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 CityWalk Hollywood is Open for Business Starting Today

Universal CityWalk Hollywood is Open for Business Starting Today Universal CityWalk Hollywood

Starting today, Universal CityWalk begins a thoughtful phased reopening of select venues welcoming guests back to enjoy the iconic destination as it resumes operations with enhanced health and safety measures.

CityWalk is open daily from 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.  Following is a partial list of select venues that are now open; individual venue hours may vary. Additional venues will be added as the phased opening continues and hours of operation are subject to change. Complimentary self-parking is available during this initial reopening period, subject to change.

Please visit the Universal CityWalk website or the Universal Studios Hollywood mobile app for updated information.

  • Dining & Eateries:  Voodoo Doughnut, Johnny Rockets, Blaze Pizza, Starbucks,

Crepe Café, Pizza Hut & KFC, Taco Bell, and Buca di Beppo.

  • Retail: Shoe Palace, Skechers, and Guess Accessories

Universal CityWalk is implementing new health and safety measures that focus on Screening, Spacing and Sanitization.  A single point of entry now welcomes guests to the destination along with temperature checks and required face coverings. Click here for a video highlight of CityWalk’s new protocol.

While working closely with local health officials and the company’s own health and safety experts, Universal CityWalk will continue to monitor conditions and make adjustments as conditions evolve. Specific health and safety measures include:

  • Temperature checks for all Guests upon arrival. If they have a temperature of 100.4° Fahrenheit / 38° Celsius or greater, the Guest will not be permitted to enter.
  • Face coverings required for all Guests throughout their visit. Face coverings also will be available for purchase.
  • Limited occupancy at all venues to help enforce social distancing.
  • Rigorous cleaning and disinfecting at all high touch points, including chairs and tables.

Universal Studios Hollywood remains temporarily closed. Universal Orlando’s theme parks, CityWalk and hotels are now open.

More information about Universal CityWalk and Universal Studios Hollywood is available at

Regular updates can be found on Universal Studios Hollywood’s Twitter @UniStudios, Facebook-Universal Studios Hollywood and Instagram @UniStudios.

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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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Observations from Reopening at Universal Orlando Resort

Universal Orlando Resort is reopened its theme parks on June 5. While Spider-Man still slings above New York City and Hogwarts’ gate is once again open, some things have changed to make guests safer in a COVID-19 world. Prior to opening for the general public Universal invited their Team Members and Annual Passholders to preview and test out those new security measures and protocols. We will go over some of those changes and what it means for your touring of the parks.

Virtual Queue

Universal Orlando is now offering a Virtual Queue option for many of its most popular attractions. Here’s how it works:

  • Download and create an account for the Universal Orlando app
  • Open the app when near or inside the parks
  • At park open, select the attraction you wish to reserve a time for
  • Select the Virtual Line Pass button on the attraction’s page
  • Select a party size and return time
  • A QR code with the party’s return time will display on the app (we suggest taking a screengrab of that QR code for safekeeping)
  • When it is your return time, head to the attraction and present the QR code for scanning

Now you will have a minimal wait in a standard, socially distanced queue. Guests are able to hold two passes at once and when one pass is redeemed they can book another.

Attractions offering Virtual Queue are changing frequently; check the Universal Orlando app for the most up-to-date list.

Queue Modifications

Queues throughout the resort are modified to practice social distancing. Guests are spaced out 10 feet apart with markers and normal switchbacks are now reduced or eliminated. Some attractions that feature preshows rooms, such as at Men in Black and Gringotts, are turned off; guests now walk through the rooms as if they are standard queue space. The Simpsons Ride, Fallon, and Fast & Furious still operate their preshow rooms due to required safety spiels. If an attraction features 3D video, a Team Member will hand out the glasses to each guest. Additionally, prior to boarding, guests will be given hand sanitizer before handling ride vehicle restraints.

