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!
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…
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!
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?
Disney Family has a Mickey Mouse cinnamon roll recipe that you can make from home with your preferred brand of cinnamon rolls (or homemade dough). If you thought Mickey Mouse pancakes were easy, just wait until you try these cinnamon rolls! You can find many more Disney recipes here.
Have you ever played the Disney version of Heads Up? You may have even seen fellow Disney Parks guests playing this game while waiting in line for an attraction! The Disney Parks themed deck features iconic attractions, characters and experiences.The Heads Up app is available for $0.99 in iOS or free on Android. Some other fun Disney games to help you pass the time are Disney Hedbanz, Disney Color Brain, Disney Eye Found It, and Disney Family Feud.
Khan Academy, a free learning resource for all ages, has a FREE course called Pixar in a Box which allows you learn about the storytelling process at Pixar. They also just released another FREE course, Imagineering in a Box, which allows you to explore different aspects of theme park design, from characters to ride development, as you design a theme park of your very own.
Download the Play Disney Parks App
You can download the Play Disney Parks app on iOS and Android devices to interact with the parks like never before! You can download the app through the App Store and Google Play. We especially love the Disney trivia and Disney Parks sounds and music!
We are wishing you and your family a magical, safe, and healthy spring!
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?
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
Hook & Batter (fish and chips)
Garden Pizza (you guessed it, a veggie pizza!)
Gulf to Shore (grilled market fish on a toasted bun)
“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.”
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.
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!)
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.”
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.”
With spring just around the corner, it’s time for the return of the 2020 EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival at Walt Disney World Resort! Join us for fun, flowers, and most importantly, FOOD! This year’s festival features 16 Outdoor Kitchens and several other locations through the park that will be offering delectable festival bites and libations.
Special dining packages are also available for the Garden Rocks Concert Series. This concert series runs for 90 nights and features over 250 performances by tons of popular artists. This dining package allows you to have either breakfast, lunch, or dinner at select table-service restaurants in the park and grants you guaranteed seating at one of three concert performances that day. Be sure to reserve these early to savor every single minute! For more information and to make your reservations, visit the Garden Rocks Dining Packages web page.
The 2020 EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival menus are incredible and you won’t want to miss out on any of these delicious bites! In addition to the returning Outdoor Kitchens like The Honey Bee-stro, The Citrus Blossom, Trowel & Trellis, and Flavor Full Kitchen, there is a new kitchen in The American Adventure called Magnolia Terrace as well as a variety of new offerings, including a selection of plant-based offerings, throughout all of the menus. Check out all of these offerings and more for the 2020 EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival detailed below in my official Foodie Guide! The festival runs now through June 1, 2020. And while you’re snacking around World Showcase, be sure to pick up a souvenir Spike the Bee spork! He’s the cutest way to snack sustainably! This reusable utensil featuring this bee-loved pollinator is available for purchase at select Outdoor Kitchens while supplies last.
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
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!
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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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
*Seasonal Passholders are blocked out at Universal Studios Florida on all Mardi Gras concert event nights.
WHAT TO BRING & WEAR
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.
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
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
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
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.
“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
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
“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.
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
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.
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.”
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.
Location: Port of Entry, Universal’s Islands of Adventure
Disney PhotoPass photographers are ready to capture your vacation memories all around Walt Disney World Resort. From picture-perfect scenic spots to popular dining experiences, these are great opportunities to take beautiful photos that include the entire family.
For those celebrating something special who want a bit more time in front of the camera, we are piloting a new experience at Magic Kingdom Park called “Capture Your Moment,” a perfect add-on to your visit.
Capture Your Moment lets you book time with a Disney PhotoPass photographer for a personalized photo session during regular park hours at Magic Kingdom Park to capture celebrations and milestones, such as a proposal, baby announcement, graduation, anniversary, family reunion, first visit, birthday, and more!
All Capture Your Moment photo session locations will offer an iconic view of Magic Kingdom Park, to include a view of Cinderella Castle. At the start of your session, your photographer will share available photo shoot locations and discuss what you’d like to capture before escorting you to your photo shoot location. Once you arrive at your photo shoot location, you will have the opportunity to capture photos there with your photographer for up to 20 minutes.
Each Capture Your Moment session is $50. Want more time in front of the camera? When you book two Capture Your Moment sessions back-to-back for $100, you can spend up to 40 minutes with your photographer capturing photos. During your 40 minutes, you’ll have the option to visit at least two photo locations.
