Theme Park Insider

Insider Match-up: CityWalk Hollywood vs. CityWalk Orlando

March 8, 2016, 12:36 PM · We've had plenty of east coast vs. west coast discussions over the years here at Theme Park Insider, but I can't remember ever breaking down the two versions of Universal's CityWalk.

The original CityWalk opened at Universal Studios Hollywood in 1993, with the Orlando version following as part of the expansion of the Universal Orlando Resort in 1999. Both feature AMC movie theaters, with 19 screens in Hollywood and 20 in Orlando. You'll also find two mini-golf courses in Orlando, along with Blue Man Group, and the Hard Rock Live music venue. Hollywood has the 5 Towers stage, but lost its major live-music venue when the old Gibson Amphitheater closed to make way for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. So on entertainment, this match-up seems a bit lopsided.

So let's focus this match-up on the food. We will list the restaurants that you will find in both CityWalks, along with ones that have relatively similar counterparts on the other coast, and then finally the eateries that exist only on one coast or the other. As you look at these lists, think about which line-up you prefer, as we will put this match-up to a vote at the end of the post.

Same brand at both resorts:

Same cuisine at both resorts:

Also in Hollywood:

Also in Orlando:

As often as I've visited both resorts, I've not come close to eating at every available restaurant at each CityWalk. But thinking about the places where I have eaten, I'll give Hollywood Smashburger over Burger King and maybe even its abbreviated Pink's over Hot Dog Hall of Fame. Ben & Jerry's beats Coldstone, too. But Vivo just destroys Buca di Beppo, and I prefer Antojitos over Camacho's. Pretty much down the line, the Orlando options beat the Hollywood ones in my book, despite there being more locations on the west coast.

What do you think? Break it down in the comments, Theme Park Insiders.

Replies (19)

March 8, 2016 at 1:41 PM · I'll be perfectly honest, the most time I've ever spent in City Walk was to walk to the parks from the parking garage. I'm sure a ton of people here have done the same. I love the atmosphere of both City Walks, but Hollywood's seems to have more excess and is busier, more chaotic. Orlando's seems super laid back and more enjoyable in comparison.
March 8, 2016 at 1:48 PM · There was a moment where I wanted to vote for Orlando for the atmosphere, but Popcornopolis sounds right up my alley. And after a disappointing meal at the BK Whopper Bar (spoiler, there's no actual toppings bar), I'd gladly take a Smashburger instead.
March 8, 2016 at 2:38 PM · Orlando has the advantage of scale. It is just more impressive. Because it is between two theme parks, you can pass along one side and return on the other side from the parking lot. There are 2 pass throughs to get you interested to go shopping or eating. The night spots are fun to visit. I'm not sure if they still offer the passes to the night clubs anymore.

Hollywood is less enticing to visit and I just often skip it along the way to the theme park. If you park closer to the theme park, you might not ever pass the restaurants or stores on the east side. CityWalk is better as an evening stop for kids, teens, and young adults. I haven't visited at night for years. I remembered fondly visiting to see the premiere of a new movie.

March 9, 2016 at 12:09 AM · More of these East Coast/West Coast articles please.
March 8, 2016 at 3:32 PM · COWFISH
March 8, 2016 at 3:51 PM · See I have a different view. While there are more things to do at Orlando's CityWalk I think it's larger scale actually makes it less interesting to me. Hollywood's CityWalk actually feels like the urban environment, with tighter walkways and glimpses of distance towers. It matches the name. Orlando's feels like a plussed suburban mall. Fun place but missing something.
March 8, 2016 at 4:20 PM · Continuing to think about this (because I am a geek!), I think what I like about Orlando are the unique restaurants, where too many places in Hollywood are chains that are readily accessible elsewhere in the LA area. Theme parks should provide unique environments, even in their shopping and dining districts.
March 8, 2016 at 4:21 PM · Man. Hollywood's getting destroyed here! Kinda feel sorry for it actually...ah, just kidding! Orlando all the way!
March 8, 2016 at 5:30 PM · COWFISHHHHHHHHHH
March 8, 2016 at 6:34 PM · Love Smashburger. Yum. The Rao Family always includes a stop (or two) at Smashburger whenever we take a trip. USH gets my vote for Smashburger alone.
March 8, 2016 at 11:11 PM · Ok, I'm going off the track to say that CityWalk Hollywood is much more interesting, more fun and more hip than Downtown Disney Anaheim. Other than the World of Disney store, Downtown Disney just has no interest for me compared to CityWalk.
March 9, 2016 at 12:24 AM · Five Guys destroys Smashburger...
March 9, 2016 at 4:38 AM · Five Guys is good, I agree, but I drive past three of them on my way to the closest local Smashburger, sir!
March 9, 2016 at 5:52 AM · Did forget one element of the two in the comparison as in what stores are open at each location. I know this is more of a focus at Disney but still an element at CityWalk.
March 9, 2016 at 11:13 AM · There was a time I just passed citywalk in Orlando. But with the new offerings I started to visit them and I love them. Antohitos, cowfish and quite a few other restaurants are now a favourite of us unlike most restaurants at Disney springs that don't deliver a satifying meal for a reasonable price.
March 9, 2016 at 11:26 AM · Five Guys doesn't destroy anything. It's the "most overrated" burger place I've ever been to and it's very pricey for what they serve. In & Out Burger and Shake Shack (still too pricey) make Five Guys look bad.

Hollywood's CityWalk feels like a city and Orlando's does not. The AMC Theatres in Hollywood is superior to the one in Orlando and features a ground-up built IMAX, not a conversion of a regular theater.

Pink's Hot Dogs beats down, no crushes, the Hot Dog Hall of Fame.

I however miss the Jody Maroni's Sausage Kingdom in Hollywood.

Lastly, I don't think of the restaurants in Orlando as being unique. They may be, but they feel like chains by design and presentation.

March 9, 2016 at 4:48 PM · Five Guys always make me sick because the burgers are too large to eat. I can never finish. Next time I will buy the junior burger. I often noticed how many obese people eat there.

I love In-N-Out, Habit, and Chick-Fil-A. They beat out every other burger or fried chicken restaurant.

March 10, 2016 at 1:22 PM · Another shoutout to COWFISH here, AWESOME!!!!!
March 12, 2016 at 11:29 AM · Worst meals I have had have been at Jimmy Buffets. I only drink there now. The other restaurants have been great

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