Universal gets into food festivals, with a twist

December 12, 2019, 1:51 PM · Universal Studios Hollywood today announced its first food and wine festival. But Universal is not adhering to the now-familiar format of putting themed food stands around the park for regular ticket holders. Instead, Universal is producing its festival as an after-hours, hard-ticket event.

And it's got IP branding, too. This is not just a Universal food and wine festival. Promoting a fellow NBCUniversal brand, this will be the inaugural Bravo's Top Chef Food & Wine Festival.

The event starts at 7pm on two nights: Thursday, March 19 and Friday, March 20. The early bird general admission price is $179 and includes culinary tastings, along with beer, wine, and spirits, live competitions between and photos ops with Top Chef talent, panel interviews, live entertainment, themed merchandise sales, and a commemorative gift.

A VIP admission for $299 includes all that plus Universal Studios Hollywood park admission starting at noon, as well as preferred parking and VIP tasting and wine experiences with Top Chef alumni. A day/night combo ticket is $199 and gets you in the park at the same time, just without the parking and VIP experiences in the evening. Event tickets are available now on the Universal website.

"We are thrilled to partner with Bravo's Top Chef to introduce this exclusive Food & Wine Festival," Universal Studios Hollywood President & COO Karen Irwin said. "As an industry leader, we take as much pride in our culinary offerings as we do with our innovative rides and we're excited that our Executive Chef will have the opportunity to collaborate with these acclaimed Top Chef alums to create this unique food and wine event, and we look forward to toasting the occasion with our guests."

NBCUniversal Executive Vice President, Marketing, Lifestyle Networks Ellen Stone added: "Bravo’s Top Chef Food & Wine Festival will give guests an opportunity to interact with their beloved chefs and try the culinary feast firsthand while also giving them a glimpse at the pressure the competitors face in the kitchen with the Quickfire Challenges. Partnering with Universal Studios Hollywood is a natural extension of our brand and offers our incredibly engaged fans of Bravo's Top Chef a unique chance to taste and experience a piece of the hit culinary competition series."

Replies (2)

December 12, 2019 at 2:40 PM

This is a very clever idea, and sounds similar to EPCOT's Party for the Senses, with the bonus of a known entity of culinary talent (Disney uses their own chefs as well as those from around the country, but you never know what you're getting until the night of the event). The price point is the same as EPCOT's party (for the lowest tier), but you still have to pay for an EPCOT admission to enter the Party.
Universal is allowing you to attend this new event WITHOUT paying theme park admission if you choose (no such option exists for EPCOT's party), and is giving guests a pretty good deal ($20 upcharge) to spend the day in the park prior to the event.

My only concern would be the same one that I've always had with EPCOT's Party for the Senses. Will Universal be able to keep the crowds manageable so guests can actually enjoy all of the offerings? As it stands, you have to be very strategic when attending EPCOT's Party for the Senses, because it's become so popular (and Disney doesn't seem to care how many people they let in) that you can't just walk in and feel like you've gotten your money's worth unless you know what you're doing. Hopefully Universal will not oversell these events and have plenty of items for guests to enjoy so they can feel like they didn't spend $179 (or more) for a couple of bites and brief glimpses their favorite Top Chefs from across the room.

December 13, 2019 at 10:49 AM

I want to go to there! I've been a devoted fan of TopChef since it began. This is a great idea.

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