Are you planning a trip to CityWalk at Universal Orlando Resort and you don’t know where to start?
Many solo travelers have been curious to learn more about what Universal Orlando has to offer for us. Ask and I shall deliver, starting with a place that you have to pass through in order to get to either Universal Studios or Islands of Adventure.
Universal CityWalk is perfect for all varieties of families, but especially solo travelers.
CityWalk boasts a range of shopping as well as quick service and full-service dining venues, including the first Voodoo Doughnut eatery on the east coast.
Entertainment options features karaoke bars and dance clubs. If you can’t spend time in any of the Universal theme parks, you can easily enjoy a fun afternoon or party all night long at CityWalk.
It’s not called the Epicenter of awesome by Universal for nothing.
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Today, we will be exploring
- Shopping Venues
- Dining Venues
- Entertainment Venues
What You Should Know Before You Go
As of this post, Universal Orlando Resort no longer requires fully immunized guests to wear face coverings, but do expect guests to continue to maintain safe distances between one another.
Guests who have not received the recommended immunizations are asked to continue being masked for their safety and the safety of other guests and Team Members, although they do not require proof of full vaccination. For more details, please check here.
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History of CityWalk
Universal Orlando’s CityWalk is one of the three that exist in the world. One exists in Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Studios Japan. Orlando’s version was part of the expansion in which Universal Studios expanded to the resort that it is today.
Universal Orlando CityWalk was built in 1999, replacing the former parking lot and entrance to Universal Studios.
Accessing CityWalk at Universal Orlando Resort
A few things have come and gone but what has stayed the same is how guests’ access CityWalk. If you’re visiting, you can park in one of the two story garages and travel to CityWalk via moving walkway.
How much is Parking at Universal Orlando Resort?
One thing to note is that you do have to pay parking with exceptions. Its $26 for regular, $32 for RV/Bus, $24 for Prime Upgrade and $50 for prime parking.
Shop til’ you drop
There are various local spots in CityWalk where you can stop and find an excuse to spend your money. Here are the big ones:
- Universal Studios Store
- Quiet Flight Surf Shop
- Hart and Huntington Orlando Tattoo Shop
Universal Studios Store is great for those who want to bring souvenirs to loved ones or for themselves without having to go into the park itself. From Spiderman to SpongeBob to Simpsons to even seasonal or limited-edition merchandise, you can find it here.
Quiet Flight Surf Shop features a fun photo-op in front of its entrance where anyone can hang ten and catch a wave. This shop sells apparel, sunglasses, gifts and much more. It’s perfect if you need something for Volcano Bay or for the Florida heat for the rest of your stay.
Hart and Huntington Orlando Tattoo Shop boasts immaculate vibes, clean tattoo stations and incredible service from the artists. This shop is Carey Hart’s ultimate vision and passion, which can be seen in every nook and cranny.
Stomach growl means it’s time to chow: Dining in CityWalk
Feeling a bit peckish? Not to worry, every palette will meet its flavor with its over twenty dining options available at CityWalk.
There is a plethora of Quick and Full-service dining options. Here are some of my top three quick service and full service
Best Grab and Go CityWalk Food Options
1. Voodoo Doughnut
When you are craving something sweet after you’re done dancing the night away at one of CityWalk’s clubs, singing your heart out at the karaoke bar or making your way to rope drop at Universal Studios or Islands of Adventure, Voodoo Doughnuts has you covered.
This location is the very first on the east coast and originated on Portland, Oregon. The brand has been featured on the Travel and Cooking channels, Good Morning America and the Today and Tonight shows.
Known for their creative and out their flavored doughnuts, including its centerpiece, the Voodoo Doll doughnut, there is something fun to try every time.
Each location pays tribute to their resting place and has over 50 kinds of raised yeast, cake, vegan and specialty doughnuts.
You can even order a coffin of 3 dozen doughnuts and yes, the coffin can come home with you! And a trip to Voodoo wouldn’t be complete without taking a photo on the throne outside of the shop.
2. Breadbox HandCrafted Sandwiches
One of my regular stops when visiting CityWalk is BreadBox Handcrafted Sandwiches. Sometimes you don’t want anything extravagant or want your meal to be an immersive experience. Sometimes, you just want a dang good meal and BreadBox delivers.
While the concept is simple, these sandwiches are not! You can get your choice of deli fresh sandwiches including:
- Tomato and mozzarella
- Buffalo chicken
- Chicken salad
- Tuna salad
- Italian Turkey and BLTA platter
You can complete your sandwich with a side of fries, tots or Cole slaw that can be paired with a refreshing IPA is to die for!
Or you can partake in their BreadBox melts, which include vegan selections, or a delectable fresh salad, perfect for a warm day. Any of these can be paired with a soup, milkshake and dessert to complete your meal!
