In addition to Universal Orlando’s announcement of Cabana Bay, a new, value-priced family resort opening next year, Universal Orlando recently announced big changes that will be coming to the CityWalk entertainment area, as well as an all-new vacation planning tool that makes it much easier to plan a visit to the parks if you’ve never been before (or if you’re a seasoned veteran!). When we were visiting in early November we met up with Cody’s sister, who lives in the Orlando area and took the water taxi from the on-site Loews Royal Pacific hotel to CityWalk for dinner. When we arrived there was a live band playing as guests gathered after leaving the parks for the day. While we had our choice of plenty of places to eat, we went with Chinese. Cody’s sister said she had come on several dates to CityWalk, as it’s a public space for both guests of the park, visitors and locals alike. I’m a little sad I was under the weather because the mini-golf course looked like a good one.
So what’s coming with the expansion? In addition to ample dining and entertainment choices already available, CityWalk will be welcoming the Hot Dog Hall of Fame, which will feature “iconic hot dog creations from some of our nation’s most famous ball parks,” as well as CowFish sushi and burger bar out of Charlotte, North Carolina and frozen treat establishments including Cold Stone and Menchie’s. There will be three all new and original restaurant offerings as well — Red Oven Pizza Bakery, which is already open, offers Neapolitan-style pizza, a new tapas-style restaurant named Antojitos, a home-style deli called Bread Box, as well as an open-kitchen Italian restaurant called the Italian Kitchen (and if this Italian restaurant’s food is anywhere close to Mama Della’s at Loews Portofino Bay resort, COUNT. ME. IN.)
Curious what Universal Orlando may have in store for your family? Their new online vacation planning tool lets you put in who is coming (Big kids? Little kids? No kids?) as well as select the month or time of year you’re interested in visiting. You can then narrow down your search by attractions, dining, entertainment, hotels, and more. Once you’ve entered all your information, the site gives you a visual list of what would work best for your party — we had over 80 results across all the Universal Orlando properties broken down by location and popularity. Our options are full of child-friendly dining options, play areas, favorite children’s rides, as well as special events and entertainment that both kids and adults would enjoy. (Wouldn’t you love to take your kids to Blue Man Group?) Whenever you click on one of the suggested activities, it gives you minimum height requirements (for rides), as well as a short description and links to videos (when available). The Planner even lets you put in your budget for park tickets and gives you package options with various dates and additional entertainment options.
Having only been to Universal Orlando once for a very short time, seeing all of the options laid out visually helps tremendously with planning how much we would be able to fit into one day with a toddler in tow. It also lets us plan who is going on which roller coaster with Addie now that she’s tall enough for almost all of them (YAY!).
Universal Orlando is already a popular vacation destination for many families, and with the addition of the new resort, expansion of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, new dining options at CityWalk, as well as an easy way to plan all of it? It’s only going to get better.
You can find the Universal Orlando Vacation planning tool here.
Find more of Casey’s writing on her blog moosh in indy or her Babble Voices site Shutterlovely. She’s also available on twitter, facebook, flickr and Instagram. If you can’t find her any of those places? Check the couch, she’s probably taking a nap.