One of the cool things about the Disney and Universal theme parks is that there is more to do than just the theme parks. Disneyland in California has downtown Disney, Walt Disney World in Florida has Disney Springs, and both Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Studios Orlando have Universal CityWalk.
CityWalk is accessible to resort Guests and non-resort Guests, and can be accessed without a theme park ticket. Unlike Disney Springs, Guests do have to pay to park to attend Universal CityWalk, because it is all on the same property. However, for the price of parking, Guests can enjoy a variety of dining, shopping, and entertainment experiences. Universal CityWalk is a great option for Guests staying at the resort for some nighttime plans or a day when they don’t have plans to be in the Parks.
What is Universal CityWalk?
Universal CityWalk Orlando is described as “the one place where unforgettable family entertainment meets restaurants that don’t just make you say ‘Yum,’ but ‘Wow.'” A collection of shopping, entertainment, and dining options, CityWalk is a unique experience all on its own. Guests can also walk through CityWalk to get from one Park to the other if they don’t want to take the Hogwarts Express.
What is the difference between Universal Studios and Universal CityWalk?
Universal Studios is technically a theme park at Universal Orlando Resort. Featuring rides and attractions, you do need a valid Park ticket to enter Universal Studios. CityWalk, on the other hand, just requires the parking fee during the day, and beyond that is free to enter. There are no rides to be found, but be aware that CityWalk often has crowds and the restaurants may have a wait time. Guests entering the theme parks do have to pass through CityWalk to get to either main entrance.
What can you bring into Universal CityWalk?
Before entering CityWalk Orlando, Guests must pass through a security checkpoint, including a metal detector and bag screening. Weapons of any kind are not allowed at CityWalk or in either theme park. Guests are allowed to bring in their own water, small snacks, baby food or formula, and any special dietary foods. Glass items and drinks containing alcohol are not allowed beyond the security point.
What is there to do at CityWalk?
Universal CityWalk Orlando boasts several dining and entertainment options. It’s great for Guests staying at a Universal Orlando Resort hotel to spend a relaxing evening outside of the Parks.
Ranging from fast food to fine dining, there are a variety of restaurants and bars available at CityWalk for Guests of any age or food preference.
- Antojitos Authentic Mexican Food
- Auntie Anne’s
- Bend the Bao
- Bob Marley-A Tribute to Freedom
- Bread Box Handcrafted Sandwiches
- Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.
- Burger King Whopper Bar
- Cold Stone Creamery
- Fat Tuesday
- Hard Rock Cafe Orlando
- Hot Dog Hall of Fame
- Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville
- Lone Palm Airport
- Menchie’s frozen yogurt
- Moe’s Southwest Grill
- NBC Sports Grill & Brew
- Panda Express
- Pat O’Brien’s
- Red Oven Pizza Bakery
- The Cowfish
- The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium and Savory Feast Kitchen
- Vivo Italian Kitchen
- Voodoo Doughnut
CityWalk provides some unique entertainment options that make it worth a trip for a date night or a fun family evening after the Parks.
- CityWalk’s Rising Star
- Red Coconut Club
- Hard Rock Live
- Hollywood Drive-In Golf
- Universal Cinemark
- Universal’s Great Movie Escape – Back to the Future: OUTATIME
- Universal’s Great Movie Escape – Jurassic World: Escape
Guests are able to shop around CityWalk, with bigger stores offering a variety of items as well as smaller kiosks offering official Park merchandise and other fun options around the area. Guests can find merchandise from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Jurassic Park as well as other Universal Studio merchandise.
- Candy Smith
- CityWalk Hub Store
- Hart & Huntington Tattoo Company (yes, you can get a tattoo at Universal!)
- Quiet Flight Surf Shop
- The Smuggler’s Hold
- Universal Legacy Store
- Universal Studios Store
What are the Top 5 things to do at Universal CityWalk?
