Posts Tagged ‘food’

PotterWatch: Hogsmeade Station Construction, Zonko’s Still Open, Leaky Cauldron Food

by on March 5, 2014

Welcome back to the latest irregular installment of PotterWatch, our mostly-weekly series of photo updates observing Universal Orlando‘s progress on their Wizarding World of Harry Potter expansions. I’ve been off for the pass couple weeks exploring some attractions on the opposite side of the country, but I’m happy to be back in Florida with a few exciting advancements in the Potter universe. This first PotterWatch of March 2014 features Hogsmeade Station construction, the continued existence of Zonko’s, and yet another look at Diagon Alley’s London facade, plus some tasty new Leaky Cauldron food photo leaks.

Hogsmeade Station Construction

In the last edition of PotterWatch, I shared the first photographs of Island of Adventure’s Lost Continent carnival games buildings after the games had been removed. Shortly after that posting, the buildings themselves were removed, and the entire area immediately outside Hogsmeade Village was more or less demolished.

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Hogsmeade Station construction continues near where the Lost Continent games were demolished. (Photos by Seth Kubersky)

Now, the entire entryway to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter from Lost Continent has been walled off, turning Sindbad stadium into a cul-de-sac. Guests wishing to enter Hogsmeade must traverse through Jurassic Park, just as they did during 2010 when the area was first under construction.

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Universal Studios Florida Mardi Gras 2014 Parade Video and French Quarter Food Photo Gallery

by on February 19, 2014

Opening night at Universal Studios Florida Mardi Gras 2014 parade food (photos & video by Seth Kubersky)

Opening night at Universal Studios Florida Mardi Gras 2014 (photos & video by Seth Kubersky)

Fat Tuesday may not arrive until March 4, according the the Catholic calendar, but Mardi Gras is already in full effect at Universal Studios Florida. Opening night on February 8 of Universal’s Mardi Gras 2014 celebration included a concert by American Idol star Daughtry, and the premiere of new Jules Verne-themed floats in the 2014 Mardi Gras Parade. Even intermittent rain didn’t diminish the considerable crowds who came out for Mardi Gras 2014‘s damp debut, though slick streets did ground the stiltwalkers.

Derek Burgan will be back in the coming weeks with a couple Mardi Gras-themed “Saturday Six” columns, but until then I wanted to bring you a virtual taste of the festivities.

First, a quick correction to our earlier Complete Guide to Mardi Gras. The original parade route map published on Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras Parade page was incorrect (it has since been fixed). The parade actually makes a loop, entering and exiting at Esoteric Gate near the Horror Make-Up Show. Here is the corrected map (click to enlarge; the Mardi Gras Parade route is the red dotted line):

Mardi Gras Parade Map

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Observations from the Universal Orlando Resort for December 22, 2013 (Antojitos, Blues Brothers Christmas, NBA City)

by on December 24, 2013

ANTOJITOS

Antojitos concept art

This week Universal NOW‘s Brandon Glover and I went to the Universal Orlando Resort to experience Grinchmas and see the latest construction work at CityWalk and Universal Studios Florida. We also wanted to see the Blues Brothers Holiday Show. We had heard a lot of great things about this show and wanted to see if it lived up to the hype. Spoiler Alert: it does, but more on that later. Lastly, we were determined to finally go into NBA City and check out the legendary Towering Cheesecake dessert.

Our first stop was the upcoming Mexican restaurant Antojitos.  Earlier this month, Morgan Crutchfield was at the Universal press event that detailed the upcoming dining venues including Antojitos. Her writeup of the event details all the upcoming restaurants in the massive CityWalk renovation, including concept art for each.

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Antojitos, the former home of Latin Quarter

The above picture was taken on a Friday and the one below was taken on Sunday. Universal is using a lot of color on the outside of this restaurant. I personally don’t like it. The overuse of color is perfect in Seuss Landing, but – to me – just seems out of place in CityWalk.  I think the front of this restaurant looks gorgeous and all the wacky colors just take away from it. Maybe I’m alone on the island on that one though. I am looking forward to trying the restaurant out as I’m a huge fan of freshly made guacamole and quality Mexican food.

