At most theme parks, when you get hungry, you can expect to find a hot dog, fries, or at a push – Chinese or Mexican cuisine. Such dishes may suffice, but what happens when you want more, and you’re at Universal Orlando Resort?
Well, Universal Orlando Resort is (a lot) more than a theme park with excellent rides. It’s a pizzeria, a brewery, a cocktail bar, an ice cream stall, an American diner, an all-you-can-eat barbecue, a sushi restaurant, an Italian restaurant and, so much more! So the likelihood is, if you love your food, Universal Orlando Resort will astound you.
In this post, we’ve highlighted some of the best and most iconic food and drink to get your mouth watering and taste buds tingling.
Let’s tuck in.
The icing on the cake to any fun-packed day is what? Actual icing! And that’s what you’ll get at a selection of stalls, gift shops and restaurants at all three Universal parks. There’s an abundance of choice and plenty of Instagram-able moments to exploit. First up, it’s…
A Pink Doughnut at Lard Lad Doughnut
For starters, a giant pink-frosted doughnut from Lard Lad. As well as Homer Simpson, this iconic sweet treat is extremely popular with guests at Universal Orlando Resort. It’s soft, fluffy, coated in icing and sprinkles and, everything you want from a doughnut the size of your hand. Depending on how hungry you are, one doughnut is big enough to share between 3-5 people. And if you consider this a treat for an entire family, the $6 price tag is great!
Chocolate Frogs – Honeydukes
If you’re looking for somewhere to settle a sweet tooth, Honeydukes inside Hogsmeade is the place to go. It carries the same quirky look as the Honeydukes sweet shop from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban movie. The detailing is impressive, all the way down to the peppermint green shelves and cotton-candy pink spiral staircase, that unfortunately, you cannot climb.
Inside, it’s shelves upon shelves of Harry Potter-themed candy. The chocolate frog is our favourite, purely because of how it’s presented, in a pretty pentagon-shaped gold box and wizard collector’s card. While we’ve highlighted the chocolate frogs – a solid hunk of milk chocolate in the shape of a frog – there are plenty of other treats to tuck into, such as the dense chocolate sponge of a cauldron cake – another of our favourites.
Even if your passing Honeydukes and aren’t feeling hungry, we’d recommend you go inside and experience a real-life Harry Potter sweet shop.
Cotton Candy Cloud at Honk Honkers
Seuss Landing in Universal’s Islands of Adventure feels like a scene from your favourite children’s book. The land is home to several extravagant attractions – all brightly colour and unorthodox in shape and size. Tucked away in a nook, you’ll also find the Honk Honkers gift shop.
The cotton candy is spun wonderfully and made to order. You can keep it simple, or sprinkle all sorts of toppings like chocolate bites, marshmallows, cookies, or hundreds and thousands. Besides being delicious, it looks great on camera and will make everyone back home jealous.
Milkshakes at Toothsome Chocolate Emporium
The 19th-century steam-punk theme of Toothsome Chocolate Emporium sets it apart from all other eateries on Universal CityWalk. Its eminent build is a feast for the eyes, but inside, there’s a feast for your hunger.
The delectable desserts took our fancy, the milkshakes in particular. There aren’t many places where you can order a milkshake topped with a slice of cake big enough to fill you up. And certainly nowhere that would leave you wanting more. The menu has enough to satisfy a sweet tooth, whether it’s a brownie, a cookie, or a chocolate-covered banana that you want with your milkshake – the hardest part is making a decision. If you’re with a group, each order something different and that way you’ll get to taste more of the menu.
The entire menu at Voodoo Doughnuts
Needing no introduction, Voodoo Doughnuts is the latest addition to Universal’s CityWalk. The over-the-top doughnut shop is a fast-growing West Coast chain that has cemented a place at the top of many peoples list as the best place to get a doughnut. It appeared at CityWalk Orlando in 2018.
Where Voodoo Doughnuts are concerned, there are very few restrictions as to what can go on top of the renowned sugary food. To give you a flavour, doughnuts come covered in grape dust, sprinkled with lavender, topped with bacon and maple, or filled with Bavarian cream – just to name a few. If you want to join the hype but don’t fancy something so eccentric, don’t worry, there’s a selection of classic and glazed doughnuts with soft and fluffy dough. Plus, buy a doughnut and you’ll get a famous Voodoo Doughnuts pink carry box and a very Instagram-able moment.
