UNIVERSAL ORLANDO Resort
Universal Studios Theme Parks
Review by: Lance Hart
Springfield / Kang & Kodos Twirl ‘n’ Hurl - NOW OPEN -
(7/15/13) I put off this tasty report from Universal Studios Florida a few weeks to let everything settle in my brain a bit, as well as to let the Transformers mania die down just enough so it wouldn’t get lost in the shuffle. While on site at Universal Orlando for the grand opening of Transformers The Ride 3D I learned a great deal more about not only the new Cabana Bay Beach Resort hotel under construction, but my taste buds were also invited out for a tour of the new Springfield themed restaurants, as well as to get a sneak peek at the second phase of the Springfield street which will open later this summer.
By now you’ve seen our previous coverage, which includes the themed outside of the restaurant entrances for Cletus’ Chicken Shack, Krusty Burger, Moe’s Tavern and more. While the inside of Moe’s does indeed look like Moe’s from the cartoon (see the pictures) what you’ll find inside the rest of the doors looks more like a mall food court.
Guests are asked to enter a small queue before being released to browse and select what they would like to eat from the various counters that include Lisa’s Teashop, Luigi’s, The Frying Dutchman, Krusty Burger, Cletus’s Chicken Shack or get a tasty beverage from the Flaming Moe’s counter.
To be honest, Universal Orlando’s head chef has been working serious overtime on this one, because there are simply too many choices and options than anyone can seriously cover in one article, so I’ll talk a bit more about the ones I tried, the things I saw first hand, and if you want to see the complete menu… I tried to take good pictures of each one so you can see just how many choices you have.
Just on the beverage side alone, in addition to all your normal beverage choices you can get anywhere in Universal Orlando, you can also try one of 8 different Simpsons themed drinks. For adults you can try Duff Beer, Duff Lite or Duff Dry… and to be honest these seemed to be selling like hotcakes because if you’re into beer how can you walk through the hallowed doors of Moe’s and not at least try a Duff? At the time of my visit Moe’s Tarvern only had Duff and Duff Lite on tap, so to get a Duff Dry you had to go over to the Moe’s Express counter where they had the themed glass bottles of Duff. While I got a quick pictures of these rare Duff glass bottles… guests are not being given these to take with them however. All the Duff is poured into a glass or cup and the bottles disposed of behind the counter. I was told that they were working on getting all three versions bottled into themed Aluminum Bottles in the near future so they could give them directly to the guests.
For those not into beer or underage, they’ve got the Flaming Moe signature drink which comes in a special glass with a dry ice chamber at the bottom to keep it bubbling like mad while you drink it. I really enjoyed the one I tried, as it had a nice citrus soda taste to it, infused with the dry ice bubbles. (Watch the video below to see how they pour it!) If I had to describe it, I’d say it tasted almost like an even better tasting version of Sundrop, but with some extra unique flavors added in. Very refreshing and you get to take home your official Flaming Moe glass too!
Want something a little different? There are three juice based drinks to choose from: the Mt. Swartzwelder Apple Drink (a mixture of apple juice, apple syrup, lemonade and tea), the Groovy Grove Juice (OJ, lemonade, blood orange syrup) or a Mr. Teeny (Lemonade, Pinapple Juice with Blue Curacao Syrup). Talking with the bartenders at the Moe’s Express counter revealed that of the three, the Mt. Swartzwelder Apple Drink already seemed to be a guest favorite, behind the Flaming Moe of course.
Finally, last on the list is the official Buzz Cola… another Simpsons creation, described officially as a ‘Zero Calorie Cherry Flavored Cola’. I did a little research with the staff and bartenders and learned that Buzz Cola is really Coke Zero with an added pump of the cherry flavored Buzz Cola syrup. As the only diet drink in the bunch, this may be your ticket, but it still tastes like a zero calorie drink and I found it a little lacking for that reason. Fortunately, I’ve got the solution for you… so consider this the first of what may eventually become a “secret menu” of options from Springfield, but you can ask the bartenders to make you a Buzz Cola with real Coke instead of Coke Zero. If you want a Shirley Temple style version, ask if they will a pump of Buzz to a Sprite instead.
Ok, enough about the drinks… lets take a look at the food options. There is a lot of it… more than I can event possibly remember, and more than any one could possibly try to taste in one sitting. I sampled a few during a special media tour and then went back the next day to see it all as a guest, ordered my own from the counter and sat there for awhile and people watched… taking it all in. Hands down, Universal’s food and beverage division has hit another ball completely out of the park with this place. People were lined up in droves for the opportunity to shove a Krusty Burger in their facehole making this the busiest looking restaurant in the entire theme park.
Those looking for a more healthy choice can grab something from Lisa’s Teahouse near the front of the line, or you can venture out to the other counters to have your dish custom assembled in front of your eyes by the staff, making it just the way you like it. The one counter that seemed to have the slowest business during my visit was The Frying Dutchman (seafood) which features battered and plattered fish, baskets of Shrimp or Calamari, or a bowl of Clam Chowd-arr!