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Five Disneyland Holiday Favorites

by on December 24, 2013

Disneyland holiday five favorites

Photos by Seth Kubersky

It’s the most wonderful time of the year (at least according to that ubiquitous song) and there’s no holiday season quite like a Disneyland holiday. In the past, I’ve experienced Disneyland it all its seasonal splendor during Halloween, Valentine’s Day, Easter, and Fourth of July. But until last week, I’d never visited the Happiest Place On Earth during Christmas time, and as an Orlando resident I was blown away by the quantity and quality of seasonal celebrations. As we enter the final weeks of the peak holiday season, here’s my personal top five favorite aspects of Disneyland’s 2013 special offerings to distract you from the epic E-ticket queues.

Seasonal Sweets and Treats

Christmas is no time to go to Disneyland on a diet, as I discovered an insatiable need to sample the limited-time seasonal snacks offered and nearly every quick-service counter.

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Universal Dining: Backwater Bar at Islands of Adventure

by on November 16, 2013

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Backwater Bar

During my most recent visit to Islands of Adventure a friend and I decided to eat lunch at the Backwater Bar, which is part of Confisco Grille. I’ve eaten there a few times before and wanted to give it another try, as it’s what I consider to be the best bang for your buck restaurant in IOA.  The best part about eating in the Backwater Bar is that you don’t have to wait for a table; you can just walk up to the bar and order food along with a wide array of drinks. Guests can eat at the bar or sit at one of the few tables inside the bar space. There is also a large patio outside with covered tables where guests can enjoy their drinks on days with favorable weather. You may notice the large signage out front that includes what appears to be an ad for the Seagram company. Many guests don’t realize that Seagram owned Universal Studios in the late 1990s, when IOA was built.

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The actual Backwater Bar

If you’re looking for a fine adult beverage in IOA, look no further. Backwater has a few draft beers as well as a variety of bottled beers and a full selection of top shelf liquors. There are daily specials on margaritas and other mixed drinks. Whenever I see Shock Top on draft, I have to have it. It has a smooth citrusy flavor and comes with a slice of orange; and because it comes with an orange, that means its good for you, right? Pressing on…

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SATURDAY SIX: Top Six Restaurants at the Universal Orlando Resort

by on November 9, 2013

This week’s SATURDAY SIX looks at the Top Six Restaurants at the Universal Orlando Resort (UOR). This was a tough list to compile, and after several agonizing hours of internal debate, I had to cut a list of about a dozen eateries down to only the best of the best. It broke my heart to not include The Kitchen at the Hard Rock Hotel, as The Kitchen Sink Challenge just may be my favorite thing I’ve ever done at the UOR. Another tough one to cut was Finnegan’s Bar and Grill in Universal Studios Florida. Finnegan’s has exceptional food offerings with reasonable pricing (the Guinness Beef Stew being a favorite) and great atmosphere. And of course anyone who has heard me on the Universal NOW! podcast knows my love for the NASCAR Sports Grille runs deep, with their pretzel breadsticks possibly being my all time favorite food.

So knowing how hard it was to get to these final six, let’s have a look at those restaurants which rose above the rest…

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The Three Broomsticks

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I use antlers in all of my decorating… wait, that’s a different restaurant.

# 6 – The Three Broomsticks (Islands of Adventure)

In a word? Wow. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is filled with jaw droppers. The Hogwarts castle facade. The Forbidden Journey queue and ride. Butterbeer. The Ollivander’s wand experience. The shop windows in Hogsmeade village. The Three Broomsticks is as good as anything in WWOHP. From the great Sirius Black wanted poster outside, to the wonderful decorating and atmosphere inside, to the peaceful outdoor seating area, and of course the menu.

Whether it’s a “traditional English breakfast” in the morning featuring black pudding and English bacon to the lunch/dinner menu with roasted potatoes, corn on the cob, Shepherd’s Pie, and Fish & Chips, The Three Broomsticks has items that most counter service restaurants at the park don’t offer. It is also one of the only places in WWOHP that you can get a pumpkin fizz, so make sure you add a meal at The Three Broomsticks to your next visit to IOA.

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Photo Review: A Meat-Eating, Scotch-Swilling Guide to the 2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival

by on November 8, 2013

Guide to Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Beef: it’s what’s for Food and Wine!

The 2013 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival winds down on November 11th, which means you only have one more weekend to enjoy World Showcase‘s 25+ tempting temporary victual and vino vendors. Earlier this snacking season, Daisy Lauren sampled some of the exotic fare found on this year’s menus, and Derek Burgan went in-depth on this year’s enhanced vegetarian options. But you — or your significant other — may not be fond of feasting of fancy foreign finger foods, much less meatles meals. Just in time for the festival’s final days, here is a photographic guide to my top 2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival finds for carnivorous men and women who crave the simple pleasures of charred flesh, perhaps served with a side of spirits.