Your Disney PhotoPass photographer will customize your photo shoot to your needs while using their creativity and personal style to take stunning photos.
Starting today, you can call 407-939-7758 to book a Capture Your Moment session. Capture Your Moment photo sessions are available starting February 10, 2020. A limited number of same-day reservations may be available starting February 10, but you must call 407-939-7758 to inquire.
Prints and digital downloads are not included with the price of a Capture Your Moment session. However, those with a Disney PhotoPass entitlement like Memory Maker or Memory Maker One Day, as well as qualifying Annual Passholders with a Disney PhotoPass download benefit, can download the photos captured during Capture Your Moment from their Disney accounts at no extra cost.
If you’re coming to Magic Kingdom Park at Disney World to celebrate, let Disney PhotoPass Service capture your special moment so you can cherish it for a lifetime!
No refund will apply for no-shows or cancellations made less than 24 hours before the session start time. Gratuity is not necessary. Prices and services offered are subject to change. Full payment is due at time of booking. Those who wish to capture photos with a photographer for longer than 20 minutes can book additional 20-minute sessions, with each session priced at $50. Additional time must be booked in advance. Capture Your Moment is only available during regular park hours. Available session locations will be provided by your photographer at the start of your session and are subject to change based on inclement weather and park operations. Because of other Guest appointments, Guests arriving late to their session cannot have their session extended beyond the stated end time. Guests under 14 years old must be accompanied by an adult (18 or older). Maximum party size is 8 per session. No wedding attire is permitted. Any Guest-supplied props need to abide by the Park Policies found here. Valid Theme Park admission required and not included in the session price. Photos are not included with the price of session. Prints and digital downloads can be purchased separately at Town Square Theater or online at Disneyworld.com/PhotoPass.
Does a Walt Disney World Resort vacation with a little one sound daunting and overwhelming? It doesn’t have to be! We’ve spent a lot of time at Disney with little ones and have learned that you can bring (or purchase) items that make traveling easier on everyone. We wanted to share with you some items that you can pack to make traveling to Disney World with a toddler as easy and stress free as possible! Plus, one of the best parts about traveling to Disney World with a toddler is that they are still FREE until their third birthday!
Reusable Straws: In an effort to be more environmentally conscious, Disney Parks (and Disney Cruise Line) no longer offer any plastic straws. Although they do have paper straws available, we have found them to be very difficult for little ones to use (and even not the greatest for adults when trying to drink a slushie or Starbucks). We love bringing reusable straws for both our kids and ourselves. We have had great luck with both metal straws and silicon straws with a handy portable case.
Water Bottle: Some locations (like Disney’s Animal Kingdom) do not have lids for their cups, either, so the reusable straw won’t help avoid spills. If you aren’t using a dining plan to receive a free resort refillable cup (that comes with a lid), then we recommend bringing a water bottle to the parks.
Sticky Notes: We have found with our kids that they are typically not a fan of the automatic flushing toilets. When little ones need a little time to sit without having to worry about the toilet flushing before they’re done, we recommend placing a sticky note over the sensor.
Glow Sticks: You can save so much money by bringing glow sticks or light up toys with you. If your kids are up late enough to enjoy the nighttime spectaculars at the parks, there’s a good chance that their little eyes will be amazed by (and want to purchase) all of the light up items. We pick up some glow sticks and have enough to cover each night of the trip!
Packable Rain Coat: You (almost) never know when a rain shower can pop up in Florida! It can be a challenge to pack jackets and rain coats for everyone in the family and carry them around in the parks all day. We love our packable rain coats for days in the parks. They are much sturdier than ponchos so you don’t have to worry about tearing and also fit much better to keep you dry.
Snacks: My second child is one that is always on the move and needs to keep busy which has made traveling slightly more challenging than it was with my first. I have had to become a little more creative and found that snacks are a great way to occupy her while waiting. We can open a pack of Goldfish or M & M’s or Smarties or applesauce while riding a bus to the parks, waiting in line, or even flying on the airplane to keep her busy and content.
Tylenol or Motrin: Unfortunately, you never know when a little one can spike a fever. My daughter had been perfectly healthy on our vacation until the night of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party when she ended up with a 103 degree fever. First aid was wonderful and gave me one dose to take back with us, but I was thankful to have packed a travel size bottle to keep the fever down throughout the rest of our vacation, if necessary.