Ice Cream at Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour
Chances are it will be hot when you’re in Florida, and there’s no better way to kill the heat than with an ice cream. But only if there was a Harry Potter-themed ice cream parlour in the heart of Diagon Alley? Anywhere else and this request would be absurd, but because we’re talking about Universal Orlando Resort, it’s reality.
Inside Florean Fortescue’s, the scene is set with eye-catching window displays and interesting décor that looks like it’s been lifted intact from the Harry Potter films. The colleagues play their part too, serving ice cream in pink cone holders wearing matching pink aprons that feel very Harry Potter-like.
In terms of the menu, there are around 20 (soft-serve and scooped) ice cream flavours to choose from, including Butterbeer, pistachio, apple crumble, chocolate chilli, earl grey and lavender, salted caramel blondie, vanilla, toffee apple and many more. As for toppings, options include hundreds and thousands, waffle cone pieces, crystals, chopped nuts and shortbread crumbles.
Fun fact anyone? Florean Fortescue – the owner of the ice cream parlour – descends from an ex-Hogwarts Headmaster names Dexter Fortescue.
Drinks / Beverages
A drink will be just what you need to cool down after miles of walking. And whether it’s a Harry Potter-themed beverage or a refreshing cocktail at Volcano Bay, there are tons to choose from to satisfy every need.
Butterbeer at Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley
We’ll start with the most iconic drink in the whole of Universal Orlando Resort: Butterbeer – the cold, fizzy drink that tastes like cream soda topped with butterscotch flavoured whip cream. Besides its unique flavour, it’s only available at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Butterbeer is available cold, frozen or warm – with the latter only made seasonally. Personally, we prefer the frozen Butterbeer, but we recommend trying them all if you get a chance. Also, don’t let its name fool you, Butterbeer doesn’t contain alcohol, and is safe for witches, wizards and muggles of all ages.
Butterbeer costs $3.99 cold or $4.99 frozen. If you want a souvenir to take home, and discounted refills on soda throughout the park, take a souvenir mug for $12.
Pumpkin Juice at Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley
Butterbeer isn’t the only drink that’s unique to Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. Known for being Hogwarts Students favourite beverage, Pumpkin Juice is available for you to try too. Though the taste isn’t to everyone’s liking, the aesthetic packaging complete with pumpkin topper is worth every dollar. Yet again, don’t let its name fool you as it’s not pure pumpkin juice. In fact, it’s a combination of pineapple juice, apple juice and pumpkin flavouring. If you want it bottled, you’ll find pumpkin juice at several carts dotted around the parks, or in gift shops such as Honeydukes. You can also have it on tap at the Leaky Cauldron.
Flaming Moe at Flaming Moe’s
Flaming Moe’s is a fruity orange soda unique to the Springfield Fast Food Boulevard at Universal Studios. It takes inspiration from a Simpsons episode, whereby Homer tells Moe of a secret cocktail of cough medicine and fire called the Flaming Homer. Moe steals the recipe and renames the drink the Flaming Moe.
Just to clarify, the Flaming Moe sold at Universal Studios isn’t a mix of cough medicine and fire. It is, in fact, a fizzy non-alcoholic orange-flavoured drink that comes in a “special cup” that allows the beverage to bubble, fizz and release puffs of steam. The result, a delicious beverage and another Instagram-able moment.
Moose Juice and Goose Juice at Seuss Landing
Who doesn’t love a slushy? But how about one inspired by Dr Seuss’s Sleep Book? At Moose Juice Goose Juice in Seuss Landing, slushies are available in a choice of weird and wonderful colours and flavours, including sour green apple, watermelon, grape and frozen orange. Each frozen fruit slushy costs just $4.49, and it’s a good size too, think a regular size Tango Ice Blast at the cinema and you’re not far off. Another great thing about Moose Juice and Goose Juice is that if you have a refillable Universal cup, you have the option to refill it around the parks.
Fishy Green Ale at The Fountain of Fair Fortune
There’s another recognisable beverage available in Diagon Alley that you must try. Fishy Green Ale is a wizard’s choice, and is available at the Leaky Cauldron, Fountain of Fair Fortune and The Hopping Pot – all in Diagon Alley.
The drink itself is known as “the most adventurous drink” available at Universal Orlando, which is largely down to its ingredients. Containing a mash-up of mint, cinnamon, and boba tea blueberry-flavoured “fish eggs” that release a sweet explosion, Fishy Green Ale sounds odd – but the non-alcoholic beverage is delicious. Moreover, at $5.49, it’s reasonably priced if you just want a ‘taste’.
