Insider Match-up: CityWalk Hollywood vs. CityWalk Orlando
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:
- Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.
- Hard Rock Cafe
- Panda Express
- Starbucks Coffee
Same cuisine at both resorts:
- Celebrity chef: Wolfgang Puck Bistro (Hollywood), Emeril’s Restaurant Orlando (Orlando)
- Italian table service: Buca di Beppo (Hollywood), Vivo Italian Kitchen (Orlando)
- Mexican table service: Camacho's Cantina (Hollywood), Antojitos Authentic Mexican Food (Orlando)
- Pizza: Blaze Fast-Fired Pizza (Hollywood - opening soon), Red Oven Pizza Bakery (Orlando)
- Sushi: Wasabi at CityWalk (Hollywood), Fusion Bistro Sushi Bar (Orlando)
- Brew & Food: Karl Strauss Brewing Company (Hollywood), NBC Sports Grill & Brew (Orlando)
- Hot dogs: Pink's Famous Hot Dogs (Hollywood), Hot Dog Hall of Fame (Orlando)
- Hamburgers: Smashburger (Hollywood), BK Whopper Bar (Orlando)
- Mexican quick service: Taco Bell (Hollywood), Moe's (Orlando)
- Sandwiches: Subway (Hollywood), Bread Box (Orlando)
- Ice cream: Ben and Jerry's (Hollywood), Cold Stone Creamery (Orlando)
- Yogurt: Yogurtland (Hollywood), Menchies (Orlando)
Also in Hollywood:
- Johnny Rockets
- Saddle Ranch Chop House
- Samba Brazilian Steakhouse & Lounge
- Tony Roma's
- The Crêpe Café
- The Flame Broiler
- Hollywood Pizza & Gelato
- KFC Express/Pizza Hut Express
- The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
- Jamba Juice
- Wetzel's Pretzels
- LUDO Bird (opening soon)
Also in Orlando:
- The Cowfish
- Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville
- Bob Marley - A Tribute to Freedom
- Pat O’Brien’s
- Fat Tuesday
- Lone Palm Airport
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.
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.
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.
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.
More of these East Coast/West Coast articles please.
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.
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.
Man. Hollywood's getting destroyed here! Kinda feel sorry for it actually...ah, just kidding! Orlando all the way!
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.
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.
Five Guys destroys Smashburger...
Five Guys is good, I agree, but I drive past three of them on my way to the closest local Smashburger, sir!
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.
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.
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 (
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.
Another shoutout to COWFISH here, AWESOME!!!!!
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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