Wipes and Hand Sanitizer: I generally am not THAT bad about cleaning every surface my child touches, especially now that I have two kids, BUT I think that it’s never a bad idea to wipe down the airplane seat, tray table, and arm rests when your child is stuck there for hours. You may also find wipes handy when you find a dirty table at a quick service restaurant or when your little one spills in the stroller. We also love these hand sanitizer wipes!
What do you find most useful when traveling to Disney World with a toddler? Be sure to let us know!
Please note that this post does contain affiliate links so we may make a small commission if you decide to purchase any of these items. Thank you for your support!
Nestled at the front of Main Street, U.S.A., Tony’s Town Square Restaurant is one of the hidden gems of Magic Kingdom Park. Here, you can relive the romance of Disney’s 1995 animated classic “Lady and the Tramp” in a charming turn-of-the-century trattoria where the famous love-struck pups shared their first plate of spaghetti and meatballs. With its whitewash balustrades, French doors, and expansive front porch, Tony’s classic Italian restaurant is the perfect spot for hopeless romantics and pasta-lovers alike!
Start your meal off with one (or more!) dishes from the antipasti menu like the Caprese with vine-ripened tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and balsamic glaze. Or if you’re looking for a light seafood appetizer, Tony’s is also known for their crispy calamari served with spicy house-made pickles and herb aïoli.
For the main course, you’ll find a variety of Italian dishes such as pizza pies, meatballs, and a variety of pastas. Tony’s pizza pies come topped with a blend of cheeses as well as your choice of pepperoni, sausage, or garden vegetables and make for a perfect shareable entrée! The Roman-style steak is another great option with spinach and ricotta ravioli, heirloom tomatoes, wilted chard, hazelnut, and lemon Parmesan crema, or you can chow down on the classic chicken parmigiana featuring lightly-breaded chicken breast topped with provolone and Tony’s marinara sauce served over freshly-made thin spaghetti and local vegetables.
Of course, you won’t want to miss out on the pasta! Choose from options like chicken fettuccine alfredo or ravioli and house-made gnocchi primavera, both topped with your choice of grilled chicken breast or grilled jumbo shrimp. The scampi pasta is also a popular dish which features fresh linguine pasta made from scratch in-house and tossed with shrimp, classic butter sauce, Parmesan, and fresh vegetables.
And you can never go wrong with good ol’ spaghetti and meatballs! Your freshly-made thin spaghetti can be topped with your choice or hand-rolled pork-beef meatballs or Italian sausage. If you’re looking for a plant-based option, you can even order mushroom meatballs!
For dessert, end your meal with a sweet treat that you won’t forget. Try a cannoli with ricotta cream-filled shells and powdered sugar or perhaps the Tiramisù featuring espresso-soaked sponge cake layered with mascarpone sweet cream and served with chocolate sauce. There’s even a yummy chocolate cupcake option for the kiddos!
Whether it’s for lunch or dinner, Tony’s Town Square Restaurant is a must-try spot for anyone visiting Magic Kingdom Park. Treat your date, your family, or even yourself to an incredible meal here, and you’ll never forget it! To view the full menu and to make reservations, visit the Walt Disney World Resort website or check out the My Disney Experience mobile app.
Are you planning to dine at Tony’s Town Square Restaurant during your next Disney World vacation?
2. Enjoy Disney After Hours Events at Magic Kingdom Park & Disney’s Animal Kingdom– Disney After Hours events allow guests to explore a theme park at night with little wait times for many favorite attractions and character greetings. (Select snacks are also included). Tickets to 2020 Disney After Hours event nights are already on sale.
3. Immerse Yourself in the Arts at the Epcot International Festival of the Arts – The Epcot International Festival of the Arts will return to the park Jan. 17-Feb. 24. Get ready to explore a variety of galleries, watch live art demonstrations, purchase artwork and get it signed by the artist, or take in a live performance in the festival’s Disney on Broadway Concert Series.
