Category Archives: Universal Orlando Resort

The Bourne Stuntacular at Universal Studios Florida is Now Open

From the Universal Orlando Resort Blog:

The Bourne Stuntacular at Universal Studios Florida
Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

The Bourne Stuntacular in Universal Studios Florida delivers a hybrid form of entertainment that has never been seen before. Here are all the details about the all-new live-action stunt show.

You’ll Be Surrounded By Your Favorite Scenes AND Actual Props From The Bourne Films

As you walk into the queue of the attraction, one of the first things you will see are images of your favorite scenes from “The Bourne Identity,” “The Bourne Supremacy,” and “The Bourne Ultimatum.” You will also see Jason’s go-to form of transportation in “The Bourne Ultimatum” — his motorcycle.

Experience An Original Storyline That Takes Place Within The Bourne Universe

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

You’ll pass through security scanners into mission headquarters where you’ll be welcomed and briefed by Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles), Jason Bourne’s main confidant who helps him remember his past. Nicky, who can’t be in the field, will ask for your help tracking Bourne to ensure he does not get fooled by rogue double agents.

Then, as you enter the theater, you’ll join Jason Bourne as he travels across three continents and the cities of Tangier, Washington D.C. and Dubai, to uncover classified information all while trying to evade capture at every turn.

Extreme Stunts = Extreme Action

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

The stunts in The Bourne Stuntacular are next-level and here are a few reasons why:

  • The principal stunt trainers have doubled for A-list celebrities in some of the most popular action films and TV shows of all time. They have been working closely with the cast to deliver stunts that rival what can be seen in blockbuster films.
  • By the time the show opens, the performers and technicians will have trained and rehearsed for more than eight months to prepare and learn the intricate technical systems and maneuvers.
  • Two high free-falls – one reaching 22 feet from atop a Dubai apartment building.
  • There is as much action behind-the-curtain as there is on stage, with performers interacting with high-tech props beneath the stage on lifts, from the sides on automated traveling scenery like an apartment high-rise, and from overhead on a helicopter, a wrecking ball, ladders, and much more. It got to the point where I realized I kept turning my head in every direction just to keep up with the movements.

Without giving away too many spoilers, there is a scene where the character of Jason Bourne is being chased on a motorcycle when suddenly both the screen and Bourne go from normal speed to slow motion.

Cutting-Edge Technology You Have to See to Believe

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

The Bourne Stuntacular features some of the most advanced technology of its kind, like automated vehicle-tracking-systems, pinpoint-accurate projection mapping, and more. Fun-facts about the tech:

  • There is an immense LED screen measuring 3,640-square feet at 130-feet wide and 28-feet tall. This is code for one really, really, really BIG screen.
  • Advanced projection mapping works seamlessly alongside the cinema of the show, projecting pin-point accurate images on top of moving scenes.
  • One of the largest action show structures ever created for a Universal show – the car lift – sits beneath the stage and measures nearly 20 feet tall. The lift is capable of lifting and rotating two vehicles 280-degrees and raising and lowering each car independently from seven feet beneath the stage to above stage level. Putting this into perspective, when I watched the show the first time I had no idea there was anything beneath the stage, let alone two cars and a 20-foot wide structure that they operate on. All I saw were two cars suddenly racing, which left me wondering, “how did those get on stage?!”

You Won’t Just Watch The Action Unfold – You Will Feel It

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

Rounding out the experience are captivating practical effects that will make you feel like you’re right by Jason Bourne’s side through the use of fire, smoke, wind and more, including:

  • Eight moving set-pieces ranging from a three-wheeled motorcycle, a tower in a Tangier marketplace, and the front entrance of a grand mansion.
  • Gusts of wind as a helicopter travels overhead, the blast of a steam boiler, and several other explosions, including flames reaching a height of 20 feet.

Plus, Universal’s Entertainment and Creative Teams have been working hand-in-hand with the filmmakers and producers that worked on the Bourne film franchise to create an authentic and action-packed experience that will fully immerse you in the world of Bourne.

Let us know in the comments below what you’re most pumped to see at The Bourne Stuntacular at Universal Orlando Resort. The chase is on!

Orlando water parks

Beat the Heat and Cool Off at These 5 Orlando Water Parks

Orlando water parks

Central Florida is warm almost year round so it’s the perfect place to plan a water park visit! Whether you call central Florida home or are vacationing at one of their world class theme parks, you can always cool off at these Orlando water parks.

Volcano Bay at Universal Orlando Resort

Volcano Bay is Universal Orlando Resort’s water theme park. Volcano Bay is probably unlike any water park that you’ve ever visited. At the center of the park you’ll find Krakatau volcano, which also houses the Krakatau Aqua Coaster. You can enjoy body slides, drop slides, tube slides, raft rides, lazy river, and so much more. Your kids will love the Puka Uli Lagoon, featuring playful, interactive elements like bongo drums and spraying jets of water.

Volcano Bay uses TapuTapu wearable technology for guests to take advantage of virtual lines, make cashless payment,s, and more. When you arrive at Volcano Bay™, you’ll receive a complimentary TapuTapu™ to wear on your wrist throughout your visit. It’s your key to having an amazing day—you’ll use it to ride most of the attractions, activate interactive surprises, open rental lockers, make cash-free payments and more.

You can visit Volcano Bay or add it to your Universal Orlando Resort vacation with a three park ticket. Plus, now through August 13, 2020, you will receive two days FREE at Universal with the purchase of a two day ticket. These tickets must be used by December 18, 2020 and do not have any blockout dates.

Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park at Walt Disney World Resort

Typhoon Lagoon is home to the Typhoon Lagoon Surf Pool, North America’s largest wave pool. The kids will love Bay Slides, twin body slides designed just for them and explore the Ketchakiddee Creek water play area. Thrill seekers can plunge down one of 3 Storm Slides; brave Mayday Falls, the highest and longest waterslide at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon; shoot the chute on Crush ‘n’ Gusher, the coaster-like raft ride; or race down Mount Mayday at a 60-degree angle on Humunga Kowabunga body slides. The whole family can float around the park in the Castaway Creek lazy river; enjoy a thrilling, whitewater voyage aboard a 4-person raft on Miss Adventure Falls; or enjoy a swift, scenic ride down Mount Mayday on Keelhaul Falls or the winding course of Gangplank Falls.

You can enjoy surfing at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon water park! They offer two options for surfing in the park. You can ride the wild surf in a private surf session (for up to 25 guests) or catch the stoke with a lesson for $199 per person, right in their safe, state-of-the-art wave pool.

You can purchase a one day water park ticket or add the Water Park and Sports option or Park Hopper Plus option to theme park tickets, if you are visiting the Walt Disney World Resort theme parks.

Beach Towels from ShopDisney

Blizzard Beach at Walt Disney World Resort

Can you imagine a ski resort in central Florida? Blizzard Beach will make you feel like you’re ready to hit the slopes! From a chairlift to the ski patrol training camp and summit plummet, you’ll find the ski and “snow” theme all around.

You can float around the park in the 3,000 foot Cross Country Creek lazy river. Or, get the best view of the park from atop Summit Plummet before you plunge 12 stories, almost straight down. The kids will love Ski Patrol Training Camp play area, Snow Stormers water slides, and Tike’s Peak water play area. The whole family can tackle a whitewater journey down the “mountain” on Teamboat Springs. You can always splash around Melt-Away Bay, a one acre wave pool. There’s also the Downhill Double Dipper high-speed slides, 90-foot Slush Gusher water slide, Runoff Rapids tube slides, and Toboggan Racers, an 8-lane downhill slalom-style waterslide.

You can purchase a one day water park ticket or add the Water Park and Sports option or Park Hopper Plus option to theme park tickets, if you are visiting the Walt Disney World Resort theme parks.

