Theme Park Insider readers love Universal Orlando's top two table-service in-park restaurants, Lombard's Seafood Grille at Universal Studios Florida and multiple Theme Park Insider Award-winner Mythos at Islands of Adventure. Both offer a nice selection of entrees for reasonable prices (all but one entree under $20), placing them among the best meal values in the theme park business.
But let's be frank. Executive Chef Steve Jayson and his staff can cook much more ambitious cuisine than fried fish, burgers and a daily pasta special. This isn't the pre-Harry Potter era, when Universal needed to beat Disney on price in order to remain competitive in the Orlando market. Potter's shown that Universal can compete with - and beat - Disney on quality, commanding premium prices at the same time.
I love that Universal is stepping up its game, bringing Transformers to Orlando, approving a top-quality expansion of The Simpsons, and expanding the Wizarding World to the Studios theme park. Please, Universal, turn Chef Jayson loose and let him upgrade the menus - and yes, the prices - to make Mythos and Lombard's not just the best value in Orlando theme park restaurants, but the most ambitious and highest-quality dining rooms in the market, as well.
Let's see what Universal can do with a plus-$20 theme park table-service dinner entree. What do you think?
And with exception to Epcot
DAK 1.5 for Rainforest Cafe
MK 2 Since be our guest is 1/2 day full service and Crystal Palace as a buffet leaving only Tony's
Is truly full service all day
Seaworld has 1
USF 2.5 for Hard Rock
IOA 2 since Confiscos is only a buffet for breakfast but full service for dinner and lunch
But as Citywalk adjoins the parks for Universal any comparsion isn't quite apples to apples to Disney World
I don't see Universal as beneath Disney options with exception to Epcot
The on-site hotels also have steak houses, Italian, Asian, Polynesian and my personal favorite, the Beachclub at Hard Rock.
Universal Studios could benefit from a restaurant on par with Mythos, in my opinion. Maybe they could build something where Fear Factor stands to help MIB not seem so out of place that could tie into the World Expo theme.
The huge round pavillion (from the Stark Expo in Iron Man 2) could be perfect and would fit perfectly with the dual towers / spaceships from MIB. They could put fountains on the outside and have area for people to sit in the grass and relax or have a picnic.
Anything would be better than Fear Factor and people would finally have a reason to stop at that corner of the park.
I would like to see some better theming in that area even if it just a restaurant. Using a structure from the 1964-65 Worlds's Fair in Flushing Meadows next to MIB would be perfect.
The Simpsons mini-land will be cool, but the Expo theme of that area is certainly lacking. MIB, one of my all time favorites, seems so out of place these days.
I'd be getting the message as a consumer to be forced to blow money on a fancy dinner (while wearing uncomfortable theme park clothes) or eat our mediocre counter service.
Finnegan's is a good bar, but the food is marginal. There is nothing on the menu that I would recommend.
Three Broomsticks? I dined there yesterday thanks to Robert's Thanksgiving post and let's be frank It's terrible! I certainly was not "thankful" for it. The Fish & Chips were some of the worst I've ever had and the portion size of both the fish and the chips was pathetic for the price point. The fries were not fresh.
I've learned my lesson and conclude that the reviewers on this site don't appear to have had the dining experiences that I've had in my life.
The food is good, but not great. Complaining would be futile in our case because the breakfast is complimentary when we book our vacation on-site. I'm not sure I would pay to eat there, however. That is why we stick with at least one visit to Mythos and go to the CityWalk most of the time.
Pat O'Briens in neatly tucked away on the second level and is completely hidden by the New Orleans style facade. They have a great outdoor patio for sunset dining and the Hurricanes are amazing. Probably one of the best burgers I have had in a long time.
Margaritaville makes for a great time with the beach food and live music. The Mexicali burger is my personal favorite. I haven't had anything on the menu that I didn't like so far.
It has been so long since we visited Disney, I have no memory of the in-park food or how it was. The only memorable dinner was at Ohana. You can't go wrong with unilimited meats on sticks. The Mai Tais were very good from what I remember.
I tend to notice every in-park counter service restaurant reeks of tomato sauce, soda fountain syrup and hot grease. When you couple that with the frigid temperatures, it's almost nauseating. The smell of the Cafe 4 has burned itself in my brain, and I have never even eaten there. We only stop in for water or a drink.
But - for most guests, if you're there you're going to eat, so you will make the best of whatever options are there and appeal to you. Lombardi's and Mythos seem like pretty good value options in that respect.
You act as if it is a good thing.
1. Prices will easily exceed $20 for the grub we're seeing right now from regular price increases and the theme park tendency to take advantage of captive audiences.
2. Over $20 entrees at a theme park isn't the same fine dining at an outside establishment. They have to serve large crowds. Thus, the food is no better than hotel quality food. You'll get a mass marketed and tested standardized assembly line food.
There is nothing "world-class" about the dining options at CityWalk. Most are average chain restaurants or themed restaurants that are on par with a Chili's or TGI Fridays.
Yes, they're fine for most people and clearly supported by many of the readers of this site, but please don't make the huge mistake of referring to them as world class. That's utter nonsense.
I actually like Finnigans myself, but I can see it being so so.
The two parks that seem to really make it count with the food is EPCOT (of course) and actually AJ. I find their counter service the best in WDW.
I still think Mythos and Finnegans (and to a degree lombard's) are pretty good.
emerils is world class
I've dined at Emeril's Tchoup Chop at Lowe's Royal Pacific, but not his restaurant in CityWalk. I was surprised that the sushi wasn't very good and especially when compared to the Orchid Court Sushi Bar that's upstairs in the lobby of the same hotel. I like the Orchid Court. It certainly isn't high-end sushi, but it's slightly better than average.
Overall, the entire Orlando area really doesn't offer much for people who really enjoy dining out. That's why I generally starve during my trips.
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