Universal Orlando’s new Caribbean Carnaval brings flavorful food, festive fun to Sapphire Falls Resort

in Food, Hotel, Music, Travel, Universal Orlando

Craving a taste of the island life? Look no further than the Loews Sapphire Falls Resort at Universal Orlando for the new weekly themed dinner show, Caribbean Carnaval. Part bold buffet, part music-infused dance party, the new event adds an exclamation point to a day at Universal’s theme parks.

While Sapphire Falls’ Caribbean-inspired theme is rather elegant and often understated, there’s no mistaking the inspiration for their new evening event. Set inside a conveniently covered outdoor pavilion, guests partaking in this up-charge experience are taken on a musical island-hopping tour while enjoying delicious dishes.

Guests 21 and up will immediately receive glasses of Planter’s Punch – a deliciously fruity rum drink – upon arrival. And servers keep these glasses topped off all night, ensuring the only adults leaving sober are the ones who choose to do so.

The served cuisine is strongly spiced, heavily influenced by menus from Cuba, Jamaica, and more Caribbean islands. Among the tastiest options on the all-you-can-eat buffet are the jerk chicken, plantains, and the can’t-miss mojo roasted suckling pig that’s as authentic in flavor as it is in presentation. And for dessert, small Caribbean rum cakes will send you going back for thirds.

There’s also a kid’s buffet filled with the usual assortment of mac & cheese, chicken strips, and pizza.

The live entertainment begins over dinner with a steel drum band that’s a little bit too loud to enjoy a mealtime conversation. Expect the music to dominate the evening. About halfway into the nearly 2-hour event, the rest of the entertainment begins just as everyone is filling up. Stilt walkers, dancers, and singers offer 45 minutes of nearly non-stop high-energy musical numbers, each inspired by a Caribbean island. Naturally, Bob Marley’s “One Love” is a prominent piece – and the only down-tempo number in an onslaught of tropical tunes. Attendees are often encouraged to dance along to Harry Belefonte favorites and Glorida Estefan’s obligatory “Conga.”

Having grown up and lived in Miami for 18 years, I can tell you most of this evening event feels spot on with the Cuban and mixed island cultures. The musical acts sometimes feel a bit more like theme park entertainment, particularly with the somewhat groan-worthy schtick in between songs. But largely it all comes across like a festival stage straight out of South Florida. Though after 45 minutes of conga, limbo, and a whole lot of costume changes, it does start to drag.

Caribbean Carnaval takes place every Wednesday night, with seating at 6pm. Tickets are $69 for adults and $35 for children ages 3-9. Children under 3 are complimentary. The hefty price does include gratuity, non-alcoholic beverages, wine, beer and Planter’s Punch. Anyone who’s a big eater or drinker will find great value in the food and drinks alone, plus the added bonus of having some live music to enjoy. And after the meal, if the entertainment feels a bit long-winded, there’s no one stopping you from leaving to enjoy a quiet after-dinner drink at the nearby resort bar.

Reservations can be made by calling 407-503-DINE or by visiting caribbeancarnaval.eventbrite.com.

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