Orlando water parks

Island H2O Live! Water Park at Margaritaville Resort Orlando

Located at Margaritaville Resort Orlando, Island H2O Live! Water Park is Orlando’s newest water park. There is something for everyone to enjoy here. Island H2O Live! has racing slides, tube slides, body slides, water playground for kids, wave pool, adults only pool, lazy river, and so much more.

Island H2O Live! Water Park offers an interactive experience with the H2O Live app. You will find games and experiences that let you earn points to use toward food and merchandise discounts, plus the ability to control a streaming playlist to play on select slides and attractions! Don’t forget to stop by the selfie shacks scattered throughout the park to capture some of your memories.

Tip: You can download the H2O Live app from your mobile App Store before your visit. This free app will help you plan your day, display wait times, find family and friends, and earn points.

Aquatica Orlando at Sea World Orlando

Aquatica Orlando was recently rated the Nation’s Best Outdoor Waterpark by USA Today. You can relax and unwind, race down a water slide, and let the kids splash and play at Aquatica Orlando. They offer a lazy river, wave pools, raft rides, tube slides, water play areas for kids, the the steepest multi-drop slide in Orlando, and more.

Aquatica Orlando is the first water park in the world to be designated as a Certified Autism Center through The International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards. Aquatica Orlando Ambassadors have received specialized training to ensure they have the requisite knowledge, skills, temperament, and expertise to cater to all children, including those with special needs.

You can just visit Aquatica or add time at Sea World Orlando and/or Discovery Cove Orlando with a multi-park ticket. You can even receive unlimited admission to SeaWorld and Aquatica with select Discovery Cove admissions.

What are your favorite Orlando water parks?

6 Iconic Treats at Universal Orlando Resort You Can’t Miss

6 Iconic Treats at Universal Orlando Resort You Can’t Miss

From the Universal Orlando Resort Blog:

iconic treats at Universal
Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

You know that feeling when you’re watching a movie and you start to crave the food the characters are eating…but then you realize it doesn’t actually exist? We’ve all been there. Luckily, at Universal Orlando Resort, some of those foods and drinks DO exist. From snacks and meals to drinks and desserts, here are six iconic treats at Universal Orlando Resort that you just can’t miss!

Spoiler alert: they taste just as good as they look.

Iconic Treats at Universal Studios Florida

Springfield Dining – Universal Studios Florida

iconic treats at Universal
Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

Springfield U.S.A.’s dining area brings to life all of the Simpsons eateries you’ve always wanted to try! Personally, my two favorites to visit are Lard Lad Donuts and Moe’s Tavern. A Big Pink donut is a must-have, with a size so large it’s perfect for sharing with a few friends. When it comes to quenching your thirst, I recommend the Flaming Moe. It bubbles and smokes — plus, it’s nonalcoholic so it can be enjoyed by everyone! Also, don’t miss out on the fully-themed Krusty Burger or Duff Brewery.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Universal Studios Florida & Islands of Adventure

butterbeer from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

One word: Butterbeer. Arguably the most iconic treat from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Butterbeer will make you feel like you’re actually a student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. You can enjoy this iconic flavor in several different types of treats and the only way to find out your favorite is to try them all…so get to tasting!

There are also plenty of other sweets from the Harry Potter film series to try, including Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans, Peppermint Toads, Fizzing Whizzbees, and Chocolate Frogs (complete with a famous Witch or Wizard Card, of course).

Iconic Treats at Islands of Adventure

Blondie’s – Islands of Adventure

iconic treats at Universal
Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

If your appetite is as insatiable as Dagwood’s, you’ll love the iconic sandwich named after him! You can find the Dagwood at Blondie’s in Toon Lagoon — and trust me, it’s as mouthwatering in person as it looks in the comics. Made with fresh-baked onion and poppy seed bread, piled high with baked ham, turkey, roast beef, American and Swiss cheese, and topped with lettuce, tomatoes, mayonnaise, and mustard, one bite is all it takes to see why Dagwood makes so many of these sandwiches. 

Green Eggs and Ham Cafe – Islands of Adventure

iconic treats at Universal
Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

Have you been haunted by the question of how green eggs and ham actually taste ever since reading the book? Well, you can finally find out at Green Eggs and Ham Cafe…but with a tot-tastic twist! This Seuss Landing eatery offers green eggs and ham tots, along with a number of other delicious tot varieties. You can even try a can of Who Hash! Just look for the building shaped like a big green ham with a giant fork on top — it’s pretty hard to miss.

Iconic Treats at Universal CityWalk

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. – Universal CityWalk

iconic treats at Universal
Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

Any Forrest Gump fan will want to run to Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. right when they enter Universal CityWalk. As Bubba himself puts it, “shrimp is the fruit of the sea,” and there’s plenty of “fruit” to be found here. You can try Cajun shrimp, coconut shrimp, fried shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp salad, shrimp scampi, shrimp gumbo… and that’s not all. True fans of the film can even test their knowledge of Forrest Gump factoids right at the table!

Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville – Universal CityWalk

iconic treats at Universal
Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

Jimmy Buffett’s island vibes are in full force at Margaritaville. Even better, the menu is filled with food and drinks referenced in his songs! Instead of singing “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” why not actually eat one? Or you could grab a Who’s To Blame Margarita to really get in the mood for some tropical relaxation. After all, it’s not “wasting away” if you’re actively consuming calories. That’s just science.

Must be 21 years and older with valid identification to purchase or drink alcoholic beverages.

Is your mouth watering just looking at these photos, too? That means there’s only one thing to do now…book a trip to Universal Orlando Resort right now to satisfy the cravings! Did we leave any iconic treats at Universal out? Be sure to let us know in the comments below. You can even tag us in your best Universal foodie pics!

What are your favorite iconic treats at Universal Orlando Resort?

How to Spend a Day in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

How to Spend a Day in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort

From the Universal Orlando Resort Blog:

How to Spend a Day in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort
Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

Let’s just start by saying, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is downright magical. Whether it’s your first time visiting or your 100th, the experience of being dropped into the story of Harry Potter will give you chills (and quite a few thrills, for any of you roller coaster fanatics). 

We don’t all get gifted Time-Turners from Professor McGonagall, though, so if you find yourself short on time and wanting to get the most out of your trip to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, here are some tips to make sure you’re set for an incredible day in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

WHERE TO BEGIN

Just like how the wand chooses the wizard, you must choose where your adventure begins. It’s important to know there are two unique wizarding world lands that offer completely different experiences at Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure

Diagon Alley

day in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

Nestled in the heart of ‘London’ within Universal Studios Florida, Diagon Alley is home to must-see experiences like Gringotts bank, Carkitt Market, and Knockturn Alley.

Hogsmeade

day in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

This picturesque snow-capped village is located within Universal’s Islands of Adventure at the foot of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  

Starting in either park guarantees you a great day — obviously, you’re at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, you really can’t go wrong — but we recommend starting at Hogsmeade, catching the train over to Diagon Alley mid-day, and then coming back to Hogsmeade to finish the night. 

day in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

The best part about starting your day in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter? Shorter wait times because, as you’ll see on your map, it’s near the back of the park. It should only take you half the time it would have been to ride during peak park hours to ride Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. And, bonus, since the whole ride queue is an immersive experience, the line feels shorter and the time passes itself as you try to spot all the fun, hidden gems throughout the attraction. 

day in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

Shortly after you choose the sidecar or motorbike, you’ll be twisting and turning deep into the Forbidden Forest. It’s an incredible experience joining Hagrid on this all-new thrilling roller coaster ride! 

Letter or not, you have been formally accepted to bask in the incredible sight of the Hogwarts castle. Seeing it in real life is incredible.

day in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

Once we’re inside the castle, let’s ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden JourneyYes, you really can walk inside Hogwarts. See the magic come to life as you enter through the towering castle gates, experience countless relics from the story and walk past iconic classrooms, all in preparation to soar above the castle grounds on a life-changing adventure and incredible multidimensional thrill-ride. 

