everything on the menu, I have sampled enough to provide this preliminary Antojitos review, which we’ll refine as the restaurant finds its rhythm.

Atmosphere

As you’ll instantly notice from the photographs, Universal’s replacement for the former Latin Quarter restaurant isn’t some sedate hacienda.

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CityWalk Update: Temporary Universal Studios Store Open, New Restaurant Name Revealed

by on January 15, 2014

Universal CityWalk update construction 1-8-2014

The Cigarz sign is already gone as Universal Orlando’s CityWalk construction charges into 2014

Universal Orlando is moving swiftly to reimagine its CityWalk complex before Diagon Alley opens this summer. Here’s our latest CityWalk update as of Wednesday, January 8, 2014.

Universal Studios Store

A temporary Universal Studios Store has opened inside a tent-like structure which sits in front of the CityWalk stage.

Welcome to your home for Universal tchotchkes without a park ticket for the next half-year.

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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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