Earlier today, Universal Orlando hosted a media event to discuss some of the new changes coming to the Universal Orlando resort, specifically the upcoming changes to CityWalk, the popular nightlife destination on property that all guests pass through on their way to the parks. In the past, CityWalk has been primarily focused on entertainment for everyone, whether you are looking for great dining experiences at Emeril’s and Margaritaville or maybe hanging out at a club like Rising Star for the night or even catching a movie or playing miniature golf. CityWalk is still focused on having an experience for every unique individual, but the focus is definitely shifting towards restaurants and other eateries that can be enjoyed whether you go in the day or night.
The first announcement of the day was about the Universal Studios Store. The studio store will remain in its current location, but it is going to get a brand new look on the inside and outside. The bland, concrete structure will be transformed into a sleek, blue building that really sets the tone of the new CityWalk design. Guests will be able to purchase Harry Potter, Transformers, Simpsons, Despicable Me and Marvel merchandise along with all of the other products Universal licenses without having to step foot in a park.
Next on the agenda was dining experiences at Universal CityWalk. Starbucks has been a staple of CityWalk for a very long time and it is a popular destination for guests to stop in the morning as they are heading into the parks as well as the afternoon and night when they need a pick-me-up. As it currently stands, Starbucks is on the second floor of CityWalk, but it is now going to be moved downstairs to the ground level to provide easier access for guests as well as an opportunity to expand seating.
For ice cream lovers out there, the popular chain store Cold Stone Creamery will be a great new addition. The new store will be going on the ground floor as well and provide the same homemade ice cream with endless amounts of toppings to mix in. If ice cream isn’t your favorite frozen treat, Menchies Frozen Yogurt will be added to the second floor of CityWalk right next to the movie theater. If you’ve never heard of Menchies, it is a California-based frozen yogurt chain that is very popular in Florida, Georgia and Ohio as well as many other states. Menchies even has stores in 26 foreign countries. The choices of yogurt changes daily, but each flavor is unique and has the potential to be Kosher or fat-free. The yogurt is priced by the ounce and each Menchies has a toppings bar to make the treat even more delicious.
Also beside the movie theater will be a new quick service restaurant, Bread Box, where you will be transported back to your childhood kitchen or favorite deli. All of the ingredients are fresh, from the bread that is made in-house daily to the meats and vegetables used on each sandwich. Bread Box will be the place to go if you are in the mood for a traditional sandwich or want to experiment with a craft sandwich.
Although CityWalk already has an Italian restaurant, Pastamore, there will be a new Italian Kitchen coming in that is currently named Pranzo. The kitchen is the star of the show at Pranzo, because you will be able to view the food being made as you sit in and dine. All of the pasta at Pranzo will be hand-made daily in front of guests. Universal Creative did not say whether or not Pastamore would be on the chopping block when the new Italian Kitchen is added, but it would made sense because all sides of Italian food are covered between Pranzo and another new addition, Red Oven Pizza Bakery. The new pizza place at CityWalk mixes quick service and sit-down service. Guests can order one of Red Oven Pizza Bakery’s signature pies or they can have theirs made-to-order. The pizza is made right before your eyes and is then put into a 900 degree pizza oven where it cooks to perfection. Guests can even see their pizza cooking through a tiny oven window before it is brought to their table.
If you’re looking for authentic Mexican food, look no further than Antojitos. A few months ago the Latin Quarter club went under construction and a building shaped like an old church started to form. Now we know that it will be the Mexican place Antojitos that prides itself on fresh, authentic Meixcan food that really shows the heart and soul of the culture. There will be two kitchens, two floors and two different menus. Some dishes, such as the guacamole, will be prepared right at your very own table.
One of the more exciting announcements was Hot Dog Hall of Fame, a new concept restaurant by the same company that designed the Rainforest Café and T-Rex Café. Hot Dog Hall of Fame will invite patrons to their very own ball park to enjoy a variety of different hot dogs and sausages. On the menu will be twelve different dogs that represent a ball park or city as well as french fries, sweet potato fries and more. Guests will have the chance to sit in a seat from their favorite ball park and even sit on the bleachers and watch a game on the jumbotron. Whether you enjoy a loaded Chicago dog, Boston brat, or a monster LA dog, guests will also have the chance to try many different mustards from all over the world. The dogs will come in different sizes including a standard dog, footlong, and two footlong. Just make sure you don’t ask for ketchup on your hot dog. Hot Dog Hall of Fame will have no problem giving it to you, but they strictly believe ketchup is not for hot dogs.
The most unique concept coming to Universal CityWalk is The Cowfish. The Cowfish is an idea created from two minds based out of North Carolina. Besides the two stores in North Carolina, this is the first Cowfish anywhere else in the world and it will most likely be a huge hit. The restaurant’s claim to fame is “Burgushi,” a different combination that takes sushi items and places them into a sandwich or burger items are placed into sushi rolls. Besides “Burgushi,” guests will also be able to choose from a wide selection of gourmet burgers or classic sushi rolls. It is the perfect place to go when no one can decide exactly what they want and if someone in your family is a little weary about trying sushi then this might be the place to take them. The Cowfish also prides itself as a full bar that serves local craft beers, sake and even spiked milkshakes.
Universal Orlando believes that CityWalk will never be finished and new restaurants and experiences will come and go. Keep watching for more updates on the newest additions to CityWalk and exciting new plans in the future!