Now we’re heading to ride Flight of the Hippogriff. As you move up on this coaster track, you’ll see Buckbeak, the Hippogriff, as he bows down. When you get to the top, make sure to look around and take in the view as this ride offers unique sights of Hogsmeade and Hogwarts. Before you know it, you’ll spiral past Hagrid’s hut and over the pumpkin patch. What an adventure!

day in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Photo; Universal Orlando Resort

If you’re anything like Ron Weasley, all this excitement has probably helped you work up quite an appetite. Time to grab a bite at the Three Broomsticks. Once you walk in, your nose will enjoy scents of delicious delicacies. This spot offers the chance to enjoy authentic food that your favorite characters also enjoyed. This rustic tavern serves breakfast, lunch or dinner. It’s full of delicious, hearty, British food and world-famous can-not-miss Butterbeer.

“OK now that we’ve eaten, it’s time to catch the Hogwarts Express,” is just one of those casual sentences you can say when you’re at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Walk over to Hogwarts Express: Hogsmeade Station and we can head to King’s Cross Station in London, at Universal Studios Florida. This isn’t just any regular old train ride, so be prepped for an incredible experience as we ride with our friends (real and fictional) over to Diagon Alley. (Just make sure you have the park-to-park ticket!) 

day in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

After you deboard the scarlet engine, you’ll find yourself on Platform 9 ¾ in the bustling Hogwarts Express: King’s Cross Station

Time to enter Diagon Alley. Make a left from King’s Cross Station and you’ll pass through the brick archway to enter into the bustling streets of Diagon Alley. Now you’ll really want to take a second to soak it all in. The magic of the hustle and bustle is all around you. You are standing where aspiring witches and wizards begin their journey to another semester at Hogwarts.

day in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

Every witch or wizard knows you can’t start a shopping spree in Diagon Alley without a trip to Gringotts bank. Let’s stop by Gringotts Money Exchange, because, honestly, how often do you get the chance to ask a Goblin a question? Come on in and ask away! You can even exchange U.S currency for Gringotts bank notes that can be used for purchases throughout both lands.

day in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

Now we can headdeep into the vaults at Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. Walk through the bank’s grand marble lobby, then journey through underground passageways as we experience a multi-dimensional thrill ride. If you’re like me and love The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but maybe your Gryffindor bravery stops at roller coasters, you can still walk the queue with your thrill-seeking friends. I definitely recommend doing this, as walking these lines feels like you’ve jumped straight into the story.

Next, head to Ollivanders and experience how a wand chooses its wizard… you may even be selected to be paired with a wand of your own to purchase and take home! As you walk through the shop you can also browse an array of wands stacked floor-to-ceiling by the thousands. We recommend getting the interactive wand for next-level wizarding fun….

day in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

While I know it’s hard to stop yourself from looking up at all the details around you, try not to miss the details at your own feet. You may notice gold medallions placed throughout the streets. These help indicate where you can practice your hand at casting spells with your interactive wand.Every interactive wand comes with a map that marks these spell-locations throughout Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. All you’ll need is a gentle flick of the wrist, the right incantation, and your interactive wand to create your own magical experiences. 

Visit the shops and build your wizarding wardrobe at Madam Malkin’s Robes for All OccasionsWhether you’re Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Slytherin, or Ravenclaw, this is a great spot to find the gear to proudly represent your House colors.

day in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

Hungry again? Let’s grab a bite in the Leaky Cauldron. This is an iconic eatery of the wizarding world, so let’s take a break from all that wandwork and enjoy some authentic British cuisine! Might I suggest the Ploughman’s Platter?

Is there a better way to pass the time while our food settles than watching some wizarding world entertainment? There are two incredible shows at Diagon Alley’s Carkitt Market, so we recommend sticking around for both. 

The Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees show is a bewitching live performance with sweet, smooth melodies by this wizarding world sensation (she’s also Molly Weasley’s favorite singer). 

The Tales of Beedle and the Bard is a show presented by the Wizarding Academy of Dramatic Arts, retelling two famous 15th-century stories from wizarding fairytales, including The Fountain of Fair Fortune and The Tale of the Three Brothers. Be sure to stick around for the end of this show in particular!

OK, who’s ready for dessert? Let’s make a stop at Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour. If you thought you liked Butterbeer, wait until you try it in ice-cream form. Here you can taste a variety of unique flavored soft-serve ice-cream including Chocolate Chili, Salted Caramel Blondie, and Earl Grey and Lavender.

day in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

If you’re a Gryffindor, you may be more suspicious of the Dark Arts. But let’s explore the Darker side magic in Knockturn Alley and visit Borgin and Burkes, known for inviting shady patrons, including Draco Malfoy. Here, you can explore malevolent relics, items of Dark Arts, and other oddities. Don’t be surprised if your Slytherin friends drag you to this side of Diagon Alley. Not only will you be able to shop unique merchandise only found in this dark alley, but you’ll also be able to cast special incantations and find hidden gems here. 

Outside of Diagon Alley in London, we can talk with the Knight Bus Conductor. Passers-by can look inside the purple, three-storied Knight Bus and hear chatter from the talkative shrunken head hanging over the steering wheel. 

One of the lesser-known must-dos in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a stop at the Magical Telephone Booth. At first glance, it might seem like an ordinary booth, but you just might find a little “M-A-G-I-C”. 

All right, time to catch the train again. Let’s walk to the station where you can walk through a solid brick wall onto Platform 9¾ — Hogwarts Express: King’s Cross Station. On this train ride, we can enjoy the urban outskirts of London into the British countryside while we catch up on all the fun we’ve already had and deliciousness we’ve already eaten. 

day in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

Back in Hogsmeade, let’s take a break at the Hog’s Head. After back-to-back thrilling rides, shopping, and casting spells, relaxing inside this pub located behind Three Broomsticks sounds perfect. We can even enjoy traditional drinks, as well as Butterbeer, Pumpkin Juice, and Gillywater. 

Time to stock up on delicious delectables at Honeydukes. This delightful shop has legendary wizarding world sweets including Chocolate Frogs, Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans, and Exploding Bonbons.

day in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

Even though the sun may be setting, your day in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is definitely not over. At night, Hogwarts castle transforms into a beautifully themed experience that changes depending on the season: 

  •  The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle: Enjoy this dazzling spectacle where you see projections against the majestic Hogwarts castle, celebrating the four houses.
    • Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle: This powerful story of light vs. dark shows Hogwarts castle being taken over by dark magic and then — well, why spoil it? Catch it for yourself during the fall season. 
    • The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle: The holidays in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter spring to life through this incredible display when Hogwarts castle is transformed for the Christmas season.

These shows are the perfect way to end your epic day in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter!

WHAT a day! Of course just one day in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort is not nearly enough to experience all the magic it has to offer! We’ll see you at the Three Broomsticks tomorrow morning.

Get the Ultimate Guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Does your family love Harry Potter? Are you confused about visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter? Are you spending thousands of dollars on a vacation and afraid you will miss something? Are you worried that you are going to be waiting in long lines during your vacation? Looking for time saver tips, money saving tips, and all of the secrets and fun inside the Wizarding World of Harry Potter?  You have come to the right place!

If your answer is YES to any of these questions, then you need the Ultimate Guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. For less than the cost of a mug of Butterbeer, you can get this comprehensive guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter which covers both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando Resort!

