TouringPlans is pleased to welcome back guest author Jon Self.
Universal Orlando Resort has been working diligently to spruce up the Jurassic area of Islands of Adventure. A food/beverage stand there is known as “Natural Selections.” As you might imagine, this stand is immensely popular based on its location near Jurassic Park River Adventure and newly opened Jurassic World VelociCoaster. Universal Orlando is infamous for having food stands with basically the same items such popcorn, pretzels, hot dogs, turkey legs, and churros. And while you can get the same soft drinks, Powerade, and alcoholic beverages at Natural Selections, there’s a variety of unique food offerings here. Even better, you can use your dining snack credit on any food item on this menu.
This location has a variety of fruit options that are better than the other two “fruit stands” in Islands of Adventure. For those of us who live primarily in Midwest USA, the fruit always tastes better in Florida. You can get a single piece of fruit, like apple or orange, for $2.29 or grapes for $3.99. Your better value are the pineapple or watermelon fruit cups seasoned with tajin for $4.79. A good fruit cup is not as easy to find on Universal Orlando property as in previous years, but the selection is excellent here.
This stand has chicharrones for $4.99. The over-simplified explanation of this treat is to call them Spanish/Latin pork rinds. Now these will not even come close to meeting your average Spanish/Latin cooks’ ability to create his tasty treat, but they are a tasty inexpensive snack and better than bagged grocery store pork rinds. They did not make the top 5 snacks under $5 list, and some guests have complained about the small portion size so bear that in mind. However, this snack meets the unique label to fit with this stand.
Next on menu is the Dulce De Leche churro. There is also a “blue” churro currently in honor of the famous raptor that you can meet nearby at the “Raptor Encounter”, but the Dulce De Leche version is far better. This is not your average uninteresting churro. Dulce de leche caramel flavors this churro coated in toasted coconut flakes. Even adversaries of coconut have found this churro to taste better than a normal churro. Most experiences with this churro find it to be fresh and fluffy. This is only location that this churro can be purchased at Universal Orlando. The cost is $6.69, and it is worth every penny for an upgraded churro.
The Beef Empanadas at Natural Selections are one of my preferred ways to use a snack credit at Universal Orlando. The filling is surprisingly high class, and the pastry shell is also high quality. These usually are served in brown bags making them easy to carry until you find a nice place to enjoy your snack. The beef, peppers, and onion filling as the name suggests are quite satisfying for the cost of $6.99.
The next unique snack is the Papa Rellena. If you are unfamiliar, this is a fried stuffed potato ball. Like the empanadas, this is an easy snack to carry if eating on the go. The outside coating is the highlight of this treat. The cost is $6.99. While I prefer the empanadas, this is a unique theme park snack to add to the character and options at Natural Selections.
Next, we have the Guava Pastelito. In comparison to the other menu items, this is a newer arrival. I would say this is fine addition. Guava Pastelito is a puff pastry filled with sweet guava and cheese filling then covered with a layer of powdered sugar. You will need some extra napkins with this one to avoid making a mess of powdered sugar or yummy filling. The cost for this treat is $6.69. This treat also gets high marks and my family’s seal of approval.
Natural Selections is a welcome reprieve from standard theme park fare. If you are looking for something distinctive then this stand will be a good choice. Be prepared, especially during the next few months of VelociCoaster excitement–this stand will get longer queues due to location and quality. I always recommend to people to try the more unique menu items though. It is always easier for theme parks to serve frozen burgers and below average pizza if menu items like these to do not sell well enough. If we buy the more unique items, then it sends the message that we would like higher quality food. Natural Selections is a snack stand which is higher quality food. and should be on your list to try.
Have you tried the food at Natural Selections? What’s your favorite go-to option? Let us know in the comments.
Jon Self is an avid theme park fan who has the high privilege to serve as a pastor at an American Baptist Church (fbcmacomb.com) while also trying to find the proper life path with his loving spouse, a bigger theme park fan than Jon. You can follow him at @pastorjonself on Twitter and read more of his writings at faithelement.net.