Ed – You already know Best Week Ever, but we have some new Best Week Ever authors. Why limit who can describe having the best week ever when you have two wonderful ladies who can do it? Welcome, Dani!
Hello everyone and welcome to another edition of Best Week Ever. I am excited to share the BWE spotlight and take you along on my adventures through all of Orlando’s theme parks. I’ve spent my entire life in Orlando and have always had a passion for travel and tourism. By day I work in the hotel industry, by nights and weekends I roam throughout Central Florida enjoying all there is to offer.
Enough with the introductions, laissez le bon temps rouler (let the good times roll!) it’s time for my first visit to Universal Mardi Gras for 2016, the first of many I can assure you. I visited on Sunday, Valentine’s Day, ready to meet up with some great folks and check out some Barenaked Ladies (the band of course!) However, the night before Miss Diana Ross graced the Universal Mardi Gras stage and drew quite the crowd. I read horror stories on Twitter about the parking garage during the mass exodus after the concert being backed up and disorganized, leaving guests stuck in traffic for an hour. A game plan was in order.
A taste of things to come, a popular and crowded Universal Mardi Gras
I decided I would rather spend a little bit of money to valet park at one of the on-site hotels and enjoy a nice drink and an appetizer at one of the hotel restaurants in order to reduce the cost of valet parking. To be certain of my options I called up the hotel (407-503-2000) and the friendly operator explained that valet parking is validated at The Palm Restaurant, Velvet Lounge, and The Kitchen. Valet parking is not free when you dine here, but reduced from $23 to $5. Since The Palm and Velvet Lounge don’t open until 5pm, I decided upon The Kitchen (open from 7:00 AM – 10:00 PM).
If you are a local or are driving in from an area hotel, prepare for traffic, especially from 2:00 PM onward. Mardi Gras takes places on the weekends, so that in itself makes it busier. Couple that with much of the festivities taking place in the afternoon and evening, plus some decent headlining concerts, and you’ve got a recipe for traffic congestion. That’s exactly what we found on our way, coming from the Northeast side of the Orlando area. We took a back way, Conroy Road to Vineland Road, which leads to Universal Blvd.
Pulling up to the hotel was a breeze. I told the bellman we were coming in for some food and drink at The Kitchen and confirmed that by doing so we could get the valet parking validated. The outside entrance of the Hard Rock Hotel is beautiful, the inside lobby however has never really impressed me. Still the resort has an irresistible energy.
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The Saturday Six is a weekly look at the most interesting, most fun, and sometimes even the most jaw dropping things within the theme park world that we all love so much. Whether it’s the top six “secrets” of the Marvel Superhero Island, the top six food options at Fast Food Blvd, or even the top six signature drinks inside the Universal parks, the Saturday Six will be your personal guide to experiencing the very best Orlando has to offer.
This week’s Saturday Six looks at six MORE Extreme Eats found at the Universal Orlando Resort. Faithful readers the blog may remember our original look at six Extreme Eats on property and now we’re back with six more! While other theme park companies may be trying to convince guests of the magic of healthy living, Universal is giving guests what they want: incredible food items that may at times be decadent… may occasionally be over the top… and sometimes should probably be sold with a defibrillator or insulin syringe, but they always taste great. You’re on vacation; there will be plenty of time to eat grapes back at home.
# 6– Shipwrecked Loaded Nachos at the Bula Bar and Grille (Royal Pacific Resort)
Shipwrecked loaded nachos from the Royal Pacific’s Bula Bar. (photo by Brandon Glover)
I was very excited to finally try these extreme nachos on my recent trip up to Universal (click here to read my observations of the time spent on property) and they did not disappoint. We took a quick walk over to the Royal Pacific during the middle of the day to get away from the heat and sat down poolside at the Bula Bar & Grille.
A regular order of the Shipwrecked Loaded Nachos contains a gigantic plate of nachos with black beans, cheddar cheese sauce, sour cream, pico de gallo, guacamole, jalapeno, and scallions. Considering its size, this is almost a steal at $10. You can also add grilled chicken ($14) or grilled beef ($15) to the toppings. Definitely the best plate of nachos I have ever had, what really takes this experience over the top is half way through eating them, when all the toppings have started to become absorbed into the chips themselves. So good.
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