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Where to Eat? Springfield USA Opens at Universal Studios Hollywood

March 27, 2015, 10:52 PM · Universal Studios Hollywood's new "Simpsons"-themed land, Springfield USA, soft-opened today.

We say "soft-opened" because the park hasn't issued yet any press announcement declaring the new land formally opened. Yet I can't recall another soft-opening that fronted the cover of a park's guidemap. Usually, when something gets to that point, it's official.

Let's just ignore the semantics and take a look around, shall we?

Welcome to Springfield USA

Greetings from Springfield USA, the sign says. Just ignore that wizarding village in the background, okay?

Crowds swarmed the new land on its opening day, though it's nice to see the main pathway through the park opened up again.

Crowds

Lard Lad Donuts is the first of Springfield's many eateries you will encounter as you walk through the land.

Lard Lad

Lard Lad menu

Across the street is Phineas Q. Butterfat's Ice Cream, which was one of four new locations that remained behind barriers and closed to the public while I was at the park today.

Phineas Q. Butterfat's

Next door is Suds McDuff's Hot Dogs.

Suds McDuff's

Beyond that, you will find the entrance to the Duff Brewery beer garden.

Duff Brewery

If you're hungry inside the beer garden after it opens, head over to Bumblebee Man's Tacos, which also remained closed to guests today.

Bumblebee Man's

The Seven Duffs line the entrance to the Duff Brewery. I don't want to know what Sleazy has in mind, though.

Sleazy and Bumblebee Man

Let's try something to eat, shall we? Back across the street, next to the Lard Lad, we'll find the flagship restaurant of the new Springfield land, Krusty Burger.

Krusty Burger

Visitors who have been to Universal Orlando's version of Springfield are in for (yet another) surprise when they enter Hollywood's Krusty Burger.

Inside Krusty Burger

Here, the "Simpsons"-themed restaurants aren't crammed together into one "Fast Food Boulevard" food court. Instead, they each get their own space, with separate ordering and service counters. While that helps each restaurant retain its own thematic identity, it's an extra hassle if one person in your group wants a burger and someone else wants chicken.

After about a five-minute wait, I got through the queue to order The Clogger (bacon double cheeseburger, with waffle fries and cole slaw - $12.99) and a Buzz Cola ($3.69).

The Clogger

The Clogger beat the life out of the chili burger I had at Disney's Smokejumpers Grill earlier this week. Juicy throughout, with the faintest hint of pink in the middle, Universal left some life in these patties, then topped them with wonderfully crispy bacon, "secret sauce," tasty pickles and tomatoes. This might have been the best counter-service burger I've ever had in a theme park, easily surpassing not only California Adventure's offering, but the original Krusty Burger from Orlando, as well.

Another change from Orlando? You'll find most of the dining space upstairs, though there are no windows overlooking the street below.

Upstairs dining

If you want a view, head a few steps into the upstairs dining area, and into Krusty's VIP room.

Krusty's VIP dining room

You'll find mementos from Krusty's long (and entirely made-up) career in here, including the clown's Walk of Fame star.

Walk of Fame star

Cut back across the upstairs dining area, and you'll end up in the second-floor of Cletus' Chicken Shack.

Upstairs at Cletus' Chicken Shack

Cletus serves fried chicken, BBQ grilled chicken sandwiches, and a chicken and waffle sandwich here, at prices similar to the Krusty Burger.

Cletus' menu

Listen for the clucking noises while you stand by the front entrance.

Outside the Chicken Shack

In fact, watch and listen closely throughout Springfield, where the nuclear power plant above you "melts down" every few minutes, belching smoke from its cooling towers while alarms sound. And then look down, to see some of the detail that Universal's embedded in the grates surrounding the trees that line Springfield's sidewalks.

Sidewalk detail

Even though the "actual" new buildings in Springfield are food and beverage locations, Universal's surrounding them with whimsical facades, including Dr. Nick's.

Dr. Nicks's

And at the end of the land, it's Stu's Disco — closed until Disco comes back. Perhaps the wizards about to move in behind you might help with that, Stu.

Stu's Disco

But let's head back to Moe's Tavern, which occupies the first floor between Krusty Burger and Cletus' Chicken Shack.

Moe's

Let's step inside for a drink!

Inside Moe's

Uh, Barney seems to have beaten us to that.

Barney

Never mind, the bartenders here are ready to serve up Duff Beer, Shock Top, or the signature Flaming Moe ($8.99).

Flaming Moe

The Flaming Moe sounds great in theory — a smoking orange beverage that the whole family can enjoy (since it has no alcohol), but at nine bucks, there just wasn't enough flavor here to justify the price, even with the souvenir glass. The Flaming Moe in Florida tasted like an intense orange soda, but this one came across more like a heavily carbonated glass of Tang. (Yes, I am dating myself with that reference.) I won't bother with another one — I'll save my money and the calories for another one of those Cloggers.