There were light crowds at Luigi’s pizza stand, but they were thick as can be over at Cletus’ Chicken Shack and Krusty Burger. Krusty offers hot dogs, a Ribwich and hamburgers as you would expect, but in addition to the Krusty Burger their actual signature item is a little number called the Clogger Burger. This is a double cheese burger, topped with bacon, a secret sauce, and melted cheddar cheese sauce. They described the Clogger to essentially be the embodiment of Homer Simpson in Burger form… big, sloppy and hard to handle… but you’ll enjoy every second of it. It comes with a large side of seasoned curly fries and is really quite good and especially filling. I really wanted to try the Ribwich too… but I ran out of time, so putting that on my list of things to try next time.
Over at Cletus’s Chicken Shack they have chicken, chicken and more chicken dishes, each which comes with a side of tater tots. For those wanting a more healthy choice, you’ve got the Thrilled To be Grilled Chicken Sandwich. They’ve got Chicken Thumb (Tenders), Chicken Arms (BBQ or Buffalo Wings), a Double Batter Chicken Platter and then the signature dish… Chicken & Waffle Sandwich. It was the Chicken and Waffle sandwhich which I choose to sample and ended up eating the whole darn thing. You’ve got a large boneless chicken breast, double battered and fried extra crispy, then placed between two waffles who humbly serve as your ‘bun’. If this doesn’t sound odd enough at first, then they add a special custom ‘maple syrup mayo’ sauce to the top which adds a taste of perfection to it all. To be honest, I hate mayo and you will never catch me putting it on a single thing that I eat, but for review purposed I left it on because much like in Dirty Harry, I just had to know for myself what it tasted it and boy am I glad I did. This was pure awesome-sauce and was the perfect topping for this incredible creation. Try it… and you’ll love it.
Now keep in mind that all this, mixed with the existing Simpsons ride is just Phase 1 of the new Springfield themed street. Everything else along the waterfront side of the street will open “later this summer” which will include the new Kang and Kodos Twirl ‘n’ Hurl spinning ride. For those wanting to know that is Kodos up on top of the ride itself, with a huge evil green head, a giant meanancing eyeball, pointy teeth and a wicked case of drool. If you’ve seen any of the videos that have some out so far showing off Kodos spinning around in action during test runs, this may be one of the most creepy kiddie flat rides of all time. Seriously… there are going to be some small kids who are not going to want to go near this thing… especially with Kodos’ curly green tentacles coming down each of the ride arms towards where the riders side inside little flying saucers. According to what I was told, while we haven’t seen them yet, there will be large tentacle looking objects mounted just outside the spinning action of the ride and during your spin around Kodos, who will be talking to you “foolish humans” the entire time, you can fly your saucer up or down to break a target beam at the right time on those outer tentacles which will cause certain special things to happen. If you are looking for Kang… he will be placed near the ride’s entrance. (and likely left silent…)
Speculation: I’m guessing the choice to let Kodos do all the talking may stem from the fact that Kodos is voiced by Dan Castellaneta and Kang is voiced by Harry Shearer. If you go back to the story behind the creation of The Simpsons ride, it has been said many times that Harry Shearer opted to not work with Universal on the project, while all the other voice talent joined on. As a result all of the characters that Harry Shearer voices either are not present in the attraction, or remain silent. In addition to Kang that long list includes: Mr. Burns, Smithers, Ned Flanders, Reverend Lovejoy, Kent Brockman, Dr. Hibbert, Lenny, Principal Skinner, as well as Otto.
Next to this ride, along the waterfront will be Duff Gardens, and outdoor bar and snack stand that will not only offer the Duff line of beers but is expected to also offer some bar food items as well. It isn’t known at this time if Duff Gardens will only offer the same food items found across the street, or if they will come up with a unique signature themed food item of their own. There will also be a stationary Duff Man figure posed nearby to take you picture with.
Behind larger Duff Gardens structure is the smaller take-out Lard Lad Donuts
stand, which will feature a gigantic Lard Lad statue out front that will be even taller than the Optimus Prime statue. For now the tasty Lad Lard donuts and cream filled cupcakes are sold at the registers in the food court across the street. Parked out front of Lard Lad will be a Chief Wiggim figure to pose with, standing next to his squad car which he “parked” on top of a fire hydrant, near the park’s statue of Jebediah Springfield.
Fun Fact: A Springfield themed land was proposed for Islands of Adventure when the park was still in development. One of the main attractions proposed would take guests into the animated world of Springfield via a simulator ride themed as a school bus driven by Otto. According to the rumor mill, while Simpsons’ creator Matt Groening was very open and supportive of the idea, word has it that at the time Fox was not open to the idea of making any kind of theme park deal for the Simpsons IP, thus killing the proposal.
There is also one more major feature not included in the official concept art that was revealed to Screamscape during our visit to the construction site. A huge 30 foot long Taco Truck themed to Bumblebee Man, will be parked just beyond the Lard Lad site, closest to the Animal Actors show end, and will feature a giant Bumblebee Man head sticking out the top with huge antennas that will have a 14 foot overall span between them running long-wise from the front to the back of the truck. The menu has yet to be released, but is guaranteed to have a great collection of even more yummy food options to choose from. (If I have one request of Universal’s Chef… please bring the impossible to find outside Southern California “Rolled Tacos” to the Taco Truck! I beg you, topped wit Guacamole, Sour Cream and shredded cheese… Muy Bueno!)