Toasted Coconut Pineapple Cocktail at Volcano Bay
There are plenty of alcoholic drinks on offer at Universal Orlando, so you know its special when only one made our list. Kunuku Boar Bar and Dancing Dragons at Volcano Bay serve a coconut pineapple cocktail that goes hand in hand with a relax on the sun lounger.
As far as refreshing drinks go, this is as good as it gets at Volcano Bay – or anywhere inside Universal Orlando in fact. Made with toasted coconut rum and fresh pineapple juice, if you enjoy sugary cocktails with a slice of fruit, we recommend a trip to Kunuku Boar Bar or Dancing Dragons.
Good Food on the Go (Vegetarian & Meat Options)
Universal Orlando does a great job of producing delicious high-quality food to take away and eat as you wander the parks. Whether you’re looking for a hearty meal to satisfy a hungry stomach, or something light to fill the hole, we’ve highlighted our favourite quick bites to try at Universal Orlando.
Nachos at Bumblebee Man’s Taco Truck (veggie option)
If you’re looking for fast, cheap and delicious Mexican food, The Bumblebee Man in Springfield is the place to go. The menu is relatively small – with only three tacos and nachos available – but this guarantees quality food. Options include Korean beef, carne asada or chicken tacos with a side of tortilla chips, nachos topped with salsa, jalapenos, guacamole and sour cream, and to wash it down, a selection of drinks including Duff Beer and softs.
Food trucks typically have a bad name, but the food at Bumblebee Man’s Taco Truck is fresh – the meat melts in your mouth, and the toppings are full of flavour. Would highly recommend if you like Mexican food.
Turkey Legs at Thunder Falls Terrace
It’s not often you can pose with animatronic dinosaurs while eating a giant turkey leg, is it? So when visiting the Jurassic Park area of Universal Studios, we recommend heading to Thunder Falls Terrace and tucking into a succulent melt-in-your-mouth Turkey leg. Better still, you can rest your actual legs and enjoy the finale of the River Adventure Ride from a safe and dry distance inside the terrace.
Pizza Slice at Louie’s Italian Restaurant (Vegan & veggie option)
Louie’s Italian is based on the neighbourhood restaurant in The Godfather, and serves up a menu of pizza, pasta and sub sandwiches. This dainty, 1940s inspired restaurant is great if you want a break from meat, or if you’re vegetarian. Throughout Universal Orlando, there are a lot of meat-based restaurants, so it’s nice to find vegetarian options – especially pizza!
Thankfully, the size of the restaurant – which admittedly, is on the small side – doesn’t reflect the portion sizes. A jumbo-slice costs $9.99, and I’d say, in terms of its size, it’s on a par with two or three NYC dollar slices. Or half of a regular 8-10-inch pizza. Pizzas include cheese, pepperoni and vegetable.
Of all the places to eat at Universal Orlando, Louie’s Italian is one of, if not the only restaurant to offer a plant-based spaghetti bolognese. For a small restaurant, there’s a great menu selection that caters for both vegetarian and vegans.
Macaroni Cheese at Whakawaiwai Eats
Located in Volcano Bay, Whakawaiwai Eats is a quick-service restaurant with a simple and narrow menu. Options include a variety of pizzas, hot dogs, salads or, creamy macaroni cheese with white cheddar sauce. Of all the grab-and-go spots in Volcano Bay, Whakawaiwai Eats is one of the best, and the only one to serve mac and cheese. Best of all, it’s excellent value for money thanks to its shareable portion sizes.
Pastries at Moon Bakery
If you miss breakfast, or fancy something sweet throughout the day, Croissant Moon Bakery is the place to go. With most items on the menu costing less than $5, it’s the perfect grab-and-go eatery in Universal’s Islands of Adventure. For a small home-made bakery, it does a pretty good job of covering all the most commonly baked goods, including cupcakes, muffins, cookies, cheesecake, pie slices and croissants. Together with your chosen sweet treat, you can also grab a coffee for less than $4.
Other Quick Eats with a Vibrant Atmosphere
If you’re with an anti-foodie and looking for a traditional burger, fries or chicken nuggets, there are plenty of places to eat at Universal Orlando with a vibrant atmosphere. We recommend checking out Mel’s Drive-in with its 1960 jukebox, or the Monster’s Café which features classic demons such as Frankenstein and The Mummy.
Besides a great selection of grab and go food, there are tons of sit-down restaurants where you can go to rest your feet, soak up the atmosphere and enjoy a spot of table-service. Here are some of our favourites for both their food and vibe.