I love BreadBox for its affordable and fresh food options. It’s a must do for solo travelers who enjoy people watching too!
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3. Panda Express
On some solo trips, I genuinely just want something familiar. While I am always up for trying new things, there is nothing like a taste of home. If you aren’t as adventurous, that’s totally okay, not judgment here.
One of the great things about CityWalk is there familiar dining brand options like Starbucks, Burger King and Moe’s Southwest Grill. My go to is usually Panda Express however!
Panda Express is decently priced and you can’t usually go wrong with Chinese food. It will fill you up and keep you going until dinner time. The ability to choose your size options and portions are helpful too.
If you are looking for anything that won’t break the bank, Panda is a helpful option.
Best CityWalk Restauraunts in Universal Orlando Resort
1. Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar
I have to start this top three off with Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar!
You really get a surf and turf experience when you visit this place. Cowfish blows my mind with their scrumptious burger/sushi combination meals. If you aren’t up for that combo just yet, you can get a bento box to try a bit of everything.
This unique dining establishment allows guests to explore their taste buds with burgers made of sushi items. My favorite is the Black Truffle Cheeseburger with honorable mentions including the Flying Hawaiian and the Chicken Bacon Avocado.
But usually, I’m here for the amazing sushi options with my usual being the all-American bacon double cheeseburgooshi which is a true testament to the uniqueness of the restaurant’s fusion style. Honorable mentions include the taste explosion roll and Doug’s filet roll.
Cowfish has a fantastic drink menu with specialty cocktails that pair perfectly with sushi appetizers, entrees or your fusion meal of choice. Trying the Cowfish signature cocktail is a must! You can also try local IPAs, beers and more.
Overall. Cowfish has the vibes for a nice dining experience and to make your taste buds sing!
2. Bob Marley
Another personal favorite of mine that I feel gets overlooked often is Bob Marley- A Tribute to Freedom.
I thoroughly enjoy eating with entertainment and this eatery has a live reggae band and DJ in the courtyard every evening!
The eatery is a replica of Bob Marley’s home in Jamaica and include artifacts, photos and more that surround you while you eat in the courtyard. It is a true testament to the legend and his history. It is also the perfect setting to try and dine on some authentic Jamaican cuisine.
I would highly suggest first timers try the taste of Jamaica appetizer to get an idea of what the island flavors are like!
My usual is the Reggae Jamaican Jerk Chicken, which is a staple to the culture and equally delicious. Add yucca fries and sweet plantains to make an amazingly good meal!
I consider it a true hidden gem of Universal Orlando CityWalk and you can’t miss it!
3. The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium and Savory Feast Kitchen
Talk about a unique dining experience! Toothsome give all the steampunk 19th century vibes with its theming and culinary masterpieces.
Here you can dine on your average dishes like seafood and steak but engage yourself in the fantastical feast of gourmet chocolates, sundaes, milkshakes in the confectionary. And yes, of course it has a bar!
The menu has so many wonderful things to try that you will simply have to come back for a second trip. And a third. And maybeeeeeeeee a fourth.
You will drool when you try the crab and artichoke dip appetizer or the coffee and chocolate stout chicken wings. The grilled teriyaki salmon is absolutely immaculate and the braised short rib with cheddar grits makes you feel right at a southern home with its steampunk flair.
And did someone say brunch?
Yes, its crepes, waffles, French toast and quiche offerings that could make your heart flutter!
I won’t get into the desserts because that’s another article in of itself but not to worry, I’ll leave the entire menu here for you to peruse. You may even have a special visitor or two come check in on your dining experience that will be extra memorable.
With so many dining venues to explore and try at Universal Orlando CityWalk, I saved you some time and made a complete list of everything for you! And fortunately, most of these venues have vegetarian, vegan, gluten and dietary options for you too.
Finally, a few of these places have mobile ordering available to save you time.
- Antojitos Authentic Mexican Food™
- Auntie Anne’s Pretzels
- Bigfire Grill
- Bob Marley–A Tribute to Freedom℠
- Bread Box Handcrafted Sandwiches™
- Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.™ Restaurant and Market
- Burger King Whopper Bar
- Cold Stone Creamery®
- Fat Tuesday®
- Hard Rock Cafe®
- Hot Dog Hall of Fame
- Jimmy Buffett’s® Margaritaville®
- Moe’s Southwest Grill
- NBC Sports Grill & Brew™
- Panda Express
- Pat O’Brien’s®
- Red Oven Pizza Bakery™
- The Cowfish® Sushi Burger Bar
- VIVO Italian Kitchen™
- Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen™
- Voodoo Doughnut
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Entertainment Venues In CityWalk
One may be intrigued to learn that CityWalk is home to several dance clubs, a karaoke bar, a mini golf course and a Cinemark theater.
