Universal Orlando Resort for Newbies – CityWalk

Whether you are a long-time Walt Disney World guest looking to switch theme parks on your next trip or you are visiting Orlando for the first time, planning a visit to Universal Orlando Resort poses a lot of questions. In this article, we will cover CityWalk, compare it to Disney Springs, and help you avoid crowds.

What is CityWalk?

Universal Orlando Resort for Newbies – CityWalk

CityWalk is Universal Orlando’s dining, shopping, and entertainment district. It is comprised of 11 full-service restaurants, over a dozen counter service restaurants and snack stands, half a dozen shops, live entertainment, theaters, and clubs.

Where is CityWalk?

Universal Orlando Resort for Newbies – CityWalk citywalk map
CityWalk is located in the heart of Universal Orlando.

CityWalk is sandwiched between Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure theme parks. All guests must pass through CityWalk when arriving and leaving the two theme parks. CityWalk is accessible by walking paths, boats, and buses from Universal Orlando hotels.

How Does CityWalk Compare to Disney Springs?

At first glance, both seem similar but there are two big differences between them: size and location.

Universal Orlando Resort for Newbies – CityWalk
Disney Springs layout (left) and CityWalk Orlando (right). CityWalk can fit into the upper left most part of Disney Springs, The Marketplace.

Disney Springs is a sprawling 120 acres over three districts while CityWalk is a compact 30 acres, roughly the same size as Disney Springs Marketplace District. This means fewer shops, restaurants, entertainment, and people can fit in there. Example: CityWalk has 11 full-service restaurants while Disney Springs features 21 options. Shopping is more prominent at Disney Springs with dozens of shops while CityWalk mostly features gift shops for the parks and restaurants.

Second, Disney Springs is not located within walking distance from the theme parks or most resorts and must be reached by car, bus, or boat (from select resorts). Compare this to CityWalk which is located immediately outside of the two theme parks and within walking distance from the parks. This makes CityWalk a great place to escape the theme parks during the afternoon and to grab a quick bite to eat.

Both CityWalk and Disney Springs offer live street entertainment, movie theaters, and have a signature stage show (Cirque Du Soleil Drawn to Life in Disney Springs or Blue Man Group in CityWalk, although these shows have been paused during the COVID-19 pandemic). One aspect CityWalk beats Disney Springs is with nightlife by featuring several clubs, live-band karaoke bar, and a large live concert venue.

CityWalk Establishments

Universal Orlando Resort for Newbies – CityWalk
This list is accurate as of January 2021. Offerings frequently change; check TouringPlans’ page or Universal’s CityWalk website for the most accurate list.

Table Service Restaurants

Quick Service Restaurants

Food Carts & Snacks


  • Hard Rock Shop (Rock inspired merchandise)
  • Hart & Huntington Tattoo Shop (Tattoos and tattoo merchandise)
  • Quiet Flight Surf Shop (Clothing)
  • Toothsome Chocolate Emporium (to-go candies and treats)
  • Universal Studios Store (Theme park merchandise)

Entertainment and Clubs


Universal Orlando Resort for Newbies – CityWalk
Photograph copyright Universal Orlando.

TouringPlans users give the CityWalk establishments positive reviews. Their favorite table service locations are Vivo, Toothsome, and Bigfire while their favorite quick-service locations are Breadbox, Hot Dog Hall of Fame, and Red Oven. For snacks and treats, our readers loved Voodoo Donuts, Cinnabon, and Cold Stone Creamery.

Cinemark Theaters recently received a large refurbishment of the theater making it a good place to catch a movie. Hollywood Drive-In Golf is fun but expensive; if you are looking for miniature golf consider getting an Uber to a location on I-Drive. Blue Man Group is a fun, rambunctious, and colorful show that combines music and comedy; it comes with my personal recommendation.

Touring Tips

CityWalk is the most crowded in the evenings starting at roughly 6:00 p.m. until two hours after park close. Fridays and Saturdays are the most crowded with locals and conventioneers milling around the clubs. We suggest visiting CityWalk during lunch for shopping, or eating an early lunch. Most establishments open at 11:00 a.m. with the exclusion of Starbucks, Cinnabon, and Voodoo Donuts which open with CityWalk in the morning.

