Universal wins a food honor, but it's not what you might think
First, Universal's crowing about a new award for one of its restaurants. But it's not at Universal Orlando. This honor goes to the newly-revamped International Cafe at Universal Studios Hollywood.
The cafe won a Santé Restaurant Award, the only theme park restaurant this year to win an honor from what bills itself as the only peer-judged restaurant competition in North America.
Universal Studios Hollywood's Executive Chef, Eric Kopelow, revamped the restaurant's menu earlier this year to refocus it on healthy, bistro-style fare. The Culinary Institute of America graduate added a shrimp Cobb salad, a caprese plate, grilled vegetable sandwiches, and a roast beef and brie with roasted pears sandwich to the menu, among other items.
"The International Cafe is helping us to satisfy a growing demand for healthy, tasty food options," Kopelow said in a statement.
Magical Express ain't the Floo Network
Jason Garcia at the Orlando Sentinel reports that traffic is down on Walt Disney World's Magical Express free-bus service between its on-site hotels and the Orlando International Airport. (I suppose we should ignore Jason's dateline from the future.)
Disney offers Magical Express as a free perk to its hotel guests, which saves them the hassle and expense of renting a car to get to Walt Disney World. Of course, that means that they won't be able to easily leave Disney property during their trip, either.
That's why Magical Express might not be an effective proxy for measuring occupancy rates at the Disney hotels - not everyone who stays on-property uses Magical Express. I've heard from several Disney World fans that they've opted to skip Magical Express, even though it is free, in order to have the flexibility not only to visit attractions outside of the Walt Disney World Resort, but to move around between hotels and non-theme park attractions more easily than they could relying on Disney's bus service.
Obviously, the big attraction drawing people off Disney property these days is Universal's Wizarding World of Harry Potter, so more folks might be choosing to skip Magical Express in order to be able to visit Potter. The question for Disney then becomes: Will Disney fans who love Harry Potter just give up Magical Express to visit Universal, or will they skip Disney entirely on their next Orlando visit?
Walt Disney World hotels come to Priceline
Here's a better indicator of how Disney's faring in filling hotel rooms: Walt Disney World has decided to list its hotel rooms on Priceline.
Disney's offered its hotel rooms through Expedia for several years, though Expedia searches often will show no availability when a direct call to Disney will show rooms. Obviously, Disney's looking for additional channels to sell its hotel rooms, as on-property occupancy rates continue to fall below the company's wishes.
Do note that the rooms will be available on Priceline only through the booking engine. You can't use the "name your price" feature to book a Disney room. And many of the package deals and discounts that Disney offers to those who book directly might not be available through Priceline, either, as they typically haven't been available via Expedia in the past.Tweet
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