This incredible Guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter includes:

  • Descriptions of the rides and must do’s
  • Insiders tips to help save time during your adventure at Wizarding World of Harry Potter
  • Descriptions of the stores and hidden gems
  • Travel tips to help save money during your Harry Potter vacation
  • Harry Potter secrets inside the Wizarding World of Harry Potter 
  • Dining at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, including popular restaurants like Three Broomsticks & Leaky Cauldron
  • Must Do’s that you could miss, if you do not read this guide!
  • Tips on how to save money at Wizarding World of Harry Potter – one tip will save you the cost of the guide (and then some)!
  • So much more…
Guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Is this YOU?  Meet the typical family visiting Wizarding World of Harry Potter….

This excited family arrives to Universal Studios around 10 AM and makes their way to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley.  Their daughter is a huge Harry Potter fan, wearing her robe and excited for the adventure.  They miss the hidden gems in King’s Cross and head right into Diagon Alley.  They wait in a 90 minute line to ride Harry Potter & the Escape from Gringotts. They forget to purchase a 2-Park Pass, so they have to spend time upgrading their ticket, so they can ride the Hogwarts Express. They wait in line for 30 minutes at Ollivanders in Hogsmeade.  They miss out on Knockturn Alley and the hidden surprise from Moaning Myrtle.  They find out during their vacation that they could have dined for breakfast at Three Broomsticks for free.  So many frustrations!

This is truly the typical family visiting Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  Don’t let this be YOU!

Guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

If you are planning a visit to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter this is a must read guide. Once you confirm your purchase, you will receive an email with a link to instantly download your guides. You can then read in your leisure or print for future use. It’s in .pdf format, so you can read it on your smartphone, iPAD, computer, or your Kindle. There are over 33 pages and pictures of insider information from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at the Universal Orlando Resort. Ready to purchase the Ultimate Guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter?

Guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Planning your Universal Orlando Resort vacation? Don’t miss these helpful articles, too!

You may also want to pick up the Harry Potter Paperback Box Set or Harry Potter: Complete 8-Film Collection to brush up on your Harry Potter knowledge!

Pier 8 Market, Sunset Lounge, and The Oasis Beach Bar Coming to Universal’s Endless Summer Resort- Dockside Inn and Suites

From the Universal Orlando Resort Blog:

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

What’s the one thing you look forward to on vacation? Is it thrills and adventure? Maybe trying something new, or spending time with family you haven’t seen in awhile? How about a little relaxation, a way to slow down from the everyday routine, not worry about the usual stresses of life, and just savor every moment spent with your family?

This is the essence of Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn and Suites. Dockside Inn and Suites invites you to kick back, relax, and take it easy during your vacation at Universal Orlando Resort. This hotel, alongside Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn and Suites, brings a new value option to Universal Orlando. It’s the perfect place for families wanting to stay connected to the action of Universal’s three theme parks, while enjoying the comfort and ease of a resort that meets their vacation budget. Dockside Inn and Suites’ coastal vibes make you feel as if you’re just feet away from the ocean, which extends into your dining experience with the all-American Pier 8 Market, Sunset Lounge, and The Oasis Beach Bar.

Phil Klinkenberg, director of food and beverage for Dockside Inn and Suites, is sharing all of the details about the new food and drinks from Dockside Inn and Suites. Phil led the creation and execution of Dockside’s dining in collaboration with the chefs and managers of the new resort. Here’s what you can look forward to during your upcoming stay.

Breakfast

Kick start your morning before a day in Universal’s theme parks with breakfast from Pier 8 Market. You can enjoy a lighter option like fresh baked goods prepared daily, or indulge in a heartier meal like chicken and waffles.

Top Picks

  • Chicken and Waffles (served with maple syrup and butter)
  • Pier 8 Egg Muffin (bacon, egg, cheddar, onions, peppers and a side of hash browns)
  • Baja Burrito (chorizo, egg and cheese with salsa)

“With all Universal Orlando hotels, we accommodate guests’ dietary needs,” says Phil. “We pride ourselves on being able to customize and provide options like our Beyond Burger and this vegan avocado toast.”

Lunch

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

Take a break from the pool and fuel up with refreshing options at Pier 8 Market (or grab your food and head back for a poolside meal!). One of the great perks about Pier 8 Market is that it’s themed to be an open-air market with easy-to-grab items, similar to what you would find down by the docks of a coastal town.

“Pier 8 Market is meant to feel like an actual market where you walk through the various food stalls and are able to select the items for your meal,” says Phil. “Whether it be our chicken and waffles, pizza or a burger, it’s all meant to be self-serve, grab and go.”

Top Picks

  • Hook & Batter (fish and chips)
  • Garden Pizza (you guessed it, a veggie pizza!)
  • Gulf to Shore (grilled market fish on a toasted bun)
Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

“Our Dockworker Wrap is inspired by a dish that dockworkers actually put together,” Phil says. “They get a deli sandwich, a side of fries, and a drink. They would take the fries and put it directly on their sandwich to hold with one hand, and then the drink in the other hand, so they could eat and drink easily during their lunch break. We took that concept and made our Dockworker Wrap.”

Dinner

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

There’s no better way to end the day during a vacation than coming together as a family and having dinner. There are great options for families at Pier 8 Market with a variety of dishes that any member of the family can enjoy, as well as meals that meet bigger family needs like pizza.

Top Picks

  • BBQCB (burger with smoked bacon, cheddar, onion rings and bourbon bbq sauce)
  • The Joey Sandwich (hoagie with salami, capicola, soppressata, provolone cheese, roasted red pepper and toppings)
  • Stuffed Shells (I recommend a side of Deck Hand Garlic Knots too!)
Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

Try the Chicken and Waffles – 8 piece bucket of chicken, side of mashed potatoes, side of coleslaw, Belgian waffles and choice of sauce. The sauce choices are on point with the Sloping Sticky Sauce (bourbon bacon maple sauce), Rocket Man (spicy bbq), and Southern Hot (buffalo with a hint of honey).

“Dockside Inn and Suites is a family destination,” says Phil. “So, what the market does is provide something for everybody. In each of the areas in our market we’ll have options for the younger guests in our hotel. So, mom and dad can have what they want and kids can have what they want.”

Dessert

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

A meal isn’t complete without a sweet ending. Each food station in Pier 8 Market will have a signature dessert, as well as a variety of other classic treats you can grab. There will also be yogurt and smoothie machines that are perfect for those hot summer days.

Top Picks

  • Key Lime Pie (a Florida classic)
  • Cinnamon & Sugar Zeppoles (an italian treat consisting of fried fritter)

We’re sure that you’re going to love the S’mores – hot off the panini press with all the fixings, ginger-flavored bread with milk chocolate, and marshmallow. It’s ooey and gooey, perfect for the kids to split or the ‘big’ kids like me.

Drinks

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

Now, onto a really fun part of Dockside Inn and Suites — the signature drinks.

“The Sunset Lounge is going to be a fantastic little area for you to break away after a day in the theme parks,” says Phil. “We also have The Oasis Beach Bar. Both are a place for people to just kick back, relax, and have an excellently crafted cocktail or a craft beer.”

The theming of the drinks is just as fun as the cocktails themselves. Some of them are even named after slides you may recognize from a certain water park that used to be where Endless Summer Resort is now…

“The drinks at the Oasis Beach pool bar are named after the Wet n’ Wild rides like the Bubba Tub and the Mach Five,” he says. “We had a great time putting it together. We actually wrote the drink names before we came up with what the drinks would be.”

You’ll find cocktails themed to the hotel, as well as a craft beer that will be brewed for the resort.

Top Picks

  • Endless Summer Lemonade (vodka with lemon; this is the resort’s signature cocktail)
  • Sunset Blonde (mango blonde ale; this is the resort’s craft beer)
  • Red Sky at Night (Tequila cocktail with orange and lime flavors)
  • Drop Anchor (rum drink with orgeat and matcha)
  • Shore Thing (grapefruit vodka with lime and ginger beer)
  • Bubba Tub (signature 32oz Dockside bucket that all cocktails from The Oasis Beach Bar can be upgraded to)
Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

Deep Dive Into the Inspiration

There is a common thread about the Dockside Inn and Suites dining experience: casual comfort. From the ease of selecting your food to the focus on comfort food options, the overall concept is to give a relaxing environment and experience for your family during your vacation.