COVID Note: Restaurants are running at a reduced capacity, and shops are socially distanced. Limited outdoor seating is available at Cowfish, Margaritaville, NBC Grill & Brew, Toothsome, Hot Dog Hall of Fame, Red Oven, Starbucks, Lone Palm, BK Whopper Bar, Moe’s Southwestern Grill, Panda Express, and Fusion Bistro.

Do you have questions about Universal Orlando Resort? Leave your questions and comments below!

Universal Orlando Resort for Newbies – CityWalk

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Universal Orlando Resort 2021 Preview

As we yeet 2020 off a cliff into oblivion it is finally time to look ahead to 2021. In addition to a year of change, firsts, and hopefully many vials of vaccines, 2021 also is bringing many additions and changes to the Universal Orlando Resort. In this article, we will preview the year ahead at Universal Orlando Resort.

Before we get any further, please consider donating to the Cast Member Pantry or other local food banks to help support employees let go in 2020.

Jurassic World VelociCoaster

Universal Orlando Resort 2021 Preview
Concept art copyright Universal Orlando.

One of the most anticipated coasters in the world for 2021, the Jurassic World VelociCoaster opens in summer 2021 at Islands of Aventure. This brand-new coaster combines all the elaborate theming and intricate design work from Universal’s recent projects, such as Hagrid, with the design of a modern steel coaster. VelociCoaster features two launches, four inversions, near missing “head-chopper” rockwork, and a 155-foot-tall top hat element.

Universal Orlando Resort 2021 Preview
Photograph copyright Universal Orlando.

You will be racing through the raptor paddock in style on slick, 24-seat coaster vehicles. The head-rest mounted spot-lights will illuminate our path while the lap bars will provide unparalleled freedom of movement during the ride’s sustained airtime.

Jurassic World VelociCoaster opens in summer 2021.

New CityWalk Store

In early 2020 several CityWalk retail establishments closed for a new project. Throughout 2020 the stores were gutted and reconfigured into one large venue. While Universal has not confirmed the replacement, we believe the store will be a new, larger Universal Studios Store with more retail space and themed sections. Expect an official announcement sometime in early 2021 for a 2021 opening.

Mardi Gras 2021

Universal Orlando Resort 2021 Preview

Feet don’t fail me now. Mardi Gras 2020 was cut short due to COVID-19 but expect a return of a modified Mardi Gras in 2021. While we are not expecting any concerts this year, expect an updated Tribute Store, Mardi Gras float walk-through experience, more unique food and beverage options, and of course stilt walkers. Stilt walkers are Universal.

Universal has not announced Mardi Gras 2021 dates yet, but the event is likely to occur from February through April 2021.

Halloween Horror Nights 30

Universal Orlando Resort 2021 Preview

The biggest gut-punch this year was the cancelation of 2020’s Halloween Horror Nights in what would have been the event’s 30th anniversary year. Thankfully Universal provided a small taste of the event in September and October with a daytime Halloween event to satiate us. 2021 will bring us the full anniversary year with 10 houses, multiple shows, scare zones, and more. Universal even went the extra mile and teased us with a house debuting next year, Puppet Theater Captive Audience:

Due to 2020’s cancellation, expect Universal to keep announcements close to the vest for a while. We believe Halloween Horror Nights 2021 will run from the beginning of September through October 31, 2021.

Other Surprises…

Universal always has a few surprises up its sleeves for any given year, from new experiences like meeting dinosaurs, to new restaurants, and even all-new theme parks. We expect lots of additions and updates throughout the year and you can find all that coverage, and more, on the TouringPlans blog!

Universal Orlando Resort 2021 Preview

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NEWS: Universal CityWalk in Hollywood Is Reopening TODAY!

While Universal Orlando’s CityWalk reopened last month and Florida’s Univeral Orlando’s theme parks reopened on June 5th, the same can’t be said for Universal Hollywood which has remained closed in California since mid-March.