Personally, when I first explored CityWalk, I was very surprised to learn about the dance clubs. This is part of the reason why CityWalk is a great nighttime spot when you want to get out but not leave the resort area.
Rising Star Karaoke Club
Admission into CityWalk’s Rising Star karaoke club is free and all ages are welcome on Thursdays and Sundays. On Fridays and Saturdays, you must be 18+ and have a valid ID to enter.
Rising Star is a great place to grab a few drinks with other solo travel friends and let loose while belting out a hit of today or yesterday. It is fairly popular so try to arrive as fashionably late as possible.
Cinemark Movie Theater
Universal Cinemark is an absolute gem, especially if you want to see a Disney film. While most Disney fans flock to Disney Springs to see the latest films from the company giant, you can catch me watching it here.
More options for seats and not as crowded. Not to mention, if you are seeing a film between 11a.m.-6p.m., you can get your money back for parking!
The Hollywood Drive in golf is fun for all ages! It combines 50s style alien invasion and horror to create two interactive 18-hole mini golf courses.
You can choose between “The Haunting of Ghostly Green” or “Invaders from Planet Putt.” If you are feeling extra daring, you can do both!
Dance the night away: Clubs and Nightlife at CityWalk Orlando
I saved the best for last because you doesn’t love a good time after all? Universal CityWalk has several dance clubs where visitors over 21 can really have an amazing time with other solo friends.
Or if you are super solo, here is the best place to make new friends while dancing and jamming to the latest and greatest music.
All of these clubs are for 21+ and require valid ID to enter. Alcoholic beverages are aplenty in these clubs so you’re sure to have the ability to let loose, seeing that you drink responsibly.
The Groove is a popular one amongst the club options and has a $7 cover fee after 10pm. While hats and tank tops won’t get you in, you can dress in casual chic upon entering.
Red Coconut Club caters to more of a Latin flair and the vibes are majorly immaculate. There is live entertainment on Fridays and Saturdays and its free to enter. You can even catch dinner here before you decide to dance.
Other locations like Pat O’Brian’s, Bob Marley and Margaritaville are lively after 9 p.m. and are worth visiting too!
6 Tips for CityWalk at Universal Orlando Resort
We covered a lot as we explored everything that Universal CityWalk in Orlando’s resort has for you. But it wouldn’t be right for me to send you off without a few important tips to help enhance your time there.
Tip 1: Double Check Venue Hours
The most important to remember is to check if what you want to do is open. While we are still in a pandemic, many of the offerings may still be unavailable due to social distancing.
Tip 2: Use Mobile Ordering
Be sure to save your time and take advantage of the mobile ordering via the Universal Orlando app when dining. No one really likes waiting in line, especially when you’re hangry. You’ll thank me later for this.
Tip 3: Download Universal Orlando App Before Your Visit
Speaking of the app, download it! While CityWalk may seem small, you would be surprised how easy it is to get lost in it. The app has a map that will help you find anything you may want.
Tip 4: Avoid the Parking $26 Fee
As long as it’s not a Halloween Horror Nights evening, guests can park for free after 6 p.m.
If you are visiting and rented a car from Budget or Avis when you flew into MCO (Orlando International Airport), you will get a complimentary upgrade to prime parking when you pay for regular.
Valet parking is available for guests, but not at this time due to the pandemic (hopefully it will return very soon).
Tip 5: Extra Help Available for You
The garage has wheelchair rentals and an onsite kennel for your pets. Need a jump for your car? Just find the nearest Team member and it will be given to you free of charge from Universal Orlando.
Tip 6: Book Your Dining Reservations in Advance
With any sit-down restaurant, I would always recommend getting a reservation ahead of time as most places are not accepting walk ins right now. It is always better to plan ahead when it comes to food.
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Final Thoughts on CityWalk
I bet you didn’t think there was so much that Universal Orlando offered in their resort outside of the theme parks, huh?
Universal CityWalk is truly a gem that many overlook because they simply just do not know what there is to do here! From trying amazing and unique cuisine to dancing and singing the night away, there is so much you can do during your visit.
I can guarantee you that you could visit 100 times and still find something new to try.
What is your favorite hidden gem within Universal CityWalk? Share with other solo travelers in our Facebook group!
About the Author
Victoria is a professional solo traveler here to make your solo trips as stress free AND enjoyable as possible for you.
She has over 5 years of Disney and Non-Disney travel experience and was featured by POPSUGAR as one of the Top 50 Black Disney Creators you should follow.
She is a Proud Native to Baltimore, Md but always will call Disney World home. You can find her at Disney Tea with V.