Fish & Chips at The Leaky Cauldron
Believe it or not, but there’s a traditional British pub in Diagon Alley. The Leaky Cauldron is a small, grubby-looking Harry Potter-themed pub that offers a quintessential dining experience and a traditional British menu. The interior is stunning, and once inside, you’ll find yourself sat under a cathedral ceiling with views towards the guest rooms in the inn. With a vibrant and friendly atmosphere, The Leaky Cauldron does a great job of replicating a traditional British pub. So too, does the menu, which includes cottage pie, bangers and mash, a ploughman’s platter and fish and chips. Being English, we’ve eaten a lot of fish and chips, and our plate at Leaky Cauldron fared well with some of our favourites from the UK. Likewise, the sticky toffee pudding we had for dessert.
Bento Box at Cow Fish (Veggie Sushi option)
Cow Fish is one of the most popular family restaurants at Universal Orlando, and rightly so when you see its menu. As the name suggests, it’s a burger and sushi/fish bar. If you’re like us, and prefer healthy food that tastes fresh and is full of flavour, you’ll also love Cow Fish.
The menu is packed with impressive dishes that cater for a wide range of tastes. There’s everything from classic makimono, speciality rolls and sushi combos, to bento boxes, wraps and more than 15 burger options. In addition to the large menu, each dish is dripping with fresh ingredients that melt in your mouth.
Our favourite is the bento box, which is ideal if you want a little taste of everything. Depending on the type of sushi you want, there are two different boxes. We went with the Cow Fish Bento Box that includes both a mini-burger and a 4-piece sushi roll. If you prefer more sushi and less burger, or if you’re sharing the plate, you can always add individual sushi rolls to make the dish unique to your taste or more hearty. In addition to the adult menu, there is a great kids’ menu with a choice of 9 bento boxes.
Shrimp at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.
This restaurant is on our list for two reasons. The first being we love shrimp, and the second being that we love the film Forrest Gump – from which it gets its inspiration. While there isn’t a box of chocolates in sight, there is a tasty menu full of shrimp.
Located on CityWalk, this restaurant – as you’d expect – is full of Forrest Gump-themed art and memorabilia. As for the menu, there are more variations of shrimp than you could ever imagine. To give you a flavour, there’s shrimp wrapped in bacon, coconut shrimp, peel ‘n’ eat shrimp, shrimp burgers, plus shrimp salads and soups, and even shrimp mac ‘n’ cheese.
As well as an abundance of shrimp, the menu does include alternatives such as traditional burgers, ribs and other types of fish like crab, salmon and lobster. Put simply, if you love fish – shrimp in particular, you have to visit this restaurant.
Anything at Hard Rock Café (Veggie options)
Whether you’re a big fan of music or not, the World’s largest Hard Rock Café remains a popular choice for anyone visiting Universal Orlando. Of course, the experience is a lot more exciting if you are into music, with classic memorabilia from The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones plastered all over the walls and the sound of their tunes playing. And not to mention, Elvis Presley’s pink Cadillac hanging from the ceiling.
If we’re honest, of all the menu options, we prefer the sharing platters at the Hard Rock Café as it suits the casual atmosphere to pick and share food as opposed to eating your own plate in silence. The Jumbo Combo gives you the opportunity to mix and match a selection of starters and their respective dips and/or sides. There are 9 options on the starters & shareable menu, including flatbreads, wings, sliders, spring rolls and a jumbo combo – a combination of them all. If you enjoy classic American tasting food, and want a show-stopping atmosphere to match, Hard Rock Café on CityWalk is a must.
Fresh Pasta at Vivo Italian Kitchen
Combining excellent service and freshly made pasta, Vivo Italian serves a menu of authentic Italian dishes from a medium-sized restaurant on CityWalk. If you’re looking to escape the “theme park feeling” for an hour or two, Vivo Italian – with its cheery atmosphere and family-friendly menu – is a great shout. The restaurant itself is a sleek, modern setting with an open Expo Kitchen that allows you to watch the chefs make fresh bread, sauce, mozzarella and pasta. If you’ve got children with you, we are sure they’ll love watching the chefs flinging the pizza dough and making the pasta. Once you’re full, cleanse your pallet with a glass of Italian wine or an Italian-inspired cocktail.
Which restaurants whet your appetite?
A classic Italian concludes the list of our favourite places to eat and drink at Universal Orlando Resort. It’s now over to you, as we’d love to hear your favourites. Feel free to share them in the comments below or by joining the discussion in our Destination Florida Facebook Group.
Until next time.