All together, Universal Studios Hollywood's version of Springfield takes the concept first developed in Orlando to another level of detail, with an immersive environment that should help make this corner of the park a place where fans will want to linger, instead of just hurrying through to the Studio Tour or the Lower Lot. Great theme parks create a sense of place — a space where visitors want to hang out and be as much as they want to get on to the next ride or show. Springfield finally delivers that for Universal Studios Hollywood.

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Replies (17)

March 28, 2015 at 7:03 AM · Wow, that sounds so good! While our Springfield is nice, it's really short. I still consider it part of World Expo!
March 28, 2015 at 8:49 AM · This looks really great. Even a step above Universal Orlando. It's interesting that Universal didn't advertise the opening of Orlando Springfield either. They just opened it....What was funny back then was that Orlando Universal Springfield was getting really great customer feedback. But a few always Universal negative posters went and came back saying it didn't live up to Universal's hype. But the fact was that Universal never hyped the addition. Heck, they didn't even tell people it was there....This Hollywood addition, though, is even better than I expected.
March 28, 2015 at 9:16 AM · I was really impressed with the Simpsons area of Universal Orlando on my most recent visit. Harry Potter gets all the press (deservedly...don't get me wrong), but I was surprised how much of a great time we had in the Simpsons section. Had a Lard Lad doughnut, a Flaming Moe, A Duff Beer, and rode the ride (my youngest's favorite) more times than anybody ever should. Needs a second attraction (Kang & Kodos barely counts), but it was, overall, really fun.
March 28, 2015 at 11:42 AM · So let's see if there's a recent trend going on,

Despicable Me USH>Despicable Me USF

Springfield USH>Springfield USF

Is it possible that the upcoming Potter section will outshine the original too?

March 28, 2015 at 10:30 AM · James: If they have the rumored Hogwart's Dining Hall, that will probably place them a short notch above Orlando's "original" Hogsmeade. But...the new Orlando Hogsmeade entrance with the Hogwart's Express station and wooded forest area is pretty hard to beat. That added a big plus to Orlando.
March 28, 2015 at 5:15 PM · Looks great. It has a main street feel to it.
March 28, 2015 at 6:25 PM · Robert - Do you have a picture of the park map?
March 28, 2015 at 6:58 PM · Click to embiggen:

USH Map

Also, for grins (and perspective!), here was Springfield a little less than one year ago, in April 2014:

Springfield construction
March 28, 2015 at 11:11 PM · In reference to James' question above: no, definitely not possible. Have you visited Diagon Alley? 'Nuff said.
March 29, 2015 at 5:04 AM · Thanks, Robert! Universal Hollywood is turning into a fine little park. Could the Special Effects Show and Animal Actors be next to be replaced with new offerings? Heard Shrek 4D received a new, more immersive entrance. Any more expansion available in the lower lot?
March 29, 2015 at 9:26 AM · Francis Dowd Rest in Peace
March 29, 2015 at 11:49 AM · The Shrek queue is now a nicely wooded area that will serve as an appropriate buffer between the show and Hogsmeade next door.

Shrek queue

The Evolution site plan called for a new attraction in the Special Effects Stage (Castle Dracula) theater, though I've not heard word recently about what's going in there. And, obviously, there's the huge, gaping space in the park where Soundstage 13 used to be, that had been tipped for a large character dining restaurant and store.

The space next to Transformers on the Lower Lot has been cleared for future expansion, though nothing credible has leaked yet on what that will be.

March 29, 2015 at 12:45 PM · I was a little bummed I would miss the Fast and the furious ride since we are going June 14th, but this softens the blow a little bit! Hopefully it stays open and is not just a one day thing
March 29, 2015 at 12:49 PM · I was a little bummed about going just before the Fast 7 ride opens. We are going June 14, but this siftens the bow a little bit
March 30, 2015 at 9:02 AM · Interesting review on the OU forums today. The reviewer has been to both Orlando & now Hollywood. He liked Orlando much better. He said the negatives on Hollywood are that it's squeezed into half the space of Orlando's & therefore seems claustrophobic. And he also said Duffs is stuck in a small corner & doesn't have the ambiance of Orlando's Duffs. I thought that was an interesting take since the much smaller area wasn't mentioned here.If that's the case I take back my previous comments.
March 31, 2015 at 4:08 PM · I think USH version of Springfield is better than the Orlando version. Don't get me wrong, both versions are fantastic, but Hollywood's version makes it feel like your actually in Springfield. For example, Orlando doesn't have the actual Springfield sign. And behind the restaurants you can enter, there's facades like the Springfied Elementary School, the Nuclear Power Plant, and more! It just makes it feel for authentic!
April 3, 2015 at 7:49 AM · Okay..wow..this blows Orlando's out of the water...I love the cityscape backdrops..genius touch and Duff Brewery with the stacks!

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