“I’ve always said we offer people a vacation from the vacation that they’re on, so when they come back to their hotel they’re home,” says Phil. “I think Dockside Inn and Suites will give you that feeling of pure relaxation, no worries and no cares.”

So, what goes into developing the food and drinks for a new hotel?

“It really started with the original concept,” he explains. “Universal Creative and Loews Hotels partnered and came up with the idea for Endless Summer Resort. At the very beginning it was decided that Pier 8 Market was going to happen at Dockside Inn and Suites.”

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

They knew they were going to have family-friendly options like pizza and burgers, but there was brainstorming along the way on how to add some unique twists.

“When I came on board, I just wrote down my wish list and what I thought would be fun,” says Phil. “Brainstorming is next with the managing director and chefs, brainstorming with other people that were inspired by talking to friends or reading other venue menus. Inspiration comes from so many different places. Some of it’s memory, some of it’s sensory. So, we take all of those ideas and kind of do a mashup of them. It’s all about collaboration.”

With Dockside Inn and Suites being his third hotel opening with Loews Hotels at Universal Orlando Resort, he is eager for guests to experience all the hotel will offer.

“You know what keeps me going is that experience you have when you bump into a guest in a hallway, or in the restaurant, and you have a conversation with them and realize the things your team did, or that you did personally, made a difference,” he says. “It’s hard to describe that feeling, but when you have it, you know it, and it’s a great feeling.”

Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn and Suites opens at Universal Orlando Resort on March 17.

Must be 21 years and older with valid identification to purchase or drink alcoholic beverages.

Your Guide to Attending 2020 Mardi Gras at Universal Orlando Resort

From the Universal Orlando Resort Blog:

Universal's Mardi Gras 2020
Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

Since 1995, Universal Orlando Resort has been bringing the fun and flavors of the Big Easy’s Mardi Gras celebration to the streets of Universal Studios Florida. For select nights now through April, you can catch an outrageous and colorful parade (my favorite part of the event), enjoy live entertainment and concerts, indulge in Cajun food and drinks and catch a whole lot of beads during Universal’s Mardi Gras 2020. It’s the perfect way to end your day after enjoying the thrills and excitement of the parks. Authenticity is the name of the game as Universal’s event stays true to the traditional roots of the New Orleans street party so many know and love. However, there are a few unique Universal twists too!

There’s a ton to see and do during Universal’s Mardi Gras 2020, along with different ways to experience the event. Luckily, you have plenty of opportunities to do it all. Whether you’re a local planning multiple nights of Mardi Gras festivities, or looking to get the most out of your vacation with us, check out this guide on everything you need to know about Universal’s Mardi Gras 2020 to help plan your visit.

THINGS TO DO

Nightly Parade

Universal's Mardi Gras 2020
Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

Just like New Orlean’s famed Mardi Gras parade, we have a spectacular parade that hits the streets of Universal Studios every event night with colorful parade floats, even more colorful performers (one word – GLITTER!), and of course, beads!

Our parade floats are designed and built in partnership with Kern Studios, the same team that creates the parade floats up in New Orleans. Every year, there’s a new theme developed for the floats along with the iconic floats, like King Gator. Each one has a unique costume designed for the bead throwers and a batch of beads colored to match the look and feel of the float.

You have two ways to experience the parade: 1.) as a bead catcher and 2.) as a bead thrower. Both are equally as fun as the other and depends on what you would like to do for the night…

Being a bead catcher allows you more time to enjoy the French Quarter Courtyard and rides in the park, while also being able to grab a good spot for the concert.

Being a bead thrower requires you to first sign up via the Universal Orlando Mobile App and see if you get selected. If selected, you have to check in before the parade and it can take time to get back over to the concert area when the parade is done. However, bead throwing is SO MUCH FUN and allows for you to be a part of the action. There’s nothing quite like tossing beads at a mass of people cheering to get your attention.

My recommendation? Both! Come one night and catch. Come another night and throw.

TIPS

  • Little Jester’s Parade Viewing: It can be tough trying to get a good view for your kid when it comes to parades. We’ve got you covered with the Little Jester’s Parade Viewing Area located in front of the Brown Derby Hat Shop. This is an exclusive area for children and opens up one hour before the parade starts.
  • Best Places to Watch (and Catch Beads!): I’m a fan of watching the parade in the Hollywood section as you can catch it when it first starts and also when it’s coming back around to end. Another favorite spot is in the New York area, right past Finnegan’s Bar & Grill. There’s more space to move around and catch beads and you get to see a couple great confetti pops! Click here to see the parade route map.

Click here to learn more about this year’s parade, parade start times, and how to sign up to ride a float.

Live Concerts

Photo; Universal Orlando Resort Blog

One of the big differences that allows our Mardi Gras event to stand out is the live concert that takes place select nights on the Music Plaza Stage. We bring in some of the biggest names in music, with a diverse lineup every year of pop, rock, country, latin, and more. It’s an awesome way to close out your day in the parks.

TIPS

  • Arrive Early: I recommend arriving early, around 2-3 hours before the concert starts, to claim a spot up near the front. The lawn area fills up fast. For certain artists, there will even be a queue you can jump in before the lawn opens for guests. Check with a Team Member in-park for details the day of the concert.
  • Mobile Order: So, you’ve got your spot up front, but your stomach is starting to rumble. We’ve got you covered. You can order food to be delivered to you using the Universal Orlando Resort Mobile App. Pizza fries, anyone?

Click here to see this year’s concert lineup and concert start times.

French Quarter Courtyard Entertainment

Photo; Universal Orlando Resort Blog

Before the live concerts take place on the main stage, head over to the French Quarter Courtyard in the New York area of Universal Studios for even more live entertainment. You can enjoy live music from real Louisiana jazz and zydeco bands as you stroll the food and drink tents. Or drop a dance move and snap a picture with the incredibly talented, fun, and glittery Mardi Gras performers.

TIP

  • The French Quarter Courtyard festivities start around 4 p.m. every day. I recommend arriving early to snag a park bench or table to enjoy the music and food. This area can get a bit crowded at night when it gets closer to parade time!

Click here to see what Louisiana bands are playing this year.

Mardi Gras Tribute Store

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

A new experience has come to Universal’s Mardi Gras 2020! The Tribute Store is more than your typical gift shop. It’s transporting you into scenes inspired by iconic locations from New Orleans, while also offering themed merchandise to buy like beads, masks, T-shirts…all the requirements for a great Mardi Gras! There are photo ops throughout the store and the level of detail with the props and characters are perfect for insta. You can find the Tribute Store across from the French Quarter Courtyard, right next to the entrance of Revenge of the Mummy.

Attractions

One of the great things about Mardi Gras is that the rides and attractions throughout Universal Studios are open during the event, too. All of your favorites like The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, Revenge of the Mummy, TRANSFORMERS: The Ride – 3D, and more. Make sure to check your park map and the Universal Orlando Resort Mobile App for ride times. And with all the Mardi Gras festivities, this typically allows for shorter wait times!

TIP

  • One of my favorite things to do is ride Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit while one of the concerts is playing down on the Music Plaza Stage. Not only is the ride AWESOME at night, but it’s pretty cool to see the concert crowd down below with the music blasting.

After Party in CityWalk

If you don’t want the party to stop after the park closes, head over into Universal CityWalk. You get free admission to five CityWalk bars and clubs with your park ticket on a Mardi Gras event night. There are even themed Mardi Gras food and drink options that you can try, like a Mardi Gras themed Voodoo Doughnut.

