CityWalk

SATURDAY SIX: The Six Best Pressed Pennies at the Universal Orlando Resort

by on January 23, 2016

This week’s  SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Best Pressed Pennies at the Universal Orlando Resort. Regular readers of this fine blog know that we have extolled the virtue of pressed pennies in our article on The Best Souvenirs at Walt Disney World and anyone who follows Your Humble Author on social media knows I am pretty much obsessed with them. Today we are going to head over to the Universal Orlando Resort and check out the best pressed coin designs they have to offer. So sit back, drive yourself crazy looking through all your change to find two quarters and a penny, and let’s start off with…

# 6 – Jurassic Park

The Jurassic Park logo is just as awesome today as it was when it made its debut over twenty years ago, and in the gift shop of the Jurassic Park River Adventure (way in the back) you can find a pressed penny design with this very image.

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Iconic Jurassic Park logo.

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# 5 – The Simpsons

There are a good amount of Simpsons pressed penny designs found throughout the entire Universal resort (not just in Springfield USA), and in fact our favorite design is located over at Islands of Adventure in front of the Islands Trading Post. One of the biggest strength of the Simpsons TV show is its huge cast of characters, however almost all of the pressed penny designs at Universal feature the actual Simpson family of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie. One design features Homer, Moe, and Barney Gumble at Moe’s Tavern. Until we can get a pressed penny featuring Comic Book Guy (Worst. Penny. Ever.), Cletus the slack jawed yokel, Duffman, or even Poochie, the Moe’s Tavern penny is going to be  #1 in our book.

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Moe’s Tavern.

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SATURDAY SIX: In Memoriam – Six Things We Lost From the Theme Park World in 2015

by on December 19, 2015

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Things We Lost From the Theme Park World in 2015. As theme park fans, we’ve had a lot to be thankful for this year. However, as much as we are looking forward to the upcoming Star Wars Land at Disney and Universal teaming up with Nintendo, it wasn’t all good news. This year we had to say goodbye to some old friends. In the case of Captain EO, we had to say goodbye again.Today we pay our respects to some of those that we lost in the past year, starting with….

 # 6 – Twister… Ride It Out!

Alas poor Paxton, I knew him well Horatio…

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“I will remember you…” – Sarah McLachlan (photo by @DrewOfOU)

Friends, Brazilians, Annual Passholders, lend me your ears. I come to bury Twister…Ride It Out! not to praise it. The evil that C Ticket attractions do, lives after them. The good is oft interred with their flying cows. So let it be with Twister. The noble Jimmy Fallon hath told you Twister was ambitious. If it were so, it was a grievous fault. And grievously hath Twister answer’d it. Here, under leave of Jimmy Fallon and the rest, — For Jimmy Fallon is an honorable man. So are they all, all honorable men, — Come I to speak in Twister‘s funeral. Twister was my friend, faithful and just to me: But Jimmy Fallon says Twister was ambitious. And Jimmy Fallon is an honorable man.

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Twister…Ride It Out! (photo by Brandon Glover)

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Another attraction joins the great big theme park in the sky. (photo by @DrewOfOU)

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25 Drinks of Christmas – Day Ten: 5 O’Clock Somewhere at Margaritaville

by on December 10, 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 TEN: 5 O’Clock Somewhere at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville (Universal CityWalk)

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5 O’Clock Somewhere at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville. (photo by Brandon Glover)

After a recent upgrade, Universal CityWalk is now the home to a Murderer’s Row of fantastic restaurants. The Cowfish, Red Oven Pizza Bakery, Antojitos, Vivo and more have made it almost impossible to choose where to eat. However, Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville – one of CityWalk’s original tenants – is one of our favorite dining experiences. The menu is loaded with great foods (including the extremely popular Cheeseburger in Paradise, Volcano Nachos, and Chocolate Hurricane) but you cannot find a better place on property to have a drink. There is a lot to choose from, but we are going to recommend the 5 O’Clock Somewhere. Named after a hit song by Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett, the drink features a lot of rum, but is easy to drink because of the sweet fruit taste. Sitting outside, enjoying the Florida weather, listening to live music and drinking a 5 O’Clock Somewhere? It doesn’t get any better than that.

Ingredients: Margaritaville Silver Rum and Paradise Passion Fruit Tequila, BACARDI 151 Rum, orange and pineapple juices with sweet & sour and a splash of grenadine. Served on the rocks.

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The Porch of Indecision at Jimmy Buffett”s Margaritaville, just steps away from Islands of Adventure. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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25 Drinks of Christmas – Day Eight: Bees Knees at Cowfish

by on December 8, 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 EIGHT: Bee’s Knees at Cowfish (Universal CityWalk)

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Bee’s Knees at The Cowfish. (photo by Brandon Glover)

The Cowfish at Universal CityWalk is certainly one of the most unique restaurants in Orlando. Filled with tongue-in-cheek humor (both in the decor and on the menu), Cowfish fuses a burger joint and a sushi restaurant into a fantastic hybrid. With several bars, The Cowfish is also a great place to stop by for a quick drink and today we are going to recommend the Bees Knees. Served with a honeycomb stick drizzled with honey, Bees Knees is a citrusy gin drink with the honey adding a sweet note to the taste.