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Observations from Universal Orlando Resort: October 16-20, 2013

by on October 23, 2013

Over the past week, I logged over 18 hours and 40,000 steps (thank you, iPhone 5S motion sensor) exploring what’s new at the Universal Orlando Resort. To save you the shoeleather doing the same, here’s a super-sized photo essay of my observations from Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventures and Halloween Horror Nights between Wednesday, October 16, and Sunday, October 20, 2013.

I started the evening of 10/16 with a lap around Islands of Adventures to see what guests purchasing the Scream Early ticket option experience.

Here’s a look at the future Starbucks inside Islands of Adventure’s Port of Entry. This area is the equivalent of the Magic Kingdom’s Main Street, U.S.A., but I haven’t heard any controversy in the online community over this mermaid invasion

Another Starbucks? Where are the torches and pitchforks?

No official word yet whether this will be an indoor location or a walk-up counter only.

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Eating at Universal on Just $20 a Day: Snacking Edition

by on October 12, 2013

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A Duff beer, Flaming Moe, and a Duff Lite. I need to crunch these numbers again…

Recently the TouringPlans blog has posted an interesting series of articles explaining how you, Dear Reader, can survive on eating inside the theme park world for just $20 a day. Click on these links to see the plans for Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Animal Kingdom. It’s only natural that this financial exercise be extended to the Universal family of parks, and who better to tackle this subject than a man who has eaten a three pound slice of cake at Universal, twice?

At first, this seemed like a no-brainer. Well, duh. A Chicken & Waffle sandwich ($10.99) from Cletus’ Chicken Shack and a Flaming Moe ($7.99) from Moe’s Tavern. My favorite theme park food item and a show, but after tax the total came out to $20.11. I quickly realized that I would have to get my thinking cap on for this one (plus I was informed from the Grand Poobah himself, Len Testa, that most guests would want more than that during an entire day at the park. I know what you’re thinking: Americans.)

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SATURDAY SIX: Top Six Food and Drink Items at Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights 23

by on October 12, 2013

The Saturday Six is a weekly look at the most interesting, most fun, and sometimes even the most outrageous things within the theme park world that we all love so much. Whether it’s checking out the Loews Royal Pacific Resort, playing the Hollywood Drive-In Mini Golf in CityWalk, or eating at Springfield USA’s Fast Food Blvd, the Saturday Six is your personal guide to experiencing the very best Orlando has to offer

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HHN has arrived…

This week’s Saturday Six looks at the Top Six Food and Drink Items at Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights 23.  Regular readers of this column know that we like food. Scratch that. We like breathing. We love food. Especially theme park food. Perhaps you’ve seen our article on the six most outrageous food items at Universal or its follow-up looking at six more outrageous snacks. Or maybe you’ve browsed through our look at the best items in Springfield USA’s Fast Food Blvd. Or perhaps you’ve chosen to look at our take on the very best signature drinks at Universal. Today we are going to look at the top six food and drink options at Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights 23 event. Once Universal Studios Florida closes to regular guests and reopens for HHN, a whole bunch of food and drink stands open up with it. Here is what we enjoyed the most…

(Remember, you can click on any picture to see the full size version)

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Fried Sweet Potato Chips (Applewood Bacon and Cheddar)

# 6 – Fried Sweet Potato Chips 

Located in the New York section of the park (or the Fall of Atlanta scare zone for HHN fans), you’ll run into the stand selling Fried Sweet Potato Chips as you’re queueing up for the Evil Dead house or on your long walk out of The Cabin in the Woods, Resident Evil: Escape from Raccoon City, or An American Werewolf in London houses. It was good to see waffle fries brought into the park, something that should be around all year. The two available  toppings that are Applewood Bacon & Cheddar and Candied with Cinnamon and Marshmallow, the latter of which scares even me.

We went with the bacon and cheddar topping and found the serving size to be more than generous. While normally I prefer regular fries over sweet potato fries, the taste combination of the sweet potato and the toppings was definitely more flavorful than the regular fries would have been. It’s very filling, and  at $7.00 – it isn’t too bad a deal for the amount of food that you get.

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