Bars and clubs include:

  • Rising Star (my personal favorite – karoake with a live band!)
  • the groove (the dance club to get your… wait for it… groove on)
  • Red Coconut Club (the chill club with excellent cocktails)
  • Pat O’Brien’s (dueling piano bar)
  • Bob Marley – A Tribute to Freedom (live reggae music)

WHAT TO EAT

French Quarter Courtyard

Photo; Universal Orlando Resort Blog

We’ve already talked about the entertainment in the French Quarter Courtyard, now let’s chat FOOD! In the Courtyard, you’ll find all of the mouth-watering bites and sips for the event with rows of tents and bars. You can find the classic Cajun dishes like jambalaya and gumbo, and other unique creations our Food & Beverage team has developed. You can also find festive signature drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic.

My Top Recommendations:

  • Jambalaya – This is my all-time favorite dish, with all those Cajun spices and topped with a crawfish.
  • Beignets – A classic and must-have! You can’t go wrong with these little fried treats dusted with powdered sugar.
  • Bayou Bog Water – This fruity non-alcoholic drink is fun for both adults and kids alike, with boba pearls that pop in your mouth and gummy worms and fish.

Click here to see this year’s food and beverage offerings.

Dining Upgrades

Now, THIS is the way to do Mardi Gras. Take your experience to the next level for an additional cost with these event upgrades.

  • Bayou Boil: Experience what a crawfish boil is like with a Universal spin on it. The Bayou Boil gives you a tray piled high with a crawfish boil, an exclusive bar, and a VIP viewing of the parade. I absolutely loved doing the Bayou Boil with my friends and highly recommend trying it out. *Available on concert event nights
  • Tasting Lanyards: These lanyards are the perfect option if you’re going to come for multiple nights of Mardi Gras, I’m looking at you UOAPs. They allowyou the option to enjoy multiple food and drink options during Mardi Gras event nights for one fixed cost. There is even an exclusive UOAP version of the lanyard.

Click here for more details on pricing, dates/times, and more.

THINGS TO KNOW

Photo; Universal Orlando Resort Blog

No Extra Cost to Party!

The greatest and most important thing to know about Universal’s Mardi Gras? It’s included with your park admission or Annual Pass* to Universal Studios Florida. There is no extra cost to experience all the fun and excitement, and it makes for a great addition to your family’s spring vacation.

The App Will Be Your Best Friend

Think of the Universal Orlando Mobile App as your personal little robot butler in the palm of your hand. You can set up a virtual wallet, mobile-order food to where you’re waiting for the concert, check ride wait times, the parade and concert start times, and even sign up for float riding via Virtual Line.

Download it now: iPhone or Android

UOAPs Get All the Perks

If you’re not already a Universal Orlando Annual Passholder (UOAP), you might become one after this. UOAPs get the best perks when it comes to Mardi Gras. They get first dibs on float riding, an exclusive viewing area in front of Mel’s Diner, and freebies like a fun-themed button and magnet. *Supplies are limited and first come, first served

Click here to check out all the UOAP perks and more information. 

*Seasonal Passholders are blocked out at Universal Studios Florida on all Mardi Gras concert event nights.

WHAT TO BRING & WEAR

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

Deciding what to bring or wear to a theme park can be tricky. The general consensus is to pack light and wear layers, but Universal’s Mardi Gras 2020 can be a unique event to think through. Here’s a list I’ve put together throughout my years of attending the event.

  • Small Bag (emphasis on small): There’s no real reason to bring a big bag with you to Mardi Gras, unless you’re traveling with little ones. You want to stay light and nimble to maneuver the concert crowds and catch beads! Try to carry your tickets and cards in a lanyard or sport one of those nifty phone cases with the card slots. If you do need to bring a bag, opt for a fanny pack or small crossbody that can fit into one of the free small lockers.
  • Phone Charger: This will come in handy if you’re sitting around waiting for the concert or parade to start. Plus, you may need it after all the photos you’ve taken and posted on the gram.
  • Check the Weather: Mardi Gras falls in that weird Florida-weather timeframe when the temperature can flux from being hot during the day and chilly at night. Check the weather and consider bringing a light jacket just in case. Also, don’t forget those pesky rain showers that can pop up!
  • Comfy Shoes: Comfortable shoes are kind of a duh when going to a theme park, but you’re going to be doing some quick walking and dodging during Mardi Gras. I also recommend close toed as your feet may get stepped on during the concert.
  • Your Krewe: The best way to experience Mardi Gras is with your friends and family. Grab the krewe and come party with us!

OK, so who’s ready for Universal’s Mardi Gras 2020 at Universal Orlando Resort!? Share your excitement and tips in the comments below and don’t forget to share your pics using #UniversalMardiGras. My one guarantee: You’ll have “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now” stuck in your head and handfuls of beads you won’t know what to do with at the end of the night.

Check Out the New Menu at Confisco Grille in Universal’s Islands of Adventure

From the Universal Orlando Resort Blog:

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

There is a new menu at Confisco Grille in Universal’s Islands of Adventure, full of spices and bold flavors. Located near the front of the park, Confisco Grille is the perfect place to escape the crowds and enjoy lunch or dinner. It features an eclectic menu, ripe with a variety of dishes inspired from across the globe.

Pork Belly Banh-Mi Sandwich at Confisco Grille

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

This hearty sandwich comes with thick cuts of perfectly cooked pork belly and a blend of fresh veggies. I also have a feeling that chile aioli sauce can make anything taste good.

Roasted pork belly, pickled carrots, daikon radish and cucumber topped with a chile aioli on a French baguette.

Chilled Tuna Noodle Bowl at Confisco Grille

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

This light and refreshing dish is for you if you’re feeling a bit guilty from fried food and ice cream. I can see this becoming a signature dish and it happens to be one of Chef Glus’s favorites.

“The Chilled Tuna Noodle Bowl is a good one, with the fresh ingredients yellowfin tuna and buckwheat soba noodles,” says Chef Glus. “You can’t find anything else like this park-wide except for at Confisco.”

Sesame seared yellowfin tuna, soba noodles, green onion, avocado, edamame, cucumber and a wasabi-ponzu dressing.

Hearthstone Baked Chicken Sandwich

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

This isn’t your typical chicken sandwich. It’s baked in a wood oven with melted mozzarella cheese and have I mentioned Universal bakes its bread on property? Delicious!

Mozzarella cheese, Roma tomatoes, leaf lettuce, basil aioli, aged balsamic and focaccia baked in a wood oven.

Hummus

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

“It’s that same flavorful hummus you could get before but with an elevated presentation,” says Chef Glus. “It makes it more shareable and a more immersive experience for the guest.”

Middle Eastern flavored hummus, kalamata olives, olive oil and charred pita and lavosh for dipping.

Grilled Lamb Meatballs at Confisco Grille

grilled lamb meatballs from Confisco Grille
Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

Didn’t think you could find lamb in a theme park, did you? These are perfect to share and packed with flavor.

Grilled spiced lamb meatballs with tzatziki sauce, tomato-cucumber relish, feta cheese and mint chimichurri.

Sweet and Sour Sticky Ribs at Confisco Grille

sweet and sour sticky ribs from Confisco Grille
Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

“We wanted to keep the ribs, but we changed it up a bit going with the sticky pork ribs with the sweet and sour sauce,” he says.

Perfectly cooked with meat falling off the bone and smothered in a sweet and sour sauce that left me licking it off my fingers. AND I can’t forget to mention the bed of creamy and cheesy polenta goodness the ribs are nestled on. The flavors combine to create a tangy party for your taste buds that will leave you wanting more with every bite. Can you tell this was my favorite?

Philippine-inspired smoked pork ribs tossed in a sweet and sour sauce, goat cheese polenta and topped with toasted sesame seeds.