Modified Character Greetings

Characters are Universal, so we are excited to see our favorites return to the parks. Universal landed on a novel solution that takes cues from its Halloween Horror Nights event: characters now greet guests from a safe distance on stages. While on stage, the characters will interact with guests, pose for photos, and wave to all that pass by. Such character interactions include Marvel characters between Marvel Super Hero Island and the Toon Lagoon Amphitheater, Seuss Landing characters outside Circus McGurkus, The Simpsons in their Winnebago, the Knight Bus conductor at the back of the bus, Doc Brown working on the Time Train, and more.

While the Universal Superstar Parade is no longer running, some parade floats do make a small run around the park frequently to bring more character interaction to the streets.

Reservation Only Olivanders

Here at TouringPlans, we were wondering how an experience like Olivanders could work in a world of social distancing. Each Olivanders show places roughly 20 guests into a small room where one guest is picked to have a wand choose them. Universal took a page from Disney’s Savi’s Workshop and has made the Olivanders experience reservation only. Approach the Team Member in Diagon Alley (at this time outside the Fireworks store facade) or in Hogsmeade to schedule a time.

Dining Changes

Universal Dining has morphed, too. Full-service dining locations such as Mythos, Confisco Grill, Finnegan’s, Lombard’s, and more are running at a reduced capacity. Menus are now one-time use (a free souvenir? In a theme park?!), silverware and plates are presented on a tray you take yourself, and interactions with Team Members are kept to a minimum.

Counter-service restaurants now highlight mobile ordering; simply use the Universal Orlando app and order the food and beverages for the party. If a guest has an Annual Pass or Team Member discount, the difference is offered back in change at pick up. Seating and ordering change location to location. Indoor locations, such as Leaky Cauldron in Diagon Alley, seat you prior to order and the food is delivered to your table. Other venues operate like normal, including the illusive Wimpy’s Burgers in Toon Lagoon, which offers standard window ordering.

One food and beverage location NOT open currently are bars due to Florida regulations. Backwater Bar and Hog’s Head in Islands of Adventure along with Moe’s, Duff Gardens, and Finnegan’s in Universal Studios Florida remain closed. Florida Governor DeSantis announced recnelty bars can reopen June 5 but it is unknown when Universal will reopen their bars.

U-Rest Areas

If guests require a rest, Universal has set up areas where social distancing is possible and masks are allowed to be removed. Named U-Rest, these areas sprinkled throughout the parks provide tables, chairs, umbrellas, and places to rest without having to wear a mask. U-Rest areas are subject to change and currently located at Port of Entry in Islands of Adventure, Central Park in Universal Studios Florida, and Fear Factor Live in Universal Studios Florida.


What’s a visit to Univerasl Orlando without a stay at their amazing resorts? This week the Universal hotels reopened, with Endless Summer Dockside and Portofino Bay remaining closed. Prior to entry a temperature check is required and masks must be worn at all times in public areas. Universal is only filling every other room on flooors to keep social distancing when returning to your room.

These are the first looks at changes to Universal’s parks and resorts. While several of these changes are unique and specific to Universal, it is very possible these changes will be adopted at Disney parks as well. Universal has not stated an end date for their policies and procedures, but we expect them to last through the fall and until a therapeutic and/or vaccine for COVID-19 is developed.

Universal Orlando Resort reopened June 5, 2020; CityWalk Cinemark movie theater and the Blue Man Group Orlando show remain closed until further notice. Follow TouringPlans Blog and TouringPlans on Twitter for the latest reopening information for the Universal Orlando Resort and Walt Disney World Resort.

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Universal Studios Hollywood hopeful to reopen in July

universal hollywood

According to one union for Universal Studios Hollywood, the theme park is “hopeful” the entire resort will be reopened in July. There’s also a possibility of Universal Studios Hollywood’s CityWalk reopening this month.

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees sent a note to its members saying that Universal may reopen CityWalk “on a limited basis” as soon as June 8.

The county recently approved in-person dining which clears the way for CityWalk to reopen. Guidelines for reopening theme parks have not yet been released so reopening the Universal park is more complicated.

Universal Orlando Resort reopens later this week with strict new health and safety measures in place. The Californian theme park may reopen with similar measures and protocols.

Californian theme parks can now reopen under stage 3 of the state’s reopening plans, though none have submitted reopening proposals as of yet. Stay tuned for more information as it gets released!


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