Ingredients:  Miller’s gin, lemon and lime juice, honey, soda

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25 Drinks of Christmas Countdown – Day 6: Smoking Gun at Emeril’s

by on December 6, 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 SIX: Smoking Gun at Emeril’s Orlando (Universal CityWalk)

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Smoking Gun at Emeril’s. (photo by Brandon Glover)

Earlier this year Emeril’s Orlando debuted a new menu seemingly just to get onto the 25 Drinks of Christmas list as it contained a whole bunch of GREAT new drinks. We fell in love with the Ramos Gin Fizz, the New G&T, and the Passion Fruit Hurricane, but what you absolutely must get is the Smoking Gun. Theme park alcohol expert Drunk@Disney agrees with us that not only did the Smoking Gun rise above an impressive list in the taste department, but it also had the best backstory (an original Al Capone recipe).

Ingredients: Templeton Rye Whiskey, Dom de Canton, Black Walnut Bitters, lemon juice, and almond orgeat) 

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Margaritaville’s Lone Palm Bar – details, stories, and new improvements

by on October 28, 2015

Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville is home to the best outdoor bar at Universal Orlando’s CityWalk, and it just got better. The Lone Palm Airport Bar is an oasis beckoning passersby to come and sit in the shadow of the real life Hemisphere Dancer airplane, put their toes in the sand, and soak up the sunshine state of mind. There are some great details to be found here and the place just beckons to be the site of fun, cheerful gatherings. All new, upgraded chairs and dining tables appeared at the Lone Palm, prompting me  to share my love for this pinnacle of tropical relaxation and a Parrot Head’s paradise.

The big deal with the new chairs and tables…

I am sure for the vast majority of guests, the new tables and chairs at the Lone Palm are no big deal. For me, however, someone who clocks at least 2-3 visits a month to Margaritaville’s Lone Palm, the new furniture does change the feel of this place.

The furniture at the Lone Palm has gone through a few evolutions in the Margaritaville Cafe’s 16 year history at Universal Orlando. This is the third version of furniture that I am aware of. Intially the tables and chairs were very low to the ground and basic. A very rustic, island feel.

Original Lone Palm furniture (source Margaritaville.com)

Original Lone Palm furniture (source Margaritaville.com)

Then the tables were replaced with sturdy reinforced recycled plastic. Backless barstools with a wide base replaced the chairs. This is what I am used to and this is what I miss. The stools were very easy to maneuver, making it very easy for patrons to reconfigure the area to be more comfortable in order to socialize and gather.

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Six Experiences We Need at CityWalk, Part II

by on October 9, 2015

Last time, we discussed what new restaurants we want at Universal CityWalk Orlando as it continues to evolve on its never-ending quest for Floridian dominance. This time, we’re going to tackle the shopping experiences, the side of the equation that has typically – and sadly – gotten the short shaft at the entertainment complex.

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Image © Universal

Unsurprisingly, there’s plenty of opportunity here to make CityWalk positively golden.

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Universal Dining: NBC Sports Grill & Brew Soft Opens at CityWalk

by on October 8, 2015

Earlier this week the new NBC Sports Grill & Brew soft opened in Universal CityWalk. Replacing the former NASCAR Sports Grille, the venue is not 100% done (they are still putting the final touches on the gigantic screen that sits outside the venue), but the doors opened at 4PM on Tuesday and we were there to try it out.

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All photos by Brandon Glover

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Six Experiences We Need at CityWalk, Part I

by on October 4, 2015

CityWalk has seen a major transformation happen at the breakneck speed that only Universal can accomplish. Over the past three years, new entertainment options have been added (Hollywood Drive-In Golf), old venues have been given the sleek and modern touch (Universal Studios Store and Starbucks), and a whole bevy of new restaurants have been unfurled (ranging from The Hot Dog Hall of Fame and Antojitos Authentic Mexican Food to The Cowifsh Sushi Burger Bar and Cold Stone Creamery). And, most impressive yet, there’s still several more dining options on the way, including the almost-open NBC Sports Grill & Brew and a rumored dessert venue.

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Image © Universal

Still, despite this nearly-complete makeover, there’s always room for extra experiences to be snuck in; Universal still has quite a way to go before it is representing most of the important entertainment bases, let alone competing with the diversity of options that Disney is lining up for its imminent Disney Springs.

With this in mind, lets look at some ideas of what Universal should be keeping its eye on for the immediate future. Whether culinary or retail-oriented, there’s one common denominator linking all our suggestions: a special uniqueness which would help differentiate these offerings from everything already in Orlando. The below suggestions would also help draw a distinction between what is largely being called CityWalk 2.0 from Disney Springs.

You should know that the below are a wishlist of things that I think would add to the already great offerings at CityWalk. Similar to the post that Erin Foster wrote about Disney Springs, these are based on my opinion, not rumors.

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Universal Orlando Resort Photo Update, September 2

by on September 6, 2015

Welcome back to another photo update around the Universal Orlando Resort. This week’s update will start with a look at Universal’s next onsite resort, Sapphire Falls, as well as Volcano Bay water theme park, expected in 2017. Inside CityWalk, we’ll take a look at the next location to open: NBC Sports Grille Brew. Over at Universal Studios, Halloween Horror Nights construction is in full swing. Last but certainly not least, we will be taking a look at Islands of Adventure, Skull Island: Reign of Kong as it continues to climb to the sky. Without further ado, lets get going!

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Work continues on Universal’s newest resort, Sapphire Falls.

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The new parking garage for Sapphire Falls guests continues to have finishing touches added.

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