NEWS: Universal CityWalk in Hollywood Is Reopening TODAY!


But now Universal Hollywood’s CityWalk has just announced that they’ll begin a phased reopening of several shops and restaurants TODAY!

Universal Hollywood’s CityWalk has just stated that select venues will be open from 12-8 PM daily beginning today. Like in other shopping districts, individual venue hours may vary.

NEWS: Universal CityWalk in Hollywood Is Reopening TODAY!


At this time, self-parking is available and complimentary.

Again, this reopening includes limited venues. The opening locations include the following:

NEWS: Universal CityWalk in Hollywood Is Reopening TODAY!

Universal Website Screenshot

They’ve issued many of the same health and safety measures we’ve already seen implemented at Universal Orlando’s CityWalk including all guests and employees must undergo temperature screenings and wear face masks for the duration of their visit except while eating or drinking.

Universal Studios Hollywood hasn’t announced when their theme park will be reopening at this time, but we’ll let you know as soon as we hear anything! Of course, we’re curious if Downtown Disney will be reopening soon in light of this development, so we’ll be on the lookout for any news pertaining to Disneyland Resort too!

Will you be stopping by Universal Hollywood’s CityWalk for the grand reopening? Let us know if you’re planning on going in the comments below!

Related posts:

  1. Updated! Legoland in Central Florida Announced Reopening Date Before Governor’s Approval
  2. Here’s A Look at the Safety Measures Being Discussed By Major U.S. Theme Parks Right Now
  3. Margaritaville at CityWalk in Universal Orlando Just Reopened — and it Already Has a 2.5 Hour Wait!

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Universal Studios Hollywood Might Be Looking To Reopen in July

Disney World and Disneyland have been closed since March, but attractions over on the east coast have been slowly opening up to guests again.

Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle

Universal Orlando plans to open its theme parks this week and Disney World will follow next month. Earlier today, we learned that Disneyland Resort is now only accepting reservations beginning July 15th. But according to recent reports, Universal Studios Hollywood is already considering opening the theme parks in July.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, one of the unions representing Universal employees shared with its members that Universal Hollywood is “hopeful” that the whole theme park will reopen in July.

Universal Studios

The message from the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees also stated that CityWalk could open “‘on a limited basis’ as soon as June 8th.”

VooDoo Doughnut CityWalk

Their county was recently cleared to reopen in-person dining and retail, but Universal has not released an official statement on their reopening timeline for CityWalk or the theme parks. We will continue to keep you updated as we learn more!

When Disneyland reopens, will it be similar to how Disney World is planning to reopen? You can read more about their plans here!

When would you be ready to visit a California theme park? Let us know in the comments!

Related posts:

  1. We’re LIVE from the Reopening of Universal Orlando’s CityWalk
  2. SeaWorld Orlando Tested Their Mako Coaster With Masked Riders Today!
  3. Universal Will Furlough Part-Time Hourly Employees Beginning in May

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SeaWorld Orlando Tested Their Mako Coaster With Masked Riders Today!

Although Disney Springs is set to begin a phased re-opening tomorrow, May 20th, and Universal Orlando’s CityWalk has re-opened to the public, Florida’s major theme parks still remain closed.


No opening dates have been announced for Disney World, Universal Orlando, or SeaWorld Orlando, but SeaWorld appears to already be prepping for guests to return.

The Orlando Sentinel spoke with Dan Leavelle, who was passing by the park earlier this morning. He caught a glimpse of one of the park’s coasters, Mako, racing around the track carrying masked passengers.

Mako Coaster in SeaWorld Florida ©DanLeavelle

The coaster reaches 73 miles per hour and features a 200 foot drop. Leavelle reports he watched for about an hour and through about 30 run-throughs, he didn’t see any masks fall off. Dan Leavelle runs Midway Mayhem and posted a video of the test runs on his YouTube.


A SeaWorld representative confirmed the park was testing the coaster, but did not have any additional information on a re-opening timeline. We will keep you updated as we learn more about SeaWorld, Disney World, and Universal Orlando’s re-opening dates!

Would you ride a coaster if masks were required? Let us know in the comments!

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