4. See Epcot’s New Films – New films will debut at Epcot on Jan. 17. “Awesome Planet” in The Land pavilion showcases the Earth’s beauty and diversity in a 10-minute film featuring spectacular imagery, in-theater effects and an original musical score from Academy Award-winning composer Steven Price. “Canada Far and Wide in Circle-Vision 360” in the Canada pavilion is an update to the previous “O Canada!” film with new scenes, a new musical score by Canadian composer Andrew Lockington and new narration by award-winning actors Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy. Sing Along to “Beauty and the Beast” in the France Pavilion – The “Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along” will debut in the France pavilion Jan. 17. Directed and produced by Don Hahn, producer of the animated and live-action “Beauty and the Beast” films, the show invites you to participate in a twist on a tale as old as time. It features narration from Angela Lansbury, who played Mrs. Potts in the original film.
5. Celebrate Your Villainous Side at Disney Villains After Hours at Magic Kingdom Park – Disney Villains After Hours which returns to the Magic Kingdom Park on 24 select nights starting Feb. 7. This year, the event will feature a new Villains Caravan that will feature favorite baddies like Gaston, Oogie Boogie, Cruella de Vil, Captain Hook and more!
6. Grab Barbecue at Regal Eagle Smokehouse at Epcot – One of the first restaurants set to open in 2020 is Regal Eagle Smokehouse: Craft Drafts & Barbecue a fast-casual barbecue experience at The American Adventure. Expect sliced Texas beef brisket sandwiches, Kansas City smoked chicken, Memphis dry-rub pork ribs, North Carolina chopped smoked pork butt, power green salads and more.
7. Journey to Space 220 for ‘Out of this World’ Cuisine – Set to open this winter, Space 220 restaurant will offer a one-of-a-kind dining experience. You’ll board a special elevator for a journey 220 miles above Earth to a space station where you’ll enjoy fantastic meals and drinks while taking in views that are truly out of this world.
8. Cool Down with Ample Hills Creamery Sweet Treats – At Disney Springs you’ll soon be able to tempt your taste buds with flavors like Ooey Gooey Butter Cake, Peppermint Pattie and Nonna D’s Oatmeal Lace when Ample Hills Creamery opens this winter.
9. Grab Grub at City Works Eatery & Pour House at Disney Springs – City Works Eatery & Pour House is set to open on the West Side of Disney Springs this winter. The restaurant and bar, offeing more than 80 beers on tap, will feature plenty of high-def TVs including a 165-inch screen, perfect for viewing live sporting events.
10. Take in the Topiaries During Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival – Welcome spring’s arrival with this popular festival, which runs March 4-June 1. This year’s event will feature delectable bites at outdoor kitchens, as well as dozens of world-renowned, Disney-themed topiaries. In addition, the Garden Rocks Concert Series will include three shows a day for all 90 days of the event.
11. Hop Aboard Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, set to open March 4 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, will be the first Disney ride-through attraction featuring Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse. Here, you will travel inside a Mickey cartoon for a fun-filled adventure where “Mouse rules apply” and anything can happen!
12. Step Into the Mickey Shorts Theater– A new Mickey Mouse-inspired theater will debut at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in March. Stop in to watch an original cartoon short and enjoy special photo opportunities.
14. Embark on Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure at Epcot – Set to open in Summer 2020 in the France Pavilion at Epcot, the Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure attraction will invite you to join Chef Remy on a super-sized journey through Gusteau’s kitchen.
15. Savor a Sweet Treat at La Creperie de Paris in Epcot – La Crêperie de Paris, offering both table- and quick-service options, opens this summer. The menu from celebrity chef Jérôme Bocuse is inspired by the Brittany region of France.
18. Gather for ‘Harmonious’ at Epcot – In 2020, Epcot is on track to debut the largest nighttime spectacular ever created for a Disney park. It will celebrate how the music of Disney inspires people the world over, carrying you away harmoniously on a stream of familiar Disney tunes reinterpreted by a diverse group of artists from around the globe. The show will feature massive floating set pieces, custom-built LED panels, choreographed moving fountains, lights, pyrotechnics, lasers and more.
19. Lasso Some Grub at Roundup Rodeo BBQ at Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Roundup Rodeo BBQ, a new table-service location, is riding into Toy Story Land in 2020. This immersive restaurant will surround guests with a kaleidoscope of toys, games, and playsets while serving up delicious dishes.
20. Celebrate many milestones at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park – It’s the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and the 25th anniversary of the Disney Conservation Fund. Plus, our gorilla family will be celebrating Lilly’s 10th birthday and Grace’s 1st birthday this spring!
Which attraction or offering are you most excited to experience at Walt Disney World Resort in 2020? Tell us in the comments section below!