If you’re more of a traditionalist then an adventurer, you can still find classics like the juicy Confisco Burger, sizzling Port of Entry Fajitas, and Trader Wings.

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

But even the dishes that you’ve seen before have a new twist, Chef Glus explains. “The menu items we did keep, we changed up the presentation. If you’re going to elevate the food, you need to elevate the overall experience.”

Now, let’s focus on dietary needs for a hot minute. The Universal Orlando Food & Beverage team goes above and beyond to accommodate any request. At Confisco Grille, you’ll find plant-based dishes, gluten-free options, and more.

Want tofu on that Chilled Tuna Noodle Bowl? Done. Got a question about if the noodles on the Pad Thai are gluten-free? You can ask your waiter to speak with a chef, who will literally come to your table and answer any questions you may have. Oh, and yes. Those rice noodles on the Pad Thai are gluten-free.

You can find the Confisco Grille full menu online and call (407) 224-FOOD to inquire about dietary accommodations ahead of your visit.

Serving Up Adventure for 20 Years

Confisco Grille
Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

First time hearing of Confisco Grille? Then you’ve been missing out. This hidden gem has been hiding out in plain sight since Islands of Adventure opened in 1999. This restaurant has served as a resting spot for all explorers coming through Port of Entry. Their worldwide travels have served as the main inspiration for the menu.

“The story behind Confisco connects to Port of Entry, which is exciting because it gives us a mixture of global cuisines to work with,” says Chef Glus. “There’s Asian influence, Turkish, Mediterranean, Greek, Russian, Polish and more.”

It’s no cakewalk to bring these dishes to life. It takes time for the team to research and bring the concepts to life.

“It took us months of researching all these different flavors and spices,” Chef Glus explains. “Even looking back to the 17th and 18th centuries and seeing how dishes were cooked then — in wood ovens and cazuela pots, which we use to cook here in the restaurant.”

And while you’re enjoying your meal, you can discover the mysterious artifacts and treasures the explorers have left behind in Confisco. You may recognize some of the “confiscated” goods.

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

Elevating Your Dining Experience

One of the common themes I hooked into while speaking with Chef Glus was “elevating” Universal’s dining experience. So, my big question. Why now?

“Our guests are asking for this. They want more than just the pretzels and fried food. We’re bringing different dishes and ingredients to the parks that you can’t find anywhere else throughout Universal,” Chef Glus explains.

“We’re looking at ways to elevate the kids menu so there are more diverse and healthy options,” says Chef Glus. “Nowadays we see kids eating what their parents are eating, so why not throw sushi on the kids menu. We’re also focusing on the food carts and bringing in new and healthier options there, too.”

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

With 10 years of experience at Universal Orlando Resort (and a short hiatus in local Orlando restaurants), Chef Glus brings both a seasoned and fresh perspective to Universal’s dining. “I love working here and being able to play around the park and do new and different things for our guests to enjoy.”

Keep your eye out for new things to come from Chef Jason Glus and his team in Islands of Adventure.

What Confisco dishes do you recommend or are looking forward to trying? Share in the comments below.

Confisco Grille

There are lots of exciting things planned for Universal Orlando Resort in 2020! Check them out here!

Universal’s Mardi Gras 2020 Runs Nightly From February 1- April 2

From the Universal Orlando Resort Blog:

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

Picture it. It’s a late afternoon and the streets of the New York area in Universal Studios Florida are buzzing with activity. Jazzy tunes fill your ears as you enter The French Quarter Courtyard and the spicy smell of Cajun food is in the air. It’s Mardi Gras time, ya’ll. Or, at least it will be in a few more days. Universal’s Mari Gras 2020 kicks off on Saturday, February 1.

If you’re like me, you’re more than ready to indulge in all the festivities of Universal’s Mardi Gras 2020 — from the nightly parade, live concerts and, my favorite part, the FOOD. With 25 years of partying it up and bringing the flavors of The Big Easy to Universal Orlando Resort, the culinary team has outdone themselves this year with new dishes, drinks, and more.

New Carnival Around the Universe Tent

Universal’s Mardi Gras 2020 is getting a brand new food tent that will take us on a journey to the different carnivals globally.

Note: This particular food tent will rotate out the countries every two weeks, providing new options for you try on each visit. You’ll notice which weeks each country will be offered, kicking off with Trinidad & Tobago.

Trinidad & Tobago (Week 1 & 2)

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

I’m a sucker for anything with chickpeas and each dish from this food tent was packed with a great citrus and spice flavor. It was my first stop at the tasting and will be my first stop when the event begins. And bonus! These are all plant-based dishes.

  • Grilled Pineapple Trini-Chow (topped with kimchi seasoning and cilantro)
  • Pholourie (fried spicy split pea dough with turmeric, curry powder and tamarind chutney)
  • Chickpea Double (served on spicy bara flatbread with cilantro and mango chutney)

Louisiana Creole (Week 3 & 4)

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

If we’re touring the carnivals, then we have to make a pit stop in Louisiana, right? But these aren’t your average Cajun dishes. The Cauliflower Dirty Rice was my second favorite dish (and it’s vegan!).

  • Softshell Crab Slider (softshell crab with organic veggie slaw and a bayou aioli)
  • Cauliflower Dirty Rice (riced cauliflower with plant-based protein crumbles, black eyed peas and Cajun spices)

Brazil (Week 5 & 6)

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

Two words: CHEESE BREAD. Or more appropriately, Pao de Quiejo. These little pockets of savory goodness are the perfect snack to grab before the parade or concert.

  • Pao de Quiejo (warm cheese bread served with guava dipping sauce)
  • Sweet Plantains (covered in cinnamon and sugar served with banana poppy seed dipping sauce)

Germany (Week 7 & 8)

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

The last stop is Germany! My top pick would be the Sauerbraten. You can’t beat a slow braised beef smothered in sauce.

  • Sauerbraten (slow braised beef with buttered spaetzel, pickled red cabbage and topped with a red wine sauce)
  • Grilled Bratwurst (served on a potato pancake with whole grain mustard, sour cream and chives)
  • Warm Pretzel

TIP: All the Mardi Gras food and drinks are offered in sampling sizes. Pick up the Mardi Gras Tasting Lanyard, so you can enjoy multiple offerings on any of the event nights. Click here for more details.

New Mardi Gras Drinks

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

You’ll need a drink to wash down all that good Cajun chow. This year, there are a bunch of new drinks to pair with your food, along with new souvenir cup designs. A certain number of these specialty drinks will only be available with the purchase of a food item at the location they are served. I’ve done the heavy lifting and outlined them for you below.

Available in the full 20oz specialty drinks:

  • High Seas Twister (kinda like a rum punch)
  • Blue Voodoo (tasty blue margarita)
  • Carnival Lane (refreshing gin drink with fruit juices)
  • Baby Cakes (vodka drink that tastes like king cake!)
  • Bourbon Street Punch (exclusive to the Bayou Boil)
  • Coconut Water in a Coconut (non-alcoholic and available only during week 1 & 2 of Carnival Around the Universe)
Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

Available for food & beverage 9oz pairings ONLY:

  • Hoodoo Cold Brew (pecan vodka cold brew – great with beignets)
  • Cajun Bloody Mary (pair with Jambalaya)
  • Pecan Street (vodka caramel drink available only during week 3 & 4 of Carnival Around the Universe and pairs with the Softshell Crab Slider)
  • Girl from Ipanema (gin coconut drink, my personal favorite, available only during week 5 & 6 of Carnival Around the Universe and pairs with the Pao de Quiejo)

The new Float Floats are beverages inspired by some of the literal parade floats, which are themed to the Treasures of the Deep.

