Taste of Universal Serves Up Large Portions and Safe Environments

Lights, camera, action! The gates of Universal Studios Hollywood are open once more! We are so beyond excited that we were able to go experience the Taste of Universal event this past weekend! This limited time event is a food and retail experience that will leave your tastebuds happy and your bellies full! Not to mention the fact that you can once again frolic around the upper lot of Universal Studios Hollywood, and maybe even run into a few familiar characters!!

There are many areas of this event that need to be discussed, but I am going to start with the star attraction: the food! When you enter the park you are given a lanyard and a tasting card with the numbers 1-5 printed on the back. I assumed that each food location would just scan the barcode on the tasting card, but it seems universal went old school on this one and were using the hole punch method. I mostly mention this as a warning to have your tasting card out of the plastic lanyard and accessible so you won’t be fumbling for it at the last minute (like I was). 

My first stop of the day was the much anticipated new restaurant: Minions Cafe!! The menu at Minions Cafe is filled with so many delicious options like loaded tater tots, chicken bacon ranch macaroni, and meatball grilled cheese! So much to choose from! I ended up going with the loaded chicken nachos, and I was not disappointed! The serving size was so big, and they did not skimp on the chicken!

In my opinion it could have been spicier, but Im a bad judge in that department. I was also very excited to try their desserts, but those items were not ready at opening. I went back a couple hours later, and everything but the Unicorn cupcake had sold out! I was disappointed that they ran out so quickly, and hope they plan better for the demand in the future. But for now, if you really want that minion pudding cup, go early!!! 

I could hardly contain my excitement for my next stop: HOGSMEADE!! Now I must admit that I was so full from my loaded nachos that I did not grab anything from the Three Broomsticks this trip, but I know from experience that everything in there is delicious! My personal favorite is the fish and chips! On this particular trip my feet (and my stomach) took me straight to the Butterbeer cart. I grabbed my first Butterbeer in over a year, and sat down to enjoy every last sip. 

With three tastings left and no room in my stomach, I decided to take a break and go for a little walk. I made my way through Springfield to the lower lot entrance. The lower lot is not open during this event, but you can take the first escalator down to the scenic viewing area to take a break and see the sights. After being outside the park for so long, it’s nostalgic and amazing to finally go down the large banks of escalators again! I chilled down there for a bit, then walked back up all 435 steps and walked straight to the Lardlad Doughnut Booth. How could I visit universal and not get a classic Simpsons giant pink doughnut! I took a couple wonderful bites, then took the rest home to share with Gabe. 

After a bit of light shopping I was ready for my last last tasting! If anyone knows me, they know how much I love a good pretzel! So how on earth could I be expected to come to this event and not get the giant Bavarian pretzel that is literally the size of my head!!!(possibly bigger) 

This pretzel also seems to be a favorite item and sold out the day I went, so if it’s something you are interested in, grab it early! 

There are a few things to see and do in between your tastings! We were happy to see that there were a few characters out to take pictures with! We saw the Conductor over at the Hogwarts Express, Donkey over by the Kung Fu Panda Theater, and there was a Minion photo op over by the Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem ! 

For this photo op, they make you sit on a bench in front of the character.

There were also several movie cars scattered throughout the park. Our favorites were the Fast and Furious cars located in the middle of the seating area in Universal Plaza. 

Most of the retail stores were open on the upper lot with limited capacity, but I personally never waited more than 5 minutes to get into a store. The longest line I saw was to get into Ollivanders wand shop in Hogsmeade, but that is a very small shop, so I expect that line could get quite long. Even though the show isn’t currently operating, if you go into Ollivanders, you can walk through the show room and take photos!

One of the shops I was most excited to go to was the Pets Shop over by the Brand new Secret Life of Pets: Off The Leash ride! I have to say that this whole area has been transformed really well to look like New York from the movies. All the store fronts are very well themed and very cute! 

I was very excited to go into the Pets Shop because they have a feature where you can adopt a puppy! For $25, you can choose a dog and a bandana and you even get a cute little adoption certificate to fill out! You can purchase other accessories like a dog carrying bag to really bring your pet home in style. I just had to get one to bring home for our daughter. She’s obsessed with dogs at the moment! 

Finally I think we need to talk about all the safety measures put in place and how I personally felt during my visit. I can honestly say that I was very impressed with what I experienced and witnessed during my visit. I never felt like the crowds were overwhelming or too condensed in any particular area (even Hogsmeade), and I was happy to see that there was so much spaced out seating available. The only place where I saw people searching for a table was in Hogsmeade, and that is just because the area is so small to begin with. Universal did its best to place as much seating as was safe in the area. I constantly saw Universal employees cleaning tables and hand rails, and telling guests to abide by the rules when necessary. 

Overall, I have to say that this was a very successful visit to Universal Studios for this limited time tasting event. I can’t tell you how nice it felt to just be back in the gates and roaming around the park. I forgot how much I missed just sitting in Hogsmeade, relaxing with a Butterbeer and enjoying the view. Our biggest takeaway from the visit would be to stay focused on the items you want during your visit. Don’t wait too long because items sell out. Even with that, I believe that there is great value in this event! For an adult admission tasting card you get free parking, admission to the park and 5 tastings. When tastings can retail for upwards of $10, this is great value!!! And the portions are huge! So hurry up and grab your ticket to this event while they are still available


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