So, now that you know a little bit more about CityWalk and what it has to offer, it can be a little overwhelming for someone there for the first time. Trying to narrow down what to do on a night after the Parks or when visiting from elsewhere in Orlando can be difficult. So, here are some of the best things to try at Universal CityWalk.
CityWalk’s Rising Star is a karaoke club and bar where you take the stage! With a full crew of backup singers and a live band, this is probably CityWalk’s most unique experience. If you’d rather support a friend (or stranger) while they belt out their favorite lyrics, you can lounge around the club and enjoy a drink instead. Choose from over a hundred songs, ranging from hip-hop to country to show tunes.
Performers submit their name and song choice on a card and wait to see if they’re called to the stage. Due to its popularity, spots go quickly, so be sure to sign up early and pay attention when you’re called. There is a cover charge for Rising Star, but on-site resort Guests receive free entry, and Guests must be 21 to enter.
Toothsome Chocolate Emporium
The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen is a full-service restaurant inspired by steampunk. Featuring several chocolatey desserts, massive sugary milkshakes, and a gift shop, Toothsome also offers sandwiches, pasta, and other entrees.
The milkshakes are the real draw, each served in a mason jar dripping with chocolate, whipped cream, and a variety of treats like sprinkles, marshmallows, and more.
Red Coconut Club
The Red Coconut Club is another bar on CityWalk, with a tropical blending of vintage Vegas and tiki vibes. The club offers drinks and a small assortment of food as well as live music and a DJ. Closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, the club was reopened for the first time in September 2022 as the Dead Coconut Club. Featuring a spooky overlay inspired by the Universal Monsters, the club operated under the overlay throughout the 2022 Halloween Horror Nights season. Since then, its been transformed into the Green & Red Coconut Club for the holidays and the Cursed Coconut Club for Universal’s Mardi Gras event.
Universal’s Great Movie Escape
Universal’s Great Movie Escape is one of the newer additions to CityWalk. With two options, one themed to Back to the Future and the other themed to Jurassic Park, Guests are able to immerse themselves in the worlds of these iconic films. Not your typical escape rooms, the Universal experience go above and beyond, with solutions that are randomized and different each time, tasks that are story-driven and customizable so everyone is able to participate, and adjustable experiences to ensure a challenge no matter your skill level.
Voodoo Doughnut is a uniquely themed bakery offering a selection of donuts and other pastries. With eclectic and whimsically haunting decor, the donut shop is a must-stop on your way out of the Parks at night. Be sure to stop and get a picture with their giant donut throne outside the shop, exclusive to Universal CityWalk Orlando. Get a single donut, a box of four, or more, but be prepared for a rich sugar rush! Just a couple of the iconic flavors they offer are:
- Eight Mile Cake – plain cake donut with vanilla frosting and mini M&M’s
- Tangfastic Cake – plain cake donut with vanilla frosting, Tang, and marshmallows
- Ring of Fire – chocolate cake donut with a dusting of cinnamon sugar, cayenne pepper, and a red chili pepper
- Diablos Rex – chocolate cake donut with chocolate frosting, red sprinkles, a vanilla frosting pentagram, and chocolate chips
Bonus! Hollywood Drive-In Golf
Universal’s own mini-golf course, the Hollywood Drive-In Golf offers two unusually themed courses. It’s a perfect family-friendly experience and is a fun way to start or end your day. One course, The Haunting of Ghostly Greens, is inspired by classic ghost movies and includes a haunted house and cemetery. The second course, Invaders from Planet Putt, is inspired by retro-futuristic movies and has aliens, robots, and a massive space worm. The features and decor are brightly painted and attention-grabbing, making the courses entertaining for everyone.
Universal Orlando offers several exciting things for families and Guests, but CityWalk is a unique experience all on its own, with a variety of dining and shopping offerings as well as entertaining family-friendly attractions and experiences. If you can’t dedicate a day to exploring CityWalk, be sure to at least check it out for some fun evening plans on your next trip.