Not only are they a tasty way to cool off during a warm evening of bead catching, but they are also perfect for your insta. You can find these over at Schwab’s Pharmacy in the Hollywood section of Universal Studios Florida.

Shipwreck (pineapple soft serve ice cream, chocolate soft serve, pineapple soda, cotton candy and waffle cone flag)

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

Sunken City of Atlantis (vanilla soft serve, wild berry soda, mango boba and gummy shark)

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

Mardi Gras (pineapple and lime soft serve ice cream, grape soda, blueberry boba and waffle cone flag)

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

To round out the above drinks, the Mimosa Bar is returning over at Cafe La Bamba with eight different mimosas, and the King Cake Slushie and Bayou Bog Water are back for the kiddos.

TIP: Schwab’s Pharmacy is located right on the parade route on the Avenue of the Stars in Hollywood. Grab a float as you wait for the parade to start or snap a pic with the themed float it matches! Don’t forget to share your foodie pics with us using #UniversalMardiGras.

Mardi Gras Classics

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

You can’t have Mardi Gras without the Cajun classics. Returning to The French Quarter Courtyard are your flavorful favorites like:

  • Beignets
  • King Cake
  • Jambalaya
  • Shrimp Gumbo
  • Red Beans & Rice with Shrimp
  • Cajun Twisted Tater
  • Gator Bites
  • Crab Etouffee
  • Shrimp & Andouille Po’ Boy
  • Sausage Po’ Boy
  • Catfish Po’ Boy
  • Chicken & Andouille Po’ Boy

TIP: New to this year are recommended food and drink pairings for the different tents. You can find them on the tent menu boards when you visit and can be used as part of the Tasting Lanyard. I love the combo of beignets and Hoodoo Cold Brew.

Upgrade Your Universal’s Mardi Gras 2020

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

The Bayou Boil is hosted over in Battery Park down by the lagoon with a private dining area and bar. It has a limited capacity to allow for a more intimate setting, and you sit family style with other guests allowing you to meet fellow Universal fans! After you’re done eating, you can go do some rides or enjoy the other Mardi Gras festivities before heading over to a private area in front of Cafe La Bamba. In my opinion, this is one of the BEST places to view the parade, as you not only get to see and catch beads when it starts but also when the parade ends.

You’ll be served a huge pan piled high with crawfish, shrimp, chicken and andouille sausage jambalaya, potatoes, and corn on the cob. The crazy good part? If you manage to clear that pan (good luck), they’ll bring out more! And let’s not forget about the endless beignets and king cake waiting nearby for dessert.

Click here for details on pricing and dates/times for the Bayou Boil.

Two additional ways to upgrade your Mardi Gras festivities are the Feast & Floats Dessert Party and the Mardi Gras Tasting Lanyard. The dessert party gets you VIP viewing of the Mardi Gras parade and Universal’s Cinematic Celebration, and the tasting lanyard allows you the option to enjoy multiple food and drink options throughout Mardi Gras. Click here for more details on these experiences.

TIP: This tip is for our UOAPs! You get exclusive perks to these add-ons, including discounts, and a Passholder Tasting Lanyard that includes 15 items. Click here for details.

The Party Continues in Universal CityWalk

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort Blog

The party doesn’t stop after the park closes. CityWalk is getting in on the festivities with fun, new Mardi Gras themed food and drinks. The Toothsome milkshake is quite literally the KING of all milkshakes. I mean, wow.

  • Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen
    • The French Quarter Milkshake (everything king cake in a glass)
  • Voodoo Doughnut
    • Mardi Gras Doughnut (filled with cinnamon sugar bavarian cream)
  • The Cowfish
    • Masquerade Martini (grape vodka with blue curacao and citrus flavors)
  • Bob Marley – A Tribute to Freedom
    • Party Gras Drink (vodka and coconut rum with pineapple flavors)
    • Voodoo Doctor Drink (classic margarita with a hint of black raspberry)
  • Pat O’Brien’s
    • Taste of Nola (red beans and rice, crawfish and andouille etouffee and blackened chicken with creole sauce)
  • Hot Dog Hall of Fame
    • Mardi Gras Muffuletta Platter (footlong hot dog with traditional muffuletta dressing)
  • Bread Box
    • Roast Beef Po’boy (shaved roast beef and gravy with toppings)
  • Cinnabon
    • King Cake Bon (classic Cinnabon dressed up in its Mardi Gras best)
  • CityWalk Food & Beverage Carts
    • The Jester Drink (apple whiskey with melon flavors)

TIP: These offerings are available daily Feb. 1 – April 2 in CityWalk. You have plenty of time to grab these outside of the event.

So, be honest, is that your stomach I hear rumbling? Oh, no. It’s mine. Universal’s Mardi Gras 2020 can’t get here soon enough, but thankfully it’s right around the corner starting nightly Feb. 1 – April 2 in Universal Studios Florida. What are you getting first? I’m still debating between my fav jambalaya or the Trinidad & Tobago.

Must be 21 years and older with valid identification to purchase or drink alcoholic beverages.

Heading to Universal’s Mardi Gras 2020? Don’t miss five exciting new things planned for this year!

5 Exciting Things Planned for Universal Orlando Resort in 2020

From the Universal Orlando Resort Blog:

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

The last few years have brought a lot of growth and change to Universal Orlando Resort. From new ground-breaking attractions and entertainment to new restaurants that are elevating theme-park dining, the parks keep getting bigger and better. Not to mention the opening of new hotels and big game-changers to the theme park industry like Universal’s Volcano Bay and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. And, best of all, there’s still so much to look forward to at Universal Orlando Resort in 2020!

The Bourne Stuntacular – New!

Opening Spring 2020

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

It’s all there in the name, folks. STUNTS. And I’m not just talking your typical flying-through-a-glass-door stunt. This live-action show is putting you right smack dab in the middle of the action you’ve seen from Universal Pictures’ blockbuster Bourne films. I recently got a download on the details and from what I’ve heard and seen glances of, this show is going to make you say things like, “Wait! How’d they do that?” Read more here and stay tuned for more details.

Running Universal – New!

5K & 10K – Feb. 1 & 2, 2020

Does your ultimate exercise routine involve running alongside a Minion? Then get ready for Universal’s first-ever Epic Character Race 5K and 10K. You’ll run through the parks with your favorite characters and finish with a really cool medal and bragging rights. Bananas are encouraged. Register now!

Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn and Suites – New!

Opening March 17, 2020

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

No need to fret about where to stay for your upcoming Orlando vacay. I’ve got the perfect place for you and your family. Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn and Suites is bringing a relaxing shore vibe to Universal Orlando this spring, complete with 2-Bedroom suites at a value that fits your family budget. Book your stay today.

Universal’s Mardi Gras – 25 Years of Partying

Every Night Feb. 1 – April 2, 2020

Twenty-five years of Mardi Gras at Universal Studios Florida makes for one heck of a bead collection. We’re celebrating with live performances by chart-topping artists, a nightly parade themed to Treasures of the Deep, new Cajun dishes, live entertainment in the French Quarter Courtyard, and — of course — BEADS!

Halloween Horror Nights – 30 Years of Horror

Select Nights Sept. 10 – Nov. 1, 2020

Photo: Universal Orlando Resort

Ah, Halloween Horror Nights. Just when we think you can’t get any better, you prove us wrong.The horror, scares, and fear you inflict on both your diehard fans and unsuspecting first-time victims grows on a more grand scale with every passing year. 2020 marks the 30 years of the world’s premier Halloween event, and I can’t wait to see what — or who’s — lurking in the shadows.

What’s Ahead…

Wow! Let’s all take a minute and absorb those celebrations and new experiences to check out at Universal Orlando Resort in 2020. It’s going to be a busy year. BUT I’m not stopping there and neither is Universal Orlando! There’s even more in store for you like:

We’ll see you at Universal Orlando Resort in 2020!